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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Urban Decay Beauty Haul: Brows, Blush & Primer


When I first got into beauty blogging back in 2013, the Urban Decay Naked Palette was the product to own. Consequently, Urban Decay's beauty releases will always have a special place in my heart that reminds me of sleepless nights refreshing stats, broken sidebars and making new internet friends on Twitter. Find out what products I acquired in my latest haul below.


Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion // Eden*

I didn't think I could love a skin-toned primer more than my trusted MAC Pain Pot in Painterly. That was until I used Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Eden*. It's pigmented and mattifying it leaves me with the perfect bright eyes without a shadow of purple in sight. My favourite way to wear this is by using the handy doe-foot application - an upgrade to my Urban Decay Primer Potion in Sin* - to apply a swipe of primer to the eye and to blend it out using my ring finger or Real Techniques Bold Metals Oval Shadow Brush.

Recently, I've been using it in conjunction with my Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette in Ablaze, which has a wonderful selection of warm-toned shimmers and mattes by setting the primer with Relaxed, a cream-tones matte shade and warming up my crease with Throwback, a burnt-orange for an easy to wear, everyday look.


Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Powder Blush // Indecent*

Indecent* is a coral-toned matte blush that lies somewhere between natural and neon. The entire blush range comes in, what can only be described as badass packaging with a satisfying metallic clasp. Just one word of warning, this blush is hella pigmented so use sparingly with a fluffy brush.


Urban Decay Brow Tamer // Clear*

There's one really, truly brilliant thing about the packaging of this that makes Urban Decay's Brow Tamer* a thousand times better than any of the other clear brow gels I've tried. Can you think what it might be? Nope, it's not the brush, or the snazzy, new green and purple packaging. It's the fact that the tube is a dazzling shade of opaque purple.

Every single other clear brow gel I have tried comes in a clear tube which, you know is going to get gunked up the second you apply the fixing gel atop of your brow powder which, really vainly, makes for terrible product shots. Such a first world problem, I know. My eyebrows aren't particularly bushy thanks to years of regrettable over-plucking but this seems to hold them nicely in place without making them um... crunchy.

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Monday, 27 February 2017

L'Oreal Infallible Total Cover Full Coverage Foundation


Are you looking for a good, all around, full coverage foundation at a drugstore price point? You need to purchase the L'Oreal Infallible Total Cover Full Coverage Foundation. Immediately.

When I first saw the adverts for the L'Oreal Infallible Total Cover Full Coverage Foundation, I wasn't convinced. The colour match didn't look quite right and the overall finished seemed flat. In my time as a beauty blogger I've tried my fair share of drugstore foundations promising to be full coverage and always come away disappointed. No matter how rave the Youtube review. Cue a bad skin day and I threw caution to the wind and decided to give it a go. So, how did the L'Oreal Infallible Total Cover Full Coverage Foundation, with such a lengthy, promise-filled title, compare to its predecessors?

Answer: splendidly. In the few short weeks I've had, the formula has outdone my gold standard of drugstore foundation: L'Oreal Infallible Mattifying Foundation. Let's break it down and find out how the coverage, formula, colour and finish work with my skin.


Coverage

There's no doubt about it that this foundation is full coverage. It promises to cover imperfections marks and dark spots and does exactly what it says on the tin, to the point where I can skip the concealer on my red and acne cheeks. It's that good.


Formula

If you're into a light and skin-like feel, this foundation probably isn't for you. The formula has a thick, almost whipped consistency that feels more like a heavy duty concealer than foundation. You notice it right from the moment you squeeze a pea-sized amount onto the back for your hand. Though, it blends beautifully so you can always using a good buffing brush to reduce the coverage when you have a good skin day.


Colour

The colour match between the L'Oreal Infallible Total Cover Full Coverage Foundation in Porcelain and the L'Oreal Infallible Mattifying Foundation in Light Sand is pretty similar, despite the shade difference. Both work well on my porcelain skin. However, if you're a hair lighter than me you may be left wishing for a slightly lighter shade.


Finish

Once you've finished applying it, the finish is demi-matte but, even on my dry skin, it tends to become dewy with oil throughout the day. Day, in this instance, being a stressful, nine-to-five job which may have something to contribute to my less-than-perfect finish. Though it's nothing a bit of blotting paper or powder wouldn't fix if you're into a completely matte finish.

