Friday, 15 September 2017

What is an Echo Chamber and Am I In One?

An Echo Chamber, when referring to the online community describes how you will hear your own views validated, amplified and reinforced. It leads to a dangerous thought process – “everyone feels the same as me” – to put it bluntly, they don’t.

Think about the people you follow and interact with online. If you are in a metaphorical Echo Chamber, most of the individuals that you interact and engage with on a regular basis fall into the follow categories. People you admire. People who inspire you. People who have similar jobs, social economic backgrounds and lives as you. People who have similar views. These people probably feel the same as you about the big issues of the day. Feminism, Terrorism, Racism, Equality, Global Warming. All big issues and most people have a strong enough view that they will openly admit they come down on one side of the fence. I haven’t met anyone who is ‘on the fence’ about global warming. I have met people who think it doesn’t exist and people who dedicate their lives to protecting the environment. These issues encourage strong views.

The problem is, the current climate on the internet is building to one of an almost fanatical intolerance towards any sort of debate or disagreement. I was recently blocked from a popular feminist’s Twitter feed because I stated (and I still believe, rightly) that it was ridiculous to try and ban the word ‘Feminine’ in relation to feminine hygiene products. Personally, I’d rather spend the time campaigning for girls who have to skip school because of their period in this county (this happens – google it) than trying to get yet another part of our standard lexicon banned – I don’t agree that seeing the word should ‘trigger’ anyone and I personally think that if it does, they should grow a fucking backbone – don’t worry, I know this is a #unpopularopinion but I’m still entitled to it. I’m #sorrynotsorry if that triggers you.

Deleting and blocking people who have different views to you isn’t going to help you accept and be tolerate of the world around you. It paints a false picture, that everyone feels the same way and you are on some sort of crusade together against the trolls that disagree.

If all of your friends are super-liberal, middle class white people around the same age, how are you ever going to be able to understand and interact with anyone not in that socio-economic group? If you are blazing through your life thinking that you are right and that’s it, because the group you surround yourself with completely agrees with you and anyone who doesn’t is triggering some sort of anxiety in you so deep that you feel the need to erase their terrible opinion completely from your mind and vision, you need to branch out. Not everyone is the same and not everyone will always agree with you and that is a beautiful thing that the most intelligent, successful and happy people in the world are able to understand.

Beware the Echo Chamber. It can convince you that everyone is in the same boat, that everyone thinks the same. It can encourage normalisation of behaviours that are not accepted in wider society. If every single person you know smokes Cannabis and talks about smoking Cannabis and treats it very normally, does this mean society as a whole is accepting legalisation? Nope, it just means you have surrounded yourself with people whose moral compass points the same way on this factor. Try going to a Woman’s Institute tea party and having a discussion about using CDB oil to treat rheumatoid arthritis. You won’t get very far.

This isn’t a dig to anyone who does delete people who disagree with them. You might want you online space to be all fairies and rainbows and happiness and butt-licking, but it’s vital to be aware that in doing so, you are creating a false and fragile community that doesn’t offer a real reflection of the world, in the wider scheme of things, you are doing something even more dangerous to your own mind – convincing yourself of a false reality and closing yourself off the a diverse and beautiful world of opinion, debate and disagreements.

I want your opinion on this post – negative, positive, on the fence, you don’t like my hair, whatever. All opinions are valid here – I don’t want to be in an Echo Chamber. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Affiliate Marketing Doesn't Pay You For All Of Your Work

What do bloggers and influencers get paid? Since I started working in this industry, I get asked this question several times a day. What should I be charging to feature brands on my blog? How much should I be getting from my affiliate links? The blogging industry has no pricing or fee standardisation, people tend to keep their earnings close to their chests and there has been more than several occasions I can think of where an Influencer has implied they got paid for something that they didn’t. There’s also a bunch of examples of influencers pretending they didn’t get paid, but that’s a completely different post.

