Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Take A Chance, Take A Risk

It's easy to do the same thing every day. Get up, faff about, eat, sleep, get up...

Sometimes everyone needs some encouragement to break out of their comfy routine and do something different that could lead you down a different path. Sometimes I look back over a week and feel like I haven't gotten any further towards my goals in life than I had a month ago. I want this to change and the only way you can change your life is by doing something out of your comfort zone.

So I looked at my list of goals for the year and had a think about some things that I have always wanted to do and thought what the hey, let's just go for it.

Here is my little list;

1. Apply for a gameshow
2. Make a move on setting up a creative business
3. Send a message to someone that I haven't spoken to in an age
4. Try a food I haven't ever tried before
5. Enter a competition.

So those were my dares. I didn't go too serious on them, as you see. But they have given me a little spark this week and I would highly recommend that you set yourself a little challenge like this and do something fun and different.

I applied to be on some game shows and I got a call back! I can't say much about it at this second but I'm waiting to hear my today, very exciting. I also applied for a local business initiative  putting forward an idea that I have been working on for what feels like forever. It really would be a dream come true for me to be able to take that forward.

I sent a few messages to old friends requesting catch-ups and I had a really disgusting experience with canned salmon. What ARE those little round bones? Why would I want to eat a scaly, fatty, boney mess? People who eat canned salmon (and pay twice the price of nice, clean fillets) are ridiculous.

Finally, I've been going competition mad, entering everything I see that has a free web-entry option. I'll let you know how I get on.

I hope this has given you a little inspiration to do something, however small, out of the ordinary today 

Friday, 17 May 2013

10 Fun Photo Projects To Start This Weekend

Photo projects are a great way of creating content for your blog and feed. They work for businesses and individuals, and there are loads of ways to do them, dependent on how much time you have to dedicate to the project...

Here are ten of my favourite ideas for starting a photo project:

1. Classic 365! Take a photo a day, of yourself, every day for a year. You don't need to start on January the 1st, dive right in! This group is a great place to go for inspiration.

2. Weekly projects. Two of my favourite bloggers are doing weekly projects right now. Bleubird Vintage is taking a picture of her children every week, and the results are beautiful. Katie from Skunkboy is photographing 52 weekly treats for her and her sweet family

3. Here is a crazy one if you are looking to break out of your comfort zone and improve your photography skills. The 100 Strangers project encourages you to speak to people and take their photo, 100 times over. I love the results of the projects on their website and think it would be such a amazing experience.

4. If you have a relatively interesting life and are into instant gratification (who isn't?) then a Photo An Hour project may be better for you. This is one of my favourites, by American blogger Dainty Squid.

5. Why not try something like my 29 days of Katy and Roo project? Okay, so many of the photos are quite similar and I didn't stretch my photography skills hugely, but I just love the completed project and can't wait to find a place to display these snaps in my home. 

6. If you have the patience, why not try a seasonal project like this beautiful Tree Line one I spotted online. 

7. How about trying to photograph a whole set of something. I love the idea of photographing constellations but I haven't really got the equipment needed. I haven't been able to find a decent example of this online but I know that one exists somewhere and I am determined to find it.

8.  If you don't like taking photos of yourself how about your home a la Elsie Flannigan? I think this would be a fab project for anyone who is working on home renovations to start, what a lovely thing to look back on!

9. One of my all-time favourite photography projects, A Collection A Day. I think you would have have rather a lot of collections to start off with, but I think the photography and styling is just perfect 

10. You don't have to commit to a time frame. Why not try dedicating yourself to taking at least 5 photos every night out? Or how about a picture of your pet whenever you see it doing something funny? How about hand over control entirely and let your cat complete your photography project for you?

I hope you'll feel inspired to try one of these little ideas out for yourself! 

Have a lovely weekend 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Making Your Avatar Fabulous With Picmonkey

Mondays are all about fresh starts :)

It's hard to stand out online, fact. There are lots of things that you can do to stand out, many more salubrious than others. Why not start off your week by changing up your online person with a fabulous avatar (you know what that is don't you? That little thumbnail that appears by your content on twitter, facebook, linkedin...etc.) I'm a huge believer that you should maintain the same image across all your social networking. Makes for a more cohesive image and people will be able to recognise you instantly if they have you on a different site. 

So, I posted a little while ago on how to make any picture perfectly round with Picmonkey. I thought it would be fun to show a few more techniques that Picmonkey has to offer to awesome up your avatar.

Super easy! I have my Facebook avatar like this, and I always get questions about it. I thought it would be a great one to start off with. Simply load up your image...

See that little pumpkin on the bottom of the left hand column? Clicking it will give you a whole bunch of fun effects and overlays. Click the pumpkin, and then scroll down to the 'Sweethearts' section. This is where you will find the 'Heart Cutouts' option. See is there at the bottom?

