THE BEST WAYS TO GROW YOUR FOLLOWING ORGANICALLY

I think buying followers will earn you an automatic removal from the community of well-respected bloggers - as someone who works tirelessly to grow my Twitter, blog and Instagram following, seeing someone take a massive shortcut is a bit of a slap in the face. It's impossible to hide as well, especially on Instagram. If you have over 10k followers but are only getting about 200 likes on your photos, that doesn't really add up does it? I'm sure there's ways of checking for fake followers on Twitter too. So don't even try, you will be found out.


Anyway, back to the point of the post. My Twitter following has grown by about 5,000 since starting my blog, so I thought I'd share some of the ways I find most effective in growing an organic following. 

DISCLAIMER: your follower numbers do not define your worth. Just pretty please don't buy them.

UTILISE BLOG SCHEDULING APPS & TAG RETWEET ACCOUNTS

If you don't get your name out there, how will people find you? Thanks to Twitter's updates, you can now see a few tweets that people you follow have liked, not just retweeted, meaning you're finding more and more people with similar interests to you every time you open the app. Using apps like Buffer and Hootsuite means you can tweet at any time of the day, it's one of the most useful apps for when you can't access your phone because you're working or travelling. 

Retweet accounts such as @GRLPOWRCHAT or @FemaleBloggerRT are out there to help you promote your tweets the best you can. These accounts have large followings and when they RT your tweets, they're seen by a substantial amount of people who are interested in blogging and will hopefully therefore follow you! You'll also start seeing a massive change in your pageviews once you start scheduling.


CONNECT WITH OTHER BLOGGERS

Arguably one of the most important things about being a blogger is connecting with fellow bloggers. Not only do they become a friend, they also become a blog help guru that you can turn to with any HTML related nightmare. Interacting with a number of different bloggers helps your name pop up on different peoples Twitter timelines and if you're friendly enough, some other people might drop you a wee follow as well.

The best way to get to know other bloggers is definitely through Twitter chats. I don't take part in them as regularly anymore but they're hugely popular and there are so many of them that you could probably sit in every night for hours just chatting to other bloggers about a number of topics. Hosting them is also a perfect way to gain more followers,  you're the ring leader and after the chat you may find you've gained anywhere up to 20 followers. Fire a few DMs to chat accounts and see if they'll give you an opportunity!


POST REGULARLY

This one applies to both Twitter and Instagram, the more you post, the more you're known. I've found that on Instagram, if you post everyday it's slightly easier to gain followers. By posting twice a day my following grew by about 20 in a week, which I think is quite big for Instagram. I have not yet lost these followers, so it seems they may be genuine! I might be speaking to soon though. They'll probably drop right back down tomorrow. 

With Twitter, it's also important to make sure you stay active, not just scheduling tweets promoting your blog posts, but also more personal, funny tweets. A lot of people call me #relateable (which I actually said in an interview for a job I didn't get...ahem) so it's essential that your Twitter feed isn't just a hoard of robotic, promotional tweets. You have to show people that you can be funny too.


So there you go! I hope some of you find these tips even just a little bit useful. If you want to drop me a follow on Twitter or Instagram (links below) I will always follow back!

What's your favourite social media site?

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HOW I STAY MOTIVATED TO EXERCISE


 
Just let me start off by saying that I am probably the least active person you will ever meet. I just don't move. I'm more than happy to just sit in my bed and watch TV or blog for hours on end, and then wonder why the muscles in my legs seem to have stopped working. That said, for the past few weeks I have actually managed to maintain regular exercise and actually enjoy it, which is a foreign concept to me. I never thought I would actually be able to keep up being fit and active but now that I am almost a fully fledged 'gym bunny', I thought I'd share some of the ways that I keep myself motivated and what makes exercising easier for me.

1. HAVE A GYM BUDDY

This is probably the thing that has kept me the most motivated - when you go to the gym with someone, you're basically tied into the commitment unless you want to lose your friend and never have those golden goddess abs. I have been going 5 days a week for most weeks since joining the gym, and if I didn't have my friend nagging me to get out of bed early I almost definitely wouldn't go as much. Having someone with you who is just as lazy as you are is one of the biggest motivators; you're both hating it, but you're both there.


2. RESEARCH THE PERKS OF YOUR GYM

I will admit I did not do any research prior to joining the gym. It was more like "hey, do you wanna join the gym?" "Yeah, okay" and then we did. We didn't realise how amazing the perks were until we actually got there and then it was like oh my god I love it here I am going to be here all the time. We do have to pay a fair bit for the membership but all the extras are amazing - we get free use of the sauna and steam room, the gym is 24 hour and we always have access, and we get a free nutrition plan as well as attending any classes we want for free. Ballin'.

3. HAVE A GYM PLAN

In addition to all the things I just mentioned, we are also entitled to a free workout plan with our membership, which will get updated every 4 weeks. I used to go to the gym years ago but I stopped because I pretty much had no idea what I was doing, I would just run on the treadmill, do some pathetic weights and leave. Definitely not worth the money I was paying to go to the gym. With the plan we have, I know exactly what I'm doing and how much I should be lifting. It definitely helps knowing I'm actually getting my moneys worth and doing exercises that will be beneficial to me.


