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Monday, 26 December 2016

Free Stock Photo Resources for Bloggers

Find out what where I source my free, stock photos for my blog and learn why you should start collating your own bank of stock photos for your blog.

I collect things. From makeup to old cameras, books to homeware. I even have a folder in which I save Instagrammable worthy snaps from other brands and bloggers for future inspiration because I like the lighting or how you’ve styled your flatlay.

For a few months now, I’ve been curating a collection of beautiful stock imagery for those days where I either can’t take a photo or the stock imagery demonstrates the post content so beautifully that I don’t need to, like these posts here and here. This is not cheating. It’s time-saving. Just make sure you know your way around a Creative Commons licence/image credit first.

Below you’ll find a compilation of brilliantly shot and actually useful stock imagery that you're free to download, edit and use without credit. There’s not a cheesy smile or awkward pose in site. If you’re a beauty blogger, like me, I’d highly suggest checking out what these two fabulous stock photo sites have to offer in terms of beauty and desk space shots; it’s why I fell in love with them in the first place.

Pexels, Free Stock Images for Bloggers.jpg
Pexels, Free Stock Images for Bloggers.jpg
Pexels, Free Stock Images for Bloggers

Pexels

Look no further for winter-themed stock images, Pexels has a beautiful selection, also under the Creative Commons Zero license - read: do whatever you want with . They also have a great selection of blogging workspaces - see above - and a handful of generic makeup shots.


Unsplash, Free Stock Images for Bloggers

Unsplash


I first discovered Unsplash as part of the Over iOS app, I explain here how you can use Over to make some killer, free social media graphics. Unsplash's huge selection of images using the Creative Commons Zero licence is one of my favourites on the web. Along with their aesthetically pleasing website which allows you to search for particular collections, such as Eat + Drink - warning, do not view whilst hungry.

Though I wouldn't recommend using stock images for every post - your photos personality is important too! They're do have their uses, for example, did you know using a photo in your tweet makes it three times more likely for someone to engage with it? Pretty great, huh.

Have you used any photos from free stock photo sites on your blog? Let's help each other out and leave them in the comments below! To read more posts in my #BloggingHacks series, click here.

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Saturday, 24 December 2016

What's in my Makeup Bag?

What's in my Makeup Bag, Face of the Day, Beauty, Makeup, Cosmetics, Flatlay

Face:

La Roche Posay Hydream BB Cream // Light
Loreal Mattifying Infallible Foundation // Porcelain
Makeup Revolution Pro Illuminate
Milani Baked Blue // Luminoso
Dr Hauschka Power Duo // Summer Impressions (Discontinued)
Jerome Alexander Magic Minerals

Eyes:

NYX Collection Noir Liquid Black Liner
Maybelline Colour Tattoo // On and On Bronze
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion // Sin
Urban Decay Naked Palette


Brows:

Illamasqua Poweder Eyeshadow // Jules

Needs Repurchasing/Missing:

Collection Lasting Perfecting Concealer // Fair
Mascara - any recommendations? My KIKO Milano Pump it up Mascara* is almost dried out!
MAC Diva (Matte?)

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Friday, 23 December 2016

Last Minute Beauty Stocking Fillers from Boots

Stuck on that last little beauty-themed stocking filler? Look no further! These two from Ted Baker and No7 are perfect for almost anyone and, best of all, are available in Boots right now.

Ted Baker London Double the Dazzle Duo, Nail Polish in light Pink and Tinted Lip Balm.jpg

This Ted Baker Double the Dazzle* duo (currently available in-store only) will be finding its way into the stocking of a friend this Christmas. Though, with its ribbon, you could also hang it on the tree! It's the perfect chic, last-minute present for beauty and non-beauty lovers alike and features a Tinted Lip Balm and light pink Nail Polish that would suit all skin tones. Plus the packaging is super-cute.

