5 Things Brands Look for in a Blog

How to work with brands as a blogger

I remember my first ever brand collaboration like it was yesterday. It was for a makeup company that I'd never even heard of and it was one of the best days of my life. A brand - albeit a small one - recognising me for my blog! It's every newbie blogger's dream. These days, brand collaborations are pretty much inevitable if you take your online-self seriously enough, and one of the most commonly asked questions I get from you guys is how to align yourself with brands to increase your chances of working with them. There's no magical formula, and good things take time, but if you want to up your chances of working with your faves then keep these top tips in mind..

Creativity

Anyone can copy and paste a press release, but just because you can it doesn't mean you should. Imagine how boring it would be if everyone reviewed a lipstick simply by listing all of the features listed on the box. If you want brands to want you, be creative with your work! 

DEMOGRAPHIC

Another thing to take into consideration is your target demographic - AKA who it is that reads your blog. If 98% of your readers happen to be male, chances are that very few of them will take a genuine interest in a sponsored post about tampons (ahem, not to make any assumptions..) and so the chances of a tampon brand urging to work with you is pretty slim. Slim, but not impossible. Don't give up on the tampon dream.

VARIETY

Whilst sponsored posts are amazing for so many different reasons, too many can turn your blog into more of a billboard than anything else. Of course brands want to see work that you've done with other people in the past, but they don't want to become just another post in a sea of advertisements. Say yes to all the posts you like, but make sure you add some #notspon in there as well.

REACH

The amount of followers you have is obviously a big factor when it comes to whether or not a brand choose to work with you, but it's not all that matters. If you're just starting out online - or if you simply want to increase your following - try focusing on just one or two platforms that you feel you're 'better' at, or that you most enjoy.

Engagement

If you don't have a bajillion followers on Instagram, don't worry! And definitely don't go buying followers either. Just because someone might have a bunch of numbers after their name it doesn't mean they have a high level of engagement. More often than not brands will favour a strong engagement over a higher number of followers or subscribers, because it's the people that engage with your content that wind up as apotential customer. They want people that listen to  you - not just people that double tap on a photo every once in a while.

DO YOU GUYS HAVE ANY TIPS FOR WORKING WITH BRANDS?


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How to get 100 instagram followers a week

How to get 100 instagram followers in a week

In the past few months I've started to take Instagram seriously, very seriously, or at least, as seriously as you can take a mobile app made up of squares and emojis (which apparently, is pretty damn serious). I dedicate days to stocking up on Instagram pictures, only to spend the next day editing them and typing out the 'perfect' caption. A few cute emojis, a few tags - not too many, not too little - just enough to keep things ticking over nicely. I have literally begun to see aesthetically pleasing things as squares on my iPhone. Will it fit my theme? Did I post something similar in the last few days? I don't know whether to be proud of my commitment to it or not..

But alas, the reason you're here (which I assume is because of the title of this post, and not the allure of my sheer wit and beauty) - how the hell do you gain over a hundred followers each and every week, in the least proactive way possible? High five lazy ladies, I'm wid u.


Shoot in bulk

I don't know about you guys, but I absolutely do not live in a world of marble work tops, flourishing cacti (I kill every one I adopt) and good lighting. My life looks so ugly compared to what I plonk on Instagram, so if I had to take a photo of what I was actually doing in the day, as I was doing it, it would be a series of photos of me feeding my cats or sitting at my desk in some form of Primark pyjamas that are probably so old they should have been thrown away years ago. You know how they say Instagram isn't real life? Yeah, it's not. All those flatlays I shoot are pictures I've taken in bulk that I've scheduled throughout the week. Oops, secrets out. And editing my Instagram snaps? That can take me hours when I'm doing a bunch. Like I said, not sure if I should be proud or ashamed of myself. So to make sure that my feed is getting updated regularly with pretty pictures, I shoot everything one afternoon when the lighting is good, and I'm feeling patient enough to take five million flatlays. I literally turn my bedroom and office into some sort of photography studio, lights and all, just so I can take a few fancy pictures of latte art that went cold half an hour ago.


