HOW LOOKING BACK HELPS YOU MOVE FORWARD (MY 2016 REVIEW)

HOW LOOKING BACK HELPS YOU MOVE FORWARD (MY 2016 REVIEW)

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

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE BIGGEST SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS OF 2017

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE BIGGEST SOCIAL MEDIA TRENDS OF 2017

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…

PLATFORMS BECOMING MORE OF THE SAME

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...

OTHER THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD IN 2017

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

5 REASONS WHY YOU'LL LOVE THE BLOGGING BREAKTHROUGH MAGAZINE

5 REASONS WHY YOU'LL LOVE THE BLOGGING BREAKTHROUGH MAGAZINE

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!

#1 | READ AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW IN THE MAGAZINE

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

7 SUPER USEFUL TOOLS TO HELP YOU PLAN BETTER IN 2017

7 SUPER USEFUL TOOLS TO HELP YOU PLAN BETTER IN 2017

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.

#1 | BULLET JOURNAL

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!

 

SO I MIGHT'VE BEEN NOMINATED FOR A BLOGGING AWARD...

SO I MIGHT'VE BEEN NOMINATED FOR A BLOGGING AWARD...

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: