Finding a good place to work can be a struggle. Traipsing busy, crowded streets looking for anywhere that serves good coffee, with a quiet vibe and plenty of plugs for chargers. When you finally find somewhere that works, you spend 90% of your time plucking up the courage to ask for the wifi password, trying to decipher the complicated coffee menu and struggling to focus with the array of new sounds and smells assaulting your senses. You decide that perhaps this place just doesn’t work for you, and the whole cycle repeats itself again.

This is why co-working spaces work. An important addition to the freelancing, blogging and self-employed community, co-working spaces have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The ability to work, collaborate and create in a shared working environment can make a huge difference to your productivity levels, motivation and general sense of connection to the freelancing community.

For one, freelancing can be an isolating career path. Spending days inside your home with no one else to talk about your projects can make you feel constricted and unimaginative, so it’s always good to have a colleague-equivalent to keep you company. This could be someone to bounce ideas off, check through your work, offer inspiration for your next move. They could even provide networking opportunities, invites to press events and meetups for others in your industry – leading to further potential work for you. The notion of a co-working space plays into these ideals, helping independent workers to establish themselves within a network of people with similar professions and mentalities, whilst retaining the free will working environment they enjoy.

Co-working spaces also provide a unique and modern solution to the declining surface of retail. With the physical act of shopping and experiencing retail heading cautiously down hill this year, more and more hybrid spaces are opening up in an attempt to bring new life into cities and towns for shoppers. Where the coffee shop itself is a relatively sturdy high street icon, innovations in home technologies are steadily battling to take precedence with portable coffee machines, pod kits and pocket-sized barista stations making it even easier for people to stay at home for their favourite coffee.

The concept of the workplace, too, is shifting. Modern offices are becoming increasingly flexible and diverse in their approach to the ‘work space’, encouraging employees to work from coffee shops, cafes and home studies in an attempt to increase productivity. The slow fading of 9-5 grind on the second floor means that co-working spaces are in even more demand than ever, offering up alternate meeting spaces, networking spots and casual conference centres away from the central office.

Plus, it’s not as if the demand wouldn’t be high. City workers, students, bloggers, freelancers, creators, artists, self-employed and modern working citizens would all benefit from the opportunity to co-create in a friendly space. Even the host coffee shops and cafes would reap the rewards from encouraging co-working in their properties; additional marketing opportunities, an increase in customers, higher profits, higher demand and a much stronger connection with your regulars. As an ex-customer service worker, I can promise you that you’ll grow to love the blogger that stays in one seat for the whole day over the busy group that bustles in and out in 10 minutes flat.

Yes, there are drawbacks. Co-working and creating in coffee shops doesn’t necessarily equate to high spending in coffee shops, and can clog up valuable table space with laptops, notebooks and sketch pads – unsettling non-co-working customers. It can also be a big pull on resources such as wifi, charging ports and electricity. But the potential to come out of it is enormous. Taking the concept right down to it’s essentials – look what JK Rowling did for The Elephant House. 7 books later and that cafe is as busy as it’s ever been, proving that those kind enough and savvy enough to invest in something as simple and fundamental as a co-working space are destined for good.

Today I decided to write about Youtube. Youtube has played a major role in my life since I was 14 years old, and there’s barely a day gone by where I’ve not logged into the site. It’s been my best friend, my secret crush, my procrastination, my survival guide, my good and my bad times. It’s been my constant for over 7 years – but recently things have been changing. I wanted to take a look back on Youtube from the most significant points in my life – when I first began watching at aged 14, and now, aged 21 – to see how my perspective of the site and it’s users has changed over the years.

Youtube in 2009

So let’s meet 14 year old Nikki – lives with her mum, has just gotten her first puppy Lily, is doing terribly at school, has a poster of Rory from Doctor Who on her bedroom wall, and is absolutely obsessed with Charlieissocoollike and Dan and Phil.

292671_3387868009543_2055306503_nFor her, Youtube is the greatest invention ever made. She doesn’t quite understand it yet, and keeps accidentally stumbling on some very dodgy stuff through her un-filtered ‘recommended vids’ channel, but she likes getting to watch nerdy, socially awkward boys like herself doing weird things with their friends in their bedrooms. She tunes in every day, she leaves comments on her favourite videos and she, and her best friend, will spend hours re-watching PINOF 2 on repeat until the early hours of the morning.

Youtube is the place she goes to when she’s home alone, and Lily is getting on her nerves. It’s the place she goes to to watch full episodes of The Inbetweeners and catch up on old episodes of Hollyoaks from 2006. She’s just beginning to understand her anxiety, and the reasons behind her hatred for sleepovers and birthday parties, and Youtube is her perfect escape from the divide between her recently divorced mum and dad. She longs to go to Summer In The City, and is planning to go to the Lincoln Gathering with Jack and Dean when she turns 15. Currently, Youtube events are little more than a circle of people on a university campus or abandoned field, and the only fee you have to pay is the train ticket to the venue. She desperately waits for Dan and Phil to announce their upcoming wedding, and is comforted, somewhat unhealthily, by the idea that Dan Howell can drop out of university and still have a successful career. This belief will lead her to later abandon her dreams of going to college, and keep her in the same school to complete her A levels, in the hopes that she might end up accidentally Youtube famous one day, and her school days won’t matter at all. charlieYoutube is also a secret, a dorky obsession that she swears never to talk about with her ‘cooler’ friends. Charlie McDonnell and Alex Day have just moved into their own house, everyone knows that Alex and Carrie Hope Fletcher are secretly dating, and beauty gurus are that annoying part of the internet that 14 year old Nikki will never ever go near. She doesn’t wear make up, she wears cat whiskers, skinny jeans and hoodies…all the time. Youtube is her biggest dream, and although she never knows quite when she wants to start her own channel, she knows for certain that when she does, she’ll be huge.

