26 May 2017

In The Kitchen: Squid with Seaweed Pasta

I Sea Pasta review, squid and seaweed pasta recipe, UK food blog, food bloggers

Squid is a treasure from the sea, and often a delicacy on a restaurant menu - but did you know that you can easily cook squid at home for a quarter of the price? I paired up with I Sea Pasta* from Seamore Food to create a delicious and healthy at home meal which will be an equal hit as a dinner party main, or a casual family feast. 

24 May 2017

How To Go Freelance Without Going Broke

how to go freelance, lifestyle blog, Hampshire bloggers, career blog

Many of us will stop pursuing our dreams thanks to just one fear that stops us dead in our tracks: financial stability. When I decided that I wanted to give up my 9-5 office job, I was so excited at the opportunities and how my life would change - but I was terrified about how I'm going to be making a living, and what happens if at first I don't get any clients?
You have to understand that when I left my financially stable job, I didn't have much in my savings account except for a couple of hundred pounds I've managed to save when I finally handed in my notice, I have a house which I'm renting and that rent needs to be paid along with bills, and I have mouths to feed in the form of my animals. The 'money fear' was real. So how on earth do you get the courage to take the leap, and start your own business without going broke in the process?

Well, firstly you need to have the belief that you can do it. Keeping a positive attitude throughout this process is key, and if you don't believe you can do it - the universe won't believe you can do it either. A delusional sense of self confidence and belief goes a long way in these life changing times. So now we've got the right attitude, let's talk about practical things.

Don't decide to go freelance or start your business in a moment of passion and rush to hand in the notice for your 9-5 job. I have been thinking for years about going freelance, planning my business strategy, building up confidence and knowledge, and also building a client base. Confession time - I have once before tried to go freelance 'on a whim' and trust me, it didn't work out because I didn't have the right tools, or knowledge, or paying clients! I ended up back in a 9-5 office after only a couple of months. It's great following coaches who promise to take you from £0-£10,000 in 3 months but the reality is - it's going to take some time to build your business and turn a profit.
And this time I really wanted to make it work, so whilst I was balancing a 9-5 (which we all know is never 9-5, more like 8-8) I worked really hard on my blog, found paying clients who I could contract with for a couple of hours a week, went to networking events, and started to position myself as a freelancer on social media and also on my website. I collaborated with local creatives and worked on some projects for pennies, so I could build up my portfolio. I worked more than I ever did in my life because after my office job was over, my freelancing work started. But you know what? It took me 5 months from the concrete decision of leaving my job to be able to leave and embark on my journey, thanks to all the hard background work I put in.

As a freelancer you quickly learn that some months you land a job which will pay your bills and more - and some months you'll end up eating pasta for weeks because you don't know when the next pay check is coming in. So if you have savings - great, you'll end up using them. If you don't, you need to learn not to spend your earnings monthly but start squirrelling away your money for months when work isn't coming in. It's all about balance - and I've had to learn the hard way to say 'no' to going out to dinners with friends, going shopping, or even going out for drinks. You have to accept that your social life might suffer when you start your own business because our 9-5 friends don't understand that as freelancers we don't have a 'payday' as such. Even if you try and invoice your clients at the end of the month, I can tell you now that at least 50% of them won't pay you on time. So you have to think of the worst, and ensure your bank account is never empty. I've had dreamy months when I've landed several big campaigns - but I've also had months when I had my smaller accounts which just pay my monthly bills, and in the same time my car broke down, I had a water leak and my bill was in the hundreds, and my bank account incurred charges. True story, shit happens - and you have to be prepared for it.

In your first months, and even more importantly as you grow, you need to be proactive in finding work and new clients. To be profitable, your client base needs to grow and projects need to be filling up your diary. Networking events are a great way to find local clients and make brands aware you are working close to their HQ's. Social media is your best friend - share your latest projects, news, and offers with all of your followers, you never know who's looking for help you can offer.

And before I forget, if you are in the creative industry don't forget that you can save a hell of a lot of money on marketing by producing your own materials! Design your leaflets, logos, websites, business cards - wherever you can save money and get creative with DIY then do it. Or, collaborate with other creatives in your area in an agreement you can both benefit from.

So, in summary here are my tips on how to go freelance without going broke:

1. Have a plan before you leave your stable 9-5 job: that plan needs to include savings, clients, and how to build your business

2. Put in the hard work in making your plan happen whilst you're still in full time work - contract a couple of clients who will pay your basic bills, this is very important

3. Keep an eye on your bank account and remember that some months will be better than others - especially at the start of your freelance journey

4. Always be proactive in finding new clients, telling people about what you do, and sharing your latest news and offers online

5. Create as much of your own marketing as possible, and collaborate with local creatives on mutually beneficial partnerships

Now I'd love to hear from you guys - so many of you tell me you want to go freelance but something is stopping you. Is financial stability the main reason you haven't gone freelance yet?

19 May 2017

Snail Skincare - Yes or Yuck?

Dr Shills Snail Gel Skincare, snail slime skincare, beauty bloggers UK, Hampshire lifestyle blog

Made famous by the Asian beauty markets, snail slime skincare has quickly made its way to the UK with more of us interested in trying out this infamous anti ageing ingredient. Snail slime skincare became popular after Chilean farmers who handled snails realised that their skin became smoother, was less damaged by the sun, and showed less signs of ageing. It also helped their wounds and scars heal when the slime got on their skin. So what makes snail filtrate, aka snail slime, so special when it comes to taking care of our skin?

17 May 2017

Why You Need To Be Your Biggest Fan Online

social media marketing for small businesses, Hampshire social media, Hampshire bloggers, UK lifestyle blog

You need to be your biggest fan online - I heard this at a workshop I recently attended which talked all about the ways of marketing your business online. The coach had fantastic points about why we should be our own cheerleaders and shout about how great our skills and businesses are - but doesn't the idea of that make you cringe, if not a lot then even just a little?

It's easy to be a little sceptical about the image we portray of ourselves online - I work with local businesses on improving their social media accounts and ultimately brand presence, and the hardest challenge is to get the heart and soul of the business (i.e. the business owners) in front of the camera, talking about their journey to success, and why they are different and better than their 'competitors'. I don't think it's because we're humble, but rather unsure about blowing our own trumpet in case someone comes along and bursts out bubble - whether it's questioning your expertise, commenting on your products, or attacking you as a person.

I'm no stranger to snide comments, which let's face it don't make anyone feel great about themselves or what they're doing, but from years of blogging and having public profiles online I've learnt to deal with the 'haters'. I used to get really deflated when people tried to question what I was doing or talking about online, publicly, in front of others - it genuinely gave me anxiety seeing those comments. But instead of deleting those comments or rising up to an online argument, I simply stuck by my points and put those who thought it appropriate to try and make me look stupid in front of a crowd back in their place.
One of my favourite moments was a few years ago when someone I knew, and someone who didn't really 'get' social media, decided to make me look like a vain young girl in front of guests at a dinner table: they asked everyone around the table when was the last time they took a selfie? The rest of the dinner guests laughed it off as a silly thing to do, and maybe once in a blue moon they post a selfie for a 'laugh'. My turn came up and I replied "A couple of hours ago." "So why do you feel the need to post photos of yourself online?!" "Well actually it was a part of a brand collaboration, in partnership with XXX." It's my job. Later that evening, the individual who tried to sabotage me admitted (after one too many drinks) that they were jealous and actually 'admired' what I did with my blog and the opportunities I've had from my work. Well, we would have been friends if you just said that to me, instead of trying to make me look like an idiot and slam my job.

