2017 / Charley Lucy

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Hygge Christmas Gift Guide: 2017

Do you still need to purchase a few last-minute holiday gifts? Me too! In racking my brain for what final gifts to buy for friends and family I've come up with the perfect hygge-inspired gift guide for Christmas 2017. So sit back, relax and let me help you out.

Hygge Christmas Gift Guide 2017
This post features sponsored content by Loccitane.

A Good Coffee Table Book

This year, I've picked up far too many books to mention - admittedly most on Audible, another great gift suggestion. I'll leave you with a few dip-in-dip out recommendations, perfect to skim whilst you're stealing 15 minutes to yourself:
  • Humans of New York
  • The Princess Saves Herself in this One
  • Read this if you want to take great Photographs
  • The Little Book of Hygge
  • The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy
  • Harry Potter: A History of Magic

Noozie Bottle Review, Noozie Hot Water Bottle Red, Electric Hot Water Bottle Review, Rechargeable Hot Water Bottle Review

Make 'em Toasty

Red Noozie Bottle*
If someone presented me with a Noozie electronic hot water bottle this Christmas, I'd be overjoyed. Because then I'd have two and maybe, just maybe, I could make it one evening without it being commandeered by my boyfriend... It takes just 10 minutes to fully charge the bottle - whilst you hide under the duvet - and it stays toasty for anywhere between two and four hours. When I took it with me on my snowy commute it's at the lower end of the scale but when I was cuddled up with a Bailey's hot chocolate and a blanket it's at the upper end.

The Noozie Bottle* is great for spoonies, gym buffs and elderly relatives too! As it's the perfect size to pop on sore muscles without being weighty. I've used mine across various areas of my back and neck to help with my fibro pain and sore muscles from a round of trigger point injections. I don't think you can go wrong with buying someone a Noozie Bottle* for Christmas!

Noozie Pebble Review, Noozie Pebble Review Pink, Noozie Electronic Handwarmer Review, Electronic Handwarmer Review


Give the Gift of Extra Battery, with a Twist

Pink Noozie Pebble*
I was also lucky enough to get to try out the Noozie Pebble* which doubles as a handwarmer/3500mah phone charger. To give you an idea of how strong that is, a fully charged Noozie Pebblewould charge my iPhone 7 Plus 1.2 times. As someone who is still getting used to their phone not dying throughout the day - RIP iPhone 6 - I usually carry my bulky 5000mah bank with me. So it's nice to opt for something smaller and sleeker with a dual functionality as a hand warmer. I was pleasantly surprised at just how quickly the Noozie Pebble* heated up and just how warm it got! I've used it on my walk to work, in the car tucked into my coat, in the office on a frosty Monday morning and slipped between my back and chair as a low-key pain reliever, it's just so versatile!


Himalayan Salt Lamp

Like most women my age, I purchased a Himalayan salt lamp because it looked hella trendy on the Urban Outfitters Instagram page. Since then I've shifted it from my bedroom to my office and use it to create a warm, calming and hygge environment and negating the need for harsh light before bedtime. It's not quite bright enough to read by but makes the great accompaniment to a cup of sleepy tea and a good podcast. Here are a few recommended podcasts to download.

Hygge Christmas Gift Guide 2017 2


Essence Scented Candles

Continuing the hygge theme, these Essence Scented Candles from B&M would make the perfect stocking-stuffer. Honoured in the UK as Bath and Body Works dupes, these stylish candles smell great and last forever. This year I picked up Pumpkin Waffle and Marshmallow Fireside after I burnt through Maple Leaf last winter.


Pamper Power

Everyone needs a bit of a pamper, especially in the harsh, colder months and L'occitane have plenty of Christmas gift ideas for women to suit all budgets. My picks would be the Handy Shea Tin for secret santa and The Best of L'occitane Collection, for someone you'd like to spoil. Plus, they're currently giving away a free gift with every purchase over £35 on their website.


Make sure to leave you gift recommendations in the comments below!


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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

How to never miss a PR request on Twitter

How to never miss a PR request on Twitter, Blogger Request, Journo Request, Working with PRs, Blogging, Blogger


Never miss out on a pr requests again with this simple 15-minute trick.

I've just made it easier for myself to keep tabs on over 100 PR and communications agencies I know work regularly with bloggers. Are you ready to find out how I did it?

If you're already following the accounts you'd like to keep track of, which I'm guessing most of you will be, I recommend starting by using a Twitter follower tool like Statusbrew to search the account you follow for the terms 'pr' or 'journo'. Most free Twitter search tools aren't sophisticated enough to exclude terms, so you'll pull through a few 'PR friendly' bloggers in the process. But, chances are, it'll be far less tedious than scrolling through your everyone you're following...

And, in case you don't follow any PRs, here are some hashtags to get you started:

HashtagTweetsRetweetsViews
#prrequest12595,383
#bloggerswanted4430,154
#bloggersrequired402,179
Stats correct as of 6th December 2016.

Let me know in the comments if you know of anymore and I'll add them to the list!

Once you've got your list in front of you, you're going to need to create a Twitter list of the account which you can do by visiting your profile page > lists > create new list on either desktop or mobile. Add each account by visiting their profile, clicking the three dots next to their username and selecting 'add to list'. Easy, right?

You can then add your newly created Twitter list to TweetDeck, scroll through it on your phone or, my personal favourite, use the find function on Chrome to search for the term 'bloggers' to pull up any requests from PRs and journalists. If you'd like to get a little fancier, tools like IFTTT can also add these tweets to a Google spreadsheet or your perusal or notify you when users on the list use certain terms.

Are you going to set up your own PR Twitter list?

For more blogging hacks, visit my #BloggingHacks page.

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Monday, 9 October 2017

How I Take and Edit my Blog Photos

How I Take and Edit my Blog Photos
*This post features sponsored content by Panasonic.

Since I started my blog in 2013, using a combination of my smartphone camera and my beloved bridge by Fuji, cameras have come a long way. The world has gone from 'revolutionary' HD video to shooting 4k from the palm of your hand on cameras like the Panasonic CSC Camera*.

