What I have learned in my first year of blogging.

It’s my first blogging birthday – Hannah Lu Loves is a year old! I can’t quite believe how quickly this past year has gone. It only seems like it was Christmas 5 minutes ago. I have loved writing blog posts, working on content and my photography so this first year has been fun.

I didn’t know how it was going to turn out or if anything would actually come of it. I only knew that I wanted to blog about the things that I have been doing or enjoying. I was always getting asked where my clothes were from or what make up I was using and I thought, what better way than to blog about it!

I have learned a few things along the way which I wanted to share with you, and these might be useful if you are thinking of starting a blog yourself. So let’s get into what I have come across in my first year…

Fabulous opportunities

The plus points of blogging in my first year have meant some really great opportunities. I’ve been invited to product launches, events and even a fashion show as part of London Fashion week which was amazing! I’ve also been sent lots of lovely products to review and test out which is something that I really enjoy doing. It’s so much fun to try new brands and to write my thoughts about them. I’ve bought things in the past after reading blogs and reviews so I know how useful it can be.

Receiving gifted items is amazing and I’m so grateful for this, but if you want to start blogging, I would advise not to go into it thinking that you will be constantly receiving gifted items all the time.  This is just a small part of the process. You need to genuinely love writing, producing content and focus on that, which leads me onto my next point.

It’s hard work!

Working a full time job, running a home, having a social life and blogging, let me tell you is not easy! There are days when I get home from the office, where I’ve been looking at a computer screen all day and the last thing I want to do is carry on with more typing.

I aim to post a new blog once a week and I haven’t always stuck to this. I have so many ideas buzzing around my head and have things that I want to write about, so I would love to increase this to twice a week. That’s a new goal I’m going to try and set myself for my second year.

You really have to be passionate and dedicated about blogging, putting in the hours if you want to go the distance.

Prepare to have IT headaches

I am not what you would call an IT whizz in the slightest. To be honest, computers and technological things hurt my head! I’ve literally had to teach myself how to use WordPress, (with the help of some YouTube tutorials along the way) and learn about plug ins, backlinks, coding, SEO, the works. They don’t make it easy let me tell you! SEO is a really important topic though for bloggers and if you want your blog to grow and be noticed you have to pay attention to this.

People don’t understand it

When you mention that you have a blog, a lot of people don’t really understand it. They think you are trying to be a model by having your picture taken, or that you are only in it for the freebies. It can be frustrating having to justify to others about why you are blogging. I decided not to tell many people about it as couldn’t be dealing with all of the questions. I enjoy doing it for myself and for my readers and that’s all that matters.

Expectations from brands

I have been approached by a lot of brands in the last year and those who I’ve chosen to work with have been lovely. Some brands will give you a free range on what content you put together and others will send you a criteria of what they are looking for. I have heard some horror stories from other bloggers though where brands have asked for drafts and made endless corrections and changes to their work. This I can’t get my head around. The brand must have seen their previous examples of work/blog posts so I they should have known what kind of content to expect from them surely?

Never let a brand dictate to you what your final published blog post will be like. Your post will not seem natural and will sound like a walking advertisement.

Be assertive with brands

There are some brands out there that will contact you asking to collaborate, but then expect you to work completely for free. You wouldn’t do this in your daily life, and blogging is no different – time is money people!

I don’t think brands always appreciate the time, and effort that goes into putting together a blog post and to expect you to do this completely free of charge is quite cheeky. Be assertive but polite with them and if you want to ask regarding payment, then it’s good to be clear and upfront on this.

Brands not using your images

This is something which has bothered me over the last year. I actually read a really great blog post on this. I’m not able to link it as she has called it a day with her blog which is a shame. She was saying how bad it made her feel when she had worked so hard to put together photography for a brand related blog post, but they never used her image on any of their social media channels.

This happened to me not so long ago with one brand, and it also really bothered me. It starts to make you feel paranoid – was my image not up to their standards? Why have they been using loads of other people’s images but not mine? Is it something about how I look?  – this is a dangerous mindset to get into but something that you need to be prepared for.

Who knows why brands don’t always use the images you have worked on. If you liked them and were happy in how they turned out, just remember that. Don’t allow this to demotivate you or make you feel bad about yourself. You will also get rejections from brands, and not hear back from them occasionally. This is also something to bare in mind and its important not to let that get to you. Something better will always be around the corner!