Queue your posts

So, funny story. During my last few weeks of semi silence I've actually been working behind the scenes to queue every single blog post, video, Instagram snap -you name it - weeks in advance. Why? Because it just makes life easier (once you've queued them..when you're trying to edit ten videos in bulk, it's hell). Queuing all my Instagram posts around a month in advance means I'm able to focus more on the content that actually matters without having to worry about what I'm going to take for my next insta pic. I use Latergram to schedule all my posts. You can upload everything straight from your computer and type captions on a normal keyboard as opposed to a 2 inch iPhone one. Whenever you've scheduled your post for you'll get a notification through on your phone. Just copy and paste the caption and boom, you're officially organised. Constant content = more followers. Bonus points if you manage to queue two or more a day.


Have a theme

When I follow someone on Instagram I don't follow them because they posted one pretty picture. I follow them because they post hundreds of pretty pictures. Just like with your blog, you need to have a theme. I mean, if I suddenly started writing about health and safety procedures in Mcdonalds you'd probably think I'd either lost my mind or been hacked by Ronald McDonald. #NotSpon. It's the same with your Instagram. My feed is predominantly airy and simplistic. I shoot everything on the same camera (the Olympus PEN E-PL7 for all of you that have asked before) at the same time or day, in the same type of setting. A theme looks pretty when you click onto someone's profile, and it means there's no surprises for the people that follow you. It's easy to get followers by spamming, but it's much more useful to get ones that engage with your content.


Take note of what's trending

Whether it's a new beauty product launch you've managed to get your hands on or a dress from the new-in section of Missguided. The trick to gaining followers is to be relevant. No one wants to hear the words 'sold out' or 'discontinued' when they ask on your picture, and companies probably aren't going to re-gram you if the picture you took is wildly outdated. Re-grams = more followers. You know the drill.

Hope that helped a few of you out! I've written a similar blog post including more tips and tricks on how to get more followers on Instagram, so be sure to take a peak at that one as well. 

Let me know if you have any tips on upping your Instagram game too!

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18 blogging mistakes to avoid

Blogging mistakes to avoid

Blogging (successfully) is one of those things that sounds pretty simple when you say ut out loud, but when it comes down to actually doing it - and doing it well - there are a lot of things to take into consideration. I'm hardly any form of internet authority or mother-figure here (although feel free to start calling me Mumma Steph) so I'm not going to tell you exactly what you can or can't do with your blog, but if you wanna make it that little bit more special, try steering clear of these blogging mistakes. Or you're grounded without pocket money. Or food. I'd be a terrible parent..


1. Blogging illegally

If there's one thing you take from this post, it's that blogging illegally is a bad, bad thing - just like most other illegal things. The general topic of what you can and can't do with your blog is a long, laborious one, but luckily for you guys I've typed it all out in one of my last tip tuesdays, so if you want to know how to blog without breaking the law, head on over.


2. Not crediting your sources

This kind of falls in line with the laws of the internet, but copyright is a seriously big deal for us bloggers. Contrary to popular belief, just because an image is available on Google it doesn't actually mean it's yours for the taking, so if you are using someone's snaps on your blog (even if it's just an inspiration post) you really should be crediting them. The best thing to do is ask for someone's permission, but if not be sure to pop in a link to their site, just to cover your back.


3. Not using your own images

Think about it, how often does your favourite blog use stock images? Never, is probably the answer you're looking for here. So, if you can, try taking your own photos to illustrate your next blog post. You don't need a fancy camera or the latest update of Adobe Photoshop - all you need is your iPhone, a good eye and a few apps for editing! Plus, you won't have to worry about following any laws if your images are your own!


4. Not declaring sponsored posts

Again, it's a lil bit illegal if you don't declare any paid or sponsored posts, but despite all those boring laws it's actually a really good idea to admit to ads, even if it's just to maintain a bit of trust between you and your readers. The second you start trying to trick your audience into thinking that you absolutely, 100% were not paid for a positive review on toilet paper*, the second you start losing them.

