The Bloggers Cheat Sheet

I’ve been blogging for over a year and I’ve learnt so many lessons and picked up countless tips from more established (and very kind) bloggers – this being the main reason I’m assuming I know what I’m on about – so I thought it only fair I share them with you. Here’s my advice:

1. Why? What? Which?

Before you start, have a think about why you are starting a blog, this should help you define what it’s about, what format you want it to take, which platform to use and what theme best suits your needs.

There are so many types of blogs: Specific blogs focusing on a particular subject such as beauty or film reviews. Visual blogs to displaying people’s photography or art work. Diary/journal type blogs which come from a more personal perspective. Literary blogs to showcase and store people’s creative writing. Lifestyle blogs (like mine) which cover multiple aspects that combine to create something similar to an online magazine, with re-occuring features and subjects.

The two most popular blogging platforms are Blogger and WordPress. In my opinion (having tried them both) Blogger is a lot simpler and therefor easier to use but WordPress gives you infinite options to expand and the chance to easily have full command your domain.

Stick to similar colours and fonts (only altering it for different sections of your blog if you really have to) as this will make a busy blog easier to navigate and instantly give it a professional feel. If in doubt keep it simple.

2. Find your own voice

It’s not much use thinking “I want to be just like…” You are you, you have your own voice, that’s what makes you – and therefor your blog – individual. I suggest at the beginning you keep your first couple of posts private and just write what ever comes into your head. Write how you would chat to one of your mates so that your personality and cultural background come across on the page. However, if you want your blog to have international appeal then avoid the over use of local slang. Read it back to yourself out loud. If you struggle to get all of the words out in one breath, then put more punctuation in. If you find yourself waffling on, then put more paragraphs in or edit parts out. Then if you are brave enough, get some one who knows you well to read it. Ask them if they think your writing sounds like you and how you normally express yourself. When I first started, my writing had this really arsey formal tone to it, like a government information broadcast from the 50’s!

3. Be consistent

It’s no use posting sporadically, being really enthused at first and then loosing steam and ignoring your blog. In order to gain regular followers and to establish a report with them, try and post at least once a week. Try not to get over whelmed by putting too much pressure on yourself to write amazing content with every post. Your readers will prefer regular posts rather than an award worthy essay every two months. Saying that, try to keep the content of your posts up to a consistent standard, even if you are creating a quick post from your smart phone on the bus. Always spell-check and then proof read before you press ‘update’.

4. Photo Do’s

When shooting outside always keep an eye on who is around you. Don’t make yourself a target for thieves, it’s not worth it.

If you are photographing something for review purposes and/or makeup try to make the most of natural light to get the truest colours.

If you are using flash be aware of surfaces that will reflect it back.

By a miniature tri-pod where you can lock off the height and angle, these are fairly cheap and will save you a lot of time.

Edit your pictures using free online software you can download. PhoXo and GIMP are two that always come highly recommended.

5. Photo Don’ts
Don’t sloppily take a long shot thinking “Oh I’ll just zoom right in and crop it later” as the more you do this, the more picture quality you loose.

Don’t publish countless selfies, that’s what your unfortunate instagram followers have to put up with.

Don’t post shots that are at wonky angles, badly framed or are badly lit.

Don’t post a hundred pictures of the same subject at ever so slightly different angles when a few would do.

For any OOTD (outfit of the day) posts don’t take a shot of your outfit in your bedroom mirror with your bedroom visible in the background looking like a clothes bomb just exploded.

Don’t include shots that have a stranger/your friend/your pet/or your Mum photo-bombing the background…. OK possibly your pet if it’s cute.

Don’t stand near a brightly lit exit sign/a bin/a random advertisement or street rubbish. These are all guanine examples of awful OOTD’s I’ve seen.

If a person is walking down the street, they are in a public place and you have the right to take their picture (unless it’s for professional purposes) so don’t worry about general street-photography and be brave!

6. Use Social Networking to drive traffic to your site.

Twitter and Facebook are invaluable for getting people to notice your blog in general and to advertise individual posts. Give your blog it’s own Twitter profile and Facebook page, listing what you and your blog are about (don’t go over three lines when writing your Twitter profile or the link to your blog will be buried on the third page).

Set up your blog so it automatically sends out a link to each new post to your Twitter/FB account.

Routinely tweet links to your post and include any relevant hash tags such as #greenbbloggers (green beauty bloggers) #crueltyfree also include any group that you think will RT (re-tweet) your tweet such as @fashbeautylife (FBL: Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle bloggers) and @FemaleBloggerRT. If you have reviewed a product (in a mostly favourable way) or are reporting on an event by a company etc then don’t forget to include that @company as they might RT it or even get in touch to work with you!

