30/08/2019

Is Blogging Dead? My Thoughts on Blogging Today


Not to sound like a bitter old lady, but...

Any blogger out there that has been active online for years will tell you: blogging is just not the same as it used to be. Which is totally normal after all, because with time everything changes - trends, people, interests and media. However as someone who creates content and shares it online, the effects of those normal, unavoidable changes can be a tad frustrating. For some time now, like many of you I am sure, I can clearly tell that blogging isn't as popular anymore. I can see it even at my (very) small level, in my views and engagement. Personally, I still enjoy blogging, though I have considerably less time to put into it now that I am not a student anymore. Lack of time aside, I can't help but be affected by this change in the world of blogging, and here are my thoughts and ideas about blogging today and how we can make the most of this hobby still.

WHY ARE BLOGS NOT PERFORMING AS WELL TODAY?
There are many reasons why blogging isn't as popular as it once was, but there are two main reasons I will highlight here. All of this is of course my own opinion, not proven fact, so feel free to disagree or add to the conversation in the comments! 
The first (and I think main) reason for me is the rise of instant social media blogging. By that I mean outlets such as Instragram and Snapchat, which have both been rising through and through over the years and are now on everyone's phones. It's easy to see why users would consume more Instagram content than blogs: it pops up on your phone, it's mostly photos so you can go through more content is less time. I for one am totally falling in that category: I love Instagram because you can have beautiful and creative pictures, meaningful captions that basically are shortened blog posts, and - another things that blogs can't do as well - you can interact with bloggers so easily, via DMs and comments in one tap of the finger - much easier than sending an email or filling in name/email/site boxes to send a comment. 

In this day and age, we're always running around to get stuff done, be productive and successful, and for a lot of people that means less time sat in bed with a laptop to check out on bloggers and online content, and more time to do so on their phones, during their commute or on their lunch break. Online content creation is forever evolving, and though there are still people like you and me who still enjoy reading blogs and taking the time to leave comments to support other bloggers, it's easy to see why social media is overtaking the creative space.



The other main reason I see as to why blogging isn't so attainable anymore is profit. Let me explain: blogging started out mainstream online content creation, way before Instagram gave us the words 'influencer' and 'content creator.' Bloggers created their blog posts from A to Z: ideas, text, photos, and so on. Today, content creators on social media do the exact same thing. And the growth of blogging and content creation has brought in monetization, profit, collaborations and marketing, which is great because it almost legitimiszes the craft. The thing when money is involved though, is that content creation largely becomes a race: who will get the most followers, who will take the most incredible pictures, who will collaborate with the most prestigious brands, and so on. Thus social media platforms have become more profitable than old-school blogging, because as I mentioned it's easier to reach out to people and to have a wider audience. I do not thing this is necessarily a bad thing, however I do think this is one of the reasons why blogging isn't what it used to be anymore - for small bloggers who write as a hobby, but also for bigger names who used to blog a lot but have now turned to more profitable platforms, i.e. Instagram, mainly. I would love to hear any thoughts on this as I truly find the topic fascinating!

DO I STILL LOVE BLOGGING?
Yes, even with all these changes going on, I still love blogging no matter what. After all, I've had this blog for years and years and this is not gonna change any time soon. What I like about blogging and that I can't find in social media, is the ability to use words more thoroughly than in the caption of a photo. I also love taking the time to read blog posts, instead of scrolling through a social media feed waiting for a photo to grab my attention. I am sure whoever is reading this and is also a blogger feels the same - if it's for you, you just know it and you carry on through and through because it makes you happy!


WHAT CAN I DO TO REVIVE THE BLOGGING WORLD?
We may not be able to reverse the social media revolution, but there are many ways in which you can keep the flame of blogging alive, whether you are a blogger yourself or just a reader. 
Supporting the bloggers you read. This is what you can do best of course! Commenting, interacting, and showing that you enjoy their content. I love going through my Bloglovin' feed and reading what's new, and I really like posts recapping a blogger's favourite recent reads, because they help me discover new blogs and new people.
Writing the blog posts you love. As a blogger, people can tell when you're writing because you love it, or just as a mechanical action to keep up with your schedule. I personally choose to post less often than I used to, but I love all the posts I write and I hope they are all helpful to those who read them. 

Think positive and spread the blog-happiness! If you're still an enthusiastic blogger, sharing your interests with your friends and family can only shed a positive light on blogging. Your excitement and dedication will show others how great blogging is, and it is thanks to this dedication that blogging will keep being an amazing way to create content online and connect with others.

What are your thoughts on blogging today? Do you think blogging will survive the popularity of social media?
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29/07/2019

How To Be More Fashion-Conscious Without Breaking the Bank


Promote ethical choices through your wardrobe.

