What's in my beach bag!?

Swimwear 365 Beach Bag Essentials

Okkkkkayy...so maybe I don't keep a mini cactus in my bag, and maybe I don't walk around with a film camera 24/7 (if ever) but sometimes I just like to take pretty pictures of things that look nice. Is that such a crime!?

So anyway, we're having this thing called a heatwave here in the UK, so tomorrow we've decided to head out to our local beach and - being the horrendously uptight packing planner I've already laid out everything I'm going to be taking along for the ride. Sans cactus obvz.

I've had this Adidas bikini from Swimwear 365 sitting around in my drawers for ages now, but apparently Britain didn't get the memo that it was summer, and so I've only had the pleasure of jumping around my room in it every once in a while, It was only until I actually started mocking up my beach look that I realised my bikini is pretty much the elasticated, swimsuit version of my pool sliders. Okay maybe not, but they both have stripes, gimme a break!

We just picked up some new ND filters for le camera so fingers crossed we can get a couple of nice shots tomorrow with me actually wearing some of the above (again, not going to wear a cactus any time soon). Who knows. Who. Knows.

What's in your summery beach bag?

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adidas Black Bikini via Swimwear 365 *
Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield SPF 30 *
Clarins Sunscreen Oil Spray *
Adidas Adilette Pool Sliders *
Caudalie Beauty Elixir *
ROC Shelly Sunglasses *

Is University really worth going to?

Is University worth it?
Is University worth going to?

OoOoOo slightly controversial one here, how risky of me! As a blogger I'm always asked about how I made blogging my full-time career. Did I study anything in particular? Are there specific subjects you should pick if you want to turn your internet $killz into a job? Oh so many questions.

Since I've just finished my second year of University I've decided to do a little education evaluation (sounds like a crappy 80s song heh) to both get my head around whatever is in my...head, and to also - hopefully - offer a bit of advice and insight for all you guys and gals looking to head off to University this year. Who knows, maybe it'll do neither of the above. But right now I have two options: write a blog post or do the laundry. Blogging wins every time.

So yes! I am a student. I study BA (Hons) Journalism and it's not bad. I learn things sometimes, sometimes I'm bored. Sometimes I show up on time...sometimes I don't show up at all. I study hard, hand in all my work on time and - having just got my grades back - I'm currently a few percent off of a first degree honours. All in all, I do okay. I could do better, sure, but funnily enough University has never been a priority of mine. Which is probably a really stupid thing to say in the UK when a three year course gets in around £35,000 of student debt. Gulp. Having never even used a credit card the idea of any sort of debt makes me very, very sad. But despite all this, here I am, studying away, completely ready to go into my third year. And you're sat there reading this probably wondering why I'm putting myself through all these money woes for something I'm not even fussed about. The answer? Two words. Plan. B.

I started my blog around about the time I applied for University. I was fully aware of other people making a living out of their blog, but - being a country gal and everything - I never really thought I'd ever really get 'there' ('there' turned out to be in front of my iMac 18 hours of the day #yolooo). I so badly wanted to do what I'm doing now, but I knew I'd need something to fall back on just incase it never worked out. So when my acceptance letters came through i decided to just go for it. For me, University gave me a chance to not work full time so that I could focus more on the thing I really wanted to do, which was blogging. It also gave me a bunch of free (but not actually free) money that meant I could afford food and rent whilst I was unemployed. I can say all of this now without sounded like a completely deluded human, purely because it (luckily) worked out okay for me. But lord, I would not recommend you try this at home, kids.

Now obviously I didn't go and choose a random subject that I had no interest in. I mean, my love for blogging comes from somewhere: my love for writing! I liked magazines, I'd watched The Devil Wears Prada around 400 times and I was pretty good at spelling, so journalism seemed like a decent enough subject to study. I hate that that was probably my exact thought process at the time.

But anyway, for me, journalism seemed like a smart enough option, because - in short - it was going to make me better at writing. And what does the majority of my blog consist of (aside from posey pictures of myself)? Writing. But let's be real here, just because I go and study journalism doesn't mean I'm going to be a world famous blogger, so I had to think about the 'real world' (whatever that is) and how the course was going to help me and my career. Thankfully, journalism happens everywhere, in every kind of industry. I could sit at home doing this, I could be working in a company HQ in London or I could be working in a tiny newsroom in my local village. Either way, if it all went to plan, Journalism was going to get me some form of job wherever I wanted to be.