A fun way of promoting your blog and meeting fellow bloggers with the same interests as you, is to join Twitter chats. These are live scheduled events that last for an hour and happen once a week, where everyone gets online and creates a community.

My faves are:

#lbloggerschat @LbloggersChat every Sunday 19.00

#fblchat @fashbeautylife every Tuesday 20.00

#bloghour @UKBlogAwards every Tuesday 21.00

#organichour started by a coffee company, it’s now taken on a life of it’s own Wednesday 20.00

Add the times of any relevant Twitter chats into your calendar and set up alerts for them.

Pinterest and Instagram are also a more creative way to draw attention to your blog. Set up an account in the name of your blog and post photo’s you have included in your latest blog posts (not the in between shots explaining things, just the shots that are easily understood which make more of an impact). #Hash tag them appropriately and include any names of @brands/people who are also on instagram that your post favourably alludes to. Include photo’s of you out and about doing the things that you are blogging about and enjoying public holidays such as Halloween and Christmas etc to make your feed more personal and relatable.

Put your blog on Bloglovin. This an app/website that let’s you catch up and follow all of your fave blogs – no matter what platform they use – all in one place. Lately companies are asking how many followers you have on Bloglovin as well as Twitter and FB, when deciding if they want to work with you.

Remember with social networking that it’s not all about you! You have to put the time and reply to comments and also comment on other people’s posts to build a raport. Don’t neglect your follower alerts and try to ‘like’ as much as you are liked.

7. Get in on the action

Rakuten Link Share is a great site that has a huge list of companies in different fields which you can apply to, to become affiliated with. Wether that’s posting their banner adds on your site, promoting sales/events /offers or writing specific posts with link backs to their site. You will get paid accordingly. Sign up for news letters so you get alerted when new companies join. If you are promoting/advertising something by a brand you are affiliated with and getting paid for doing so, you have to make this clear in your post, otherwise it is illegal.

Bloggers Required is a site that lists all sorts of blogging assignments from companies. They ask you to run a competition where their product is the prize. They may send you an item for review and let you keep the product – after all you’ve used it, to be able to test it. They may request that you write an extensive piece on a product/experience/event which you will get paid for.

You must have full disclosure on your blog to let people know you are being paid to endorse said product/experience/event, otherwise it is considered illegal/shady advertising. If you are making money through blogging you are considered to be self-employed and should declare it to the tax man.

Note: Some blog hosting sites like WordPress will delete your blog if you are earning money from your blog if you are not self hosted, with your own domain.

Facebook Groups are a fantastic way of promoting individual blog posts, your blog in general and they are also another great way to connect with other bloggers. Keep an eye out for threads about upcoming blogger events and opportunities, then politely get in on the conversation. Obviously it’s under-handed to just high-jack someone’s PR contact, they’ve mentioned!

My faves are:

North West Bloggers UK (for group chats, info and shared events)

North West Bloggers UK – (blog sharing only)

The Girls Inspired Group (Rather strict rules with this one but it works well)

Facebook Giveaways (for your giveaway/competition posts)

UK Competitions and Prizes (for your giveaway/competition posts)

Bloggers PR Events (UK PR events only)

8. Giveaways and Offers

Giveaways are a fab way getting people to do want you want! By that I mean, when you are giving away a prize you can use Rafflecopter to set entrants a little task (such as following your blogs page on Facebook or tweeting about the competition etc) followed by a series of optional tasks – or even mandatory ones if you are offering a really awesome prize!

Displaying offers can be a great way of giving your followers exclusive opportunities, such as discounts on particular brands, luxury experiences or fun days out. The easiest ways to do this are either by agreeing on a code your followers can enter at the checkout or to have them quote the name of your blog when making a booking. It’s also a great way for you to network with independent companies and build up a relationship with them.

9. Abbreviations and Phrases (this one’s deliberately silly)

There are so many depending on what subject your blog covers, I’ll just add some of the more common one’s I frequently come across.

OOTD: Outfit of the day. Fashion and personal style bloggers photograph their outfits each day. “I just went totally OTT with my OOTD lol”

Selfie: A shot of yourself taken by yourself holding the camera with varying degrees of success. “It’s selfie Sunday”

Duck face: The over exaggerated pout that seems to be essential for any selfie. “Mmwah”

Photobomb: When someone dives in your shot at the last minute. “Dude, that pigeon just totally photo bombed your shot!”

FROW: The front row at a fashion show “Guess who I just saw on the FROW.’

