Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Next 9 Photos

Here are the next 9 photos in my series, 29 days of Mum & Boy. I'm uploading the photos to Instagram in full colour (#katyandroo) but I love the simplicity of these black and white images. I'm over halfway through through the project now and I love love love the pictures we have so far. My mind is filled with ideas for what I am going to do with them at the end!

Left to right from top: An early morning walk to school // A restless coach journey // Playing in my parents garden // New shoes for him & my favourite pair // Cute funny boy I love // Having fun at the radio station // Playing Lego Batman all day // Big hugs for a sad Mummy // Sulky faces.

Hop on over to here to see the first 9 pictures in this series, and don't forget to follow me on Instagram too :-)

I got a little feature on the Lifestyle page of Hellocotton yesterday, which has led to a boost in emails and adds from lovely readers. I'm always thrilled to hear from anyone reading my little blog. The image above is from the front page of Hellocotton, apparently I'm Up & Coming, which is just fab 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Get Rid Of Negative Influences In Your Life

Happy Monday!

It's a fact that negativity is bad for you. You know that person that always complains about everything? The tweeter who never has anything nice to say? The blogger that has only bad things to say about their life? Do you like reading those things? I don't.

I don't expect life to full of sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. I know that crappy things happen and will continue to happen. But this year I have chosen to try and focus on the positives. I've given up complaining for Lent. I've tried to focus on me and my son more, and not be selfish with my time or resources.

Here are some ways that you can remove negative influences in your life.

Double Check Yourself

Although I have always tried to steer clear of posting complaints online, more and more recently I have found little comments about other people or my personal situation slipping in. The old adage "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything" applies strongly when it comes to the Internet. Once you get the hang of not being snarky online, it's easy to translate into your Actual Real Life. If I hear myself start to complain about someone, I check myself. I'm a strong believer that the more negative stuff you put out there, the more will come back to you. Don't be caught out having a bitch, just keep your nasty thoughts to yourself. Chances are, you'll feel differently in a while.

This is harder than it sounds. I used to read a popular blog online, but I've found myself getting more and more irritated with the content. I starting writing out a comment on the blog, saying how disappointed I was that what used to be a favourite read of mine had turned into a relatively shallow and dull shadow of itself. Just before clicking send I though "Why on earth don't I just stop reading it?"  Issue solved.

Some 'friends' drag you down.

I've taken a long look at my life and the people that I share it with. I have some people in my world who don't offer anything but negativity. It hurts, but they have to go. I don't want these people sapping my positive energy anymore. I have friends that have problems, of course, but when someone ONLY offers you negativity, are they really worth having in your life?

Do something positive every day

This is a new thing for me. I realised that some days I literally do nothing. I'll vaguely tidy my house. I might play a game with my son. I'll probably have a glass of wine. But nothing has been achieved. Nothing has changed for the better, and I think that means the day has been a bit of a waste. My aim for this year is to make each day count. I know it sounds cheesy, but if I haven't achieved something by this time in 365 days, what exactly was the point of me this year?

I kind of utilised this the other day. I was sitting in my dressing gown at 3 in the afternoon, and I suddenly though, I need to do something productive today or I'll go mad. So I looked over my list of goals and picked one that was easy to achieve. I cleaned out the cupboard under my sink. It took less than 10 minutes. But every time I open that cupboard I get a little rush of satisfaction - I achieved a goal, made a tiny difference to my daily life.

I hope I have inspired you to make your life a little more positive today! This is one of my favourite blog series and I love the easy suggestions for doing something positive - I found her on Hellocotton. Are you a member over there? Why not add me?

Friday, 22 February 2013

Why I Love Social Media

I write quite a lot of posts about utilising Social Media for gaining blog traffic, connecting with a target market and advertising your business, service or job seeking.

I sometimes get asked what exactly it is about Social Media that I find so interesting, so I figured it would be a fun thing to blog about.