I'll just leave you the link to the Boots website just here, just in case...

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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Blog Photography Hacks: Budget-friendly Coloured Backgrounds

Blogging Photography Hacks, Budget-friendly Coloured Backgrounds, Easy, Cheap, Blogging Backgrounds, Blog Photography Tutorial

Today I'm sharing with you how to achieve beautiful, bright coloured backgrounds for your blog and Instagram on a budget. Are you ready to up your photography game?

My #BloggingHacks series is back by popular demand. You can read everything I have to say from photography hacks like this to SEO and gadgets here. Want to have a say in what content appears on charleylucy.com? Make sure you vote in my weekly content polls over on Twitter.

Let's get to it! There are three main parts in achieving the perfect coloured flatlay and, if you've already been agonising over achieving the perfect crisp, white background, I've got good news for you: this technique is so much easier.


1) Coloured card.

It's smack in the face simple. Everyone's using coloured card at quirky angles to break up their stark, white backgrounds. So why not encourage it to take up a little more space? You can pick up packs of A3 coloured card from WHSmith or Amazon for £5.99. Pastel or neon? It's up to you.


2) A well-lit space.

We all know that lighting is important but a dark and shadowy area could cause noise to build up in the background. I took these photos about on a grey and horrible day in front of large, glass french doors to make the best of a bad lighting situation. If you own a ring light or softboxes, even better.


3) An app to even the tone of the background.

Regardless of how well you take your photo, cameras these days are just too darn good and pick up every little detail. To achieve that flawless gradient and reduce noise build up you need to defocus the background. My favourite app to use to do this is After Focus, which I've talked about at length here. It's my favourite way to cheat DSLR-style shots using my phone's camera. However, you could also use the Defocus tool in Facetune.


4) Edit as usual.

Correct the lighting, the highlights and shadows and crank up that saturation to really make things pop.

I'm already loving my new Instagram feed! Head over to get some colour inspo and don't forget to tag me in any snaps, I'd love to see what you create.

A post shared by Charley Lucy (@charleylucy) on
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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Lazy Girl Skincare Routine

Lazy Girl Skincare Routine, Acne, Quick Fix Exfoliating Scrub Mask, Nip+Fab Exfoliate Glycolic Night Pad Extreme

I wish I'd paid attention to this ten years ago. My skin is, more often than not, a bumpy and inflamed mess thanks to hormones and my on again, off again attitude to skincare. Sometimes, a girl just needs to go to sleep.

Though, I've rarely ever slept in my makeup - ngl, mainly because of the mess it would make on the pillow - I have been known to use a single face wipe as my entire nighttime skincare routine. This is because of three main reasons 1) laziness, 2) staying up until I am ready to drop, 3) resigning to the fact that it doesn't matter what I do, the hormones will get me.

Slowly but surely, over the past couple of years, I've managed to develop something that resembles a skincare regime - watch my last attempt here. And only used a makeup wipe or Makeup Eraser Towel to remove stubborn liquid lipstick before a thorough cleanse.

But sometimes, I just cannot be bothered to turn on my facial cleansing brush or wait for my aloe vera gel to dry before my head hits the pillow. I want a one-step product to leave my skin feeling fresh and, in my quest to find one, have discovered a magical skincare secret: the key to great skin is exfoliation.

Mask, scrub, pads or chemical. My little hormonal bumps now cower in fear at my weekly exfoliating mask and daily scrub. Likewise the chemical exfoliants Nip and Fab's Glycolic Fix Extreme Night Pads for when I'm feeling fancy. Sometimes the difference it noticeable straight away, other times I notice three days later when I'm absentmindedly applying less concealer than I usually do.

If you've clicked on this post because you suffer from adult or teenage acne, I'd also recommend trying the Acne Ultra Clear: Natural Acne Treatment* I spoke about in my previous skincare routine to combat extreme breakouts.

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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Red Lipsticks: Best Affordable/Drugstore

Spend today with your one true love, and I'll spend it with mine: the perfect drugstore red lipsticks. Read all about my top picks and how I keep my red lip lasting all day long below.