Recently I've been thinking more and more about sustainable fashion and how to make the most of my fashion choices while limiting my impact on the planet and the people working at making the clothes. There are more and more brands deemed sustainable that offer an alternative to fast fashion. Over the past few weeks I've enjoyed reading Deborah's posts on the matter over at Coffee, Clothes & Pretty Clothes - she goes straight to the point and addresses several relevant issues on the topic of sustainable fashion. As I have been thinking about my own consumption, I have found that I am at a tricky standpoint - between wanting to make an impact, but also not ready to invest in more expensive clothes.
Personally, I am very strict in my budget and where I put my money, and at this moment clothing is still not a priority when it comes to spending more. There are many reasons for that, one of them being that I am not sure which clothes I would like to invest in (Am I still gonna like that dress in two years' time?) So instead buying - just yet - in sustainable brands, I found some ways in which I, in my own little way, can be more fashion-conscious. If you would like to make a change at your own level too, please read on!

1. Stop buying new clothes every season.
Let's start with the obvious, shall we? The more you buy, the more you tell the industry "make new clothes, I'll buy them all". Sounds silly, but the big brands that produce fast fashion answer a demand that keeps growing, in an era where people buy loads to display their style on social media and keep refreshing their wardrobe to keep up with the trends. There is no need to buy a new coat every winter, or a new swimsuit to add to your collection every year, or to go to the shops every month or so just to see what's in. Check out your wardrobe: everything you need is there. Nowadays, I almost only shop when I need to replace something, or to buy an item that has a purpose, i.e. i need a pair of trousers for work. Instead of buying pieces from a thousand different trends, curate a style that looks like you, with a selection of clothes that you will keep throughout the years. Which leads me to... 

2. Shop your wardrobe.
Although it's always fun to experiment with different styles and trends, it's also great to grow into your own style and have your signature outfits. For that, nothing better than shopping your wardrobe - keep rummaging through your clothes, and I guarantee you that you'll find some that you have never worn before, or rarely so. There are plenty of fashion challenges that you can take, to style what you own in lots of different ways. And if you're looking for a *new* outfit, why don't you shop another friend's wardrobe? (With their consent, of course.)


3. Take good care of what you already own.
Another obvious one, but if you don't take care of your clothes, the turnover will be high and you'll have to rebuy staples every so often. Avoid synthetic fabrics and cheap materials, especially for shoes and bags, and always make sure you wash and store your items carefully. No matter whether it's fast fashion or high end, really: I've got some clothes from New Look and Forever 21 that have lasted me years (not kidding, some stuff in my wardrobe dates back to when I was in high school seven years ago!).

4. Shop second hand.
I know second-hand shopping is not always accessible, but there are more and more of charity shops everywhere, where you can browse and find some good deals. There are plenty of websites too, like Depop to only name one, where you can buy clothes for less. A lot of people use second hand as a way to avoid fast fashion and to stop giving money to those big firms and brands. An ethical choice to make a statement!

5. ... Unfollow those excessive buyer bloggers.
Harsh maybe, but you need to surround yourself with those who will inspire you in your personal choices. We always say unfollow whoever makes you unhappy, right? Same thing applies here - I still see so many bloggers and social media creators who keep on buying, buying, and promoting new products all the time, and although there was a time in my life where I totally loved this content, I've grown out of it now and I get very tired of bloggers-turned-advertising boards, especially because it pushes you to buy more, or makes you feel like you'll be so happy and sophisticated if you buy this and that. Thinking forward, I think our society needs to slow down in these tendencies to buy and consume more than we actually need. So once and for all, be the change you want to see - and get away from those who don't promote the values you're after. 

Are you becoming more fashion conscious? How do you shop responsibly?
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17/07/2019

A First-Timer Guide to Vienna, Austria


A budget guide to the Austrian capital.

Vienna is a beautiful and rich city. There are many things to see and do, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed when planning a trip there. Unlike London where most museums are free, you have to pay for everything in Vienna. It can add up very quickly, especially if it's your first time there and you want to experience a lot of the city. So keep on reading to find out the best things to do in Vienna!

HOW TO SEE VIENNA FOR CHEAP
1. Take the Tram along the Ringstrasse
You'll read it on many guides: the best way to see the landmarks of Vienna is by travelling on the tram line D. This tram goes around the Ringstrasse, a road that goes around the historical centre of Vienna in a circle. From inside the tram, you can see the most famous buildings of the city: the Rathaus (town hall), the Volksgarten (Garden of the People), Hofburg Palace, the Vienna State Opera, the Museum Quarter... One tram ticket gets you around all these places, and you are free to exit where you like and visit the places you want.
Churches are also accessible free of charge, and I would recommend seeing St Stephen's Basilica in the town centre, though you have to pay to access the nave, the view from the main entrance of the cathedral gives you plenty to see already. If there is one church you shouldn't miss, it is the Jesuit Church, tucked away at the corner of a street. It's high facade is beautiful, but really it is the inside that will have you go 'oooh' and 'aaah' at its precious beauty.


