How I’m Using Social Media in 2018

A few days ago The Minimalists published a blog post explaining why they took January off from social media and how they are going to use them in 2018. I really enjoyed reading it and it inspired me to write something similar since I’ve made some quality changes during the last few months.

First of all, I’m one of those people constantly complaining about the algorithm changes, starting from Facebook back in the days to Twitter and then Instagram. I firmly believe it ruined the experience on those platforms, not just for me, but for all the people who don’t want to invest money in ads.

I used to open Twitter and scroll my feed to the last tweet missed being able to read what the people I’ve followed had written while I was away, I replied to tweets, retweeted some stuff and shared a couple of thoughts. It was nice, Twitter was the place where I chatted with like-minded people about Tolkien and Middle-earth, blogging and books. It was my favourite social media, to be honest. Now it’s a completely different experience. When I log in, I scroll my feed and I have to actually look for the people I’ve followed because it’s now full of sponsored posts, tweets from people I don’t know but that the people I follow liked and, the worst, they are no longer in a true chronological order. You can imagine that when you tweet a good old status like “I can’t wait to see Black Panther this week!”, nobody would notice in that chaos because your tweets now need to be visually appealing, containing a link, 200 hashtags, and so on.

Same thing with Instagram. I’ve read so many blog posts about the best strategies to “beat the algorithm” and they sound just too much for me. The most insane one I’ve read was that, in order to get more engagement on your photos, you have to be active commenting and liking stuff 15 minutes before AND after sharing a photo. Sure, engaging with others helps you to get more visibility on Instagram, but we have a life to live! And we can’t beat bots (that people hire to do the dirty work for them), so why bothering.

I’ve spent 2017 forcing myself to make it work for me and my blog, to still use social media to get visibility, in order to prove that on my résumé, to let people know that I can use tools like Buffer, Later and Hootsuite. But, in the end, it didn’t work and it deeply affected the way I approached my life online. It doesn’t matter if I was scheduling my tweets or my Instagram photos, I was still spending too much time online without even getting the results I wanted.

Taking a 48h break from Instagram during Christmas made me realize that the problem wasn’t the blog, the problem was my relationship with social media! Since then, I decided to take it easy, I was very stressed by my last University exam, some health issues and things like that and the fast-paced nature of Instagram (thanks to Stories) didn’t help me at all. I decided that, in order to follow my word for 2018, I’m going to take more breaks here and there more often. I already crafted two little rules that worked very well so far:

  • Don’t check social media before noon.
  • Take Sunday off.

Here is a more in-depth look at my accounts (maybe this will also help you understand where I hang ou the most).

Instagram. Let’s start from my favourite one. I used to participate in so many different challenges, take lots and lots of photos in batches and schedule them in order to always have something to publish every single day. It was just too much for me, so now I post when I have something to share and I try to not stress too much if I miss a post or two from my favourite accounts. Same thing with Stories. This is the best place to reach me out, after the blog, because it’s still the platform where I’m most active (except for weekends, you still have my Contact page for that). 🙂

Twitter. At the end of 2017, I had tons of applets on IFTTT to automate all the things, then I decided to quit and keep my profile only as a placeholder. Then I thought about tweeting the old way (in real time without scheduling nor automating) and, while I enjoyed it more than I expected, I felt like I was talking with a wall since the engagement was basically zero, meaning that my links didn’t even get clicked once, so what was the point of that? I blame the algorithm. To be fair, the only tweet that got some engagement was Tolkien-related and this means that 80% of my followers are still fellow Middle-earth nerds, so I should probably consider that in the future. For now, I will just automatically share my posts through WordPress (no more IFTTT recipes), but I’m not planning to engage there anymore, that’s why I removed the icon here on the sidebar. Last but not least, this is the platform that brings less traffic to my blog. It used to be the first one, but now things changed and so I think it’s useless for me.