But when it all comes down to it, does University actually help me with what I want to do with my life? Not really. And oh man does that sting. But these days I feel like so many creatives are making their own way in the industry whether it's through work experience, a crap ton of independent study or just sheer determination. Obviously the same can't be said for people that want to be something like a medical professional (since you'll probably need some form of training to be able to do open heart surgery on someone..maybe) but for those looking to venture into the more creative industry I think our generation is probably the first to be able to actually build a business from our own homes. Whether that business is a blog, a Youtube channel showcasing your skills or even an online shop. As long as you have an internet connection it seems like anyone can do pretty much anything these days. Who knows, maybe there even if an online course out there for open heart surgery!? Gulp.

Now obviously not everyone is going to agree with my thoughts, but that's exactly the beauty of the era we live in right now. I feel like everyone is always so hyped up about University and the importance of going that a lot of people my age (or younger..or older!) often wonder if they're making a mistake by not going themselves. I guess there's no real way of saying whether it's worth going or not, but I personally feel like  there are so many other ways to work your way up the career ladder without racking up five figures in debt. Then again, I'm that idiot that decided to go to Uni because of the money. So what do I know!?

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think University is worth going to?

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ASOS Cat Eye Sunglasses *
H&M Tank Top
ASOS Faux Leather Midi Skirt *
Public Desire Nikki Heels *

Why blogging is a lonely business

Prepare yourselves ladies and gentleman, because today's post might just pull on your heart strings. Okay, maybe not - I mean we have to remember it's me AKA Miss-can't-take-herself-seriously talking (or rather, typing) here, but still, I am trying to be serious guys. I'm trying.

So anyway, I'll just put this out there. I'm kinda lonely. "Awww" I hear you all cry. But it's true! I mean, I'm perfectly okay, and I'm not lacking in friends as such, but on a day to day basis I'm pretty much alone 99% of the time because of what I do as a job. And since blogging is pretty much the 'it' job to have right now, I thought I'd tackle this little issue head on in the only way I know how: by word vomiting all over my computer for the whole world (pah, I wish) to read.

So for those of you that might not have already guessed, I blog full-time, and I absolutely bloody love it. I get to work in the comfort of my own home (in my own pyjamas, nonetheless) and I'm able to - pretty much - do what I want. How could I complain? Answer: I'm a 22 year old girl that doesn't get enough sleep, and if there's one thing us gals can do, it's complain. So here's the one downside - and that is that blogging can be a lonely, lonely business. A business that I'm ridiculously lucky to be a part of, sure, but there are only so many conversations you can have with your computer.

Anyway, let's rewind a little. Since I can remember I've never really been much of a social person. I mean, I like people just as much as the next, er, person, but I've always preferred being in my own company than being with a big group of humans (which probably explains the whole life-on-the-internet situ). In school I used to prefer watching Nickelodeon to playing outside, in College I got far too good at playing Call of Duty on my Xbox, and now? Well, now it's actually my job (even though I hate calling it that) to sit on the internet all day. Ironic, isn't it? That the majority of my day to day life revolves around social media, yet none of my daily tasks are actually centred around me speaking to a walking, talking, human being. How social. 

Now this might sound like an absolute dream to some of you, because - let's face it - sometimes human to human contact is one of the last things you want in your life. But despite all the annoyances and disagreements that can come with a workforce, it's actually pretty vital to have at least some form of communication on the daily. With blogging however, there are no work colleagues, just a computer screen staring back at you (did that sound as profound as I intended it to? I hope so.) and there are no guidelines or rules. In fact, I just make all of this up as I go along. How much should I charge for a blog post? It's something I've had to figure out myself. Does this blog post suck? Again, it's all just a trial and error. What I'm saying is that there's no one sitting on the desk next to me who I can talk to about tough decisions and what I'm meant to do. Of course, I have some (truly, truly, wonderfully fantastically gr8) real life friends and blogger friends in my life. But the blogpals - just like a lot of my other real life pals- are based in the big city, and I only get to see them from time to time.

In fact, sometimes I get so desperate to talk to other people that I find myself chatting to the postman about absolutely nothing, or having full blown conversations with my pets that are far too complex for them to even begin to understand (although I must say, the cats are very, very good at SEO). I've now even made a point of going outside pretty much every day to do the most pointless things. Only yesterday I found myself in a gardening shop picking up weed killer. I hate gardening. But we had weeds and it meant I had a reason to go outside an communicate with someone - even if that someone was a very angry middle-aged Cornish man sat behind a till. See, I'm that desperate.

