One of my biggest and proudest achievements of 2018 was joining a burlesque class. I’d always wanted to try burlesque – I absolutely love movies like Moulin Rouge and Burlesque – but can’t say I’m a very good dancer.

I’d been searching for a local burlesque class for so long and must have liked my current class – myBurlesque, which takes place in Milton Keynes – a good while ago. One evening I was telling a friend about my desire to start and it popped up on my Facebook that they had spaces for their class, almost minutes after the conversation I’d had. That seemed like a sign to me!

So I signed up back in September and haven’t looked back since. Despite being so nervous, I gained confidence almost instantly and have even gone on to do a show – in front of actual people since then.

I can’t see myself ever giving up burlesque and enjoy the classes so much, so I thought I’d do a blog post about why you should try a burlesque class too.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Fitness | 5 reasons to try Burlesque | Burlesque

IT HELPS YOU KEEP FIT
Yes, an obvious point, I know, but a burlesque class is one of those classes that constitute as exercise without even feeling like it. It burns calories, helps me hit my step count and even though much of the class is spent learning new moves and putting them together, there is, of course, a warm-up at the start. It’s obviously not the most rigorous exercise class – but it’s a pretty damn fun one!

YOU MEET SO MANY GREAT PEOPLE
I’ve met so many lovely ladies through burlesque – there’s nothing quite like getting to know someone whilst learning how to do a striptease or burlesque routine. In my class, there’s a real mix of people and we do things outside of class too, like go to shows and such. We also just had a mini Christmas social with games, drinks and nibbles which is nice. I never thought I’d meet so many lovely people through such a unique thing.

IT’S A HUGE CONFIDENCE BOOST
I can’t even begin to explain how much confidence it’s given me. I don’t have any rhythm and I can’t dance for sh*t, but since starting burlesque, I can move my body in ways I didn’t even think possible. I don’t even mean in a sexy way, all of a sudden I can move my hips in a figure of eight or just move to the beat better and it’s all thanks to this class.

YOU CAN BE ANY SHAPE OR SIZE
Starting burlesque has also taught me to love my body more – especially my curves. I used to wish to be thinner and to be more toned but – without wanting to offend anyone here – with burlesque, bigger is actually better in a way. No matter what shape you are, everyone always looks amazing in a corset for example. So if you’re struggling to love your body lately? Head to a burlesque class to really embrace it.

IT CAN LEAD TO SO MANY GREAT THINGS
At first, I definitely thought burlesque was just a fun class to try. Then I did a show. Then I ended up somehow owning a whole bag of corsets, long sleeved gloves, feather boas and other burlesque-related attire. There are even burlesque related tests/performances you can take/do to be a certified dancer (or something along those lines. I’m not sure what exactly but I know some ladies in my class did something similar and passed). At the moment, it’s a hobby I really enjoy but I don’t doubt that one day it could lead to further performances, lifestyle choices or perhaps even performance groups! The opportunities are endless: but they’re so much fun.

I dance with myBurlesque (in Milton Keynes, if you’re local), which is taught by an ever so lovely and down to earth lady called Micaela, who really makes everyone feel welcome and at ease. However, there are also routines you can watch and try on Youtube.

Will you try burlesque? Let me know!

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Now that we’re well into the new year (well, three days in, but ain’t it going quickly?!), I thought it might be nice to share my plans for Formidable Joy in 2019. I had a good few weeks off work over Christmas so had time to sit down and take a look at where I want the blog to go in the new year. Though changes won’t be major, I thought it would be nice to talk about my plans anyway.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Blogging | Formidable Joy in 2019 | Blogging Goals

FEWER POSTS BUT BETTER CONTENT
For the past few years, I’ve stuck to a theme of blogging every other day and felt like a failure when I missed a post. I put so much pressure on myself and I realized people don’t really even care if I miss a day! That being said, some weeks I’d be so busy that I’d wack out a post during my lunch break at work and although the posts weren’t terrible, it has meant the content hasn’t been as good or may have a few mistakes. It’s also meant I’ve lacked motivation at times too! So this year I’ll be posting a bit less – still two or three times a week – but with better content planned and written in advance.

