T’was the Night Before Christmas.

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T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the country, dashed irritable shoppers tired and hungry. Every man and their Mother pushed and shoved with their trolley, so much for this being the season to be jolly. When I was a child, Christmas was much more exciting, with the anticipation of Santa bringing presents plus family and loved ones reuniting. The older I’ve gotten the more the festive period makes me wince,from the endless shopping and burgeoning feasts fit for a prince. It makes me sound so selfish, so obnoxious and a bit of a Grinch but I want to treat my loved ones to their own private island but am seriously feeling the pinch. Christmas should be about the presence not the presents around the tree yet here I am stressed about the silly little things that shouldn’t really mean the be all and end all to me. ~ x

 

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So Christmas for a lot of people is seen as such a happy joyous occasion spending time with loved ones, eating and drinking copious amounts of rich, decadent food til you drift off to a drunken snooze in front of the Eastenders Christmas specials. But I can’t lie, this year I have felt the complete opposite of festive and if it wasn’t for the constant reminder on the tv and in shops about Christmas I probably would have been none the wiser!

I just really can’t be dealing with how manic it is at this time of year, how you have to practically hold a black belt in Jiu Jitsu just to manage your way around a TK Maxx throughout the month of December. That you ideally need a car from Wacky Races (always a Penelope Pitstop person if you ask me) to battle for a space in Tesco and the patient of an absolute saint when those relatives ask you those same questions you get every year. Yes I am still single, yes I am *still* a vegetarian and yes my hair is different now but I’m growing out my bangs. Ok now I’m just paraphrasing but you get my drift.

I used to really enjoy the festivities and everything that came along with it but I have been feeling like a right grump in comparison to a lot of people this year. I wish I was feeling it a bit more, giving the fact it is actually Christmas Eve and at the time this goes live in exactly 24 hours the big day will be nearing it’s end. As I get older the thought of all the madness, the craziness when shopping, the fact that someone spend over £850 in my local supermarket, that the shop shelves are nearing on BARE you’d have thought a nuclear apocalypse was on it’s way. God I’m such a misery aren’t I?!

Now, I’m acutely aware that in reality there is far much more to the Christmas period than the buying of gifts or shoppin’ til you droppin’ and I’m probably just feeling it even more so as I’m feeling quite poor and that I wouldn’t be able to indulge others as much as I’d like to. There’s a pressure to show your love and adoration to someone through the gift giving when the bottom line is someone who barely knows you but can exude their wealth could buy you a rolex and someone who cares for you a great deal could write you a thoughtful card that will mean so much more.

So whatever you’re up to this yuletide, on December 25th 2018 I really do hope you have a wonderful one, whether you spend it eating and drinking copious amounts of delicious festive treats, surrounded with your family (even that aunt you don’t really like) or working because as lucky as I am, and the majority are, there are plenty who have to work, or if you don’t celebrate Christmas I hope you have a marvelous day, revelling in the peace and quiet and the one day of the year when the telly has actually quite good things on. But to sum up, you’re all absolutely mint and I hope you have the best day whatever you do. ❤

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What does PR Friendly even mean?

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The blogging community is a powerful force, one that seems to be growing in vast numbers on an almost daily basis. I’ve been been in and out of the blogging biz since 2012; way back when I was only just 17 years old and used my blog as somewhere to share my rambling thoughts, post grainy shots of what I had bought in Primark or what Barry M nail polish I was using that week. Not quite thought-provoking content with me ever eh?! I started a blog simply as a bit of fun and somewhere to fine tune my writing skills, never really thinking about it in the long term, as an actual viable source of income.

Over the years I’ve been incredibly fortunate and lucky enough to receive items gifted to me by brands for the purpose of me placing on my blog, talking about them and sharing my thoughts and opinions on them with you all. Blogging, in my opinion is fast becoming a lucrative market in which a brand can essentially get a writer, editor, publicist, marketing team, photographer and social media team all rolled into one with a blogger or content writer. Without running the risk of sounding incredibly biased, but now I’m aware of bloggers, vloggers and influencers I would trust their opinions on a gifted item much more than I’d trust that of someone who was on Love Island or Geordie Shore. For the amount of money a company would have had to have forked out to advertise in a magazine or get a celebrity to promote they could tap into the Blogosphere and get a handful of bloggers to support them instead for either just the mere price of the product or a fraction of the cost of using a celebrity to endorse it; it’s a no brainer really. 