There will always be some people who just don't see how social media marketing works, but as bloggers, businesses, freelancers we get work through our social media profiles and presence. We showcase our best products, beautiful photographs, and good hair days. We post photos of our achievements, milestones, and achieved goals. We show our personality and share our lives with our customers, followers, clients. And people love that - personality, positivity, progress. The three P's that healthy social media accounts have in common.

You're giving your followers a reason to be your fans - because if you aren't proud of what you do and you don't want to shout it from the rooftops, then why should we as consumers or followers get excited about your news? Just look at the Instafamous influencers, and big brands - they blow their own trumpet, and celebrate even the smallest of achievements to get the crowd excited about what they're doing.
Show people how amazing you are at what you do, tell them about your achievements, celebrate your growth - and do all this publicly because soon enough others will start praising you publicly too, spreading the word about how great you are and ultimately attracting new followers/customers/clients.

Here are a few post ideas on how you can start being your biggest fan online today: 

1. Reminisce about the last year - talk about your achievements, your goals, your growth.

2. Take a moment to talk about what you're grateful for - focus on the things you're proud of and what you want to share with your potential customers.

3. Post an aspirational image of your new product/post/service the moment it's launched and tell people why you think it's the best thing since sliced bread, and why they should be interested.

4. Post client testimonials and reviews - it backs up what you are saying about how amazing you are!

How do you feel about being your biggest fan online? Does it make you cringe or are you willing to give it a go?

15 May 2017

Boss Girl In The Sticks - An Update On Freelance Life

Hampshire bloggers, Hampshire social media manager, lifestyle blog UK

It has been 7 months (not that I'm counting, but I kind of am!) since I left the 4 walls of an office and embraced the uncertain world of freelancing to build my own business. When I left my secure, comfortable, and well paid job in a creative studio I gave myself 3 months to test the waters and make something of myself - if I didn't make it in 3 months, I'd be back to a 9-5 job which probably would numb my mind but give me financial security.

12 May 2017

A Potent Potion To Banish Dark Circles

Its Potent Benefit Eye Cream review, UK beauty blogs

I'm not a party animal - gone are the days when I used to live for the weekend and make an appearance at clubs ready to dance the night away and wash down my dinner with shots and cheap drinks. No, I love my early mornings - waking up at dawn when everything around me is so quiet, and everyone else in the house is still asleep, there's something so peaceful and happy in that moment.
But I can't handle my early mornings without having enough sleep - but sometimes it's inevitable. Photo shoots and video shoots sometimes roll into the evening and travelling from location can take hours, meaning my head hits the pillow late at night; working on campaigns with tight deadlines means that I often end up working into the hours of the night; and attending exciting brand events means I know I won't be home until nearly midnight! So dark circles and bags under my eyes make an appearance on my face more often than I would like them to.

I have been using It's Potent! from Benefit for a number of years, sometimes wondering away from it when trialling a product for my blog. I really enjoy using this eye cream which is why I thought I would tell you guys about it - this isn't a brand sample or a Benefit plug, but rather a product which sits on my bathroom shelf and makes my mornings a little more pleasant.

It's Potent! has a moisturising effect which tackles tired eyes - apply a little bit under the eye in the morning for quick results. It's developed so it works well with concealer on top, really helping to cover up dark circles. The only thing that puts me off this product is the fact that it does contain chemicals rather than natural ingredients, and I try and use skincare which is more natural because I think it's generally better to use organic/natural products wherever you can. It's not as damaging as chemicals, which sadly It's Potent! does contain. I would also have to point out that reading other reviews, some people have had reactions to this creme so make sure you test it a little before you smother it on your eyes.

Have you tried It's Potent! Eye Cream from Benefit? What do you think? And if you know of a more natural but effective eye cream please let me know! I'd love to find something which works as well, but has more natural ingredients.



10 May 2017

The Rise Of The Micro Influencer

What is a micro influencer, micro influencers, Hampshire bloggers, UK lifestyle blog

When I first started blogging properly (and by properly I mean focussing on content, being consistent and taking my blog seriously) in 2012, it was very much a numbers game. Although I was very fortunate in building relationships with PR's from the beginning, I was denied many campaigns based on my following not being in the tens of thousands. Brands would look at how many followers a blogger had and make an instant decision on whether they would be a good match for the brand.

This constant battle to get more followers turned into a rat race with guerrilla tactics like buying followers, creating follower circles and groups, spamming with F4F (follow for follow) which in my eyes turned the genuine world of blogging into something fake, and unpleasant. Those buying followers and turning blogging into a popularity contest to win over brands can be spotted a mile away - because their engagement doesn't correlate to their number of followers. And isn't engagement the most important thing when looking for influencers? Wouldn't you rather work with someone who has 1,000 followers and 600 of those are engaged, VS someone who has 10,000 followers but only 60 of those are genuinely engaged? I know who I'd spend my budget with.

It's a shame because I know a copious amount of bloggers who produce excellent content, beautiful imagery, and give back to the community but they are overshadowed by influencers who are at the top of the food chain thanks to a huge amount of followers. But I have noticed a big change in the last couple of years of how brands works with bloggers and what they look for now. It seems that more bloggers and brands caught on to the follower bots and game playing within the industry, and now brands and PR's are really looking into the blogs they want to work with, and what they will be getting in return. There is a big need for bloggers who have their own communities, and who are influencers within these digital or local communities - and these individuals have been named 'micro influencers'.

So who is a micro influencer? There is much debate about the numbers, but I happen to agree with Gorkana who state that a micro influencer has 10,000 followers or less. Micro influencers are bloggers, Instagrammers, and vloggers who have a strong sense of community on their accounts and have high rates of engagement with their readers - people come back to them, engage with them, and follow their recommendations.

Micro influencers may have less reach than the 'Magic Middle' or A-List Influencers, but they have higher rates of engagement - which takes me back to my previous point of less followers, but more of them will actually listen to you and follow your call to action when working with brands. These influencers are more likely to build long term partnerships with brands and come back to products - which in the long run is beneficial for the brand. They also offer their readers more than just product endorsement, but recommendations, tips, two way conversation which ends up in genuine friendships and support. COMMUNITY VIBE. 

I'm really excited to see more and more brands working with micro influencers who have great content and a strong community behind them - after all, this really isn't a popularity contest or a numbers game. But instead like-minded people coming together to create something beautiful.

8 May 2017

An Evening Out With William Walker

The William Walker review in Winchester, Fuller's Pub review, Winchester restaurants, food blog, Hampshire bloggers

On Friday night I was invited to experience an exclusive dining event at The William Walker in Winchester - with a tempting 6 course menu, and perfectly paired wine to accompany the dishes, it was really hard to find an excuse not to go. I love food and wine - probably why I'm never going to get that lady 4-pack - but these two things make me happy wherever, whenever. And who wouldn't choose happiness over vanity??!


5 May 2017

Get Closer To Nature With Jord

Jord watch review, WIN a Jord Watch, fashion bloggers, Hampshire blogger, women's watch, cool watch

This post was written in collaboration with Jord Watches. Some products featured in this post have been gifted.

I am currently LOVING how we are integrating nature into our homes - there's a big focus on plants, crystals, wooden accessories, and stone when it comes to interiors. There's something very special when bringing natural materials into your home - it makes you feel more grounded, more relaxed. I wanted to bring a little bit of nature into my wardrobe, and as much as I would love to make a skirt out of flower petals the easiest way to introduce natural accessories would be through a wooden watch.
Wood accessories have stormed the market - from jewellery to sunglasses, and unique watches, wood is everywhere right now made popular by hipsters with the most beautiful Instagram accounts filled with mountain imagery.

