Saturday, 29 April 2017

Winning a Major Blogging Award - and What It Means For the Over 40 Community #SaturdayShareLinkUp

UK Blog Awards Individual Fashion & Beauty Winner 2017 trophy, Not Dressed As Lamb

Exactly one week ago I was at the UK Blog Awards, simply there to celebrate being shortlisted and to have a great night out... Little did I know that within a few hours I'd be crowned the Individual Fashion & Beauty Winner. Surprised, much?! More like utterly blown away!

And it may be seven days later but I am STILL in total and utter shock - I wanted to share with you my thoughts on (and delight at!) winning a major blogging award. I also want to give a shout out to all the people who helped me to get there and generally do the whole 'Oscar speech' thing we didn't get to do on the night, because that's what you do, isn't it...?

So on Monday I featured the red carpet-worthy gown I wore as it was #iwillwearwhatilike , and that hashtag couldn't have been more apt: I absolutely went for it in a stunning red floor-length gown from Coast (and oh boy did I worry about turning up in the same dress as someone else, I normally do vintage or a skirt-and-top combination to events to avoid that happening)!

I can honestly say I did NOT expect to win. At all. You can say that you hope to win - of course that goes without saying - but if I were a betting (wo)man I'd have bet against me, 100%. I've been nominated twice before, and each of those times I can remember nervously waiting for them to read out the names of the highly commendeds (not a real word, I know), then the winner... Both times I just wanted it over and done with so I could relax and enjoy the evening. Once my category was out the way I was fine, till then, I was a nervous wreck because I wanted to win so badly.

NOT ONLY WERE TWO OF THE EIGHT FASHION FINALISTS OVER 40, BUT THEY CAME FIRST AND JOINT SECOND.

But this year was entirely different, for all sorts of reasons.

For a start I wasn't the only one nominated in my category, meaning a fellow nominee was a friend: Nikki of Midlifechic. You can be there to support the other person and hope that they win too - it's actually nicer to be "up against" a friend rather than being on your own - it sort of took the pressure off a bit. The wonderful thing was that Nikki was a runner-up (highly commended), so not only were two of the eight fashion finalists over 40, but they came first and joint second.

That is an incredible achievement for bloggers who work in a niche where "being too old" for a brand is something we regularly come across.

Red carpet evening gown \ white cape \ UK Blog Awards 2017 | Not Dressed As Lamb
Above: Arriving at the awards - I'm so glad there's a great shot of me wearing the white cape as well! (photo credit, above and top: The UK Blog Awards)

I digress...

I also had an entire entourage there to support me which made all the difference: Having a group there of wonderful, amazing blogging "colleagues" who are also friends IRL makes ALL the difference because you really are there to have a good time. And not only do they make the evening a good one, but you know they're there to support you 100%, whatever the outcome.

So overall I had other things to think about other than whether I might win or not - I just relaxed.

But actually winning? What a shock. But what a lovely shock...!

The importance of this award to the 40+ community

This is the main thing I want to shout about where this award is concerned - the fact that an over 40 blogger has won a major award in a fashion and beauty category. I could NOT be prouder, especially when I think back to when I first started blogging (in 2011) and couldn't find any 40+ blogs to read. Obviously I wasn't looking in the right places as they were out there, there just weren't very many of them. Some of the ones I came across were very apologetic about being older, and had an attitude of "who wants to read a blog by a 40-something woman anyway".

SO I'M GOING TO DO EVERYTHING I CAN TO USE THIS AWARD TO OUR ADVANTAGE. I WANT IT TO BENEFIT OVER 40 BLOGGERS, WHICH IN TURN WILL ULTIMATELY BENEFIT OVER 40 WOMEN BECAUSE I WANT BRANDS AND PUBLICATIONS AND THE MEDIA TO SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE.  