Youtube in 2017

Now I’m 21 year old Nikki. I have a full time job, in a role that I love. I live with my boyfriend in our house in Nottingham, and we’re planning to move into a village and adopt a dog in the New Year. He has a car, and we’re going up to Scotland for his 27th birthday in February. I’m on medication for anxiety, I’ve written a blog for 5 years, but recently, with my full time role taking over my life, I’ve let it slide a lot. I miss my parents a lot, and my puppy Lily is…well to be honest, not much different. She still barks, wakes me up at 7am by jumping on my bed, and is honestly the cutest thing in existence. I’m an adult, I pay rent, I manage my money, I had a career as a freelancer, I’m experienced and mature. I can’t wait to host my own Christmas and buy my own sofa. I travel to far off places without having a panic attack, I have a completely different set of friends, the thought of getting married is not that alien to me, and I’ve just about learnt how to feel emotions correctly. 21686997_10212269690071471_1234784187930254968_o.jpgI watch Youtube once a week if I’m lucky. Over the years, I’ve watched Youtube change and grow into something I couldn’t bare to love any more. My priorities changed, terrible and wonderful things happened in my life that I just couldn’t escape from, and I found myself more interested in catching up with the news than watching Zoella open her own over-priced advent calendar. Every Youtuber I adored at the age of 14 changed, just as I did. Charlie McDonnell grew existential, and realised the pointlessness of Youtube, so many of the male Youtubers I once loved were publicly shamed as sexual predators, Zoe   and Alfie changed from lovable everyday people to self-indulgent millionaires, and Dan and Phil – who I honestly hoped would become more open and honest people, have still retained their frustrating image of secrecy and mistrust of their audiences.

Youtube is no longer safe. Less than half of extremist and far right videos have been censored, yet creators who swear or reference ‘crude’ content are de-monetised and punished. Small content makers are swept aside for clickbait titles from overpaid channels who pour little creativity into their videos, and create nothing beyond jump cuts of their own daily existence. Youtube events are outrageously expensive, and impersonal, to the point where creators don’t even have to turn up to make money from them (yes, Hello World, I am looking at you). I don’t have time to watch 30 minute long gaming videos, as those 30 minutes could be spent washing up, working, writing, cooking, spending time with people I never really get the chance to see or simply resting.  Through my job, I’ve realised just how inefficient my daily practices are, and how much time I waste just doing nothing. I didn’t make time for my mum, or my dad, or my dog because I was glued to watching Sprinkle of Glitter spend time with her family instead. I’ve watched over 500 beauty tutorials, and never tried out a single look. I’ve been watching Dan and Phil for over 7 years now, and what have I gained? Nothing but a faint nostalgic fondness for the dorky teenage boys I used watch telling stories from Phil’s old flat in Manchester.

anyaSo what about my Youtube career? For so long, I thought that Youtube would be the only path for me. I thought that it was certain, it was definite and that everything else I did in the meantime was just filling up time before I picked up the camera and began. I dipped my toe into the water once or twice, edited half videos and published terrible footage of an under-confident, unrehearsed and unpopular girl doing a homeware haul from her student bedroom. But I never started. And now, I don’t want to. I used to believe that if I died having never been Youtube famous, I would have wasted my life. But letting go of that mentality is one of the best things I ever could have done. That dream wasn’t build out of a love for the platform – it was built out of the anxiety of starting a real life, committing to a real job, and doing something ordinary. Perhaps a combination of ageing, and finally treating my anxiety has led me to this conclusion, but either way I’m glad for it. Now that the pressure is off, the guilt is gone. The guilt that every Saturday I spend doing nothing could be spent starting my Youtube career. That I should be spending my money on expensive cameras, editing software and pricey laptops. Why? Why not just accept the life I have and find happiness and love within that?

For me, I’m a cynic. Youtube isn’t going to last forever, and I don’t want to jump aboard a sinking ship. Maybe if I’d started Youtube at 14, I might have stood a chance. But I didn’t, and look where I am now. Happy, confident, sure of myself and doing ok. I would rather be me than Zoella, and that’s something that has taken me a really long time to understand. Her life isn’t wrong, but it isn’t right for me. I like the freedom to catch a train, to leave the house, to go to the hairdressers, to risk creative failure without the eyes of 12 million people watching me. I like working 9 hour days for little money, because it’s better than being paid to sit in my house all day doing nothing.

Right now, I imagine there are young people all around the world feeling exactly how I did. Scared to get a real job, scared to live a grown up life, and wanting make money out of their favourite hobby and become Youtube famous like ThatcherJoe and Tanya Burr. And if that dream is real, and achievable for you, go for it. But if, like me, it’s born of fear, don’t waste your time worrying about it. Find something else to make you happy, because society is changing, and there are more ways than Youtube to make your mark on the world.

Over the past few weeks, I began a love/hate relationship with my Instagram account. Whilst I want that cosy autumnal theme, I also don’t want to lose touch with my blog, and I’ve been desperately searching for that beautiful balance of ‘blogger’ and ‘Instagrammer’. It’s been a tough road, and I’m still working on finding the true brand for my online platform, but I feel like I’m finally making a breakthrough with my most recent selection of images!

But in my endless scrolls through Instagram, trying to find the right inspiration for my own profile, I came across so many of my favourite profiles, and for the first time, really considered the effort they put into their ‘grams. So I wanted to thank them personally for the beauty they bring into my blue-lit online world, and to showcase them to my readers, in the hopes that they might enjoy the wonderful content they provide as much as I do!

So here are The Instagram Accounts I’ll Never Regret Following (and the ones I simply couldn’t bare to leave behind!).

CharCompany

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A company I swear I stumbled upon in a dream, CharCompany have one of the most beautiful Instagram profiles I’ve ever experienced. Their clean minimalist style and cool monochrome theme is amazingly well choreographed, and I never stop looking forward to their next post. For lovers of natural sunlight, cool palettes, and female empowerment – go follow CharCompany.

