The Misunderstood Life Of A Blogger/Influencer.

So you want to be a blogger???

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I often have people asking me about how they can start their own successful blog. My first response will always be to ask them why they want to start one in the first place?

8/10 they will say because it looks like such a great lifestyle, and it is an easy way to get freebies and earn money. They want to quit their 9-5 and work from a coffee shop or the comfort of their own home.

If they were standing in front of me, instead of being behind a screen, I’d most likely give them a little mid forehead tap. This is almost never the case. So, let’s put the assumptions aside.

Want to start a blog?

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Firstly, prepare to work hard. Understand that for the first while you won’t be getting paid to do a thing. If writing and blogging isn’t a natural passion of yours, you aren’t going to be inspired or driven. I am often switching on my laptop at 10pm to work on reviews and articles. There is no off button.

If the desire is purely stirred by what you see plastered all over social media by the influencers that you follow who are jetsetting around the world, being sent designer clothing and shooting massive campaigns, know that they had to get there.

Do you feel that you are incredibly passionate about something in particular that you wish to share with the world? Be it a life event that has changed your life – for me, being adopted and becoming a mom. For you it could be something else. Do you have a love for fashion? What makes you different to the next? What will make you stand out? There’s no point in just copying another influencer’s style or trends just because he/she gets thousands of likes on their images. Because, once again – they built their empire, and worked towards getting that response. Do you love to travel? Are you willing to cover your own travel expense to share your favourite places with your readers? Because in order to be invited to review beautiful places around the world, you need to have a portfolio before anybody is going to be inviting you to stay free of cost. And even then, for a long period of time, you’ll be covering little bits of your trip.

I’m sure by now you’re catching my drift. What is the point of starting a blog full time when you are just trying to become someone that you may idolize? Social media is a world that more often than not, shows you the wonderful things of life and forgets to mention all of the in betweens.

To the younger girls that are reading this, HALF OF IT IS FAKE. There is an entire world that isn’t being shown. These days, someone could share an image of the Eiffel Tower, but in reality, they could be sitting on their couch at home reminiscing of their trip 10 years ago.

I’ve had readers messaging me saying that they so wish they could also have beautiful clothes given to them – but, in reality, some of the wardrobe I shoot in is just borrowed for photoshoots.

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Back to the point…

You want to start a blog? You want your blog to be a success. Before you quit your job, and jump into this industry, consider the following.

– Do I have the passion?
– Do I LOVE to write?
– What would my niche be?
– Do I have something to share with my readers that will impact them in a positive way?
– Can I accept being turned down by companies?
– Can I earn money from this?
– Who would I be targeting?
– Am I wanting to blog just to replicate the influencers I follow with over 50k followers?
– Is this a hobbie, or could I actually turn this into a full time job?

Now, if you’ve answered those questions, and are still wanting to go ahead with it, let me share a few tips with you.

1. Don’t quit your 9-5… yet!
Don’t quit your job that you are earning a salary from until you start earning money from your blog. First get your blog established and make sure that you  are earning enough over the period of a few consecutive  months.

2. Just start.
Start by reviewing things that you already own. Maybe it’s a perfume that you love. Perhaps you just bought that new product from Lush that you are obsessed with. Perhaps you travelled somewhere recently and you feel it was amazing. This helps you build up a blog with decent, quality content. Tag those brands in your posts as this also helps you get recognized.

3. Be true to yourself.
Don’t write about anything that you do not believe in. Don’t review a product that you don’t like and say that you love it just to get brownie points by a big brand. Write about things that inspire you, help you get through a day. Being authentic is admirable and invaluable. This is what draws readers and followers. When they feel that they are connecting with another person that they can relate to. Let’s get real- you aren’t a celebrity. People don’t know you until you create a platform that allows people to get to know you. On this note, don’t be that person who buys followers and likes just to grow their following. That doesn’t work anymore. It ain’t real, so if it’s making you feel better about yourself, you have bigger issues than learning how to run a blog.

4. Share beautiful content.
It’s all about being real, and everybody loves seeing in the moment snaps. But, try to keep your feeds looking professional. Brands want to work with bloggers who have a high standard – photos, written content, etc. I’m not saying you need to go out to invest in a camera if you can’t. I’m also not saying you need to spend thousands on working with photographers. I AM however saying, that take time to consider a photo before you push the button. Have a focal point and share a little story behind it. Let the photo tell the story – especially for Instagram as many people don’t read captions unless they have a reason to.