Staying true to yourself

Being authentic is one of THE most important things when blogging. If your posts are purely just product reviews, a blog can start turning into one big advertisement zone. I can often tell when people are talking about products just because they have been paid for it. I see it a lot on YouTube when people are promoting brands, when they cannot even pronounce the name of them properly and you can tell they aren’t really into what they are trying to promote. The whole thing can come across as a bit of a sham.

For me personally, I love writing reviews on products but I also want to talk about things that are going on in my life and about places I’ve been or  lifestyle hints/tips. Variety is key!

Promotion, promotion, promotion

Writing blog posts alone is not enough. The market is heavily saturated and you need to get noticed. I have found that using other social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter are essential for getting your name out there and gaining new readers. A good tip on Twitter is include hash tags of pages that help to promote bloggers and their recent posts. They will re-tweet for you which is a great way to gain new readers and interest.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading about my first year blogging and I’m looking forward to the future and to see what else is in store for me!

Leather Jacket – Per Una at Marks & Spencer

Cream T-Shirt – Zara

Jamie Jeans – Topshop

Handbag – Jimmy Choo

Prêt-à-Portea: The Dior couture collection

Back in early March, I went to the Christian Dior:Designer of Dreams exhibition at the V&A museum (you can check my blog post about it here). So when I discovered that The Berkeley hotel in London were hosting a special Prêt-à-Portea that was inspired by the exhibition I just had to go and complete the set!

The venue

The Berkeley hotel is based in the heart of Knightsbridge and is the ultimate luxury venue. They are well known for their legendary afternoon tea experiences too. They have 2 collections per year that are inspired by the world of fashion to reflect the latest catwalk trends, colours and designs. Previous collections have seen them teaming up with other designer brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino and Manolo Blahnik.

This special collection focuses on the iconic designs of Christian Dior, transformed into beautifully decorated biscuits and miniature cakes. Each piece is inspired from Diors’s fashion history which I absolutely love!

The afternoon tea is held in the Collins room which is a really peaceful space, decorated in soft lilacs, silvers, marble and mirrors. There is also a garden room section which has a lovely light feel with the surrounding windows.

A high tea to remember..

We arrived at the hotel feeling excited about the afternoon ahead. From the moment we arrived, the service was fabulous. We were shown to our seating area and our server started off explaining to us the idea around the collection, as well as information about what we could expect from our tea experience. We started off with drinks and there are so many varieties of tea that you can choose, from a selection of different white, green, yellow, black, tisane, and oolong tea options.

The savoury selection..

First to be presented to the table was a plate of beautifully cut finger sandwiches, each with individual flavours, fillings and breads. Alongside this, there was a selection of beautiful canapes. They almost looked too good to eat! I loved the presentation of these and it was fun to try all of the different options.

The sweet selection..

But let’s be honest, we all know the best part of a high tea is the sweet section! Following the savoury section, out came the stunning three tiered display of the Christian Dior sweet treats. Christian Dior cakes – isn’t this just every fashionistas dream combination?!

On the top tier we had a rose pink Miss Dior perfume bottle shaped cake. This was lychee and raspberry flavour and was topped with a gorgeous silver bow. Also on the top tier were 2 iced biscuits – a single J’adior slingback heel and the iconic bar jacket. I have been lusting after these heels for a while now and am thinking that I have to add them to my collection! Well they do say things come in threes after all…

On the middle tier, we had a pavlova and raspberry jam cake that was inspired by a dress design. We also had the Junon gown fromage blanc and cassis jelly encased with scallops of white chocolate and it was sprinkled with edible glitter. They were like little works of art – just stunning!

The bottom tier had the classic Lady Dior handbag which was so delicious. It was red chocolate sponge inside with an iced outer casing and it looked just like the real thing! Also on this lower tier was a pretty little coconut marshmallow cake which was decorated with a white sugar bow.

Overall verdict..

I love spending an afternoon having a high tea and this is one of my favourite experiences. I have wanted to try the Berkeley afternoon tea for a long time as always love to see the latest fashion inspired collection that they come up with. Their collections always look so fabulous and so being able to attend this special Dior inspired one, after visiting the exhibition was like the cherry on the cake..see what I did there 😉

Jokes aside, it was such a lovely afternoon and I highly recommend it. I’m never a huge fan of the sandwiches but these were nice and not so much that you couldn’t then enjoy the sweets section which you can sometimes find with afternoon teas. The sweet selection was just perfect and I enjoyed every item from this selection.

If you want to make a reservation for the Dior Prêt-à-Portea collection, head over to the Berkeley hotel website here 

Prices start from £60 per person.