This, paired with the the rise of insta-fame, seems to put a lot of pressure on us bloggers to get things right. I see so many tweets with bloggers beating themselves up about their photography or even refusing to take photos because they've 'only got smartphone'. Do you know how powerful any camera can be when used in the right way?

Today I'm talking you through how I take photos for my blog. It's evolved quite a lot in my 4 years blogging and I'm hoping to pass on a few of the tips and trick I've learnt along the way. For more blogging and photography tips, please visit my Blogging Hacks page.


Step 1: Planning

It's a good idea to have a general idea of your shot before you set up to take it. Do you have all the products you want to showcase? If you're taking lots of photographs using soft boxes or ring lights, things can get very cramped - and very messy - very quickly! Planning ahead means you can focus on whats important: the shoot, rather than wondering where you hid your marble tray!

What about props? Blog photography props don't have to be expensive. I don't think I've ever bought a 'prop' just because it will look great on camera. I much prefer using objects I genuinely enjoy and have purchased for my home, like baskets, blankets, trays, candles and other makeup. Alternatively, you can opt for a cleaner, more minimalist set up like I did briefly below. It's entirely up to you! Your styling can switch from post to post. Variety is encouraged.

'Bare it All' with 'Rock Solid' Nails by Leighton Denny

Once I've looking through my lens (an important step!) and made the necessary adjustments making sure all product labels and colours can be seen clearly, I'll start snapping away. I'll take 20-30 photos with minimal changes before changing up the shot in front of me by changing my perspective or switching around objects. Typically, the last few shots I take of a particular set up are going to be the best, so I've started honing in on them on Lightroom first.


Step 2: Getting the lighting right

Lighting is so, so, so important when it comes to photography. Many bloggers I know strive for daylight and batch photograph in front of a large window on weekends, during the darker nights. If you're serious about your photography, or low on time, you can also look into purchasing a ring light.

What you're aiming for here is nice, bright white light that fills the space your photographing. That's not to say that beautiful fashion shots can't be achieved during the golden hour or crisp autumnal snaps using candles and fairy lights - it's just a general rule of thumb for product shots.

Camera Lenses

Step 3: Editing

I like to edit my photos before I begin my post, where possible. I use Adobe Lightroom to do this but, in the past have used: Photoshop, Gimp, Polarr, Canva, PicMonkey and Picasa, to name but a few! The main things I check for are the focus - is the main object nice and crisp? - and the temperature - is it too green or too yellow? I shoot in my office and know my magnolia walls tend to tinge everything a little warm and a little green. It's this learning that allows me to quickly and efficiently go in and make quick changes to the photos before the real editing begins.

Before I knew how to properly use programs like Lightroom, I used to just play around, make changes and undo things if they weren't what I was looking for. It's how I learn my way around and I highly recommend you to do the same!

Beauty and Makeup Haul, Barry M, Makeup Revolution, L'Oreal Makeup Forever


My Photography Journey

When I was growing up, it was the height of the disposable 35mm camera. They were expensive, time-consuming and a perfectionist's worst nightmare. So, it wasn't until digital cameras came in that I began to fall in love with photography. I borrowed the family camera before purchasing a few brick-like point and shoots in my early teens, trading up to a bridge camera, snapping shots for Instagram on my Galaxy S3 and, eventually, purchasing my DSLR. I've used everything from Paint to Lightroom to edit my photos and many of the tools I started to learn on aren't even available anymore! I've spent weeks agonising over the slightest changes and trying new techniques - even if, looking back, I cringe at the final product!

I'm not declaring myself an expert here, just expressing a keen interest in a hobby of mine and passing on the wisdom that these things rarely happen overnight. So, if you're a new blogger, agonising over the photos you see on your Instagram feed, remember we all had to start somewhere and I hope these tips help guide you into finding a style of photography that suits you.

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Thursday, 13 July 2017

When's the Best Time to Tweet?

When's the Best Time to Tweet - Blogger Help, Small Biz Help, Twitter Help

In this post, I talk you through how to find the best time to tweet on your social channels, including how to stay on top of it for free in a matter of minutes.

So, when is the best time to tweet? It's a question I'm used to seeing all the time on social media and am asked frequently in my role as a Social Media Executive. Here's the honest truth: the there is no best time. It depends on a lot of variables including your following, their hobbies, demographic and living situation, even popular television shows like Love Island can create a spike in when your followers are most likely to be online. Consequently, when the optimum time is for you, is likely to vary ever so slightly week upon week.

But why is tweeting at the right time so important? Firstly, because it's when more of your followers are online and therefore you get more exposure for your 140 characters and secondly, because of this algorithm your best chance is to hit people when they're online, and not compete into thir 'what you missed' box.

How do you find it this magical information? We're going to use Followerwonk. Followerwonk is a fabulous social media analysis tool by Moz. I use it in my job as a Social Media Executive to figure out my posting schedule each week, use snippets for reporting on monthly performance and run regular, basic competitor analysis. What makes it even better is that, as a blogger or small biz with a limited marketing budget, you can do all this for free if you spread out your research over a few days to avoid reaching their daily cap of 2 search queries.

To find your best time to tweet, head over to Followerwonk and click on the Analyze tab. Or, if you're lazy, click right here. Alternatively, if you've already granted Followerwonk access to your Buffer or Twitter account an account you can visit followerwonk.com/analyze/charleylucy and swap out you username to view an instant report. Or, have a cheeky peek at how your competitors are doing.

On the Analyze tab, you'll need to type in your username and select the 'analyse their followers' option from the dropdown. This is important as you want to make sure your schedule fits best to your followers and not who you're following. Though, this is valuable information to know too! Click the 'Do it' button and watch in awe as your Followerwonk report is generated. Go on, have a play around! This blog post will still be here when you get back.

The third section down: 'Most active times for your Twitter followers' is what we'll be using to create your own schedule. If you're on Buffer you'll notice there's an automatic scheduler under the graph, simply select the number of times you'd to post on Twitter per day and Followerwonk will overwrite your existing Buffer schedule with a series of optimum times.

