Thursday, 26 June 2014

Essential Tips and Advice from the Cosmopolitan Superblogger Masterclass

As promised in my previous post , I'm going to share with you some of the crucial tips and advice that I picked up whilst at the Cosmopolitan Superblogger Masterclass. Almost everyone at the event was quite new to blogging, just like myself, and I know there are a lot more of you out there. Sharing is caring and all that. 

Blog Housekeeping
·         Blogger vs Wordpress:  There was a lot of discussion about which is the best site to use when starting your blog, and although all members of the panel tried to remain impartial, it was obvious that Wordpress was held above Blogger in terms of  long-term choice, flexibility, and professionalism. There are also self-hosting options with Wordpress. However if you’re having no problems with Blogger right now and you are new to blogging, there’s no need to put yourself through the stress of moving elsewhere.
·         Online courses /books : With 30,000 blogs being created every day, guides, how-tos and instruction manuals on the subject are growing. Online courses and books are a good way of getting some expert know-how on blogging efficiently and turning your blog into a business.  Kat Williams from  Rock n Roll Bride blog is also currently running a Blogcademy : an event consisting of two-day workshops that travels all over the world. For those unable to attend, she also runs Blogcademy Home School : a series of videos packed full of essential blogging tips and advice.
·    Consistency: Being consistent in your posting is essential for a variety of reasons. Not only does it look professional, but for your readers, knowing when to look at your blog for new content helps them stay a regular reader, and encourages regularity for any new readers.  At the moment I’m trying to post at least two times a week, but am on the way to creating a schedule/timetable as to when particular posts will be posted and how often.
·         Blog Design – A lot of bloggers at the event were worrying that their blogs don’t look like top notch websites, but we were all reassured that the design is not as important as the content. At the end of the day, no amount of flashy tabs/ stunning fonts will make up for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors – Dribbble was recommended as a good sight for design inspiration. 

          How to Stand Out
·       Who are you: It’s all about you and your blog’s imagery.  Regardless of what your blog is about, you must treat it like a brand, and figure out how you’re going to represent yourself. Photography and the way you write have a large part to play in this. Develop your own voice and style. With so many bloggers at the moment, it’s easy to think ‘what’s the point.’ But there’s always room for new bloggers.  Figure out what makes you different /weird and run with it. This is something I personally have struggled with, so found this advice quite encouraging.
·       Social media: Use them to your full advantage. Instagram and Twitter are the best ways of presenting your image/ brand to the public. They should be a priority and are brilliant ways of attracting traffic to your blog. Followers on these sites are considered amongst your traffic by PR and brands.
·         Relationships with other bloggers: A lot can be gained by meeting other bloggers. Not only is it a support network, but you can learn from each other and motivate each other. Vicki  Fogwill (Social Media Manager of Next) recommended Next Blogger Network as a way to meet other bloggers and connect with Next.
·         Guest blogging: Can build an audience. If you guest post for a blog with a lot of followers, and someone likes what you had to contribute, chances are they’ll want to check you out. was recommended as a directory for guest blogging.
·         Bloglovin: Someone asked if it was worth being involved in Bloglovin, to which Fleur de Force replied ‘Absolutely’. It is a very easy way to get into that blogging community and discover like-minded bloggers. Also, it’s an easy avenue for other bloggers to find you.  
·         Agencies: Having checked out some blogging agencies, this seems to be something for those more established blogs who are needing a helping hand managing all the opportunities that are knocking on their door, but it’s something worth keeping in mind for the future, and also something to aim towards. Fleur de Force recommended Gleam, which is also working with Zoella , The Beauty Crush and In The Frow.
·         Affiliates: Affiliate programmes are a little bit more accessible for those of you like me who are just starting out. It’s a great way of working with brands and making them aware of what you have to offer, whilst promoting them and bringing more traffic to your blog. Fleur recommended Etsy , Reward Style  and Shopsense.

Monetizing Your Blog
·         Advice: Joe Williams (Founder of Zen Optimise) recommended Problogger as a good site packed with tips and advice on how to monetize your blog. He also mentioned Copyblogger for those wanting copywriting advice.
·         Pinterest: – Apparently Pinterest can be monetized. No one at the Cosmo event went into detail about how to do this, so I did a little bit of research, and found thisstep-by-step article as to how to go about it.
·         Outreaching to Brands:– When contacting brands with an aim of earning money off of whatever post you do for them, make sure your emails are well constructed.  Be specific in identifying what the blog post is actually going to be about and from what angle you’ll look at their brand/ product from.  State if there is a particular product you want and why.
·     Receiving money/products in return? Make sure any links you put to the brand or product are ‘no follow.’ Google can get pretty touchy about these things apparently.  
·         Banner ads: – These make it obvious that you’re available for monetized content.
·         Google Adsense: A way of earning money on your blog through advertising.