As head of the Influencer department at a major agency, I have had to pick my way through this minefield with very little information to go on. How much should we be charging? How much is everyone else charging? Should we do affiliate schemes or just upfront payments? I feel very strongly that Affiliate marketing, while having it’s place when it comes to paying bloggers a percentage for organic links in their blog, shouldn’t form a major part of your Instagram collaboration strategy.

Affiliate marketing is a way of crediting you financially for sales that your influence has generated. This could be a percentage, or a flat rate per sale, download or sign-up. You know the ones – “We’ll pay you 10% of the sales that you generate” or, “You’ll get 40% of the profits from the link in your bio” Bear in mind that 40% of profits isn’t usually a huge amount, the fee you should get is from the total sale and not the brands profit, unless they are willing to disclose their profit margin, which I doubt they will be.  Profit margins tend to be around 25% if the business is running well. This means 40% of the profits if you contributed to £100 worth of sales would be £10, 10% of the full amount. Make sure you know these stats before you agree to anything.

Follower Acquisition: Any brand that a true influencer features, reviews or mentions gains followers to their own account. This is incredibly valuable, because whenever the brand posts an image, offer or product, they are pitching to more people, if you have chosen an Influencer with a similar demographic to your target audience, this is even more valuable, as they were obviously interested in your product. This could generate an immediate sale, or they might spot something months down the line on your feed and make an impulse purchase then. This sale won’t be attributed to the Influencer you worked with.

Brand Awareness: You need to see something in a positive light three times before you are driven to make a purchase, if you are susceptible to marketing tricks or just an impulse purchaser in general. You might see your favourite blogger promoting a new face mask. You are vaguely interested and it looks good, their caption seems positive. You give it post a like. You then see the mask in a magazine the next day. The following day, a second Influencer is offering a discount code of the mask through a site such as Beauty Bay. It’s payday, so you make a purchase. This purchase hasn’t been attributed to the beauty blogger although they piqued your initial interest, they never benefit from that influence.

Direct Sales: Here’s the big one, sadly still the thing most brands measure the success of their Instagram collaborations against – I’m still certain that Follower Acquisitions is the more profitable benefit in the longer term, but the industry doesn’t agree with me. Even if you have been the sole driver of an impulse purchase, someone has seen your picture of some new heels from an upcoming online shoe brand and rushed straight to the site to make a purchase, quite a number of these people are very likely to google the best discount code they can find and will often not use your link – especially since Instagram still isn’t allowing clickable links in their captions.

In short, I don’t know. I believe that Affiliate marketing works in one place only – in posts on your blog that feature products from online retailers. In these cases, people may love how you look in that amazing pair of sunglasses that you featured organically, without being contacted by the brand or sent the item for free, in a blog post and want to buy some – there is no harm in providing a link to the sunglasses, and if that link pays you a percentage, there’s no harm done, no extra energy on your part. You aren’t working for the brand, you are working for yourself and that deserves rewarding.

However, if a brand contacts you via email or DM and says something like “Hi, we LOVE your work, you are seriously amazing! We’d love to send you some of our new make-up range, in exchange for 2 x Instagram posts and 1x Instagram Story – we’ll also give you a link to put in your bio, which we will pay you 10% of the profits on!! Let me know your address and which pieces you would like from our site and I’ll send over a contract!” – this isn’t acceptable. You get paid for less than a third of the work you have done and the brand gets away again with not paying influencers properly. The only fair way to work with an influencer is to pay an upfront fee. This fee covers not only the use of the influencers platform to promote a product, but also the time, energy and dedication that has gone into building and developing their following to the point where a brand want to collaborate with them as they think they will be able to drive sales – the definition of a genuine Influencer (in the commerce sense of the word anyway)

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Beauty Boulevard & Burt's Bee's Festival Survival Kit

I will never get over the misery of having to pack up and leave a festival and evacuating Curious Yellow was actually too much to bear for a week or so - I've drunk a lot of wine, let's put it that way.

I'm hoping to do a full 'review' of the magical weekend The Turner Brothers and groupies had at the Gibberd Gardens in the next few weeks when I have collected photos and I don't get a pang of sadness when I realise it's another 339 days to wait until the next one. In the meantime, the thought of going to Boomtown and then Magic At Landed the week after is getting me through the misery.