Kathrin Salzwedel

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How anyone could scroll past Kathrin’s feed without drooling is a mystery to me. Her use of colour and style is such a pleasant theme to come across, and never fails to make me hungry! Food is incredibly hard to make look beautiful, and yet she manages effortlessly, and I love catching up on her daily food-grams! For a fellow foodie or health food junkie, definitely check her out!

Lisa Lostinlit

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As Autumn came around, I kept spotting more and more of Lisa LostInLit‘s photography across my feed, and I couldn’t help myself from following. Her wholesome rustic aesthetic is such a lovely way to present her love of literature, and always makes me want to cosy up with a good book and a cup of tea. Florals, books, wooden floors and blankets? What more could you ask for?

LarainLondon

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I actually stumbled across LaraInLondon whilst on a mission to find the most photogenic spots in Kensington for my recent trip there, and once I found her feed, I couldn’t stop scrolling! The use of pretty pinks and soft pastels make for a sweet and sugary profile, that works so well with her pops of red and green breaking up the palette. For London lovers like me, it’s your aesthetic guide to the city!

WishWishWish

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Carrie’s feed is an old faithful for me, whenever I’m looking for a little Insta-inspiration. Her use of dusty, warm filters makes for such an appealing profile, and I’m always stuck by wanderlust after seeing her beautiful travel snaps from abroad. From building to bush and tea to coffee, every image makes up a wonderfully warm collage of her life, and it’s so exciting to see where she’s going next! For the aesthetic adventurer, give WishWishWish a peek!

Alice Catherine

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As a budding fashion blogger, there’s no better style guide then Alice Catherine. Her cool, in depth fashion photos are so crisp and clean to enjoy, and I’m dying to know which camera she uses to obtain her gorgeous city shots! Whenever I’m in need of a little fashion-inspo, I know just where to go to get my style fix! So if you’re looking for your own Insta-wardrobe guide? Follow Alice down that fashionably dressed rabbit hole!

Rhianna Olivia

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I feel like this one might just be my favourite. Rhianna is such a wonderful blogger, and I’m so excited that her platform just keeps growing and growing! I love her Instagram captions just as much as her photography, and it’s so exciting seeing where life takes her next. Plus, she always knows the best place for a brunch spot, so for lifestyle and travel recommendations, go and find RhiannaOliviaB!

Jasmine Talks Beauty

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For an insane beauty junkie like me, how could I not want to follow Jasmine Talks Beauty? Her flatlays are always full of the most gorgeous beauty products on the market and I love her take on the world of cosmetics! Every product she snaps looks amazing, and I’m always reaching for my shopping basket every time she uploads! So if you want your top up of the hottest new beauty supplies, join the journey of Jasmine Talks Beauty!

Kate La Vie

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I first discovered Kate La Vie on the ‘At With Podcast’ by Lily and Anna, and was so curious as to what sort of blogger she was based on her voice alone. And her blog does not disappoint! But her Instagram is even better and every photo is softly magical and amazing, I can’t stop myself from having a quick browse whenever I get the chance. If you’re dreaming of wrapping yourself up in cosy soft adventures, and delicate home interiors, go for Kate La Vie!

And finally – if you want to catch up on what I’ve been posting on Instagram this autumn, why not follow me, at ‘nikkimccaigblog’ today!

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If you don’t love autumn, are you really even a blogger? Short answer: yes. Of course you are, but it’s clear to see that the blogging community really does love it’s autumnal seasons. Snuggling up with a large PSL, a mustard yellow bobble hat and a cosy knitted jumper is the perfect aesthetic for the seasonal blogger, and for these colourful months, our blogs and Instagram feeds will see nothing but brown, orange, yellow and red.

Having blogged my way through four autumn seasons now, I’d like to think of myself as an old hat at this by now, and thought I would share today a helpful blogger’s guide to the season of change.

Getting Started

Firstly, you will need to pick up the essentials:

  • A thick, cosy knitted jumper in one of the following shades: mustard yellow, fallen leaf brown, crab apple red, or pumpkin orange.
  • A pair of ripped skinny jeans in dark blue or black.
  • Some chunky brown boots – heeled or flats will do.
  • A tweed, checked or camel duster coat.
  • A knitted bobble or beanie hat.

Photography

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To really nail that seasonal photography, the best thing to do is to head out with your trusty tri-pod or Instagram boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife/best friend, etc…and pick up a coffee of some kind. Generally shots down appealing streets of leafy trees, pretty white houses or rural forests tend to work as attractive settings.

For perpsective shots, paint your nails a pretty autumn colour, and highlight that up-close commitment to the PSL with an Instagrammable hand shot! Wrap those silver-ringed fingers around your warm cup of coffee, and get posing.

For product shots, your autumnal props are key. A rainbow of fallen autumn leaves, a couple of conkers and acorns, a rich pumpkin scented candle and the most miniature pumpkin you can find – and you’re good to go! Flatlays are a great way to showcase your autumn collections at this time of year, and very popular with blog photographers, so it’s time to perfect that birds eye view!

Socials

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As autumn arrives in late August, the standard blogger procedure is to change your social profiles and names to seasonal themes – an orange Twitter profile, a spooky Halloween themed name, a cover photo of a collection of conkers. This also applies to your Instagram feed, stories, Facebook and Pinterest profiles.

To help you adapt your name or blog name to the Halloween themes, try to get creative with your use of emojis. Add a cute pumpkin, candle, autumn leaf or chesnut at the end of your name to help relate it back to the season! If I were to ‘autumn-ify’ my name, for example, I could go for ‘Trikki or Treat McCaig’. I’m aware it’s terrible, but my name is surprisingly hard to adapt.