Trend Report: The rise of Instagrammable cafes

It seems like every other week there’s a new cafe or cake shop opening in London that gets everyone excited to visit. I love finding new places to try and there is a real trend at the moment for these Instagrammable hot spots.

Pretty Interior desings

The interior design of these places is what grabs the attention of visitors from friends, mums and daughters to influencers and bloggers, all looking to get that perfect Instagram shot whilst indulging in gorgeous treats. The interior design of these places are getting more and more extravagant too. It’s not just neon signs and flower walls anymore – its moved onto walls covered in love hearts, flower swings and even flying unicorns!

For today’s blog post, I’ve put together a list of some of the most Instagrammabe cafes in London that I love at the moment for you to try out.

Plan your visit before you go

The most important thing to remember before you go to one of these places is to plan your visit. I would aim to go on a week day when it’s a bit quieter rather than at the weekend. They are not always the largest of venues and they can tend to get a bit mobbed, especially on a Saturday. I would advise to go quite early too. Nine times out of ten, you cannot book a table so if you go during lunchtime hours you will have to wait and queue and there’s nothing fun about that.

1. Peggy Porschen Cakes

Peggy Porschen is one of the original famous cake shops in London, as well as being the most recognisable on Instagram. She certainly draws in a crowd! The pretty pink store is always decorated with flowers around the doorway and they change the displays throughout the year. For example Halloween last year they had a pink crystal flower skull, and for Valentines day they had a huge floral heart display.

The cakes are really good and its the perfect place to sit outside on their cute pink tables and watch the world go by. Due to how popular this place is, there is a time restriction on your stay but it’s definitely one of my favourite places to visit. They have also just opened a brand new store in Kings Road which I’m excited to try out soon. You can read about when I first visited the original store in a previous blog post HERE

2. Elan Cafe

Elan Cafe is one of the more recent places to rise to Insta fame and they are expanding at a rapid rate! There are now several branches to try and they are the most boujee cafes in London. Each branch is decorated differently so you will want to try them all. They all have a pretty pink theme throughout and are covered in stunning florals and fun displays such as the love heart wall and hanging unicorns. These cafes are literally every girls dream venue. They offer a lovely selection of lunches and pastries too. You can see the photos of my recent visit in a previous blog post here.

3. Knot Churros

If you have a sweet tooth then you will absolutely love this place. Choose from one of their signature churros with cinnamon, or one that’s dipped with Belgian or white chocolate. Or if you are really feeling extra, you can go all out and have a churro served with ice cream, topped with candy floss. I had to try this option of course!

It’s quite a small venue with cute booths and the tables have decorations on them as well as the beautiful swing which is decorated with hanging flowers in a sort of jungle chic setting.

4. Maitre Choux

From leopard print, to rainbow striped, to covered in sparkly gems, Maitre Choux pastries have it all. I love the pretty designs and when you see their decorated choux pastry fingers all lined up in the counter looking beautiful, you will just fall in love with them! I didn’t realise that these fingers actually have a chilled cream centre and I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t actually like the taste of them which is such a shame. But, they do have other styles that are non-cream filled options if that’s not your thing either. However, I love the Kensington store and it’s definitely worth a visit!

Saint Aymes

This place is on my to-do list of Instgrammable cafe places that I need to visit. It always looks so beautiful and the window is of course, always dressed to impress with gorgeous flowers. They are well known for their pretty pastel coloured unicorn lattes and 24 ct gold milkshakes. Watch out for future Instagram posts as I cannot wait to try this place out!

What’s your favourite Insta worthy cafe or restaurant at the moment? 

Have you tried any of the places in today’s blog post? Let me know your thoughts if you have!

5 simple tips to make your bathroom feel like a Spa

We all live busy lifestyles and one of the best ways to relax is by going to the Spa. I personally love spending an afternoon in a Spa and I’m always searching online for new ones to try! There is something so nice about turning your phone off and getting away from it all, sitting in a peaceful environment whilst being pampered. Heaven. So why not have the same experience at home in your own bathroom!

These are my top 5 tips on how to bring that gorgeous spa feeling into your home.

De-clutter..

This is the first place to start when creating the ultimate relaxing space. It’s a well known fact that being surrounded by clutter can add to you feeling stressed out. So, try to avoid having lots of things being on display. Straw or metal style baskets are great and make brilliant storage ideas for a bathroom.  Arrange a stylish display of the main beauty products that you will be using for an evening of pampering.