Here are ten things that I really, really adore about Social Media.
If you are blogging/tweeting/pinning for personal reasons, there are a million other people who are going to be interested. That's a fact! You might feel like the most boring person on the planet, people might literally fall asleep when you walk into a room, but the filter of social media turns you into a quirky, interesting individual with an audience of hundreds, thousands or even millions.  There *are* people interested in the same thing as you. There *are* people that want to hear what you have got to say. Want proof? Think of the most bizarre, outlandish thing you can think of (keep it clean, no one wants an eyeful of Chinese men and their doll collections on their lunch break) and Google it. Guaranteed you'll come across a twitter account dedicated to it. Or a ('scuse the language) fuck-yeah blog. Have you heard of a 'fuck-yeah' blog? It's rude isn't it, I know. It's a term used to describe a blog, usually a Tumblr account that has a single discussion point. I've seen them about bats, owls, Catherine Middleton, stairs, chairs, planes, trains....etc.

Tip: If you find a twitter account dedicated to something you like, chances are, the people following that account are going to be your sort of people. Add them. Give them a chance, delete them if you don't like what you see after a few days.. This is a great way to connect with people online!
Here's a secret for you. I'm actually really grumpy in real life. That's a fact. I kind of touched on this when I wrote about giving up complaining for Lent (I think I'm doing okay, some days are harder than others.). I don't let it come across in my Social Media. If I go to post something on Facebook, I think 'Does this come across as negative?'. I re-read my tweets to make sure I'm not complaining about things too much. If I think someone is complaining too much, or making everything negative, I don't go back to their page. I wish I could eradicate negativity in my daily life like this. But I can't.

More obvious ways you can be who you want to be, never post a bad picture. Did you know I have a small birthmark on the right side of my face? You'll do well to find a photo of it online. I simply don't post them because I prefer not to - I'm not ashamed of it and I don't hide it in my everyday like, but I just don't want to post pictures of it. I can create the image that I want to. I spend most days wearing the same jeans, joggers or cardigans round the house. Do I post pictures of that? Nope.If you want to visit adult websites and write erotic fiction, but really you are a shy librarian who wouldn't dream of doing that stuff in real life, so what? Social Media is for you.

I love reading beauty blogs and finding reviews of new products. My twitter feed is 50% beauty products and 50% SEO/Social Media people. I love finding obscure articles that not everyone has read. I click links from trusted sources. I retweet things I love - and in return people do the same for me. I never would have discovered 90% of my daily essential reads list if I hadn't stumbled on them through twitter or Pinterest. I can't imagine my slow-cooker would have ever been taken out of the box again without all the amazing recipes and blogs I have found through Pinterest and Instagram. I never would have found some amazing music and DJ's if I hadn't starting using and searching #dj on Instagram and twitter....the list goes on and on and on and on and on....
This is a big one for me. I'm really, really terrible at staying in touch with people ever. I always forget to ring friends, I'm a crap at replying to texts from people at the radio station and I can't remember the last time I emailed my antenatal group. However, I know what every single one of those people is doing because I have them all on twitter, Facebook and probably at least one other site as well. Okay, so it's not a great substitute or a forever one, but I am busy person, and there would definitely be loads of people that I would have lost contact with if it wasn't for twitter. A quick 140 - character message shot across to someone I haven't seen in a while is a cheats way to stay in touch.

It's even more important in business dealings. I like to have everyone I have ever worked with on LinkedIn. That way if a project comes up that they might like to get involved in, or I spot a vacancy I know they would be perfect for, it's easy to share the find. You can keep track of what everyone is doing, making more time for focusing on the people in your personal life. It's like giving someone a business card that will stay glued to the inside of their palm. They won't be able to forget about you - perfect if you are plying for business.
 I once spoke to a high profile celebrity comedian on twitter last year. Duncan Bannatyne retweeted something I said. Philip Schofield follows me and I had a brief chat with a famous ladies-man footballer a few days ago through Instagram. I have famous DJ's liking my photos and some top magazine editors follow my boards on Pinterest. And I'm just me! There is not way I would have these connections with any of these people without social media.
Here's a true story, a little while ago, I had an issue with my mobile phone provider. They cut off my phone after assuring me that had changed the date my payment was due to coincide with my new pay day. Once cut off, I was unable to speak to an advisor outside of working hours, and I was left stuck on a platform in London with no phone and no money. Luckily, I found a WiFi hotspot and I started a viral campaign. I asked people to retweet that I wanted a phone call from the complaints department. I started using a hashtag #badcustomerservice. I tweeted everyone I could find on LinkedIn who worked for the company. I got a call within 2 hours and a £200 credit on my account. Win!