3 May 2017

6 Tips On How To Boost Your Blog

Tips On How To Boost Your Blog, lifestyle blog, Hampshire social media manager

I started blogging in 2012 and am now on my 6th year of blogging professionally, working with brands and companies and my blog has given me the opportunities to go freelance doing what I love. I love the world of blogging and think that as an industry we're only starting to scratch the surface of how far blogging will go. It all started with individuals wanting to diarise their experience, share stories with the world, and capture important moments all writing from their bedrooms on a Friday night.
Now blogging is a huge part of brand digital marketing and advertising strategies, with influencers and bloggers working from Hawaiian beaches - and consumers trust blogs because bloggers are real and honest, and perhaps even more important that anything - we are relatable, and within reach.

I'm far from an influencer that gets flown to Australia on a wine sampling trips with brands but what I have achieved with Dalry Rose is something I couldn't be more proud of - being in control of my career, and pursuing my dreams. That has taken years of work and hours of training sessions, and to be honest with the way digital marketing moves we always have to learn new hints and tips on how to better our platforms.
But what I can offer you is these 6 tips on how to boost your blog to the next level - whether you're just starting out, or are stuck and feel like it's not moving forward, or want to refresh what you are doing with your content and look:

1. Think of your niche and what you bring to the world. For years I have been blogging about everything and anything that I was interested in and what I thought you guys would be interested in. But then I stopped and had a thought that actually there isn't much that is connecting my blog - what is my blog? Lifestyle I guess because it's just everything. But when I actually sat down and figured out a plan of how I wanted to be seen and what I wanted my blog to bring to people I realised I have been throwing content in every direction.
Now I'm focussed on my lifestyle blog bringing people ideas and news on how to live a stylish life on a budget; and help you navigate through the world of digital entrepreneurship. I'm still aiming my content to those who enjoy reading lifestyle blogs and finding out news, but I'm also bringing value to you by sharing my tips and hints - and this isn't just for readers but for my clients too.

2. Create brand guidelines to help your blog come together. When it comes to colours, fonts, images and anything visual you are creating, having the uniformity helps. It helps your readers immediately recognise your blog and connect with it. I have drastically changed the look of my blog probably 4 times now until I finally became happy with the brand I am creating. Now I've nailed what I stand for and what my look is I have a clear vision in my head with where I'm going - and so do my readers who are on this journey with me.

3. Imagery is everything - so make sure yours is up to standard. By the end of 2017, social media will be 90% imagery and video focussed in terms of content, so your photographs do matter when it comes to blogging. Think about what you enjoy in someones blog and I bet one of the things will be inspiring and captivating imagery - if you want to be treated professionally then your content needs to reflect that.
Clear, crisp imagery will help you go a lot further than photos taken in a dark room, edited to the point where they are pixelated and you can't really even figure out what is going on in that photo. Your photos don't have to be taken on a professional camera - smart phones have the ability to produce high quality, beautiful photos. And then you can download editing software like VSCO or A Colour Story to help lighten images, make your colours pop and add effects. But please, lets stay away from star and heart overlays, yeah?

4. Think about your SEO. What is the point of writing beautiful articles that will never get discovered, or working with a brand on a product launch but your review never makes it to the Google readers? Think of keywords, and use the Google Keyword Planner to help you find out what popular searches are around that keyword. Then implement those keywords into your blog posts, include photo descriptions (Title and ALT Text), utilise the search description. And make sure the same keywords appear on your social media to help give your SEO that extra boost!

5. Give your readers freebies: these can include giveaways, tips, advise, events, discount codes, vouchers... The list is really quite extensive. Team up with a brand, or use a code you found online to make your readers lives a little easier, and bring value to their lives.
You have to think about what your readers will be coming back to, and why are they coming back to our blogs? Actually, I'd love to hear why you come back to my blog - please leave your comments below!

6. Make sure your content is original, well written and grammatically correct. We all make spelling mistakes, it can't be helped - but when your posts are difficult to read because there are so many typos it's effort for the reader. If you're not a brilliant speller, spell check the post before it goes out. And don't copy content from websites or others because it shows - your blog is your original piece and it's OK to take inspiration from others but always make content your own.

I have always treated my blog as a professional platform and a portfolio of my work, and I take pride in the posts I put out. And when I look back to the years before I can see the difference in my photography, content, layout - I'm excited to see how my content is getting even better year by year as I'm learning and applying my skills. If you treat your blog as a platform to showcase your skills, one day it can help you turn your dreams into a career.

1 May 2017

What Is The Instagram Shadowban?

What Is The Instagram Shadowban, how to beat the Instagram shadowban, Instagram shadowban, Hampshire social media

I've decided to break away from my editorial calendar and write this post as soon as I found out more about Instagrams latest disease - the Instagram Shadowban. After several of my friends and you lovely readers reached out to me about problems with your account engagement and the fact that hashtags are simply not doing anything for you anymore, I took into exploring the issue - and realised I may have fallen victim myself.

So what is the Instagram Shadowban?

The Shadowban makes your hashtags unsearchable and undiscoverable (GASP) - your photos become invisible to anyone outside of your current followers. Instagrammers and social media managers will know that for engagement, new followers, and communities this is truly awful. You are happily hash tagging along and building your community but what you don't realise is that anyone who isn't following you will look through hashtags like #theeverygirl looking for similar accounts like theirs and new accounts to follow - they will not see you if you have come under the Shadowban curse. Yet when you look at that hashtag, or your followers look at that hashtag - your photo will come up, like everything is peachy.
What this means is that if you're a smaller account putting in hours and efforts into building your following - you'll have the worst time because no one can discover you. Equally big accounts who have a following and want to carry on contributing to the community will struggle to be seen and followers may think your account has become dull and dead.

But why would Instagam do this to our accounts which are NOT spam?? We haven't posted any offensive content or nude snaps?

Although Instagram hasn't formally introduced the ban, or even acknowledged it, there are a few reasons why this may be happening:

1. You are using banned hashtags. Sometimes perfectly innocent hashtags get overrun with spam accounts and nudity that Instagram decides to ban the hashtag altogether. I had NO IDEA that the hashtag #Instagirl was BANNED yet I've been using it on my posts about Primarks new makeup range called Instagirl. Brilliant. There are other hashtags like #eggplant and #NewYears which you may think are totally innocent but these are banned. Worst of all, if you're using banned hashtags your photo won't appear on any other hashtag galleries you have used on that post.

2. You are using the same hashtags on all of your posts. I really don't see why this is a problem because I have made many news friends and built a community over hashtags like #hampshirebusiness #girlboss #womeninbiz - all of these are attracting my tribe. Yet there is a potential that Instagram thinks this is spam and flags you as a potential spam account.

3. You are using Instagram apps, bots or any other service which promises to boost your Instagram account. If you are, the likelihood is that you're actually sabotaging your account more than doing any good to it. Any automated service is against Instagram's terms of service - and it will find out who is using bots because your account behaviour will look dodgy, and the IP address of the service will be liking photos from London, then suddenly the IP will be located in Berlin. Instagram are not dumb - well, not when in comes to bots anyway.

4. You yourself have gone on liking sprees, and decided to jump on the follow/unfollow bandwagon. Before I even get into this, I just want to say that I totally see the people who follow me, then wait for me to follow back, and then unfollow me - you know what happens then? I unfollow your account and will never engage or follow you again because no one needs this kind of spam in their lives. Back to the ban: Instagram actually has a limit on how many likes, comments, and follows you can make in an hour - so try not to exceed 150-200 likes, 60 comments, and 60 follows per hour. Which lets be real, if you're a genuine account that doesn't engage in crappy techniques to boost your own following, you're not going to exceed anyway.

