Blogging
I did it! I finally did it! After months of wanting to plan a meet up for local Birmingham bloggers I finally set a date, booked a room, and met some lovely ladies. I'd been thinking about setting something up for quite some time really. I've been blogging for over 5 years now and although I'd made some great blogging friends throughout the UK, I'd still hardly met anyone from the Midlands which was a shame.



I always see bloggers and vloggers meeting up for coffee and photoshoots and to be honest I wanted in on that kind of friendship. Like I've said previously, not many of my friends know I blog and I'm quite happy to keep it that way as I don't think they'd really understand it anyway. But as I've kept my blog quiet I've also managed to partly alienate myself from local bloggers which is sad. So with that in mind I wanted to get a load of us together! 

I do occasionally meet bloggers at events around the Midlands which is always fun, but at the same time the events are always so busy with constantly taking photos and promoting things on social media, you don't get time to really talk to people, to really connect. Along with that there are a lot of bloggers who don't really blog about 'things' and don't get invited to events because it's not relevant to them, and I'd never get to meet these people if not at a casual meet up like this. So I planned my little event.


From left to right Giovana, Gemela, Shona, Jess.

It wasn't without difficulty to be honest. I was nervous for weeks that nobody would turn up/ too many people would turn up/ the room I booked wouldn't be right. I worried a lot basically, but I persisted. In the end I booked a little room at Cherry Reds in Birmingham on the advise of the lovely Ting and it was just right. Four fab bloggers/ bloggers-to-be turned up, and although four was quite a few less than had said they were coming, it was a nice amount of people. We all managed to have a good chat over a cup of tea or two and it was just really great to sit and talk to creative people for a few hours.

Along with just generally having a really nice time I also managed to tick off one of my blogging goals for 2018 and work towards overcoming my anxiety - something I will talk about again soon. I'm really really glad I plucked up the courage to put on the event and I can't wait to organise another!

Thanks again to everyone who came along! x



Thanks for reading!



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I HOSTED MY FIRST BLOGGER MEETUP!


Wow! 5 years! Where has the time gone? It's been 5 whole years since I started this little blog and what a good few years it's been. Since setting up my blogspot all those years ago I've gained friends, skills, and so much confidence. The world of blogging has its ups and down but the good far outweighs the bad and I can honestly say this is the best hobby I have ever ever had!

So why did I even start blogging? Well a mixture of reasons really. I was finishing off with my A levels and I had nothing to work on or look forward too. My education was finished as far as I was concerned and I wouldn't have a reason to create anything anymore. I loved being at college and the thought of just mindlessly drifting into the world of work scared the life out of me! Would I have a reason to take photos anymore? Would I even want to? So that was the kick up the bum I needed to get something set up.

I was reading blogs well before this time though. Some I still read religiously, others not so much, but I'd gained inspiration from them all. When I started blogging 'influencers' weren't a thing. I followed girls who loved to write, girls who loved to take photos, and girls who could style up a bin bag if they wanted to. Everyone had a passion for what they did and I wanted a slice of that. I never picked a niche, if you read this blog post you'll know that I'm not a fan of just picking one thing and I'm so glad I made that choice. Maybe I could have specialised in something and that would have made my blog more popular but at the end of the day this is my diary, my life, and I want to record everything.

So where do I see my little space in the future? Blogging is changing so so much. It's no longer about doing what you love and more about making everything perfect. Maybe thats a bad thing? I don't know, but I do know there will always be a place for old school bloggers like me and there will always be space for new bloggers too! I never want to give up blogging and as long as I have the time gracebee.co.uk will always be where I come to share my thoughts, my feelings, and my life in general.

Thank you so so much to everyone who has read my blog, left comments and just generally supported me in the last 5 years. It's been a blast! Here's to the next 5!


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5 YEARS OF BLOGGING!


I feel like I've been blogging forever - in a good way. It's been the best hobby I've ever had and the only one I've really stuck at. Through blogging I've made friends, developed my communication skills, worked with some great brands, and pushed myself to attend events alone. It's been a major factor in who I am today. 