·      Title tag: Joe Williams said it’s vital to pay attention to this area in order for your blog to be featured on Google. I may not be interpreting his advice correctly, as when it comes to this kind of thing I get very confused, and I’m not even sure if Blogger has the facilities to edit a title tag.  
·         Google Keyword Finder:  If you are using hashtags/keywords etc, this is a great place to find the ones that are gaining the most traffic/ are the most popular, so you know which ones to use when tagging your blog/ pictures.
·         Wordpress SEO Plugin: - This helps improve your SEO on all possible aspects. It takes care of technical optimization whilst also helping you to write better content. Yet another reason for considering Wordpress  over Blogger.

Career Paths
·         Journalism and PR:There is a lot of discussion online about careers blogging can lead to. This question was brought up at the event, and Kate Lucey (Digital Content Lead) mentioned how when looking through job applications for Cosmopolitan, it always helps if you have a blog. Blogging also always gives you a multitude of opportunities to interact with PR professionals. 


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

My day at the Cosmopolitan Superblogger Masterclass 2014

Helloooo all. 

I hope you're all enjoying this glorious weather!

Now if you follow me on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, you'll know that on Monday I attended the Cosmopolitan Superblogger Masterclass with Next. This was a last minute, spontaneous thing, as I only found out about the event last week through the amazing UK Bloggers Facebook group.  I'm learning more and more that to become a successful blogger, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, go meet new people and basically say 'Hey! Look at me!'You never know who you'll end up talking to and what opportunities may come off the back of it. 

So I booked the ticket instantly, only to then panic that I'd be going to what I imagined would be a rather intimidating event alone. However, this is where groups like UK Bloggers really come in handy. Not only is the community friendly, supportive and helpful, but it's a great way of meeting like-minded bloggers. It just so happened another girl - lovely Fiona Shemmans - was also going to the event, so we got chatting, and arranged to spend the day together in Camden, getting to know each other and talk blog stuff. How cute is that! 

Me and Fi met early in the day and headed straight over to Camden for some culture, food, shopping and photography practice. Camden has had a very special place in my heart ever since my 'emo' days all those years ago. It's changed a lot, but it's one of those places where every visit is different and exciting. After spending an hour or two getting lost in the maze that is The Stables, we went to get some grub from my favorite part of Camden; the Global Kitchen in the West Yard. This area is separate to the food vendors inside The Stables and is tucked away on the left side of the Gilgamesh restaurant. In my opinion, the food here is better, fresher and more inspiring! With so many award winning cuisines to choose from, we spent a good 20 minutes deciding what to eat. In the end we decided on Food in the Middle's Roti House : Pakistani street food consisting of naans filled with the companies own recipes. Me and Fi bought one tandoori and one masala wrap so that we got a chance to try both. Oh lordy were they good! We were enjoying ourselves so much that before we knew it, it was time to head over to the Millbank Media Centre for the event! 


Superblogger Masterclass
When Fi and myself arrived, there was a lovely outdoor set up with wicker sofas and brightly colored cushions, however we were the only people there (we did arrive a good 40 minutes early). Soon enough though, a trickle of people started to arrive. We got talking to a few, discussing what our blogs were about and how long we'd been doing it for. Surprisingly, a lot of the people we spoke to were new to blogging just like me, so it was a relief to know that we were all in the same boat

Another girl named Alison came and sat with us and told us about her food blog (, and as we got talking, it came up in conversation that just like me, she is also Greek. However, the coincidences didn't stop there, as it turned out she is at the same university I went to (Uni of Kent) and we actually know the same people. So obviously we hit it off straight away, and when everyone was called in to get their complimentary glass of champagne, Alison, Fi and myself all went in together. 

After a good 20/30 minutes of sipping champagne, getting to know each other a little bit more, having our pictures taken and trying to stop the bubbles from going to our head (yes I did sneak in a cheeky second glass) it was time to go into another room for the talks. 

The panel consisted of Fleur from Fleur de Force blog, Kat Williams from Rock 'n' Roll Bride blog, Next Social Media Manager - Vicki Fogwill, Founder of Zen Optimise - Joe Williams, Head of Content at Zen Optimise - Ali Luke and Cosmo's Digital Lead - Kate Lucey. 

The talks started with each member of the panel introducing themselves and talking about what they do, what they're going to be talking about and how they got into their chosen careers. Kate Lucey then went on to interview the panel on a variety of topics ranging from how to stand out from the crowd, how to monetize your blog, and social media benefits. The talk then went over to the audience, who over the space of half an hour had a chance to ask the panel any pressing questions they may have. 

The event for me really wasn't what I was expecting. The atmosphere was a lot more relaxed, which I was quite happy about, and there wasn't so much of a stiff networking atmosphere, just a chance to share with others your excitement in being involved in the world of blogging. For me the talks were a mixture of priceless advice and stating the obvious, but it all depends on what research you've done and how long you've been watching/reading other bloggers. There were some absolute gems of technical advice which I know I'll make use of, but other than that, I found the talks to be more of a motivational tool than do's don'ts and how-tos. Leaving the event, the best thing I came away with was knowing that if you're polite, friendly, enthusiastic, determined, have some great ideas/content, and can write in a way that is attractive and engaging, then brands/PR will be interested in working with you. Oh and don't forget the whole stepping outside of your comfort zone thing. That's important too. 