5. Other users have reported you - ouch. So you know above I said those people who keep following/unfollowing me and I just refuse to interact with them? Yeah some people actually report these accounts and Instagram takes reporting really seriously. If someone reported your account for inappropriate behaviour, spammy posts, or nude photos - your account may not just be shadow banned but actually deleted.

So this sounds awful, right? And you need to know immediately if this has happened to you, but how do you find out if on your account and your friends accounts everything looks normal?

Your account could have been shadow banned for weeks and you wouldn't have known about it (keeps getting better doesn't it?). The biggest tell tale sign is your engagement drops dramatically, you're no longer getting new followers like you used to, and all your comments and likes are coming from accounts which are already following you.
You can ask a friend to unfollow you and then check out where your photo is on the hashtags which you have just posted - if your photo appears, your account is safe; if it doesn't, that means bad news my friend. But there is now an easier way and that is to check through the Shadowban Checker.

So what happens if you have fallen victim to Instagrams Shadowban? Is there a way to get your account back to normality?

As we all know, contacting Instagram for any support is useless - they never reply to emails, tweets, shout outs. Dead silence. So whilst you may not get anywhere with Instagrams support team, here are some tips which should be able to help you out:

1. Stop being dodgy and following/unfollowing people. That will eliminate two of your potential problems - Instagram seeing you as a spammy account or bot, and you'll be less likely to get reported by other users who are annoyed with your actions.

2. Keep your activity realistic - use your account to engage and like others content every once in a while and don't go on an hourly liking spree. I like to log on every couple of hours to catch up with what's going on and spend 15 minutes interacting with my favourite accounts.

3. Get rid of those bots and automated services. Even being linked and letting bots have access to your account can be damaging so visit your setting page within Instagram and revoke access to all apps which are going against Instagrams policies. Additionally, I would change your password to revoke access to any bot software which may not show up in your settings.

4. Switch from a business account to a personal account. Money rules the world, and Instagram may be tying to get your business to start paying for ads to gain exposure to new customers rather than do this organically. So some accounts have reported that after switching back to a personal account their bans have been lifted.

5. Log off. Literally, get off Instagram for a few days - taking a break has reportedly been successful when trying to lift shadow bans. Take a weekend, or even better do this for a week - log out of your account, don't engage in any activity, just don't even open the app and enjoy the silence away from social media. Then when you log back on remember that you are being watched - so ease in slowly.

6. Avoid engagement groups - these may help you out for a week or so, but we don't know how Instagram feels about these groups and you could get punished for using these kinds of tactics. The same as when you use 60 hashtags in 2 comments - don't do it.

7. If you know you have content which is borderline dodgy, remove it immediately. Get rid of banned hashtags, get rid of any photos which could be considered rude, nude, or spammy. And be mindful of the kind of comments you're leaving on other accounts - are you being genuine or can you be considered annoying/spammy?

These should get you our of the Instagram Shadowban - and if you have a tactic that worked for you please share with the community! We're all here to enjoy the platform and help each other grow. I thought I got caught up in the Shadowban - thankfully I haven't and am probably being paranoid about my engagement levels recently. But have you? Check it out and let me know what's going on with your accounts.

I know we're all wondering WHY INSTAGRAM??! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS??! So here's what Instagram had to say on the matter:

What Is The Instagram Shadowban, how to beat the Instagram shadowban, Instagram shadowban, Hampshire social media

Hmm. So when all of us have grown to love the Instagram hashtag game, you are now telling us not to rely on them. How are we supposed to find new accounts, build communities and tell our stories? My personal opinion - this is in now way the gospel, it's just my opinion - I do feel like all of this chaos with Instagram is a constant experiment to monetise the platform even further. Not many people pay for Instagram advertising, especially when Facebook ads in integrated with Instagram, and business accounts are being punished for using organic methods of growing their community, instead of paying Instagram to do so. Instagram knows that by killing our engagement, we will resort to finding new ways other than hashtags to get in front of more faces - currently, the easiest way to do so without hashtags is paid ads. 
Another popular theory is that Instagram is cracking down on bots and accounts, and occasionally the system gets confused and blocks genuine accounts. 

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic and I hope this helps anyone who is worried about their account and engagement! And remember you can follow me on Instagram - say hi and introduce yourselves, I'd love to engage with more of you!

Sweet As Honey - Manuka Honey Moisturiser from Antipodes

Antipodes Manuka Honey Skin Brightening Day Cream review, UK beauty blog

With warmer weather fast approaching, it's time we not only changed up our wardrobes but also our skincare routine - ditch the heavy duty creams to help protect dry skin from cold weather and winds, and switch it up for a lighter cream which will help your skin stay bright and breathing through the day.

28 April 2017

Guilt Free Snacking

Wellaby's Simple Bakes review, uk food blog, uk lifestyle blog

We're a nation of snackers - who doesn't love a cheeky packet of their favourite crisps, or a bar of chocolate if you have a sweeter tooth, to go with your lunch or as a quick bite on your way somewhere. I indulge in snacks during picnics with friends, movie nights - especially if I'm on my own - secret snacking at its worst! My favourite snacks are crisps, nachos with dips, chocolate when I'm feeling like something sweet - but all these snacks contain so much salt, sugar, artificial colours and flavourings. These aren't good for us which is why new brands are emerging every day and promise to deliver tasty snacks without any of the nasty stuff in them.

25 April 2017

6 Things No One Tells You About Being Freelance

Things No One Tells You About Being Freelance, how to become freelance, lifestyle bloggers UK, hampshire bloggers

It has been 6 months since I've gone full time freelance - left my 9-5 office job, closed my eyes and fell off the edge of comfortable living and stable income to pursue my dreams. I gave myself 3 months to make it work, and if it didn't I'd go back to doing what I was doing and never moan about a missed opportunity to chase my dreams ever again. Considering I'm way over my 3 months 'freelance probation' period I'd say I'm pretty happy with the way things are going - I'm making it work.

There are many things I have learnt in the past 6 months - about being freelance, about running a business (or two in my case!), about people, about myself. So many of you have supported me on my journey (thank you, thank you, thank you a million times!) and I have received a few emails from some of you asking what it's like being freelance, how did I do it, and if I can help you achieve your own dreams. I love receiving these emails because it makes me happy that many of us are building our own brands, striving for a better quality of life when it comes to work/life balance, pursuing what we always wanted to do - generally being kick ass girl bosses!

Although I try and answer all my emails, I thought I'd share with all of you guys things that no one tells you about being a freelancer - and what to be prepared for if/when you take the plunge into creating your own business.

1. You'll have no idea what you're doing to start with. Unless you're a business genius, you'll feel lost and out of your comfort zone if like me you've come from a structured working background. I mean I was an account manager in a creative agency, so all the admin/budget/reporting side of things was my 'thing', and being creative is my passion so I now got to express this creativity in a way that also helped me pay the bills, not just as a hobby or a 'one off' project. But how do you find clients as a freelancer? How do you earn enough money to pay your rent/bills/Friday Dominoes?? How do you make a business strategy? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH TAX AND ALL YOUR FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS??! Send help. Now.