*Unless it really is great toilet paper..


5. Blogging for the wrong reasons

If the only reason you choose to blog is to:

- Get rich
- Get famous
- Get free stuff
- All of the above

You probably shouldn't be doing it. Blogging is something you should start for you, not for material possessions. Sure, I may be earning a few pennies here and there, but I never started my blog with the intention of it paying my bills. So if you're going to start a blog (or if you have one already!) make sure you're doing it because you enjoy it. It could be a long, long time before you start getting anything from it, so for all those months you're doing it for free, you may a swell actually like it.


6. Accepting everything you get offered

Again, free toilet paper? It's useful, but do you really want it? Unless your blog is focussed on loo roll (if so, huzzah! You've found your niche!), maybe not. I tend to operate in a way that I only accept things I want to try or I'd go out and buy myself. That way you can maintain your own personal style and you'll never feel pushed into writing about something you don't like. You'll be surprised at how many brands actually respect you saying no!


7. Putting too much focus on SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is important, but you shouldn't let it dictate everything you do with your blog. If you end up making every single thing on your blog all about keywords and searchable phrases you'll end up with quite possible the most boring and robotic sounding blog. Sure you might rank high on Google, but that;s pretty useless if your audience aren't fully engaged in what you have to say.


8. Not putting any focus on SEO

Despite everything said above, it is a good idea to divulge in at least a little bit of SEO every once in a while, just to keep your blog ticking over nicely. For those not in the know, SEO basically consists of various ways you can get your site higher on a search engine. Higher on Google = more chances of people clicking on your site. Head on over to my post about SEO tips for bloggers to find our more!


9. Not linking to old posts

Do you see a theme here? The Sherlock Holmes of you will have noticed that I've linked back to a few of my old posts in this article. Why? Because it helps keep my older content fresh, and clicked on! Not all of you will go and scroll through every single post I've ever written (sob), but some of them are still very relevant (or at least, I like to think so), so whenever I can I try to link back to relevant posts to keep them, well, relevant!


10. Not linking out to others

Think about it, having other people link out to your blog feels great, doesn't it? Not only is it flattering, but it can also help your SEO as well as drive more readers your way. So when you can, try linking back to a few of your own favourite bloggers to help them out a little.


11. Bad mouthing others

It's simple. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all! It's not so bad if you're talk about celebrities or people in the public eye (although it's still not overly nice!), but no matter what you should never back chat another blogger or content creator. It can cause drama, awkward situations and - generally - it's just not the nicest thing to read. There's enough negativity in the world - leave it out!


12. Not showing your personality

There are SO many bloggers in our community now that you simply have to show off your personality if you want to stand out. Think about how many MAC lipstick reviews you've seen on blogs. Why do you read them? It's probably not for the description about the colour, but more about how someone wears the lipstick or talks about it! Everyone's unique in some way or another, so make sure you use your own personality to your advantage.


13. Being inconsistent

Being inconsistent doesn't mean you have to post at the exact same time, on the exact same days, but having some sort of 'home base' for your readers means they know when to come back if they want to read something new from you. Take Tip Tuesdays for example! If there's one post I make sure I stick to every week, it's this. 


14. Not engaging with your readers

Blogging is a two way thing - you can't just talk at people without any thought about the people reading your site. If someone takes time to comment, comment back! If someone asks you a question, try and answer it (maybe in a future blog post!?). It just helps you build a relationship with your audience, as opposed to just typing away for the sake of it.


15. Not being reachable

I come across so many blogs that don't have a contact section, and it stresses me out knowing that they might be missing out on some seriously awesome opportunities, or even conversations! Brands will take one look at your site and if they can't find a way to contact you within a few seconds they'll switch straight off. Same goes for setting your Twitter and Instagram to public!


16. Neglecting social media

You can have the most kick ass blog in the world, but if you;re not sharing it then no one will be able to find it (unless you're an SEO queen, perhaps). Sharing something can take literally two seconds, and it can bring a bunch of new readers your way in an instant. I (try) to do it at every opportunity I get. But please, don't spam your links every five seconds!


17. Having a slow website

Think about it, if a website takes thirty seconds to load, are you going to wait that whole thirty seconds? I don't know about you guys, but I'd have clicked off by that time. When making a site it;s important to make sure you don't have too many 'things' running on your site to slow it down. This can be anything from millions of videos to millions of widgets. You can check your speed just by Googling 'website speed test'. You're welcome.


18. Not having a mobile-optimised website

I'm always reading blogs on the go, and nothing annoys me more than when I go on a site to find out that it's not supported on mobile. Sure, you can usually read things on your internet browser on your phone, but it never normally works quite like it should (and it can take a lifetime to load). A lot of sites like Squarespace and Wordpress ensure that your blog is mobile optimised from the get go, but you can check if yours is by searching for 'mobile friendly test' on good old Google.

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Aaaand now my fingers have officially gone to sleep. Hope this Tip Tuesdays post helped you guys! As always please feel free to shove your question in the comments down below, and I'll work on getting a post up about it ASAP!

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How to get more subscribers on Youtube

How to get more subscribers on Youtube

During the past few months I've received a fir few emails from you lovely lot, asking me to do a Tip Tuesdays post on how to build a successful Youtube channel and - I'll be honest - the reason I haven't is purely because I don't actually know how to become absolutely amazing at it. I've not been doing it for years, I'm not making money from it and I'm definitely no where near any kind of Zoella / Hello October status. I am however, the proud owner of a Youtube channel that recently hit five thousand wonderful subscribers. To me, that's a heck of a lot of guys and gals - especially when you think about the fact that each one of those people cared enough to press a 'subscribe button', let alone actually watch a video of me talking about my favourite products for what seems like an eternity. I guess there's no real exact equation of how to up your sub count, but here's everything I've learned in the past year of being on the 'Tube.

Be completely yourself

I feel like there's a constant misconception in the online community that you have to be super happy and outgoing to succeed at Youtube. I mean sure, this does work for a lot of people, but that's probably because those people are actually like that in real life, not just for videos. Like everything else in life, it's best if you just remain true to who you are - whether you're super happy, a bit grumpy or just 100% socially awkward (me). I started off trying to act a certain way in front of the camera but - of course - it didn't work. As soon as I started letting my own personality shine through my subscriber count went up and more people started commenting. And damn, is it easier to obtain your actual personality rather than a fake one. That stuff is exhausting.

Interact with your existing subscribers

People take time out of their day to comment, so whenever they do be sure to return the favour! It seems like such an obvious thing to do, but it really does help. Not only does it show that you're actually a real person with interests, but it'll also bring people back to read your reply. And hey, if someone sees you talking in the comments, they'll probably be more inclined to leave a comment themselves. No one wants to talk to someone that, er, doesn't talk back!

Upload consistently

Think about it - if you know your favourite TV show is on at 7pm every Friday night, you'll probably watch it more than, say, if it was on at random times during the week. People like routines, so if they know your videos are going to appear in their subscription box every Sunday then they'll look for it (you guessed it) every Sunday.

Be smart with your titles

It's all well and good coming up with mysterious titles that sounds good, but will people be searching for it? Probably not. It's exactly the same as SEO for bloggers (give that link a click if you have no idea what I'm on about) in that you need to make your videos searchable, as well as make it obvious what they're about. That way, no one will click onto your video and get disappointed half way through. If you call it 'The Best Nude Lipsticks' then that's exactly what your viewers will expect.

Engage with other creators

This doesn't mean you should go and comment on every single video someone in your community uploads - instead it simply means that you should talk to others. Forget about the initial reason as to why you might want to comment (ie. to showcase your own channel) and just start making friends with other people. If you love their videos, tell them why! PS. The chances of having someone reply to your comment is seriously upped the earlier you get to the video!

