10 Blogging Myths

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1. The only thing bloggers do is run their blog. Back in 2010 when I worked at a media agency I used to build up good relationships with parent bloggers on behalf of one of my clients. One of the things I learned very early on is most people’s blogs are their hobby, side-project or part-time work. There’s no point inviting bloggers to a gallery viewing that’s 2pm on a Wednesday, most of the time it ain’t gonna happen. Most bloggers either have a full-time job, a family, or even if they are a full-time blogger they have a schedule or most likely busy with doing other bits of work like freelance work or consultancy. That’s why I love it when brands make sure a party/event starts around 6.30pm, after most people finish work.

2. That it’s really expensive to build a blog. There are so many different blog designers out there, and so many amazing templates especially on WordPress that are free, or quite cheap. There’s also brilliant online services such as Pigdig who offer customized templates that I know a lot of people use. I use an amazing young talented designer called Christina Galani who is such a pleasure to work with, she designs and builds my blog and works with me to keep it constantly updated at a reasonable price.

3. That you write a post and then publish it immediately: Loads of people always ask me: when do you have time to write your blog? The answer is, I just make it work in the free time that I do have. Most bloggers will write a bunch of blog posts all together and then schedule them throughout the week. That’s what I do. That’s what a lot of YouTubers do as well, especially when filming with a friend who they maybe lives far away. A few of my friends will just change their clothes so each video looks different, but all filmed on the same afternoon. Super savvy.

4. That everyone in the blogging world is always nice. The blogging community is such an amazing thing to be part of and I’ve literally lost count of how many incredible people I’ve met over the four years of having a blog. But sadly, a lot of people still don’t get why people blog/over-share their lives and feel the need to voice their negative opinions. People also get a bit mean about bloggers who monetize their content or say it’s not a real job. There’s a nasty side to any online comment thread especially ones where people can be anonymous, but it’s the nature of the Internet and something that everyone will come across at least once.

5. That blog posts take a few minutes to write and publish. Some do, like a really short review perhaps, or a post linking to another article. But on the whole, blog posts can take aaaages to post, mainly because you have to play the role of editor. I am not the best at editing so it can take me ages to proofread my words for typos and I know I never notice all of them. It’s mega hard to proof-read your own work because you’ve been staring at it for so long. So for me it can take between 1-2 hours sometimes to write and edit something. But the longer you do it, the more you get used to it and you naturally gets better.

6. That you need an expensive camera. For visual blogs such as fashion or beauty blogs a good quality camera does make a difference – same with video. But, I don’t think that it is essential to running a successful blog, it’s just a bonus. People might disagree, but I think the content of the blog is more important than the quality. (I don’t mean blurry pics, that’s never OK). I find it a hassle taking my big camera out, I prefer to document my life on my iPhone as it feels more natural.

7. That bloggers just love the freebies. It always makes me a bit sad when I see people asking how to start a blog, or saying they want to start a blog because they want to get free stuff. It really defeats the object of having a blog because it should be a corner of the Internet that you want to write on everyday just for the enjoyment of it. For me, going on a blog trip is like being at work, I am constantly finding different angles of things to write about, include in the review, taking photos, getting quotes from people, finding fun and different things that might not be in other people’s reviews. The myth is that you just go on a holiday which isn’t actually the case at all. Also, the relationship between blogs/media and PRs is something you should nurture and grow so that you work well together; which will only happen if you saying yes to things that are actually relevant to you and your blog.

8. That bloggers will work with any brand that pops into their inbox. Because blogging has become quite a big industry, bloggers are getting emails more than ever asking them participate in campaigns or giveaways or review opportunities (and a lot of brands still try and ask bloggers to do quite a bit of work for free). But most bloggers don’t say yes to everything and are learning more than ever to say no to things that aren’t mutually beneficial or interesting to their readers.