Red Lipstick Drugstore No7 Revlon L’oreal Maybelline Rimmel Swatches Review 1
Red Lipstick Drugstore No7 Revlon L’oreal Maybelline Rimmel Swatches Review 2
Red Lipstick Drugstore No7 Revlon L’oreal Maybelline Rimmel Swatches Review 3
Red Lipstick Drugstore No7 Revlon L’oreal Maybelline Rimmel Swatches Review 5
Red Lipstick Drugstore No7 Revlon L’oreal Maybelline Rimmel Swatches Review 4

Swatches from left to right:

Aren't they beautiful? A red lip never dates, Brick reds, orange tones and vampy burgundy's - you name it, I probably own it. Much to the disdain of my boyfriend who hates my lipstick kisses. I've exhausted the drugstore in my quest to find the perfect, wearable shade that lasts without drying out my lips - so you know these are good. Today, I decided to showcase some of my favourite, affordable classic reds in honour of Valentine's Day. Worried about what's wearable? You can find out which shades work best with your skin tone you at No7s Match Made service.

The key to the perfect nine-to-five red lip is to choose a long-lasting matte finish - see above - and apply to exfoliated and product free lips. To protect against fading, I always try and use a matching liquid lipstick or liner as a base before filling in the colour. If you're using a glossier or more moisturising finish, like the No7 Match Made Moisture Drench Lipstick in Soft Cherry*, this will also help prevent bleeding. Lastly, to avoid transfer onto my morning coffee mug I'll blot my lips with tissue - or occasionally a post-it if I'm really pressed for time. Lastly, I own it. Red is a confidence colour and looks fabulous on just about everyone.

What affordable/drugstore lipsticks have you been wearing lately? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Surviving Sick Days: Self-Care

Starbucks Christmas Mug, Cosy, Comfy, Reading, Blanket, Book, Surviving Sick Days Self-Care, Ill, Flu


Last week, I had to take two days off sick due to a horrendous cold/flu mutant virus decided to take hold the minute I said "I'm too busy to get ill". It left me stressed, bed-bound and unable to focus. But guess what? The world is still spinning. Below are my tips for surviving sick days and focussing on self-care. Get that out of office ready, you're going to need it.


Accept it

Skip the four other stages and move right to acceptance, you are sick. Put on that out of office and give up. Turn off the social media notifications, emails, alarms, calendar reminders and mute your phone if you have to. Stress is only going to make things worse.


Stay Indoors

By leaving the house you'll 1) feel worse and 2) probably infect the rest of your co-workers, neighbours and/or local school children. So, just do everyone a favour, draw the curtains and stay indoors. And, under no circumstances answer the door in your scruffy pyjamas you haven't changed in a day, Rudolph-red nose and Hagrid hair to pick up a neighbour's parcel. Beg and borrow all of the medication you need and stock up on tissues before you start reaching for the loo roll.


Do what you can

From Netflix to staring at the ceiling, audio books to mumbling obsceneties at your lack of ability to sleep. Spend this time how you will. If you can do something constructive, like read a book, good for you. If all you can muster is a starfish? That's fine too. Don't beat yourself up for being unproductive, you're ill, you get a free pass today.


Wallow and appreciate

Very rarely is it okay in my books to wallow in self-pity. Now is now one of those times. Go get your small violin and play, play, play. Reminisce how you underappreciate your sense of smell and ability to stand without getting a head rush and promise you'll never, ever be unappreciative again. Even though we all know you will.


Have a cheeky peek at the inbox (if you must!)

If you're like me and tend to worry about the impossible. For example: you have 400 e-mails, your out of office didn't set, you missed some last minute super urgent thing or the building has burnt down in your absence.... STOP. Wait until work hours are over and do a quick skim read over the subject lines. If there's nothing high on your priority list, it can wait until you're healthy again.


Take the time you need

This is something I'm struggling with right now as a person. I tend to think I'm superwoman and can take on all the extra hours without consequence. This obviously isn't true, especially when you suffer from ME, like I do. Now I'm lucky enough to have a friend who nags me to worry about myself. So, if you think you'd be better off with the extra day, take it. You're only good if you're health and your co-workers are too.

What tips do you have for surviving a sick day?

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Happy Galentine's Day: Free Desktop Wallpaper Download


Valentine's Day is just around the corner and to celebrate I've created a free, downloadable Happy Galentine's Day Wallpaper for those of you who want to share the #girlboss love this February 14th. Or, you know, any day of the year...