UK Blog Awards 2017 | Not Dressed As Lamb, Individual Fashion & Beauty Winner
It's now TOTALLY different of course (I'm so pleased to say!) and I think older bloggers are finally having their time in the spotlight. The post I wrote last Friday about the importance of the visibility of older women in fashion talks all about this, so this post is a bit like a 'part two' to that post. What I'm so proud of is that I, or should I say, we weren't judged in a group of over 40 fashion bloggers. We were on equal terms with all the other bloggers of all ages - I won, and Nikki was runner up. It really felt like an almighty triumph for two older bloggers who understand how being older can be a disadvantage when it comes to working with (certain) brands... But then it's a MASSIVE advantage when they're looking specifically for bloggers in our age group because there are less of us, so it's easier to stand out.

It works both ways... Sometimes being older is in our favour, sometimes it's not.

As I always say, it's easy to get lost in a sea of 20-something fashion bloggers. If you're older and shout (positively) about your age, you're far more likely to be noticed. Women our age are actively looking for bloggers our age to follow, not 22 year olds.

So I'm going to do everything I can to use this award to OUR advantage. I want it to benefit over 40 bloggers, which in turn will ultimately benefit over 40 women because I want brands and publications and the media to sit up and take notice.

It may be a while before another older blogger wins in the fashion and beauty category (I hope to god that's not the case!), but if it is, the time to act and milk it for all it's worth right NOW.

Which leads me onto...

My first thank you - my fellow bloggers

So I have three sets of "thank yous" to make (keep skipping till you get to the part that's relevant to you if you wish)! The first goes out to my wonderful, amazing Over40Collective colleagues who came to support me on the night: Annette of Lady of Style (she came all the way from Germany), Lisa of The Sequinist, Michelle of The Barefaced Chic, Michelle of RetroChicMama, Nikki of Midlifechic - and honorary-member-for-the-night Greetje of No Fear of Fashion (all the way from Holland), who was there (in a way) to 'represent' Liz of What Lizzy Loves (who sadly couldn't make it).

I certainly wouldn't have won had it not been for the O40Co - I've REALLY upped my blogging game in the 14 months since we all met, and it's all thanks to them. Having a close blogging circle is one of the most valuable things a blogger can have. There is always someone at the end of the phone (thank you WhatsApp), ready to help you when you need the answer to a blogging question or a quick opinion.

They all helped in ways they can't even imagine - and I'm eternally grateful to them, so thank you ladies, from the bottom of my very full heart (and I would never have entered had Michelle BFC not made me swear to enter a third time one year ago)...!


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My second thank you - my Instagram husband

I mentioned Keith in an Instagram post this week... I honestly feel that half of my award goes to him, because HE is the one that takes all my photos. He's also the one that drives me out to locations on our weekends and evenings to shoot in the cold, the wind and the rain (and the occasional sun). The one that puts up with a clothes bomb every weekend in the bedroom. The one that shows me how to use a new editing package for video or Lightroom for blog photos. The one that takes care of all the computer tecchie stuff I just don't know how to deal with. The one that puts up with me still working at 1am because I hadn't finished and scheduled my post for the next day so we could actually go out somewhere and NOT blog.

It's all him.

Without him, the blog would not exist. He supports me emotionally, financially and even physically sometimes (when I've fallen asleep at my desk) - and he puts up with a hell of a lot of my cr*p.

But he knows I love blogging, and the hard work is made a lot easier because of him. Love you, Keefy - and thank you, thank you, thank you. You truly deserve half this award.

UK Blog Awards 2017 | Not Dressed As Lamb
L-R: Annette Lady of Style, Me, Michelle RetroChicMama, Nikki Midlifechic, Michelle The Barefaced Chic, Lisa The Sequinist, Greetje No Fear of Fashion - have you ever seen such a fabulous array of clutches? (photo credit - The Barefaced Chic)

UK Blog Awards 2017 | Not Dressed As Lamb
UK Blog Awards 2017 | Not Dressed As Lamb
Above: Video stills from the moment I won, and absolutely couldn't believe it (watch the video on Monday's post)

My third and final thank you - my readers

This, in a way, is the most important thank you. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, it really is down to the support I get from my readers and followers that allows me to continue blogging. Not only that but due to your votes at Christmas it was YOU that got me shortlisted in the first place.

