Well, we’re here, friend. The last blog post on A Branch of Holly for 2016.

I can't really believe it, can you? I was really struggling to know what route to go down with this, but then I took a look through my Bloglovin’ feed and managed to find some inspiration. 

So I thought I'd take a look back over the last year and how my blog and online presence has grown and developed - boy has a lot changed! I've done a personal year in review on Little Branches (where I announced we've bought a house!), but here I want to reflect in a little more detail. 

I wanted this to be helpful for me as I go into a new year, but also an inspiration to you to see what you can do in a year if you put the right plan in place, work in a smart way and believe in yourself a little bit more.

I just wanted to quickly tell you why I love doing these end-of-year reviews. When my blog was very young and only my family were reading my content, I saw some bloggers I admired write posts like this and I thought it was so honest and refreshing. They were people with successful blogs and thriving communities, and they were exactly where I wanted to be. Of course, I was falling into the one trap all bloggers should avoid - comparison.

But then I read more about the journey they'd been on, what they'd done to make their blogs successful and I didn't compare myself anymore. These were no overnight successes. They were real. There were late nights, lack of sleep, sacrifices, hard decisions and sheer determination. That's what pushed me forward.

So here we go - my 2016 in review


How do you think social media will develop in 2017?

That's a question I've been thinking about a lot lately, but one that I haven't really been able to answer by myself. But because social media is so fast-paced, I don't think it's ever too early to start planning your next strategy.

Buffer recently released their blueprint about the trends to look out for over the next year across all the different social platforms. And as we’re nearing the end of a year, I thought this would be a great time to reflect on the world of social media, from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Snapchat. Get ready to take note of where these different channels are heading and what's next for them in 2017.

Before we jump in, I just wanted to draw your attention to a key thing that's happened in 2016…


It's been the case for many platforms this year, that instead of concentrating on their unique features, they've started using features from one another. It's almost as if they're becoming more alike instead of trying to differentiate themselves.

Here's why.

When Snapchat came on the scene, it was like nothing anyone had seen before. It was live, instant content that disappeared. Instagram, on the other hand was the place for us to publish one or two of our best images - polished and pretty. 

That was until Instagram Stories appeared and what do you know? It became very similar to Snapchat.

But they aren't the only platforms that have shown signs of similarity. 

  • Facebook has introduced a Facebook Live feature where you can record video in the moment and broadcast to a live audience
  • Facebook is also trying to become the new place for trending news and events (sound familiar, Twitter?)
  • YouTube is testing community features, which essentially involves a community chat within the platform

Basically, every single platform out there is trying to become the best at everything and I think that's how it'll continue in 2017. They'll all be battling it out to become the best for offering in-the-moment, easy-to-digest content.

My other prediction is that video will be even bigger than it already is right now...


Like the Buffer report, I'll walk you through a couple of highlights for each platform.


It's been a busy old year at A Branch of Holly HQ. I've been publishing content like a machine!

So here's the big list. From the launch of the Blogging Breakthrough magazine to now. You can find out what it is, where to get and most importantly stay in the loop with why it's so great.

The biggest and first change I made happened a couple of months ago. I decided that instead of having the ‘How I Got to Where I am Today’ interview on the blog, I would make it a piece of content exclusive to the magazine. 

I worked hard to get the message out there and got a wonderful line up of interviewees for the first few months of the magazine. But the best bit has been revealing teasers on social media of who is going to be featured in the issue. Then on the day the magazine is delivered to your inbox, the big announcement takes place!


Yep, as a reader of Blogging Breakthrough, you now get an exclusive piece of content within the magazine!

The aim of the ‘How I Got to Where I am Today’ interview is to highlight lots of different careers, but more importantly, how that person got there. They take us on a journey, from starting out with no experience at all, to becoming amazing at what they do as a profession.

So far we’ve had someone studying for a Ph.D in Soils Biophysics, a certified nutritionist with a love for writing and soon, you’ll be hearing from an interior designer.

I’m so grateful that so many people want to be interviewed for the Blogging Breakthrough magazine, and I love getting to share so many inspiring stories. But more than anything, it also means you can learn so much too and gain such an insight into their experiences!

Recommended read: How I Got to Where I am Today: an Interview with Lizzie from Wanderful World


If there's one thing I love, it's finding new tools and resources to increase my productivity. I bet that doesn’t come as a surprise to you 😉 

But what I love even more is passing these tools onto you.

The resources that are out there for us to access are awesome. They can help you create more time in your day, help you complete tasks more quickly and improve your overall efficiency. The tools that are listed here are ones I use every week, if not every single day. Not only have they improved the way I manage my blog and online presence, but they’ve also transformed the way I balance everything too.