Enough complaining! I'm here to share details of the fun festival survival kit I received in the post this week - I was gifted these items but not paid for my review.

So, confession. This isn't my first festival survival kit, previous kits had a focus on heat protection, allergy protection and safety. This kit has a focus on the real important stuff, glitter.

Pictured is a selection from the kit but the full content were:

Glitter Lips by Beauty Boulevard in Vintage Pretty and Breathless
iZ Nail Lacquer in Glastonberry and Dancing In The Rain
Burts Bees Facewipes and Ultra Conditioning Balm
Colorsmash Hairspray in Indigo
Beauty Boulevard Premium Glitter in Space Cadet and Pegasus
Glitz iT in Wild Violet

What more could I possibly need for a festival? I mean, other than a tent, a sleeping bag, a large bottle of gin...

When I saw the above glitter I thought, I probably won't use that weird orange one, but in fact it turned out to one of my favourite glitters ever, huge chunky hex pieces and a duochrome bright yellow orange sparkly. It was SO hard to capture in photographs but here is a shot of it on my and my friend Kelly along with some errant Turner Brothers...

I created a half face glitter look on the second day using the Wild Violet glitter, which is a mix of chunky hexagons and holographic teeny bits, the glitter from the Breathless Glitter Lips kit and the chunky glitter from the Pegasus pack of Stardust...

The glitters all come with a special gel or a glue, which is also infused with glitter, and a brush suitable for application on your face, lips, body or hair, I can't wait to take my growing glitter collection to Boomtown and hopefully wear some much more make-up heavy and fun looks. These pics are from Once Upon A Time In The West, which I had about five minutes to pack for and thought was going to be tiny and wet, so I didn't take the majority of my festival supplies with me - regrettable as it was actually a wonderful little event and the Turner Brothers performance was one of the best I have seen all year, love those guys!!

Have a great end to your week, and do give the links above a little click to check out the huge range of glitter, sprays and over awesome festival must-haves from these brands!

Friday, 21 July 2017

How Do I Get A Blogging / Influencer Agent and Do I Need One?

In my day job, I'm an Influencer agent at a major talent agency. I manage the calendars and collaborations of people with significant Instagram, blog or Facebook followings and I work on pitching them to clients to fulfil briefs that require influencers.

In a typical day, I might receive requests for:
  • Beauty Influencers with a high UK audience
  • Fitness Influencers that are currently not sponsored by protein brands
  • Mummy influencers with children under 5
  • Gaming Youtubers who want to trial new game apps
  • Travel Influencers who want to go on paid adventures
My job is first and foremost to fulfil the briefs that come in and to make sure that our department is reaching out to companies to let them know that we are here and we have the influencers that they need to fulfil their digital content needs. I spend a lot of my day talking about the three major benefits of Influencer marketing, raising Brand Awareness, gaining Follow Acquisitions for client's social accounts and generating immediate direct sales driven from an influencer posting content created around a particular brand.

Obviously, to do all of this, I have to have a roster of Influencers, bloggers and content creators that I can call on. These individuals need to span the complete spectrum, from very small, up and coming beauty bloggers who might consider creating a post in exchange for gifted product and a mention on a big beauty brands instagram page, to major Youtube stars that can gain millions of views and downloads for a new app.

I find these influencers in lots of different ways, including going to blogger events, networking with other agents and beauty PR's, scouring Instagram and...incoming applications.

The point to this post today, was to give some information about what an agent does and why you might need one. I speak to a lot of up and coming influencers and bloggers who feel that getting an agent is the next logical step to take them to the upper echelons of the blogosphere. To put it bluntly, it's not.