9. That you have to have a blogging ‘category’. You definitely don’t need to pigeon-hole yourself or think that you need to put yourself in a box. Lots of blogs these days cover a wide spectrum of things (mine covers ALL sorts) and even blogging awards categories have got broader. It’s good to still find your ‘niche’ and be unique in your style and tone, but you don’t need to get worked up about not being just one thing.

10. That it’s all about numbers. Most of the time it is about traffic, referrals, followers etc. But that’s not everybody’s key metric. Blogging is also for the quality engagement you can have with people; the emails, the tweets, the letters, the friendships. For me personally, it is not about numbers but about finding and growing the right audience;  the people that I want to reach, talk to, feel inspired by and share ideas with.

Thanks for reading and if there’s any I’ve left out (which I most likely have) then tweet me @girllostincity.

xox

 

Interviewing The Amazing Grace Helbig

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My eyes can hardly stay open as I type this so thankfully for us both I’m keeping this post short and sweet. Last week I interviewed the awesome Grace Helbig, the hilariously brilliant YouTuber/vlogger of It’s Grace fame who is also a TV host and recently turned author. Grace’s book (called Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending To Be A Grown-up) is a funny self-help manual or 20-something sassy millenials who are still figuring stuff out. The nice thing is that Grace is also figuring stuff out and sharing her best pieces of advice with us along the way, earning her the title of “the awkward big sister of the Internet”.

In the book she chats about all sorts of things, it’s a fun mish-mash of topics. She touches on stuff like how to survive in this “digital age” (SO relevant) to job interviews, one night stands, moving house, all sorts. She’s not trying to give people the answers, she is just giving her humorous yet brilliant advice based on her own experiences in a way that enables the reader to apply it to their own lives/situations. And let’s be honest: she is NAILING IT, so I’m happy to take any of her life advice. Sign me up. I’ll have five copies please.

Grace is a millennial success story. She is a normal gal who doesn’t try and portray a perfect lifestyle and her videos are such a joy to watch. She acts like an online friend, has an incredible talent at creating amazing online content and makes hosting look effortless (both on her podcasts and TV).

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing her as part of her UK book tour and she was so lovely and funny. I met her at her hotel at 8.15am (that’s MEGA EARLY for me) and I admitted that I was actually really tired because I ended up watching her videos on YouTube until really late into the night. (They are so addictive). I think my words were: “Grace, I’m hungover on YouTube”.

I wish her all the best, such a talent and inspiration to anyone who loves making things on the Internet.

You can read my full interview on The Debrief HERE.

Blogger Awards in Berlin

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 17.56.46This week I went to Berlin to interview and cover the Stylight Influencer Awards as part of Berlin Fashion Week. Highlights include an editor-in-chief (really politely) telling me I had lipstick on my teeth and someone air-kissing me SEVEN times.

I wrote about the whole thing here on The Debrief, I did a run down of the nominees and winners and highlights of the evening; some are mega huge in Europe but haven’t had much coverage over here, so it was amazing to meet so many different bloggers from all over the world. Blogging really is a HUGE industry. I always knew that – but the evening really hammered it home.

These aren’t just bloggers though, they are powerhouses and huge solid personal brands within in the industry. I mean you can’t really call them ‘blogs’ anymore can you? They have huge social media prominence (we’re talking millions on Instagram) and their blogs are the same standard as some of the most iconic brands in the world. Incredible, professional fashion websites. Some of the designs of their blogs are out of this world.

My flight on Tuesday was an early one with me needing to leave the house at 6am on Tuesday, so obviously I had no make-up, wearing pyjamas that sort of pass for trousers and Lenny Kravitz sized scarf to cover the majority of my face and upper body. Then I realise I’m on a flight with Made In Chelsea’s Jamie Laing and on the way back with Proudlock too. (Obvs they were on the #FROW. We weren’t. Lol).

