Wednesday, 25 January 2017

4 things I've learned as a small-time blogger


I've been blogging in this little corner of the internet for 3 years now, and it's safe to say I've learned a thing or two along the way. This hobby of mine is something that I really enjoy, but I've never quite found enough time alongside my full-time job to really grow my following. There are plenty of you, don't get me wrong, but I couldn't exactly monetise the site and go full time.

Although it's not really much of a surprise that the industry has taken off the way it has, it definitely feels strange to still be doing my thing while other amazing new bloggers out there are making the serious big time. But being small-time isn't all that bad. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I've picked up along the way.

The blogging community is amazing

I love to join in Twitter chats, leave and reply to comments, post on Facebook groups etc and generally just get in on the massive buzz around blogging. I don't get to do this as much as I used to thanks to a longer commute (most chats are over by the time I've driven home and warmed up my dinner!) but I know that influencers big and small are there in our little community offering support. I've made a bunch of brilliant new friends through blogging that I have so much in common with and I feel like that's an added benefit that most hobbies don't come with.

There is of course a negative side to this huge community, in so far as there are select cliques that can get bitchy, but I try to unfollow and mute people that spread toxic unkindness out of jealousy. It's not nice, and it can put smaller, newer bloggers off of speaking up and finding their voice even though 95% of the community is amazing.

Beauty and lifestyle blogging is an investment

When you have a tiddly little blog, it's not always easy to attract PRs and land those dreamy sponsored posts. When you're not making enough money from your blog to cover expenses like props, outfits, new products, camera equipment, custom domains and more have to come out of your own pocket. Blogging is one of the only hobbies I've ever really kept up, so I don't mind investing my own cash in improving it, but there is a part of me that wishes I was either from a wealthy background or was suddenly more popular with big brands. Luckily though I'm not consumed by the green-eyed monster. It just makes me want to get even better at this and work even harder at producing quality content.

Getting out there is good for you

I'm talking emailing brands directly ("I want to work with you because X"), going to PR events, handing out business cards to people, the lot. Blogging once had a reputation for being a hermit's hobby - an introvert's dream - but it's actually pushed me the other way. Getting invited to events and meet ups meant that I had to introduce myself to strangers on the reg, and it's put me more at ease with meeting new people and being in social situations with strangers. Again, that common ground of being a blogger or YouTuber is so important.

Quality is key, not quantity

Over the last few years I've experimented with the topics, length and frequency of my posts, and I think I've finally figured out what works best for me (and what makes you guys want to click onto the site and have a read!). I've churned out several ill-considered posts per week before and wondered why my views were down, but spending time planning, photographing and writing one or two posts per week and also putting the effort into promoting them has been much more effective. The more time I spend on each post the more relevant the subject matter and the more detailed and high quality my work becomes. I feel like this is what makes a single blog post stand out in what is a very noisy, crowded industry. 

If you're interested in making your blog stand out more, check out my top tips in this post.
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Friday, 20 January 2017

The things you should never (ever) apologise for


Hey guys, remember me? It's been a couple of weeks. I guess things just got busy in real life, and the January blues hit me pretty hard despite all my attempts to absolutely girl-boss it! But you know what? As usual I didn't feel an ounce of guilt for taking things slow, vegging out in the evenings and chowing down on a doughnut or two to ease the glumness. I've had a lot going on.

It got me thinking about how our culture these days is all about the hustle - working out for the perfect body, busying ourselves at work to get the perfect job, nailing your social life, and then some. There are influencers out there that make having it all look effortless, but behind closed doors I doubt that's the case. The guilt (and sometimes jealousy) that comes from having a lousy couple of weeks, not really being the picture of full health, and pretty much just not 'feeling it' really can't be good for us.

But why do we always feel like a blip or a rough patch in life is something to apologise for? It's really just part of being human. Like I said, social media has really helped to set the bar high. We all want to succeed in life, but you're not a failure for encountering a setback. Here are some of the things you'll never find me feeling guilty about or saying sorry for.

Eating 'naughty' food

What is it that has us feeling so bad about the stuff that tastes good? Screw clean eating, seriously. If your diet is balanced enough most of the time and you don't have any health problems that prevent you from indulging in sweet treats and the occasional (read: bi-weekly) pizza, then go for it. And don't you dare spend a second feeling guilty or calling yourself a hippo. Loving your body shouldn't be about depriving it, but giving it a little of everything it needs.

Not wearing any makeup

What I wouldn't give for it to be more commonplace for young women to go makeup free on a daily basis. I've struggled with my skin a lot the last couple of years (adult acne after spot-free teen years was a shock), and it made me realise the extent to which our spots, fine lines, redness and dark circles are met with shame and embarrassment. It's sad that so many of us feel the need to announce "sorry I look like shit, I skipped the foundation this morning", when we go without our staple products. Even though I enjoy using makeup and skincare to enhance the way I look, I really don't want to feel like I rely on it to be 'up to standard' in the eyes of society. I think we're on the cusp of a movement in this respect, but only time (and bravery) will tell.