When's the best time to tweet, Followerwonk, Charleylucy

If you're not on Buffer - why not? It's fabulous! - you still can use the data from the graph to collate a social media schedule. As you can see, the majority of my followers are night owls, but I also make sure to include slots in the early morning, lunchtime and after work to make sure I reach a wider audience. In an ideal world, I'd revisit this tool every week, but I don't always have the time, so aim to revisit and rejig my social schedule once a month to keep my exposure at its peak.

There you have it, you now know the best time to tweet. For me, it's between 8-9pm so I've adjusted my blog post schedule accordingly and automated my new post social too as an added bonus. I'd be interested in reading yours in the comments below!

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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Car Boot Haul: Cameras Lenses, Alex Drawers & Gel Polish

Ever since I was little, I have loved going to a good car boot. They were a Sunday morning ritual at my house, even if I did tend to moan about the lack of lie-in! From getting secondhand kids toys to a library's worth of books, clothes and home ware for my student house. I have always loved hunting for a hidden gem.

Though, since I move to Hull I have yet to find another car boot quite as good as the ones that surround my hometown. So am always grateful, when visiting my parents, of the 6:30am start and it looks like I'm not the only one from the amount of you who liked my tweet!


Here's what I bought this past week.

Car Boot Haul - Camera Lenses, Manual Focus Secondhand Lenses, AF Canon Lens

Camera Lenses

Over the past five or so years, I've amassed quite the collection of manual lenses, usually from film cameras, collected from the car boot. Buying good quality second-hand lenses is a great money-saving hack when it comes to photography as you can often cheat the look of a much more expensive auto-focus lens by using it's analogue counterpart and an adaptor. Top tip: If you can't get to a car boot, there's always a selection on eBay, but beware of bidding wars with camera nerds like myself.

In this particular haul I picked up two film lenses and two dated AF Canon-compatible lenses to add to my collection:

  • Front left - Super Paragon F2.8 28mm Macro Lens (£1.50)
  • Front right - Canon EOS Zoom AF Lens 55mm F4.5-56 II (£5)
  • Back left - Quantary AF 77mm F3.5-4.5 Lens (£5)
  • Back right - Hanimex Tele-auto F3.5 135mm Lens (£2)

I've yet to play around with them properly but can say the auto-focus on the old digital lenses just about works on my - only slightly less dated - Canon 600D, though I occasionally need to switch to manual before taking shot. I'll be taking each of them out for a proper whirl next week, follow my Instagram to see the results.


Elite 99 Gel Nail Polish

Elite 99 Gel Nail Polish

As I talked about here, I've recently purchased a gel nail kit and am loving the non-smudge effortless nails that last two weeks. When rummaging in one of the beauty bins at the car boot - I'm nosy okay? - I saw a handful of Elite 99 gel nail polishes and purchased a bundle of mattes, shimmers and glitter top coats for £3. It might not be the bargain of the century, but I doubt I'm going to be able to pick up another for 30 pence anytime soon. It's just the find I needed to expand my small gel nail polish collection.


IKEA Alex Drawers on Castors

Photo credit: IKEA

IKEA Alex Drawers on Castors

Admittedly, I picked up the IKEA Alex Drawers en route home from the car boot after I spotted them in the window of a local BHF Furniture shop on clearance for £30. They were in in such good condition, bar a little crayon. I couldn't just leave them, so plan to purchase new set of wheels and place them next to my clothing rail, making a flexible dressing room space in my small, L-shaped office and doubling as a blogging flatlay set up that gets great light from the nearby window. I'll be sure to take a snap on my Instagram once they're in place.

With the added value of the drawers, my total spend was £46.50, which is more than my typical week but less than half of the IKEA price tag alone. So, I'm pretty chuffed. Let me know what your best secondhand car boot and charity shop buys have been in the comment below!

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

'Bare it All' with 'Rock Solid' Nails by Leighton Denny

'Bare it All' with 'Rock Solid' Nails by Leighton Denny

No, I'm not talking about that brand new summer bod. I'm talking about expert nail brand Leighton Denny's line of nail-enhancing polishes that are all about the base. Promising to strengthen, perfect and repair your nails.

Rock Solid Strengthening Treatment & Base Coat by Leighton Denny*

Rock Solid Strengthening Treatment & Base Coat* promised just that: rock solid nails. Which, as an ex-nail-biter, is very much appreciated. It's a clear, one coat strengthening treatment for all nail types that can be built up over time or applied underneath polish. I did the latter and finished off my at-home manicure with a couple of coats of Bare it All CC Base Coat in Beige*. But before I began to cover it up I noticed just how damn good my nails looked. My ridges appeared reduced and the glossy finish was just so classy.

Though I unfortunately just had the time for the one treatment before my at-home gel nail kit arrived, further fueling my current nail obsession, I only had one minor nail breakage that week, which is a win in my book. This is definitely one of those subtle polishes I'd recommend to those of who are still in school or who are unable to wear brightly coloured nail polish to work.

Bare it All CC Base Coat in Beige by Leighton Denny*

After reading that this nail polish was perfect for concealing discolouration, I'd expected the finish would be sheerer, so was impressed when the coverage of this cc base coat packed a punch when it came to pigmentation. The formula is one of my favourites in a nude - I generally find them too gloopy, too watery or unable to dry? - as it leaves you with a smooth, high gloss, a salon-worthy result that lasts a good few days without a chipping. On my fair skin, the tone sits a few shades darker than the colour of my nails but wouldn't look amiss as a lighter nude on a deeper tone.

The secret ingredient behind all this is allegedly Marula Oil which locks in moisture and smoothes the surface of the nail for an almost gel-like finish. Note to self: buy more Marula Oil-based polishes.

Let me know in the comments below that nail varnishes you've been loving recently, especially if they're gel!

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Monday, 10 July 2017

Travel-Friendly Summer Skincare - whatever the Weather!