Personally, I'm one of those scrooges who doesn't celebrate Valentine's Day - though I do appreciate the colour scheme. To me the idea of squeezing all the love you have for a person in one single day seems immeasurably hard. This paired with the hike in prices, my dislike of flowers - can't we just let them live out their pretty lives in the ground? - alcohol or see-through undies leaves me completely turned off to the whole loved-up industry.

Don't take it personally though, you do you and go enjoy your heart-shaped chocolates, prosecco and roses whilst I cook pizza, stay in and play video games with my boyfriend in my koala onesie. Each to their own.

How will you be celebrating this Valentine's Day? For more free downloadable, blogger tips and beauty tricks - don't forget to subscribe to my brand new newsletter by clicking here.

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

#BloggingHacks: How to add Social Media Icons to your Blog

Today I'll be showing you how to add social media icons to your blog in two easy steps. It's free, simple and makes your blog look more professional. Plus, you get bragging rights.

To do this, we'll be using Font Awesome's free icon resource library. Don't worry you don't have to sign up to or pay for anything.
How to add Social Media Icons to your Blog, Blogging Tips, Blogging Hacks, Blogging Help

The Finished Result




Kinda neat, huh? I've made mine particularly huge for the purpose of this blog post. However, you can see in my sidebar how they really look.


Step 1


The code comes in two parts, one you add into your blog's template which can be found on Blogger in Template > HTML. This particular piece of code tells your blog to go read the Font Awesome styling in order to display the icons. You'll need to paste it in between the <head> and </head> tags as this is where any references to stylesheets should go.

But before editing your blog's template, I'd highly recommend you download a copy for safe keeping in Template > Backup/Restore. Just in case!


<link rel="stylesheet" href="path/to/font-awesome/css/font-awesome.min.css">

If you're having any problems with this step, you can check out their help guide here.


Step 2


The second part of the code is what you would place in your widget by visiting Layout > Add a Gadget > HTML/Javascript. I've copied my Font Awesome social media icon code below for reference and added in a few line breaks so it's easier to digest. Once you've copied and pasted your code into your new HTML/Javascript widget, feel free to delete them.

All you need to do now replace the links with your own. You can also check out the large range of icons on the Font Awesome website if you need to link to your Snapchat or Etsy Store - it's completely free!

<a href="https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/charley-lucy-14945109" class="fa fa-plus" aria-hidden="false"></a>
<a href="http://www.twitter.com/charleylucy" class="fa fa-twitter" aria-hidden="false"></a>
<a href="http://www.instagram.com/charleylucy" class="fa fa-instagram" aria-hidden="false"></a>
<a href="https://www.facebook.com/charleylucyblog" class="fa fa-facebook" aria-hidden="false"></a>
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/charleylucify" class="fa fa-youtube-play" aria-hidden="false"></i></a>

If you'd like to understand a little more about the coding used above, have a read of my Simple HTML Coding for Bloggers post.


Step 3: Customise!


A standard, the icons are a set size and black in colour. You can look into how to make them bigger or smaller here by adding a fa-5x etc. attribute to the class. It's all just copy and paste in the HTML view of the post editor. With a little bit of CSS know-how you can also change the colour and hover colour too, so let me know if you'd like me to cover this in a future blog post.


See, I told you it was easy! You don't just have to use these in the sidebar. You can use the code when signing off your blog posts to promote social interaction or get creative with the bullet points you use like I did here.

If you've added social media icons to your blog using this tutorial, I'd love to know how you got on in the comments below! Don't forget to let me know what other "technical" blogging posts you' like to see too, I've already covered basic coding, how to improve your in-page SEO and collated a bumper list of blogging tips, extensions and apps here.

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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Instagram Algorithm: A Silver Lining for Content Creators

Instagram Algorithm, Instagram Feed, White, Blogger, Content Creator

Although the latest Instagram algorithm seems like it's raining on blogger's parades - spoiler: it is. There are a few silver linings for the smaller content creator.

For those of you suffering from these recent changes, you can skip ahead to the next paragraph to discover the upside. Instagram changed their algorithm majorly back in summer 2016, stating that the majority of users missed many important updates and they wanted to prioritise the moments the algorithm flagged as interesting to you. In short, they prioritise those people whose photos you like, comments on and whose feeds you visit. Which, in theory, sounds great but in practice has cost many their growth.