No7 Lip Library All About Pink Boots Gift Stocking Filler 1
No7 Lip Library All About Pink Boots Gift Stocking Filler 2

Sticking with a similar one-fits-all theme, No7 have released an All About Pink Lip Library (in stock online at the time of writing). But don't let the title fool you, inside you get:

No7 Limited Edition Gloss (Shine) in Deep Pink *A glittery red*
No7 Limited Edition Gloss (Shine) in Nude Pink *Glitter-free*
No7 Matte Lip Crayon in Raspberry Red *Which I am keeping for myself*
No7 High Shine Lip Crayon in Daydreamer and Delicate Pink *One nude, one naturally flushed pink*

So whether you keep them all together or split them across secret stockings, there's a really nice range of products, formulas and finishes to suit everyone's taste - perfect for teens and adults alike.

Happy last-minute shopping, I wish you the best of luck!

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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Free Chrome Extensions for Bloggers

Free Chrome Extensions for Bloggers Download


As a blogger, there are a few free Google Chrome Extensions that help me out with producing my content. From social media to design and SEO, you need these in your blogging toolkit!


For Social Media - Buffer

Buffer is hands down my favourite social media scheduling platform for bloggers. It’s relatively cheap, comes with an app and is so, so easy to schedule content across multiple social media platforms - absolutely free! The main reason I love their chrome extension is that it allows me to schedule my RTs over on Twitter to avoid Twitter-overload. However, it also great for easily scheduling in content when you find a web page or image you like.

For Design - Colorzilla

For the designers out there, Color Zilla is about to change your world. It adds an eyedropper tool to the upper right of your browser that lets you copy colours to love. Whether you’re creating a background or copying across a colour palette for inspo, if you use Canva/Pic Monkey or dabble in web design, like me, you need this in your life.


For Blog Stats/SEO - MozBar

MozBar is my go to website stat tracker. This extension allows you to view important information on your blog such as the Domain and Page Authority - RIP to my DA after my relatively recent re-brand. It’s a think a lot of brands ask for before you work with them and is useful to keep track of overtime. You can also see how your blog compares against others by visiting their site too!


For Screenshots - FireShot

FireShot is one of my more recent downloads. It has a single function, to screenshot entire web pages - and not just what’s displaying on your monitor. It comes in handy for social media to showcase a particular post or new blog layout as well as for featuring in media kits. However, if you’ve got a 4k/5k monitor - be warned, those image sizes can get quite hefty so remember to delete them after use!

To read more posts in my #BloggingHacks series, click here.


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Simple HTML Coding for Bloggers

Simple HTML Coding for Blogger Learn Easy Quick

A couple of years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about coding and now I build websites as part of my job. It’s absolutely maddening! I think a lot of people are put off by the fact that it looks like a load of gibberish but, I promise you, with a bit of know-how and practice you can come to understand code really, really quickly.

In this post, I’m going to outline some of the Blogger basics - the platform, not the people! - but I could quite happily sit here and teach you how to code all day long. So please let me know if you found this helpful/if you’d like to learn something a little more complex.


Paragraphs, Starting & Finishing


*This bit is pretty important to read before you move onto the rest of the post*

Think of basic HTML coding like a sentence, it starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop. Only in this case, it looks something like this:

<p>Isn’t this great!</p>

The “p” stands for paragraph. It’s what Blogger is creating for me right now as I press the return key. However, the beginning of a paragraph is coded for like this <p>. I then follow this with whatever I want to say in that particular paragraph. For example “Isn’t this great!” and, instead of pressing the return key to let the code know I’m finished, end with a slash, like this </p>.

As “p” simply stands for paragraph you can use the same structure with pretty much any HTML I’m going to teach you in this first post. All you then have to do is change what’s inside the < >. For example <b>I’m bold</b> makes anything inside the < > bold.

If you want to practice this on Blogger, click to compose a post and look for the “HTML” button on the top of the toolbar and HTML has to be entered in a different place to your rich text, or post content. If you’ve ever copied and pasted a Bloglovin’ widget code - this is the right place!