So today, as we get even closer to the new year (!), I wanted to share with you a few of the tools that have increased my productivity so they can have a positive effect on your life too. Let’s go.


The bullet journal is a relatively new productivity tool for me. I only really started using it this summer, but it soon turned into an essential.

I’d heard so many people talking about using a bullet journal and even have a Pinterest board full of journaling ideas. And even though I thought it was great, I just couldn’t seem to find the right way to use it in the best way for me, my life and my blog.

Then I took a step back from it all, and this turned out to be exactly what I needed to do. I put together a list of lots of things you could track in your planner, which turned into a blog post and that was the key. When it comes to the bullet journal, it’s about including what’s right for you. Pick the things to track that work best for you and that’s how this productivity tool will thrive.

Over the Christmas break I’ll be planning how to use mine for 2017 and I can’t wait to see how it’s going to revolutionise my productivity. If you’re thinking about using a bullet journal, I’ve written a whole post on it here!



First things first, friend… I want to say thank you.

It's been over three years since I first started blogging and I can't believe everything that's happened in that time, both for my online presence and my personal life too. I'm always floored by the comments I get on social media every single day from you guys.

But the biggest surprise? This tweet from my blogging friend, Rebecca

“Just to let you know, I've nominated you for a UK Blog Award because of the valuable content you create for your readers.”

“I've nominated you for a U.K. blog award”?? What?!

I couldn't believe it. And that leads me onto today's post.

Today you can officially vote for me in the U.K. Blog Awards!

The purpose of the UK Blog Awards is to recognise “true viral style and creative excellence.” They provide a really exciting time for bloggers in the digital industry.

You can either nominate yourself for an award, or someone else can nominate you. 

Turns out, someone nominated me.

This came out of nowhere. I've been a blogger for three years and nothing like this has happened to me before. I mean, I feel like I've come a long way. Since that very first blog post that I hit publish on, I've transferred my blog to Squarespace and redesigned my site and I've doubled my blog traffic by implementing a solid social media strategy. 

Today, writing this post doesn't guarantee a vote from you, and a vote doesn't guarantee I'll win. But I can try.

So, I wanted to give you some concrete reasons why I deserve to win a UK Blog Award and why you should vote for me.

Why am I doing this? Because I want this. Because I value transparency. I know you care a lot about not just where you get your information from, but WHO you get it from too. I know you care a lot about getting your blog to the next level, to getting that breakthrough and getting to where you want to be.

I believe that I can offer you those things. So here's why else you should vote for me:


Let me guess.

You’re not sharing your Instagram pics to Pinterest are you?

Well, I only have one question. WHY NOT?

You’re taking great photos of your work, your life - everything. So if you’re putting that much effort into creating your photos, then you want to get them in front of as many people as possible. That’s where Pinterest comes in.

Now, you don’t have to share every single image. You want to share your best photos. The ones that get the most likes and comments. This is a great way to share unique content and get credit, because they're yours! And the best bit? It’s SUPER easy to do. All you need is a phone.

This tutorial is going to be for iPhone users as that’s the phone I have. But I’m sure there’s some info out there for Android users too.

So we’re going to go through, step by step, how to share your Instagram photos to Pinterest. There’s two different ways to do this, so let’s get going with the first.


“I've been getting a lot out of this in a matter of days!”, a reader told me over Twitter that made me decide to get really serious about blogging.

“I'm going to have to go back through and read all your other posts, because this was exactly what I needed.”

That was it. Right there. The time I started to take blogging seriously.

After reading that feedback, I refreshed my categories, redefined my social media strategy and started a second blog. The rest, as they say, is history. 

In a year, I doubled my social media following, increased my blog traffic by over 300% and created a community of determined, inspirational bloggers. More than any of this though, I found my path. 

I discovered that no matter how hard things got, I was meant to be a blogger and I got great satisfaction from inspiring my readers. 

And that, my friend, is where valuable content comes from.

Looking back over the years though, I realised that none of it would be possible without my determination. 


As a blogger, the thing we’re hearing the most about lately is creating high-quality content. We hear that creating valuable content helps build trust in your readers, and those readers then become subscribers and eventually customers. 

This formula is totally possible - but instead of hearing about how this helps people reach six figures, why aren't we hearing more about how it's enriching their lives? 

Because that's what it's done for me.

I love being able to create content for you on a regular basis and talk to you every single day to find out more about you. And even though this is just a hobby, the truth is, if you fall out of love with it then you should stop doing it. Period.