Tip: Asking people to "pls RT" actually works. I don't agree with shortening your words for texting...in fact it's enough to put me right off texting someone, but a little 'pls RT!' on the end of a tweet reminds me (and everyone else) to click the little retweet button and help a sister (or brother!) out. Don't forget, if you are known for being a thoughtful retweeter (see my article here on how to avoid being a big Spammy McSpamPants) people will often repay the favour!
Prior to working at the radio, I had a black and white avatar and a very sensible LinkedIn profile that related to my work in recruitment. Once I started the new role and my target market changed, I started using a brighter image and jazzed up my profile. Five minutes later, I look like someone else entirely. The ability to shed your skin and emerge as a new Social Media butterfly is sitting right there waiting for you to take it. You can change your username on twitter RIGHT NOW. Wish you weren't SeXyBaBe69? Can't remember why you chose Ilovetouchingcatbums? Change it. Become who you want to be. Change your background to go with your mood, make your blog banner reflect the seasons. Staying current is as important as posting regular, interesting content. Don't let that Christmas banner stick around until April.

Tip: Having a selection of banners and backgrounds that go with the seasons and international holidays makes this job easier. Often a simple colour change is all that you need. Keep your blog current by having a layout refresh every season. It really does keep your readers motivated to come back.
The Big One as far as I am concerned. Case in point, I was speaking to my Dad during my stay and after launching his website selling antique door furniture (www.silburyantiques.com) in December, he has had loads of sales, and around 90% of his referral traffic is from Twitter. A single retweet by a celebrity endorser, a pin that takes off and gets repinned again and again, a post that gets shared more than usual, all these things are *so* unbelievably possible with every mark you make on your Social Media profile, it's worth asking yourself, are you putting enough of your time in Social Media promotion? Letting people know you exists through word of mouth and advertising in your local paper is never, ever going to afford you the reach (and Return On Investment) that the worldwide audience you have right now sitting and waiting to hear what you are doing next. Awesome or what?
Have you heard of Adam Pacitti? He's a jobseeker (well, he was!) who used his last £500 to buy a billboard saying he needs a job. The campaign went viral, he appeared on national television and radio and suddenly had a rush of offers and interviews. Now he about to start presenting his own TV show helping other people get their dream job. Can you imagine? All it takes is an original idea, a clever take on an old story, or something that makes you get noticed by the right person, and Social Media could change your life. Like, today.
Nothing stays the same in the world of technology. Can anyone remember when we all used AIM to chat? No? It was literally a few years ago, but I remember thinking, wow, this is the best thing ever! Until something new came along and was the new best thing ever. There is so much exciting stuff in the pipeline with Social Media, that the opportunity to get yourself seen, heard and listened to like never before is literally just around the corner. I can't wait for the Android Vine app. I so excited to see what happens now that Facebook own Instagram, and this is all just the start! Who knows what the future of Social Media holds? I bet it will be exciting, and offer more ways than ever to connect with like-minded people across the world, who want what you are offering. Fun!

So, phew. That's why I like Social Media. I hope you agree with some of these reasons why it's worth investing your time in developing your web presence. If you are setting up a small business and you are UK based, I offer an initial Brand Awareness Consultation over Skype free of charge. You can contact me via LinkedIn or by email me, katyclouds@outlook.com.

Monday, 18 February 2013

When You've No Time To Write New Content

Increasing your web presence is about staying visable. There's no point posting an amazing article and then sitting back and having a rest. Your competitors are posting fabulous content daily, and you need to be too. Here are five ways that you could get people engaging with you across your Social Media platforms even if you don't have time for a whole new blog post.

Most of my posts take between an hour and two to complete including creating an image and getting it written up and checked. Often if I have research to do as well, it can take a lot longer. I don't have that time spare every single day and I doubt you do either. Try one of these tips to increase your visitorship between posts.