Blog Content

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We’ve all spent that cosy evening in, with a mug of hot chocolate and our favourite red berry candle burning, catching up on the latest autumnal blogging posts in our feeds. Usually we tuck into these as the season approaches, to help us get into the spirit of autumn, but they’re always great to catch up with as the months go on.
So it’s time to set up your backlog of autumn-themed blog content.

Suggested Ideas:

  • Halloween Make Up
  • Autumn Everyday Make Up
  • Scented Candle Haul
  • Favourite Retailers for Autumn Jumpers
  • Autumn Fashion Look Books
  • Easy Autumn Home Decor Crafts
  • Small Touches To Make Your Home Feel Autumnal
  • Fun Community Activites This Autumn
  • Pumpkin Spice Cookie Recipe

Some dedicated bloggers even upgrade the headers on their blog, and their widgets to reflect the shades of the season – adding a pumpkin into their title to replace a letter, or a swirl of leaves underneath their font. This is a really special touch for the season, so if you’ve got that creative urge, then definitely give it a go.

Your Blogging Space

If you haven’t already brought in some autumn decor into your blogging space, now is the perfect time to get started. Get yourself some leaf-y fairy lights, a stash of large spicy scented candles, and some themed stationary, and set up your blogging station like the autumnal haven it’s dying to be.

Not only will this make you feel autumnal as you write, it will also help make any implusive photography sessions or Instagram story snaps fit to your online theme as well.

My favourite sets of autumnal deskware are listed below:

I hope this guide has helped any budding autumnal bloggers – it made me feel a little more seasonal just writing it! Have a fantastic week, and make sure to catch up with my Instatober over at https://www.instagram.com/nikkismccaig/!

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Throughout my time as a blogger, I’ve had many different opportunities to network, engage and socialise with the people, brands and companies I dream of working with. Through events, parties, invitations, and the internet, the chances to interact with your goal brand are more frequent than you might expect – so when it happens for you, it’s good to be ready.

So, with the re-branding of my blog last week, and the confidence of a beautiful site helping me to open myself up to networking opportunities, I was inspired to update my existing business cards to reflect my new style. Previously, I had been sharing my outdated and unprofessional cards, with terrible formatting and disused colour palettes contributing to the overall appearance of amateur business approach – which really didn’t work for me.

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With that in mind, and my new blog site open next to me as a template, I hopped on over to my favourite design site ‘Canva‘, and drew up my first draft. Surprisingly for a perfectionist like me, designing the new cards took almost no time at all, and I drew so much inspiration from the hard work that had gone into designing the new site that I knew what I wanted before I’d even begun. Transferring my design over to Vistaprint took a little longer, but once everything was ready, I simply ordered what I wanted and within three days, I had 100 beautiful business cards sat proudly displayed on my desk.

So I thought, following my decision to upgrade and rebrand my own business cards, that I would share my tips for designing and distributing business cards as a blogger, for those who might be struggling with this.

Firstly, do bloggers even need business cards?

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Yes. Absolutely they do, and I’m always so surprised when bloggers decide not to use them. One of the important aspects of my blog is it’s potential, and everything I hope to achieve through it. Having a business card directly reflecting that – as well as advertising all of the skills that bloggers rarely realise they have – proves to my contacts that this site is serious and should be approached from a perspective of professionalism and high expectation. As a freelancer, having a business card to give to potential clients is perhaps a bigger benefit to me then as a blogger, but there are so many other great opportunities that can be opened up to bloggers from their business card. Say you’re a party and bump into the digital manager of a brand you really love – simply hand over your business card, and it can help them to not only find and evaluate your blog as a potential influencer, but also contact you quickly and simply, whilst checking out your graphic design and branding skills at the same time.

Treat your blog like a business, and you will recieve the benefits of a business. The business card approach can help to boost your blogging confidence socially and professionally, and to help potential collaborators and readers to take you seriously as a content creator.

What should I include on my business card?

P8141705.jpgTo avoid cluttering up an already small space, try to use a maximum of five lines per side. One side should, ideally, be the ‘front’ and contain nothing but the name of your blog, or your business, for simple identification purposes. The other side should contain perhaps an ‘About’ section, and three of the easiest ways to contact you. My cards, for example, have my email address, Instagram and Twitter links, to help whoever recieves the card find my content and contact details quickly.P8141699.jpgIn terms of imagery, keeping your background design simple and straightforward. Dark, solid colours work for the more professional contexts, but for more social networking, try to mimic the same colour palettes and designs you have on your actual site. High quality photography looks great with a matt finish, but make sure to lower the contrast to help your written content stand out.

How do I design it?

P8141652.jpgPersonally, I used Canva at first, to help me work out the initial format and design, using their ‘Business Card’ template. This helped me to understand which photos worked well, how much to edit them, which fonts and content would fit in the given space, etc… But I can also recommend programmes like iPiccy and Fotor to help you figure out your photography and style.

Then I just replicated my design in the pre-given template on Vistaprint, and selected my finish options. It was really easy and simple, and I can really recommend both sites for making some beautiful business cards.

When and how do I hand it out?

P8141667.jpgOk, this is the tricky part. For someone as socially awkward as me, knowing when a good time to hand out your business is can be incredibly difficult to judge – particularly with people I’m intimated by and don’t know very well. But usually, I would recommend handing it out either at the very start of your interaction, or at the end.

At the start – begin your conversation with something along the lines of ‘hi, I’m Blah, so what do you?’ This opens the dialogue up and invites them to return the question, upon which you can reply ‘oh I’m a blogger, oh – here’s my card – yeah I have my own beauty/fashion blog’. Make it casual and friendly, and invite them to talk about themselves more than you talk about yourself.

P8141633.jpgAt the end – as you sense the conversation beginning to end, or you know you have to be somewhere else and need to leave, end with a bright ‘well it was lovely chatting with you, let me give you my card, and perhaps I’ll see you around later on?’ Again, it doesn’t need to be a big moment, or a significant interaction, just make it seem as if this is a very relaxed and unpressurised gesture to avoid coming across as pushy or invasive.