2. You will have no money. If you're starting from rock bottom, you can forget making thousands in your first few months. The likely hood is that you will be eating beans on toast (forget the avocado on rye bread) and avoiding nights out like the plague for the first couple of months of working. You know that Dominoes pizza you love so much on a Friday night? Yeah, forget that unless someone else is buying. You'll switch from fancy wine from the top shelf of Tesco to a £3.50 bottle and just put it in a nice looking carafe you bought from IKEA when you could afford to spend £80 on candles. Spotify Premium? Sack that off. When it comes to Netflix, you can just go on a fast for one day a month to save £10 and keep that going because it will keep you sane.
You have to build up a portfolio of clients, and deal with all the points from the above paragraph in order to start making rent from your business, let alone a profit. Disposable income - sorry what's that now?

3. No one becomes an overnight success. I have heard so many stories from business coaches how you can make £30,000 in your first month as a freelancer if you listen to their tips, and you can live the dream in a fancy car and massive house within your first year of working for yourself. Yes, that does happen to 1% of freelancers, but if we're talking about your average person and not a cast member of Rich Kids of Instagram, you're looking at:
- working every day, and probably weekends if needs be
- working late nights and early mornings
- spending your own free time plugging your services at bars, clubs, coffee meet ups, even at grocery shops - just get the word out there!

4. You'll spend countless hours on social media looking at inspiring accounts, bumping up your own Instagram accounts (learn how to do that here), sussing potential clients or 'competition' - although I have to say I hate the word 'competitor' because we're not competing and the thought of other freelancers competing against each other makes me sad. There are so many projects to work on and you have to be the perfect fit for a company to create a truly beautiful projects so please let's not be greedy and instead help each other out?! The world is a much better place when we collaborate, not compete. Through social media you'll also build a community of freelancers just like you, you'll talk about projects and bounce ideas from each other, moan about late client payments and arrange get togethers.

5. You'll be the happiest you've ever been. I can promise you that - I thought money made the world go round, but honestly since I left my peachy pay package and rigid routine behind everyone has commented on how happy and relaxed I am. There's no better feeling that working for yourself, building your dream, creating beautiful work that you want to do and meeting so many amazing people along the way.

6. Things have a way of working out. I cannot tell you how many times I've sat and stressed about financials, new projects, pushing myself out of my comfort zone - but if you love what you do, if you're good at what you do, and if you're PROACTIVE things will work out. Good things come to those who hustle - you must remember that! And also keep a library of motivational quotes on your Pinterest for those days when you need to stick your chest out and march into the next day with a positive can-do attitude.

These are just a few things you can expect from being a freelancer or starting your own business, I hope you have found this useful! Take life with humour, don't stress about things too much and follow your gut - your gut never lies. Having a supportive community of friends and family really helps, and having a community of creatives who 'get it' is even more important because doing things on your own is hard - we're better and stronger together.

Are you thinking of going freelance and have a question you'd like to ask? Or perhaps you would like to share an experience of your own being a freelancer/business owner? Comment in the box below! And remember you can always drop me an email with any questions you may have.

24 April 2017

Restaurant Review: L'Osteria Opening Night, Southampton

L'Osteria Southampton Review, L'Osteria Southampton, Hampshire bloggers, places to eat Southampton
L'Osteria Southampton Review, L'Osteria Southampton, Hampshire bloggers, places to eat Southampton
L'Osteria Southampton Review, L'Osteria Southampton, Hampshire bloggers, places to eat Southampton

Last week I was invited to join L'Osteria on their opening night of the new Southampton restaurant in the Watermark development of WestQuay. Watermark is an entertaining complex housing a cinema, bowling alley, and numerous new restaurants and food joints - a gem in the middle of Hampshire when it comes to choosing new places to eat. 
L'Osteria is an Italian restaurant serving appetisers, pasta, pizza, salads, and dessert - with a fully stocked bar for post meal cocktails. There are only two restaurants in the UK - one in Bristol and now one in Southampton (London eat your heart out! :P) - the restaurant came to us from mainland Europe with chains across Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.

19 April 2017

Feed Your Skin

Skin Food by Weleda review, beauty blogs UK, lifestyle bloggers UK, Hampshire bloggers

Seasonal weather changes can affect our skin - as can our routines during these seasons. Diet, stress, hot showers, and direct sunlight can all affect our skin, and sometimes this causes uncomfortable dry patches - and I thought I'd share my little secret with you as I have something that will make dryness disappear and beautiful skin appear!

We all know that I'm a huge fan of Weleda - they started off in Germany all the way back in 1921 with the ethos of being a natural brand, and in 2017 they stand strong in their beliefs. The brand prides themselves on being natural and spiritual, connecting nature and people in harmony. Weleda products are 'more' than organic too - Weleda use raw materials in any way possible by gaining their ingredients from certified wild collection OR bio-dynamic cultivation (a very similar process to how organic materials are sourced). The brand also take pride in being responsible by thinking of the environment, and practicing sustainability, fair trade and protection of species and resources. Weleda promise no synthetic preservatives, fragrances, chemicals - there is nothing synthetic in their products AT ALL! No toxins, additives or raw materials from mineral oils either. Weleda are certified by NATRUE Standards which recognises the authenticity of natural and organic products by awarding natural, natural & organic and organic certification categories.

Skin Food by Weleda review, beauty blogs UK, lifestyle bloggers UK, Hampshire bloggers

So with all the information about the brand sounding too good to be true, Skin Food has proven to be a miracle product and something I have in my skincare collection all the time. This miracle moisturiser can be used ob dry and rough skin all over the body - face, elbows, hands, feet! It has extracts of calendula, chamomile, gentle viola tricolour in a rich base of oil and beeswax - smells delicious and earthy! You only need a little bit of product to spread over skin - and you will immediately feel a soothing and nourishing sensations.

I take Skin Food by Weleda everywhere with me - it's truly a desert island product! And the best thing about it is that even though it's a rich and thick cream, I can use it on my face without irritating my skin due to the calming effects of calendula and chamomile.



18 April 2017

6 Steps To Mastering Instagram

6 steps to mastering Instagram, how to improve my Instagram account, how to get more Instagram followers

Instagram is by far my most favourite social media platform: engaging images, 24hr stories, the space to write you own stories, and the community vibe around the platform. With the predictions for 2017 social focussing more and more on photo and video content, it's no wonder that Instagram has focussed the platform to not only be attractive to individuals but also to businesses and brands. When the platform first came out, a lot of companies didn't see much point of them being on Instagram - now I'm here to tell you that you absolutely must have a presence on Instagram!

As a freelancer, 50% of my work comes in from companies contacting me via Instagram DM and talking about projects. I use the platform to showcase some of my work, engage with my local community, find inspiration, and network - all things which are valuable to any business.
But Instagram isn't as easy as posting a photo and checking back in a week to see how it's done - it's amazing to see that when I spend an hour networking on Instagam I can walk away with 20-30 new followers, and potential work opportunities. But if I ignore my community and leave Instagram for a weekend, I wake up on a Monday morning to lost followers and no engagement. And you have to expect that if you don't put anything out on the platform - you won't get anything back.

So are you ready to experience Instagram and start working on an engaging and attractive profile? Then here are my top tips to share with you on how to master Instagram:

1. Write an interesting bio - use the space to tell people a little bit about yourself, what you do, how you can help them, and remember to include your website! Also, make sure your profile is set to public - otherwise users won't see your photos and are not very likely to follow, and the ones that do decide to give you a follow will have to be manually accepted.

2. Develop a theme and niche - especially as a business. There are so many themes you can decide to focus on - travel, cooking, fashion, beauty, tree surgery, coaching, inspirational, illustration, photography, DIY, blogger... The list is truly endless! But it will help your followers to understand what you are and what you do if it's clear on your profile that you're a photographer, or a restaurant owner. Try and stick to a visual theme too - whether it's light and bright, colourful, black and white; this will help your profile visually stand out and your photos to become recognisable.