We Brits know that summertime doesn't always equal sunshine and with the ever-changing forecast, it's difficult to know what skincare products to pack for a summer getaway. Do I need a higher SPF? Can I handle foundation in this heat? What is my skin doing in this weather?!

In this post I talk you through three travel-friendly skincare products that I've been using in a rotation with the weather to keep my skin feeling moisturised, looking radiant and, most importantly, protected from the sun this summer.


Nivea Daily Essentials Tinted Moisturising Day Cream in Natural

During my teenage years, I was obsessed with the Nivea Young range's tinted moisturiser, that saved me from precious months of Dream Matte Mouse cakeyness. Back then I was blessed with almost acne-free skin and my basic makeup routine went something like: moisturiser, a dab of concealer, powder to set and a flick of mascara. It was a simpler time.

During the UK's recent heatwave, I couldn't stand the thought of wearing a heavy foundation but wanted a no-fuss product to help cover up any unevenness, so nipped into Boots to see if they still made it. Now repackaged as part of their Daily Essential line, Nivea's Tinted Moisturising Day Cream with SPF 15 is my favourite sunny day skincare solution, leaving my skin looking radiant and healthy and feeling moisturised. If you're jetting off on holiday this summer, I'd highly recommend taking their travel-friendly 50ml in your makeup bag for those no-makeup-makeup days sitting by the pool.


Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Face Fluid*

The Piz Buin Ultra Light Dry Touch Face Fluid* does exactly what it says on the tin. The formula is impressively matte and quick drying without leaving a white cast to the skin. Making it ideal for wearing underneath some light, summer makeup and, at 50ml, very beach-bag friendly. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the scent reminds me of summer. If I shut my eyes, I can almost imagine the sand beneath my toes...


Caudalie Vine Active 3-in-1 Moisturiser*

After raving about the Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil* a few weeks ago, I tested out the anti-pollution Caudalie's Vine Active 3-in-1 Moisturiser* from the same line. Designed for all skin types, this summer skincare product is a great all-rounder that works on normal to combination skin as it's lightly moisturising, sinks in fact and doesn't oxidise or move my makeup. However, I would advise those with dry skin to supplement it with a rich and nourishing night cream and I've experienced a few areas of flakiness. TMI?

What summer skincare would you recommend? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

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Monday, 3 July 2017

The Foam Roller Workout for Chronic Pain

The Foam Roller Workout for Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia

As a spoonie, I understand the struggles of exercising with chronic pain. But what if you could reduce pain whilst working out? I talk you through my experience with a foam roller and just how much it's helped my pain and activity levels.

Recently I attended a chair pilates class to build up my muscle memory and improve my flexibility. As someone who has fibromyalgia, I find it difficult to get motivated to exercise and can sometimes suffer painful consequences as a result. But the class, held by my local Pain Clinic, really helped build my confidence and left me able to do things, like empty the bin, without getting the pain that usually follows. I even built a few cabinets on my own! If you're a spoonie too and can access a pain service where you live, I'd highly recommend enquiring what services they offer.

From the class, I was given a fitness band that I use to help stretch out my shoulders, arms and legs and have progressed to doing some light yoga stretching on my mat each week. But I wanted to try something more, I just wasn't sure what I would be helpful. It was around this time that a Youtuber I subscribe to, Invisible I, posted a video about how foam rollers had helped her fibro foot pain so I purchased one on Amazon and Youtubed a quick workout by Christine Salus to try.



The foam roller workout consists of rolling your body across the foam roller to provide relief from tension as the different, usually textured, areas of the roller work your muscles. I now use my foam roller whilst I'm catching up on my Youtube sub box for around 5-10 minutes every other day or when I notice a tight or aching sensation in my legs or lower back, where my fibro pain usually sits. I usually notice an immediate relief after my session, with the pain in my legs disappearing altogether. Although I haven't been able to master the movement to help my target area of my upper back, for that, I've always got my percussion massage and TENS machine.

Have you used a foam roller in your workout before? Let me know in the comments below!

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Thursday, 29 June 2017

Your Klout Score: Measure your Social Media Influence

Klout: Measure your Social Media Influence

I’m back at it with the blogging help posts. Today I’m teaching you all about Klout. Klout is the social media ranking tool you didn’t know you needed - it will help you forge brand partnerships, improve engagement and share original content.

I first stumbled upon Klout back in my early blogging days but didn’t realise just how influential your Klout score could be until I was asked by a trustee at my organisation to keep a record and report month-on-month. Since then I’ve moved jobs but still rank Klout as one of my most-used social media tools, especially when it comes to influencer outreach. Why is this you ask? Using over 400 different social media factors, Klout’s algorithm ranks individuals between 1 and 100. A that represents your influence across your social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. You can read more about your Klout score here.


Klout score from a blogger perspective:

Your Klout score is a fantastic piece of information to include in your media kit to show how engaged you are on your social channels.
It shows that you’re social media savvy and you know what you're talking about when it comes social, which is handy for sponsored posting.
You can build relationships with other bloggers who have a genuine passion, interest and following.


Klout score from a brand perspective:

As a business, I’d be more inclined to get in touch with a microinfluencer with a high Klout score and a slightly smaller following than a bigger blogger, as it shows they’re passionate about their niche and engage with their following.
As a social media manager, you can sometimes get a lot of tweets and simply can’t give each one the love and attention it deserves. Your Klout score shows me at a glance how beneficial it would be to engage with you so the higher it is, the more likely I am to strike up a conversation.

The best part is that, with the Klout Chrome extension, also available for Firefox, you can view other Twitter users’ Klout score right there in your timeline. You don’t have to search for it manually. Though, if you’re like me and have a keen eye for social stats, you can always check up on how your Klout score has progressed over the past 30 days using their Measure tool and the influence each social platform contributes to it.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

How to Maximise your Productivity as a Blogger

Productive Blogging, Blogger, Time Management

Like many bloggers, I put a lot of pressure on myself for not being productive. For me, that means posting every day, replying to e-mails and mentions the same afternoon and producing Pinterest-worthy photos. This is probably why I've been known to fall out of love with my blog from time to time. I dislike the feeling of walking through the door and knowing, after a long day at work, I still and have posts to write, e-mails to reply to, photos to edit, SEO to fix, social to check and schedule before I can even think about having some down time.