MORE PROMINENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Towards the end of 2018, I began to focus on social media a lot more – especially Instagram. I’ve really found my way with Instagram stories and I think it’s one of my favourite platforms because it’s so creative. I’ll be going back to sticking to a social media plan – just to make sure that I’m still engaging on the days that I don’t post – but I’m going to be a little more lax about this too and not just churn out tweets for the sake of tweeting for example.

FOCUS ON BLOGGING BEHIND THE SCENES
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting up to scratch with the statistics of Formidable Joy, finally starting the Google Analytics Academy and fine-tuning a press pack. But I need to start focusing more on SEO for previous posts, keywords, cleaning up outbound links and more. Yes, it sounds boring, but it’s necessary. The nitty-gritty bits need to be done to make sure my blog can actually be read properly and if the basic things like decent SEO aren’t in place, then I’m writing content which isn’t really going to go anywhere.

ATTEND MORE BLOGGING EVENTS
I went to the MK Bloggers Christmas meal last year and had a great time once I pushed myself out of my shell. I used to shy away from blogging events so often that I almost forgot what it was like to talk to other bloggers, share tips and tricks and just network. This is something I’d like to do a lot more of this year, and I’d also like to attend more interest specific events like travel shows and the like. I want to write about travel a lot more this year so getting myself out there and showing my face will hopefully help that.

HAVE WEEKENDS OFF
I’ve also made a special rule to not blog on weekends! Sunday’s are generally my favourite day to sit down and browse other blogs and I sometimes get a lot of inspiration this way – so if I feel inspired, I will write. But as a whole, I’ve upheaved my schedule to ensure no posts go live on a weekend, partly because I want to start having more time away from my phone too. I want to be in the mindset that if I feel like writing or looking at blogs, I can, but it’s not necessary!

As always, I’d also like to vary my content more this year, connect more with other bloggers/improve my engagement and work with more brands. I’m hoping these plans will help push Formidable Joy just that bit more this year with better content, improved engagement and hopefully some long-term collaborations.

What are your blogging goals for 2019? Let me know!

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Well, 2019, here we are. What a scary thought. I feel like 2019 has been a long time coming; where I’ve been prepping for the new year, I’ve found myself accidentally writing 2019 instead of 2018 too many times now.

This year is the year to really sort my sh*t out. I’m planning to start saving properly (with a Help To Buy account!), let go of all the damn junk I own (both emotional and physical) and stop spending so much money – unless it’s on travel. Of course, I’ll write a post all about all about it but in a weird way, growing up this year is something I’m kind of looking forward to.

As usual, there’s also movies, music and other whatnot I’m excited for this month. Here’s what I’m looking forward to this January.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Hello January | January Favourites

THE MOVIE
I’m not really into stuffy period dramas at all, but having seen the trailer for The Favourite quite a few times, I’m definitely intrigued. The film follows behind-the-scenes politics between two cousins jockeying to be court favourites during the reign of Queen Anne in the 18th century – according to Wikipedia. It stars three of my favourite actresses – Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman and many scenes were actually filmed in the nearby Hatfield House! It’s actually a comedy-drama film and Olivia Colman looks savage in the trailer, so I think this is definitely one I’ll push myself out of my comfort zone to see.
The Favourite is released today.

THE BOOK
Welcoming in the new year with new starts, planning and so many changes means I want to keep as many areas of my life as simple as possible – which is why 99% Mine by Sally Thorne has caught my eye. It’s a no holds barred light romcom read – which I think I need right now! Darcy has had a huge crush on Tom since she was eight years old – but as her twin brother Jamie saw him first and nabbed him as his best friend, it has meant he’s been off limits. When Darcy has to spend the summer renovating her gran’s cottage with Jamie, Tom turns up single and all of a sudden it’s going to be a long summer. Can we all see where this is going? Yes. Am I going to read it anyway? Without a doubt.
99% Mine will be published on the 29th.