4. INVEST IN NICE GYMWEAR

So whilst I have got nice gym clothes, you couldn't really say I invested in them because they're just from Primark. I pay so much for the membership that I can't actually afford the fancy gym clothes to wear to the gym. It doesn't bother me, it does the same job as more expensive gym wear and I look just as good. I think feeling good at the gym is really important, people will slate girls for wearing makeup to gym or whatever, but if it makes you comfortable and less self conscious, then go for it. I only wear makeup there if I'm going straight from work but for ages I was too self conscious to even step foot in a gym. If looking good helps you get there, then do it. 

5.  TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

I've only been going for a short while but I'm already starting to see a difference in my body and my strength. If you note these progresses, even through photos, it almost starts the exercise addiction. When you start to see results, you'll never want to stop. It's taken me a few weeks, but I can finally chest press 9kg without wanting to be sick or needing to stop after 5. I'm also noticing a difference in my middle, it's more defined and I look ever so slightly leaner. My bum also looks rounder, and now I'm completely obsessed with working harder and getting results quicker. Just you wait, next week I will have a full 6 pack and a massive bum. Well, massive-er.


So here I am, a self confessed bed lover, actually getting up and going to gym and enjoying it. If last year you told me I'd be paying £40 a month to go to the gym every day, I would've 100% laughed in your face. Don't you know me?!

How do you stay motivated to exercise?

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OLYMPUS PEN E-PL7 | REVIEW


So if you follow me on twitter or instagram, you'll know I recently changed from my beloved Canon 600d to the Olympus Pen E-PL7! I've been admiring the Pen for months and months, so when I found it at a reduced price, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to nab it. I think the Pen is almost every bloggers dream camera, and for good reason.

QUALITY OF IMAGES

The quality of the images that the Pen takes is completely insane, I honestly think it's so much better than my Canon. Each picture is sharp and clear, you can read writing so well and if you crop or edit photos, the quality is minimally affected. You can zoom all the way in and still see every single detal almost as if it was right in front of you. MAD. 


FEATURES

There aren't as many features on the Pen as there were on the Canon, but I found them all way too overwhelming and usually just kept all the settings the same anyway so having less options is something I've found a lot easier. You have the automatic settings, where it sets the shutter speed and aperture itself, then you can set the shutter speed and aperture separately and also together, you can film, create a collage on the camera itself, set the scene mode and the camera would set the settings automatically, you can apply creative effects, and full auto mode which sets the scene mode and everything else. Phew. Sounds like a lot, but it's a lot more managable than the Canon settings!


There is also a wifi feature, which is one of the things that made this camera even more attractive to me. With the Canon, I would have to put the memory card into my laptop and go through a whole load of hassle to transfer them, edit them, then transfer them back. This also meant that if I went on holiday anywhere, I wouldn't be able to access my photos until I got home unless I had my laptop. Now, I just press a few buttons and I have my photos right there on my phone. The wifi feature also comes with a remote control feature, so I can use my phone to see what the camera is seeing, and take the photo that way, if that makes sense. Comes in handy for a whole lot of things!

The screen flips out down and out on the Pen, but one thing that's quite annoying is it doesn't turn round or flip out sideways. With the Canon, the screen flipped out and round so I could hide the screen when I had to transport it anywhere. I'm always worried that the screen on my E-PL7 will get scratched.


FOCUS OPTIONS

I was a bit taken aback at the lack of viewfinder but it turns out it's actually not a massive issue. The focus is slightly different compared to the Canon, you press the left button on the keypad and it displays a grid which you then use to move the focus to whichever point you need. Alternatively, you can use the touch screen to focus, which is SO COOL. I keep trying to encourage my boyfriend to use the touch screen option because he hasn't quite gotten the hang of the button focus and my outfit photos are mostly out of focus. But of course, I'm extremely appreciative that he's even willing to take my photos. If he wasn't, I'd be ruined.


EASE OF USE

I am a complete photography novice and I actually find this really easy to use. I'm not really one for instructions, I tend to just work things out as I go, and I've picked up most of the features on this relatively quickly. It took me a little while to realise that the second twisty dial can be used to alter the aperture/shutter speed and Maria had to tell me that the screen actually lifts all the way out but I think that's it.  


EXAMPLE PHOTOS

The following photos are all unedited photos taken with my 45mm f1.8 Olympus lens, so you can see for yourself how good the quality of the photos is.

 

The following 2 photos are edited with ColorStory, just to show that the quality of the photos remains after editing.



WORTH THE MONEY

I purchased my camera from eBay so it only cost me about £350, which included the 14-42mm pancake lens, but I then bought the 45mm lens which set me back £199. The camera usually retails at about £400/£500 so I'm pretty chuffed that I managed to find such a good deal, considering it was in perfect condition, in the box, as if it were brand new (for all I know, it could be). Given the quality of the images and the insane range of features, I find it to be definitely worth the money. The lightweight feel and wifi options mean it's easy to take anywhere, and the effect achieved with the 45mm lens is unlike any other.