I interviewed Linda Tol (who I’ve been girlcrushing on for yonks), grey-haired Masha Sedgwick, Swedish blogger Angelica Blick and others who were really friendly fun but OMG they looked like they’d been Instagrammed IRL. Perfectly filtered. Intimidatingly beautiful. Extremely well-dressed. But if your livelihood is your Instagram feed, well, it makes sense. I felt like the token frump. Most people were wearing Fendi or Mark Kane or Chanel, I was wearing H&M. Thankfully Berlin-style is pretty casual, but I did feel a little bit basic.

I met a fellow journalist from Grazia Amsterdam called Eve Tomaszewski who was absolutely amazing, from the cab ride to the venue we instantly bonded and we spent the entire evening glued together and just gawking at everything around us like fish. The event was held at an old swimming pool called STATTBAD, which was dark and dingy whilst still looking really up-market and I don’t want to say the word hipster. During the awards I fell sort-of in love with the DJ Klingande who played #SickBeats (but sadly no Taylor Swift) which accompanied the amazing Tigha catwalk show. Lots of strong leather looks all round.

After the interviews, we basically spent the whole night eating all the canapés (we were so hungry by the end of the night) and were definitely chowing down in the background whilst the paparazzi were snapping photos of Bar Rafaeli. We basically lingered by the food table for a good half an hour so we could grab everything as soon as it came out (the best party tactic let’s be honest). I really got on so well with Eve and when the event was over we went back to the hotel we were staying in and had a drink in the hotel bar. Eve got us two vodkas, by which I thought she’d get a vodka with something. But nope she came back to our table with just a glass of vodka with a tiny bit of lemon on the rocks, with a straw. This was slightly more than my usual nightcap but it was so nice to have a good old tipsy chat about our hopes and dreams for the year. It’s always amazing to meet someone randomly who you just click with.

Check out The Debrief’s Instagram and website for the full coverage of the event.

Golden Globes 2015: The year for celebrating other women

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This article first posted on The Independent

After staying up all night watching this year’s Golden Globes I felt that same positive giddy feeling that I felt when first watching Lena Dunham’s Girls (which coincidentally airs its fourth series tonight.) That’s because a lot of the winners spoke about the representation of real “actual” women, in real “actual” circumstances. Somehow, this year’s awards season managed to get off to a feminist start. Continue Reading

30 Life Things I Try To Always Remember

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1. Trust your gut instinct. Those times you do something you instantly regret but you knew all along “it didn’t feel right?” Turns out you were right. Trust your gut – it’s looking out for you. Your gut is Robin, you’re Batman.

2. You care more than they care. That thing that’s getting you worried and all hot and bothered about? You’re over-thinking it. Most people are too busy thinking about their own issues to think about yours. Continue Reading

A Night At Rosewood London

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There’s something about hotels. I find them exciting, friendly, intriguing. Thinking about it, some of my favourite films are set in hotels: Lost in Translation, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I could go on.

Some people loathe it; I have friends that shudder as they pack their bags for an overnight business trip dreading checking in to an unfamiliar room. It’s a convenience thing, not a choice.

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“We All Have Our Own Choice Of Sisters”

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You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with

Whenever I overhear someone say this phrase, I think: “Well, that’s GOOD. Because my friends are who I want to be.”

There is something so wonderfully complex about labelling someone a “best friend”. It’s commitment for starters. You pick one, or two, or however many and say: “yep, you. You will soon become an extension of my personality; I will finish your sentences; you know all my most awful secrets, and therefore hold all the power over me forever more.” And, oh balls, I can never ever forget your birthday. Continue Reading

An Open Letter To The Characters of Girls

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Dear Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna & Jessa

OH HEY! How’s IT GOING YOU GUYS.