THE SHOW
True crime fans rejoice – we’re finally getting an in-depth and decent documentary about Ted Bundy – the charming and fascinating famous serial killer. And yes, I know it’s weird that I’ve explained him as charming and fascinating but Ted Bundy was well known for luring women to their death by coming across as charming as charismatic (a fitting choice for Netflix following the release of You – a show that has caused divide for many people being attracted to – and almost sympathising with – a charismatic stalker). Anyway – this four-part series will feature never heard before interviews with Ted Bundy whilst he was on death row.
Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes will be available on Netflix on the 24th – 30 years to the day he was executed.

THE EVENT
Christmas may be over, but that doesn’t mean the festive fun has to stop. If you didn’t already get a chance to go, many of London’s Christmas markets are still running. Avoid the crowds and head over to Winter Wonderland before the 6th, try your hand at Somerset House’s ice skating rink before the 13th or stroll around Hampton Court Palace whilst it’s still decorated for Christmas until the 6th.

ANYTHING ELSE?
Following on from the subject of creepy-but-hot stalkers and serial killer Ted Bundy, this month will also see the release of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile – a film that aims to cover the life of Ted Bundy but from the perspective of his girlfriend – Elizabeth Kloepfer – as she struggled to accept the reality of her boyfriends nature. Also, now that we’ve established that Ted Bundy was a very bad man but also very good looking and charismatic, I will note that Zac Efron will play the killer in the movie. Mixed feelings are definitely bound to arise…
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on the 26th.
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So here we are again. We’re about to head into 2019 and so I like to take a look back at my previous year in the tradition of filling in the below quiz. I’ve done it for so many years now that perhaps one day I can print out a whole pile and look back to what my life was like a good ten or so years ago!

Anyway. Here’s to it…

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | My year in review | Personal | Fashion | Boho | Fashion World

WHAT DID YOU DO IN 2018 THAT YOU’D NEVER DONE BEFORE?
I travelled alone – as in entirely alone. I know I went to Mexico in 2017 and that was amazing, but although I stayed out there alone for a few days, I flew out as part of a tour. This year, my first time travelling alone wasn’t my choice; my ex bailed on a weekend away like four days beforehand and it was too late to invite anyone else. I had the choice of bailing too or going alone. I went alone. A lot of the time it was really shitty and tough – I was also heartbroken at the time and the nights were the hardest – but there were good times too. Plus I’m proud I did it. The second time was by choice to Copenhagen and was amazing – I knew what to expect and booked into a hostel this time. I also booked an expensive trip without knowing if I would even be able to go but promised myself I would make it happen. Oh and let’s not forget the fact that I tried Burlesque too!

DID YOU KEEP YOUR NEW YEARS’ RESOLUTIONS, AND WILL YOU MAKE MORE FOR NEXT YEAR?
My resolutions were to be happy, be healthy, stay vegan and love more. I failed all of them, ha. 2018 was very much a year of healing but I’m in a really good place now. I don’t think I’ll be making any for next year other than generally just try and be happy and healthy, as usual.

DID ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU GIVE BIRTH?
No.

DID ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU DIE?
No.

WHAT PLACES DID YOU VISIT?
Berlin, Copenhagen, Porto. A weekend away in London too. Fun times.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE IN 2019 THAT YOU LACKED IN 2018?
I would like to do more travelling and save more money/get a better grip on my finances in general.

WHAT DATES FROM 2018 WILL REMAIN ETCHED IN YOUR MEMORY, AND WHY?
Oh gosh. I’ve got a good one and a bad one. I know it sounds horrible but I will always remember my ex dumping me for the second time in the most horrible way and just sitting in my car in Tesco car park crying and hyperventilating with it raining around me because my life had changed in an instant; I’d changed jobs and was in the middle of a move to a new city to be with him and all of a sudden that entire future was snatched away from me. That was a tough one and a total life changer. It was so, so sad but it will probably always remain in my memory to remind me that my ex was a total douche and that I will never go for a douchey guy again or let anyone treat me like that again when I am worth so much more. On a lighter note, I will remember all my travelling – probably the time I sat in a hostel in Copenhagen and genuinely felt that travelling is something I could do long term. And also Boomtown. And kissing a cute boy at Boomtown and realizing there is life after silly ex-boyfriends. Or the 31st of October (yes, Halloween!) where I had the best first date ever and has led to some really great things. Oh! And the day I became a Magazine Editor. I can’t believe I was able to become a Magazine Editor at the age of 28 – go me!