Overall, your business card should represent the best of you. What you do, what you love, and your highest standard of skill. And this is what you are showing people when you hand it over, so make sure it’s beautiful.

Thank you so much for reading this week’s blog post; to start designing your own business cards click here to check out Canva, or to read my last blog post on My Daily Skincare Routine, click here!

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You might have already spotted that my blog looks a little different. Three weeks ago I changed pretty much everything about my site – from my branding, to my social media, to my SEO strategy and my photography. Having written this blog for almost four years now, I’ve been through so many different styles and themes that finding one I truly like is a really difficult decision. But right now…I like it.

R E L A U N C HAnd there were lots of warning signs and signals, for me anyway, that a rebrand was on the horizon.  I withdrew from my social media, I felt embarassed to direct people to my blog, I really really struggled to design corresponding assets for it (e.g. business cards and banners) and I just wasn’t excited about posting on it anymore. P7160616.jpgOne of the biggest signs that I was need of a relaunch was the fact that it only took the smallest change in my life to motivate me to rebrand my blog: a white table. Without going into too much detail, a friend of mine helped me to create a backdrop for my blog by painting this dusty old dining table in our bedroom bright blog-friendly white, leaving me with a big gorgeous space for flatlays and photography shoots. It was having this boost in my photography, as well as the influence of other aesthetic bloggers, that inspired me to boost some more elements of my digital presence – upgrading my content, re-writing my social media, upping my dial out, and eventually redesigning my blog. P7160622.jpgBut it took me a long time to reach the place where I felt ready to do it, so I thought today I would share what I believe are the 5 Signs Your Blog Needs A Rebrand, to help out anyone else in a similar situation.

  1. Post Frequency

    P7160675.jpgIf the frequency of your blog dial out has, effectively, dialed down, perhaps it’s time to figure out why. Of course busy schedules and environmental constraints can all play a big role in your upload frequency, but when you truly feel inspired and excited by your blog, there should be nothing on earth that can stop you from posting. Try taking a look at your branding, and see if there any changes you can make to help you feel a little bit more inspired – from the smallest of profile picture updates to an entirely new aesthetic, anything you can to help keep you engaged.

  2. Slow Traffic and Unenthused Engagement

    P7160625.jpgThis is, unfortunately, one of the biggest, most obvious signs that your site is in need of a little love. If your numbers are progressively dropping, or your engagement levels are decreasing, it could be that your lack of interest in your blog is clear to potential readers, causing them to disengage with it. Trying out new templates, fonts and styles doesn’t have to result in big changes, but re-engaging yourself with your blog can definitely inspire others to follow suit.

  3. Out of Date Styles

    P7160666.jpgStill using the same template you used in 2007 when bloggers were the only content creators on the internet? Well it’s ten years later, and we’ve got competition. Whilst the vloggers and fimmakers of the internet have beautiful sets and visceral cinematography to impress their followers, we have our blogs – and we need to step it up. Use some of the bigger blogger sites at the moment motivate you to revamp your own – some of mine include: http://char-co.com/blog/,  http://wishwishwish.net, and http://www.hannahmaggs.co.uk. Take all the inspiration you need from as many sources as possible – follow the trends you love, create your favourite Pinterest mood boards, and pour as much of yourself into your brand new blogging style as possible.

  4. PR Problems

    P7160621.jpgOne of the biggest indicators to me that my blog was in need of a rebrand was during an email conversation where I had to book tickets for a coffee shop opening. As a general practice, when booking events, I always prefer to warn the organisers that a) I’m a blogger, and b) I’ll most likely be bringing a camera to the event, just in case they have any publicity regulations or preferences I should know about. This did, and usually does, lead to the organiser asking for a link to my blog – something which, at the time, I felt ashamed to share with them. Luckily, the email was sent to me the day before I decided to rebrand, so the link I eventually sent them was to my shiny, new beautiful blog, which was shared with no shame whatsoever. So next time anyone asks to see your blog – gauge for yourself how you feel about it, and if you’re not excited and proud to share your link, perhaps it’s time to do something about it.

  5. Collaboration Drop

    P7160608.jpgBloggers love to collaborate. This is fact. We love engaging with each other, and share each others success across as many of our favourite platforms as possible. But if, say your favourite blogger refuses to collaborate with you any more, or your brand deals suddenly start to decline, it could be that your site is looking a little tired now. When a blogger or a brand decides to collaborate with you on a project, in a sense, it is their way of declaring ‘yes, this site is good, and I am proud to associate myself with them’. And so, if your site isn’t quite what it used to be, it can be a lot harder to create strong brand relationships with other creators and companies. Take the time to refresh yourself, and your site, before outreaching your next guest post, and see how much of a difference it makes.

I hope this blog post has helped anyone else out there struggling to rebrand – for more tips on rebranding, I recommend this site as it really did help me a lot when pondering my relaunch. You can also check out my last post here, or to catch up my adventures behind the scenes, take a look at my Instagram stories this week!

Thanks for reading!

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When the days are full of hot sticky shirts and uncomfortable sweaty chairs, and our arms have to be peeled away from our desks at frustratingly frequent intervals, working in the summer can be a bit of a nightmare.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unfortunately, for many of us, choosing our working location is a luxury we’re yet to enjoy, with workers across the country being crammed into commuter trains, office cubicles and intensive labour spaces with little escape from the humidity and heat. And where heat goes, distraction follows. It seems our generation can’t go five minutes without making a comment across social media about the negative effects of the heat on our productivity.

We can’t sleep, we can’t drink hot coffee, we can’t sit comfortably, we can’t think. The heat seems to cram itself inside our heads and slowly melt our brains into goop almost every working hour – making even the most simple of tasks impossible.DSCF2005.jpg

So I thought I would work out a couple of tips for keeping your focus in the hottest of heats, and share my advice for keeping cool in every working environment.