Just ask!

Ever wondered why practically every single Youtuber asks you to subscribe, comment, or like their video? It's because it actually does work. If you invite people to chat to you, they're more likely to do just that - and same goes for all the other things us Youtubers bang on about! It might not give you millions over night, but it'll definitely encourage those watching you already!

Hoped this helped some of you! Feel free to leave any 'Tip Tuesday' requests in the comments down below. I'm forever worrying that I'll run out of ideas for this old thing!

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A beginners guide to starting a blog

How to start a blog

Hola boys and girls! Today I've decided to go completely back to basics with blogging, since lately my inbox has been full to the brim with so many questions from people that want to start a blog, but aren't sure how. Around twelve months ago a good friend of mine asked me how to start up their own site, and at that time I thought it was a pretty silly question. I mean, how does one go about making a Facebook account? You just sign up. But it turns out, when you really think about it, blogging isn't just as simple as entering a valid email address and password anymore. Now, there are 647832.6 (give or take) blogging sites to choose from and countless social media sites to sign up to. So the question is, where the hell do you start? Well, hopefully this blog post will help you with that.

Choose a website

This is probably one of the most important things to consider when starting up a blog, because - let's face it - you're probably going to be stuck with your decision for a pretty long time. Of course, there's always the option to import your old posts into a new website, but as far as I'm concerned ain't nobody got time for dat. 

There are generally three different sites people tend to choose from when creating a blog - Blogger, Wordpress and Squarespace. All three are great for different reasons, but my personal favourite is Squarespace, which is what I'm hosted on right now - for all ya'll wondering.

Wordpress is generally a blogger favourite because - once you get the hang of it - it can be amazing and so so versatile. But that's just it..it can be a bit of a biatch to get used to. There are also a lot hidden costs that come with being on Wordpress, including something as simple as being able to edit your own theme. If you're a Goddess when it comes to web development I say go for it. If not? Maybe ask a friend or do a little research before fully committing. 

Blogger is like the OG in terms of blogging. It's what most of the 'big bloggers' from years ago started on, and what a lot of them are still on even now. Why? Because it's free, reliable (for the most part), easy to use and - since it's run by Google - it's naturally pretty good for SEO. However, the fact it's run by Google has its downfalls too. Remember Google Reader? Yeah, Google shut that down. Who's to say they won't shut down Blogger in however many years time? Dun dun dunnn.

Now it's onto Squarespace, which I'm pretty biased about - and if I'm honest, I haven't really found many (if any) downfalls to it at all. Like Wordpress, Squarespace isn't exactly free, but unlike Wordpress there aren't any hidden costs that come with it. I spend around £8 a month to keep this website, on top of my yearly domain subscription. But with that, I feel like you get way more good customer support and loads of themes and designs to choose from. It's also seriously sleek in terms of design. Which - if you're a design freak like I am - is pretty damn important.  

Choosing the perfect domain

I punch myself every day (okay, not literally) for not being able to score the domain www.cocochic.com, but alas, someone got there before me. Whatever, I'm over it (I'm not). But anyway, it's important to try and get the most simple domain name that relates to your 'brand'. Think of yourself as a potential reader. Do you really want to type in a domain name that like www.thisistheblogcalledcocochic-2015.me? Probably not. For one, it's way too long. Secondly, it contains a dash which lots of people tend to forget about when writing URLS. Third? The wording itself doesn't actually link to the title of the site. If my blog was called 'This is the blog called Cocochic' then sure, but it's not, which is why www.cocochic.com would have been best thing EVERRRR. But like I said, I'm over it, so being www.cocochicblog.co.uk is the next best thing. You know, since this thing I write on is a blog, and I'm based in the UK.