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT THIS YEAR?
Probably getting over that breakup and moving into my own flat – and actually managing to survive living alone.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?
In one sense I’m tempted to say moving back home again but really, although I felt like a failure, it was the right thing to do – I couldn’t afford to live alone in the long run and it wasn’t the best place for me. Moving back home felt like a step backwards, but I’ve often said moving backwards can be blessings in disguise. I’m now saving money, I have a great job and I’m seeing someone really rather lovely – all thanks to moving back home. So maybe going back to my ex (never go back) or not saving enough money.

DID YOU SUFFER ILLNESS OR INJURY?
No, unless you count me having to visit the medical tent at Boomtown for a blister, haha! It was only because I couldn’t find anywhere selling plasters.

WHAT WAS THE BEST THING YOU BOUGHT?
All those plane tickets! And my Boomtown ticket.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | My year in review | Personal | Boomtown | Boomtown Fair | Music Festival

WHO’S BEHAVIOUR MERITED CELEBRATION?
Me! I am so proud of myself for pulling myself through the worst break up I’ve ever had. It got to a point where I really didn’t think I would get through it. Also my friends. Becky and Briony in particular. They were so supportive.

WHO’S BEHAVIOUR MADE YOU APPALLED AND DEPRESSED?
The boy who left me for another girl two weeks before we were due to move to a new city and start a new live together…but in the long run, I’ve ended up happier so y’know, blessings in disguise and all that. It’s almost not even worth wasting breath over anymore.

WHERE DID MOST OF YOUR MONEY GO?
Clothes, travel and that Wish app.

WHAT DID YOU GET REALLY EXCITED ABOUT?
Eh…my future. And future travels.

WHAT SONG WILL ALWAYS REMIND YOU OF 2018?
These Days by Rudimental & featuring Jess Glynne and Macklemore.

COMPARED TO THIS TIME LAST YEAR, ARE YOU:

a) happier or sadder? Just about happier.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter. I have gone majorly overboard this Christmas!
c) richer or poorer? Poorer. I’ve been terrible with my money this year.

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D DONE MORE OF?
More travel, more kissing cute boys, more exercise haha.

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D DONE LESS OF?
Less crying and moping about. Jeez, honestly, I would have hated to be one of my friends, I was such an idiot!

HOW DID YOU SPEND CHRISTMAS?
At home.

DID YOU FALL IN LOVE IN 2018?
Not as of yet.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE TV PROGRAM?
The Haunting of Hill House. So good. Or I’ve just binge watched You in the space of a day – that show was so disturbing and thought-provoking.

DO YOU HATE ANYONE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HATE AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR?
I’m learning to let go of hate. I’ve just lost respect for people.

WHAT WAS THE BEST BOOK YOU READ?
Sarah Knight’s Get Your Sh*t Together.

WHAT MUSIC DID YOU GET EXCITED ABOUT?
The twenty one pilots’ comeback OBVS.

WHAT DID YOU WANT AND GET?
A nutribullet, new hair, wireless headphones.

WHAT DID YOU WANT AND NOT GET?
I think I got everything I wanted!

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE FILM OF THE YEAR?
Ummmm I finally got into the Crimes Against Grinwald movies and loved them both. I can’t believe how long it took me to jump on the bandwagon!

WHAT DID YOU DO ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, AND HOW OLD WERE YOU?
I was 29 which means I am freakin’ THIRTY NEXT YEAR AND YES I AM FREAKIN THE F*CK OUT. I celebrated at home with a curry and the family, then went out with my friends to see a twenty one pilots tribute band, aha.

WHAT ONE THING WOULD HAVE MADE YOUR YEAR MORE SATISFYING?
Ummm I don’t know really. It was a very mixed year.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL FASHION CONCEPT IN 2018?
Lazy to smart casual and finally more sophisticated.

WHAT KEPT YOU SANE?
The same as always, my friends and music. Oh and the boy who drives all the way to my house just to give me a McFlurry when I’m upset.