Recently I got a new job and have found myself with oodles of spare time - alas, taken from my sleep schedule - on my commute, before work and during lunch time spare. So, instead of letting it go to waste I purchased a Chromebook and vowed to do better as a blogger. I seized those little bits of nothing time and turned them into something productive: a post schedule, a clean inbox, a bunch of new Twitter followers and some SEO-optimised copy. Want to find out how you can do this too? Keep reading.

The Alarm

Let's start easy: use this time to check what's trending on social media, reply to your notifications. In bed, of course and ideally with coffee in hand.

The Commute

If you commute to work via train or carpool, you can maximise this time by taking 10 minutes to jot down as many blog post ideas as you can. Think keywords, products you've just hauled, posts from other bloggers that have inspired you. Some ideas will be golden, others you'll never work on again. This way, you've always got a bank of ideas to reply on when the blogger's block hits. My favourite place to do this is the digital-hipster cafe a few minutes walk from my office. Watching others be creative is one of my favourite ways to get motivated.

Lunch

Level 1: Check Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other social media platforms your blog is connected to. Being responsive is a big social media turn on.
Level 2: Use this time to check your phone and reply to blog-related e-mails in the hopes that you'll have a response by 5 pm that day so you can crack on with your latest collab that evening.
Level 3: If you own a portable laptop, tablet or bluetooth keyboard you can connect to your phone and are lucky enough to have an hour-long lunch break why not use this time once a week to write a blog post? I've found a spot just outside my office by the river works best. The lack of internet connection and time limit does wonders for your productivity and keeps procrastination levels to a minimum. No funny cat GIFs here.


Rush Hour

I detest slow moving cars almost as much as I detest slow walking people. Pop on a podcast, you can find my recommendations for bloggers here, and try and learn about a new technique, network or scheduling tool whilst your engine is idling.

The Evening

I'm a big believer in rewarding yourself after a busy day so grab a cuppa tea and put your feet up for a bit. No doubt, like me, you are hooked on the latest Love Island drama so pop on the tele, crack out the laptop and get to business. All the technical bits like SEO, alt tags, SPG and formatting can be checked later. See that? The hour you'd have wasted snuggled under a blanket on the sofa had just become your most productive blogging time today.

Schedule and edit what you can and then head to bed. Blogging should be fun and not seem like a chore. If you want a day off, take it!

The Weekend

Take all of the batch photos when there's good lighting. You'll thank yourself later.

I hope this post gave you a few ideas on how to maximise your productivity as a blogger. It's intended as a list of tips than a guide. I don't think I'll ever be able to live up to this standard of blogging goals every single day and I'm not sure I'd want to! I appreciate my downtime too much. Netflix anyone? But a solid two or three days a week using this method, and recycling wasted time, can transform your blog and social.

Be prepared, new content is on its way.

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

RiteTag: Supercharge your Social Media Hashtags

RiteTag Twitter Hashtag Search Social Media Marketing Tool Free

Ever wonder what hashtag to use on Twitter to give your content the best exposure? I'll show you how using RiteTag, one of my favourite free social media marketing tools for bloggers and small biz.

As a blogger, you're probably reading this and rolling your eyes wondering what hashtags could provide more exposure than the standard #bbloggers tags or chats like #TheGirlGang. Both are filled with like-minded, passionate individuals who are interested in your niche - a great for recipe for views and engagement. But, when it comes to real people and some brands, chances are they aren't clued up on our new-fangled blogging lingo. They might not even know what a hashtag is! So, how do you get your blog noticed by them? Easy. You stop thinking like a blogger.

Thankfully, I have a free tool to help you with this - don't I always? Head over to the website RiteTag, log in with your Twitter or Buffer account and I'll walk you through it. RiteTag is a service that find you the best hashtags to use from a given keyword. As someone who manages social channels for a living, I cannot begin to explain just how time-saving this is. Once you're logged in, you'll notice you are able to a search for a hashtag in the top left of the screen. Let's search for #beauty.

RiteTag Search Beauty Hashtag

This will generate a long list of hashtags, organised by the average exposure they are likely to receive. Hashtags in the green group are great if you want to be seen my lots of people but don't necessarily result in lots of engagement as they have the tendency to be over-saturated - meaning your tweet might get overlooked. The blue group indicates hashtags to use to be seen over time - I recommend this is where you look to find people who are genuinely interested in your topic and are likely to see your tweet. The last group is grey and displays the hashtag graveyard. You shouldn't waste your time using these, they're not worth the characters.

Each individual hashtag is displayed next to its stats, the on-average number of tweets, retweets and views that particular term receives per hour. You can also see the breakdown of how many of these were photos, videos and mentions. But the clued up of us will already know that a winning tweet occurs at least 2/3 of these things.

From this list you can easily 'bookmark' a list of hashtags to use or compare at at later date. On the paid plan you can delve deeper into a particular hashtag by clicking 'View' to find out its:

  • Popularity over the last 30 days
  • Daily averages from the last 4 weeks
  • Hourly averages from the past 7 days - separated into unique tweets and retweets
  • Popular related accounts that are worth following
  • Geographic distribution by country
  • The languages it has been written in
  • Recent images that have been tagged
  • A web of hashtags to check next and their degree of relatedness to your original search term

Though RiteKit, their parent kit is a paid social media tool, the basic functions of the hashtag search above are available on RiteTag for free. Along with RiteTag's also have a Google Chrome extension for easy tagging, which you can download here.

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Monday, 26 June 2017

A British Blogger’s Guide to Staycations*


This post features sponsored content by Point S Tyres.

Since the UK is currently hotter than Mordor, I decided that a post on staycations was in order. We Brits do love to complain about the relentless heat/rain/snow, it’s about time we learnt to embrace it.