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Attracting the attention of a brand or a PR is something I’ve always been fairly curious about if I’m honest. I know it sounds dead cliche, but it isn’t the sole purpose to a blog and if that’s the way you get into it to attract as many freebies as possible you’ll probably become bitterly disappointed. I’m sure you may even agree with me that it is is an incredibly touching thing when someone, anyone, reaches out to you and comments, or likes, or reposts what you’ve said. So when a brand says ‘Ello there! we like you a lot fancy working together?’ (I do not know why Dick Van Dyke is clearly writing them all) It is a such a genuinely nice feeling knowing that your hobby, your cheeky bit on the side, the blog you’d like to turn into a career (potentially, I don’t know maybe you do who knows??) is being noticed by actual proper non blogging folk people. 

Having said all of that I’m also fully aware some people are lucky to be able to use their blog as a source of income relying on gifting opportunities, ads and other such forms of revenue to make a living and I really can’t be any more supportive and really, genuinely happy for them! When I see people posting sponsored content or gifted reviews I’m just as thrilled to read that as I am a regular post from them. 

With being a blogger and practically living your life constantly online; your life is your brand and your brand is your life almost. Towing the line between accepting each and every gifted offer and remaining authentic to yourself can become a bit of a grey area for some. For instance, this one is a bit of an extreme example but I’m a vegetarian and for the last 6 months I have received several emails about posting about Wild Game pate’s on here and as much as I’m sure they are delicious it would be completely wrong of me to have accepted as it would be blatantly obvious I hadn’t tasted it and wouldn’t have been my honest opinions.

Similarly I mean that’s not to say if you have a niche you can only speak about one thing and one thing only. You may have started a beauty blog 6 years ago and have just moved house and want to share your renovating story with your readers. You get my drift. 

So what I’m trying to say, whilst simultaneously interrupting myself about one thousand times over, what is the secret to all of this. Perhaps you too might be one of those people that see the phrase #Prfriendly being used and it always making you wonder what that really means or even who realistically is going to be PR unfriendly? Maybe you’ve seen someone who has a smaller following than you, posts on their blog less than you but still somehow seems to be getting ALL of the PR samples under the sun and you want to be super happy for your internet friends but at the same time it kinda makes you wonder why them and not you? Do those that work in PR really sift through Bloglovin’ and Instagram searches in order to find the best people for their campaign? to what extent do brands look into the people that they ask to work with them? and do those ever popular ‘Comment your blog link, DA score and email address to be added to my PR list’ really work?

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I’ve spent the last month or so, trying to get down to the nitty gritty of it all and have the points of view from a real life PR Guru, a full time freelance writer and also from a brand who works within the blogging community too, to see what they’ve all got to say on it. I really hope this post may interest you, help you or at least pique your interest and possibly create conversation about the ins and outs of Blogger outreach. 

Jessica

Firstly to start off with we have the incredibly helpful and totally fab Jessica Pardoe also known as a PR aficionado and an all round absolute gem. She’s been a complete angel in helping me out with this. Jessica specialises in PR and blogger outreach so was the perfect person for me to quiz about everything and anything to be quite honest! I couldn’t have done this all without her help and support and if you aren’t sold on Jess enough by now please do have a browse over on her blog here at Thoughts Of Jessica. Or send a funny gif on Twitter here

what do PRs/brands look for when reaching out to bloggers?

