How I’m Blogging Differently This Time

Before I created londonsnewgirl, I actually blogged over on misszarabelle.com and whilst I’ve left the site up as it really is like a diary and I truly loved what I was writing, I feel like I’ve taken londonsnewgirl in a completely different direction and I am going about it a totally different way.

WordPress VS Blogger

The age old blogger debate! When creating londonsnewgirl I wanted to try a different platform as I had found a lot of issues with my previous blog which was hosted on blogger. I chose WordPress and I really do feel like I made the right decision.

Despite having invested in a blogger theme, I found it a lot more work to add widgets and edit the layout. WordPress had so many beautiful free themes that were relatively easy to customise and I haven’t found any need to spend extra money to find a theme as the current theme reflects my blog and what I want it to portray.

I also love that WordPress uses blocks to form their posts, making it so much easier to edit and add photos to posts. It is also so easy to edit the ALT text of images and add meta descriptions which is especially helpful for WordPress beginners like myself.

Pressure

Blogging is definitely my hobby. Whilst it would be the dream career for some, I love the office environment and feeling part of a team. However, I would love to use my blogging skills in my career and can definitely see it playing a significant role in my future. Therefore you could say that there is a certain sense of pressure, however nothing like the pressure I was putting on myself beforehand! I would spend hours a day looking at google analytics, when in all honesty, not all that much was changing. I was definitely never obsessed with the numbers because it wasn’t about that for me, but I would spend hours trying to promote my blog and would not get much in return. This time I’m focusing more on creating the content and generating the right kind of engagement with it. I want my blog to be a guide and a place of inspiration for others, therefore I’d much rather read five comments that were relevant to the post than ten that simply said “Great post!” I’m putting much less pressure on myself this time and I think it’s already visible in my views and interactions on social media – in a positive way! I am engaging more with people who are enjoying my content rather than people who simply want a returned comment.

Brand Image

I have also tried to focus on creating a unified brand for londonsnewgirl, across both social media and the content I am producing. Whilst I was essentially the brand for my previous blog, I have so many interests that it ended up sprawling quite a few topics. However as this blog is focused on my move to London and how I am navigating the city as a graduate, I have tried to narrow my content to career and London based topics. My recent posts have included how I’m finding the London job hunt, how I am curating my work wardrobe and what I learned at university. By focusing on these topics I am finding it much easier to plan posts and I am writing much less spur of the moment chatter. I want londonsnewgirl to be a guide for any other gal or guy who is taking the plunge and move to the city. Once I become more settled I want to discuss the London rental market, as well as my favourite places for brunch and post-work cocktails. (A girl can dream… Reality is looking more like the sweaty central line ride home before I collapse in an exhausted heap…)

Photography

Or well, lack of it. Photography is not my strong suit, I don’t have a fancy canon camera and I don’t have portrait mode on my iPhone. For me, blogging isn’t about the photography, it’s about the words and the experience of reading the content. Pictures are definitely important, they provide an image that can be associated with the content and this is infinitely easier to share on social media as they are more inviting and eye catching. However this time, I’m wanting to put out high quality content, including photography, so I have decided to work with stock photos. Some of you may be gasping in horror, but I recently ran a poll on my twitter to see what you all thought of stock photos and 88% of you said you weren’t fussed/wouldn’t even notice. For some, this might be the biggest blogging sin ever, but please forgive me. I’d rather put all my energy into creating better quality content and sharing high quality images no matter who took them. I am also really enjoying creating Pinterest graphics for my post, so that my content can be easily shared on Pinterest, something which I never bothered with before as I didn’t think it would drive much traffic. However as I want londonsnewgirl to be more of a reference point and guide, it’s important to me that I make my posts and content as easy to refer back to as possible and Pinterest definitely helps me do that.

Pinnable graphic; how I'm blogging differently this time!

My Two Year Bucket List

I love planning, especially long term, whether its for holidays or how I’m going to organise my work over the next few months but I feel like moving to London isn’t exactly something I can plan very well. In terms of flats and jobs that’s relatively easy to plan in the sense that I need to find both of them in order to do anything else, but what I’m going to do with my weekends? No idea.

A better idea for me however is to give myself a list of things I want to do or achieve and then get to tick them off as I do each one, sort of like a really flexible big plan that I can adapt to do whenever I want.

Exploring

One of my favourite things to do is explore and I definitely want to make the most of all the little gems that London has to offer. I really want to do some day trips, especially back down to Brighton in the Summer months (I’ve been once before for the day and I loved it!) as well as venturing further afield and exploring the south of England a little more as my knowledge is restricted pretty much to where Ed lives in Essex.

When I lived in Germany for a year one of my favourite things to do was to get on their version of the tube and get off at a random stop, walk around and find something fun to do there. Whilst this may not be the best idea in London I really want to make sure I make use of the tube network and try and visit as many neighbourhoods of the city as I can. We have both said we want to suss out exactly where we would want to live before we commit to a long term rental it’s going to be really important for us to use our weekends wisely and get out and about.