I definitely don't plan to give it up anytime soon and so I thought I should probably set out some goals for the next year at least. I love blogging and I want my blog/ social channels to develop with me. 

So here are my aims...

- Talk to more bloggers and make more local blogging friends
- Finally hit the big 2000 over on my Instagram account
- Start posting weekly youtube videos
- Get a sponsored job - controversial I know!
- Attend at least one blog related event each month
- Hit 500 Bloglovin followers
- Create a new outfit of the day post once a month
- Post every day on Instagram
- Work on some collaboration posts with other like minded bloggers
- Finally organise the blogger meetup I've been talking about since forever!
- Start to open up and write about my thoughts and feelings more
- Try to vlog more
- Encourage engagement on all of my platforms and get at least one genuine, non spammy comment on new content 
- Attend a London blog event completely 100% on my own
- Meet more bloggers in the real world and not just through a screen
- Work with 3 new brands this year
- Actually complete blogmas this time! I know it's still a long way off but I'm going to plan ahead
- Reach 2000 followers on my Twitter account.
- Attend a blog event in a new city
- Hold a giveaway on my Instagram account
- Work with a plus sized clothing brand
- Hit 150 followers over on my Youtube channel
- Write more blog posts than I did last year. I wrote 91 posts in 2017 so it would be nice to write 100 this year!
- Create a lookbook video for my Youtube channel
- Link my blog to my Instagram account. This might seem silly but very few people know I blog so it really would be a big step for me
- Start scheduling tweets regularly
- Order some new business cards with my new logo on
- Create a facebook page for my blog. 

So those are the goals I plan to work on in the next year! I know to many more established bloggers these aims must seem trivial but to me they are things I would really like to accomplish!

Do you have any blogging related goals at the moment? I'd love to hear them!


Thanks for reading!


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SOME BLOGGING GOALS


Lately I've had a few people ask me how to start their own blog. I've always been quite flattered but I'm never really sure what to tell them. I'm not an expert, I just love what I do; but I thought I would put together a handy little guide for anyone wanting to take the plunge into the blogging world.

I imagine starting a blog in 2018 is quite daunting. I created my little blog wayyyy back in 2013 when professional blogging was just coming to light. I didn't know you could make money really, and huge influencers with millions of followers just wasn't a thing. I started my blog as a hobby but it's a whole new ball game now.

So where to start now? Well I guess there's a hundred ways to go about starting a blog but here is my take on things. This is how I would recommend getting things going if you are just starting out in the wonderful blogging world.

Just Do It - Thats right, just go and create an account on a site that allows you to blog. I've always used Blogger but I've heard great things about Wordpress. Not sure which one to go for? Do a tiny bit of research to see what each site offers. Still not sure, just pick one, you can swap later if you really really want. Not sure how easy it is though.

Pick a Name - A lot of people say this is one of the hardest things about starting a blog. What the hell do I call my little space on the internet?! Believe me I spent a very long time trying to name my blog. Well here's the thing, you can change it whenever you want. I changed my blog name about a year after I started it and I'm really glad I did. 'Grace, that doesn't help me right now' I here you say, well okay why not just go for your actual name or a variation of that? It's the one thing in your life that probably won't change.


Pick a Niche - Fuck this. I see this on every 'Start a blog' guide and I think it's bullshit. Maybe you want to start a beauty blog, or a blog about shoes, great - go for it. This advice is perfect for you if you know exactly what you want to blog about but if you just want to express yourself and share your life ignore this. To me blogging is my online diary, my scrapbook, and it will never fit into one category. 

Equipment - Do you have a camera phone and access to the internet? Fantastic! You have enough equipment to start a blog! When I first started out, my DSLR was broken and my laptop was slow as hell but it didn't matter. I wanted to blog so I did. My photos weren't the best and the format of my blog was shite but I was blogging and loving it! You can pick equipment up as you feel you need it, but don't be put off by not having any at the start. The creative quality of your blog posts will matter a lot more than having a £500 camera to take photos with. 