My job is not to develop you, not to grow you into a major influencer. That's your job. The content that you create, the organic content, is what will make you stand out among a see of want-to-be influencers and social media stars. I get approached by people with 10K followers in Instagram saying they are ready for an agent - you aren't. The brutal truth of the matter is that an agent is only going to be interested if there is decent money to be made and at that level - there isn't.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still interested in hearing from you. I often get invites, emails about gifting (or 'seeding' collaborations and other opportunities that our higher-level beauty influencers simply won't consider and it makes the agency looks significantly better if we are always able to fulfil a brief, plus I'm obviously interested in watching your Instagram and blog grow in popularity until such a time that you do perhaps require an agent.

So how do you know if you really need an agent? Here's a little checklist.
  • You are getting approached by brands and being offered paid collaborations
  • You don't know how much to charge these brands, but you know that your platforms are definitely worth money
  • You need help with invoicing and the admin side of Influencer work
  • You want to turn previous collaborations that have been on a gifting basis into a longer term paid collaboration with a brand
  • You are getting people pretend to be you on social media
  • You think it's time you were verified
  • You have more than 100K followers or subscribers on at least one channel.
If more than two of these sound like you, it's time. Get contacting agencies in the space you want too work.

Influencer platforms are springing up everywhere. I get several emails a day about them. From Influenster  to River and millions more, these platform promise that they affiliated with all the top brands and will bring the work to your inbox without you having to lift a finger and in some cases, they do work. I would recommend them if you aren't quite answering 'yes' to two or three of the above questions but you are ready to dip your two into paid collaboration.

An agency manages your Influencer career. You'll be assigned an agent who will be your go-to. You'll speak to them several times a day sometimes about opportunities, working with them to get the best rates and the best collaborations. They will reach out on your behalf to brands that you have always dreamed of working with and they will make sure all of the invoicing and admin stuff is done for you so you can sit back and do what you are good at - content creating.

Don't get me wrong, there's a place for Influencer marketing platforms and I don't see them as my competitor, but they fulfil different roles and it's likely you'll need one before the other.

Now you have established that you are ready for an agent and you aren't looking for someone to help you develop yourself as an influencer, but someone who can pitch you to global brands and start getting you those big-money deals - it's time to put yourself out there. I'd strongly suggest going for a well-known, reputable agency that has a good roster of influencers. Here are some other things to check out:

  • Does the agency have an office premises? You don't want some fly-by-night managing the career that you've worked this hard on
  • What's their reputation? Talk to some brands about the agency - you probably have PR contacts already and most of them will know the big agencies and the right contacts there - they might even recommend a particular agent to you
  • Do they have people that you admire on their roster? If they only have one or two minor reality TV stars from 2006 they might not be best for your 400K beauty platform
  • Do the people that they represent seem to be working quite a bit? A reputable agency will always be happy to share who else they represent - check out their Instagram feeds and blogs and establish if they seem to be getting good opportunities. 5 teeth whitening companies in a month would be a no, an amazing-looking trip to the Bahamas with a cosmetic brand would probably be more of a yes!
  • Are you able to speak to someone on the phone and if so, do you like them on first impressions? I won't take anyone on that won't speak to me on the phone.
  • Do you they ask you to share your Instagram insights and other stats and seem interested in verifying how you have grown yourself, or do they seem over keen and not interested in your history? This is a red flag for sure, you don't want to work with an agency that takes on people who they don't properly verifying - brands will pick up on that super quick!
Finally, do your research. The right agency won't pressure you into signing a contract or true and promise you all the best jobs. Working with an agent is about selecting and pitching for the right opportunities that will resonate with your audience and keep your following trusting you. No agent should ever promise anything - they probably won't be able to deliver and you'll be in too deep to know what to do. 

I'm happy to give advice on this subject, and even consider adding you to our roster if you have the potential and I believe that our clients will be interested in you. You can find my work email over on my Instagram, @katyclouds

Hope this has helped! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section and I will reply with haste x

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Curious On The Horizon - My Favourite British Festival

I have a guest post up on the Curious Blog! **click here to be magically transported**

I usually start my festival posts with a countdown, but I'm going to forgo that today. The reason being, the sheer pain of getting through another weekend of normality before we are finally let loose at Curious Yellow after a year of waiting is too much,

When I arrived at Curious Yellow last year I took it upon myself to enjoy every single moment that we were blessed with inside those high hedges. I'd looked forward to it so intensely that I was certain it wasn't going to match up to my hopes.