*- – – -*: Explains what action you’d be doing if you weren’t typing . “He actually asked me what face palm means *face palm*”

Face Palm: If someone fails miserably but inevitably or does something particularly dumb, you might gently hit your forehead with the palm of your hand to demon straight their stupidity.

Most importantly…

Don’t stress about everything being perfect, just get blogging and have fun!

Peppermint Challenge

It seems to have become a bit of a trend for natural beauty companies to use an overwhelming excess of peppermint oil in their products recently. I just don’t understand why it’s necessary.

I genuinely don’t have a problem with the scent or taste of peppermint. I like it in gum, chocolate, and tea. However, when I’m doing my daily beauty routine or having a pampering session I don’t want to feel like my eyeballs have been slapped with a wet fish and then blasted by a leaf blower. I also have no desire to spend the day smelling of something my Gran used to pass of as sweets.

A challenge to all ethical (cruelty-free) beauty companies: If you believe you have a wonderful peppermint product then send it to me, to be reviewed on the Mcr Flick Chick blog. As always, I will be fair and honest with my trial and write up. I dare ya!

Christmas Tag!

I’m playing Xmas blog tag with Flores y moda as I also love Christmas!

tree

1. What is your favourite Christmas song?
Rocking Around The Christmas Tree as I love how retro but upbeat it is with a big ending. It also instantly reminds me of the film Home Alone.

2. Which is your favourite festive drink?
Hot chocolate with Baileys which we call ‘A Cheeky Choccy’.

3. Do you have a favourite Christmas film?
To watch with my Ma: Jack Frost where Michael Keaton gets turned into a snowman. As a kid: Home Alone. To watch with my Dad: The Grinch (after all I do bare a striking resemblance lol), For everyone to watch together: Elf

4. What is at the top of your Christmas wish-list this year?
Yet another leather jacket – this one’s a belted biker from River Island and a perfume stick from Lush that smells oriental, musky & fruity – any ideas?

5. What is your favourite festive makeup or nail art look? A wash of amber-brown on my eyes for day, teamed with my usual dark burgundy red lip for night. Nails: Anything daft!

6. What is your favourite outfit at Christmas time? (LBD? Christmas jumper? PJ’s?)
New clothes/jewellery I’ve received teamed with an edgy/cool jumper.

7. Would you rather play out in the snow or enjoy it from inside with the fire and a cuppa?
SNOWBALL FIGHT!!!

8. Wrapping presents – love or loathe?
Love! However, the majority of the time my ambition far exceeds my skill. I’ve been told my wrapping is ‘very creative’.

9. What is your favourite Christmassy food?
Ferrero Roche’s, Roses, Thornton’s, cheese straws, followed by a nut roast, all the veg, roasties and veggie onion gravy, oh and (veggie) Christmas pudding. Phew!

10. What is your favourite thing about Christmas?
The whole vibe. It’s that feeling you know? That festive, friendly, loving, caring, sharing, warm, fuzzy and full-up feeling. I realise I’m v lucky to have that so I never take it for granted.

To join in just answer these questions and link back to who tagged you (or who’s post you’ve read).

You can also tag other people who you think might be game.

If you are on Twitter send the person who tagged you or who’s post you’ve read (@mancflickchick) a link to your own post & include the tag #FloresYModaChristmasTag

Wonderful Team Membership Reader Award!

I like the tittle of this award as it’s rather long and quite intriguing. The award was created for bloggers to reward the readers and followers who comment frequently, are supportive and make the whole blogging experience a rewarding one. After all, it doesn’t matter how great your blog is, if there’s no one to share it with.

Womderful Team Member Readership Award

Thank you so much to Sherri and  Ti Amo who nominated me for this award within two days of each other! The award shows that people’s comments and contributions count and it’s a lovely way to make readers/followers feel appreciated. I put so much time into blogging I don’t feel that visit other people’s blogs enough, but according to the people who know me, I’m obsessed with reading them apparently, ha! I know it sounds geeky but every time I see that little sign pop-up showing me I’ve got lots of comments, it gives me a little glow inside and spur’s me on. A great reader is someone who makes all the time and effort worth it and I really do have the most lovely readers!

Them’s the rules

1. The Nominee of the Wonderful Team member Readership Award shall display the logo on his/her post/page and/or sidebar

2. The Nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days (1 week) – this can be done at any rate during the week. It can be ALL on one day or a few on one day and a few on another day, etc.

3. The Nominee shall name his or her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post or on posts during the 7 day (1 week) period.

4. The Nominee shall make these rules, or amended rules keeping to the spirit of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, known to each reader s/he nominates.