1. Have a blog contest.

Giveaway one of your products. I know, it sounds crazy right? But companies are doing this ALL the time. If you don't have a product, give away a service. For example, I might give away an hour's free Social Media consultation. Or perhaps a half hour slot on my radio show. Contests giving away what you are plugging are excellent because they are going to be aimed directly at your target market. Ask people to tweet about your contest (provide a shortened link), like you on Facebook or mention you on their blog for additional entries. Watch the pageviews increase!

2. Try a little cheeky cross-promotion

When did you last suggest to your twitter followers that they follow you on Linkedin? Never? Why not! It's a whole group of people that are already interested in you. How about asking on Google+ if anyone would like to check out your Pinterest account? I do this different every week. There are plenty of combinations, so don't be shy about promoting yourself to a different group of people - self-promotion is what increasing your Internet presence is all about. No one else is going to do it for you.

3. Offer a button.

Try using Picmonkey or a similar graphics program to make a button people can use to link to your blog, Pinterest or LinkedIn page. Have a browse here for standard sizes and offer a selection. If you struggle with the coding, you just need to use a text box (the code is here - you want the 'readonly' option) and put the code from here with your image location inside it. If you struggle for creative ideas, try simply using your own banner or logo with your name.

4. Repost, Revisit

What article that you have written are you most proud of? Perhaps your review of a product last year was really well received, or a blog you wrote detailing how to reupholster a chair went down a treat. Go back and grab the link, and report on your newest-joined Social Media site. For me, this involves looking through my archives and sharing older entries on Google+. In particular, entries that I wrote before I joined Google+. It's entirely new content to my 200+ followers on there - what a great way to encourage new readers of my blog!

5. Round Up

As long as it isn't overused, a round-up of your content is a great way to remind readers of all the amazing things that you are posting. I do a monthly round up of my favourite posts, but I've also done a round up of all my Social Media School posts, and all my nail tutorials. Come up with a theme that suits your content and run with it, include an image from each one. Promote your round up just the same as you would a regular post.

Just a note, because I don't think I say this often enough. It's imperative that you keep a close eye on your Analytics before and after trying new things. For example, I check my basic stats (page views for the week and bounce rate) before every post. Then I go back and check again at roughly the same time the following day. I make a note of the changes. This way I have a record of what changes and articles have the best impact on my stats. But don't forget to Keep It Real! Just because articles about your dog bring in the most pageviews, doesn't mean for a second that you shouldn't carry on posting over excellent content.

In the very near future I will be sharing some more basic tutorials for understanding and improving your Analytics stats. In the meantime, have you read my Bounce Rate 101?

I hope you like these quick little tricks for when you don't have the time to write a whole blog post or new article for your website. Thank you for reading! Don't be afraid to leave a comment, I love reading them and always try and visit your links in return.

Katy x

Sunday, 17 February 2013

29 Days Of Mum and Boy - First 9 Days

I am currently 10 days into the "29 Pictures Of Mum and Boy" photo project that I started on my birthday. I'm so excited to share this first batch of 9 pictures. It's already become a fun part of our day and having these images to cherish always is really something special for me.

The full colour versions can be seen on my instagram feed, or using the hashtag #katyandroo. I have some vague plans of printing all the photos out and doing something with them, but I'm not sure what yet. I think my favourite is the very top left one, those silly faces are a scream and Roo just loves the picture too! As you can see, I've cheated a teensy bit and not got my actual face in some of the shots, there are some days when I just don't like being in front of the camera. I think that is why previous attempts at 365 projects have failed. I would like to think that I could continue this one until maybe his birthday in October? But I'm an instant gratification kind of girl and I'm already itching to have the completed batch of photos so I'll have to see.

 We've just been to the park (where I took today's photo!), to see some friends and then to the supermarket where I picked up all the ingrediants for a delicious roast dinner. Have you ever tried a roast dinner sandwich? It's the best kind of sandwich ever. I'm kind of sort of more looking forward to that later on tonight than I am the actual dinner!