I may not be what you call a "super blogger" (far from it!), and my page views may not be as high as some and my social media follower numbers may not be as high as others - but they're all genuine. I've never bought a single follower or (knowingly) sold myself out with posts about online gaming or carpet underlay (and I've been offered both). I'm 100% the real deal and a VERY ordinary girl who wears old sweaters and tracky bots most days - it's just hard work and the support of you lovely lot that's got me here.

So a huge, no - mahoosive! - THANK YOU to each and every one of you. Whether you've been reading for 5 years or 5 days, I can't tell how much it means to me to have your support and to read all the lovely comments I get every day as well as all the recent messages of good luck, and of course the congratulations. I may not have time to reply to every single comment left on the blog - sometimes I'm still up at gone midnight thinking whether I should start blitzing my replies or go to bed - but if I don't, I promise you - I read and appreciate each and every one.

I have utterly fabulous readers, and it's YOU that makes this blogging lark so worthwhile.

UK Blog Awards 2017 | Not Dressed As Lamb, Individual Fashion & Beauty Winner
Above: The official awards photo (photo credit: The UK Blog Awards)

UK Blog Awards 2017 | Not Dressed As Lamb
Above: I insisted on having my picture taken with all the girls rather than on my own as it truly felt like a joint effort...! (Photo credit: The Barefaced Chic)

Till next year...?

So I don't know if I'll enter next year. One part of me thinks it would be amazing to win it two years in a row (pfft! as if!), another part of me thinks I should not enter at all and let someone else win, another part of me thinks I'd like to be a finalist again just for the wonderful night out... I haven't yet decided.

All I know right now is that I have a ton of emails to send to various journalists and PRs to let them know about the win for this 40+ blogger - now isn't THAT a great story, and of course won't your brand want to work with the UK's best fashion and beauty blog (sounds hideously bigheaded I know, but I have to get over that and market myself on behalf of all the other older bloggers out there)!

Where brands [who pick up on this win] lead, hopefully others will follow...!

So all that's left to say is - I've shared my thoughts/stories/tuppence-worth this week, now it's time to share yours... LET'S GET THIS [LINK UP] PARTY STARTED!

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Thank you for joining the #SaturdayShareLinkUp! Designed to allow you to share anything you like on ANY topic, it goes live every Friday at 8pm UK time and will stay open for a week. You can share blog posts or Instagram posts, old posts or new posts, and link up as many as you like.

PLEASE be kind and leave a link somewhere on your post, and share your post using the hashtag #SaturdayShareLinkUp - if you tweet your link with the hashtag and tag me in @notlamb I'll even retweet it to my followers for you :)

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SHOULD I ENTER AGAIN NEXT YEAR... WHAT DO YOU RECKON?! TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS OR TWEET ME @NOTLAMB!

Catherine

Linking up to: Brilliant Blog Posts
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24 comments

  1. Wow, you looked absolutely amazing, what an amazing achievement. You really must feel so so proud of yourself. Its a fabulous achievement and victory for any blogger, let alone an over 40! Whoop whoop! Your blog was one of the first that I started reading about 4 years ago. Funnily enough, fashion blogs are not my thing usually, but yours had something extra that kept pulling me back. I enjoy reading, I feel so proud, (even though we dont know each other lol) and it makes me feel its a great time to be an over 40 blogger. Bloody well done xxxxx

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  2. It was such a wonderful evening and such an achievement! I'm so glad that I persuaded you to try again - or was it the fizz? :)
    Well done lady, well done!!
    Michelle xxx
    http://www.thebarefacedchic.co.uk

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  3. It was a fantastic evening (and morning after). So glad I could be there to cheer you on and talked to you lot. You have welcomed me with open arms. Thank you for that.
    Greetje

