Recently, I went for a social media related job I thought I was perfect for. Being a blogger – and part of a generation obsessed with social media – it’s safe to say I live and breathe what this role entails. I’m always brainstorming and researching new ideas to get my blog content out there and if I’m up to anything remotely cool or interesting, you can bet I’m talking about it on Facebook. But – and this is seemingly a big but – I work in retail.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Career | Blogging | CV | Creative Industry | Is it really bad to have career gaps on your CV?

For a long time now, I’ve been trying to break into the industry of journalism or at least get a job somewhat related to my degree. I’ll admit – there are some times I try harder than others. There are also some times where I’ve been happy going with the flow – my role at H&M Luton was one of those times. I’d only planned to stay there until I found another job, but being my first proper full time job, I enjoyed being on a somewhat decent wage and loved my colleagues so I found myself staying for around two years, not really focusing on any long term career prospects.

Now that I’m full on job hunting again though, I’ve noticed one thing. My CV is very varied. I have lots of experience but when you really look closer at the experience which is made up of internships, freelance roles and contributing roles, it’s hard to say whether it’s real experience or not. In between this experience has been the jobs where I’ve earned money – in retail, in admin and one extremely fun but brief season of being a scare technician!

This is why I was a little disheartened during a job interview lately to be told what I thought was five years of experience actually really adds up to around two years – which I totally get, of course, because essentially, I’ve only really worked and been paid for working in an editorial role for one year altogether.

I never saw this as much of an issue, despite my sister telling me so. Trying to break into such a tough industry like journalism (or any creative industry really) is super hard and these days not only do you need to really stand out, you most definitely need the experience (as there’s always someone with just that bit more experience than you) and often you need to know the right people too.

So where I saw my CV as trying my best but still being motivated – I work in retail because I still need to earn money and during this time I am constantly getting other experience like blogging for Metro or helping out with Invicta Magazine’s social media), I’ve realized that potential employee’s see it as a little worrying.

Why haven’t I broken into the industry yet? Why do I flit from promising internships to basic wage retail jobs? Wouldn’t it have been better for me to take on internship after internship instead of internship-retail role-internship?

And don’t even get me started on travelling. On one hand, I believe that travel and life experience is essential for creative roles, especially if you want someone who thinks outside of the box. But what if you’ve spent years travelling and arrive home without any actual industry experience and find yourself unable to find a job?

It’s extremely hard to find that balance between getting as much experience under your belt and, well, actually earning money. I will take any job to keep my head above water – I am not a snob when it comes to jobs that may pay less or may require less challenging work than what I do now. I see it as hardworking to sometimes choose a secure job over a ‘maybe’ internship that will give you experience. It’s entirely true that sometimes you should take a chance on a maybe if it’s really what you want to do. But it’s also important to think long term and logistically – if you cannot afford to live on a non-existent internship wage, then choosing a secure job where you can earn money may be the right answer.

Now that I’m nearing 30 years old, it’s time for me to find a career choice and not just a job. But looking over my CV and seeing what once looked like someone with lots of varied experience who is willing to try anything once now looks like someone who realistically cannot catch a break to break into that industry.

So, how do we fix this? It’s the age old debate – internships provide a wealth of knowledge but even with too many internships and no actual career under your belt you can come across as unreliable – and now skint too.

In my opinion, the best thing for me – and others like me – to keep doing is to simply carry on with what we’re already doing. We may work in retail or admin instead of our dream jobs in London. But do we go home after our 9-5 shifts and switch off? No, we don’t. We blog. We share content. We research SEO. We teach ourselves code. We write for websites and publications for free because it gets our names out there. We job hunt. We photograph. We begin side hustles and look into new business ideas for a little extra cash. We network.

So although a quick look at our CV’s may look like we can’t get our dream job, if you look closer, you’ll see that we’re taking on anything we can to fund the careers we want. We earn money but we rarely ever switch off because we’re always doing something to further ourselves and better ourselves towards that end goal.

We just need to hope that sooner or later someone will take that chance on us.

What do you think? Do you think varied experience and CV gaps are really as bad as they seem? Or do you think it’s just our generation? Let me know!