So how do you get a domain? It's actually really, really simple. There are loads of different domain registrar websites that sell domains for just a few pounds a year (yes, you read that right). All you have to do is make sure your URL of choice is available, buy it, and then configure it to whatever website you're using. There are loads of articles online about this depending on which website you choose, but I can always cover that old nugget in another future post for ya!

Setting up social media

If you thought finding a domain name was hard, try finding the same available names for all of your social media accounts. Again, I'd love to have @cocochic for all of mine, but most of them have been taken, so instead I've decided to commit to @cocochicblog, which obviously matches my URL. It's best to get your social sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) set up as soon as possible so that you can start sharing your posts on there from the get go, and it's also good to get them all matching, so that your readers can find you pretty much anywhere. You can type in @cocochicblog on almost every popular social site and find me there, even if I don't actively use the account. Sneaky? Maybe. But it stops anyone else taking and using my 'brand name' (lol) if I ever decided to become active on that site again.

Build up a network

You're probably reading the heading above and thinking wait, if I'm only just starting a blog, how on earth am I meant to build up a network!? It's okay, it's okay, I'm not expecting any of you guys to know every PR person in the world, but I'm sure the majority of you have friends and family that you can start sharing your site with. Even if you have 50 Facebook friends liking your website, it's going to look a lot more enticing for other strangers to like your Facebook than it would if you had 0 likes on there. People are like sheep (in the nicest way possible - I love sheep!) in that if they see one person liking something, they'll be more inclined to do the same.

Set up Google Analytics

Well doesn't this just sound like the most thrilling thing you're going to do all day? I hate to admit it, but in recent months I've become ever so slightly addicted to checking out my stats on the daily, purely because it's actually really interesting to find out my most popular posts, where you lovely lot come from, where you go and what your interests are. Basically, it allows me to stalk the hell out of you, without getting arrested.

But in all seriousness, no matter how many visitors you have - whether it's one or one thousand - it's always useful to have Google Analytics installed to make sure you're able to track exactly the way your audience works. Once you've figured out your most popular type of posts and the best time to publish an article you're basically set. So how do you set it up? Google will give a better explanation in how to set up Google Analytics than I ever will.

Choose your niche

Do you want to be a fashion blogger, a beauty blogger, a fitness blogger, an everything blogger!? I mean, I was always taught that you can be anything you want to be (which you can #preachit) but I think it's important to find your own niche when blogging. Everyone posts outfits and beauty reviews, which I love just as much as the next person (seriously, just check out my Bloglovin saves) but I always love bloggers that have their own special 'thing' about their sites. I like to think that this blog is pretty fashion-centric, but i feel as though my niche focusses mostly around blogging tips and tricks. Another example is Kate from Gh0stparties (don't we all just love her?) who originally started as a beauty blogger, but has more recently started doing the most uh-mazing interior posts. It's not a must to choose your niche right from the get-go, but I definitely think it helps you stand out from the crowd.

Research, research, research

The word research sounds pretty boring, right? But thankfully, us bloggers here can learn just by reading other people's blogs, and getting ideas from fellow creators (and of course, crediting them). These days, no one is original, no matter who they are, and we're always going to copy different bits and pieces from others to help us get to our own end goal - whether that's a blog, Youtube channel, hairstyle, anything! So it's really important to be actively involved in the industry you want to work in, no matter what that industry might be. Of course it's useful to look into SEO and web design, but at the end of the day content is ALWAYS key, so instead just try to focus on the sort of feel you want your work to have. Fake it til you make it boyz n galz.

Optimise your website

Search Engine Optimisation is basically something you can do to help Google (or Bing, Yahoo, etc.) find your website and categorise it properly. In even simpler terms, you should probably do it, because I said so. There are so many different ways you can optimise your site, and I just so happen to have made a cheeky blog post on different SEO tips that can help bring traffic to your site. Shameless plug? Do you really expect anything less from me?

Wow. I just wrote so many words and now I don't know what to do with myself. Anyway, I hope this blog post helped some of you in regards to starting up a blog! As always, feel free to leave any comments and questions down below. Over. And. Out!

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