Staycations are stay-at-home vacations. Instead of jumping on a plane you can usually hop in your car to a nearby city and explore what it has to offer. It’s a way to make your weekends travel-filled without the hassle of a typical holiday - catching flights, jet lag, breaking the bank - and, in this heat, will feel just as exotic. For those of us spoonies, staycations can also be an accessible way to experience new places without wearing yourself out.


1) Book

Indecisive about where to go? I’d recommend downloading Lucky Trip - an app that allows you to set your date and budget and generates a somewhere to go, somewhere to stay and something to make you happy whilst you’re there. I could - and have - wasted hours flicking through long weekends in Brazil, lazy Sundays in the south of France or a range of city breaks right here in the UK.

Alternatively, you can ask the lovely bunch of travel bloggers on Twitter, pick up a leaflet or two from the train station, browse Air B&B or close your eyes and put your finger on Google maps.

Screenshot from the Lucky Trip app.

2) Pack

Great, you’ve picked a place and booked the tickets! Now you wait. Right up until the last minute in fact, when I always seem to wait until to pack my bags. It doesn’t help that I am the mother of over-packing, being more inclined to unhook the kitchen sink “just in case” than pack light. Below you’ll find a slimmed-down list of what I class as my essentials that I’d never leave behind:

Phone, portable battery, chargers and headphones.
iPad full of Netflix downloadable shows and a good book - just in case!
Sunscreen, hand cream, coconut oil, deodorant and toothbrush.
Concealer, brow product and mascara.
Clothes for every kind of weather the forecast threatens (plus an extra bra, pair of socks and undies).
A spare pair of comfy shoes.
A mini first-aid kit.


3) Travel

Trains turn me into a ball of anxiousness. What if I’m late? Have I triple checked my tickets? Oh no, where’s my Railcard? Am I on the right platform? What if I I board the wrong one? Now that I can drive, I skip the fuss and drive wherever possible, which gives me a bit more flexibility. I can also get together the best playlist of summer songs, blast the air conditioning and sing at the top of my lungs. However, it’s important to make sure your car is safe to drive before setting off.

Top up your screenwash. It may not seem like a big deal but you do not want to notice you’re out whilst you’re stuck behind a messy lorry on the motorway. Visibility is everything.

Double check your tyre pressure and tread, making sure there are no punctures before you set off. I had an unfortunate incident where my local garage left a spanner locked into place and rubbing against my wheel, which could have resulted in a nasty blowout. In need of a new tyre? You can reserve your tyres in Solihull and other areas from Point S at great prices.

Don’t risk it, take care of yourself. Make sure to cool the car down as much as you can before getting in so that touching the wheel and other controls are bearable. Take a water bottle, stop for regular rest breaks, avoid driving in heat if you don’t have air conditioning and wear some sunscreen - the glass does nothing to protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays.


4) Enjoy

Put your phone on silent, grab a cocktail and have fun!

Let me know where you’ll be staycationing this summer in the comments below.

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A Quick Guide to the Page Analytics Google Chrome Extension

A Quick Guide to the Page Analytics Google Chrome Extension for Bloggers, Google Analytics Help

The free, downloadable Page Analytics Extension for Google Chrome is one of the simplest analytics tools I've used to see what you what your readers are clicking on on your blog.

Once you've installed the extension, which you can do here, you'll need to create or sign into your Google Analytics account. If you haven't already set up Google Analytics on your blog, visit this page to walk you through it. You just need to copy a small bit of code onto your template and you're done!

At this point, I shut down my browser, re-opened it and visited my blog where I was met with a few interesting looking bar graphs and some percentages in orange boxes displaying on images and headers across the page.


The Percentages

The best feature of the Page Analytics Extension is the ability to visit any page on your blog and see in easy-to-read percentages what your readers are clicking on.

Take my home page results - as you may have noticed, I haven't been keeping up with a regular blogging schedule these past few months, so my stats are quite low. From my home page 8.3% of readers click on my featured post slider, 4.2 % on my Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil: Say Goodbye to Blocked Pores post and 13% on my May 2017 Makeup and Beauty Haul. The further down the page I travel, the more likely it is that I'll find higher numbers as those posts are older have been showcased on my home page for longer. You can also use it to check your nav bar stats - I do! With 13% of my readers clicking the About and Contact pages from the home page. Easy, right?



The Graphs

Now for the slightly trickier part, the graphs. Each of the complicated-looking graphs can be set to display a custom stat over the past 30 days - by default, but you can change it in the bottom left corner. Below, I'll take you through the default set up. If you're already a die-hard Google Analytics fan you can skip the rest of this post, you won't miss anything. But, for those of you who are new to poking around your blog stats, read on.

The Segment is set to a default of 'All Users' so you can see what every single person who visits your blog has been clicking on. For most bloggers this will be enough. But, if you wanted to get a little more technical and break it down you can explore detailed segments of your audience by using the dropdown menu.

The next module along is Page Views. Pretty obviously page views is simply a display of everyone who has viewed your blog over the past month. More details stats are available on the main Google Analytics site, however, this is still useful information to have at a glance.

Next up you have Unique Page Views. This is the number of page views done by unique, individual users over the month-long period. Lots of unique page views means you have many different readers.

The Avg. Time on Page refers to the average amount of time a user spends on your page. If you have a layout similar to mine, in which your homepage showcases a number of posts, this is likely to be pretty low. To view the average time it takes them to view a specific blog post, head over to that URL.

The Bounce Rate sounds like a lot more fun than it is. High bounce rates are usually a bad thing as it means many of the users visiting that page leave your blog right after. They haven't stayed to explore. It might just because they clicked through on  Twitter or Bloglovin' to read a single post.

Let's talk % Exit. This number refers to the percentage of people who exited your blog on that page. If you notice high exit rates on a particular page, it may be worth revisiting it to check why people might be leaving your blog. Was it something I said?

The final module displays the number of Real-time Visitors that are on your blog right now. It's great to check just after a Twitter chat!


That's it - my quick rundown of the Page Analytics Extension for Google Chrome. Do let me know if you found it helpful in the comments below and what you'd like to see in the rest of my #BloggingHacks series.