If you want to see what I use now, 5 years on from starting my blog, I popped together a little list of blogging equipment I currently use. Bare in mind that I also took a photography course and built my equipment up over quite a few years. You might not ever need a 18 - 200mm lens, but I do. Always do your research before investing in expensive tech and if you are after a bit of advice on what equipment to buy don't be afraid to pop me an email or ask over on Twitter!

Social Media - For me an extension of my blog is my social media accounts. I use them to share to blog posts, connect with other bloggers and much more. I created my Twitter account a year after creating my blog and I started Instagram about a year after that. I also have a snapchat account I never use and a Youtube channel I try to make time for when I can. You don't have to use every platform but I would recommend using at least Twitter and Instagram. I would also suggest keeping your handles (social media usernames) the same as your blog. 


Your First Post - So you are all set up, what now? Its time to start blogging! What should your very first blog post be about? Well anything really. For me I started with a very very short post about me and why I wanted to start blogging. If that isn't your cup of tea why not do a 50 facts about your style post? Unfortunatly I can't help you out too much here, this is your new baby and only you know what you want to do with it.

Optional Extras - Have you got the blogging thing down and want to take it further? Okay lets look at some extras. You could learn how to edit. Even if you are still using your phone to take photos thats fine. There are loads of free apps out there to edit you phone photos, my favourites are Facetune and VSCO. You could also work on your Instagram theme. Its not that important but you'll probably attract a few new followers if your photographs look great together or consist of similar colours/ shades. If you've settled on a blog name you love, why not buy a personal URL? There is nothing wrong with having .blogspot at the end of your URL but its just a nice touch to have something short and sweet and your own!

So that is it, my ultimate guide to starting your very own blog! I would love to know if you take any of this advice before creating your own blog. Also if you are a current blogger please let me know if you think there is something I've left out, I want this to be a complete guide!

Thanks for reading!


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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO STARTING A BLOG

You don't really need a lot to start blogging, a camera phone and an internet connection will do. Thats all I had when I started my beautiful little blog way back in 2013! But if you have a taste for tech or just want to build up your equipment list, here are the things I use and what I would recommend buying.


- Laptop -

MacBook Pro - The only thing I really use to write and put together blog posts now is my MacBook. I've occasionally written posts on my iPad but nothing beats actually typing on keys. I also edit my photos and videos on my MacBook too, which I can't do on anything else I own. I love my MacBook Pro but it is very expensive at not something you need to own as a blogger. There are many other cheaper laptops out there that will do pretty much the same as a MacBook just without the price tag. 

- Cameras -

Canon G5X - This is now my main blogging/ vlogging camera. You've probably seen me and lots of other bloggers go on about it because its just great. Its lightweight, fairly compact, works well in low light, and importantly for me it has a viewfinder. You won't get the same quality images as you would with a DSLR but if you want something you can take on the go with you this is perfect. Its another expensive piece of kit however, coming in at around £600. That being said I think a good quality compact camera is a necessity for a long term blogger.

Nikon D5300 - This is my second DSLR, and the camera that carried me through my HND. Its a great lower end DSLR and great for someone just starting out in photography that doesn't want to spend thousands. If I want to take some really high quality, crisp photographs for my blog this is the camera I reach for. Although I can take some great shots with this camera, its big, bulky, heavy, and I can't just point and shoot with it. I would recommend a lower end DSLR camera like this one for bloggers who want quality photographs and don't mind lugging a big camera around.

iPhone Camera - Yes I still use my phone from time to time. I take a lot of photographs for my Instagram using my phone and on days I don't have a camera, my iPhone will do the job. 


Fujifilm Instax Mini - Every now and then I also include images taken on my Instax mini camera on the blog. The quality of the images obviously aren't great, and the refills are fairly expensive to buy too. That being said I do love using my Instax, it is not however something I would advise investing in for blogging.


- Lenses - 

Nikon 18 - 55mm Kit Lens - I'm pretty sure this lens comes as standard with most Nikon Cameras. Its an okay lens for just starting out, but not something I would really go out and buy if I was to break my current one. I only use it from time to time, and its not something I would recommend investing in.