5. Set your bar.
I feel that I have learnt so much since I first started blogging. I too started on the first step. I also misplaced my footing a couple times on my way up. And, I am far from the top of the staircase. But, I do believe that it is important to figure out what type of brands you want to work with. Write a wish list of who you’d like to work with – maybe not now, but someday. Don’t ever let your bar slip for a product you want, because someone has influenced you or for any other reason. Know what quality work you are content sharing with your readers. Give yourself a reason to have pride in it, and don’t let it slip.

6. Give yourself a time limit.
When working out a plan for your blog, write down what your dreams are for it. Give yourself a year, or a year and a half, for instance, to create a platform that will stand out to brands. Once you start getting contacted by businesses, you can pat yourself on the back because that is your time to shine. I always say that that is when you can start unpacking your rate card, and you can start charging brands for your reviews.

7. Know your worth.
When it does come to the time to start charging brands for marketing, don’t get overly ambitious. Understand that you charge dependent on what you are able to offer them. If you have 1000 followers, start small. Once you get higher and know that your blog is reaching a good amount of readers, that’s when you can start raising your prices, because the brands are getting more exposure from you. I change my rate card once a year, unless I have a huge rise in followers. Brands are normally happy to pay when they feel that you are being reasonable and not trying to rip them off. Also, understand that there are some brands out there who do take advantage of bloggers. If you firmly believe in the rates you charge for the quality of your work, don’t let them intimidate you into waiving your fee. Your time and skill is valuable. Many brands promise to work with you again and to pay you the next time, and you never hear from them again.

8.Connect with your readers.
Nobody likes to be ignored. If you want to have a successful blog where people interact with you, you need to set time aside where you prioritize thoughtful and genuine responses to your readers. If it wasn’t for your readers, you wouldn’t have a successful blog in the first place. This is also a great opportunity to inspire further. Brands also like to see correspondence between influencers and their readers. I am also so often inspired by my readers through their comments on my posts, and have found many special friends and connected with inspirational women through my accounts.

9. Go easy on yourself.
It isn’t easy being a blogger. One month, I have bookings and big campaigns streaming in. The next month I’m twiddling my thumbs. Not really. That’s when I take time writing articles for my blog and creating content. But, understand that just because you aren’t being contacted by brands, doesn’t mean that you and your blog aren’t worthy. Brands also have budgets that are allocated to marketing and working with influencers. Once that is up, it’s up. Don’t beat yourself up over the quieter times, instead, spend that time creating valuable articles and reflecting on how you can make changes. You can also take this time to do research on new brands you’d like to work with, prepare strong proposals and get in touch with them to let them know what you can offer them.

10. Last, but most certainly not least – understand your social media platforms.
Nobody wants to work with someone who doesn’t even understand what they’re doing. Do research on the platforms you will be using – for me, it’s Facebook, Instagram and WordPress. Do weekly research on how these platforms have changed. Understand SEO’s and google analytics. Know when the best time of each day is to post as well as which days get the best response. This is incredibly important for when you are being paid by brands. Keep educating yourself, and keep yourself updated. Also, understand algorithms. One day you could be reaching 1000 likes, and the next day only 500. Don’t kick yourself, just understand that Instagram and Facebook is a business too, and they have made changes so that people like you and me feel that we need to pay to sponsor posts.

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There is so much more that I could share, but time is money, and I’m applauding you for getting this far anyway without having to switch screens as your boss walked by.

For me, blogging happened by accident. It wasn’t planned. I wanted to create a platform that I could turn to to get support from other moms after my son was born. It escalated from there, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I love blogging. There are times where I have writers block. There are times when I just don’t feel inspired. But, it’s all part of this industry, and every single influencer and blogger will hit a halt at some point.

I want to take a moment to encourage you to take the next step if after this article, you feel inspired and still feel ready to take on this next chapter. If you’re wanting to take on blogging full time, don’t quit your job until you’re making enough money to support yourself. Give yourself some time, and be gentle with yourself. Putting yourself out there is brave, and sharing parts of your life with others to inspire, motivate or help them is incredibly courageous. But, also keep in mind that even if nobody comments or you only get a few likes – there is always somebody that you have inspired.

