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! 
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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.
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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!
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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?!
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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?
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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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Can You Really Lose Weight Just By Dieting?

LighterLife Fast 5:2 diet review, food blogs, UK lifestyle bloggers

I'll start this article by admitting something to you: you know those annoying people who talk about how they'd love to loose weight  but do nothing about it? And usually they moan about loosing weight whilst eating something like a slice of pizza/doughnut/portion of greasy McDonald's chips? Yeah that's me. Now you know. And with that knowledge in mind, I want to talk to you about how a person like that, one that refuses to go on a controlled diet because they have no self control when there is a pile of carbs in front of their face, can actually loose weight with a dirty diet.
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14 March 2017

Restaurant Review: Afternoon Tea at The Aviator by TAG

The Aviator Guilty Pleasure Afternoon Tea, Hampshire food blog, food bloggers

I'm not really into the whole 50 Shades of Grey book/movie trend, but what I have been enjoying is how creative companies have been getting with the sensual theme inspired by the book - but what intrigued and excited me the most was an invitation to review an afternoon tea inspired by 50 Shades of Grey. I was approached by The Aviator by TAG, a luxury hotel and brasserie based in Farnborough, Hampshire who invited me to try their new Guilty Pleasure Afternoon Tea inspired by the saucy book - an experience guaranteed to shock, stimulate and seduce the taste buds. Now that's an offer I simply couldn't refuse.
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13 March 2017

Celebrating Holi Festival with Kingfisher

Kingfisher beer, Holi festival recipes, food bloggers, food blog

Indian food makes my soul happy - it's so flavoursome, colourful, packs a punch and feeds a whole family on a budget! What's not to love?! So when I was asked to create an Indian feast in celebration of the Holi festival with Kingfisher beer, I jumped at the opportunity to cook up something exciting and new.

Cooking is a down time for me - I relax and my mind wonders away from the stresses of work/personal life, whatever is bothering me that day. I enjoy spending time in my kitchen and cooking up feasts for my friends and family. So I wanted to share some new recipes with you to hopefully encourage you to try and cook this at home - and when more suitable that during the Holi festival?

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9 March 2017

Restaurant Review: Rick Stein, Winchester, Hampshire

Rick Stein Winchester review, Rick Stein restaurant, food bloggers, Hampshire food blogger

I was very excited to be invited to dine at Rick Stein in Winchester, a restaurant which has caught my eye some time ago but I’ve just not had the excuse to go. For years, I have been watching Rick Stein on Saturday Kitchen Live and following his delicious seafood recipes - as someone who loves seafood, I knew when it came to fresh ingredients and tasteful combinations Rick Stein would be the one.
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8 March 2017

How To Wear Boyfriend Jeans

How to wear boyfriend style jeans, fashion bloggers, street style

I used to shy away from anything that wasn't my comfort skinny jean style, before I started to play around with denim styles in the name of personal styling. It's easy to decide on one style which you feel comfortable in, and dismiss anything that looks a little more daring/baggy/colourful. But I realised that when I push my clients at Dalry Rose Styling out of their comfort zones, I actually get them to see themselves in a new light! That means I've done my job as a stylist.
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4 March 2017

Pink Frills

How to wear frills, UK fashion blog, style blog

I'm really excited to share this outfit post with you because I love the dress - it's got frills, it's very feminine, and makes me feel great when I wear it. Yes, it's clingy - but I've learnt that I have lumps and bumps, they make me who I am and this is the way my body has developed. So I'm over crying about how my stomach doesn't resemble an ironing board, and how my thighs could definitely loose an inch or two off them. I'm embracing the curves that make me - me.
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3 March 2017

Ready For The Weekend

Weekend outfit inspiration, UK fashion bloggers, Hampshire bloggers, style bloggers

Cheers to the weekend! Well hasn't this week been super busy guys?! I don't know about you, but I'm beat - and I'm looking forward to seeing my family, enjoying a couple of glasses of wine, and having a pamper night this weekend. I think from a work perspective I've been hit (in the best way possible!) with all sorts of things: photoshoots, events, new client meetings, proposals, invoices, editing, writing, schooling, planning.... And all this whilst staying away from home! Oh yes, this is also very exciting for me as I get to move back to my home this weekend and finally sleep in my own bed!

What are you looking forward to this weekend?
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2 March 2017

The New Sport Luxe

How to style fishnet tights, UK fashion blog, style bloggers

Sport luxe is a trend that's been hanging around for years - when it first appeared on the pages of Vogue I must admit I really wasn't a fan. At all. I couldn't see how sportswear could ever look great - until a couple of years ago when I gave the trend a go, and slowly but steadily my love for sport luxe has been building.
I mean, not only is it trendy, but it's also super comfortable and practical!
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1 March 2017

Restaurant Review: The Diner, Southampton, Hampshire

The Diner Southampton review, UK food bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

Last week I was invited to join a selection of Hampshire based bloggers for an evening of authentic American dining at the newly opened Diner in Southampton's new Watermark developed located next to WestQuay. The Diner comes to Southampton from London where there are 9 locations to enjoy a delicious burger or a bucket of buffalo chicken wings - and now we can get involved without heading to the capital!
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