3. Take good photos and use editing apps to make them even better! Sounds simple but we see so many photos on Instagram from accounts which have huge potential - but because they're photos are drab and uninspiring, we unfollow or click off their accounts. Instagram is a photo focused platform! I'm not saying you need to post a professional photo every time - smart phone cameras are excellent these days so get to know yours and use it well. Or if you do have a professional camera, mix things up and use the camera to take photos - I have a mixture of phone and camera photos on my account. When you've taken the photo, use editing apps to brighten, bring out colours, blur or sharpen part of the image - keep your eye out for a post on my favourite photo editing apps!

4. Use the hashtags. Please, use the hashtags on Instagram. If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and there was no one who heard or saw it, did it ever really fall? Well think of this when you're not hashtagging your photos on a new or developing account - not many people are going to see them. Instagram allows for up to 30 hashtags per post so utilise them - think of what you're posting about, your niche, your audience, location, and popular Instagram hashtags which will help get you noticed. You can also come up with your own hashtag for an event or cause and get your audience to participate!

5. Tag your location, and tag people/brands you are with - when someone searches that location tag, your photos will come up. This is so valuable for local businesses because now people are searching for area specific shops/restaurants/cafes!

6. Engage with your audience - find accounts you like and follow them, comment on their photos, like their photos and be social. When you're posting a caption on your own photo, ask your audience questions to encourage them to interact with you.

With these 6 steps you will start to see your Instagram account grow - but remember, overnight success is like fairy dust: very hard to find. Social media takes time, commitment and knowledge - but once you've got it you will reap the rewards. Keep at it, keep improving your content and growing your community - and you will hit the targets you set for yourself.

And if you're a business in Hampshire/Wiltshire, then you can always get in touch with me for social media training or management - for full list of services click here.

What are your top tips for mastering Instagram? Have you tried something that got you excellent results? Comment below! 

13 April 2017

INSTA GIRL - Photo Ready Makeup by Primark

Primark makeup review, UK beauty blog, Hampshire bloggers, Insta Girl Primark makeup

I have been shopping in Primark for many years, usually picking up basics for my wardrobe and fashion pieces which I don't really want to invest in because they will be a passing fad. It's never sad when a piece of clothing from Primark breaks or fluffs up because it never was an investment - you almost expect the pieces to have an average age of a year.

2 April 2017

Why You Need To Have A Break

Why You Need To Take a Break From Work, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire blog, Hampshire blogger
Photo by Olivia Grace

We're all very good at ploughing through workloads and deadlines, staying up until late hours of the night to finish projects, reply to emails as soon as they land in our inbox, and intimately driving ourselves insane. But I want to talk about why it's important to take a break - even when you have deadlines and projects looming over you.

Last week I had a crazy busy week - it was the end of the month and I needed to finalise projects, invoice clients, plan the next month, book new projects, and market my businesses. I then looked at my diary and saw that this coming week is also fully booked up - fist bump moment! But I also felt like my creativity was suffering and I wasn't in the right headspace, and that doesn't help anyone in the creative industry or their clients. So I decided that I had two choices - I could either help my workload next week and work over the weekend, or I can take two days completely off, switch off, spend some time on myself and then smash it next week. I decided to go for the latter.

When you get tired and overworked, your brain genuinely stops performing at its best and you can't produce results which you (and ultimately your clients) will be happy with - which is why clever bosses know the importance of giving their staff time off. As I am my own boss, I need to keep an eye not inly on my businesses but also on myself - because I don't have a back up team who can help me if I'm not feeling great (and as a personal stylist, I also need to look good and healthy!).

So I switched off from Friday night and spend the weekend evenings enjoying a couple of glasses of rose wine (OK it was more than a couple but who's counting?!) and caught up with friends and family; I decided to treat myself and boost my mood with a session at Leah's Beauty & Makeup where I got eyelash extensions which I am absolutely in love with (more on them in an upcoming post!); and I cashed in my gift voucher for an at home aromatherapy massage with Desora Mobile Beauty for a truly relaxing end to the weekend. I also spent time outdoors, taking Harvey on long walks and runs; and making a start on my garden - which may as well be a forest with all the overgrown weeds right now!
So as you can see, I totally indulged in down time this weekend. I was even more absent from social media than I usually am - because I really needed a break.

By taking time doing what makes our souls happy, and temporarily switching off our brains, we can come back to work feeling refreshed, happy, confident, and full on new ideas. I genuinely feel happier after taking my weekend break, and I'm excited to get to the studio tomorrow early morning to put this happiness into my projects!

Here are my top tips for taking a break from work, and re-energising:

1. Enjoy your weekends. Try to take at least one day off a week during which you relax and spend your time doing things you love - not working!

2. Arrange to see your friends for dinner - you'll have so much to catch up on your brain will focus on taking in new information, not worrying about work projects.

3. Go for a walk or run in your favourite place outdoors - being in the fresh air will help you relax and focus on fresh, new ideas.

4. Listen to a podcast, watch TV or read a book - it helps to have a story to follow when you want to switch off. My guilty pleasure is binge watching TV dramas or documentaries! Or if you love a podcast my current favourites are: Lore (supernatural), Unexplained (supernatural), and Goal Digger Podcast (girl boss vibes!).

5. Pamper yourself - make yourself feel good with a facial, a massage, getting your nails done. Whatever it is, take some time to treat yourself and look great on Monday!

6. Cooking is my downtime. Genuinely love spending time in my kitchen after a busy day of work - creating new dishes, or following recipes I'm focussed on the food, not any dramas.

7. Exercise - makes you feel good by releasing endorphins and you'll be less stressed and more healthily tired. I love going for a run in the countryside, hiking, yoga, and HiiT training!

8. Practice mindfulness. I get ya, it's hard to focus sometimes but the more you practice the better you become and honestly mindfulness is a brilliant way to take a break from anything. Focus on the present - not the future or past - and just be still in the moment. It's amazing.

I'd love to hear your tips on how you relax and what you do to get the creative juices flowing again! Leave me a comment and let's get the conversation going!

30 March 2017

How To Become A Personal Stylist

Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy, styling academy, how to become a personal stylist, personal styling courses

It's quite daunting when you think about starting a new career, especially in a field where you don't have formal education qualifications in - how do you gain knowledge, how do you set up your business, what training do you need, what about work experience...? But more and more women are setting up their own businesses in a field they are passionate in because they need flexibility around families, or want to be recognised for the effort they put in, or don't want to be constrained by a fixed salary when they know they can do better.

I was first introduced to personal stylist Melissa Murrell last year when we met for lunch to talk about her upcoming styling academy - you can read all about Melissa and our interview here. Well, a year down the line and the Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy has had several courses and I attended one of the first courses Melissa hosted.

Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy, styling academy, how to become a personal stylist, personal styling courses

The personal styling course is stretched over 3 days and the location changes due to course demand - I spent time learning about style near Marlborough, Wiltshire. The course will offer hands on training during which you will learn everything you need to know about styling real women. This is an important point, because this course isn't about learning how to work in fashion, but rather styling real women with different body shapes, sizes and budgets. It teaches you how to build your clients confidence, disguise any insecurities and provide a personalised styling experience which suits their lifestyle.

As well as learning about the different body shapes and how to best style them, I found the second half of the course which was based around admin and marketing the most useful. I am familiar with style, I know fashion - but what I didn't know is how to set up my styling business and start working. Knowing what to charge, which receipts to keep, and working out petrol charges was mundane but so useful! It's the little things like that which for me made the course stand out - and the fact that course numbers are limited so you get to spend time with Melissa one on one is great because you can ask questions and let her help you with suggestions tailored to you, not a room full of 30 people.