I would 100% recommend this camera over a Canon camera anyday. But the Olympus suits my needs more than my Canon did, so it just depends what you're after. I would definitely encourage anyone sitting on the fence about this camera to just go for it, it will change your life.

Have you ever tried the Olympus Pen?

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BLOGGERS DAY OUT

I couldn't go to London and not meet up with at least one of the 7 million bloggers that live there, the photo opportunity was too good to resist. The person that actually inspired me to start blogging and continues to be my guru when I need help with coding or URLs (bane of my life) is Maria, who I met up with for brunch and a little photoshoot last week.

There's always the fear when you meet someone for the first time that you just wont get on, there will be too many awkward silences and you just wont have anything to talk about. Thankfully, it wasn't like this with Maria at all - she could probably just talk non stop forever if she had the chance.

We went to a little place in Marylebone called Daylesford, which took us longer to find than it probably should've. I had a pot of tea and some pancakes with honey and 'seasonal fruit'. I'm not sure what kind of fruit was on top of my pancakes but if anyone would like to hazard a guess, go ahead. It was not very nice.

In true blogger style, we went on the hunt for those perfect white houses for outfit photos. I was a bit too excited about this because all my outfit photo backdrops are just nature, I'm not quite brave enough to stand on a busy street in Edinburgh and have photos taken. Holland Park was pretty much a bloggers dream destination for outfit photos, the street we found was nice and quiet and very white and backdrop-y.

I had the chance to play around a little with Maria's E-PL8 and see how it compared to my E-PL7 and there is virtually no difference. It's a slightly sleeker model in terms of its appearance but the funcionality and performance is pretty much the same. I'm in love with the quality of the Olympus Pen's, it's hardly comparable to my Canon.



It was quite daunting for me to stand on a street and pose for photos - I'm not quite down with the posing yet and I've always been way too conscious of the other people around. If anyone has any tips on how to actually pose for outfit photos and make it look natural, please share. There are too many tragic outtakes of me looking insanely awkward or doing something stupid like flashing my stomach.

I wish I could be in London permanently, I had the best few days exploring and photographing cool things. If everyday could be like my day with Maria, that would be amazing. I have to go back to work very soon and the holiday blues are currently hitting me very, very hard.

Meeting Maria was so beneficial for me; discussing the opportunities and goals she's achieved with her blog definitely motivated me to work so much harder on improving my content, photography and brand. I am inspired by how hard she works and everything she's achieved has been through her determination; she's completely genuine and lovely and completely deserving of all the successes she's had so far. I have no doubt that her and her blog will go on to achieve some pretty amazing things, and I can't wait to see what they are.

TOP & CHOKER - PULL & BEAR
BRALET - TOPSHOP
JEANS - NEW LOOK
BOOTS - PRIMARK (OLD)
JACKET - DOROTHY PERKINS (OLD)


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LONDON ZOO

On the Tuesday we headed to London Zoo, which is probably the day I was most excited about and it remains my favourite day of the trip. We had planned some other things that day but it turns out the zoo took so long that we just went home with very tired feet and very full memory cards.

I'll start with my favourite part of the whole zoo - these little monkeys (I can't remember the actual name). It was a walk through exhibition and they were all over the place, I got so many amazing photos but I don't want to bore you with those. I actually got told off for being too close to them in the above photo, turns out they bite...Oops.

Another favourite of mine was the Reptile House (featured in Harry Potter!!!!), where I got the best photos I have possibly ever taken. I think I just got lucky with the animals being at the front of their cages and keeping an eye on what was going on around them.

It's actually a little scary how many photos I got of reptiles staring me dead in the face.


I've always been fascinated by big cats - I find them so graceful and beautiful. We only spent a few minutes at the tiger enclosure because it was mobbed with small children that kept shouting. But then the big lion boy went crazy and started roaring all over the place, which was the best thing I've ever heard. I never thought I'd hear a lion roar in real life, don't give up on your dreams kids.

I must admit, I am actually a bit afraid of butterflies. The butterfly walk-through was a little bit terrifying but I braved it and I actually got some really nice photos of some beautiful little butterflies. One of them, which had holes in its wings and struggled to fly, ended up landing on my boyfriend and climbing up his leg. I admire him for staying so calm, if one landed on my I probably definitely would've freaked out a lot.
My boyfriend fully freaked out when he saw the giraffes - they're his favourite animals ever. We really lucked out with the giraffes because when we went into their little inside house, 2 of them were just walking and chilling and doing giraffe stuff. We both got insane photos but this one is hands-down my favourite because he/she looks like they're smiling at us. It was quite surreal being so close to them. Although not that close because 45mm lens. If you know, you know.

I over-estimated how cold it would be and wore my thick fur jacket out, mainly because I wore a thin jacket the day before and almost froze. As you can see, I pretty much didn't wear the jacket because it got warm. Oh well, better too warm than too cold.

 
My jacket is from New Look (winter collection, obviously) and my top and jeans are both from Primark. The choker is from Pull & Bear, and I can't seem to stop wearing it.

Have you ever been to London Zoo?

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