How to Create Flat Lay Images Using Basic Props

When I first started using Pinterest one of the things that I had to learn how to do were pinnable images. It took me a while, developing my own style over a period of time using either my own pictures or ones that were available for free on stock image sites. However, one thing that I always had difficulty in finding were what I now know as Flat Lay images – pictures taken from above of beautifully arranged objects within a specific theme.

In particular, Flat Lays are hugely popular on Instagram and are a fantastic way to tell a story. I’ve seen absolutely stunning examples of everything from travel, blogging and stationery, to clothing, make-up and food.

I’ve wanted to create my own for some time. However, I’m not a photographer. I use my iPhone and my Canon compact camera to take pictures, but my knowledge doesn’t extend past point, shoot and edit via Instagram or Canva. So, I set out to spend a minimal amount of money on some props and use basic trial and error to see what the end results would be.

And thankfully, they turned out far better than I ever could have expected! Continue reading

Things I’ve Learned in Four Years of Blogging

Blogging advice

Today marks the four year anniversary of Suzie Speaks.

Four years, 838 posts (if you don’t count the hundreds that I’ve deleted), a collective following of nearly 19,000 people, nearly 780,000 views, the biggest blogging hashtag of the weekend, an amazing Facebook group and three awards.

Since starting the blog I have quit my job, got engaged, gained a brother-in-law and gorgeous squidgy niece, travelled, attended events, reviewed everything from restaurants and cocktail bars to theatre shows, hotels and products, made a whole bunch of new friends and experienced things that I could only have dreamed of in what I consider to be my previous life. What an unbelievable journey.

The blog began as a simple online journal – an outlet to try and calm the stress and anxieties I was experiencing at the time. There were no expectations or dreams, just a desire to write. However, as my blogging knowledge grew, I found a community, started to develop promotional strategies, learned a great deal about social media and, as a result, now have a whole list of things that, if I could go back and start again (not that I would want to, mind you), I would do differently. Continue reading

On Becoming a Hermit…

Yesterday was International Happiness Day, and the blogging world was flooded with articles, images and quotes of achieving happiness.

Even without a specifically dedicated day, it’s a prominent topic. There seems to be have been a conscious movement over the last few years that focus on the ideas on mindfulness, self-care, motivation and happiness, which may be partially reactionary to the turbulent times within society, or the fact that many are beginning to realise that there is more to life than a soul-destroying 9-5. Continue reading

How to Recycle Old Blog Content

Last week I decided to go through my old blog posts, which had quite a negative impact on my general confidence about my content and I had a little meltdown on the blog. After receiving lots of good advice from the blogging community I decided to ignore my initial knee-jerk intention to delete hundreds of posts that I considered to be inferior and instead spend a bit of time recycling some of my earliest articles.

There were a number of reasons for this:

1. My blog is nearly four years old, and I have a much bigger audience than when these posts were originally published. I wanted to reach my newer audience who would not have seen them.

2. My writing style has changed and my earlier offerings aren’t consistent with the quality (at least, in my opinion) that I produce now.

3. My lifestyle has changed for the better. The negative tone of some of the posts are no longer relevant to my general mindset. Continue reading

To Delete, or Not to Delete?

Social Media Management

Last year, I made the mistake of revisiting a lot of my old handwritten¬† journals. I have a whole stack of them – thick notebooks mainly purchased from Paperchase that have been filled with my random scribblings over the years – and in my infinite wisdom I thought it might be a nice idea to open some of them up again and read about who I was at that moment in time. It turned out to be a huge mistake – I became very quickly aware that I was an extremely bitter person and what I found were pages and pages of rambling, nonsensical anger. I decided that, while I wasn’t going to throw the notebooks away, I wouldn’t read them again. Continue reading

Want to Build Your Twitter Following? Join my Twitter Link-Up!

At the start of 2017 I created a Facebook group – ‘Big Up Your Blog.’ I’m a member of several Facebook groups, but I find that there aren’t very many opportunities for people to actually connect and share their blog and social media accounts, so I started a ‘Social Saturday’ every week where participants could share their social media links, grow their following and connect with lots of other bloggers. Continue reading

Things I Want My Newborn Niece to Know

Advice for my newborn baby niece

My youngest sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl today. Perfectly formed and weighing 7lb 5oz after a 40 HOUR LABOUR, Baby Squidge (as she will be referred to from now on on the blog) is the first baby and grandchild in our small family of four. As my first and only niece, these are the things that, on the day of her birth, I want her to know.

You are loved and will never be alone. No matter where you are and what you are doing, you will always have a family that you can call on for anything.

Unfortunately, you may meet people that don’t like you. You will meet people who try to validate themselves by trying to tear you down. None of it matters. Love yourself and who you are – it will be one of the greatest lessons you’ll ever learn in life. What others think of you is none of your business.

Be nice to your parents. Say thank you.

Keep the confidence of others, but don’t tell anyone anything that you wouldn’t mind the whole world knowing, unless they prove themselves trustworthy. Continue reading

How to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

imageSelf-sabotage happens for a number of reasons: a lack of self belief and/or self worth, a fear of failure, feeling like the outsider, a consistent focus on perceived negative aspects of yourself. It usually appears in the form of what I refer to as ‘my demons’ – those pesky internal thoughts that creep in whenever a challenge, a plan or a deadline is presented:

You’re not good enough.

They don’t like you.

They’re not going to take you seriously.

That’s too difficult.

I’ll do it tomorrow – I’ll feel better about it then.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I left something to the last minute, or avoided putting myself forward because of a constant fear of rejection or failure. My daily routine involved berating myself for not getting something done the day before, or wasting my money on something that I didn’t actually want or need, only to struggle to pay for something important later on. I hated the fact that I had put on a large amount of weight, and yet consistently gorged on junk food every night until I felt sick. Continue reading

My Five Day Twitter Starter Kit is Live!

Twitter courseI didn’t sleep much last night. Those of you who read the blog regularly will know that I have been creating my first ever course for Twitter and today is the launch, so last night felt not-so dissimilar to Christmas Eve when I was young.

And here it is! My Five-Day Twitter Starter Kit, available for the BARGAIN price of just $30 (which is a 50% discount) until 31st January!

In this easy, step-by-step course, you can learn how to:

  • set up an effective profile,
  • use hashtags (complete with a comprehensive list of useful hashtags)
  • retweet accounts (complete with a comprehensive list of useful accounts)
  • participate in chats and link-ups (complete with a full list of daily chats and link-ups)
  • increase your engagement not only on your Twitter account, but to your blog too!

Continue reading

What I’ve Learned About Blogging

image

I’ve been spending some time revisiting, editing and deleting old blog posts and I discovered a number of articles that have been lost in the hundreds (about 750 at this present moment) that I have generated over the last three-and-a-half years.

I created this one about blogging regrets based on what I have learned and suggested ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ to consider after the first year and much of what I wrote then still remains the same. I’ve decided that it is worth sharing again, so I’ve updated it and added further information and links to useful posts.

What I would do differently

1. I would decide on a name that I was happy with at the very beginning. In my excitement about the prospect of starting the blog, I hastily chose the name ‘Suzie81’ – my name and the year that I was born. After a while I became really dissatisfied with my choice – it had no real reference to any of the content in the blog – but by this point my readers knew me by this name. When I later purchased my domain name, there were very few options that I could use and I ended up changing it to ‘Suzie Speaks’ to avoid as little confusion as possible. Continue reading