I then also experienced what styling was really like by coming to a styling session with Melissa and her real life clients. It was scary to style the first time, but clients were lovely (and honest about things they liked and didn't like!) and my confidence quickly built. Seeing clients and how a stylist works with them is experience which you need to have in order to feel confident about how you behave with clients.

Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy, styling academy, how to become a personal stylist, personal styling courses

Melissa built her business around family life, so she knows that getting the balance between work and life is hard but necessary. And running a styling business gives you exactly that - provided you have an eye for style, and an approachable personality! 

The next styling academy course is being held at the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet in Swindon from 22nd-23rd May - so if you're thinking of dipping your feet into the business of personal styling, this is the perfect opportunity to invest in personalised training. I completed the Styling Academy last summer, and it was a short time after that course I made the move to set up my personal styling business Dalry Rose Styling and soon after was able to leave my 9-5 office job to focus on my own business. 

Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy, styling academy, how to become a personal stylist, personal styling courses

Here are my top tips at how to start your own styling business: 

1. Invest in training. Even if you know about fashion and have an eye for style, I gained confidence by learning about body shapes, psychology of a client, admin, finance and most importantly work experience with a professional. I started my business with confidence because I knew I had learnt what I needed. 

2. Create your brand - make sure your brand speaks to you clients and represents you. You can find professionals in your area who help with brand design. You need to think about website, social, printed materials, invoices, admin sheets... 

3. Set up a website. We live in a digital age and presence on digital platforms are so important - how else are people going to find you? You need to build a website anew get onto social media - try Facebook for local reach, Instagram for exposure and outfit inspiration, and Pinterest to drive traffic to your site. 

4. Print flyers, and put those flyers in windows of shops, ask local hairdressers and beauty salons to display them and remember to hand them out to anyone who shows an interest in a personal styling session! 

5. Join local business networking groups - these are brilliant for promoting your services locally and making friends along the way. 

6. Hire an accountant. If you're anything like me, get a professional to run your books and help you with all the legalities of running your own business. 

7. Practice on friends and family - before you start booking clients, get your confidence up by practicing on friends and family, doing wardrobe restyles, personal shopping and whatever else you would like to offer. 

8. Set up an email list - this will keep your customers alert of any promotions you are doing, and keep them coming back for more! 

29 March 2017

10 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Social Media

Hampshire social media manager, freelance social media manager, 10 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Social Media
Photo taken for Feminicity launch campaign

Gone are the days when social media was viewed as a platform for ‘kids’ to share pictures of cats in fancy dress and challenges to provoke a reaction out of each other: over they years, social media has proven results for businesses as a medium to connect with buyers, clients and spread the digital word of mouth. With over 3 billion internet users, 2 billion use social media on a daily basis - the jury rules that social media is no longer optional, but rather necessary for your business to succeed. Why? Here are the top reasons why you should invest time into building your platforms:

1. Help increase brand awareness. By having a presence on social media you give a voice to your brand and make it easy for customers to connect with you. Good content is key as you are representing your brand, and it will help you keep customers connected and interested - studies have shown over 50% of followers are loyal to their brands and will come back time after time 

2. Convert a higher rate of customers. Studies have shown that 75% of companies engaging in selling on social media platforms have increased sales reports over the period of a year. If your customer is undecided about a purchase, but has a consistent presence of the brand and the item they are considering over their daily social media platforms, they are more like to convert the lead into a purchase. 
3. Deliver excellent customer service. Most of your customers and clients will be on social media, so if you’re not there, it makes it harder for them to interact with you. Show of hands how many of you have taken it to Twitter to complain about slow broadband or a late delivery? You need to be present and answering to client queries - this will help you grow your customers loyalty and leave them with a positive experience, more likely to come back. 
4. Use analytics to research your customers. Social media platforms collect information from personal accounts - and this information will be very useful to a business owner looking to do some research within the demographics. Daily statistics on social media show that there are over 500 million tweets, 4.5 billion ‘Likes’ on Facebook and 95 million photos and videos uploaded to Instagram. If you increase engagement over your platforms and utilise social listening, your business will reap the benefits without annoying customers with email surveys every time you want to do an audit. 
5. Utilise targeted ads. There is no doubt you can grow your accounts organically, but when a post is performing really well it will help to give the post a little boost with paid for advertising. You can target your audience by location, demographics, interest, and connections. You can then track the success of the post by checking analytics on the post you have boosted. 
6. Increase SEO and traffic to your website. Using social media will help direct customers to your website bringing in more digital ‘footfall’; but the more interesting element of this strategy is that the more shares you receive on social, the higher your search ranking will rise. If your SEO is good, you will come higher in Google search results which means more people will find you! 

7. Push out content quicker and easier. When you have a new product launching, or a new article which has come out, all you have to do is share it on social channels to ensure your customers see it quickly, and can share the exciting news with their friends. 

8. Monitor your competitors. Use social media as a tool to help you keep up to speed with what your competitors are doing: there are tools to help you set up monitoring feeds for keywords, names, and phrases - use these tools to help you make the right business decisions, see where your competitors went wrong, and gain potential leads. 

9. Utilise the ability to tailor your audience. Set your settings to target your messages to people who will purchase from you based on their location, age, interests and gender. Most social networks will have a built in ability to do this, however there are also free and paid for tools which can help you drill down to the core of your audience to ensure your messages aren’t getting lost! 

10. Start conversations to build relationships. Social media is exactly what it says on the tin - social. It’s not a one way dialogue of you pushing messages to your listeners, but to taking the time to know more about them and answering their queries. The ability to have real time conversations with your customers is something traditional advertising cannot offer - which means building your accounts and social presence is invaluable.

There is a lot of work which goes into successful social media accounts and reaping the benefits of social for your business, but there are online tools and professionals available which can help you manage time better and ensure you are making the most out of social media marketing.

28 March 2017

Pizza Is My Soulmate

Pizza Is My Soulmate t-shirt, fashion bloggers, Dalry Rose blog

If you know me, or have followed my blog, or have seen my Instagram then you will know that I love pizza. Love it. It makes my soul happy, just like a soulmate. I'm quite happy spending a Saturday night with a pizza and a Netflix documentary - give me anything with a psycho killer, or ghost hunts and I can happily spend hours unwinding.

So there was no surprise that when I saw Teesprings 'Pizza Is My Soulmate' I just had to have it in my wardrobe - there is nothing that explains my love for this food more!

Home Comforts

SheIn loungewear set, fashion bloggers, UK fashion blogs, Dalry Rose blog

As a creature of comfort, I have several go-to outfits which I wear on a weekly basis. These generally consist of leggings, baggy t-shirts, baggy sweaters, and tracksuit bottoms. I am one of those awful people that also wears 'gym wear' when I'm at home - the amount of times I've opened my door to someone and they ask "off to the gym?" Nah, just chilling, watching Netflix, eating a pizza...

I work from home quite often, and although I get up and get dressed in the same routine as I would if I was going to an office, obviously I'm going to choose something comfy to sit in rather than stuffy dresses and trousers - who wouldn't?!

27 March 2017

5 Minutes to Miracle Skin with Beauty Kitchen

Beauty Kitchen Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask review, UK beauty blog

Skincare and beauty experts are constantly on the hunt for new ingredients to help our skin glow, look healthy, stay young, and keep clear. Natural ingredients are even better - when you think about eating, you don't really want to eat synthetic food so what's the difference between letting chemicals sink into your skin and enter your body? More beauty and skincare companies are turning to natural ingredients purely because us consumers are making the decision to be more conscious. And even more brands stopped testing on animals because it's just awful and should never be done, but also because consumers have chosen brands which are animal friendly. So don't ever think your purchase won't make a difference when it comes to supporting our furry friends!