Glad you’re back. It’s been a while. I swear it’s been since, like, March or something? It really has felt like a long time, tbh. Let’s not leave it so long next time. You kind of left us hanging for a bit there, and we were forced to figure some shit out ourselves for a few months. That was a close shave. Pun intended. Continue Reading

Film Review: Why You Need To See Wild

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I saw WILD a few weeks back at a press screening. I dragged myself there after a long day at work to Twentieth Century Fox screening rooms in Soho and knew I was going to be in for an evening of reflection, pensiveness and general feeling of “what-is-life”. You have to be in a certain mood to have a film throw up all sorts of big questions about happiness, depression, relationships, don’t you? But I was so up for it. I was tired, and to be honest, really really keen to have a good old cry. I grabbed a beer, hid underneath my big fur coat, and settled on down to be at one with Cheryl’s monologues and catipulted into the WILD.

The memoir of the same name was written by Cheryl and published in 2012 – with the trail itself happening during Cheryl’s early-20’s. The book was a total success, even Oprah selected it for her book club. I always prefer reading the book first, but the film really really brought it all to life. I could see everything I’d imagined in my head. The only downside of any film after you’ve read the book is that however brilliant the film is, they always leave bits out. They have no choice.

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How To Deal With A Bad Review

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I loved Birdman. I loved the ironic parallel in which Michael Keaton was potentially confronting his own ‘has-been’ anxiety from the Batman days, with his character Riggan Thomson dramatically feeling the same towards the poster of ‘Birdman’ that hangs in his messy dressing room. Some could say it was brave of Keaton to do that. We all know what an ego is capable of; some would go miles to avoid any mockery of one’s own career.

It was a clever parallel but it wasn’t the reason I liked the film. The bit that really got to me was the heated confrontation scene in the bar with the New York Times critic, played by Lindsay Duncan. It made feel a bit sick, anxious I suppose; but also sympathetic. You feel for Keaton’s character, you, the audience see the backstory, the raw emotion, the feeling of ‘last chance’, the blood and tears that go into the performance. These feelings, however are not necessarily towards Riggan himself. I’m not thinking ‘poor him‘ or giving him the empathy or pat on the back, but I am gunning for what he stands for within this scene; what he represents. He represents the struggling actor; the actor on the rise, or the actor on the downward spiral; he represents the desperate, hopeful, hopeless artist. Powerless and at the mercy of the critics.

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2015: The Year of Online Positivity?

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2014 was a great year for many reasons. Malala won the Nobel Peace prize. Laverne Cox was on the cover of TIME magazine; Emma Watson smashed it at the UN conference where she delivered her ‘He For She’ speech about gender equality. We also fought for the equal pay bill to be passed! The earth didn’t blow up! It was also the year of bad-ass feminist books that left a lot of young women feeling incredibly empowered: Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS, Lena’s Not That Kind Of Girl, Caitlin Moran’s rude and sweary How To Build A Girl, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. I could go on. And on. In terms of feminist books, 2014 was the year I felt truly inundated with brilliant, powerful ladies. I felt spoilt; like a birthday girl at a birthday party I had too many people to choose from and too many pieces of good advice to quote.

However. It was also a year that a lot of silly shitty stuff happened. Because you know: the world’s not perfect.

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Blogging: Reflections & 4 Predictions

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Somebody from BBC 4 radio called me at my desk last month and asked me a rather out-of-the-blue question which I was happy to answer:

“Do you have any predictions for the blogging industry next year?”

The production team were ringing a few people to get quotes as they were creating a documentary on bloggers and YouTubers which made me really happy. The brilliant BBC radio were talking about bloggers! It’s not the first time of course. We’ve seen a lot of traditional media outlets talk about blogs or the much-loved word “vlogosphere” during 2014; commenting and questioning this weird little online sub-culture and online communities. YouTubers have been on the side of buses this year for goodness sake. On billboards in TIMES SQUARE. Fashion bloggers have graced the cover of Daily Mail’s You magazine, the same weekend Alfie Deyes was on the cover of Sunday Times magazine. Beauty bloggers aren’t just reviewing beauty products, no no, they’re launching and then reviewing their own beauty products in Boots and Superdrug, or getting impressive PHDs in mobile app design. Soz to the haters; but the super bloggers are a really talented bunch.

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