WHICH CELEBRITY/PUBLIC FIGURE DID YOU FANCY THE MOST?
Sam Thompson and Tom Hardy.

WHAT POLITICAL ISSUE STIRRED YOU THE MOST?
Hmmm. I’m not even going to mention the dreaded B word.

WHO DID YOU MISS?
My mum.

WHO WAS THE BEST NEW PERSON YOU MET?
My wonderful work wife Nicki!

TELL US A VALUABLE LIFE LESSON YOU LEARNED IN 2018?
Life goes on. If you can’t change something (which often, you can’t), then it’s no use sitting around moping about it. Life bloody goes on.

QUOTE A SONG LYRIC THAT SUMS UP YOUR YEAR?
Probably the entirety of Post Malone’s Better Now. It’s actually creepy just how spot on it was.

So that was a glance at my 2018. Yes, the majority of it was doom and gloom, but I managed to come out the other side! I like doing these quizzes because even though parts might be sad, I think it’s important to show a glimpse of the writer behind the blog. I have bad days as much as everyone and don’t often write about them on the blog and likewise, I think we spend so much time perfecting our lives on Instagram or Facebook that it’s actually refreshing to own up to the bad sh*t too!

How was your 2018? Let me know!

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I recently wrote about some tips on how to get more blogging collaborations, and this post included ideas such as creating an up to date press kit every few months or so, keeping in touch with brands and signing up to a few websites that act as a middleman and specialize in pairing brands with suitable bloggers.

Today I’m going to share with you what blogger outreach services I use! Of course there are so many – each offering different benefits – but these are my go-to favourites.

Formidable Joy | Blogging | 5 great websites to help get blogger collaborations | Blogging Tips

BUZZOLE
Buzzole I use few and far between as there haven’t been too many I’m suitable for just yet, but I do love it for its clean interface and refreshing breakdown of stats. Your profile includes audience analytics, performance analytics and even combined followers which I love. It’s a really easy way to see where you’re at in terms of approaching brands and where you need to improve, so Buzzole is great for beginners who are just starting to think about working with brands.

YOUCOM MEDIA
YouCom Media are a much more informal company who work on the basis where they check in with you and then get in touch when they believe you are suitable for posts. What I love about these guys is that they’re so friendly and helpful – they even sent me a cute Christmas card! They’re really encouraging – especially towards smaller bloggers – and are very transparent about where your blog sits on their roster: if you’re close to getting a campaign, they’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to get it, and they help you set an acceptable fee for posts.

GET BLOGGED
Get Blogged is a website I use very regularly for easy and quick sponsored posts. I am honest about collaborating with brands for sponsored posts and I have no shame in saying that sometimes I need some quick cash for upcoming unexpected bills and can find suitable assignments on Get Blogged. Of course, I’d never write about something unsuitable or that I wouldn’t write about normally, but I love the variety on Get Blogged. It also has a super quick turnaround time (payment is usually within 24 hours), plus a really helpful and friendly support group on Facebook – this grouph helps with anything from ways to improve your DA to link building. Payment is based on DA too.

BLOGGERS REQUIRED
Bloggers Required is another company I’m very familiar with but what makes them stand out is that they don’t just feature sponsored posts but full campaigns including product reviews or giveaways. I have worked with some great brand’s through Bloggers Required in the past and they send out a newsletter with all the latest opportunities too, just in case you forget to check the website. My only qualm is that the interface could be a bit clearer/tidied up and I sometimes have trouble logging in, but overall this is probably one of my most used websites, alongside Get Blogged.

THE BLOGGER PROGRAMME
I don’t have a lot of experience with The Blogger Programme yet but again, it’s clean interface makes it very easy to look through campaigns and know immediately if you’re applicable. You can choose to view just the ones you can apply for, or have a look at all of them to get an idea of what targets you need to be hitting to approach brands (and targets are really varied, anything from 3K to 250K). Most of the campaigns seem to be based on Instagram followers, but some also depend on Youtube subscribers or Twitter followers – and it’s clearly advertised the minimum for each.

These are just my five go-to websites for blogging collaborations – although I do approach brands directly too. Do you use any websites like the ones above? Let me know!

*Please note, this is a collaborative post but all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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