Book Review // Get Rich Blogging


Get Rich Blogging^- Zoe Griffin
I bought Get Rich Blogging for the simple reason that it pops up on blogs so often and I'm looking to make some more money out of blogging (which is going to lead to some exciting things but you'll find out about that soon enough!) To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. If you want a book that recommends keyword stuffing, asking other bloggers to put you on their blog roll and spamming other Facebook pages with your links, this is the book for you.



Get Rich Blogging
is written by Zoe Griffin, a former showbiz columnist who has found success with her entertainment blog, Live Like a VIP. Her book aims to share the secrets to her success and teach readers how they can make a six-figure sum from their own blogs. The first part looks at the basics of how to build a blog and the second part interviews bloggers from different areas of blogging such as fashion, beauty and food.




Unfortunately, the majority of Get Rich Blogging has nothing to do with making money and is instead a guide on how to set up and maintain a blog. Of course this is important- you can't make money from blogging without knowing how a blog works, after all- but I did find the title quite misleading.


This wouldn't be such a problem if it was a helpful book which, sadly, it's not. It's quite clear that Griffin has a limited understanding of the technology behind blogging which is apparent in her frustratingly unnecessary information. For example, every time she mentions a website, she includes the full url in brackets, sometimes even with the http:// eg: "You can use Blogger (http://www.blogger.com)". This completely slows down the pace of reading and adds absolutely nothing since, you know, you can't click a link when it's written in a book. Another example of this is her explanation of HTML complete with (hyper text mark-up language). I don't know about you, but that definition means nothing to me. Until I read this book, I didn't know what HTML stood for and it didn't hold me back. Rather than actually explaining what it is and what it does, Griffin just breaks down the acronym and leaves it at that. Not helpful.

I also found huge problems with some of her advice. As I said above, she recommends keyword stuffing as good for SEO (search engine optimisation, as she happily points out) and contacting successful bloggers to ask if you can be placed on their blog roll. When it comes to promoting your blog, her first tip is to use merchandise such as pens with your blog logo on, followed by hosting a party and inviting magazine editors. That may be easy for an established showbiz reporter to achieve, but not so much for your standard blogger starting out. Furthermore, there are some horrendously inaccurate and outdated statements such as "advertisers won't take you seriously if you're using a free blogging service" and mentioning live chats on Myspace. This book was published in 2013 and it mentions Myspace.

Did I learn anything from this book? No. Not a thing. Pretty much the only thing it says in terms of making money is to keep up good content and people will discover you, although it does also have a massive list of PR companies for big brands. 



Have I made it clear enough that I didn't like this book? To be perfectly honest, I rolled my eyes through the whole thing and for that, I give it 2/10. 



This is a very old blog post, as you will be able to see, but Blog Inc, although with its own problems, was a much more informative read.

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Positivity with Simply Health


As I'm sure many people know, last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and, as part of the campaign for more awareness around mental health, Simply Health asked me to keep a Twitter record of positivity every day, in return for a donation to Mind. Always keen to help charities, I was on the case!

MY TWEETS

Day One
I was grateful for people who were so supportive and understanding while I struggled badly with anxiety.


Day Two I felt very productive and got a huge amount done, so that put me in a very positive frame of mind!

Day Three Fluffy pigs! I went to the farm in London, on a beautiful day, and spent a fantastic afternoon chilling with my husband and cute animals!

Day Four For the first time, I tried Periscoping a Q&A and it was hilarious. All about that seabass...

Day Five Eurovision semi finals! Yes! They put me in an amazing mood!

Day Six Today was a difficult day but I was overwhelmed with support from Rich and my friends. I also pushed myself to do something way out of my comfort zone so I was very proud of myself for that! 

Day Seven Getting my nails done with my mum always puts me in a good mood!

RESULTS

What impact did picking out the good have on me? Well, at a time when I'm hugely struggling with my mental health, it helped me realise that there is good in every day. It's difficult for me not to dwell on the difficult things but switching my focus to positives helped a lot. I realised that there is a huge amount of support out there and that good things do happen every day!


Positive thinking in this way is something Simply Health promote and they have a really handy article with five ways to think positively which is well worth checking out!

Give it a go! Tweet something positive every day and let me know if it changes the way you think about things.


This post was written in collaboration with Simply Health but, as I said above, I have not been paid to write it. Instead, a donation has been made to Mind. 

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How to survive your first year of uni


It's that time of the year when exams are approaching and, for many people, university is on the horizon. As I had a somewhat unconventional time at uni, I've wanted to write some advice for a little while. Believe me, if I can survive uni, you can too!
MY UNI STORY
Before we start, my university history might be handy. I started university in 2006 (NINE years ago!) and was already a little unstable. Unfortunately, this insecure, anxious little emo kid did not do well being thrown into a completely unfamiliar environment away from my One True Love, so I would go home every weekend (my university was only a 30 minute train ride away). After a couple of months, that One True Love broke up with me and I was thrown into a pit of despair (it sounds melodramatic but it was so real at the time). 