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Even though January is now long gone, I’m still settling into the new year and taking time to plan ahead. One of my main focuses this year is obviously going to be this blog, but as we always come into a new year, I start looking into more ways to improve and grow Formidable Joy. Here are my blogging goals for 2018.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Blogging | My blogging goals for 2018 | Blogging goals

IMPROVE STATS & READERSHIP
This one is an obvious one but this year I really want to focus on getting my content out there. In 2017, I was guilty of sharing my posts on Facebook and Twitter only – and occasionally Google plus. I stuck to three tweets per post and one Facebook update. This is not enough, despite me thinking so at the time. In 2018, I want to think outside of the box in terms of sharing my content and also share on social media more in general. I’m getting back to tweeting a lot more – but Instagramming less. It’s hard to find the time and it feels weird sitting down scheduling non-blog post content in advance (since I don’t know what I’m going to be thinking about in the week or what weird stuff is going to happen to me to share on Twitter!), but a staple schedule of at least the basics is a must.

PARTICIPATE MORE IN THE COMMUNITY
I want more blogs to follow and I want to support more blogs with comments, likes and shares. I feel like in past years, blogging has become a habit for me to do. I’ve always enjoyed it of course but I focused so much on my own blog that I often forgot to read other blogs. I want to turn that around this year. Oh, and if you have any blogs to recommend, do comment below!

IMPROVE MY PHOTOGRAPHY
I’m in the process of saving money currently, so this one is well on it’s way to being completed. I’ll either be putting my money towards a proper camera, or be upgrading to a phone that has an excellent camera – or both! The next step is to get more creative with my flatlays in general, but luckily, I have always had an interest in photography so this shouldn’t be too hard.

START A NEWSLETTER
I’ve started a blogging Facebook group and I think the next step for my blog is to start my own newsletter. This is only something I’m thinking about at the moment and it’s only something I’ll do if I feel I push my content and improve my readership enough – there’s no point starting a newsletter that no one is going to read! – but it’s another goal, if perhaps for later in the year.

RELAX
I’ve also vowed to relax and enjoy blogging more. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it – because it’s one of my favourite passions – but I want to take the guilt out of not being able to stick to a rigorous every-other-day blogging schedule or not being as good as other bloggers I see. Basically, I want to improve my blog, but not at the expense of my mental health. Blogging is a fun hobby and even if I do want to turn it into a business, I need to remember to not let it stress me out too much either.

Do you blog? What are your blogging goals for 2018 or what would you like to see on Formidable Joy this upcoming year? Let me know!

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One of my New Year’s Resolutions – and blogging goals – was to focus on my blog’s Tumblr a little more. Only, of course, a lot of you may not even know what Tumblr is. Do you use Tumblr?

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The creative photo sharing website is much like WeHeartIt (oh the good old days of WeHeartIt!) or Pinterest, where people share their photography, videos, writing, art and more. Overall though, it can be incredibly inspiring. After five minutes of scrolling through, you could find yourself facing beautiful photographs of nature, stunning makeup art and bang on trend outfit details.

Therefore I set up a Tumblr a long time ago to coincide with the blog – and took time to carefully tag each image I reposted so that along the top you could click on what you wanted to see for inspiration, whether that be makeup, accessories, fashion etc.

Currently, it’s primarily geared towards fashion and beauty, but in future I might use it to share quotes, travel photos etc.

I used to link to the website with every post on this blog but when I stopped using Tumblr and reblogging (and forgot my log in details!), I fell behind. Now I’m back posting again however, so if you’re looking for beauty or fashion based inspiration, have a look and give me a follow! Drop your links below and I’ll follow you back too. I would definitely love some new people to follow.

You can find the Formidable Joy Tumblr at www.formidable-joy.tumblr.com!

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It seems odd to write about my previous year in blogging at a time when my blog is going through an upheaval and going through many changes. But, it’s always a good idea to look over your year in blogging and evaluate what went wrong and right. I did a similar post last year and it was such a motivation booster for me as I found it really inspiring to go over what I was particularly proud of and the like, so it seems like a no brainer to sum up Formidable Joy in 2017!

