12 Things I've Learnt In 12 Months of Blogging & A Great Giveaway

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

This year I’ve written 173 posts, tweeted over 2000 times and taken nearly 300 Instagram snaps. I’ve shared my ups, downs, happiness, loves and life with you. There was a stage where I questioned myself and my blog but I came out of the other side more positive, confident and on track with where I saw this space going in the future.

What a year it’s been. I thought I’d learnt a lot about blogging before I hit publish on my first post but what I’ve learnt over the past year is incredible. Seriously, no wonder people write books about these things! And I know A Branch of Holly is still small, but for me every single time I see a new person has followed me I get goosebumps, because I’m just so proud of my blog and myself.

So to celebrate 12 months in an amazing community doing something I thoroughly enjoy, I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt with you. These may be the same as what you’ve learnt and they may not – what matters most is that we’re here and learning together. And I can’t wait to continue learning and growing.

1.Managing a blog is a real skill

Honestly. Think about how many skills you use in blogging – time management, organisation, writing, editing, photography, social media, content management, SEO, HTML and I could go on. Every interview I’ve had and every place I’ve been to on work experience has mentioned my blog and loved that I have one. They think it’s great. You’re doing something on your own that’s productive, useful and fun. Of course it’s great!

2. Write what inspires you

If you write about London Fashion Week when it’s happening you’re probably going to get more visitors to your blog. But why write about it when you’re not interested in it? You as readers are obviously highly important, but I know you’re only going to enjoy what I write if I enjoy what I’m writing. So you don’t have to follow trends and do what everyone else is doing if you don’t like it. Just write about what inspires you.

3. SEO does help but it’s not everything

Sure the more tricks you use on your blog, the more powerful it’s going to be in the community. But above all the added extras is the most important tool of all – your voice. That unique writing personality that no one else has is the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else. And someone, somewhere is going to like your ideas and like you.

4. You only get what you put in

When I first started blogging I used to post probably around three times a week, inconsistently on different topics. Now I post five days a week, Monday to Friday and know what’s coming up on each day. I make sure my editorial calendar is planned for the whole month. It’s only written out in pretty colours on a sheet of A4 paper, but it works for me. Since doing this, I’ve seen an increase in everything. A small increase, but it’s gradual and still increasing.

5. Having set topics on set days helps

My mind used to be a complete mess when it came to publishing posts. What do I do when? I just used to post anything at any time. Now? Well now I’ve learnt to make it a hell of a lot easier for myself by posting certain topics on certain days. I love lifestyle the most, so I dedicate three days of the week to those posts, then one day to Fashion and one day to Beauty. That way I’m covering all the topics I love and that readers love too.

6. It’s not about the numbers

It’s just not. I love blogging and I love chatting to people in the blogging community. I don’t care how fast my numbers are going up. They’re going up. And I’m proud of that.

7. It takes time but it’s worth it

It’s like exercise – if you want results you’ve got to put the time in. But more than that, if you enjoy it (which of course you will do), you’ll want to put the time in. It’ll get difficult at some points, but remember it’s okay to take a break. You’ll come back in a better place.

8. Twitter chats are the best things ever

Oh I just love them. The amount of blogs I’ve found through these is amazing. And the amount of bloggers I’ve found to chat to is even better! Which leads me onto the next one…

9. There are some gorgeous, lovely, friendly people out there

Yeah, you come across negativity. But there are so many genuinely lovely people who you have one main thing in common with – you love blogging. That right there is a conversation starter in itself!

10. You’ll look back and think – why did I post that?

It’s quite funny going back to my first post where I said ‘hello’ and introduced myself. Now I think, well why didn’t I just get on with it? It’s the same with photos as well – man, I was not overly skilled with a camera a year ago.

11. It’s something special

Your blog is yours. Your voice, your words, your photos – with a few other added guest bloggers if you want a helping hand. Publishing content on this every weekday is special, communicating and hopefully inspiring others is special and I believe that my blog itself is special. I think everyone should believe that about their blogs.

12. Be yourself

Why would you want to be anyone else?

Well now that that’s done I want to say a huge thank you to every single one of you who reads, follows and comments on my blog. Every one of you who has followed me on Twitter and tweeted me, everyone who has liked my blog on Facebook and everyone who has me on their Instagram and Pinterest feeds. Thank you. Without you, well, blogging just wouldn’t be as good.

So to say thank you, I’m hosting my first ever giveaway! Want to know what you get if you win? Of course you do!

You get a brand new bottle of the Sleek and Smooth Hair Serum from Charles Worthington and three packs of the brand’s Moisture Seal Hair Healer Leave-In Conditioner. Charles Worthington is the product I use on my hair and I love these products. The serum makes your locks look sleek, smooth and shiny and the conditioning treatment will be as if you’ve had a visit to the salon – it’s that good.

Want to be in with a chance of winning? I’ll take that as a yes!

To enter, all you have to do is follow me here on Bloglovin or click the link to it on my homepage. Then once you’ve done that just pop me a quick mention on Twitter to say hey and let me know that you’ve entered. If you already follow me on Bloglovin, just pop me a tweet saying you'd like to enter.

The giveaway is going to run for a month so you can enter now and it’ll close at 8am on Wednesday 8th October. I’ll make a note of who enters and then pick a winner at random.

So what are you waiting for?

Thanks for stopping by.