I truly hope that this post has helped guide you in one way or another.

All the best for your journey!

– L


Images: Criene Images

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Superfood For Superkids – The Fry Family Food Co.

Fry’s quickly became our ‘easy’ dinner option for busy days after we tried them for the first time. Now, fast forward a year and a bit, and it is the one freezer item we always have a stash of. We take them away with us when we do self-catering because they can be done in the oven or stove-top and some even in the microwave, in other words, there’s no situation you’ll be in where you can’t actually cook them.

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Any meal that takes a parent no longer than 8 minutes to cook is a winner in my eyes. I’ve done collabs with Fry’s a few times, and each time I can’t stress more that we are not vegan or vegetarian. BUT, I do like to create an awareness in my home that there are other alternatives to meat. I have a very sensitive little boy, he loves animals so intensely. And, I am providing him with choices that he can make when he is ready. If he decides to become a vegetarian or vegan, then I am backing him 100% as I believe that each person will make their decision based on something that is happening in their hearts.

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As you know, the Fry’s meals are 100% vegan friendly. They are high in protein, source of fibre, a non-GM product as well as onion and garlic free. I would have shrugged at the onion and garlic free part at one point, but my aunt is highly allergic to those two ingredients which has made me aware of how extreme those two ingredients can be.

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Fry’s has started the Fry’s Superfood to Superkids campaign which we have loved. They sent us an amazing recipe book which has loads of yummy plant-based recipes in it. They encourage parents to invite their kids into the kitchen at meal time to help prepare their meals, which obviously isn’t just amazing for bonding, but also educates your kids on the food they are putting into their bodies. On each page, there are some interesting facts (at a kids level) with beautifully illustrated pictures. This opens their eyes in a harmless way to why a plant based diet is a good one, and why it is important for us to steer away from consuming animal products.

Again, we are neither vegan nor vegetarian, yet, I thoroughly appreciated this book. I was in no way offended, as I do believe that there is only truth in what they have shared. I love that they have shared creative and fun recipe ideas, creating cute pictures with the ingredients. I do believe that this makes it that much more exciting for kids.

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I have never had an issue with my little boy not wanting to eat the meals, and he prefers them to normal meat. The chicken nuggets and sausages are still a favourite of his, and we love the both burger patties. I have served the prawn style strips in our home to guests too, who have said they taste pretty similar to the real deal.

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I know many people choose to be vegan, not because of the taste of meat, but rather, because of what they stand for. Because of that, I do believe that Fry’s is amazing because so many of their products taste the same as the actual meat version and have such a similar texture. For instance, their hot dogs have been infused with an authentic hickory smoke flavor which makes them better than the meat option, in my opinion! Also, as much as we love real viennas, how many of us are actually 100% sure of what is in them? And how many of us actually feel totally content feeding them to our kids? Now you really don’t have to worry about a thing.

They also sent us a plate which gives us an idea of how much of each (protein, fruit and veg, grains, etc.) we need in each meal. And in each category, they give you ideas (in picture form) so that you and your kids know exactly what your body needs to be eating in order to function properly.

A new favourite of mine are the Butternut Balls which are divine and such a great addition to any meal. It’s a great way to get some veggies into little tummies.

We have had so much fun with the cookbook, and I can highly recommend it to my readers! Your kids are bound to enjoy it as much as my little guy has. And we are excited to continue creating more meals from the book over time.

I’m also going to be making more of an effort to educate my son on the effects of animal products and trying to make more of a conscious effort to feed him more meat free meals.

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Want to get your hands on one of these cook books? Simply download it here.

Head over to their social media platforms for more inspiration and information:

Facebook
Instagram
Website


Photo Credit: Angela Rea Photography

Sleep Soundly This Winter In Granny Goose Linen.

There’s nothing in this world like climbing into your cozy bed after a long day, especially in Winter. The crisp, fresh linen that’s ice cold as it first touches your skin that quickly warms your shivering body as you frantically rub your feet together.

