31 May 2017

Summer Picnic At Arundel Castle

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

You really don't have to go far to discover dreamy destinations - just an hour and a half away from our little town in Hampshire is Arundel Castle, a beautiful medieval castle and flower gardens set on top of a West Sussex Hill. The castle and grounds are known for their picturesque beauty, and the infamous tulip festival held there every year! And on a beautiful sunny day, where else could you go for a picnic? 

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

Picnics are my favourite - I even did a post on winter picnics which are super cosy and fun! But we're all about summer now and that means sunshine, open spaces, blue skies, and as always - delicious grub. For me, a picnic basket consists of the following: a few carbs, fresh produce, munch that you can pick on, and the appropriate drink. On this picnic, we paired up with Portlebay Popcorn who kindly sent us some of their flavours to sample - these included chilli & lime, wasabi & ginger, sea salted, lemon sherbet - which all tasted incredible, but I'm definitely one for savoury over sweet! Especially when we've filled up on jam tarts and strawberries... ;)

Strawberries are currently in season, so I strongly advise you ditch the supermarket and go visit your local farm shop or market stall and get some homegrown strawberries which you may find may even be cheaper! Shopping for seasonal produce means you're helping the local farms, eating fresh food grown in the UK, and saving money. I remember the first time I went to my local pick-your-own and I bought 4 large punnets of strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries and something else which I really cannot remember all for under £5! So remember before picking up something from the supermarket, as convenient as it is, if you visit butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers you'll be doing everyone a favour. That's another common misconception - everyone thinks butchers are more expensive than the supermarket but I disagree! Yes, if you're going for a top notch fillet steak you will pay a couple quid more than you would in Tesco - but that's a treat and you know you'll be getting something special. But if you're shopping for cheaper cuts of meat then you can expect to pay the same prices as the supermarket. Or, if like me, you don't mind cheaper cuts of meat like Bavette steak you'll be paying even less for great quality meat. I remember I tried calves liver in a restaurant and I loved it - I also remember it being a little pricey at £12 as a main course - so when I decided to treat myself to a piece of calves liver from a local butcher, he cut me a piece for 2 people as a main, and when he weighed it the total cost was £1.70, I was extremely happy and a convert to local butchers.

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

Don't you guys just love the random pieces of information? Let's get pack to the picnics! Here is my summer picnic check list:

- Picnic basket (extra points for wicker!)
- Picnic blanket (make sure it's not going to itch your legs!)
- Paper plates, plastic cutlery and glasses - because no one has time for washing up when it comes to picnics. Straight in the bin it all goes!
- A tray or board to put your food on
- Napkins

I like taking light food on hot days, as you still enjoy delicious snacks without filling up too much - then theres room for a scrumptious dinner!

- Carby food: think bread, crisps, savoury pastries
- Fresh produce: strawberries, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet peppers, bananas - remember you don't really want to get messy and sticky so if you're bringing items like a mango then peel and cut it at home!
- Snacks like popcorn, crackers
- Pickles, olives, onions, antipasti
- Sweets like tarts, pastries, muffins
- Drinks: pink lemonade, rose lemonade, cloudy lemonade (all the lemonade!), elderflower fizz, prosecco, still water for hydration!

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

Make sure that you keep hydrated when it's hot - and remember water is the best hydration! You can spike it with cucumber, mint, and lime but stay away from sugary drinks when you're feeling thirsty because they will only dehydrate you further. 
Also keep sunscreen in your handbag (anything but Banana Boat because there's just too much uncertainty about them at the moment) - even during cloudy days you can get sun burnt, trust me; and a hat if you know you're prone to getting sunstroke - again trust me when I say it can happen even in the UK! It's because we're so unprepared for scorching weather we just throw ourselves in to the sun hoping to get as much Vitamin D as we possibly can before the clouds come back from vacation. 

Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers
Picnic at Arundel Castle, Portlebay Popcorn review, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

And remember to enjoy the views, eat slowly, talk to your friends, and put that phone down. When you're surrounded with such beauty as this, then you really want to take it all in - there will be time for Instagramming later. I will be doing a post soon on things to do at Arundel Castle - don't be deceived into thinking it's just a couple of hours fun, there's a whole day of exploring to be done! 

What are you essentials for a summer picnic? Have you got a favourite picnic spot - where is it? 
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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. 
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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?
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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?
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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?
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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.
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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.

SHOP BENEFIT:

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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.
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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??!

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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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