Dress in Layers

DSCF2069 (2).jpgAt this time of year, finding the right balance of fashion, comfort, cooling mechanisms and professionalism seems almost impossible – but it is achievable using one simple, ancient self-dressing technique: layers. To truly feel the benefit of that cool office air con, or refreshing coffee shop breeze, aim to layer up clothing with cardigans, jumpers, blazers, etc… and then sink into that blissful relief of taking them off again when the sun reaches its highest point. By midday, you’ll be so relaxed and cool that even the toughest of tasks can simply be snapped into action.

Gadget Gadget

DSCF2047 (1)For heatwaves like the one currently roasting the UK, the internet is going to be your new best friend for finding unique, and office-appropriate, gadgets for keeping cool. Never mind the noisy, clunky desk fans that propel lukewarm air into your neatly coiffed hair and clutter up your already cramped workspace – why not invest in a mini-USB attachment with streamlined neon propellers for a seriously chilling workday breeze? Or a cooling seat pad for your office chair? So long as its neutrally coloured, and you don’t start an office riot with it, these little seat pads can make a really big difference to the comfort of your office space, and help you cool enough to focus on the big job at hand.

Keep It Neat

DSCF2026 (1)No I’m not talking about everyone’s least favourite spot for hair removal. I’m talking about the clutter that sits upon our desks day in, day out, blocking up our creativity. So this summer its time to clear it out: get rid of the teddies, the memo blocks, the chewed pen lids and the kitsch but empty folders. Stack em, tidy them, lock them away or pile them into a drawer…the method of disposal is entirely down to you. But the more miscellaneous items we pile onto our desks, the harder it’ll be to stay focused at work. Distraction is the killer of productivity, and whilst they don’t always have to come in the form of people, or noises, or physical distractions, the very notion of limited space and arm flexibility whilst typing can really decrease your motivaiton.

Switch the drinks

DSCF2039.jpgIf you’re anything like me, this one is going to be a wrench. But if you want to stay focused in your office, on the hottest days of the year, it’s time to ditch the coffee. Indulge yourself in a stylish, non-sporty water bottle, or cutesy drinking glass, and swap up those trips to the coffee machine for treks to the water cooler instead. Dehydration is another common factor in lost productivity, and it can seriously affect you in more ways than you imagine. With symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, loss of concentration, dry mouth and dizziness threatening to ruin your average working day, running for the coffee pot will not help your motivation. So stock up on the ice cubes, and put that water cooler to the test this summer – your boss will definitely thank you for it.

Accepting The Temperature

DSCF2098This may seem daft, but I’ve noticed, on so many occasions, that on hot days, the people of Britian like to talk about the weather. Shocking, I know. But they don’t just talk about it; they Google it, they Tweet about it, they Instagram it, and they Whatsapp about it. Memes are created, Tumblr pages made, news reports finalised as they describe the fact that we all know: today, it is hot. And as tempting as it is to spend 12 hours of the day describing exactly which orifice the sweat is dripping from today, it’s not going to help you get anything productive done at all. Unless you’re a weather reporter, in which case, congrats on the heatwave! But next time the sweat-patch based banter begins in the office, just keep your head down and refuse to contribute. Not only will this help to distract you from the scorching weather outside, but it might also help you to keep your focus that little bit longer, leaving room tomorrow for your own special breed of high temperatured gossip.

I know it’s tough to even sit down at an office chair in temperatures such as these, but unfortunately your to-do list doesn’t get to take a summer holiday, and neither should you. So whip off those cardigans, plump up those ice packs, pop on your finger fans, and get to work. Good luck!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and that the summer heat isn’t distracting you too much this Monday! To check out my last post, on my own personal form of anxiety distraction, click here, or to see some of the snaps I’ve been taking of the summer heat, you can follow my Instagram profile here!

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For many of us, Pinterest is simply the hobby site we us to scroll through and save our favourite pictures from across the internet. We find our favourite DIY hacks on Pinterest, our new beauty regimes, our travel destinations and our outfit inspirations for the warm week ahead.

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But what if Pinterest could be more than that, and could instead be used as an essential tool in your digital marketing campaign? What if it was possible for bloggers like me to boost my site, and increase my traffic simply by pinning one picture a day?

There are so many different ways to get both your blog and your business noticed on Pinterest, from promoting pins to infographic hacks. So if you want to start pinning down those site-to-site conversions, I’ve come up with a few of my favourite tips on How To Use Pinterest To Enhance Your Blog that might just be able to help!

  1.  Use Quality Photography

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It must seem like I use this tip in all of my digital advice pieces, but the quality of your photography really can affect how people view your blog and your brand. Using high quality, crisply edited and carefully considered photos to summarise what you want people to click on is guaranteed to achieve more hits than a blurry, out-of-focus snapshot of your day. Putting in the effort to compose and highlight your product, recipe, fashion and travel photos can really draw people into your work. Even adding a little bit of love post-production with a catchy on-image guide, or the title of the blog post you want to link to can add to the overall clarity of the picture – helping potential readers find exactly what they are looking for.

2. Know Your Pinterest Account – Beauty Board

2017-06-11 (5)To really utilise Pinterest well, it’s important to understand what exactly it isn’t. It is not a social media site where users can post inane comments about their day, tag friends in interesting memes and post selfies all day long. It is not a photography site either, where your holiday snaps can be deposited to be joyfully scrolled through at the next family visit. And it is not a blogging site, where the entire contents of your blog post should be written into the description of a screenshot. Pinterest is a place of guides, advice, travel tips, recipes, reviews – it’s the haven for bloggers, no matter what you blog about. Mental health? Lifestyle? Baking? Beauty? There’s a board, niche and pin for that. Take advantage of the diverse nature of Pinterest and use it to inspire yourself into creating some truly beautiful pins.

