How To Actually Get Things Done

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If you’re anything like me, you love a good plan. You get high off of new stationery. You sit down every Sunday to write out your upcoming week. Starting new projects is a rush: just think of all those bullet points!

For all the amazing, in-depth, go-get-em plans I make, I’m not so good at actually executing them. I think we can all agree: making plans is a lot more fun than finishing them (or sometimes even starting them, if you’re have a particularly bad affliction of Procrastinitis). Actions are so much easier to write down than perform.

I sat down with a good friend of mine the other day to discuss my upcoming music plans: I’m currently working on a small handful of songs to release as an EP. We discussed all the potential to-dos and obstacles… and eventually it all came down just to one thing…

Just do the work.

What use is putting everything in place for a launch when you’ve got nothing to launch? Why would you book a cast when there’s no play? Why was I hellbent on figuring out crowdfunding and mastering and artwork when, technically, I had no music to put to any of it?

The work comes first. The art comes first. Without it, you’ve got nothing.

With social media and the DIY music scene ever-growing, it’s so easy as an artist to trick oneself into thinking that giving off an air of professionalism is the be-all and end-all. I could spend ages finding a photographer to take the perfect pictures of me, I could spend (and have spent!) ages on developing a website and social media presence… but really it all should come secondary to the work. That’s what people are coming for, that’s what they should know you for.

I was, and have been, so swept up with planning and documenting and processing that actually sitting down and making the music always gave me a prickle of that “ooh don’t make me do it” feeling. When I know I’m creating something that’s going to be important to me, I always want to step away. My brain tells me that there’s something much more interesting going down on Instagram… or maybe I should be researching? Maybe I should listen to other people’s music? Maybe I should film a vlog? Sometimes it’s really easy to convince yourself that you’re being productive when you’re taking care of all the little satellites that exist around your project. But by doing this you’re lulling yourself into a false sense of productivity. Oh hey, nice website… where’s the portfolio?

As I said: just do the work.

The easier thing this time is that I have a set-up that’s guaranteed to sit me down regularly: I’m co-producing this record with a friend of mine, and we’ve blocked off every Thursday evening until this piece is done to get together and work. No matter what, come Thursday 6pm, I know that I’m going to be making music for a few hours. And because I have a friend who’s actively involved, I’ve got accountability!

So… what are you avoiding today?

Photo Diary: Autumn in Boston

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Burning leaves, golden skies, hot coffee and darkening nights... autumn is my favourite time of year, and I always find it evokes such strong memories. The month of October especially reminds me of a trip I took back in 2014 to visit my sister Harriet in Boston. Soooo, since I have a shiny new blog which I've been updating recently, I thought I'd take a second and share some of my favourite autumnal memories from my time in New England.

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All of these photos were taken with an old Nikon D50 (which I still love using) and a 5Omm lens. It really gives a softness to all of these pictures which reminds me so much of Boston's cloudy skies, wet afternoons and the fogged-up coffee shop windows.

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Harriet and I basically spent the holiday taking pictures of each other, doing terrible Bostonian accents and reapplying lipstick. I was going mental over these pictures I took of her because she! looks! so! stylish! Also Taylor Swift's 1989 had JUST come out and it was our soundtrack to the whole holiday. Perfection.

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How To Grow Your Instagram Following: Part II

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Find Part I here

Welcome back to Part II! I must admit I was holding back on posting this one as my own Instagram traffic had dropped for a while, mainly because I wasn’t as engaged with the app in recent weeks! Growing your following is really a lot more than just posting a pretty photo, and funnily enough that’s what we’re going to talk about today: engagement.

No instagrammer is an island! You gotta give to get. Reaching out and connecting with the your community on Instagram is such a solid way to build up a following, and maintain it. People like connecting with people.

Find Your Tribe

My journal account sprang up in follower count so quickly mainly because I knew my niche, which meant I knew my community: the bullet journal community. For those of you who are starting an Instagram account that is based around an active and established group of users, consider yourself very lucky. I believe the main reason my journal account grew so quickly was down to the bubbly nature of the #studygram and #bujo communities.

If you are less sure about where you fit in, consider what kind of pictures you take, how you edit them and what you’re taking pictures of. If you have a love of books and writing, the bookstagram community is huge. If you’re more into travel, there are millions of accounts that are dedicated to that very thing. If you relish small, quiet moments at home, then communities that focus around slow living or minimalism might be your cup of tea.

Seek out some popular users who post similar content to you, or content you aspire to. Take a look at their followers and engaged users who comment on their posts often. You’ll start to find a network to interact with.

Hashtags

Once you’ve found your network, it’s time to discover how they use hashtags to share their content. Identifying and keeping tabs on relevant hashtags is a really important way to grow a following.

The most obvious way of using hashtags is to stick a bundle of them on your post, to make it more discoverable. I always put hashtags in a separate comment under my post in order to keep things neat and tidy. As I post photographs that range in terms of content, I have lists of different hashtags for different types of photographs. I keep separate notes on my phone with these lists: one for bullet journalling, one for travel, one for more generic, homey photographs. Then it’s just as easy as copying and pasting the relevant list into a comment beneath my new photograph. The key to using hashtags is to use ones which are relevant. If you’re ‘gramming some food and go #HarryStyles then no-one’s going to click. They wanna see Harry Styles, and they’re mad at your Sunday roast!

Hashtags are also a great way to discover and interact with accounts that are similar to you. This is where you find friends! Normally I scroll through one hashtag I like and spend about 5 minutes liking every picture, then commenting on ones I particularly like, and maybe even find some new people to follow. This is also really good for upping your own engagement on your photos and helping people discover your feed. Sometimes I also like to go on the profiles of users who have commented or liked a post by certain instagrammers I think I’m quite similar to, and give them a few likes. It all sounds a bit sleazy when I lay it out like this, but it’s so nice to interact with people and add to the sense of community on Instagram!

Conversation

It’s so important to create a dialogue on this platform, people want to know you’re human after all! A good way to do it on your own posts is to ask a question in the captions. People love to talk about themselves, give them an outlet! Then the same goes for instagrammers you follow - if they ask a question or start a conversation in their post, join in. Discuss things with other users in the comments. On my own posts, I always try and make a point of replying to every comment I get on my photographs, no matter if it’s a heartfelt comment or a heart emoji. Reciprocation is key to creating meaningful connections and a real, organic following on Instagram.

So, there you have it. All my magician’s secrets! Of course, the real secret to a successful anything is dedication and consistency. Please link your Instagrams in the comments below so I can check them out! And of course, you can catch up with me at @inkajournal for all the bullet journal-y goodness.