The top thing is a blogger that fits what I’m looking for I.E. if I’m looking for someone to review a hotel, or talk about travel then I’ll only go for a travel blogger or for a blogger who’s written these kinds of posts before. It really irks me when I put out a request for bloggers and ask for something like, someone to write a recipe, and then you can tell the blogger hasn’t even properly read the request and their blog is nothing about food and they’ve never posted a recipe before. Do you get me? It just kind wastes both of our time. In terms of what I specifically look for, I like giving opportunities to bloggers who are genuine and don’t just blog for the paid posts. Cause I can’t imagine those blogs get many reads. If I head to a blog and it’s just sponsored post after sponsored post (and if the posts don’t all fit a theme) then I’ll probably blacklist it. If a blogger is genuine, and if the opportunity fits their brand then I’ll be looking to contact them. At work, we look at something called DA which is short for domain authority and it basically ranks how well established your site is. Bloggers can work on their DA in ways, but more often than not it builds itself naturally as you blog normally. I do look at social followers too, but this isn’t always relevant. It depends on the campaign and the type of sponsored opportunity.

Do they take into account the numbers/stats/media kits or do they base it off their blog content?

It’s normally blog content for me. Sometimes clients will have specific details as to how many followers they want the bloggers to have, so then it does come down to numbers, but most of the time I like to make sure the blogger is genuine, that their content suits the opportunity and above all – that they blog for their readers, and that their site isn’t just cluttered with sponsored posts that aren’t valuable. I’ll also check a sponsored post and see what the blogger’s attitude is towards them. I’ve seen bloggers before having a 100 word or less sponsored post, which is literally just a few words on a page that has no story behind it or anything. The best kind of sponsored posts are done by bloggers who make it their own, and who you can tell genuinely have an interest in the brand they’re promoting. Those are the kind of bloggers I aim to work with.

What is the best way for a blogger to reach out them and what to say?

Personally, I get a lot of pitching emails and a lot of them are so impersonal that they go straight to the trash bin. I had one the other day that read something like ‘Hi, Any posts this month?’ I had to follow up and ask what she meant, and she proceeded to say she meant sponsored posts. But I’d never worked with this blogger before. It all felt quite impersonal… Spending a few extra seconds to make your pitch relate to the PR can go a long way, we can tell when it’s a generic email. I’d say, if you have a genuine interest to work with a brand, it’s good to send an email saying why, and maybe even exampling similar work. It might take a little longer, but those extra touches go a long way and could make the difference between securing a collab and not. I also do tend to work with bloggers that I have a relationship with. If I’ve worked with them before, and they’ve got the post back to me on time and it’s been good quality, then I’ll normally contact them with new campaigns that are relevant to their blog and see if they’d like to take part before I outreach to the wider blogging community. So it pays to build those relationships.

Is there anything that would put them off like swearing in posts etc?

Not really. I think if someones f-ing and blinding on every post then I’m like, my client wouldn’t want to work with this blogger. But most of the time, this isn’t a major red flag for me. I still wouldn’t recommend it though. The biggest thing that puts me off is what I mentioned above… When you can tell a blogger is accepting every collab for the sake of things, and their blog begins to look like an advertising ground. I come across a lot of blogs where their site is 100% sponsored content, and I can’t find a genuine post they’ve written because they wanted to, or for the interest of their readers. I stay away from those bloggers because it all feels really fake. I like to work with those who have a genuine passion for blogging, and who’ll really engage with the brand.

It’s murky waters in the blogger biz at the moment but do they check for fake engagement/bots usage before reaching out?

Yessss 10000000%. I wish every PR did. At the moment there are still tools that are being developed that’ll make our lives easier in spotting fake engagement. But for now, I do always check a bloggers followers if I’m looking to work with them on a social campaign. I check their followers and their likes on Instagram normally. I can spot bots from a mile off, and I won’t work with a blogger if I do. It’s not fair on bloggers who genuinely work to get a great following. Plus, fake engagement would be of no benefit for my client, so it’s a massive no-go for me!

Arma Chameleon

From the point of view of a freelancer / blogger we’ve got the HILARIOUS lady behind @ActualAr. She’s a hoot and a half and if you don’t already stalk her Instagram stories or Twitter feed like I do (I have literally no shame…but find her tweetin’ here) check out her blog here as well. I love her honest, relaxed and down to earth approach. I don’t actually even know her name it’s like it’s kept as a Government secret I can only assume the Ar is short for Aristotle cos I actually adore everything she writes. She could rewrite my local chinese takeaway menu and it would somehow come across as the most hilarious, witty and compelling thing. 