5. The Nominee must finish this sentence and post: ”A Great reader is…”

Here’s who I’m passing it onto:

Hellen Masido at hellenmasido.wordpress.com

Kajsa Josephine  kjandersen.wordpress.com

Casey Lindberg – Coghill   veggiesandglitter.com

Drewdog newauthoronline.wordpress.com

Indian Savage Indian Savage

Miss Ella Tea randomencountersoftheinquisitivemind.wordpress.com

Louise Oats at kinderhealthandbeauty.blogspot.co.uk

Alison Rothwell alisonrothwell.wordpress.com

Kerrie McGiveron wifemumstudentbum.com

Steph seeingsp0ts.blogspot.co.uk

Agata Pokutycka barktime.wordpress.com

Intelligent Nutrients Shampoo & Conditioner

Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Shampoo

Intelligent Nutrients, Harmonic Shampoo

The first thing I noticed when using this is that it doesn’t foam up at all so I had difficulty spreading it through my hair. The second thing I noticed was the feel of peppermint oil on my eyeballs, or rather how it would feel if my eyeballs were mounted on top of an alpine ridge in an ice storm. Then I realised my hair had turned to the texture of raffia and had become a matted impenetrable mass. At this point I was nearly in tears, wether it was because I was painfully rinsing the shampoo out of the knots or because of the peppermint fumes, I’m not sure. Major product fail!

Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Conditioner

Intelligent Nutrients, Harmonic Conditioner

As soon as I opened the lid I could smell the peppermint oil. “No, not again!” my eyes pleaded. I decided just to put a tiny amount of this on a small bottom section of my hair to test it. I can report it was really moisturising but left that section smelling of extra strong mints – very attractive. To counter the effects of the shampoo (and to even be able to get my fingers through the massive tangled knot that was now my hair) I used a thick creamy hair mask instead of this conditioner.

I really love the ethics of Intelligent Nutrients, they are BUAV approved and Soil Association approved which tells me they genuinely care about our planet. This makes me want to give them another chance and try some different products in the future.

China Plans To Abolish Animal Testing!

Finally China has agreed to stop testing cosmetics on animals!

I’ve just received this good news in an email from Cruelty Free International:

“Cruelty Free International is delighted that China is proposing to abolish its requirement for animal testing for cosmetics including shampoo, skincare and perfume from June 2014.

This is a ground-breaking moment – currently China requires all cosmetics to be submitted for animal testing in Government laboratories. This breakthrough has the potential to transform the situation for ethical cosmetic companies that have, up to now, refused to sell in China in order to remain Leaping Bunny certified, which bars cosmetics whose ingredients are tested on animals.

Cruelty Free International has been at the forefront to encourage Chinese regulators to accept alternatives to animal testing for cosmetics and we are thrilled by this news. We couldn’t have done it without your support, so on behalf of the rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice who will be spared from cruel cosmetics tests – thank you!

Cruelty Free International’s China Task Force, made up of leading cosmetics companies and with the support of the European Commission and Cosmetics Europe, has made tremendous headway since the exciting and influential new partnership was born.

Last month the China Task Force, with the support of leading European companies such as The Body Shop, l’Occitane, Montagne Jeunesse and Marks and Spencer, responded to a China Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consultation urging for a route for industry to be able to market cosmetics in China without animal testing.

Just in the last few weeks, Cruelty Free International’s Director of Policy, Dr Nick Palmer, spoke to the REACH 24H Chemical Regulatory Conference and Asia’s premier cosmetics industry event, the Asia Cosmetics Innovation Summit 2013, both in Shanghai. Dr Palmer pressed the case to open up the Chinese market to companies that do not want their products tested on animals.

Next stop; the world!

Over 80% of the world still allows cosmetics to be tested on animals. The suggested change of policy in China shows what can be done when animal protection organisations, industry and the Commission all work together!”

avril Nail Polish in Chocolat Chaud

avril Nail Polish in Chocolat ChaudThis is one of the best nail polishes I’ve used recently regarding it’s consistency, quick drying time and staying power. I wish all nail polishes came in this size of pot, as the bigger pots always seem to go goopy before I’ve used them up. My Mum loves this colour but I actually prefer the colour it looks in the bottle – a chocolate caramel colour. Once it’s on, it looks more of a mocha shade, still a very classy versatile colour though.

P1030810

This product is from a Souk Souk bespoke Little Green beauty box.

Win Ethical Beauty Goodies & Rose Quartz Pendant!

COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

This is the last part of my 1st bloversary giveaway, to say thank you to everyone for all of your kind comments, likes and follows and for making this whole blogging thing a brilliant experience for me. I’m giving away this little lot to one lucky person.

