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Blog Hop and a New Look For SilverSpoon London

Starting my Blog 

If you know my personality I never go into anything spontaneously and with all guns blazing; every decision is conducted with planning and meticulous research, particularly blogging. So when I decided to start my blog I carefully researched the available platforms; I thought my blog would just be something fun for me to record my travels and restaurant visits….no one’s actually going to read it… So with that in mind I decided to go for Blogger, it’s free, easy to use and owned by Google and it was what my dad used to write his blog. I brainstormed the perfect name for the blog, bought a template from Etsy and I was ready to go!

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Moving On

Throughout the last year and a half of blogging I gained more readers than I ever thought I would, worked with fantastic brands and my blog started become a business as well as place to record my random musings, restaurant recommendations and travel adventures. I began to find Blogger as a platform quite frustrating, there were things I wanted to do with the blog that weren’t possible and I felt certain aspects of it looked quite amateur and unfinished. I knew a self-hosted WordPress blog would be more flexible and I’ve have more freedom with design – plus it would belong to me and not to Google!

My blog means the world to me and I was pretty scared of making the transition from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress. I’d heard ‘horror’ stories of bloggers losing their google rankings, pictures not feeding through properly, formatting going awry and all sorts. I was far too nervous to do it myself so after more research and asking other bloggers I was directed to Kim Lawler, a web developer with great design skills and as a blogger herself, she understood that your blog is your baby.

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If you’re looking for a developer or designer yourself I’d advise taking a look a websites that you like, most of them will have the designer’s details at the bottom. Most good developers will have a waiting list, so I stuck myself on Kim’s until she was ready to start on my project.

Unlike Blogger, on WordPress you can choose a theme for your design and layout, but I like being a little different so Kim custom-made a theme for me. Once the design was ready, Kim migrated all my posts to the new site, hosted by UK based company, Krsytal. I held my breath ready for the big reveal, expecting problems, formatting errors and not all my comments coming through…but I needn’t have worried everything had come through easily and bar a few spacing issues, the formatting looked great. The only task for me to complete was categorising each blog post in the restaurant index plus sorting through the London Life and Travel Sections.

So What’s New

Design: I wanted to keep the new look blog very similar to the original, I loved the simple, look and I wanted to stay true to the branding that I’d created. I think the overall look is neater and tidier with a larger and more readable font. The archive is still there but neatly packed away with the recent and popular posts in the sidebar for ease of navigation.

Layout and Navigation: 

The restaurant index is still there divided by location and price but I’ve made the layout a little clearer and included a thumbnail picture to add some enticement. I’ve added a drop down menu for the luxury travel section and you simply choose the continent you’re interested in and the countries are listed at the top. I’m hoping to further improve the navigation of the travel section later in the year. The London life section also has a drop down menu and for the first time I’ve categorised posts into different areas of interest such as spa, beauty and events. Also rather than having long posts on the home page, I’ve added a read more button which should aid the loading time. I’ve installed the Disqus commenting system to allow me to have more conversation with my readers plus I like the way it looks and displays other conversations. The only strange thing is that commas in the original comments converted to HTML, anyone know how to fix this?

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That’s about it really as I wanted to stayed true to the brand I’d created for my blog and not add anything too fancy.

That leads me neatly on to the second half of the post…

Blog Hop and Behind the Scenes of SilverSpoon London

A while ago, one of my favourite bloggers, Kelly, from Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes, nominated for the Blog Hop. Apols for the delay, Kelly, but I really wanted to tie my blog hop post into the launch of my new website look with a few words on my future plans. First, a little tribute to Kelly, not only is her blog the website to visit for gluten-free food recommendations but she fuels my wanderlust with her fantastic trips including her recent travels to Morocco, Croatia and Malaysia. But she has also been an incredibly supportive blogger to me, particularly with my recent move to WordPress…thank you Kelly!!

1. What am I working on / writing? 

Regular readers will know that working on my photography has been an ongoing project since I started SilverSpoon and I can finally say I’m at a point where I’m pretty proud of it. Here are a few before and after shots comparing my early photos to how they are today.