Travel

Whilst this could also be considered exploring, I definitely want to make use of London’s transport networks and I’d love to take the Eurostar across to Europe, especially Paris at some point over the next couple of years. There are also some amazing deals to be had on flights to other cities, so I’d definitely love to book us a couple of long weekends away as a little treat when we need them.

I would also love to go skiing again, something I haven’t done since my year abroad. Whilst it’s definitely going to be one of the more expensive trips, I’d love to save up and hit the slopes for a few days!

Culture

One of London’s greatest selling points for me is the abundance of museums and theatres that can be found there. I have always wanted to see a musical in the West End and I currently have my heart set on Matilda, although Wicked and Phantom remain some of my favourites. There are also so many museums I have still not visited, including the V&A and the British Museum which are top of my list!

Blogging

I really missed blogging during my break but starting afresh with londonsnewgirl has made me realise some of the mistakes I made the last time! Whilst I want to post regularly because it’s something I enjoy doing, I do not want to get myself into the routine where I would feel guilty if I hadn’t been working on my blog for a few days. I know I am going to be so busy, especially for the first few months of the new job and moving into the new flat but my blog will always be my creative outlet. I’d love to grow my site to the point where it becomes a place of reference for other London girls or people looking to visit the city for a few days. As I am such a traveller at heart there will always also be travel content on the blog and I can’t wait to see where the next few years take me!

I much prefer my new mental format of thinking of them as things I want to do rather than planning out exactly where and when I will do them! Do you set yourself goals/lists like these? Let me know in the comments!

I've written a bucket list of what I want to achieve/do over the next two years! From travel to blogging with bits of culture thrown in!

What I’ve Learned at University

University is certainly a whirlwind experience. There are so many ups and downs and nothing can quite prepare you for what you are faced with, from the mountain of dishes that appear in your flat overnight to actually having to make big decisions about your future.

As my time at St. Andrews is drawing to a close, I’ve found myself reflecting upon what I have actually learned at University, whether or not it was worth the five years of intense studying, terrible hangovers and the mountain of debt I am leaving with. My answer is undoubtedly yes.

Aside from leaving with a very detailed knowledge of how print has developed since the founding of the printing press and slightly more German vocab than when I started, it’s amazing how much I have grown as a person, both physically (weekly netball spin sessions combined with a newfound love for chicken dippers and mayo) and mentally.

First year can only be described as rocky. I met some of my best friends, loved my new independence, realised how much I enjoy the weekly food shop and finally got to achieve one of my main goals of studying at St. Andrews. However I also discovered alcohol, discovered people can be mean and messy, somehow managed to fail a module and had to learn to navigate the incredible tricky social sphere that appears when you have thousands of students and only three main streets in the town. First year was a learning curve.

In second year I discovered how much more fun it was to hang out with my friends in the day and attempt to fit all my work into a late night library visit, which also ended up being me hanging out with my friends. However I did work hard when I needed to, learned how to manage my time and made up the credits I needed, picking up some medieval German along the way. I solidified friendship groups and learned how to juggle them when they refused to overlap. I also made the biggest decision to spend my next year teaching abroad in Germany and then learned how hard it was to say goodbye. Crying at Ed Sheeran’s photograph in my student union hugging my friends at one of our last nights out of the year was potentially a low point…

Then only a few months later I was sitting in the Einwohnermeldeamt in Nuremberg waiting to register as a citizen. I won’t even pretend it’s possible to condense that year of experiences into one paragraph and the things I took from my year abroad are numerous.

Then I landed back with a bump. How do you fit back in to a life that has been going on without you whilst you have been experiencing other things? With great difficulty. I had learned too much and had too many new experiences to come back as exactly the same person I was when I left. Things had also changed in St. Andrews, with my friends making new friends, having had their own experiences whilst I was gone. Friendships were tested and survived, others faded away as we outgrew each other. It was also the first year my grades counted towards my final degree. I worked hard and became obsessively organised. But that didn’t mean I stopped having fun and somehow met my boyfriend in my Thursday morning 9am class who somehow fancied me when I turned up incredibly hungover from the night before. I then learned how hard it was to balance a new relationship with spending time with friends and studying. Then I had to learn how to say goodbye all over again as most of my friends graduated having not done a year abroad, knowing that next year I was going to have to do my final year without some of my biggest supporters and shoulders to cry on when things went a bit wrong.

But it hasn’t been all that bad. I still see some of my friends as regularly as we can and somehow I have made new ones. I’ve taken on more responsibility, had lower lows, but also higher highs as I got to complete some of my favourite St. Andrews traditions with my boyfriend and best friend by my side. Making decisions about the future has been hard, but now I am so excited to take what I have learned at University over the past five years and apply in it my new life in London. It’s going to be very different from the little town with three streets that I have called home over the past half decade, but I do love a challenge.

My university journey and what I learned at St Andrews outside the classroom!