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Usually I review my goals quarterly. It seemed easier to break my goals up in to bog chunks; less pressure. But recently I’ve found this to be too big a stretch of time and I’ve been finding it difficult to stick to task. I’ll sometimes put things off, knowing I have the whole quarter to achieve it and never actually complete the task. Thankfully this has been the case for all the goals I set myself, but I feel that I need more focus.

December is the perfect time for me to start charting monthly goals. I will be away for most of December and a good chunk of January and I still want to have content regularly going up on the my channel and here on the blog, so I really need to use my time well.

Youtube

Everything seems to be going well with my channel. It’s growing and you all seem to like the content. But there are a few things I need to work on.

Schedule

I would really like to get in to a set video schedule, and with everything I have going on in December this seems like the perfect opportunity to work on this. Where I’m going doesn’t have internet strong enough to upload videos so I need to get all my content for December and the first half of January filmed, edited and uploaded before I go away. This will be difficult. I plan on filming 3-5 videos every other morning for the next 2 weeks which should have me covered. I will be able to fill in the info boxes at before they go live, which will make this easier but no less a challenge.

Comments

I’m still really bad at replying to comments and really don’t mean to be. I get so lost in the process of producing content that I often run out of time to get to comments everyday. Then they build up, I get overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start. I’m going to make a conscious effort to set aside at least 10 minutes a day for comments and get into the habit of replying as the come in.

Growth

My channel has been growing organically over the last few months, even with my erratic uploads and lack of promotion. I’m very happy with this. I feel that with a more structured schedule and active promotion this could greatly increase my growth. For me, my subscriber count doesn’t acurratley represent my audience, I tend to look at average view counts. Currently I average 255 views a day, I’d like to increase this to 500 views a day by the end of December.

Blog

Again my blog has been suffering from neglect, sometimes with a whole month between posts. This has really harm both my growth and my creativity levels. But with a few changes I’m sure I can turn this around.

Posts

In order for a blog to function it must first have content. Which means I need to actually write some content (I’m sure I say this every time I update my goals). I’m on a bit a of a writing spree at the moment. My aim is to get about a week ahead in scheduled posts. This way I have content going up regularly, but I can also write additional posts if I feel the need to. My main challenge at the moment is to make sure I have all the images I’ll need while I’m away. Let me if there are any posts you’d like to see.

Growth

And secondly, for a blog to function it needs to be read. For that I need some exposure. Of course regular posts will help organic growth a lot, but a little promotion would go amiss. I will be using both Twitter and Instagram to plug my posts everyday. I’ve found recently that this has increased my traffic, so harnessing these platforms should kick it up a gear.

Social Media

Twitter

I had thought of getting rid of Twitter, but now I can’t be without it. It’s the perfect place to promote my blog. It’s also where I’ve been discovering a lot of new blogs (which I need to share). It also become a place of connection. I used to only comment on blog posts, but now I can have conversations and reach out for help. My Twitter no longer feels like words lost to the dark. I’m glad I kept it.

Instagram

This I have let slide. After my disastrous 30 days of Red challenge I haven’t really recovered. I just need to get back on the horse and start posting again. And there’s been so much I’ve wanted to share, too. It’s perfect for mini reviews of products that don’t justify their own post; which, as it turns out, there are many.

Writing

Another failing on my part. Nanowrimo kind of faded in to the background for me. But while I’m away I’m planning on catching up on all writing I missed out on. I’ll have no distractions.
I want to get into the habit of writing 1000 words a day, even if it’s crap. As I’ve said before, I have a bunch of story ideas that I just need to get out of my head. Hopefully I can get something ready to publish by the end of 2017.

Wow, that was a beast to write. It looks like a lot but in reality it isn’t; I’m just a bit long winded at times. I’m going to leave myself reminders and print this out, so I have no excuse for not meeting my goals.

What are your goals for next month?