I know in the past year (well, last year now, but you get the point) I’ve slacked a little when it comes to blogging every other day sometimes and growing my social media channels, but, on the other hand, I feel that I’ve slowly started to improve my involvement in the community and engagement on my posts as a result.

Here’s some things in particular I’ve really been proud of this year.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Blogging | Formidable Joy in 2017
FOOD
Since dabbling in veganism, I’ve featured food a lot more on my blog and have had a lot more opportunities to feature recipes. I never ever pictured food being featured on my blog and yet they are some of my favourite posts, so that’s interesting. My Red Thai Curry was a hit – pre-vegan, although I’ve re-created it a few times since without meat! I visited an amazing fully vegan restaurant in Blackpool, spoke about eating vegan in Romania, I finally got to visit Purezza and I also reviewed a vegan Katsu Curry with Yutaka. I’m hoping to feature food even more on my blog next year, sharing some of my own recipes.

TRAVEL
One word: Mexico. I don’t think I’ll ever stop talking about that one time I finally got to properly travel, even if it was on an amazing TrekAmerica tour rather than entirely alone. Pro tip: if you’ve always wanted to travel but may be slightly scared, definitely consider booking onto a tour. You get the best of both worlds. Anywho. On my trip, I visited Chichen Itza and Merida, the ruins of Uxmal and Campeche, Palenque, Bacalar, Mahahual and Tulum/Playa Del Carmen. This led on to tons of other content too, and I also blogged a lot about my visit to Romania. Travelling was a huge benefit for me personally too, not just in terms of blogging. Getting out of my comfort zone was a great move.

WORKING WITH BRANDS
This year I’ve felt that I’ve had the opportunity to work with some really great brands! It still amazes me when a company gets in touch to ask me to collaborate with them or review a product on my little blog that’s so small compared to some others! Still, it gives me faith in the fact that a lot of companies and brands choose to favour content over follower count/fame. Some brands I’ve loved working with this year include (in order of post appearance): Thai Taste, Ballie Ballerson, Hard Rock Cafe, Kit Out My Office, AB Music Academy, Tulleys – The Howl Scream Park, CabinZero, Yutaka and JD Williams – lucky me! It’s a funny thing, working with brands. Obviously they think your blog is good enough to approach you and work with you, but you still feel under pressure to make sure you do a good job. You put off taking photos until you have time to take them in natural daylight, you encourage as many comments as possible once the post is live and you do have that small doubt at the back of your mind that the company meant to approach another more successful blog!

MONTHLY ROUND UPS
I don’t actually think my monthly round ups of what’s on or what I’m looking forward to are that popular. They’re one of the posts that take a fair bit of research and yet I don’t want to let it go. I enjoy sharing something that’s more on the ball; especially when it comes to film, TV and music. I’m super proud I managed to keep this up this year just gone and will be continuing it well into 2018, but perhaps it’s something I’ll look at migrating into a newsletter.

FINDING MY PLACE IN THE BLOGGING COMMUNITY
Let’s face it, I’ll never be great at being an out there blogger. I always forget to take part in twitter chats and when I remember, I hold back out of fear of flooding people’s timelines with my rambling tweets. I’m not big on attending blogger meet ups (unless there’s free food and/or alcohol #sorrynotsorry) and I still only comment on blog posts that genuinely interest me instead of commenting for the sake of commenting. But I’ve found my own way to network. I take part in an Instagram pod, set up my own comment pod and have also set up a close-knit but very laid back Facebook group recently. This has been so helpful in terms of not only sharing posts and supporting other blogs, but getting advice on everything blogging. It’s my way of contributing to the community without overbearing myself and it works for me. PS – If you’d like to know more about the Facebook group/comment pod, do let me know.

…AND EVERYTHING ELSE
I’ve loved including fun days out on my blog – sometimes it’s nice to just talk about having a good time and sharing those memories rather than attending something and reviewing it as a blogger. Waddesdon Manor was fun, as was a visit to Xcaret Park, ABQ London and BallieBallerson, of course! Okay, so BallieBallerson wasn’t a day out and was actually a press evening but it was so much fun that I couldn’t not include it. That said, there were a few things I chose not to blog about too, like my birthday surprise to Winter Wonderland. It was one of my best birthdays ever, but it was so special to me and close to my heart that I didn’t want to share it with the world or on this blog. I think it’s important to find that balance when it comes to blogging and I think I began to get a feel of that balance in 2017.