Introduce some nature..

Adding some plants or flowers into your bathroom is a really easy and affordable way to add that Spa like touch. This will enhance the peaceful and comfortable feel that you are going for. Try filling a vase with some chic white flowers, or displaying a fresh green plant in a wicker, basket style base. You could even try hanging potted plants on the wall. ASOS have a really cool selection of hanging plants HERE

Update your towels.. 

It’s time to get rid of any towels that have seen better days and treat yourself to fresh new ones. Indulge yourself in getting fluffy, comforting bath towels and look for the larger sized bath sheets for that luxurious spa feeling! It’s also a nice touch to get hand towels that are in a matching colour or design. If you are feeling extra boujee, add a gorgeous new dressing gown into your bathroom that you can also relax in.

Add calming scents..

Aromatherapy will add that little something extra into your home spa and will boost the relaxing environment. Candles, reed diffusers, soaps and lotions are the easiest ways to set the mood and will all help to add scents into the bathroom. Try fragrances like lavender, jasmine or vanilla which will help to create that calming effect.

Set the lighting..

Avoiding harsh lights is one of the key things in setting the scene for a spa like feel. Think soft glows and mood lighting. You can get bathroom cabinets that have LED lights to soften the lighting or you can have a dimmer light switch installed so you can adjust the lighting to how you want it. This can change the whole atmosphere in the room and can transport you instantly into relaxation mode!

I hope you enjoyed my tips on how to create a home Spa experience for yourself. Let me know if you try any of these! 

How to beat the dreaded January Blues

January has always had a bad name for itself. There was a huge build up to Christmas and that is now sadly all over and done with. Your bank account is looking in a sorry state and you are feeling like an actual pig in blanket from over doing it over the holiday period. Is this sounding familiar right about now?

To avoid the January blues, here are some of my top tips and 5 simple ways to help boost your mood for the first month of the year.

1. Get out more

At Christmas we tend to spend most of the time relaxing at home and after a while you start to feel a bit lazy and restless. Now is the perfect time to get out of that sluggish vibe and get out exploring! Go to that new coffee shop that you have been wanting to try out, go out of town and have a mooch around a different one for a change. Plan something fun that you will look forward to such as a London west end show or go and watch a new movie that’s come out at the cinema. I want to go and watch the new Mary Poppins so I am excited for that this month.

I have also been to visit the beautiful new Elan branch that recently opened in London as you will see from the images in today’s post!

2. Meet up with family and friends

Arrange to go and have a coffee with a friend you haven’t seen recently,  spend a day shopping with your mum or sister and even plan a relaxing spa day with your boyfriend. Not only will it cheer you up, but it will help them out with the depressing side of January too! If both you and family/friends are trying to be healthy for the new year you could go to an exercise class together.

3. Have a Spring clean

There’s something about the start of the new year that makes me want to have a really good clean up of my home. I like to go through my cupboards and get rid of anything that I haven’t used for a while. I will start in the bathroom and go through old products and the medicine cabinet and get it all organised. I’ll then move onto other areas such as the kitchen (we all have one of those messy kitchen drawers) and work my way through the rest of the house.

A wardrobe spring clean is also really therapeutic and one of my favourite things to get in order. You can read about how I do this on a previous blog post HERE.

4. Dry January

Drinking has a huge impact with your mood and can make you feel fed up. We all like to indulge at Christmas and January is a great time to have a bit of a detox. Last year I only bothered for a couple of days and was annoyed with myself for not seeing it through. Not this year! I am one week in and feeling a lot fresher already.  Not only will your mood improve, but having a break from the alcohol is a great way to lose a few of those extra Christmas pounds.

5. Set yourself a goal

Now is a fab time to plan for the year ahead. Have you had your eye on a Gucci handbag or new piece of furniture but not had the funds to buy it? Set yourself a goal and save some money each month and when you finally have enough to buy it, it will feel like such a great achievement. Obviously don’t save more than you can realistically afford each month. Your bills will always need to come first!

Get planning a holiday. You might have always wanted to go to New York at Christmas time or for a couple of weeks somewhere in the Caribbean. If you start planning early on in the year you can work towards that end goal.

I have a few goals in mind for myself this year which I plan to stick to and will continue to work towards. I have been using the MiGoals planner which I featured in one of my Christmas gift guides HERE and I am loving it so far! It is a great way to keep track of your goals.

What do you usually do to combat the January Blues?

Let me know if you try any of my tips and if they work for you!

Thanks for reading xx

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