Facebook. I deleted my “official” profile 3 years ago and I never looked back. Now I have an anonymous-ish one that I use to interact in a couple of Groups and to manage pages, including one where WordPress automatically shares my posts that I created solely to let people know that I have a blog if they visit my profile from a group (since links aren’t clickable in the Fb bio). I check it only once or twice a day just to catch up with Groups, so it isn’t an addictive platform for me anymore.

Pinterest. The only reasons why I keep it are: you can’t actually delete your profile, it brings a lot of traffic to my blog. Currently, I just use it to do some research and nothing more (it’s the best place to find laptop/phone wallpapers FYI). 😉

Goodreads. I still use it to read book reviews and find interesting readings, but I’m not sure if I will keep updating it, to be honest. I stopped joining the Goodreads Challenge because it gave me too much anxiety and, for now, I feel like a simple list in a notebook works well enough for me.

That’s it! Writing this post gave me even more clarity on how I’m going to approach my online life and helped me to finalize some points.

 

How are you using social media in 2018? I’d love to hear from you!

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

What's Saving My Life Right Now

For the second year in a row, I find myself wanting to recap the past month with a Currently post because lists are my jam and, for the second time, Anne Bogel saves me announcing her link-up.

There are few things that I’m enjoying right now and are making my life better and I thought it would be nice to share them.

1. OneNote. I love to use it for saving stuff to read later, it works similarly to Evernote but it’s completely free and its button on Feedly doesn’t require a Pro account. I like to save articles and blog posts during the week, in order to be able to read them during my free time.

2. Lamy Safari + Leuchtturm. I finally found the perfect combo for my daily journaling practice. I love the way my new fountain pen writes on Leuchtturm paper (I have an A5 notebook with dotted paper and black cover) and I even started dusting off my cursive, unused since middle school (LOL).

3. Netflix. Once again it makes its way on my list, but you have no idea how much I wanted this subscription and it helped me a lot to achieve my goal to watch more movies rather than TV shows this month. I’m going to share the list of the ones I watched in my next post, stay tuned!

4. PDF Converter. You have no idea how many companies contacted me in the past to promote random things for them (underpants, a mattress…just to name a few), so I wasn’t very excited when Cometdocs.com reached me out to test their PDF Converter app. Long story short, this app saved my (academic) life multiple times during the last few weeks and now I’m very glad I’ve decided to partner with Cometdocs, I even made my dad downloading it! You can read my article about the app here if you’re interested.

5. #HarreadPotter. This hashtag is a new “challenge” started on Bookstagram to reread (or read for the first time) all the Harry Potter books this year. There is also the option to join a private group on Instagram, but I decided to just read the books and I’m so happy. It’s unbelievable how many things I’ve forgotten about the story, mostly because I tend to remember the movies better.

6. Breathe magazine. I discovered this magazine a couple of weeks ago and I purchased the digital edition of the last number to read on my tablet (because the paper one was too expensive for me) and I’m loving it! After stopping to read Vanity Fair in high school and a couple of history magazines during the first years at University, I haven’t found something affordable that I actually enjoyed. Breathe contains so many interesting articles that I almost forget I’m reading it on a tablet, almost…because how good is the smell of a printed magazine??

Here is the link to Anne’s linkup.

What’s saving your life right now, friends?

#OldSchoolBlogging and Why I’m Tired of Fake Experts Online

I was planning to write a blog post about the snow we’ve been lucky to have (it basically never happens before Christmas here), but then I stumbled upon an article that made me realize how much tired I am of self-promotion and why I want to go back and write just for fun in my accounts.

Back in 2009, I was struggling with my hate for studying (yes, I’m getting my MA in archaeology and I hated studying) and I had to graduate from high school. I was completely burned out and depressed, so my mom started looking for tips and advice on the internet. She found a nice Italian website (I’m not going to mention it because I don’t want to appear as a rude person, even if it would deserve it) with lots and lots of tips and tricks and advice on productivity, how to beat procrastination, how to study better and things like that. I loved reading it, it was something completely new to me, back then I didn’t even read in a different language than my own (Italian) and outside of my comfort zone (personal blogs).