The main benefit of the new algorithm is that people who engage with you are more likely to see your posts. Which is great for your loyal following, they get to see the posts they love - your posts -without having to see thirty-six other "perfectly timed" posts clogging up their feed.

Speaking of "perfectly times posts", there is no longer a perfect time to post on social media. Any social media. Which levels the playing field for newer bloggers. For more experienced bloggers, if you Instagram analytics are telling you that 6 pm on a Tuesday is the perfect time to post because that's when your following is online, take it with a pinch of salt. As you know from your feed, posts can appear hours or even days after their initial upload which shatters the prospect of easy engagements.

Think of Instagram distributing images to different feeds at different times, as taking on some of your social media scheduling work by targeting more people. Not everyone is going to be scrolling through their Instagram feed at 6 pm on a Tuesday evening. So, by doing this Instagram is actually allowing a limited but wider range of your loyal following to view your content throughout the day.

Silver linings aside, I'm sick of this preferential social dystopia we now live in. If you're prioritising the updates I care about most, then why does Donal Trump feature on my feed so much?

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

New in Beauty January 2017: Makeup Haul

New in Beauty Haul, Makeup Haul, Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette Ablaze, Makeup Revolution Retro Luxe Matte Lip Kit, Liquid Lipstick, Kylie Lip Kit Dupe

January was the month of kick-ass new beauty releases at the drugstore. So, naturally, February is the month hauling them.

It's been far too long since I purchased anything I'd consider a non-essential as I'm really trying to work my way through my Alex drawer stash and focus on repurchasing the products I truly love. At least, that's what I'm telling myself. But - after seeing these new January releases, I just couldn't help it!



Smashbox Cover Shot: Ablaze Eye Palette

You know when you lay your eyes on a palette and think, yup, that was made for me. That happened when I spied an MUA on Facebook using the newly released Smashbox Cover Shot: Ablaze Eye Palette.  This compact, warm-toned palette is filled with desert-inspired shades just waiting for you to get creative. From a natural matte eye to a glamorous gold or full on fiery smoulder, it has everything I want: matte nudes, pops of gold and terracotta.

From a quick test over the weekend, the shades appear buttery and pigmented though don't seem to last on oily eyes without a good primer. I'll crack my Urban Decay Primer Potion out and report back.



Makeup Revolution Retro Luxe Matte Lip Kit

Obviously, I had to purchase Makeup Revolution's answer to the Kylie Matte Lip Kits. At just £6 each the rose gold Retro Luxe Matte Lip Kits are a steal and, from the state of my lips, are non-drying and long-lasting. In my true beauty blogger way, I ripped into the parcel the second it hit the doormat and have been comfortably wearing Magnificent through 4 hours, a pint of water and two veggie burgers and it's worn admirably. Though I did notice some initial cracking, which I'm sure can be solved by waiting for it to dry before posing in the mirror...

Noble (Nude) - I'll admit, Noble was the impulse buy of my Makeup Revolution haul. I hope it pays off with a nude-brown Velvet Teddy inspired hue that doesn't wash out my pale skin.

Glory (Brown) - Glory is a straight up mid-tone brown that I am exhilarated to pair with a good swipe of Antique Velvet by Mac. I'm already a fan of deep toned on my lips - thanks Kylie - so can't wait to see how this compared to my go-to Give Me Glow Liquid Lipstick in Roasted Marshmallow.

Magnificent (Dark Green) - Magnificent isn't for the faint of heart. It's a deep shade of evergreen that's both stunning a fierce. I'd highly recommend it to red heads and green eyed girls everywhere.



Revlon Colourstay Concealer

A moment of silence for my local Boots being out of my favourite Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer. The Revlon Colourstay Concealer is just a hair lighter and less yellow-toned so still works great on pale skin. It has a dewy rather than matte finish, so definitely needs setting under the eyes, and consequently the coverage just isn't there when it comes to angry, red acne. Do I like it? Yes. Would I repurchase it? Yes. I'd just like it a little more if I used it alongside my holy grail.

What makeup have you been buying this month?