Hope you are having a lovely weekend too. Tomorrow we are off to the West Country for lots of doorknob fondling and child-spoiling down at my parents house. They have WiFi and go to bed extremely early so I plan to use the evenings to line up some Social Media School posts. Click here to visit my previous Social Media School posts :-)

Saturday, 16 February 2013

For Lent, I'm Giving Up Complaining

Traditionally, Lent is the period between Ash Wednesday (the day after Pancake Day in the UK) and Easter. Christians are encouraged to live more frugally, giving up life's luxuries for a 40 day period. Sometimes people give up something specific. It usually has a food theme.

I can't give up any sort of food because I have terrible willpower with chocolate, sweets, cheese, pasta, chips, fried cheese sandwiches (oh gosh those are my new favourite) and pretty much anything bad for me!

So I decided to try and change something that I really *want* to change. I've decided to give up complaining.

I've always been a bit of a complainer. I once won an award during a residential school trip for being the most likely to say 'It's Not Fair'. I am the person standing behind you in the queue huffing and tutting and tapping my foot. I'm the person who complains to the waitress if there is margerine and not butter in my sandwich. My nickname for the last year of secondary school was Stroppy Pants...

So in view of trying to lead a more positive life, I am trying with all of my might to give up complaining for Lent. That is 40 days of trying to say "Let's try it this way" instead of "This isn't working". Of saying "I'll give that a go" instead of "I don't want to, I'm tired". Of keeping uncharitable thoughts like, "why hell is it taking you 7 trys to put your pin number in at the cash machine?" to myself. Of finding the positive to shout about rather than radiating annoyance in my daily life.

I'll let you know how I get on. I want to be accountable for this goal, and I know posting it here and putting this out in the world will mean I feel less like giving up and having a good old moan. Are you trying to give anything up at the moment?

I'm very excited to share the first 9 days of my "29 Days Of Mum & Boy" tomorrow. You can follow my little project on Instagram, I'm @katyclouds & using the hashtag #katyandroo.

Just a note to say that I will be down in the South West for three days next week, so if you normally tune into the Yummy Mummy Mix in the mornings, you won't be hearing my voice down your earholes for the first half of the week! I'll be back on Thursday. Don't forget you can listen to the show through our website by clicking here, or downloading the free Tune In app for your smartphone and searching for Radio Dacorum :-)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Padded Storage Box DIY

Boring old shoeboxes be gone! I've been jazzing mine up in this super-easy way, adding pops of pattern and fun to my living room :-)

I whipped this up in about half an hour, it now has pride of place on the shelf underneath my coffee table. Let me know if you give it a whirl!

You Will Need:

Shoebox or other cardboard box with a sturdy, lift off lid.
Piece of wadding cut to the same size as the life
Piece of fabric cut two inches larger all the way around
Glue Gun
Tape Measure
Needle & Thread

1. Please ignore the fact that I still have my Glitter Gradient Manicure on! Drawn across the diagonal on the top of your lid. Measure the distance from the corner to the centre and put a dot halfway between them.

2. Wow, that's a bad quality photo! Sorry about that. Why does my needle look so odd? I stuck it down into my gluegun barrel. Yup. Use a big needle to punch a hole in the lid. Mine was sturdy enough to withstand a hole being punches but you could put a blob of bluetack on the underside if you think your lid might cave in.

3. Sandwich your wadding between your fabric and the lid. Line it up so there is an even amount of fabric on  each side. Then you can snip off the very corners to reduce bunching later on. Spread a line of glue on the inside rim of your lid, and tightly fold the fabric over. make sure you pull tight enough for a smooth lid but not so tight that you totally flatten the wadding. Pop a blob of glue in each corner and pull the corner in.

4. I changed my buttons at the last minute for these tiny flower ones. Poke your needle through the hole on the underside, through one hole in your button (see the picture above) and then down again through the second hole. It's a little struggle to find the hole again because you are going in blind, but give it a wiggle and you should be able to pop it back through. Tie the two ends together tightly for a quilted effect.

5. Looks cute huh? Check your lid fits on and snip the ends of the thread. Fill your box with stuff that you want to store! I've filled mine with small plastic dinosaurs and cars :-)

The lighting has been SO bad for taking indoor photos recently, so I am sorry about the quality of these shots. I hope you like the DIY anyway!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Picmonkey - Awesome Tips & Tricks

Picmonkey is a free web-based photo editor with a bunch of great tools and effects to enhance your photos. I use it as my main image editor and I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourite things that I have discovered about it. There are hundreds of ways to combine the tools to give a more professional finish to your images. Click any of the screenshots to get a bigger, clearer view.