Bold, Italic and Underlining


Using the same structure as the paragraph above, you can create bold, underlined and italic text. I will more than likely be using all three in this post. Obviously, there’s a really simple way of doing it in Blogger by clicking the B, I or U icons along the toolbar. But, if you’d like to know a bit more about what’s going on:

<b>This text is bold.</b>
<i>This text is italic.</i>
<u>This text is underlined.<u>



Headings


Similarly, you can create different sized headings using the same method. With H1 being the biggest and H4 the smallest - really, you can keep on going, but no one is really likely to include so many subheadings in a blog post!

Depending on your blog’s template, you are likely to already have a H1 on your page - your blog name or post title - and, using more than one, tends to make the Google robots a little confused. So it’s probably best to sticking to H2, H3, H4 etc. Please note that the standard blogger “subheading” present - what I’ve used to highlight the subheadings in this post - is H3.

<h1>I’m a big heading.</h1>
<h2>I’m a smaller heading.</h2>
<h3>I’m the smallest heading.</h3>

*Please excuse the terrible highlighting!*

You style these headings - the font, size, weight etc. - using something called CSS. it’s inbuilt in each and every blogger template to make things look pretty. And is, more often than not, the cause of many of my work-related headaches. Let me know if you’d like to learn about it in a future blog post!



Alignment


To finish off the boring stuff, text alignment within your post is created using much the same method. Though, it is important to note that the spelling of centre is center when it comes to coding. Those darn Americans.

<center>I’m in the middle!</center>
<left>I’m on the left!</left>
<right>I’m on the right!</right>

High five if you’re following so far! It’s pretty easy, right? And you though you wouldn’t be able to do this!



Images, Resizing & Alt Tags


Let’s get onto something a little more fancy to finish the post. All images you upload to Blogger are stored on a server somewhere and each and every one has their own URL - just like a web page. Most likely ending in .jpg .jpeg .png etc. depending on the file format.

It’s these URLs we need in order to embed the image into the post. You can usually find these by right clicking on the original image - not a preview or thumbnail - and selecting “Copy image URL” which should look a little something like: http://www.charleylucy.com/amazing-cat-image.gif - unfortunately this is purely for demonstrative purposes. You will need to use the original link for this and not a shortened version.

Got it? Good. Now, if you’ve made it this far through the post, you’ll probably be thinking images are coded for like <image>URL</image>. Unfortunately not. Instead of closing like this: </image> images use "img" and self closing tag like this: <img />.

So where do you write the URL?! As we’re sourcing the image from the URL, you’d write it like:

<img src=“http://www.charleylucy.com/amazing-cat-image.gif” />

However, what you’d get from this is, most likely, a very large version of your original image - presuming that you’re embedding a camera photo that are thousands of pixels wide. To fix this, we add in width constraints. For example, I know my sidebar is 300px wide so I’d tell the image to be 300px wide:

<img src=“http://www.charleylucy.com/amazing-cat-image.gif” width=“300px” />

You can also do this with height:

<img src=“http://www.charleylucy.com/amazing-cat-image.gif” height=“800px” />

Or use the both of them together! Just be careful not to blow out the proportions of your original image. If your blogging platform doesn’t do this automatically - like the Small, Medium, Large and X Large function in blogger - you can manually calculate the new width and height using an online ratio calculator *shudder, maths*.

*Please note that this will likely vary on your mobile template which can be a little trickier to fix!*

The last thing you need to do with an image is to include an alt tag. Not only are these great for SEO but they provide aid to those viewing your blog that may have visual impairments by describing what is in the image. For example:

<img src=“URL” alt=“Cat Eating Cereal” width=“200px” height=“800px” />


I hope you enjoyed this really quick HTML crash course for Blogger. It was an incredibly fun to write and I hope it helps you either learn a little more or fix a few of those niggly little sidebar errors you might have - we’ve all got to learn somewhere!

Let me know if and what you would like to see in the next instalment of this series in the comments below. To read more posts in my #BloggingHacks series, click here.