Blogging really has changed my life. It has helped grow my confidence in myself as a person, it's helped me understand that I am on the right path (when I wasn't sure I had one), and it helped me come out of a really dark place in my life, all the way back to those three years ago. 

So today, I wanted to give you three benefits of blogging that you may not have thought of, plus an action step you can take to become the best blogger you want to be.


You’ve accomplished a hell of a lot this year. 

You’ve tried your best to reach all your goals (it doesn’t matter if you didn’t get there, you still tried!

You deserve to wind down during December and start the new year with a BANG.

You’re ready to make 2017 even better than this year, doing things that you want to do and that you’re passionate about.

The path to get there is much simpler than what you’re doing right now. You don’t have to stumble your way through the year doing things you think you have to do and keeping your fingers crossed that somehow, some way, you’ll get that breakthrough.

Did you know that if you write down everything you want to accomplish, you’ve got an 80% more chance of making it happen?

But saying you’re going to make 2017 better and actually doing it are two different things, right? It doesn’t have to be that way.

You can make 2017 your best year yet through a little tactic of focusing on the right things.

Good job I’m here to tell you exactly what those things are 😉  Let’s get onto the good stuff.


Getting your morning off to the right start is something a lot of us want to do to make an improvement to our lives. Whether it’s making more of an effort with breakfast or simply having more time, the way you start your day is crucial.

The easiest way for you to make a difference is to move your alarm clock. And I don’t mean your phone - make an effort to purchase a proper alarm clock (like this cute one from Debenhams at less than a fiver!) Keeping this away from your bed forces you to get up and not hit snooze.


We’d all love to have inbox zero, but most of the time it’s just not possible. What is possible though, is making your inbox easier to maintain. You can start by sorting your emails into folders and unsubscribing from all the newsletters that you just don’t read anymore.


We live in an uncertain world right now and that’s just as true for the world of work.

Good workers are always in demand. But it’s also not enough. Each new wave are making themselves more and more disposable. So it’s your job to make sure you’re too valuable to lose.

One of the most important things you should be aiming for in your career is to make yourself indispensable. What does this mean? It’s simple - it means building up a strong reputation for yourself to show that provide a positive impact to your work environment.

You become so good at what you do that there is no one who could replace you.

Being indispensable at work definitely benefits the company you’re working for. But it also benefits you in a massive way. Not only does it give you better chances of getting a promotion and avoiding redundancies (if they were to happen) - it gives you great pride and satisfaction that you’re doing so well in your career.

This is what I strive to do every single day in my current role. So here are 17 of the best ways you can be totally indispensable in your workplace. Let’s go.


There’s a saying that goes like this: if you do what you’ve always done, then you’ll get what you’ve always got. Some situations will crop up in your company that require change and adjustment. A lot of people won’t like this. You’ve got to be the one to embrace it.

See change as a positive and always look for ways it can benefit your team and your workplace as a whole. The mindset you want to have is that change doesn’t mean things have to come to a standstill. It means there’s room for more opportunity.


If someone tells you they want you to be indispensable, they want you to rise to a challenge and push through your fear.

If there’s a project coming up that you want to manage or there’s room for a new team leader within a certain department, don’t be afraid to put yourself forward. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get to do it. People will notice your bravery and they’d be a fool not to give you a chance next time.


Fun fact: hashtags used to confuse THE HELL out of me. A few years ago I used to avoid using them, purely because I didn’t know how they worked and thought they’d be too difficult to wrap my head around.

Now, hashtags are one of the most high-impact strategies that I’ve used to grow my online presence. And honestly, I LOVE them.


Here’s a little snippet of how hashtags can rapidly grow your presence on social media…

  • Tweets with hashtags receive 2x more engagement than those without hashtags
  • Tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags
  • Tweets with one or more hashtag are 55 percent more likely to be retweeted
  • Interactions are highest on Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags

I mean seriously, what single thing can do that for all your active social media platforms?

Plus, using hashtags played a huge part in the social media posting schedule that increased traffic to my blog by over 100%.

For that reason, when someone is starting to build their online presence and feeling the pressure to do #allthethings, I encourage them to focus on hashtags as one of their first actions.

It’s also why I encourage other bloggers and business owners that are already experienced to concentrate on hashtags too. They always work.

No matter what you write about or what social media channels you concentrate on, hashtags can help you quickly grow your traffic and community.

So let’s get into exactly why they're are so great and how to use them, too.


#Hashtags (see what I did there 😉 ) have a main purpose of encouraging conversation and interaction. They make it a lot easier to find and join in with discussions online about everything from people, to world events to topics, events and more.

They also help to increase your visibility and get your brand discovered.