I followed and supported the author for several years, even during the beginning of my university career, and I even bought a couple of ebooks by him. Then, I discovered the joy of reading English websites. There were a lot more topics out there, so many people writing about so many different things. After a couple of years, I started realizing that that guy didn’t invent anything, he was just reading a bunch of famous blogs and books written by American productivity gurus and repurposing the content for his little Italian blog. Nothing wrong with it, I mean, he wasn’t breaking the copyright rules, but he wasn’t sharing what he learned, he was just sharing stuff as if it was his own personal knowledge using titles tailored to impress the audience (like How to Study a 500-page Book in 3 Hours). I didn’t like that and it wasn’t even useful anymore.

I moved on from that blog and I started following other people I enjoyed more.

I don’t even know why I typed the URL of his blog earlier today, but I did and I noticed that the content wasn’t changed. The same topics over and over again, after 8 years he keeps writing the same stuff, using the same impressive titles. However, I stumbled upon an article that looked interesting and I started reading it. It was about how people are addicted to their smartphones and gave a couple of advice on how to stop it. The last one made me shiver because it wasn’t even crappy marketing, it was a pure mockery.

If your issue with notification often brought you to scroll Facebook, a solution to stop was to like his page and choose the option “View First”, so every time you’d open Facebook you’d see his posts first and that would remind you to not waste your time on social media. I mean, really?? We all know that this advice is crap. This is just a way to get more likes and self-promote your stupid page.

And the best part is that, in the comments, nobody even mentioned it. They all wrote how useful the article was (and I bet they liked his page).

This made me think once more how blogging has changed over the years and how we are all in search of more likes, more followers, more page views, more money. I don’t want to be like that, I don’t want to write a productivity article in disguise, that looks like it would help people but then it’s just another miserable way to get more followers and it isn’t helpful at all.

I’ve seen more and more bloggers and friends writing about how they want to start blogging about personal stuff again in 2018. I think we should start a movement, a community, a hashtag (what about #oldschoolblogging? LOL). Please, don’t get me wrong, I don’t criticize all the people who monetize their work, I’m the first one who writes as a paid contributor and will keep doing it, I’m just against fake experts and people who cheat to get more followers.

My Bookish Rules

Living far away from libraries (and basically everything useful) means I always had to buy books if I wanted to read something, even if I didn’t know if I would like the book or not. So it’s not surprising that I have accumulated a good amount of them during the last few years, until the end of 2012 when I got my beloved Kindle and I started buying ebooks. Owning Amazon’s e-reader isn’t amazing just because you can buy books from the comfort of your home and immediately read them, it’s amazing also because you can read a lot saving money and also without filling your shelves.

But no matter what, books were still cluttering my little IKEA Billy (I have a thinner version that they no longer produce), bending my shelves. Fortunately, this Summer my village got a little free library and I’ve been able to donate many books I didn’t care to keep, like those random chick-lit novels or those I didn’t enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love paper and I’m often tempted to buy new physical books when I visit bookstores. But since my living space is small, I decided to set some boundaries and I came up with some self-imposed rules to manage my impulse buys in 2018.

  • I’ll buy physical books only by my favourite authors (Tolkien, JK Rowling, Agatha Christie, etc.). I know this is a very difficult rule to follow for a bookworm, but believe me, you would try to stick with it if you’d live in a tiny space like mine.
  • I’ll buy only pretty editions. After donating tons of old books, I realized how ugly were the editions I used to pick up, obviously because I was always trying to save money, so I mostly bought the cheapest pockets/paperbacks around. Now, because of my strict rules, if I’ll buy a book, I’ll choose pretty editions, possibly hardcovers (my favourites).
  • The rest of my reading time will happen on my Kindle. Ebooks have many perks because I can highlight passages (this is why I love reading non-fiction in a digital format), read them everywhere, they don’t take any physical space, and so on.
  • Finally, before purchasing a Kindle book, I’ll always send an extract to my device first. This is such a useful service offered by Amazon, but somehow I always neglected it and directly bought the book, maybe to discover later that I didn’t enjoy the way it was written/formatted/whatever.