From top to bottom:
- Horse drawn carriage around Hofburg Palace
- Maria-Theresien-Platz, in the Museum Quarter
- The Jesuit Church


2. Visit the parks of the city
All parks in the city are free of charge and beautiful. My favourite was the Volksgarten, which is full of blooming roses that the Viennese have dedicated to their loved ones.
The gardens of Belvedere Palace and Schönbrunn Palace are also free to visit, and beautiful in their grandeur - especially Schöbrunn gardens, with their wall of red roses and impressive greenhouse.
My favourite park area however was Kahlenberg. It is a mountain on the outskirts of Vienna, and to get there, you need to take the bus around narrow, uphill streets lined with beautiful houses and restaurants. This spot was recommended to us by a local, so you know it's a good one! The view over Kahlenberg is beautiful: you can see the whole of Vienna and the Danube. There is a small cafe up there with indoors seating facing the panorama, as well as an open terrace where you can sip on your coffee with the best views.

From top to bottom:
- The view from Kahlenberg
- The roses of the Volksgarten
- The foutain of Schlöss Belvedere 

MY TOP ATTRACTION PICKS IN VIENNA

1. Schönbrunn Palace
This is probably the Versailles of Austria, and for a good reason! Although I find that Versailles could never be compared to any other palace, Schönbrunn is a beautiful piece of history, and so are its gardens. One thing you need to know about Schönbrunn is that you should always book tickets in advance. If you show up and buy your tickets there and then, you will not be able to go in straight away - you will be given a time of entry, around two hours after you buy the tickets. My friend Julie and I got caught off guard by this and as it was our last day in Vienna, we ended up not visiting the interiors of the palace. We had plenty of time to explore the gardens though, in all their beauty.



The view from up the hill is beautiful, and on a clear day you can see Vienna from above. Some parts of the garden are only accessible with a ticket to the palace, but all the free areas are already worth seeing.

2. Walking the town centre (churches, cathedral, walking tours)
If you don't have so much time to spend in Vienna, make sure to walk around the city centre to get a feel of the city. There are many beautiful churches, cafes and museums you can pick and choose from. I would recommend stopping by St Stephen's Cathedral, the Albertina museum and the Sacher Hotel, where you can sachertorte, the original recipe invented by the son of the owner - no less! My friends and I also followed a tour off the beaten track, which led us through picturesque courtyards and medieval streets - so always check walking tours online, or ask the locals for their favourite sights.



3. Prater Park
Prater Park is a fun fair that you can visit all year around. You can easily spend a summer evening there, with lots of food options and fun rides. We picked the chair swing ride, which is one of the highest in the world and gives you beautiful views of Vienna and the landscape around - though it gets a bit chilly up there! The prices of the rides differ, it can become a costly activity but if you really like theme parks, it's a fun way to experience the Austrian capital differently. I would say this is definitely a spot you shouldn't miss, even just to soak in the fun atmosphere and have a cheeky greasy dinner.


4. Schnitzel
This one is for those of you who eat meat, of course - schnitzel's, Austria's dish of choice, is unmissable. You can find it at every corner, and actually I am pretty sure you can find vegetarian and vegan alternatives now. There is one place I would recommend for good schnitzel and a very Austrian atmosphere, recommended and approved by one of our friends there: Schnitzelwirt (Neubaugasse 52, 1070). The choices are incredible, the dishes affordable, and one dish of any of their schnitzel is big enough to feed three. A tip: it is a popular spot and expect a short waiting time to get a table. 

THE DOS AND DON'TS OF VISITING VIENNA

1. Do
- Use public transport. You can get a weekly pass that allows you to take unlimited underground, bus and tram. Vienna's public transport service is amazing and it will basically take you wherever you need - even at the top of Kahlenberg moutain!
- Look up bars and restaurants in advance. Vienna is a big city, but I found that picking restaurants or bars last minute was a hastle, unlike some other capitals I've visisted. Make sure you've got your restaurant sorted before you head out. Booking a table is always advised, especially for popular spots!
- Speak English. The Viennese are great at English and everyone we met could speak the language. It's always good to know your greetings and key phrases in German out of politeness, but don't panic if you're not a languages person - the locals will still be able to communicate with you.
- Book tickets in advance for popular attractions. If you don't plan ahead, you may end up queuing for ages to visit places, especially the palaces. Buy tickets to skip the queues!

2. Don't
- Show up late for touristic places. Vienna has a lot of visitors, and of course everyone wants to see the amazing castles and musems. The earlier in the day you go to the attractions, the better your experience will be. There's nothing better than having a museum or a castle to yourself and avoid the noisy crowds.
- Visit every single church, museum, gallery. This piece of advice is highly unusual for me as I would always say you should see everything in a city, especially when it comes to its cultural and historical side, but in Vienna there is literally so much that you can afford to skip a few of the less interesting places. Pick two or three spots that inspire you, and spend more time enjoying those, rather than rushing around to fit in every single museum in the area. Make a connection instead of ticking a travel list.


Have you ever been to Vienna? Is the city on your travel list?
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