Competition PrizesPrize includes 

Eco Tools Kabuki brush

Crabtree & Evelyn Pomegranate Argan & Grapeseed Hand Care Lotion

Good Things Five Minute Facial Mask

Eco Tools Foundation Applicator

Westwood Rocks Rose Quartz Heart and Pearl Necklace

Neal’s Yard Remedies Metallic Eye Shadow in Hibiscus

To enter, click on the ‘Win…’ (rafflecopter) link on the right hand side of this blog.

Save The Blow Dry – Shower Cap review

Save The Blow Dry shower cap

When I heard that Save The Blow Dry were looking for people to review their frizz eliminating shower cap, I agreed at once. As you probably know by now I have long ridiculously thick hair which loves to freak out at any sign of humidity. It’s defeated an entire bottle of hair serum before and takes 5 hours to air dry, so having a daily shower is a nightmare.

The Tech Spec

Cap infoThe cap has two layers, the (phalate free) water proof outer layer and a ‘super-absorbent micro weave toweling’ which diminishes any moisture and humidity.

When using a rescue treatment on your hair the cap can also be worn inside out to create heat so the treatment can sink into your hair more effectively.

When you’re finished just rinse the outside of the cap if necessary and hang up to dry.

If you have long hair, don’t forget to dry yourself before taking the cap of so stray strands of hair don’t get all soggy.

Cap on headI have no problem getting my hair into the shower cap, it’s huge! I love the fact it just has the bows printed on it so it looks cute and retro rather than something too chintzy. Saying that, I’m never letting my bloke see me in this – ever. I wore the cap reversed after applying a hair mask, then I gently dried and styled my hair. I then went back into the shower for a relaxing 15 minutes with the cap on (the protective way around) covering all my precious hard work to really test it.

Result

Give away and cap 002

This is straight after I’ve taken off the cap. I’ve not brushed at all – I  just let it fall back into place. The fact my hair is still in these gentle waves and not a mass of bedraggled fluff is seriously impressive! This is an awesome Xmas stocking filler for Mums and mates. “Thank you Save The Blow Dry!” – My hair.

Dr Alkaitis Sample Review

Dr Alkaitis is a holistic organic beauty company which uses Aloe Vera gel as the base of their products rather than water, does not use any synthetic products or chemicals and all of their ingredients are biologically active and edible! It’s one of those brands that deliver products that are so energising, you only need to use a small amount at a time.

Dr Alkaitis Night Cream, Treatment Oil, Replenishing SerumOrganic Replenishing Serum

‘This vitamin-rich serum combines anti-inflammatory Aloe Vera with Wild Chamomile flowers and toning Witch Hazel to re-hydrate and restore skin balance.’

I sprayed this onto my face after cleansing, when my face was having a particularly blotchy, dry-patchy day and it had a lovely cooling and soothing effect on my stressed out skin. Later, after applying makeup I sprayed some more Replenishing serum over it to give me a more dewy look. It worked well and made my makeup look more natural even though I’d used powder.

Organic Treatment Oil

‘Regarded by industry experts as natures ‘miracle in a bottle’ this golden oil can be used on the face, scalp and body for intense hydration.’

I didn’t get to test this multi-award winning product as I had an allergic reaction to it. Luckily I’d decided to rub a little onto my nails as they were dry, rather than putting it on my face. Within a minute my hands and face were really itchy, my face turned an attractive tomato colour and I felt really hot. After washing off the product (and sticking my head in a cold bowl of water), I decided to read the ingredients – only to realise there were non supplied on the testers. I went onto the website and found the treatment oil had a large list of wonderful natural ingredients and oils (some of which I’d never even heard of before) but no milk or wheat which are my usual triggers, rather random! At this point I asked my bloke’s opinion, who’s experience of using skin products extends to shower gel, moisturiser and massage oils (the therapeutic kind). He found it to be ‘moisturising but not remotely greasy like usual oils are.’

Organic Night Cream

‘This luxurious overnight repair cream works to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and open pores.’

This is dreamy – literally, I gently massaged this into my face and neck before bed and rather than my usual 20 minutes of wriggling about, I fell asleep straight away. This lotion is really light and sinks in quickly to leave your skin feeling completely moisturised. It also has a lovely mild scent. I awoke to find that my combination skin was really balanced and moisturised and my pores were not as visible. My skin was so calm that I skipped wearing foundation, which is a big deal for me. After a week of using this, the small lines on my forehead look less noticeable. This cream is wonderfully effective!

Rating 5/5