Click it, and your face will be framed by a heart with a spotty pink background. I changed mine to white use the sliders at the bottom left of the sreen. Use 'Color' instead of swatch. 

Save your file as a 'jpg' or you'll get a funny fuzzy edge to the heart. Here's how mine looks at the moment:

So easy right?

This is a great idea if you are branding yourself online, use your thumbnail to advertise your brand or your blog! It helps to have a shorter name. If you name is Charlene Whippersnapper you might struggle making the text visible :(

Start off with a picture that represents what you are all about. I've rounded the corners because I'm stuck in 1999 and I think it looks cute. Don't judge. The fifth icon down on the left hand bar is a little group of three shapes. That's your overlays. The first option is geometric and I use that the most! I picked a rectangle and sized it on my image. I also twisted it 90 degrees because I want the text up the side. It's super easy to experiment with positions on Picmonkey, so have a play around and see what suits your image best.

Fade it out! Make your text pop without distracting from your image by fading your text background to 50%. I use this technique all the time to add clear text to pictures that I know are going to come up small.

Next choose a font. Big, blocky fonts are obviously a better choice, as your thumbnail is going to be teeny especially on phone screens. I think Budmo Jiggler is one of my all time favourite fonts, but BASE is a great option too. I would seriously recommend a Royale membership to Picmonkey just based on the amazing font options.  I did a little swivellyness on my text, that's the little arm sticking up out of the top if you can't work it out.

Done. Great for Linkedin and Google+ in my opinion :)

Selective colour is one of my favourite effects when used right :)

Start with a full colour image. Load it up into Picmonkey.

The second little icon down on the left hand navigation bar is a little vial of bubbling liquid. That's where you will find the effects. Black and white is a free one.

Next to the 'Fade' slider you'll see a little paintbrush. It's this that you can use to remove the black and white filter on the sections that you want You can adjust the size and density of your eraser brush too. It makes for a fun effect on an avatar.

I hope you have enjoyed these three techniques to make your thumbnail picture fabulous! Don't be shy about leaving a comment :)

Yes, I know. I made a deal about posting pictures of myself online and here is a post full of pictures of me, I'm nothing if not inconsistant eh?

I have not used any of Picmonkey's Royale effects in these suggestions. However I do have a Royale account courtsey of the wonderful people at Picmonkey.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

10 CV Tips You Might Not Know

I'm currently looking for a new freelance Community Manager or Social Media consulting project. Part of getting yourself back out there always involves dusting off your CV and realising that it might not be the most awesome representation of yourself that you can muster. My previous job working in recruitment lets me into loads of industry secrets about writing a resume. My first week on the job blew nearly all of my preconceptions out of the water, and I started to wonder how I got the job in the first place when my CV was so rubbish.

Here's 10 behind-the-scenes tips that might be of use if you are updating yours...

1. Immediately remove the word 'dynamic' from anywhere that it features in your CV. It sucks, but it's the most overused word in jobhunting. I did a count one day and I came across 23 CV's in just 8 hours that described their owners as 'dynamic'. It's cliche, just like 'hard-working' (who would say anything different to a potential employer?), dedicated, team player etc etc.

2. Think about how you would honestly describe your work ethic in an interview. Make a list of ten words that aren't cliched, but specific to you, and use them in the spots you have left after removing the cliches.

3. CV's should ALWAYS be in reverse chronological order, most recent job first. I loathe to include this in a list of CV tips that "you might not know" but it's a very common mistake.

4. Recruiters only ever look at the first page of your CV. After a brief description of you; "I am a versatile and fully experienced doughnut baker..." move straight onto your most recent (and relevant) role. Leave qualifications, hobbies and all that bumpf to the end where noone will bother looking until at least your third interview, possibly ever.

5. Your most recent role should have the most information. I would only include your most recent three positions anyway (especially if you are permanent and not a freelancer). Many an hour is spent in a recruiters life cutting CV's down, and the first thing to go is any role more than 6 years ago.

6. The best format for role descriptions is this:

Brief description of your role within the company
  • Bullet points containing achievements
  • Another achievement
  • Another achievement
Description of what you learnt from the job or what skills your gained.

7. It is never okay to bad-mouth a previous employer. Many a CV has been binned for the smallest of misdemeanors in this direction. Don't even say why you left, it's not what your resume is for and noone is expecting you to. You'll be asked at interview stage - and then of course, always give a generic reason. "Oh they moved offices, I took the opportunity to progress my career with a move" or "my contract ended and I felt I wasn't learning any new skills, I'm a believer in constant self-improvement" It doesn't actually matter what you say, noone cares as long as you aren't saying your old boss was a dick - it makes you look spiteful and the immediate thought will be "what will they say about us when they move on in the future?"