Beauty Kitchen Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask review, UK beauty blog

When I first heard about seahorse plankton, though a press release for the lovely product which I will eventually talk about, I was really intrigued because I have literally never heard of it before. Seahorse Plankton is actually Plankton micro algae which is common in the diet of seahorses - so don't worry, we're not actually deriving anything from the seahorses themselves. Seahorse plankton is packed with Omega fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants which increase collagen production by just under 20% in 24 hours! This makes your skin plumper, firmer, and more radiant with a healthy glow.

Beauty Kitchen is a natural skincare brand which doesn't test on animals - immediately a brand that goes to the top of my skincare list, and I'm sure you will appreciate this too. They did some research and found out all about the magical beauty ingredient, but they also did some research on the natural world around it. Did you know there are around 54 species of seahorse around the world and most of them are considered endangered? So Beauty Kitchen decided that they would help - and are now supporting The Seahorse Trust, and always make sure their ingredients are sustainably sourced.

So with all this magical information in mind, Beauty Kitchen decided to take this beauty miracle ingredient and create a range of products - one of which is a Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask. This mask is 100% natural and detoxes, stimulates, and plumps your face, neck and d├ęcolletage. You're supposed to be left with a healthy, firm skin that has a fresh glow. But does this miracle mask really work?

Beauty Kitchen Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask review, UK beauty blog

I trialled the Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask to gather results for you: you apply a thin layer of the mask to your face, neck and d├ęcolletage and relax for 5 to 15 minutes. So I guess this product should really be titles the 5-15 Minutes Miracle Mask! I find the results are best if you keep it on for the 15 minutes, it allows the product to really sink into your skin. It smells really nice too, and I love to keep it on my skin whilst I'm relaxing in the bath - a truly pampering experience. You then remove the mask with a cloth or konjac sponge (I used a cloth) and warm water - then finish with your moisturiser or facial oil.

I actually loved how this mask made my skin feel - so soft and super smooth. Even when I applied moisturiser the next day in the morning, it felt really nice and smooth. I use this mask once or twice a week to keep skin glowing and firm and I would happily recommend the product to all of you.

Have you heard of Seahorse Plankton before? Would you give this product a go?

24 March 2017

Why Bloggers Need To Charge

lifestyle blog, Hampshire bloggers, why bloggers need to charge for posts, Dalry Rose blog, should I charge brands for blog posts

I have been blogging for 5 years now, and my first brand collaboration came about weeks after I set up and starting getting myself 'out there'. I was so excited to work with brands, that someone noticed me and my blog, and liked the work I was producing. I didn't charge the brand and tended to all their requests without question. Hell, I even published posts on my blog written by others and received my 'thank you' in 'exposure'. And after that, a snowball effect of brand collaborations followed which helped me grow my blog, make connections, and create engaging and captivating content.

I stand by my decision not to charge brands as a beginner blogger - I was expanding my skill set, starting out a new venture, and learning on the job. And like with most things there isn't an instant gratification where you step into a new career and everyone immediately recognises you as an expert, and your diary fills with appointments/meetings/projects. You learn and you grow. Blogging is no different from that, but what is different is that there are too many bloggers who don't want this as a profession and too many brands who take advantage of that. Harsh, but true. 

Let's look at the stats: 92% of people trust peer recommendations vs advertising. That is a staggering percentage of people. And only 36% trust ads on social media platforms. To me as an ex agency marketing professional it is no question that bloggers take the lead as key influencers in a decision whether to purchase a product or not - with their honest reviews (yes sometimes these backfire but just make sure your product is good enough to be reviewed publicly), real life imagery, and a reputable recommendation why wouldn't a brand want to place products with bloggers? The thing is - brands do want bloggers. 

A blogger offers the whole package - written digital content, original photography, product review, social media advertising, advertising on their website, and recommendation. Let's not kid around - at the end of the day, it's advertising the product/service/event/restaurant/hotel... the list really does go on with the amount of collaboration opportunities and the types of advertising. The advertising industry is worth £18bn in revenue to the UK media and entertainment industry, making it the second largest sector behind TV. And I have to wonder: with this kind of money sitting in the pockets of big brands, why are bloggers still getting paid in 'exposure'? 

I've lost count of the amount of times I have been approached by brands who want to 'work' with Dalry Rose and when I ask them what their budget is for the campaign the answer is typically 'we don't have one'. Ok, let's work this out: as a blogger, I would want to review the product that I am endorsing to set an accurate expectation for my readers who may want to purchase is; I then use professional equipment and often times when working on a fashion post I will use a photographer; editing photos/videos to suit the blog post and then also social media platforms; the research that goes into the product/brand/venue; the content which takes time and thought to be written; the social media promotion.... Typically all of these things take me anywhere from 4-6hrs. If there is a location photo shoot involved, then longer. That's a days work and the amount of time I usually would spend in an office or now being full time freelance is the time I spend on my client accounts. And not to sound ungrateful and all, but exposure isn't going to cut it when my landlord comes knocking for my rent. And unfortunately neither is a gorgeous new lipstick, as much as I love it. 

What bloggers give to brands is what agencies are paid to do - and paid well, trust me I know. I also know how difficult it can be to convince a brand to put a budget behind blogger outreach - remember guys, I've worked on both sides of this debate. It's fascinating how many brands still don't see the value of blogger collaborations and social media - which is basically the digital 'word of mouth' that is the most effective way of swaying customers into buying your products.
But what makes bloggers different from cold marketing machines is that bloggers tend to build communities around their social sites, especially microbloggers/microinfluencers - but more on that topic another day. These communities are people who really trust in what that blogger is doing and show genuine interest in their reviews. 

Now don't get me wrong, we're not all going to rise up and ask for ££££'s immediately when working with brands, but when you feel confident that the work you're producing is worth something - and I know mine is because of the types of brands I get approached by and also the fact that I am doing work like this as a freelancer for local brands and businesses - that's the time to stop and asses the value of your time. 

This post came about because recently I have been in several situations with brands which I am 'working' with when the demands got uncontrollable, and I've been stressed because I have a huge list of paid work which obviously takes priority over the projects which are unpaid. I have mouths to feed and a roof over my head which needs to be paid for, just like everyone else. But I feel awful about pushing back projects which are unpaid because I don't like to let anyone down - which is why I have started to say to brands that I do charge for placement on my blog. And guess what? Suddenly, the projects got 'dropped' or they 'ran out of stock' or they just didn't have any budget left. And that's OK by me.

Of course I will still carry on accepting samples, reviewing restaurants and styling outfits with brands because I love discovering new companies and items to share with you guys, but because my blog has become my business and source of income I need to make it super clear to everyone that priority is being given to those that pay for my services - which I think is a fair deal. If a brand wants the post to go live by a certain date, have a certain style/amount of photos, include X amount of posts on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest, review the post and photos before they go live, request changes to the content - your wish is my command, as long as my hours are covered. 

And just to note I am super thankful for all opportunities which come my way and all the brands that approach me and want to work with me - I have made some great contacts! Like I said at the beginning of this post, I stand by my decision not to charge as a beginner blogger and I think doing things for free sometimes get's you where you want to be (think internship anyone?!) but equally there comes a time when you have to think about your skill set and your career.

I'd love to hear from you on this topic - what are your thoughts about brand and blogger collaborations? What are your thoughts on professional blogging? 
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