All the tips here are available for non-Royale (their premium service) users. This includes fonts I have used and all the effects, overlays and tools. I am a Royale member though, and I highly recommend it, loads more fonts and amazing stuff becomes available to you, and it's under £3 a month. (I should point out that I am not affliated with Picmonkey. This article is my own opinion and it's my own money that paid for the Royale membership)

So I have three main tips and a bunch of little tricks. If you have any questions, please feel free to pop them in the comments I would be happy to clarify anything. I'm also really interested in seeing other Picmonkey tutorials so don't be afraid to link yours!

1. Starting with a blank canvas
Useful if you are looking to make something from scratch. I used this technique to make both my navigation bar (Those tabs with sections of my blog) and also my banner.
So easy that I wouldn't even call this a tutorial. Simply open any picture of a size equal to (or larger so that you can crop it down) the final image that you want.

Open the 'Overlays' menu item on the left, select either square or rectangle. Once it's placed stretch it big enough to cover the whole image and then some.

Use the toolbox to select a colour for your blank canvas. White is standard. You can then crop this to the size you want. See up there where it says 'Open', 'Save' & Share? Then there are two small arrows (undo and redo). The next is 'Flatten'. It merges all the layers in your image. So instead of being the original picture with a white box on top, your image will simply be a white box.
2. Jazz Up Your Banners (Layering Overlays)
I've spoken a few times about using a header image to show as your thumbnail on whatever sites you share your blog. You might like to make an image for anything, and want some text on it. Picmonkey offers a large range of overlays and one of the cool things you can do is layer them over one another to give a more professional polished look.

Start with the image that you want to add a banner to. This might be a blank canvas or an photo like above.

Open up the banners section and choose one you like. This also would look great with any of the geometric overlays. Be aware that it must be just one section - the banners with more than one solid piece won't work with this layering technique.

I've faded out the bottom overlay to blend it more into the image. Nice huh? I used a 50% fade. Next, duplicate the overlay by right clicking and selecting 'Duplicate Overlay'. Make it a bit smaller (trial and error will help here!) then think about colours. I used the light blue shade visable in one of this beautiful Morrocan light's shade. It's not immediately obvious, but if you click in the box that arrow is pointing to, your cursor will become a colour dropper and you can select any colour from your image. This is a great way to get a fully cohesive look.

Use your cursor to move the new coloured banner over the top of the first one. You can experiment with layering three or even four overlays together, altering the fade and colours with each. Position it so there is an even border. Cute!

I like to use this method to make banners for my text.
3. Funk Up Your Text - How to Add a Drop Shadow Effect
I wish that there was the option to add drop shadow and perhaps even an outline glow to the text in Picmonkey, but I've figured out how to DIY the drop shadow. This works with any solid overlay too!

Chose your font, click 'Add Text' and type what you want to say. Lobster Two is one of my favourite free fonts.

Right-click and duplicate the overlay, just as we did before. Now, the first text will be your shadow and the second your actual text. If you want your text to be black you'll need to make the shadow text a deep grey. Otherwise change only the colour of the top text.

Move the coloured text on top until just a teeny bit of the shadow is showing. It's really easy to adjust the angle of the 'lighting', just move around the top text until you are happy.

These little 'dings' to add a bit of sparkle to text - don't be afraid to experiment with all the options! 
Because it's sometimes a hassle to get the shadow text in the right place to start off, I like to make this on a white background (see above) and then crop it right down so there is no additional space. Then I open up the image that I want to add the text to, and use the 'Use Your Own' overlay option. You'll be able to load up the ready made shadowed text and adjust it's size and position as a complete object. Easy!

I hope you had a lovely weekend! I had a great birthday, and I'm doing well with my 29 photos challenge. Are you following me on instagram yet?