Is there anything you’d suggest before contacting a brand or PR?

If you haven’t already done so, it’s worth putting a media kit together. You can create your own using a design app like Canva, but it’s a lot easier to use something called Webfluential (You can find the link for that here) which basically helps you put one together and collates a lot of your stats for you based on your social media profiles. It’s free too, which helps! Other things that you should try and get to grips with are your details from analytics. Brands often like to know your demographics, so who is actually reading your blog? How old are they? What are they interested in? Remember it’s important to cater to your readers when you’re looking to work with brands and PRs – it’s not going to sit well if you suddenly start reviewing washing machines if you’re a sports blogger, for example!

If someone wanted to start earning from their blog but didn’t have the foggiest clue on how much to charge how would you suggest they go about figuring that out? 

Work out what you will charge, and stick to it. It’s so easy to undervalue your work when you’re hoping to get a collaboration with a brand, but remember the time and effort that you’ll put into the post, so pitch your fee structure accordingly. Don’t let them take the piss, because if you do it once, you’ll do it again, and then you’ll never really gain traction with paid jobs.Make sure you have a terms and conditions/disclosure for work with brands and check the internet advertising guidelines carefully so you don’t end up with a nasty fine either!(Side note- I really had NO clue about this at all but here is the disclosure form from Actual Ar’s site which is so clear and concise)However tempting as it may be, don’t lift someone else’s work and use it for your own. Your blog is unique to you, and you need to make sure you set your terms and disclosures accordingly, or you will end up in murky waters. Be clear on what you will and won’t write about – it’s tempting to write any old shite for the sake of the money, but really it’s not a good strategy in the long term!

Indigo Herbs

Lastly, and no means not least I have quizzed the lovely Claire from Indigo Herbs, a Health and Wellbeing company from Somerset, England who often work with bloggers and post campaigns through Bloggers Required.

What do you look for when reaching out to work alongside a blogger?

From my perspective I’m looking for high value relevant links from the bloggers website to our product pages. For the purposes of referral and SEO. So I’m looking for a good Domain Authority; as defined by moz https://moz.com/home. (Moz measures the SEO power of website as defined by google ) so a good domain authority means the site is well indexed and visible. Social media mentions are also great as this is like personal recommendation. Anything like a giveaway of products on social media can help raise engagement of a social media post.If a blogger was to reach out to you and pitch an idea of a post what type of things would you like to see?When you are pitching you do want to share your statistics of your blog, Domain authority, monthly page visits and preferably a bit about the demographic of your audience so the brand can work out if its a good fit.

Thank you so, so much for making it to the final few words of this post. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Jessica, Actual Ar and Claire for being so lovely and so helpful in terms of putting this all together. I’d really love to know what your thoughts are on this topic too! Have you ever reached out to a PR or a brand before? Has this post been at all helpful to you? Is there anything you agree with or possibly even disagree with?!

Once again, Thank you for reading!! A.x 

The Christmas Tag!

Hello! Sorry for the radio silence around here, I haven’t been very active on here since my attempt at Blogtober. I wish I could say that I’ve been super duper busy hence my disappearing act but truth be told I just really couldn’t be bothered. I’ve had a lot of ideas of things to write about, to post or to say but I couldn’t put them into words or fruition. Plus I felt like I had a bit of a confidence knock from Blogtober somehow, I felt like I was pushing out below par posts that I wasn’t overly proud of and was just doing it to say I’ve done something for that day.

But HIYA i’m back. I’m ready and raring to go and get my head back into the blogging zone. I must say a very special thank you to the very lovely and the very kind Gillian (who blogs here) as she has kindly nominated me to take part in The Christmas Tag she made. If you haven’t already checked out Gillian’s blog I would really like you to have a little peek, a read and especially a follow now. She’s someone that I came across in the Summer I think and I completely fell in love with her writing style, I love how chatty she comes across, like I’m getting advice and having a chit chat with an old friend. Plus I’ve always got the biggest envy for the clothes and makeup she’s loving or wherever she’s off to with her boyfriend. COUPLE GOALS.

