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!
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