But even so, doing little bits and pieces like this on the daily really does help me stay (remotely) sane. Obviously, since finishing my second year at Uni, it's far too easy for me to tell all you fellow bloggers to just run away from your desk every once in a while. I mean, come September I'll be back to juggling working, blogging and studying all over again, but whenever possible I do think it's pretty damn important to give yourself a breather every once in a while. It's no longer a case of your parent's telling you you'll get 'square eyes' (or whatever it was they said when we were kids) but more so about not letting yourself succumb to the routine of just hash tagging and tweeting all day long. Cause let's face it, you're not going to look back on your life one day and remember all those times you re-blogged a photo or took a great selfie, are ya?

So alas, there is no real point to this blog post, but I felt like it needed to be said. Obviously - and I'll say this until Im blue in the face - I'm insanely lucky to do what I do, and I appreciate it every single day. But hey, I'm the sort of girl that likes to lay her cards out on the table. There are downsides to every job. Yours might be shitty customers, or a crap boss - mine happens to be a lil bit of loneliness here and there. I can't be the only blogger in the world that feels this way, so alas, let us all gather round and be lonely together. I mean, we can all head to the gardening shop for weed killer, if you like. I'm game if you are.

Can you guys relate to this at all?

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Warehouse leather jacket *
ASOS shirt dress *
Topshop boxy bag *
Forever 21 mules *

50 blog post ideas for when you're feeling uninspired

50 blog post ideas fashion and beauty

About a month ago I came up with 100 blog post ideas for when you're suffering from bloggers block. And it turns out that you guys blooooody loved it! So - as you can probably tell by the title - I've decided to go at it again with fifty more ideas for ya! My brain is well and truly fried this time around, so hopefully these will keep you and your blog ticking over nicely for the time being! Either way, please enjoy the above image of me psychotically grinning at the camera after eating three double cheeseburger meals in under ten minutes. I have no regrets.

1. Create a makeup starter kit
2. Share your Uni/College tips
3. Interview a reader
4. Create a vlog!
5. Host a live chat on your blog
6. Showcase a small business
7. Show off your gym attire
8. Respond to another blogger's post
9. Write a 'time capsule' post to yourself
10. Share a personal fact
11. Style the same top for an entire week
12. Share your money saving tips
13. Showcase your work space
14. Talk about your favourite movies
15. Recreate a runway look
16. Share your favourite juice recipes
17. Do a house or bedroom tour
18. Create a downloadable wallpaper
19. Share inspirational quotes
20. Create an online shop and promote it
21. Promote coupons and freebies
22. Post your workout routine
23. Post your outfit pic outtakes
24. Your favourite Youtube channels
25. Make a product/brand directory
26. Simply talk about your day!
27. Spill your fashion blunders
28. Do a budget shopping spree
29. Show your hair history
30. Post what you wear to work
31. Look through someone else's makeup bag
32. Film a 'Get Ready With Me'
33. Share your career journey
34. Review a gig you've been to
35. Blog about your pet!
36. Share your travel tips
37. Blog about your local street style
38. Show off your shoe collection
39. Write about breaking news
40. Create an inspiration mood board
41. Talk about your favourite perfumes
42. Post about what makes you happy
43. Review your own blog
44. Talk about your pet peeves
45. What you eat in a week
46. Review a local restaurant 
47. Share a Q&A post
48. Do the 30 day squat challenge
49. Post a roundup of your favourite blog posts
50. Talk about why you started your blog

Can you think of anything else!?

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W Street linen dress *

How to start working with brands and PRs

how to work with brands and prs as a blogger
how to work with brands and prs as a blogger

A little late on the upload today! It's taken a little time to adjust from being a student / blogger to just being a plain ol blogger for the next few months. What is all this free time I have!? is this what it feels like to have more than three hours sleep a night? It's like a whole new world to me.

Anyway, as you can tell by the title, today I'm going to be doing my Tip Tuesdays post on how to work with brands and PR companies as a blogger. As always, it's a lengthy one (I haven't even written it yet, but we all know what I'm like) so grab a cuppa and brace yourselves for some serious word vomit: internet edition.

So this week's #fblchat was all about working with brands, and it dawned on me that there might actually be a bit of a knack to actually getting yourself out there and collaborating with different companies. Obviously it goes without saying (but hey, I'm gonna say it anyway) that blogging isn't all about freebies - but these days so many blogs are built on sponsorships and collaborations that I feel it's kind of imperative to at least talk about the right and wrong ways to do it.

Be the best you can be

In 2013 there were apparently around 153 million blogs online. I don't even want to think about what that number might be now. Can someone say competition? Gulp.

Anyway, think about all of those blogs, and then try and name all of the 'best' bloggers on the planet. Maybe not literally, but you catch my drift. What I'm trying to say here is that - out of all of those millions of bloggers - how many of them are really, really great? Probably not 153 million. So the first step to working with brands is making sure you up your blog game, whether you're just starting out or even if you've been doing it for years. Basically you want your blog to be the best it can be before you go reaching out to brands and PRs.