Tamron 18 - 200mm Lens - This is one of the best all round lenses I have come across. You can just about take selfies on it if you want and the zoom is just incredible. For me this is my travel lens, or it would be if I still took my DSLR on holiday. If you are looking for a lens that you can just leave on your camera all the time this is it. Nikon does its own 18 - 200mm lens that costs around £300 more than this one, so I'll let you decide which one you'd prefer.

Nikon 50mm Lens - So this is probably my favourite lens, and the one I've used the most in the last year. It is perfect for outfit photos as it allows you to create that nice blurry background you'll see a lot. There is no zoom on this lens however so that is something to bare in mind. I would absolutely 100% recommend investing in this lens if you plan to take a lot of outfit photos.

- Software & Apps -

Photoshop - Pretty standard, I think most bloggers have photoshop now but its something I couldn't blog without anymore. I don't edit my photos to excess but I do like to play around with the colours and filters a lot. I pay for photoshop monthly to make it more affordable as it can cost quite a lot to just buy. I'd probably recommend investing in photoshop once you are confident taking photographs.

iMovie - Just the video editing software that comes with my MacBook but so far it does everything I need it so. I'm sure its fairly basic but as I don't make videos all the often I don't want to spent money on a better software.

Facetune App - I mostly use this app for its 'whiten' tool which, you guessed it, makes things whiter. I think the tool was created to whiten teeth but I use it on pretty much everything I want to look whiter.

VSCO App - A lot of bloggers and Instagrammers use this App because its just great. There is a lot you can do on there, however I only use it to apply one filter to my images before I upload them to Instagram. I always use the same filter so my images are consistent, HB1 if you must know.

Light Meter App - Pretty sure I'm exposing myself in some way by admitting I still use a light meter when I take photographs. Well I do and it means the lighting is usually correct. If you use a DSLR or any other camera you can use manually I'd recommend getting this free App. Just takes the guessing out of things and can make a shoot go a lot smoother.

- Props -

I also use a range of props including mirrors, plates, magazines, white paper and marble slabs. The right prop in a product shoot can make it look just that much more professional. You don't need to run out and buy these however, most of the things I use can be found dotted around my house anyway! 


So that is pretty much everything I use to keep this little blog running! Like I said, you don't need a lot to start a blog, but good equipment does help. I would love to know what items you need for your own blog!

Thanks for reading!


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MY BLOGGING EQUIPMENT LIST

We've all been there; desperate to create some new content but the inspiration just isn't present. I post twice a week every week at the moment and I'd be gutted if I missed a post because I couldn't think of anything to post about! Well if that's how you feel too, fear not because I've got us both covered! Here are 30 blog post ideas for when inspo is low...



1. Face Of The Day - Similar to outfit of the day but a little bit easier as you don't need anyone else to take your photo! I've done plenty or these in the past, here is my latest one if you need a bit of inspiration.

2. Restaurant Review - I love reading a good review of someone's dinner and I definitely love writing about my own experiences! You can read my most recent review here.

3. Your Own Recipes - Can't afford to go out or don't want to? Whip up your own food and talk us through it step by step. This is especially good if you cook up something a bit different!

4. Product Reviews - Have you been using a product you are absolutely smitten with? Or did you buy something you bitterly regret? Tell us about it! I write reviews literally all the time, here is a recent post about a product I just couldn't get on with.

5. Blogging Tips & Tricks - If you've been blogging for a while you might have learnt a few things along the way. I lap up blogging tips and I know a lot of others do too! You can read some of my blogging tips here.

6. Whatever Is On Your Mind - Have a rant, talk about something you are passionate about! Get it all out and let the opinions roll in. I can't get enough of honest raw content, I think it's something blogging is slowing losing..

7. Your Day Out - Been anywhere fun lately? Write it up, tell us a funny story about it.

8. Photo An Hour - I've been meaning to do this since forever but life has just been getting in the way. Just take a photograph every hour for one day and tell us about it.

9. Floor Outfits - If you don't have anyone to take your outfit pics just display it on the floor. Fold your clothes neatly, add accessories and snap away. These kind of photos do really well on Instagram so don't forget to upload it there too!