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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Hair Oil: Aussie 3 Miracle Reconstructor for Damaged Hair

For the past several months, I've been using hair oil for growth and to condition my long, thick, bleached and frequently coloured hair. They fit my philosophy of minimal effort hair care with maximum results. The Aussie 3 Miracle Oil Reconstructor for Damaged Hair is a lightweight hair oil treatment for dry and damaged hair, the latest in a long line of hair oils I've been testing out.

"There's more than life to hair but it's a good place to start" - The Aussie Philosophy

The Aussie 3 Miracle Oil Reconstructor for Damaged Hair is made with three different, deeply nourishing natural oils: macadamia nut oil, jojoba seed oil and avocado seed oil, making it a great choice of hair oil for dry hair. From the first use, it shows a real difference with its non-greasy formula that appears to visibly repair my hair to leave it silky, smooth and fabulously shiny. Over the time, I can feel my hair becoming less dry, frizzy and lifeless. Plus it's reasonably priced, travel-friendly - no glass bottles here.

You can use hair oil at all stages of your hair care routine:
  1. Before shampooing as a nourishing conditioner - don't be afraid to use a heavy hand here.
  2. On damp hair to prevent frizz and tame flyaways - let me know if you've tried this!
  3. On dry hair to maximise shine and create a silky texture - a little goes a long way on dry hair so use sparingly.
Though, my personal favourite is as part of my evening routine in between washes to keep my hair looking healthy. First, I split my hair down the middle and use two pumps on each side of my hair before twisting my hair up into a high bun and heading off to bed. That way, when I wake up my hair is soft and tangle-free, without feeling weighed down.

Have you tried out hair oils yet? Leave me your favourites in the comments below!

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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil: Goodbye to Blocked Pores


I've been sitting on this secret for quite some time... Find out how you can say goodbye to blocked pores overnight with Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil*.

March and April were one heck of a stressful ride for my skin. I had more flare ups than my usual hormonal breakouts and it was not helping my confidence one bit. Enter Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil*, a concoction of what I can only assume is all natural fairy dust with a side of disillusionment charm that renews and protects my skin whilst I sleep and unclogs up my problematic and acne-prone skin within a few days.

I use six drops on my face, two on each cheek and forehead, every other day before bed and gently massage it into the skin, avoiding the eye area. Though it can make things a little dry if I forget to follow it up with a strong night cream, moisturising facial oil or a good dose of Nip + Fab Deep Cleansing Fix to keep things balanced.

It's been over a month and I've noticed a dramatic improvement in my skin when I use the Caudalie Overnight Detox Oilin combination with a good exfoliator and face brush. My little white bumps are almost non-existant and I've dropped the full-coverage foundation in favour of concealer for daily wear. This is one facial oil I'll definitely be repurchasing when I hit the bottom but, by the looks of things, that won't be until next year!

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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Tips for Improving your Bad Mental Health Days


Bad mental health days are natural as teenagers, as adults and as someone suffering from a mental of physical illness. They are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, we all go through them. Learning how to recognise your triggers, improve a bad mental health day when it occurs and put in preventative measures is an invaluable set of tools to have.

The below tips are targeted at the occasional low days we all naturally experience and shouldn't be used instead of professional help. I've written this post from my experiences of bad mental health days, usually caused by my ME. Thankfully they are few and far between.


Turn it Off


As a social media manager, I cannot tell you how nice it is to switch off my phone and computer and just be, without being at the constant beck and call of your audience. I should probably note here that I don’t mean as a blogger, this is strictly business. As I’ve talked about before, I used to manage a number of platforms that catered to a young adult audience that seemingly had no grasp of time of day or what a bank holiday was! The notifications were constant. There’s no shame in wanting to reclaim an evening by flipping the do not disturb switch.


Put yourself First


What putting yourself first means:

Being concerned about your wellbeing. Take time to ask yourself are you okay? Are you happy right now with the way things are? If not, what can you change to make it so? Or, who can you talk to? Sometimes you can be just so stuck in a rut that you don’t realise how you're being impacted. As a person, I always try to cram too much into my time and end up beating myself up afterwards when I don’t get everything done. But, because it became a habit, it took me such a long time to stop and ask myself these questions.

Being generous with your time and fitting in activities you enjoy like bubble baths and books. Because you being kind to yourself is just as important as you making that coffee date. Learning how to be by yourself and enjoy it is just so valuable and refreshing.

Sometimes saying no. I think this is put beautifully in Sarah Knight’s The Life Changing Magic of not giving a F**k, which outlines the importance of using your time and your care wisely whilst still being a nice and loveable individual. Go read it!



Practice Mindfulness


As someone whose brain is constantly on the go, I have always found it difficult to switch off. But, for me, guided meditation apps like Headspace just didn’t work and colouring turned me into a perfectionist.

The only thing I found that helped was apps like Breathe on the Apple Watch - see also Mindfulness Daily (£1.99) for those of you without. They encourage you to take a minute or two out of your day and focus on your breathing. That’s it. There’s no talking or funky music, you just breathe and, it really helps.


Sleep!


When I’m not getting at least 8 hours a night, I soon know about it. That bad thing that happened ends up ruminating into this huge disaster. When, in reality, it didn’t matter one bit! Recently, I’ve gotten pretty good at setting a bedtime and sticking to it, because I can really see the difference a good night’s sleep makes.

Although, it’s not just the number of hours you get but the amount of deep sleep and restlessness too. To track this, I use the AutoSleep (£1.99) or Sleep Watch (£4.99) app but I’ve also seen a lot of blogger reviews of the ResMed S+ Sleep Monitoring Device that does a similar thing. Knowing the quality of sleep I'm getting is great because it allows me to pre-empt my step debt, take it easy and brew another cup of coffee as a coping mechanism.


Feelings > Words > Actions

Feelings are confusing and can snowball pretty quickly, so I believe it’s best to know what you’re dealing with before you, you know, actually deal with it. Writing helps me formulate my feels into words that I turn into actions. But for you, it might be a chat with a good friend, partner or parent.