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I think back to my early teen years. I saved up for months to buy the perfect duvet set to match my baby pink room. Hot pink covered in daisies, reversible – the other side turquoise blue with hot pink polka dots. It was perfection to my thirteen year old self. But, did I love and look after that duvet set! You bet. The quality was so good that when I finally outgrew it, I passed it onto another girl who loved it just as much as I did, and she passed it onto someone else.

But, time went on and as I grew up and moved on, life changed a little. My double bed turned into a queen size bed to accommodate my man. And that turned into a King size bed… well, to accommodate a baby. And our choice of linen was just out of our reach financially. We settled for linen that was cheaper. The quality wasn’t great, and only now do I really understand how good linen can really impact your quality of sleep!

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I vividly recall tossing and turning every night. Waking up feeling irritated, trying to adjust my duvet cover. That feeling of discomfort that you just can’t get rid of. Cold winter nights I would find myself shivering beneath my covers. Hot nights spent frustratingly attempting to stop our sheer covers from sticking against my body.

Making my bed was never enjoyable. It was boring. A chore. I would fight with my duvet cover to get it on, as the loose frayed threads would tangle around my fingers as I hurriedly tried to just get the task done as quickly as possible. Bed time would arrive and I’d wait until the very last minute to climb into bed hoping I would be so tired I’d fall asleep immediately.

I sound like I’m ungrateful, however, I never really realized that my linen was actually the problem until I started using linen from Granny Goose! This sounds like the perfect advertisement. Like, I found the cure to all of your problems! But, in reality – they honestly have been my perfect solution to a bad night sleep!

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Criene Images

It created a cozy environment that very quickly became a place I felt I could escape to in order to reboot, to refresh my mind and to gain some sanity after a long day of motherhood. It has become a place that we snuggle up as a family to watch a movie. The perfect Sunday morning lie in spot that memories are created with my little boy finding his spot in the middle for tickles and stories. It’s become a place that my hubby has the desire to hang out in after a long day of work. Funny that something as simple as linen can have such a huge effect.

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Their linen is obviously made from Cotton and the style we chose is made with their 200 thread 100% count cotton percale. I’ve noticed how warm and snuggly I feel even with the same duvet inner. The thread count & cotton has made the hugest difference for Winter. We also chose a gorgeous Herringbone Throw which we have been using at night too. It is a beautiful, soft throw spun from soft acrylic fibers and finished with a trendy blanket stitch. They are available in Mint & Cobblestone (and are actually on sale at the moment!). Sometimes, during the day, I will sit and work on my bed and just use it over my legs – and it warms me up immediately. Such a perfect buy!

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I always thought that white would be such a silly colour to have on our bed due to having a toddler, but the marks that he has made have washed off without an effort. And, let’s be honest – there’s nothing better than fresh white linen! Right?

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I have to be totally honest and say that I have truly been enjoying my sleep at the moment. I was worrying about winter creeping up on us with the thin linen we had before that just wasn’t going to cut it for the cold nights. And we managed to get our Granny Goose linen just in time. It has made the hugest difference, and we wake up well rested!

It was such a pleasure going through the ordering process with the Granny Goose team. They are so helpful, and are incredibly well educated on their products and what will work best for you! They have a gorgeous selection, and really are well priced for the phenomenal quality. You won’t need to be replacing your linen any time soon after investing in new linen from them.

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I just want to add that the beauty of the Granny Goose linen is that it easily fits into your current bedroom style. No need to change things around for your linen – your linen fits in, yet stands out!

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We obviously couldn’t forget about our fur babies either – so we decided to get one of the Pet Duvets for them. My female Alaskan Malamute is besotted with her new bed. It is super padded, warm and cozy for her, and I love it because it means I can put it on our bed or the couch and I know that the hair won’t be a problem. My Siberian Husky hasn’t had much of a chance on it yet, as Skye isn’t a fan of sharing her bed with hairy men. 😉

*I will be telling you a bit about my experience with their luxury Duck Down Pillows in my next blog post as they have totally cured the migraines that I used to wake up with almost every morning and have helped me sleep so much better at night. I’m really excited to share my thoughts and experience on this with you as I am sure that it could help a few other people too!

Have a look at Granny Goose’s social media platforms:

Facebook
Website
Instagram


A huge thank you to the incredibly talented Lauren McCreath Interiors for helping style the room to perfection. She did such a great job, as per usual!