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Monday, 19 December 2016

Instagram App Hacks for Bloggers

Instagram App Hacks


Back at University, I took a personality test - which one, I forget; £27,000 well spent - and I remember I received the trait 'expert' which boils down to not being confident unless you've got oodles of experience. Usually I don't give much credit to these tests - like horoscopes they can often be widely interpreted - but I do remember having a lightbulb moment and realising all of the things I'd done over the years. Like never, ever putting my hand up in lessons unless I was 98% sure I had the answer. Or putting things off - like my blog - because I knew that it wouldn't be perfect right away. It's incredibly infuriating.

So, please find below my top three photography app hacks to hopefully stop you putting off that insta snap you've been waiting to try.


How to get a White Background


White backgrounds are currently the 'in thing' all over instagram. Unless you have a good source of lighting (ring, soft boxes or natural), a DSLR and a little time to play around on Lightroom they may seem hopeless! But Facetune, an app you may already have downloaded to up your selfie game, has got you covered with it's whitening tool.

How I use it is by editing my image to my liking and ignore the yellow-tinged background. Then I export it and open it up in Facetune where I select the Whiten tool and draw my finger across the background until it's desaturated just enough to appear white. Easy peasy! It's hard to believe that these were once the same image...

How to get a White Background Instagram Face Tune


Cheat the Look of an Expensive Lens

To create a little bokeh/an out of focus background, I use the app After Focus, as it's a little more versatile in terms of what you can create. By selecting what's in focus what's mid-range and what's out of focus using it's handy drawing tool, you can create a real depth of field that rivals the look of the fancy new iPhone 7+ lens. Though, admittedly it's a little more work! But for £0.79 also a heck of a lot cheaper.

Defocus After Focus App


Create Quick Social Media Graphics

For those days when you just need some me time in your non-instagrammable PJs with your less-than-cute mug you've had for almost a decade. There are so many apps for this! But my favourites have to be Canva, ever bloggers dream, Over, its with free daily artwork and Word Swag for its #relatable word art that works great at enhancing tweets.

Over App iPhone Winter Graphics Social Media Instagram

Don't forget to leave your Instagram App Hacks in the comments below! I'd love to know what you use. To read more posts in my #BloggingHacks series, click here.

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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Adult Acne Skincare Routine

Adult Acne Spot Prone Teenage Skin Breakout Skincare Affordable Budget

Find out what affordable skincare I'd recommend for adult acne and spot prone teenage skin in my latest video.

Products Mentioned:

Organic Aloe Vera Gel
Acne Ultra Clear: Natural Acne Treatment*
Magnitone Lucid Facial Brush*
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo [+]
Bee Good Intensive Hand Repair*

Monday, 5 December 2016

Desk Update: Blogging Set Up December 2016

Desk Blogger Setup Blogging H&M Primark Crystal Urban Oitfitters Tumblr Moon Mac

If you've been reading my blog for a few months, you may have seen my last desk update. Though I'd prefer a less eclectic hobby, I always get itchy feet with how my workspace looks and love the fact that I can change the space around me to fit with my mood.

Today was a day spent working from home. I do this fairly regularly and am incredibly thankful that I can make money doing something creative whilst sat in my pyjama bottoms. Though I genuinely love being in my office - we have a giant inflatable Unicorn named Travis and a Starbucks downstairs - it's sometimes necessary to shut myself away and focus. Usually, in order to do this, I have to declutter my workspace.

Unfortunately, I'm an inherently messy person. I'm not quite sure how it happens. When I organise, I channel my inner Monica. But when I don't, we're talking major disaster. So I scooped away the wrapper and washed out the mugs - an unfortunate plural - before gathering up my almost empties into their metal basket and zipping up the contents of my makeup bag.

Pictured above you'll find some of my homeware favourites from summer 2015 - the H&M copper tray and Wolf Canvas print from Primark, updated with some new lighting including a Pyramid Himalayan Salt Lamp to the far right, Christmas lights and an LED strip on the back of each monitor to soften the light for working these dark nights. Plus, they give me all kinds of disco feels.

Download the wallpapers I'm using here:
Design Sponge x Jen Altman
Phases of the Moon

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