Laura
xoxo

Earlier in the year I spoke about Blogger’s fatigue. The phenomenon that results in either crippling writer’s block or the complete lack of desire to carry on. Every Blogger goes through this a some point and most of us get through it eventually. But more and more I’ve been noticing some of my favourite blogs have stopped appearing in my feed. Some have completely vanished; whilst others haven’t been updated in months, as if abandoned. I’ve also seen a lot more Bloggers speaking openly about this topic and sharing their concerns. It appears this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
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As bloggers we put so much effort into our work. Regardless of whether you consider your blog a hobby or side hustle, it absorbs valuable time and energy. So when you look at your blog and see post after post without a single comment, it can feel like you’ve disappeared into the sea of other bigger, better blogs (admit it, we all think our blog is crap compared to everyone else’s). Getting recognition for our work requires exposure; but exposure is a double edged sword. If you get it, you’re a sell out that doesn’t produce genuine content; and if you want it, well you’re simply blogging for all the wrong reasons. This sort of negative push back is what, in my opinion, is stifling creativity in the community. The beauty community in particular has evolved in to this wash of carbon copy marble flat lays; as if we’re worried that being different will mean our blogs fade in obscurity.
Self-doubt is always an issue when we are sharing a creation with someone, never mind the world. But in the case of blogging we have to take that chance. Beauty/Fashion/Lifestyle blogging evolved from real people sharing their opinions, almost like a rebellion towards traditional media sources. You could pick up Elle, Vogue, Marie Claire, Grazia; you name it and they will be featuring the same content. Same products, same styles. Heck they even have the same format; an interest piece in the front, fashion spreads, then beauty sandwiched in before the ads at the back. The great thing about blogs was the diversity.
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Back in the day blogs were full of different products, different formats and, most importantly, different opinions. But then things began to change. First everyone tried to be like Temptalia, mostly because that first big beauty blog anyone had discovered. Then came the “white wash”; blogging took a minimalist approach and everyone had a white layout (even I kowtowed to this one). It seems that when a distinctly different blog starts making waves it starts a new trend in how we approach blogging. And since early 2015 this has meant taking an increasingly professional approach to our blogs. Which, for those of us who don’t intend on doing this as a full time job, can feel like a lot of pressure and take the fun right out of it.
It can also lead to a lot of resentment. Amy from Salt and Chic really hit the nail on the head with this post. The blogging community is a multifaceted world. But the more we try to be like everyone else or do what is popular, the less we stand out; the more we blur into just another blog vying for attention. It can be disheartening when the formula isn’t a true fit and doesn’t work for us. But instead of feeling down about it, we should support these people for making it work and push on to find what works for us.
Whether or not you’re pursuing financial success with your blog (and you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you are); blog in style that is comfortable for you and you’ll see a positive change.

Laura
xoxo

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It’s not often we get anything new in Aberdeen, so when we do it’s a bit exciting. When those boards encase what was an empty store unit, we can’t wait to find out what it’s gonna be. And when it turns out to be a makeup store, well I get excited. Just yesterday Kiko Milano opened a store in Union Square in Aberdeen. And with it being Black Friday and all, I couldn’t help but pop down to have a look.
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I originally got to the store a little before 10am to find a queue of about 50 people tailing round the corner of the store. So, me being me, I decided to go away and get the rest of what I needed whist town was quiet. I came back at about 10.30 to an entirely different queue of people. Kicking myself for not just getting it the queue the first, but live and learn.
I was in the queue for about 30 mins which isn’t too bad for a newly opened store. One of the girls even came round with cupcakes, which was super sweet. I think there were other bloggers in the queue. I’m sure others have been there; you hear the way someone talk and taking pictures of everything and you think they might be a blogger too, but you don’t have the courage to ask. Throw in a pushchair to make it ten times more awkward. But you were there and you are a blogger; hit me up love!