You can also use a mood tracking app like Moodnotes (£3.99) which helps me spot the offending situation or thought pattern and eliminate it.


Don't forget to leave your tips for improving a bad mental health day below.

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Sunday, 21 May 2017

May 2017 Makeup and Beauty Haul

Excuse me for a second whilst I shoot myself in the foot... Recently, I've stopped buying new makeup - almost altogether. My May beauty haul was the total sum of two long months of makeup shopping, bar a cult favourite or two. I can't quite believe it! I'm not sure whether it's lack of time, enthusiasm for new releases or finally my inner adult kicking in. But, at the moment all I tend to reach for are the same old favourites day in, day out.

Keep reading to find out which products peaked my interest and made it into my shopping basket during the month of May.

Beauty and Makeup Haul, Barry M, Makeup Revolution, L'Oreal Makeup Forever

Barry M Illuminating Highlighter Palette

One thing that really blew me away about Barry M's Illuminating Highlighter Palette (£6.49) is the packaging. If you removed the brand name, I couldn't tell if the kitsch, rose gold embellished box was Benefit's latest release. Inside, you'll find three pretty standard highlight shades, a white, a pink and a peach. Admittedly they aren't the most pigmented but blend well together for a light and natural sheen. Though beware, glitter haters, there's more than a little sparkle in the mix too.


L'Oreal Miss Baby Roll Mega Volume Waterproof Mascara

Holy grail product alert. For months mascara has seemed to just glide right of my lashes, causing me to become a panda by noon. So, when I saw a couple of beauty bloggers talking about the new L'Oreal Miss Baby Roll Mega Volume Mascara (£7.99) on Twitter and just how hard it was to remove, I rushed out to purchase one in waterproof, just to make sure. Though things can get a little spidery if you apply with a heavy hand, my lashes look long and luscious right up to the point I use a cotton pad a bit of coconut oil to remove it at the end of the day.


Makeup For Ever Rouge Artist Intense in Matte Bright Red

It's red, it's matte and it's hella moisturising. I wish Makeup For Ever was more widely available over in the UK as, after purchasing their Rouge Artist Intense Lipstick in Matte Bright Red (£16.00, Debenhams) beauty from the TKMaxx beauty counter I'm hooked on this creamy and long lasting formula. Move over MAC!


Makeup Revolution Retro Luxe Lip Kit in Regal

As I've mentioned before, I do love Makeup Revolution's answer to Kylie Jenner's famous lip kits. After purchasing the shades Magnificent (dark green), Glory (brown) and Noble (nude) I decided to add one more to my collection. Regal (£6.00) is best described as a rusty, orange-red with a matte finish that just screams retro. The formula is not drying, long-lasting and only need reapplying once for a nine-to-five stint.


PS... Precious Metals Collection Complete Face Palette

I picked this PS... Precious Metals Complete Face Palette (£6.00, available at Primark) up on a whim. I could say I thought it might come in handy for a bit of light travel? But really, the warm, pinky tones sucked me right in. Complete with a large mirror, three eyeshadows, a highlight, contour and two light lip tints there's just enough of everything for a light touch or overnight stay. The pigment pack a punch, though you have to be mindful that there is an awful lot of fallout, especially with the buttery, foiled gold.

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Making a Big Mac at McDonald's!*

Join me for a juicy behind-the-scenes look at the newly revamped McDonald's restaurant in St Andrews Quay Hull. This post contains sponsored content by McDonald's.

Flashback to a cold and dreary day in 2015 when I popped into my local McDonald's  for breakfast - 2 stacks of pancakes with syrup and a coffee, obviously - and got giddy at the shiny, new digital order screens. I'm a nerd, get over it. So, when McDonald's got in touch inviting me down to one of their newly revamped restaurants and promised an insight into their revolutionised kitchen design, a look into their digital experience and the chance to make my very own Big Mac, I was in.

But first, coffee. A side note on blogging events: before I ventured to McDonald's, I worked a 9-5, got changed into my dungarees in the least public car park I could find and attempted to recreate that morning's makeup look without 3 of my brushes. #relateable, anyone? I was so ready for the coffee I was offered when I walked through the door!

Excuse me whilst my inner nerd gets excited at the digital screens once more... I can't wait to tell my fussy-eater friend about them! Hate pickle or fancy a reduced carb lunch by doing away with the burger bun? McDonald's make it easy to personalise your order to your liking at the tap of a screen. As an added bonus, you can also opt for table service, removing the majority of human interaction on those days you just cannot deal - a.k.a before 9am and a good, strong coffee - as your order zooms straight to the kitchen. Bonus.



The kitchen is exactly where myself and blogger Ana at Caffeine Berry (hi!) went next. We donned our uniform, complete with hat, hairnet and apron. Which several bloggers, friend sand colleagues have told me is a look I really suit. I'm taking that as a compliment until further notice...


After a tour of the intelligent grills that cook all kinds of meat to the perfect level of juicy and speedy production lines in the kitchen that assemble fresh burgers on cue, we got the chance to make our own Big Mac. Naturally, I spent the entire time we were being instructed taking photos and mentally composing tweets so managed to forget the entire process when it was my turn. The highlights are the fancy three-slot toaster that toasts each part of the bun differently and the sauce gun that squirts exactly the right amount of garnish onto each burger. So satisfying. This was my first ever Big Mac - I'm a McChicken sorta girl - and I ate it in two sections. How people manage one of these giants, a milkshake and chips I will never know!

This was followed by a taste test, of their new signature range featuring a tasty BBQ number. Though my feeble stomach only managed half I'll definitely be ordering one again!

Finally, we got to go behind the scenes of the drive through. Don't lie and say you've never thought about it. In reality, it's a burger chute that pushes the burger from one end of the production line to the front kiosks, a long corridor and two very well organised employees. Reality 1, Imagination 0.



Find out more about the events up and down the country at #YourNewMcDonalds or by visiting the McDonald's website.

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