This year, I've tried hard not to let the excitement build too early, but I have to confess, it's hard to help myself. Without a shadow of a doubt, the main draw for me is the gardens that the festival is set in. When we first heard about it two years ago, the location was a secret. I knew there was an avenue of trees from the press release but I didn't know anything about the history or magic of the place.

My recommendation? Don't Google it. To be fair there are so many secrets and angles and ways to explore this unknown little place that you probably won't spoil it, I certainly didn't, but the pictures available online don't do it justice. They don't give an idea of the scale of some of the biggest sculptural pieces and they don't portray the joy you feel as you turn a corner on a boiling hot day, barefoot and with some of your best friends and come across some completely and utterly unexpected, shady, perfectly designed spot that you are certain you didn't see last time you went along the same route.

I've had a top-secret chat with the wonderful Liz, whose ideas for getting the average festival-goer appreciating what us Curious veterans already love are hopefully going to instil the same joy into you that they have with us - pop over to my guest post on their blog by **clicking here**

I hope to see you by some giant Grecian columns in a weeks time, peering around the corner for the next surprise - I'll be the one with muddy bare feet and a massive smile on my face, trying to soak in every single second of the short time we get to take over this wonderful, overgrown, surprise-filled place.

Buy your ticket here.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Last Minute DIY Cosmic Festival Fancy Dress Ideas

The countdown is on and it's only 4 sleeps until Hogsozzle. I've realised that I am no where near as far along with my costume as I was this time last year, so I thought it would be fun to put together a whole bunch of last minute,  or super simple DIY costume ideas for everyone else that hasn't finalised their Cosmic Disco outfits yet!

If you haven't grabbed a ticket yet and this post inspires you to get your intergalactic garbs out, pop over to their ticket site by click here and snap one up, I don't think there is many left!

Let me know if you plan to give any of these a try, would love to see them on Instagram if you do - just tag my account so I can see - @katyclouds

I feel like this would be an easy-medium project if you had a few spare hours and a bunch of pompoms! I'm kind of tempted to recreate this myself actually in a last minute crafting frenzy!

Can't find the original source of this but looks super easy, yellow dye, green dye and some iron-on fabric. Make it more festival appropriate by using glow in the dark or sparkly eyes! 
(From Pinterest)

A super easy guys costume - green morph suit from your nearest party shop and a DIY alien headband!

The next post you read here will be the rundown of the festival and how much amazing fun we had – check out my previous posts here for more information on the festival and here for my plans for the weekend – keep an eye on the Instagram feed of @theturnerbrothers and me, @katyclouds for all the action over the weekend, see you at the Sozzle! 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Use Bio-Degradable Glitter This Year At Festivals!

Less than two weeks to go before Hogsozzle (click for their website and tickets!) and I’m spending the majority of my spare time thinking about how I can possibly apply enough glitter to myself to satisfy my craving for sparkle and shine. Did you know that humans are attracted to sparkly things because of an in-built instinct to head towards water sparkling in the distant? Glitter fact number 1! 

Inspired by various glittery companies popping up round the country at festivals and, more I’ve noticed, at blogger events, I started doing some research into glitter and it's effects.

 I popped along to the BooHoo A/W Press event through work, I don’t blog about fashion much as I’m not very trendy. Also, I say things ‘I’m not very trendy’ a lot, which makes me even less so.  I was gutted to have missed Go Get Glitter, who seemed to turn up just as I had to return (slightly drunk on fruity gin cocktails and having met Stacey Solomon) to the office. I did manage to get a glitter bun hairdo from The London Makeup Academy, but they didn’t use cosmetic glitter, instead spreading a thin glue over my parting which I was terribly worried wouldn’t come out but a good hot shower had the glitter specks running down the plughole…

…which brings me nicely to my main point.