I do not regret going at all, in fact I feel the complete opposite about the event, but it is an event that you only really need to go to once just to pick up those few gems of advice, maybe ask a few vital questions to your fave blogger, but most importantly, get comfortable meeting new bloggers, making friends and experiencing something new! 

Stay tuned for my next post, which will contain all the advice and tips I made notes of during the talks, for those of you who weren't able to attend the event : D

Steph x x x 


Thursday, 19 June 2014

University of Salford at Graduate Fashion Week

 The University of Salford was the third show on the first day of Graduate Fashion Week, and set itself apart from the rest from the very beginning with a strong and passionate manifesto about feeling alive in an age of the internet and materialism. I can only assume the intention behind this speech was to encourage the audience to view this show from a different perspective to which they'd viewed the others. It seemed that the students had taken the manifesto on-board themselves, with experimentation and contemporary twists featuring strongly in the show. So here are just a few of my favourites: 

Caroline Corby
A classy revamp of the velvet tracksuit, Caroline Corby works a nude palette with splashes of fluorescent yellow onto basketball jerseys, velvet tracksuits and peek-a-boo bodysuits. The odd appearance of sheer fabric brings a holiday vibe to the collection. 

Naomi Valentine
A playful collection of holographics, metallics, sequins and tassels created a visual treat. Focusing on contrasts, this collection featured two main showdowns: the metallic versus the matte, and the boxy versus the ballooned. The strong presence of loose fitting garments teamed with huge flatform trainers brought hard urban vibes to a rather feminine colour palette. 

Rosie Singh
Restricted 90s silhouettes in gold and black foil made for a strikingly sleek and elegant collection reminiscent of Kate Moss. 

Gemma Kearins
This collection could very easily have been taken from the wardrobe of Tilda Swinton when she played the White Witch. Crisp whites in the form of crochet, embroidery anglaise, sheer leggings, skinny jeans and long haired fur skirts created a textural wonderland and brought a contemporary twist to the traditional fairy-tale look. The sharp wire crowns and the giant flatform trainers worked to create a tall, thin silhouette. 

Hester Haywood
This was a simplistic, bohemian collection featuring lightweight materials in the form of unstructured, minimalist garments reminiscent of Amish attire. Colours of white, blue and grey made for an ethereal palette. 

Leanne Hardacre
An austere collection with attitude. Strict lines contrasted with sheer flowing fabrics in the forms of maxi skirts and capes whilst austere pleats and hints of underwear as outerwear added a feminine edge. 

Samantha Clegg
Gold foil, black sequins and bat wings teamed with 3D florals created an impish, mystical collection. 

Nayani Fernando
A collection of elegant and urban streetwear featuring a monochrome palette in the form of maxi dresses and jackets. Sheer panels and baseball caps contributed an urban an sporty edge.

Iqra Rashid
Stealing the entire show, Iqra Rashid's collection featured a modernist twist on the traditional Arabic niqab headscarf. Tented silhouettes and concealed faces featured lively patterns in reds, blues, creams and blacks. The bright red tights worn over shoes were the finishing touch to a collection packed full of the contemporary. 

Ellen Wilson
Refreshing would be the perfect word to describe this collection. Unusual silhouettes were constructed out of sharp, angular lines whilst crisp whites and aqua blues were paired in a variety of ways. The gingham check skirt was one of my favourites. 


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Get ethical with Colin Leslie Eyewear

‘Tis the season for sunglasses, and unless you’ve been walking around with a paper bag over your head, you should know by now that sunglasses in all colours, shapes and sizes have been welcomed to party alongside hair garlands and jelly sandals this Summer.

This is also the season where we shake off our hats and scarves to enjoy the outdoors; lush green grass, voluptuous trees, clear blue skies and the sounds of chubby bumble bees. In the flurry of picking our Summer wardrobes and enjoying some of the amazing nature and weather our country offers this season, we forget that it needs protecting.

But there are some fashion angels out there who are enabling us to do all three of the above. Ethical fashion is becoming more and more popular as years go by, and no brand demonstrates this more than Colin LeslieEyewear.

I was incredibly lucky to be allowed to review their Tortoise sunglasses, which after having done some research, I discovered had been spotted on celebrity fashionistas such as Emeli Sande, Olly Murs, CraigRevel Horwood and Tinchy Strider.

As on trend as I felt at this point, my eco warrior brain was happier to know that celebrities such as these are supporting a brand that makes the welfare of our planet its main priority. With recycled acetate frames, bamboo temple arms that are individually hand crafted, and a pouch made from recycled plastic drinking bottles, these glasses are the epitome of Trash Fashion. 

Simplistic yet striking in style, the selection of sunglasses available are classics with a modern twist. You know I'm a sucker for anything monochrome, so these are my new babies. They go everywhere with me. 

If you've discovered any ethical fashion brands that you love, I'd love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments below.