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  4. Huge congratulations Catherine! And so good to have such supportive blogger friends too. I'm making some good over 50 blogger friends and it really does make a difference to have that. And I love how you have mentioned Kieth here. We don't give our other halves as much credit as they deserve (thinking that after reading this) Where would we actually be without their help? xx
    www.vanityandmestyle.com

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  5. Can't think of a better & kinder blogger to win! The Over 40 age group is so proud of you and us older bloggers will hopefully carry the mantle forward for the Over 50s and beyond! You'll be thrilled to hear that the Daily Mail, Femail, did a shoot with 4 Stylish Instagrammers yesterday, from 54 to 74, one was me and another was Laurie from vanity_and_me ...... we met at your gathering last year. So, IF they publish it, this is so great for all of us older bloggers. Will keep you posted but a huge thank you for inspiring us all in the first place to spread our #positiveageing message far and wide. Big love and hope we have a gathering this year. Suzi xx

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  6. So very proud.
    Have a lovely long weekend and a rest

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  7. So fabulous! So deserved! You are amazing!

    Shelbee
    www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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  8. Congrats, you deserved this award long time ago. You have all the right to be proud of yourself. You worked hard and there were many curve balls, but you didn't give up. Carry on.

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  9. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!

    - www.inmyjoi.blogspot.com

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  10. Congratulations! Here's to the over 40 bloggers! And I love your dress and cape!

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  11. I can think of no one who deserves it more than you Catherine! And you are so right, the fact that an over 40 blogger won only helps all of us to progress forward. :)
    Debbie
    www.fashionfairydust.com

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  12. How fabulous! Congratulations

    Rena
    http://www.finewhateverblog.com

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  13. It was such an exciting night for ALL of us, and I am so proud of you and Nikki. No one lives and breathes blogging like you do, and no one is as supportive of our demographic and our blogging community. This award was really long overdue, and such a coup for you and all of us 40+ women. Thank you for flying the flag for all of us in such a stylish, elegant, kind, and fun way. Love you xx

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  14. I do think this is a fabulous advancement for older women everywhere!!
    I'm so glad it was you, and now you can be on track to change the perception for clothing brands!!
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  15. I just keep loving this more and more and I'm trying to do my share!!!

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  16. You're like the Meryl Streep of blogging! Heeheehee
    The clutch photo is forever burned on my brain ;-)Oh & those balloon hats!
    Love ya babe xxx

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  17. Congratulations Catherine & a massive congratulations to Nikki too! This is just brilliant. I feel so pleased for you both. You guys are not only doing it for the 40's+, but you're inspiring us slightly younger ones too. So many times I've wondered if at 36 I'm too old to be a blogger. After finding all these amazing blogs in the 40+ community I'm almost finding myself wishing the years away just so I can join! Ha ha. xx

    ♥ Carly Susanne ~ A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

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  18. You are amazing and you deserve it. I have been following you for many years and I am so happy for you.

    Congratulations!

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  19. Woohooo Congratulation Catherine *hug*. I'm so happy for you. xx

    www.annanuttall.com

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  20. Catherine, you must be in heaven all this week! What an accomplishment and as you said, so many will benefit from your win. Thanks for being an inspiration to all of us 40 and up bloggers! - Amy
    http://stylingrannymama.com/

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  21. So happy for you Catherine and so well deserved. And how wonderful that Nikki came in second. It truly is a great night for the 40+ blogging community. I hope you get lots of new opportunities from it!

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  22. Thank you for hosting dear! I'm linking back to you HERE Hope you'll check out my latest Fashion post

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  23. Again this is so amazing and I could not agree more with you. All the best Catherine! Wish we had the same here in Germany....xo Sabina

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  24. I can't believe I missed this post but I saw you looking Oscar carpet gorgeous on social and couldn't feel prouder. You have it all Catherine, looks, style, talent and are someone so loved online and IRL! You deserve this and so much more! xx

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