3. Network With Other Pinterest Users – P I N K Board

2017-06-11 (3)If you want your pins to remain firmly within the blogging sphere, that is perfectly fine. But there’s a whole realm of Pinterest users out there who could be just waiting for your pin to come along and inspire them to connect with you. So follow as many boards, users and pins as you like and engage with other users there. You can send messages of encouragement to other Pinterest users, ask for advice on how to create beautifully themed boards, or simply ask to connect with someone whose own blog has truly inspired you.

4. Introduce Yourself Through Your Pinterest.

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Once you’ve built up a reputable following, and a weighty collection of elegant Pinterest boards, there’s no shame in sharing your efforts around. Link to your Pinterest in your blog header, your email signature, your Twitter bio, your Instagram description. Don’t be afraid to entwine your blog branding and your Pinterest themes – share a colour scheme, a visual object arch, a universal font…anything to tie your brand together across all of your social media platforms. This will help potential readers, brands, businesses and other bloggers to get a real sense of your vibe and aesthetic, and even your personality, which could be great for networking and outreaching future opportunities.

5. Turn Your Pins Professional – B L O G G I N G Board 

2017-06-11 (6).jpgIf you really want to commit to the business world of Pinterest, it’s time to get smart. For a casual blogger, using Pinterest on an irregular basis is great, but if you really want to use Pinterest to impact your blog hits and traffic, you need to commit to it. Sign up for a business account, shell out for a couple of promoted pins, set up a regularly scheduled timetable of pins so that your account never gets left neglected. There are various tools and apps available to help you do this – my personal favourite being Everypost, as not only is it free, it’s also available to use for pretty much every other social media platform you could possibly use for blogging.

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Pinterest is such a great tool for promoting and sharing your blog, and it really is worth committing to its unique format and structure. Once you’ve started pinning, you’ll be hooked for months, so might as well help your blog out at the same time. To find out more about Promoted Pins and the business side of Pinterest, I recommend you take a look at this blog in particular as it really helped me get to grips with the site when I first started out!

I hope this post has inspired some more bloggers out there to take up Pinterest as their next blogging venture, and that the big wide world of advertising online seems that bit more attainable now. To check out my last post – an Edinburgh City Look Book – click here, or to see what my business Pinterest looks like, click here!

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So say you’ve got this amazing idea for a business. You’ve got the funding, you’ve got the products, you’ve got your whole marketing strategy all planned out. You know exactly what you want to say, who you want to target, and how much money you’re willing to spend on advertising it. You’re ready for anything.

But, when you head to Facebook, and click that magical little button you hope will change everything, you’re suddenly faced with a sea of questions, tasks, surveys and empty boxes just waiting to be filled. As someone who recently went through the exhaustive process of setting up a Facebook campaign for my prints, I know all too well the struggles of advertising successfully through social media.

So I thought I would share my tips with you today, to help you navigate the scary world of a Facebook Ad Campaign, and get your business the platform it needs.

1. Open up the boundaries of your ad’s reach

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The minute you decide to boost a post, promote a page or sponsor a profile, you’ll be asked to decide just who you would like that post to be shared with. Unlike a personal profile, this is not limited to you, your friends, acquaintances and professionals – this post can go anywhere.  And although it’s tempting to share your business with the specific niche you would normally target in advertising, blowing open your market to as many people as possible is a much safer way of securing attention – the more people see it, the more people are likely to buy it. Simple!

Avoid restricting your promotion to a particular gender, age group (within appropriate reason, of course), location and personal interest collection. List as many interests as you can – even if they don’t seem that relevant. If you want to advertise a guitar tutor, for example, create a strong archive of tags relating to music, popular artists, schools, qualifications, romance, woodwind, orchestras, and rock concerts. You never know who might be waiting for that sign to try something new.

2. Make a note of your budget and stick to it

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No one ever wants to be faced with a sudden unexpected bill – especially not a company attempting to grow a start up. So make sure you know exactly how much you want to spend, and how much you are actually spending, when you choose the length of your advert. Generally, Facebook Ad Campaigns run at around £3 a day, but the more you pay into your daily budget, the more likes and shares you’re likely to receive. So perhaps if your budget is rather small, it’s worth spending more on a good quality post, but for fewer days than you might like. Or, if you’ve got the excess to spend, leave the ad running over a number of weeks, and allow it to gather traffic organically over time.

Don’t be tempted to spend more and more if your ad doesn’t seem to be gaining much speed. Stick to your budget, as that money can be always be invested in something better.

3. Know what you can post

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One of the most frustrating things about the Facebook Ad Campaign is the restrictions placed on certain photographs and images used to advertise small businesses. For my Print business, I really struggled to find a loophole in the clause preventing images with words being used in adverts. Unsurprisingly, it’s rather difficult advertising typography without including any words in your promotion. The lesser words you include in the images you wish to share, the better – even if it means including more detail in your captions. There may be other industry specific restrictions surrounding your pages and posts, and it’s always better to acknowledge these in advance – to save you time and frustration later down the line.

4. Make quality your top priority

desk5.jpgA poor quality ad campaign will get no where. And quality needs to shine out of every aspect of your posts – from your photography and your content to your wording and punctuality. If you say you’ll upload something at 10am, do it at 10am. Always convey thanks to those who have supported your start up – even if so far the only likes are from your family members. Choose only the very best photographs from your collection to advertise you, as anyone scrolling through Facebook will see these before reading your captions. Make sure they are high definition, eye catching and smart, and that they tell your story more better than you can.

5. Get as much feedback as you can

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Feedback and opinion are the foundations of a good start up business. Having people tell you what’s good, what’s great, and what could be better about your business are key conversations to have before promoting something you think is amazing. Does your market really need this niche? How will they respond to your new suggestion or idea? What do they like about your business, and will other people feel the same?