The store was beautifully laid out, plenty of room for the horde of beauty lovers to get by and there were three pushchairs in there, too (Kiko are more generous with their space than most baby clothing aisles). They only have a few packages of each item on display but if you can’t find something just ask, the under counter storage is mammoth. Of course with it being Black Friday and Opening day a lot of the popular stuff was sold out and I couldn’t get near the Smart lipsticks (there’s like 10 shades I’m gushing over).
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With it being so busy I didn’t want to stay too long, so I just picked up what I could from my wish list and few pieces that caught my eye. I still got a pretty decent haul. I picked up 3 Long Lasting Stick Eye Shadow, a Smart Shadow, a High Pigment Shadow, a Bright Duo, a Smart Eye Pencil, two Unlimited Stylo Lipsticks and three Pro Power Nail Lacquers. And they threw in a few freebies at the till which I’m squirreling away for giveaway.
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I’m really happy with everything I picked up; except the Bright Duo. It’s an unusually colour combo, which is why I picked it; but it comes off a bit sheer for my liking. Loving the shadow pencils the most, though. Even my Mum likes the look of it all (and tried to make off with one of my polishes).

I will definitely be going back to the store soon. I really want to try the Smart Lipsticks and have a good look their foundations, too. I may wait a few weeks until the buzz has died down a bit, but I think I’ll be in there often. This might be bad for my bank balance.

Have you tried Kiko before?
What are your favourite products?

Laura
xoxo

Hello!
Originally I had thought about vlogging my Nano adventures this year. As it turns out there wouldn’t have been much to vlog. Yes, you’ve guessed it; things aren’t going all that well so far.
I was so prepared,too. I have character profiles, details of locations and a fairly in depth outline. I was so stoked to start writing this navel, I had to stop myself from start it a couple of weeks ago. And now that Nano is here I don’t have the time I thought I would.
Having a little one this year means I have different priorities. I can’t just sit and write all day. Or stay up all night if the muse captures me. I have to take care of her and as she develops that means different things from day to day. The routine she had in October left me with plenty of time to write, but now her routine is changing. As she becomes more alert she needs more interaction. And to be honest I feel so guilty on the few occasion I’ve chosen to carry on writing instead of play with her. In the spare time I do find I’m either too tired to think or the words just are flowing.
As it stands I haven’t broken my first thousand words yet. Which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the month. Initially I was planning on writing the novel in chronological order but this seems to be what is stumping me. I know what I want to happen and when, but getting from one place to the other is very difficult. So for the sake of the word count I’m just going to go ahead and write which ever scene I’m feeling at the time and fix it later. As long as I have the bare bones by the end of the month I can fix it over Winter when I will be sans internet and nothing else to do.

If you are taking part in Nano, how was your first week?
If you’re just here to watch me suffer, how was you week in general?

Laura
xoxo

We’re approaching the starting line. You got your outline and your supplies. Suddenly it hits you. How are you going to find the time?
If you write regularly then this won’t be as much of a problem. For anyone jumping into this finding time could be a deal breaker.

If You Are Already A Writer

As I said people who already write often will find this easier than those who don’t. Personally I try to spend an hour a day writing. In that time I can usually write 300-600 words depending on how easily the words flowed. Obviously for Nano the goal is 1667 words a day, so in order to meet that target I would have to either increase my writing speed or have multiple writing sessions a day. This is fast drafting so any changes would be short lived. Sacrificing other activities, like binge watching Gilmore Girls, would probably be the best option for me to create more writing time. You have to decide what is best for you.

If You’re Not A Writer

This is all new and you’ve picked a crazy time to join the club. NaNoWriMo is an exercise in fast drafting. The idea is to get as many words down as quickly as possible; even if it’s junk. If you’re no used to writing on a regular basis my best advice to get started is to fit it in when you can. When you’re commuting on the train, on your lunch break or instead of losing hours sharing memes on Facebook; try to write. Even try getting up an hour earlier in the morning if you can, I find mornings or whenever everyone else is asleep is the best time for writing. You’ll get to know what works for you and soon you’ll have your own writing schedule.

What If You Can’t Write Everyday

Don’t worry about it. No one is going accuse you of not nanoing properly. We all have lives and commitments. Sometimes we have days when we just can’t be bothered. If you know you won’t be able write everyday try to get ahead where ever possible.
But if something comes up and you miss a day don’t double your word goal the next day. Chances are you wouldn’t be able to meet that goal and you’d spend the rest of the month constantly trying to catch up. Instead take the word goal of the day/s missed and divide it over the days remaining. This way you’d only need to write a few hundred extra words each instead of over a thousand extra words in one day.