This week I have a Valentines craft project that I've been working on for weeks, aswell as more information about my e-course on Social Media for Jobseekers :-)

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Glitter Gradient Manicure

I wanted my nails to match my sparkly shoes and sparkly mood yesterday as I went out to celebrate my birthday with my favourite friends. When I happened upon Rimmel's Disco Ball polish I suddenly thought that glittery tips would be a fun direction :-)

My first nail tutorial in ages! Click here to see other tutes that I have written.

The idea is to make it look like you have dipped the ends of your nails in glitter, this works with longer square or oval nails, I hope you'll give it a go!

1. Start with a base coat of a bright colour. This look also looks fab with neutrals! You'll need to find a glitter with a sparkle that matches your base coat.

2. Here's a close up shot of my glitter. Disco Ball by Rimmel is a lasting finish shade and I chose it because the silver glitter has a blue sheen.

I was a little disappointed with the distribution of glitter in the base. This polish offers a very subtle look with just one coat and none of the slightly bigger pieces that bring glitters out of that retro, 1990's look that they can have sometimes. The blue I used is Barry M Cobalt Blue 291.

3. I would highly recommend that you wait for the base coat to dry thoroughly before moving on to the next step - you're going to use a whole bunch of thin layers next and you'll greatly reduce drying time if you wait at least 20 mins between base and glitter. Paint just your tips to start off. If you have a glitter with some bigger pieces, use your brush to pop them in this section. I painted about the same size area as a I would with a French Manicure.

Here is a close up of the first layer of glitter. One of the really awesome things about this manicure is that because you are layering lots of polish at the tips, you reduce the risk of a breakage during the wear. I know I have a split in one nail so I still have this design on right now.

4. Wait five minutes and then do another coat of glitter, this time going a little further down the nail. You can see from the two pictures above how much extra needs to be painted with each coat!

5. For a finely dispersed glitter like this one, you will need to do about 5 coats over all. Make sure the layers are thing or you'll get a gloopy final look. Bigger glitter will not need as many coats, I have Barry M Rose Quartz which I often do this manicure with over a neutral base and it takes 3 coats for the tips to look totally covered.
Use a top coat or you'll have a grainy, bumpy finish!
Hope you love this fun sparkly look, are you going to give it a go? 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

29 Days Of Mum & Boy Photos

I have wanted to complete a photography project for a while. I say complete, because I have started about 20 and not seen them through, but I figure even I can manage 29 days right? I'm 29 on Friday and I had been toying with the idea of doing a 365 project of the last year of my 20's. Then I realised that I have no need or want for 365 pictures of myself, but what I am missing in my life is pictures of me and my special guy.

This is going to pose a few challenges;
  • Roo thinks that making a a lot of silly faces in quick succession is the best thing to do when a camera is pointed at him. It's hard to get him to keep still for long enough for my phone to capture his cheeky face.
  • Sometimes he doesn't want to be photographed at all
  • Most of the time if I am not going anywhere I look reasonably rough
However, I think this little project is just what I need, and I will love having a bunch of photos of me and him. I'll be taking most of the photos with my phone as I have it on my all of the time, and I'll be uploading them daily to instagram using the hashtag #katyandroo. I'll do a weekly roundup here on my blog aswell.

This is going to be fun, I hope you'll follow along with me! At the end of the 29 days I'm going to find a way to print out the photos and have these memories of us to hold in my actual hands, I can't wait!

Katy x

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

4 Ways To Improve Your Blog Today

Whether you blog for personal enjoyment or to promote your business, there are lots of ways to give your readership a boost and get people wanting to come back for more. Some of the tips and tricks that I have shared before take a little while to see results but here are 5 ways you can make a difference right away

What qualifies me to give this advice?