Going home on time

Like I said in the intro to this post, we live in an age where people seem to wear their 'hustle' like  a badge of honour. Well let me tell you something: You do not have to work hours and hours extra each week to succeed. You do not have to justify heading off at 3 minutes past 5. You do not have to skip lunch breaks every day to get ahead. I've worked in jobs before where the workload was way beyond manageable and the impact that it had on me was profound. Even when I arrived early, worked like a machine and left late, it barely made a dent. And was I any happier for doing so? No.

I now work in an office where the work itself is a healthy challenge but the workload is almost spot on - most people go home on time most days, but always bring their A-game while there. If I stay late it's because I really want to do some extra work on something. If you feel guilty for heading off home before your snowed under colleagues for once, don't apologise on the way out. Instead, seriously evaluate whether you should ask for help, or consider a change of employer.

Being late

When it comes to social occasions I'm chronically guilty of not getting ready early enough. I often feel tired and lack motivation thanks to some minor health issues, so it takes a serious push to get me off the sofa, into something presentable and off to where I'm going. I read something on social media a few weeks ago about someone who had stopped apologising for being late, and instead thanks the person for waiting. It's a much more positive way of dealing with the minor inconvenience, and rewards the person you're meeting for their understanding. People are late for all kinds of reasons, and life is stressful at times, so actively trying to be more easy going is important to me. Granted you probably shouldn't stroll into work or a doctors appointment 15 minutes behind schedule, but trying to rush yourself will only put you into an irritable mood and could ruin the rest of your day.

What do you wish people would stop apologising for?
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Sunday, 8 January 2017

My new Cambridge Satchel Push Lock Bag (a.k.a. the love of my life)


Every year I keep an eye on the Cambridge Satchel website during the January sales, lusting over their beautiful leather bags. And every year I talk myself out of getting one. I'm not the sort of person to splurge on accessories so I wanted to be totally sure I was buying the right thing! This year, however, I convinced myself to take the plunge on a bag from the Push Lock range - and I'm very glad I did!

Since my wardrobe is mostly made up of black, white, grey and muted neutrals, I decided that even though I wanted to go for something a bit different I would make sure the colour was wearable. I settled on the Damson shade since it's a change from standard brown or black. The colour is a deep purpley-brown and I love how sophisticated the bag looks (unlike the rest of me).

The craftsmanship is second-to-none, with the cut, stitching and embossing of the leather all done to perfection. For the embossing, I decided on blind rather than gold or silver, and opted for my Chinese birth year rather than my initials - that way it means something to me but not in an obvious way! The leather and closure are a little stiff at the moment since it's new, but I know from friends who own these bags that they soften a bit and develop their own 'personality' with continued wear.


One thing that I will say is that I'd recommend checking the measurements of the bag before buying. I spent a long time debating whether to get the medium or large size before getting a tape measure out. The large Push Lock bag is kind of small compared to the rest of my bags! It'll comfortably take my purse, camera, eyedrops, keys and a lipstick or two but that's about it. It's absolutely perfect for going down the pub, a weekend shopping trip etc but I would definitely need a bigger bag for work!

The Cambridge Satchel sale ends in just over a day, but there are currently loads of styles and colours in the sale for 40% off, and you can get a further 10% off (yep, half flippin' price!) by using the code 'TAKE10'.

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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The MAC lipstick shades you NEED in your life


OK, maybe I started off a bit strong there with the title of this post but hey, it's lipstick. I'm surgically attached to the stuff these days. I really never used to be a lippy person, but since I discovered that paying a little extra for a black tube of MAC goodness meant that it doesn't slide off after an hour.

I know that some beauty bloggers have huge collections of MAC, but I'd never use them all if I had them. They'd just sit in drawers in all their glory. Instead, I've built up a modest collection of shades that I know suit me and can be worn over and over for different occasions.

Velvet Teddy

This is probably the ultimate wearable lipstick - I've never found another like it. Velvet Teddy is a warm nude in a matte formula that makes your lips look like a super sexy version of themselves.

Persistence

More of a brown/terracotta shade, Persistence is the first MAC lipstick I ever bought. The matte texture reminds me of the 90s, but in a good way.

Viva Glam I

One of the only reds I feel genuinely comfortable wearing and it's another throwback shade. The original Viva Glam shade has a matte finish and blueish tones running throughout. I honestly think it would suit anyone!

Peach Blossom

This is definitely the coolest-toned of the bunch. Peach Blossom was given to me for Christmas by my sister and I'm in love with the soft cremesheen finish. I can see myself using this up pretty quickly as it's a great shade for work/daytime.

Retro

Another new addition and a classic hue, Retro is subtly different from the other nudes in my collection in so far as it's more purple-pink in shade. It's a satin finish which means there's a subtle sheen, but with the staying power of a matte.

I'm sure there are more shades out there to add to my collection, but for now I'm quite content with this set of seriously good lippies in my arsenal!

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© kelly anne rist

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