By the end of the month the habit of writing will be so ingrained you’ll be wondering what to do with yourself in December. Maybe start on your next project? That’s what I’ll be doing.

Laura
xoxo

Whether you’re a hardcore planner or you like to leave some things up to chance; you will probably want to do a bit of prep work before you begin. Going into this with no planning whatsoever is an option but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s a bit like traveling to a place you’ve never been without even looking at a map. So before you throw yourself into the deep end let’s get the bare bones together.

Outline

Plot out your story line in chronological order. Get this done so you have a base to work from. Make sure you include all your major plot points. I like to keep a stack of sticky notes next to my outline to add additional information as it comes to me. Always writes ideas down as they come to; I can guarantee you won’t remember them an hour from now.

Characters

The driving force of your novel is the characters you create. Get as detailed as you want; the more you know about your characters the better you can write them. Find out their strengths, their weaknesses, their motivation. Think about how your characters relate to each other. Who are BFFs? Who are enemies?

Location

Depending on the genre you’ve chosen you may have to draw a map. But if you’re setting things in our reality your task will be simpler. Compile a list of the locations in which your scenes take place. This will act as a reference. Give each location a description and go into detail for the areas most frequently visited. Take this opportunity to use the surrounds to reflect a character’s state of mind.

Structure

Once you’ve woven these together you can flesh out your outline. At this point you can work out the pacing of your story; you want to build to the climax whilst keeping the reader hooked. And if you have any subplots this the perfect time to integrate them into the main story line. Make sure your story has a beginning, a middle and an end and that each section has an event that drives the story forward.

This is a very simplified guide to prepping to write a novel. The more time you give yourself and the more in depth you get the better. Remember the outline is just a guide to keep you on track with your original plan. Never feel like you have to stick to it, don’t let it suffocate your creativity. You can add to it, change or through the whole damn thing out as you please; only you will know about it. It’s just a good idea to have one to start with and have a record of your thoughts.

Laura
xoxo

So you have committed your to this month of writing manically and you’ve settled on an idea. Now you need to gather supplies; all the things to help you survive this month of madness.

Take Note

During the planning stage you will most likely want to take notes and brainstorm. Even during the writing stage you might be suddenly overcome with inspiration. Buy some notebooks. They don’t have to be anything fancy, even a reporter’s notepad will do. Maybe some sticky notes and different coloured pens… writing will turn you into a stationary junkie.

The Muse of Music

Compile a list of songs that get your emotions going to form the skeleton of your novel’s soundtrack. I swear by a writing soundtrack. As you go you can add to the playlist of make multiple playlists for different types of scenes.

Munchies

Writing a novel is a long, time consuming process so you’re going to need some sustenance. Personally I love boiled sweets when I’m writing. You may want chocolate bars or pretzels. You may want something healthier like nuts or carrot sticks. Either way, stock up before you begin. There’s nothing worse than the urge to snack during a writing surge to discover you’ve got nothing in. Many a train of thought has been lost in these situations. Be prepared.

Support Network

Let people know what you’re doing. This way your friends won’t think you’ve ditched them for a month, it’ll save a lot of explaining later. It also means when you’re working people will be less inclined to interrupt you, or if you aren’t working they may push you to get back to it.

Once you’ve got all these bases covered you’re ready to get started on the NaNoWriMo journey. It’ll still be a bumpy road but keep your eye on your destination. You’ll have a first draft at the end of it all.