 I’m worried about microplastics and you should be to – this year, we can all do some tiny things to protect our planet just a little more than we have been doing. Here are some facts about microplastics, which I cite from The Royal Society Of Chemistry but there are hundreds of articles on this subject across the web.

Microplastics are pieces of plastics less than 5mm in size. Nanoplastics are as small as 1 – 100nm.

These plastics are small enough to avoid filtration and end up directly in the sea or other water supplies. They are also small enough to be consumed by fish and birds and can build up in the body, causing problems such as infertility, deformities, growth problems and death.

They are present in many of our cosmetics – 680 tonnes of plastic microbeads are used in a year in the UK alone – luckily, many companies are trying to find other ways of adding exfoliating properties, they can use coconut husk or other natural fibres instead.  Keep an eye out for silicones and polymers  in the ingredients if you want to avoid this. 

Plastic microfibers in clothing are also a threat to the future of the oceans – they are too small to be caught in your washing machine filter system.

The main threat is still the incorrect disposal and permanent storage of waste – the best way to help is to recycle as much as possible and try not to use too much plastic – it’s getting easier every month as more companies catch on to peoples feelings about this subject.

Through fish, the microplastics also have the potential to re-enter the food chain, studies on how this could affect humans haven’t had time to gather quantifiable data yet, but common sense tells you, it can’t be good.

Some companies are doing something about it...

Johnson and Johnson recently made the sticks on their cotton buds out of paper, instead of plastic. Cotton buds flushed down the loo can cause an environmental issue as well as asewage one so this is a great move on their part and gives consumers a choice. Read more about their campaign to reduce plastics here.

Lush have removed all plastic glitter from their products and have put out the following statement:

"we’ve avoided microplastics by switching to mica and mineral glitter, as well as natural starch-based lusters. Our ingredient suppliers have worked hard to develop these plastic-free alternatives for our products, all of which are safe for the environment."

There are also companies springing up that promote the biodegradability of their glitter as a selling point - and it definitely is! This year, I'm making a pledge to ONLY use biodegradable glitters ion our festival costumes and I'll be encouraging my fellow revellers to do the same. 

Most cosmetics and craft glitter is made from non-biodegradable materials such a copolymer or aluminium foil – this means it’s a danger to birds, entering the food chain or water system through their digestion of the plastic glitter particles.

Loving life at a festival, coated in what I am certain was not bio-degradable glitter.
Most companies that sell biodegradable glitter will shout it loud and proud, so it isn’t hard to find. Avoid using craft shop glitters at festivals, or cheap ones in huge packs from Amazon. Chances are these aren’t going to be biodegradable, if it doesn’t say it is, you can assume that it’s not. I was really disappointed whilst researching this post that post of the companies that I love for their glitter bums, glitter tits and general sparkle are manufacturing non-biodegradable glitters or purchasing their components from sources that don't supply information about their friendliness towards the environment. I'm going to attempt not to feature any of these sort of brands this year, whether that be here on my blog, or on my face when we are getting face-painting or hair glitter. 

Coachella Looks by Go Get Glitter

These types of glitters can be more expensive, but you usually get a better quality product that you get through other sources that won’t irritate your skin (craft glitter can be very rough and scratchy on sensitive skin)

Here are two companies I have found that provide biodegradable glitter and I would love if you would pop in the comments if you know of any more!

Go Get Glitter - one of my favourite Instagram accounts (click here!) and popping up at festivals all over the world at the moment, these guys state that their glitter products are 100% biodegradable on their website here 

MGMA is a Bristol based company that sells biodegradable glitter and promotes it's use on the web and in person, I haven't had the chance to try out their products yet but I'll report back when I have done! Click here to visit their Etsy shop 

And if you click here, you'll find some ways you can make your own glitter, although I haven't tested this out yet!

Later in the week I will be sharing all of my moodboards for this years Cosmic Disco themed Hogsozzle, I've got all the girls dressing up this year and I can't wait to share the pictures afterwards! 

Katy xx

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