After talking to student services and my head of course, it was agreed that I would take a year out before returning the following September. I moved back in with my wonderful mum, who took me in without really knowing the reasons why I had left (THANK YOU!) and took up full time employment in a nursery.

In September, I returned and had the greatest year of my life! I was single (well, being messed around by a different guy who couldn't decide if he wanted to be with me or not, but normally deciding on the latter) and made some really close friends, so I was perfectly happy staying on campus. 

At the end of the first year, I met Rich and spent all summer with him. When my second year started, I moved into a horrible, cold, illegally-managed as it turned out, student home but quickly moved in with Rich's mum and, the following year, our own flat and commuted the half hour each day. 

As I bang on about all the time, I graduated in 2011 with a first class honours degree and I have never, ever made a decision as right as re-starting my first year.
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Now that we understand where my advice is coming from, let's dive right in!


SOCIALISE
I cannot emphasise this enough! I'm pretty certain I would have been a lot less miserable first time round if I had stayed on campus at the weekends and made friends. This doesn't have to mean going up to everyone and accosting them but perhaps suggest a drink with your housemates on the first night. Chat to people on your course and have a bite to eat with them. You won't get on with everyone you meet, so talk to lots of people and you'll find certain ones stick around. One of the girls I met in my second year is now one of my closest friends in the world.

ORGANISE
Perhaps I was a little too organised for my own good, but I had a ringbinder for every different subject and they were always the prettiest ones I could find in Paperchase. Every subject had a different design so I could quickly locate my relevant notes, rather than sifting through piles of paper. When I was reading, I highlighted photocopies (never the actual books!) in different colours depending on which of my arguments they related to, and spent time at the start of my course perfecting my referencing technique. I'm pretty sure I can still do it today (Bedbug, 2015; p8). All these little things saved me a lot of time and made the academic side of uni life much easier to manage.

BUDGET
Oh God, the money. I had no job and no wealthy parents to supplement my income. Student loan and that was it! During my second year, I was placed in catered accommodation and I'm pretty sure it saved my finances. Each week, my catering card was topped up with £33 which was just enough to get me through the week and the money was included in my rent so I never had to worry about running out. Whenever it got low, I could have Marmite on toast for 30p from the canteen. These cards were also available separately to those in self-catered accommodation and I'd strongly recommend looking into it if it's an option on your campus. Trust me, it's a huge worry off your mind!

Then there's the student bank accounts! Trusty bank accounts with their interest-free overdrafts! My overdraft was something tiny but TSB has a super-handy £1500 overdraft, and it's really easy to switch bank accounts in just 7 days. Just remember to use your overdraft wisely, and don't spend it all on skinny jeans like my best friend did! 

TAKE CARE
Of course, the ultimate thing is to take care of yourself! We all know what uni's like and, in my opinion, if you live an angelic student life, you've wasted the most free times of your like! However! Don't drink so much that you get hospitalised or arrested. Use protection. Play hard but work hard. Most of all, if something isn't working for you, do not be afraid to change things up. Change courses. Suspend your studies. Speak to student services. One of my friends got diagnosed with dyslexia while she was at university- It's never too late to ask for support! If you're concerned about anything, speak up! It might make all the difference to the best three (or four, or five, as it ended up being in my case!) years of your life!


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As always, I'm happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have about uni life. Just pop in a comment below or tweet me up!


This post was written in collaboration TSB but, of course, all experiences and words of advice are my own!

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OOTD // Pink & Orange Floral


Cardigan: New Look
Dress: Primark
Shoes: Primark

When I visited the Surrey Docks Farm at the weekend, I made sure to dress for the bright day with pink and orange. 

Confession time: This dress is a little too tight around the bust so doesn't zip up the whole way. I wore the cardigan to hide it but, when the wind blew, my cardigan flew open and revealed my bra. Since it hasn't got any buttons, I improvised by tying it in a knot at the front.


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Review // NARS All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation in Mont Blanc


It's funny because, although I am a creature of habit through and through, I just cannot stick to one foundation. Every time I finish a bottle, I try a different brand and this time I decided to head in the direction of NARS. I'm a matte girl so wanted Sheer Matte but, when I couldn't find my shade available (details here of how I matched my shade online), I settled on All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation instead, on the basis that reviews said it was super matte, despite the name.

PACKAGING

First of all, the packaging is gorgeous. A frosted glass bottle, with a secure plastic lid and a pump applicator. Having never tried a NARS foundation before, I didn't appreciate how big a deal this was but it turns out that most come without an applicator, so this is a huge bonus. It's perhaps a little heavy, being glass and all, but it does feel very stable and looks lovely on my dressing table too.

APPLICATION & CONSISTENCY

NARS suggest that one pump will cover the whole face, which is definitely not the case. Shaking the bottle well before pumping the applicator, the foundation comes out extremely fluid, almost like water. The recommend that you use your fingers to warm it up and create a creamy consistency but, because I'm a rebel, I use a brush. 