On a side note though, I was super touched to see that I had been tagged to get involved with this post. It probably sounds a little bit silly but it does always mean so much to me when someone thinks of me in this whole blogging biz, especially as I’ve been so on and off with it all recently as well! Plus I really do love doing these types of posts, I love writing them and I love reading ones that other bloggers have done, it’s always such a fun insight into someone! So here goes The Christmas Tag!!

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What is your favourite Christmas candle?

I love the Yankee Candle one Cranberry Ice or something quite mulled and spicy smelling always reminds me of Christmas!

What is your favourite Christmas song?

Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney it was one of the few that never used to play on repeat when I worked in retail!

Do you stay in pyjamas all day or dress up on Christmas Day?

As a family we all usually get quite dressed up or failing that wear cheesy Christmas jumpers!

What are your plans for the holidays this year?

We’ve got my Nanny and Grandad coming up for Christmas Dinner and are going to spend the rest of the day chilling, playing games and getting very merry.

What is your favourite Christmas movie?

Elf or The Holiday. I love a feelgood movie and I’ve watched The Holiday countless times and still obsess over Kate Winslet and the old man every time!

Do you love or loathe tacky Christmas sweaters?

I LOVE them! The cheesier the better!

Who will you be kissing underneath the mistletoe this year?

HA! I am sadly forever alone so will probably have to make do with a smooch from my pooch this year!

What are you excited for in the build up to Christmas?

The baking! I love making homemade gifts and just general little treats to snack on over the festive period!

What is your favourite Christmas tradition?

Christmas is always a big family time in my household so I always have memories of Christmas time with all the family over with lots of delicious buffet food to feast on all day long.

What is the number one item on your Christmas wishlist this year?

I haven’t really asked for anything in particular this year but I know my sister has got me a notebook I had my eye on for ages so I’m excited about that!

What is your favourite Christmas food?

My mum makes the best chocolate fridge cake that we’ve always had at Christmas time for as long as I remember! It’s got fruits, biscuits and marshmallows in and it’s so lush.

Do you shop the Boxing Day sales?

No, but sometimes I wish I took more advantage of the Lush sale!

Do you prefer to give or receive presents?

I love to give gifts definitely!

What is your favourite sweet treat for the holidays?

Quality street or any generic selection boxes are always a winner. It’s always the orange creme’s that are left behind in my house. I’m not a big fan of Christmas Pudding or Christmas Cake but I do like a mince pie. Or gingerbread!

Do you have a favourite Christmas drink?

Costa’s gingerbread latte’s or a blackforest hot chocolate are lush and keep you warmed up when out shopping all day. Alcoholic drinks wise I love an amaretto sour.

Which Advent Calendar do you have this year? Do you remember to open it each day?

I don’t actually have one this year! There’s just so many to choose from nowadays?! Back when I was younger I had a Cadbury’s chocolate one and a religious one from my Nan and that was it but now you can get gin, prosecco, candles, cheese the list goes on and on. But back when I did have one I’d always be really good at remembering to open the door each morning before school.

What is your favourite holiday scent?

I love spicy scents whether that’s ginger, cinnamon and allspice but it just reminds me of Christmas baking and holiday scents.

Are you one of those people that wish for a White Christmas each year?

Kind of! I have a really shoddy memory so I’m not entirely sure if I’ve ever actually had a White Christmas but it always sounds so magical doesn’t it!?

What makes the holidays most special to you?

Family time and spending it with those you love.

What has been your highlight of 2018?

I’ve been lucky to do a lot of things with my loving family and friends, had a couple days away with my friend to Brighton, I’ve had the support of my family to chase my dreams and do what makes me happy and I’ve seen some really cool comedy gigs with my sister too! Plus it was great having the warm weather in June and July! That feels like a lifetime ago now though!?

Once again I want to say a big, massive thank you to the fab Gillian, show her some love cos she deserves all of the praise and support!

I tag:

Jess

Laura

Ross

Hannah

Hope you all had a lovely weekend everyone ❤