Including your feedback and research as honest quotes or testimonials in your ad campaign can be a game changer for those on the fence about enquiring. Find a summary of your business, and of you, that you want to people to read, and share it alongside your own words and descriptions. You might be running your business alone, but if you want to trade with people, then make sure their words matter.

Beginning your first Facebook Ad Campaign can be difficult and scary, but just take your time and stay focussed on making it the best it can be. Don’t scrimp on the quality, and don’t give up if traffic is a little slow at first. Give it time, and give it effort, and just enjoy that moment when you first see the ad for your little business popping up in the news feed on someone else’s timeline. You’ll never forget it.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope this has helped anyone considering starting their own ad campaigns online! If you want to read my last post on the period innovation Fab Little Bags, click here!

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For any blogger, whether you’re just starting out or are a legendary blogging veteran, the chances to work with your favourite brand are still few and far between. Although we check our inboxes daily, many of us have yet to see that MAC invite or Benefit collab opportunity sitting in our emails.

So sometimes we have to do the legwork ourselves. And this involves research. Yes, there are affiliate programmes that can promise to bring in a fortune – but the reality is, you have to high traffic to be accepted, and if you don’t bring in the hits, you lose out on the cash. You could also write to companies directly, selling yourself to an unknown face, with an email that is likely to get lost in a poorly organised system of communications, but chances of response are still slim.

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Which is where your favourite social media platforms can come in extremely handy. Although we should, of course, exercise caution with out internet networking, Twitter is actually one of the easiest, and most reliable, sources of blogger business boosts on the net. So long as you know just what to look for.

Type #bloggerswanted into the Twitter search bar, and you can find a whole archive of brands, bloggers, companies and big name sponsors looking for authors and creators to review their products. From coffee bars to lip balms, every business needs promotion – and the Twitter hashtag can help them find the perfect blogger to advertise them with. But, as with any opportunity found online, there are a couple of guidelines and warning signs to look out for before submitting your details.

Nikki McCaig

  1. Know the product

    Some of the most awkward online interactions are born from a blogger agreeing to promote a product that really really doesn’t fit to their branding. As a blogger of about 3 years now, I’ve had my fair share of embarrassing encounters on the internet – from accidentally agreeing to review a sex toy, or simply signing up for a service I didn’t have geographic access to. Read the brief carefully, and thoroughly, and if you’re still confused – Google it. Do your research before you sign on, and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself in for.

  2. Check the account.

    Some of the biggest red flags for me when trawling through the search results are repetitive tweeting, dodgy profile pages, and mysteriously ambiguous descriptions. If you see the same tweet over and over and over again, it’s likely to be spam, and a quick scroll through their Twitter account can help you decide for yourself. A lack of a profile picture is always a bit of a turn-off for me, as a good understanding of social media and networking platforms is a must for any business hoping to work with bloggers. And if the opportunity you’ve spotted mentions the words ‘secret’, ‘surprise’, or ‘mystery’…be very cautious as to how you proceed.

  3. Know your limits

    Many of the opportunities you will be presented with just won’t be applicable to you. If you’re a female beauty blogger, don’t sign up to write about male mental health. If you’re a book blogger, don’t pretend to be a mummy blogger. Although it is tempting to apply for as many chances as possible, this can drop your credibility as a professional content creator, so stick to what you know. Build up your profile as a blogger in your chosen field e.g. make up, fashion, lifestyle, travel…and establish your own little portfolio in that sector. It’s good to be diverse, but it’s not always worth it if you appear indecisive.

  4. Make notes

    Even if sourcing your professional writing portfolio from mentions on Twitter just isn’t for you, #bloggerswanted can still be a useful tool in your networking. Make a list from the search results of all the brands and companies who have submitted opportunities, and are therefore willing to work with bloggers. This way you can research their brand, and write to them directly, promoting yourself without clogging up their timeline.

    Nikki McCaig

  5. Train yourself to pick out keywords

    Around 60% of the #bloggerswanted contributions are not from actual brands wanting content. Some are bloggers promoting their latest post, some are social media users wanting a bloggers opinion, some are just sponsored posts that have gotten lost in the feed. So it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Through experience, you’ll learn to pick up on words and phrases such as: ‘We’re looking for’ ‘review’ ‘share your thoughts’ or even the additional hashtag ‘bloggersneeded‘ as that tends to narrow down your search.

  6. Respond to offers, but don’t offer yourself

    The majority of the Tweets stating ‘I’m a (blank) blogger, looking for opportunities to collaborate with (blank) brands!’ will unfortunately go unnoticed. Whilst brands will typically post in this hashtag, it’s rare that they will actually connect with people who don’t speak to them directly. Blogging is a profession, just like any other. If you respond to a job vacancy, you’re likely to get the job. But if you post on Facebook saying ‘I want a job’, the only thing you’ll get are a few likes from your mum. Look for the opportunities presented to you, as this is the only way big name brands will spot you in the crowd.

  7. Don’t avoid the ‘guest blogger’ offers

    Guest posting on someone else’s blog might seem a little off-putting, but trust me it’s not. By contributing to another blogger’s collection, you’re then receiving the traffic from both their blog, and your own. Plus, you get to connect with another writer in the industry, and share your story and thoughts on a completely different platform. Building up a solid archive of bloggers you’ve worked with can be a really big help, and comfort, when you feel stuck for ideas, and it looks great for both you and them. The more your name spreads across the Twitter-sphere, the higher chance you have of receiving organic traffic, and the further your message will go.

    Nikki McCaig

If you’ve never checked out the #bloggerswanted tag on Twitter, I would highly recommend it – to both bloggers and brands alike. Useful for recruitment, opportunity or even just a browse, it could be your ticket to success.

Thank you so much for reading, have a fantastic week!

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