Laura
xoxo

It’s that time of year again. November 1st marks the the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2016. This will be my 10th year participating in Nano. I have never won but this year I am determined to meet the challenge. For those who have never heard of this before give me a moment to explain. National Novel Writing Month is the self inflicted challenge to manically write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. No, 50,000 doesn’t make a novel but it makes a great jumping off point. This is the perfect kick up the ass for anyone who has ever said they want to write a novel. Here’s your chance to buckle down a get started.
Those of us in the know have spent most of October (if not most our time since last November) preparing for this to start. Unless you’re a Pantser; then I don’t know how you deal with it. But there’s still time to bash together a game plan.
This week I’m going to share with you everything I think you need to get started, being successful is up to you. But first you need an idea. Throw on your favourite music and sit down with a pen and paper. Like an actual pen and paper, the process of manual writing has been proven to help your brain be more creative than sitting infront of a screen. Jot down some random thoughts and ideas. Hit Pinterest and compile an album of images that speak a thousand words to you. Even think about your favourite stories and the qualities you love about them. Think about what you would want to read. Before long you’ll have ideas coming out your wazoo.

What’s your brainstorming process?

Laura
xoxo

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Are you getting bored of matte lips? The maintenance of long wear lipsticks becoming a hassle? Same here. I love the idea of them, but the reality is a lot chalkier than the polished images bounding about Instagram. With such an over load of matte liquid lip products it’s no wonder people are moving on. And with the launch of the Vice Lipsticks form Urban Decay in more shades than you can shake a stick at, we are rediscovering a a wealth of finishes that were left to gather dust.
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Gloss

The first act of rebellion is always to go to the opposite end of the spectrum. Glossy finishes and gloss in general have been making a comeback. New formulas allow these products to be more pigmented than before with a great reduction in that hair sticking quality that always put us off.

Pearlescent

If you want to simulate the look of gloss over lipstick but you don’t want to deal with the tackiness, try a Pearl finish. They offer both creamy colour and a subtle metallic sheen giving lips a plump, glossy look without skimping on moisture.
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Frost

I know the first image that will pop into your head will be an 80s Oyster Pink with an intense Silver shine. Yeah, I had one of those to play with as a child. They’ve come a long way since then. With the more refined grade of glitter used in cosmetics these days you won’t have to deal with the gritty texture of old. And the tend to come in much creamier formulas now too.

Metallic

I look back at the 90s and cringe a bit. My first experience with Metallic finishes were glitter overloads suspended in sheer lip colours. I had one in a Champagne Pink… I thought I looked awesome. I reality it made you look more like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. Again time has been good to this finish. Now they have pigment and come in varying intensities; depending on the brand they range from sheer, subtle Metallic to liquid metal.

This season we are going to see a bounty of new lip products breaking into the market and into our makeup bags. This season we are being given back creative control of our makeup. Play with it, enjoy it! If it doesn’t suit you just try something else; it’s only makeup, we can wash it off.

Laura
xoxo

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When I heard about Mode Media shutting down so abruptly I felt so bad for the bloggers who had been left in the lurch. But it also reminded me of my own experience with networks; and I don’t have a high opinion of them.

Networks really started becoming a thing about 5 years ago, back when people were first starting to see Youtube and Blogging as an income stream. Yes we all had Adsense but these networks gave us credibility. Brands took them seriously and by proxy took us seriously.
To be part of a network was seen as having made it. These networks were selective and you had criteria to meet. My application was rejected by then Glam Media because traffic on my site was too low (maybe I dodged a bullet). My Youtube channel was part of the Style Haul family for a couple of years. I was draw in by the illusion that they’d push my channel, set me up to collab with other Youtubers and brands. But unless you had over a certain number of subscribers they weren’t inclined to do anything to help you. In the two years I was with them all I got was single shout out on Twitter (which I had to fill in a request form to get) in return for 30% of my monthly earnings. I’d go as far to say a significant number of creators don’t benefit from being part of a network.


So what is the alternative? Ditch the networks and go it alone. Most of us have basic income streams such as Adsense or selling our own on site ad space. Affiliate links are also a user friendly, unobtrusive tool. But Direct Networking is the answer. Yes this will take a lot of hard graft and will be scary as hell, but it puts you in control. Put together a kick ass media kit and reach out to brands on your own. It will be a lengthy process and you may not get any response; but once you get your foot in the door you can build up a stable relationship and work up to sponsorship opportunities.

Laura
xoxo