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Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Bumper List of Blogging Tips, Apps and Extensions

Why let Wordpress have all the fun? Just because you haven't made the move, don't mean there aren't 1001 ways to improve your content from Blogger. In this post, I cover my favourite apps and extensions that help me write my blog, take and edit photos and keep up with my social media.

The best bit? Most of the apps mentioned below are completely free and those that don't cost little more than your morning coffee. For reference, I use an iMac, Google Chrome and an iPhone 6. I'll wait whilst you get up the App Store...

The Bumper List of Blogging Tips, Apps and Extensions, Blogging Help, Blogging Tips, New Blogger, Blogger Extensions, Blogger Plugins, Style your Brand, Camera,.jpg


For Writing Content


I use the Grammarly Chrome extension for each and every post I write. Not only does it correct simple grammar and spelling mistakes, but phrasing errors too.

Alongside Hemmingboard for Mac to cure my terrible habit of re-using the same word over and over again. It's very easy to use to generate new synonyms, rhymes and puns for your content and you can download a keyboard for iPhone too, making it perfect for writing social media updates.



For the Technical Bit

MozBar is a brilliant Chrome extension for keeping tabs on your page and domain authority after a Google algorithm update. Or if you've rebranded your blog and changed your domain name, like me. You can also view the page and domain authority of other website and blogs your read if you're into target setting.

Stumped by SEO? Learn what it is, why it's important and some easy ways every blogger can use it to improve their content and search rankings here: Basic SEO Tips for Bloggers. This post also includes some rather helpful free tools such as keyword finders and content checkers.

Google's URL Shortener
 allows you to keep tabs on who is clicking what over on your blog or on social media. If you're not into checking your Google Analytics.

My basic Basic Coding for Bloggers series can teach you the basics of HTML - and soon CSS - so you can start to finally start to fiddle around with your blog's sidebar. Can't wait? Check out this free Codeacademy HTML and CSS course here.



For Photography


For the basic editing, stick with PicMonkey.

To broaden your spectrum whilst still having access to a bunch of automated features,  move onto Polarr - the only exception to the cost of your morning coffee rule. Then, if you're looking for something more powerful and long-term, I'd recommend purchasing a Lightroom subscription.

There are so many websites out there that stock free stock images for those days when you just do not have the time.

You can also read my full post in Instagram App Hacks that teaches you everything from how to achieve the coveted white background to cheating the look of an expensive lens and creating quick, social media graphics using free artwork. All using apps!

Other photography apps I love: Enlight, Afterlight, VSCO and Layout for simple collages


For Design

To create basic social media graphics from a range of presets, you really can't beat Canva. You'll be showing off your new Twitter header complete with a media kit and Insta-worthy blog promo in no time.

Sellfy has plenty of affordable design assets such as fonts and stock photo packs alongside their newsletter that offers some new freebies each week.

Search for images licenced under the Creative Commons licence here so you're safe to include, and edit, them on your blog.


For Social Media


Being able to upload photos directly from my computer has indeed upped my Instagram game. I use a paid app called InstaMaster that displays Instagram just like it would on your phone. However, if you do a little digging around online there are some free online alternatives such as Deskgram.

Similarly, Image Downloader is a useful extension for 'monthly roundup' type posts and saves you endless time scrolling through your camera roll by adding a handy little download button to your Instagram feed.

Download UnUm to plan your Instagram feed like a pro.

Even if you don't fancy paying for it, the free Buffer Chrome extension allows you to schedule up to 10 updates in a queue so your Twitter feed is never bare. Though, I'd highly recommend shelling out the $10/month if you're a social media fanatic like me. If you batch schedule updates, why not try Hootsuite or Tweetdeck? They're both free and allow you to schedule a large amount of content across multiple accounts.

Manning a group account? Round Team have got your back with options to auto RT certain hashtags and users and tweet via DM. At first, it can be a little buggy, but we've hashed it out and it's been helping our @HullBloggers account tweet for years.

If automated tweets are your thing - I've written all about my love of the Workflow app here that can do everything from tweeting your Instagram images to publishing your social media updates and blog posts instantly across as many networks as you need.