8. White space is the most important thing your CV can have. Recruiters especially are under time pressure, so a huge, packed, intense CV isn't doing anyone any favours. The key is to lay out all essential information, facts, figures, what you are looking for and where you have been - in that order of priority. Space your paragraphs and increase your margins. Don't try the old trick of making the text smaller so that you can reduce your 34 page CV to 18 pages. Noone cares about the job you did in 1983 anyway. A CV is a summary of your successes and achievements.

9. Your full name, Linkedin profile (essential!) and at least two ways of contacting you should be at the top, in bold if you fancy. There should be NO hunt-the-contact information going on. Many jobs have so many applicants that the employer or recruiter just won't bother. Also, why the hell are people STILL writing C U R R I C U L U M V I T A E on the top of their resume? Waste of space, don't bother. There should be nothing on that page that isn't essential information about you.

10. Essential - Name the document containing your CV with your full name and your desired position. So, "Katy Clouds Social Media Consultant.doc", not just "cv.doc". The reason for this is when a CV comes through a recruiter will save it "just in case". I used to have about 700 cv's all sitting in a temporary folder. If they didn't have a name for the title I had no clue and never looked at them again.

I hope these little tips help you out.  Please feel free to email me, katyclouds [at] outlook [dot] com if you have any more in-depth questions, I'd be really happy to offer any advice that I can.

Katy x

Friday, 10 May 2013

Ombre Hair

So, I'm about twenty years behind the rest of the internet and decided to ombre my hair. I never, ever dye my hair. Once I grew it really long and decided to donate it to a cancer charity when I had it cut. So, you can't dye or bleach it or anything if you do that. If you are thinking about doing it, you should, as it takes 40 donations to make a real-hair wig for a cancer survivor. Cancer is scary.

Anyway, this is the result of three packs of L'oreal Wild Ombre 1. ***awkward selfie alert!***

Cue speech about posting pictures of myself online...
So, I don't really like posting pics of myself on the internet. Firstly, as you can clearly see, I have a monstrous forehead that kind of takes up most of the frame. My friends know this, so they instruct me in detail before taking pictures of me. "Tilt your heard down!" "Hold your chin in!" "Push your eyeballs outwards!". I try to heed this advice when taking photos of myself but mostly I end up looking like a cone head. Secondly, it feels a little self-indulgent. I know the whole point of blogging is to put yourself out there and I am trying to take my own advice of putting a personable (if hugely foreheady) face to your online persona.
Still, it's a fear I am trying to overcome, so, um...enjoy these photos of me. I promise not to become one of those bloggers that post hundreds of pictures of themselves on their blog and not much else. In fact I have some exciting things planned for my blog! I'm going to be doing some CV advice, some more articles on successful blogging & detailing my journey into a more frugal, healthy lifestyle :)
Have a lovely weekend, I'm off to swish my hair around in front of the mirror. x

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Catching Up & Job Hunting 101

Yesterday I went on a really long walk along a disused railway line in our town.

That little black splodge in the distance is my doggie, she loves a random trek.

Can you spot her in this shot of me looking pensive and dramatic? She's a cheeky one!

I've been loving the radio station this week, listening to some amazing new music and getting involved in some of the outside broadcast stuff that we are planning this year.

It would probably help if I could work the equipment, I'm still a learner though :)

Just a few little shots of my life the last few days 

I'm spending time looking for a new work project at the moment - gosh it's hard. I have experience in recruitment, obviously, so I get how it works. If you don't hear within 24 hours you haven't got the role, if your interview is less than an hour you probably haven't got it, don't put that you are dynamic on your CV etc etc....

So I thought it would be fun to chart my search for the perfect job here on the blog as well as sharing some of the recruitment worlds inside secrets (cue terror in the recruitment world, I'm sure). Tomorrow I'll be sharing ten CV tips that you have probably never heard, I hope you'll come back for a look x

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Worlds Worst Plan

When I was about 14 I remember a specific day that I stopped at a play park on the way home from school, and I swung really high on a swing by myself for about an hour. I can't remember what I was thinking about, it was probably some minor issue that feels horrific when you are 14 but really has no effect on your actual life in the long run. But it felt pretty serious at the time, really serious.

Over the last two weeks I've gone back to the same place and closed my eyes really tight and swung as high as I can on the same swing. I had a brief moment of craziness, really, where I convinced myself that if I imagined it hard enough I would open my eyes and be 14 again and everything would be okay.

But when I opened my eyes it was still now.

So, Plan A (try and rewind time by swinging on a rusty old swing and wishing really hard) didn't work out for me.

I'm onto Plan B now. I'll let you know when I know what that is.

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