That’s it! This is how I plan to handle my bookish life next year. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to own a bigger bookcase and I’ll be able to reduce the number of rules for my book-buying habits.

My Project Life Goals for 2018

Source BeckyHiggins.com

2018 is going to be my fourth year documenting my life with the Project Life app. (If you don’t get what I’m talking about, please, take a look at the official website here). It all started because I felt the need to keep track of private events and photos I took and I didn’t want to share on Instagram or my blog. You know, something you would be comfortable to share with friends and family in a photo album, but not with the internet. Stumbling upon Becky Higgins and her work has been incredible for me, I’ve even been in her Creative Team during 2016 and I will treasure that experience forever.

Since receiving my tablet at the end of 2015, I started creating all my layouts there because it was easier with a big screen. But lately, I started noticing a little bit of laziness in my pages, I basically ended up using just filler cards and avoiding the journaling part, which is one of the things that drove me to the app, other than that I would just create collages elsewhere. Typing on a 10 inches screen isn’t very handy and this is probably the reason why I started journaling less and less this year. Also, having all my layouts on the tablet, I didn’t have them always with me and I even forgot them sometimes, especially during busy weeks, so when I went back to finish them I barely remembered what happened and what was journaling-worthy.

That’s why I decided to write down some goals for the next year, in order to craft better layouts, since I’m still hoping to be able to afford to print them in a photo book one day!

Reinstall the PL app on my phone and work on my layouts when I have time, not just when I remember they exist!

Use only 1 or 2 kits per year. I love all the amazing designs out there, but I’d like to have a more minimalistic approach and more cohesive spreads next year. However, I’ll keep open the possibility to choose other kits for layouts about special events, for example.

Take pictures of cards, mementoes and screenshots of nice chats. I have a Traveler’s Notebook where I keep all the cards and scraps of packaging paper I receive, it’s like a scrapbook without photos and I love it, but I’d like to add more mementoes into my Project Life layouts too. If I watch a movie and I really like it, I usually keep the ticket stubs and glue them inside my personal journal (I started doing it when I was a child!). However, one of my goals with Project Life is to record the little things, so I’d like to add more photos of tickets and things like that too.

Add more journaling cards! As I mentioned above, I’d like to journal more in my layouts. I have boxes and boxes of photo albums of my family and, even if I remember almost everything about my childhood, I’d love to know more about the people in my grandparents and parents’ albums. What actually made me try Project Life was, in fact, the ability to add more than just photos.

Stick with a monthly theme. For the whole 2015 and 2016, I did weekly layouts. Every Sunday, I picked my tablet and I created a page to summarize my week. It worked well at first, but then I started feeling too frustrated because I didn’t have enough photos to fill a page or there weren’t noteworthy things to record. For 2017, I decided to switch to monthly pages and work on them when I felt like it, rather than every Sunday, and, despite the laziness mentioned above, I felt way better about it.

Keep it private. After discovering Project Life, I fell in the rabbit hole of blogs and YouTube channels all about that, there are so many talented people out there! I immediately thought about creating a blog to share my pages, but then I decided to share them here to keep things simple (maybe some long-time readers will remember it!). Unfortunately, I realized that it created so much pressure to me and, while it was a nice a way to share my life with my readers, I realized I wasn’t spontaneous anymore, it was just something I did to share with the internet, like Instagram or my blog. It still was my real life documented, but I stopped adding family photos or personal stuff because I would have to blur them before uploading the image on the blog and it was too much work. Over the years, I’ve learned that some hobbies need to remain private in order to stay authentic and spontaneous. I don’t always have to share everything on the internet. I still like to talk about it, that’s why I wrote this post, but this is not going to be a regular column anymore.

 

If you create scrapbooks or other kinds of memory keeping, I’d love to hear your plans for 2018!