Have I missed something? Comment your favourite blogging tools to have them added to the list. Let's help each other out. To read more posts in my #BloggingHacks series, click here.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Basic SEO Tips for Bloggers

Basic SEO Tips for Bloggers, Flatlay White Stationery, Notebook, Blogging, Search Engine Optimisation, Beginners, Easy, Content Writing.jpg

Let's learn about SEO - what it is, why it's important and some easy ways every blogger can use it to improve their content and search rankings. Go on, get the kettle on.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It's the magic of Google. Behind the scenes of the search engine, robots travel the pages of your blog looking for key bits of information so they can categorise your content using specific keywords. The information they collect is what Google uses to rank how relevant your page may be in a search. Blogs with good SEO are much more likely to rank higher in the Google search and therefore get more clicks. Make sense? Good.

This is great for the user. For example, when I type into Google "high-end blush recommendations" I receive a wealth of relevant of relevant content - blog posts, YouTube videos, swatches in images etc. - that all have exactly what I'm looking for. However, it's an ever-changing minefield for content creators like us. With Google favouring websites that have been around longer and made a few great connections and websites who can afford to pay someone to fix their SEO for them.

The good news is, you don't have to have to make the big bucks in order to get to work on your SEO.  In fact, I bet you'll start working on it on your very next post using this handy guide and a few free tools I'm going to share with you. But first, I've got a bit of explaining to do...


Title

Let's start at the beginning. This post may have interested you because you were procrastinating on Twitter or you because you were scrolling through Bloglovin' and found the photography visually appealing. But, ultimately, you clicked on it because of title and want to learn something about SEO. What clever and funny is to social media clicks, simply worded and to the point is to SEO. Stick simple keywords with little filler and reserve your wit for Twitter. Your title needs to be everything you need to know about the post in 60 or so characters.


Search Description

Getting your search description right is just as essential. The search description is what displays in Google when people search for similar keywords. It's the is make or break sentence that will leave people clicking or scrolling on by. Think about it, everyone's likely to have the same title - X Brand Mascara Review. What have you got that they haven't? Think about why your post is different and use it. Keep it short and sweet at just longer than a tweet - as close as you can get to 160 characters - and keyword filled.
For beauty bloggers, keywords include the name of the product, name the brand, the colour, the collection, the finish... You can throw in a few general keywords, such as beauty, makeup or cosmetics too, just to make sure.
Finally, a little click bait or cliff hanger never hurt anyone. If you have characters to spare a good question or reveal should entice your potential to find out more. Such as "Hot or not? How does X compare to X?" or "Find out my unpopular opinion of this cult beauty blogger favourite...".
You can easily edit your Search Description in Blogger using the right sidebar when you're in the post editor.


Content

When writing content, a minimum of 300 words is recommended. This should include:

 A cracking opening paragraph filled with keywords. If you're short on time, this can also be used as your Search Description if you keep it less than 160 characters.

 Your original thoughts and opinions. No one want's to read SEO optimised jargon over and over again.

 Plenty of keywords in relevant places. Top tip: don't get cocky and overdo it as this can have the opposite affect on your post and make it rank lower.

 Useful links to reputable sites.

 High-quality images that are relevant to your content.


Images

Image alt tags and titles are so underrated. Not only are they great for improving your SEO but they also provide some context to your image for those with visual difficulties.

If you can, always include an image that is relevant to your topic so you can use your keywords to their full potential. However, allowances can always be made. I didn't want to upload this post with a stock photo of a nice man in glasses toiling away at his PC, I get it... Just do the best you can.

It doesn't hurt to rename the image before uploading it from "IMG_0459.jpg" to a small string of relevant keywords before upload. This will help the images rank higher on specific searches. In Blogger it's easy to edit your Image alt tags and title in the post editor by right clicking on the photo selecting properties.


Links

Like images, you should include relevant links and edit the alt tags in properties. Always link to a reputable and trustworthy website - no spam! This includes other bloggers, the Boots.com website or, best of all, your own posts. Moz has a great post about they whys of this here if you're interested.


Free Tools

 Moz has a great SEO Keywords Finder that you can try for free.

 SEO Reviews have a whole host of great SEO tools, along with a Content Checker that will help you along with the basics covered above.


See! It wasn't that bad was it? If vigorously refreshing your Google Analytics page isn't your thing, then you shouldn't worry about SEO. But if you want to smash those monthly goals and have some brag-worthy SEO stats on your media pack, you may want to bookmark this page for future reference. You can read the rest of my #BloggingHacks series here.

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