I’ve also tried to vary my content a little, which has resulted in more ‘Lifestyle’ posts than ever. But in 2017, I tried to focus on things like new fitness classes, shows to binge-watch and, um, the not-very-successful-but-still-my-favourite – nine step guide to becoming a twenty one pilots fan. Ahem. Hey, not every blog post needs to be successful or written with the reader in mind!

FINALLY, WHAT I LACKED
Considering it’s my favourite holiday, I let myself down with Halloween. Although I did a great round up post about what’s going on in London – and around the UK – for Halloween, I hadn’t planned or done half as much content as I did the year before. I put a lot of work into my blog last year and in some areas I exceeded – working with great brands and getting my comment engagement up – but I still really need to nail down on getting more followers and encouraging people to comment not just because of a comment pod or because I’ve commented on their blog.

But, overall, for my seventh year of blogging, I think 2017 was a good one. I kept in check with regular posting, I became a bit more involved in the community and I worked with some great brands. Here’s hoping 2018 is just as successful – if not more!

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Back in October, I was lucky enough to receive my own desk from Kit Out My Office and it’s still one of my favourite blogging perks ever!

Having my own space and desk to blog at is such a great thing, I really appreciate having somewhere to call just mine at my boyfriend’s place so I’ve been over the moon with this desk.

However, when the desk arrived, I obviously wanted to get a review post up as soon as possible so back then, the desk wasn’t as personalized (or looking as pretty!) as it is now. Therefore I thought I’d do an update post (as I said I might) to show you all what it looks like now and to also talk about how it’s held up.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Home | Desk update with Kit Out My Office | Kit Out My Office | Blogger Space | Desk | Review
So because my boyfriend lives in a shared flat with some of his colleagues, we (well he) was moved to the smaller room recently, which has actually turned out to be a good thing. We’ve moved some furniture around to make more space, and I have the perfect little corner for my desk – plus a wall!

I have yet to get something sturdy enough to attach my board to the wall so for the meantime, this cute little wire board from Primark just leans against the back wall. I only have on it one postcard from Paperchase so far, and I have left the others that came with it as they’re cute. This will be updated with inspiring prints and photos soon, hopefully.

Above that and to the left is a hanging bag set I got from Wish, which we both use just to store small bits and bobs like my hairbands, his vape stuff etc. Next to that is a sticker I stole from him, ha.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Desk update with Kit Out My Office | Kit Out My Office | Blogger Space | Desk | Review
On the desk, I still have my week planner and my magazine holder, which is now filled with recipes, magazines, notebooks etc. I’ve added a fake succulent plant (also from Primark and just until I can trust myself to keep a real one alive), another cute (currently unopened) candle from Vinegar Hill and a jar full of gold paperclips from Wilkinson’s. I don’t use them, they just look stylish.

I picked up this colourful pencil case from TK Maxx and I finally have a chair! It’s just one from the kitchen that will make do for now but I’ll get my own chair likely when we move into a new place. I’m on the lookout for a nice stylish cushion for it – perhaps a seasonal one.

Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Home | Creating my own blogging space with Kit Out My Office | Kit Out My Office | Blogger Space | Desk | Review
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Desk update with Kit Out My Office | Kit Out My Office | Blogger Space | Desk | Review
The desk has held up exceptionally well – proving that despite being my first bit of DIY, I did do it properly and it didn’t just collapse a few weeks in. We moved the drawer across a little in the end to give me a little more space when I have my legs crossed and my only qualm is that when the cat comes in and walks all over it to get to the windowsill, he always leaves lots of hair so I’m often having to wipe it down, ha!

Overall though, I’m still really pleased with it. It actually gives the whole room a more stylish but homely feel to it and being that it’s such a small room that doesn’t even belong to me, it’s really nice having my own space and a desk of my own.
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