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Of course, buying a new DSLR camera played a huge part in developing my photography…but that was the easy bit, it was learning how to use it that was the harder bit! For practical matters I took a few photography classes but in terms of composition it was reading other blogs and taking inspiration from my favourites that also aided my improvement. Jasiminne from Posh, Broke and Bored, Jacintha from Urban Pixxels, Giuila from Mondo Mulia and Mehreen from Wrap Your Lips Around This take some of the most beautiful food and travel pictures and they are definitely inspirations for me. As well as developing practical photography skills, I’ve honed my skills in Lightroom in order to get the very best out of the pictures that I take, and I’ve been really pleased with the results.

2. How does my work and writing differ from others of its genre

Though my focus is luxury travel, I always wanted to make sure it down to earth, honest and not pretentious. I try to so this with an injection of humour and personality, blog posts aren’t always straight forward reviews but they’re also stories of what happened along the way. Of course, Mr Silver is often as much part of the story as I am and think my luxury travel tales often have a romantic or couples focus.

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I know that there are literally a gazillion blogs and a bazillion travel blogs, but there’s only one you and that’s what a blog is about; being authentic and true to yourself.

3. Why do I write what I do? 

I’ve had people say to me, ‘I want to start a blog but I don’t know what to write about…’ well there’s only one answer to that I think, write about what you’re passionate about, and for me that was food, restaurants and luxury travel…

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Basically, the things I knew I loved and could talk knowledgeably about. My friends were always asking me for advice on London restaurants and places to visit, especially for romantic travel and my blog was a place not only for me to record my travels but a medium for me to give recommendations to my friends about the places I loved and where to avoid. As my blog has grown, my recommendations have extended to my readers and social media followers too and I hope to carry on telling people about my passions and all my little finds. I like to think I write exactly how I talk, so when you meet me there’s no surprises, I’m still the girl from the blog!

4. How does my writing process work 

As I blog nearly everyday, I like to stick to a schedule and I have an excel spreadsheet noting down each day of the week, what I’m going to publish and the general topic ie restaurant, travel, lifestyle. I try to keep it varied and make sure I’m writing lots of independent posts as well as those linked to PRs and sponsorship. Keeping a schedule this way is the best way for me to keep organised and as life is changeable and sometimes erratic, my schedule is fluid and I’m always moving things around.

As to the process itself, I always choose and edit my photos for each post as they help inspire the content. I tend not to take notes during a meal, but seeing the photo reminds me of what I thought of it and the taste and seeing photos of a landscape fills me with the memories of the place. A new blog post will then be structured around the photos…when I write the post sometimes I stick to an angle with a back story but sometimes not. I absolutely love writing blog posts, especially those relating to special trips, as you can relive the memories once again.

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Once I’ve written a post, I need some space from it. I was like that at university I couldn’t reread an essay straight away…I need to go away and return to it. Then I do, I come back and proof read it a couple of times though it does make me cringe that I’ll return to read an old blog post a month later and see mistakes in it! Sigh, if only I had my own editorial assistant…

Next I get to nominate three lovely bloggers to take part in the blog hop and answer the four questions above:

Lauren Hudson for The Lifestyle Diaries: Lauren has just graduated from university after spending her year aboard in Rennes; her blog is a fun mix of lifestyle, restaurants and travel…and she loves to cook too…she’s even promised to cook for me, a promise which I’m holding her too. When I ‘met’ Lauren via social media I straight away thought how lovely she was and meeting her in real life was an absolute pleasure.

Polly Byles from Follow Your Sunshine:  Originally from the UK, Polly moved to Qatar both for her work and to be with the man she loved. I’ve followed her progress over the past year from bride-to-be to newly wed always having fun in the sun and luxurious adventures in the Middle East and beyond. I was also lucky enough to meet Polly and we clicked instantly, as I knew we would.

Zoe from Love and Limoncello: Zoe recently took a break from blogging but now she’s back to tell us all about the finest hotels and delicious food, all told with plenty of love and a good swig of limoncello.

I really hope that you enjoyed this little behind the scenes post about what went into developing my new blog and about my blogging process. If you’d like to read more I’d love for you to sign up to SilverSpoon via email or Bloglovin’ – the sign up can be found in the top right. And if there’s anything different that you’d ever like to see on this blog please let me know in the comments below.