NARS Mont Blanc is the far right. Centre is Benefit Pure 4 Sure and left is MAC NW15.

On application, the foundation dries very quickly so speed is essential, and I prefer to use a wide brush as I can buff it in much more effectively. That one pump covers perhaps a half of the face, but it's very light and buildable.

APPEARANCE

Once applied, as previous reviews have stated, it is extremely matte. As I said, I'm all for a matte appearance but the problem with this one is that it clings to dry patches. I know you've got to expect some dryness with a matte base but this is extreme and very frustrating. However, that aside, it's very even and lightweight. Even when I build it up to more coverage, it still gives the illustion of being extremely sheer and this particular shade gives me a lovely porcelain apperance. 


LONGEVITY

NARS claim that this foundation lasts 16 hours which, while a litle optimistic, is not far off. It certainly does last hours and feels great on my skin throughout the day.


All in all, this is a great little foundation but I am so let down by how much it accentuates dry patches that I didn't even know I had! I'll be experimenting with different techniques to eliminate the appearance but I think it's safe to say I won't be repurchasing. I'm already considering my next option!

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#PataPet at Surrey Docks Farm


You guys, there is a farm in the centre of London. Seriously. Just a half mile across the river from Canary Wharf (0.57 miles to be exact, I Googled it!) is Surrey Docks Farm where you can feed and pet sheep, goats, cows... and fluffy pigs. Fluffy. Pigs. Thanks to the RSPCA, I got to pop down for a visit on a gloriously sunny day and spend the afternoon surrounded by lovely, friendly animals!

Surrey Docks Farm is free to enter and is open 7 days a week 10am- 5pm (4pm in the winter). It's just behind a residential estate in Canada Water which is the greenest, loveliest, most peaceful part of London I have ever encountered. (I totally fell in love with the area and may have looked up places to rent when I got home) Oh, did I mention the view?
Seriously, look at that! 
Anyway, gushing over the location over, we headed into the farm itself which, while very compact in area, is surprisingly spacious and... animaly... Well, you'd expect a farm to be animaly but I was impressed with the range of animals they had for such a small farm.

Donkeys, goats, cows, pigs, sheep, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets... The list goes on! Since pigs are my favourite animal, I was very excited to see them but there was a special highlight I couldn't wait to visit- the aforementioned fluffy pigs.
These pigs are called Mangalista pigs and are a Hungarian breed created through cross-breeding pigs with boars. Aren't they just the cutest things ever? I wanted to sneak one home with me!
Erm, this is why I didn't! 
As well as all the cute animals to see, there were sheep shearing demonstrations by Tom from Longhorn Shearing. He was a great speaker and shared some really interesting facts. Did you know, for example, that there are 68 breeds of sheep in the UK and other sheep in the world, such as New Zealand sheep, originate from UK breeds. This one here is an Oxford Downs breed. 
By some wizardry, Tom managed to get all of the wool off in one piece and then he showed us how to roll it up the special way to keep it in pristine condition. I love this photo because the sheep is at the back like "Don't even look at me, Tom. I trusted you and look what you did to me. I feel like I don't even know you any more". 
After some time chilling on a straw bale, we headed back along Thames Path where we discovered a very handy bus that goes all the way to Waterloo from outside the estate and only takes 30 minutes. I'm still getting over the shock of a farm that is 4 tube stops away from Waterloo. 
If you're ever stuck in the city with an hour to spare, I highly recommend popping down to Surrey Quays and exploring the farm. Man, I love London with all its little secrets!

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I'm writing a book!


Oh man! Another blogger book? Erm, well no actually. Funnily enough, I haven't been offered a several-thousand-pounds book deal and I have no ghostwriter lurking in the wings. Instead, I am writing and publishing an e-book. Exciting, right?
For about a year now, I've had an idea brewing in my mind for a book but it never seemed the right time to start it. Then I heard about InFoBoMo. One of my favourite, most inspiring bloggers, Regina, has teamed up with some blogging and digital masterminds to set up a challenge along the lines of NaNoWriMo: Writing an entire book in a month. The twist here is that the book is non-fiction with an informative purpose. 

So what have I chosen to write my book about? My original idea is something ambitious and will take much longer than a month. Instead, I thought about something that I'm really good at and can offer helpful, original advice on- Organising yourself as a blogger*.

I've written a few posts based around the theme of organising your blogging life (such as organising PR samples and this very old, but very popular, post on organising yourself as a blogger), so my ebook will be an expansion of these with activities and tasks to complete in your own time, running from setting up a posting schedule, all the way up to offering sponsorships and working with PRs. 


I NEED YOUR HELP!

Why am I telling you this now? Because I need your help! While I'm writing my labour of love, I have a couple of questions to ask. Literally two questions. If you could take the time to answer them here, it would be hugely helpful!
If all goes to plan, my book will be available in June. Of course I will tell you when it's ready!

*This isn't the title. 

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