INTRODUCE YOURSELF

Okay, so just take a minute and think about the amount of PR people there are in the world compared to how many bloggers there are. It must be pretty freakin difficult to scout out who's who in the internet world, so why not get rid of the middle man (whoever that guy is) and say hello first? All it takes is a quick email or shout out on social media and who knows, it could be the start of a beautiful relationship! 

Do your research

When contacting brands it's so so important to at least do a little research into who you're going to be emailing. More often than not, brands will employ a specific person(s) to do their marketing and blogger outreach. And guess what? Those people have names, and they'd like you to use them! In the past I've spoken to so many people in the industry that have admitted to ignoring (or even deleting) emails that are obviously just a copy and paste jobby, so if you want to stand out from the crowd be sure to do your research. If you're not already signed up to LinkedIn, make yourself an account and start connecting with some of your favourite brands, or even just do a quick search on Twitter and reach out to them that way. It can be time consuming, but it makes a world of difference to the person you're messaging!

Sell yourself

Now it's time to actually strike up a conversation between you and the brand. Now, by all means, get a little chatty (I say this because I'm awful at remaining professional in emails/life in general) but make sure you're still concise and to the point. Introduce yourself (and your blog), mention why you love the brand and - most importantly - clearly state how you'd like to work with the company. Again, think of those 153 million blogs. Just imagine how many emails these companies get each day just like your own! When your contact is reading your email they're going to want to read as little as possible, whilst knowing as much as possible about you and your blog. I always make sure to include my Media Kit (and sometimes my rate card!) in each collaboration email, so that the brand can quickly skim over my general numbers and analytics. Don't have a media kit? I've written an article on how to make a blogger media kit here. Smooth Steph, real smooth.

Be picky

Man, free things sound pretty great, don't they? Which they are. Of course they are! But not everything in the world is suited to everyone, so when you get offered something that's not exactly your style don't feel like you have to accept just because it's 'free'. In blogging, no product in exchange for blog-time (my internet version of air-time) is technically free, so try to make sure it's going to be worth your time to post about it. I tend to go by my own personal mantra that (if money wasn't an issue) if I wouldn't buy the product myself (even if I was rich!) then I won't accept it for free. I've had people ask me before if saying 'no' has ever had a negative impact on my chances of getting sponsored again by that company, but if I'm honest it's probably helped me more than anything! It shows brands that I'm serious about my blog, as opposed to just using it to get free stuff!

Build relationships

Don't you just get green with envy whenever you see bloggers going away on trips with brands? Or when they get amazing campaigns that blow up all over social media? It doesn't just happen randomly. In fact, the majority of these bloggers have built long-standing, secure relationships with the brands over time, so when big opportunities crop up, these bloggers are the first to know. Building relationships is something that just happens over time - there's no real way to force it to happen - but one great way of staying in touch is by doing just that - staying in touch. Sometimes I'll just say hello to an old contact if we haven't spoken in a while, or I'll send out little Christmas e-cards in December to let them know that I'm still thinking about them! It can be pretty difficult to stay on top of all of your email contacts, but if you make the effort you'll be surprised at the benefits it can reap!

Offer your services

Okay, so this maybe sounds a little more sexual than intended, but I couldn't think of another punchy sentence to use..anyway. When you think of collaborating with a brand, chances are you probably think about the things you can get yourself. Don't worry, we're all a little selfish at times, but it's important to remember that there should be something 'in it' for them, and not just yourself. It's so easy to forget that these 'free' things are paid for by some body, even if that payment is just a percentage of the RRP. If a brand gives you something (whether it be payment, a gift, an opportunity) be sure to thank them like you would anyone else giving you a gift. Blog about it, make a video about it, post about it on social media! If you have your own little 'niche' that makes you stand out, use that to get the word out about the brand. It pays to be nice, people.

Email structure

So with all that in mind..how on earth do you actually go about emailing someone!? Realistically, there's no set way. And since we're all bloggers here, feel free to stand out in your own way that suits you. Show your personality, pack your email full of information and - as always - keep it to the point. Here's a (very basic) email structure to hopefully get you along your way. Hope this post helped some of you!

 

- Introduce yourself (1-2 sentences)
- Talk About your love for the brand (1-2 sentences)
- Propose the idea of collaborating (1-2 sentences)
- Attach / link to your media kit 

 

Do you have any tips for working with brands?

 

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F & F white t-shirt *
F & F denim dungarees *
F & F leopard espadrilles *