I am a full-time social media strategist who works with companies looking to improve the awareness of their brand online. On top of this I have been blogging for 7 years. I have closed my original 'online diary' as it's pretty hideous, lots of ranting about boys and clothes and complaining. Things have moved on since then :-)

The main thing that turns me off from blogs is bad grammar and spelling. Your/You're and Their/There are two of the most easily confused ones. I'm not some sort of spelling and grammar police, but when even your titles are misspelt it really will turn people off your blog. One of the hardest things is to proofread text when you have used incorrect words that are still other words. Business blogs should have everything checked by a professional proofreader. This is a service that I provide and you can email me on katyclouds@outlook.com if you want to chat about that, but if you are running a personal blog I would still recommend having a triple read through before posting your blog. If you are someone who really struggles with spelling and knows it, it's nothing to be ashamed off, you just have to think slightly outside the box. Could you produce a weekly podcast? That's a great way to circumvent the whole spelling issue. Getting a friend or even another blogger to read your post before posting it is a simple case of copying and pasting it into an email. 

If you think you may have been guilty of this, set yourself a goal of looking over your posts, a few a day, and correcting grammar and spelling. Read up on rules and install a spell checking toolbar such as the Google one.

Long batches of text are dull. Breaking up your text with bullet points and banners is a great way of making your posts and articles seem instantly readable, especially if you don't have any photos to go with it. I use Picmonkey to edit my instagram photos and use them as post headers, and I've used Picmonkey in this post to make the title banners. Don't you think it looks a little nicer than just a big old block of text? It's really easy aswell, just open up any old random image, and use a big white square to give you a blank canvas. Then crop to the size you want your heading. I've used the 'Banner' shape to make my pointy-ended headers. Their choice of fonts is excellent and everyone knows that a good font adds life to an otherwise dull article.

I would recommend read this post by one of my favourite bloggers that talks about combining fonts. and then having a look here at this AMAZING list of free and totally awesome fonts that you can download and use right away. I think Shuffle and Yellow Cream are my favourites!

I'll tell you a secret. I really, really dislike having my photo taken. I think I have a terrible jawline and that I always look crosseyed and pale. However, having a photo of yourself on your blog gives your page a real boost. It means the reader has a visual reference for your voice, which makes your words seem more believable. There is a lot of psychology behind it, I'm no expert. I do know that I usually find myself trying to find a picture of someone on the screen and I'm disappointed if there isn't one.

If you also don't like your face, that sucks. I would try one of these:

  • Use an instagram photo - grainy quality + attractive filter will take away nearly all imperfections.

  • A side view is usually better than direct full on - get someone else to take a side--on photo

  • Black and white filters have the added bonus of making you look more professional.

If you are writing for a company or business blog, or you are a contributor, set it up so that your post is linked to your photo. Adding a face to your voice is really strong way to make you stand out from the other millions of people writing things about stuff on the internet. You don't have to be good looking, or photogenic. It's not about that. Giving your voice a face is the key :-)

Blogging is about sharing. Sharing your knowledge, sharing your life. Whatever you choose to share with the internet world, it helps to apply a certain set of rules. I like to ask myself the following questions before I post an article.

1. Have I shared too much?

Some topics should always be off limits for a professional blog. If you are looking to monetize your blog in the future, sponsors will want you to have some decorum about certain aspects of your life. Blogging about SEO and then throwing in photos from your trip to a fetish party isn't going to work. Likewise, customers aren't going to want to read about the argument you had with your other half. If you want to write about personal stuff, then you need to keep it within limitations. If you need a place to vent, set up a personal blog where you can rant and swear as much as you like. Don't make the face of your business/blog inappropriate for your target audience.

2. Is what I writing about Fun, Inspiring or Informative?

I wrote a post a little while ago about writing content that fulfils these three remits. Have a look at it here. I try not to post very short or pointless entries because I want everything in my blog to be useful and relevant content. I try to use a mixture of 'evergreen' (content that will still be  relevant in two or three years) and trendy stuff, like ways to use the latest apps and fashion or wishlist posts. Mixing things up and providing a range of content that still delights, inspires or informs is a great way to keep your whole blog gaining readers and not just your more recent posts. 

3. Have I made the post look as nice as it can?

Are all my pictures the same size? Have I broken up the text? Have a look at the preview of your post before you fully post it, you can check for anything that doesn't look quite right. It's important to do this before the post goes live, because if you have anything set up to post the link automatically like twitterfeed or Google+, those first few people who come along will be seeing the not-quite-perfect post.

I hope these tips have given you a little inspiration for improving your blog today, please do let me know if you have any questions or have found this helpful <3

Have a great day!!

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