Bedroom Photographs shot by Seppi Hochfellner.
Lounge Photographs shot by Criene Images.

You can also follow me on Instagram or Facebook to see future collaborations.

Capturing An Indescribable Love: Mother & Son.

IMG_7896There’s something incredibly special about raising a family in this generation. Things have changed, and the fact that we are able to do photo shoots with our families and children really is something magical. We are enabled to capture special moments, and to freeze a moment of time so much more easily than when I was growing up.

It certainly does take someone talented to capture the true emotions between a family or between two individuals. They have to make themselves vulnerable behind their cameras to just slip into your normality as a family. I’ve met some photographers who just don’t have that – and then there’s those, like Aimy from Aimy-Louise Photographer whose just got it.

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I was amazed at how quickly, and effortlessly Aimy captured my little boy and I on Saturday afternoon. The entire shoot was totally natural, and not once did I find her stopping my little guy from doing something he wanted to do to force him into some ‘perfect’ frame. Aimy simply awaited the moments that had emotion overflowing from them – she watched as we played, and allowed us to, well, just be us!

 

We wanted to have some updated photos in time for Mother’s Day, and although the deadline was short, Sunday rolled around and I had my images popped neatly in my inbox awaiting me. My heart burst with love, emotion and pride as I scrolled from one image to the next. She captured the imperfections, the raw and real moments. The happiness and vulnerability of a mother and son.

 

Aimy’s photos speak emotion. Her colours deep, leaving you with a sense of wonder and allowing you to see directly into the heart. I love that she doesn’t cover up every flaw, but rather shows your imperfections as what makes you unique and beautiful. These photos are so special to me. By looking at them, I will always look back and remember that feeling of my little boys small, warm, dirty hands holding my face to plonk a kiss on the tip of my nose. Those same hands excitedly gripping onto mine, trusting me to guide him out of harms way into safety. The sound of laughter echoing between the trees as he throws the fresh, crisp Autumn leaves above my head waiting for them to take landing.

 

Each family, and mother and child has their own unique story – and Aimy makes sure that she captures your story exactly for what it is. There are no corny poses, and no rights and wrongs. She allows your family to be comfortable in your own skin. And that is what makes her stand out to me as one of the best photographers for family, engagements, couple, newborn or wedding photography in Cape Town.

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Aimy-Louise Photography is offering a special on her Mommy & Me Mini Sessions. For R700 you get 30 minutes with her and 10 edited photos. This is such a wonderful deal, and I really encourage you to make use of this special if you’re needing some updated images with your kids, if you are based within the Cape Town area.

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You can see Aimy’s portfolio here:

Website
Facebook
Instagram

Thank you, Aimy for the beautiful images of my little boy and I. You truly captured our quirky and very special relationship perfectly!


*My wardrobe: My Scattered Heart

Win This Mothers Day!

COMPETITION TIME

Motherhood is challenging. It’s beautiful and it’s rewarding in so many ways. But you only truly understand just how hard another Mom works on a daily basis once you become a Mother yourself. The lists are endless, and very seldom are we ever thanked for all that we do.

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This month, we celebrate Moms! Every mom from every walk of life. We salute you for all that you do. We appreciate you for all of the sacrifices you have made for your children and for your families.

And, we want to reward you, and to encourage you to take a moment to yourself this month!

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One lucky Mom will be winning a R1000.00 Spirit Jewellery voucher to spend either online or in-store, a pair of gorgeous Poppy Divine PJ’s valued at R900.00 and a voucher for you and a girl friend to have some ‘you’ time enjoying a Foot Soak and Massage at Rouge Day Spa valued at R150.00 each.

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The total value of this special Mother’s Day competition is R2200.00.

In order to enter, please visit my Facebook or Instagram account to enter!

The winner will be randomly selected. Please note that we will be checking that each entry has been successfully completed.

Please note: Rouge Day Spa is located in Cape Town, you may still enter if you are an SA resident, but aren’t in Cape Town, and you are welcome to gift your voucher to a friend who lives here!

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GOOD LUCK, and may you all feel appreciated and relaxed this Mother’s Day! This competition is only open to South African residents! The prize is not refundable and may not be exchanged or returned.


Photos: Criene