10. How You Take Blog Photos - Images on blogs are always a big thing for me. If your photography is good I'm probably going to stick around and if you have a post telling me all about how you do it I'm definitely going to read it!

11. Your Collections - Do you collect anything? Lipsticks, books, ornaments or even stamps! Show us your stash. Tell us about how your collection started, why it started and if you have any favourite pieces!

12. Daily Routines - Do you have a skincare routine, fitness routine or just anything you do on the daily without fail? People are nosy, they want to know.

13. Travel Diary - If you've been on holiday lately you should write a day to day diary of what you did. If your blog is more image than text based do a photo diary! If you fancy a butchers at my travel diaries you can find them here.

14. Travel Plans - If you haven't been away tell us where you would love to go! Write a list of places you can't wait to visit or plan an imaginary holiday in a blog post.

15. Seasonal Posts - Is Christmas coming up? Or is Valentine's looming? Do a gift guide, tell us what you are planning to do on the day or if you hate that particular holiday tell us why!

16. Pets - Everyone loves a cute animal, I know I could spend hours looking at puppy pics! If you have a pet I'm sure you have a thousand funny stories you could tell about them.

17. £20 Outfit Challenge - Grab your friends and a little bit of cash and head down to your nearest charity shops. You have £20 with which to find a whole outfit! Blog or Vlog about it! You get some funny content and the charity gets a bit of money, everyone wins!



18. Room Tour - I literally love room tours! I think its because I'm super nosy but I can't get enough of seeing how other bloggers live!

19. Go For A Walk - Get out, leave the house, take your camera with you. If that alone time doesn't help you think up some new content then post the pictures you took, you can't lose.

20. Wishlist - I post a wishlist every few weeks packed full of all the things I'd like to buy. I know I'd never be able to afford half the things on there but it's nice to dream.

21. Storage Ideas - I really like to see how others store their makeup, jewellery and other bits and bobs. It's easy to let things get messy so I occasionally scour the internet for storage tips. You can see my jewellery storage ideas here.

22. Collaboration Posts - Struggling for ideas but have a few blogger friends? Get together and brainstorm. You could do one collaboration post together or even make a series out of it. You might have seen my latest collab with the lovely Amanda which we love posting every month.

23. Theme Makeup - If you have an obsession with makeup but don't really try new things out that often, why not give a themed makeup look a go? A few months back I tried my hand at some pokemon inspired makeup and although it's not my best look, I enjoyed doing it!



24. Events - I post a lot about events or days out and I do love reading about a good blogger event too. I know not everyone will be able to go to one of those but I'm sure there are lots of other things happening near you. 

25. Do A Challenge - There are always new fads to try out online, why not give one of them a go and blog all about it? I recently tried to go vegetarian for a month and if you've read my posts you'll know how that ended...

26. Tags - I'm forever being taged in new things and honestly I really do love taking part in them. If you haven't been tagged in anything don't worry, just make you own tag up!

27. Hotel Reviews - If you've stayed in a hotel/ hostel/ campsite or anything similar lately you could review it! Just make sure you have a couple of good images to go with the post. I recently posted about my hotel in Warsaw which was just gorgeous.

28. Hauls - Everyone loves a good haul, we all just like to be nosy and see what people have bought. If you've picked up more than 4 or 5 items in one go, snap some pics and show us what you got.

29. Budgeting Ideas - If you are pretty practical with your weekly wage or if you just know how to get some good deals tell us. I really like to see how people budget and I'm always looking for discounts online so if you know a few tips, tell us!

30. What's On Your Phone - Do you have apps you can't live without or is there a game you're addicted to? Tell us about it. Sometimes I think these kinds of things would be easier to talk about in a video but a blog post could work just as well.

So I hope these ideas will come in handy for any fellow bloggers facing the dreaded writers block. If you have any other post ideas I'd love to hear them, either leave them in the comments or tweet me!


Thanks for reading!

xxx


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30 BLOG POST IDEAS FOR WHEN YOU HAVE BLOGGERS BLOCK

I've been blogging for almost four years and in that time I've been lucky enough to have worked with some fab brands. Whether it's been reviewing a new product, being featured on their site or putting together a style guide for them, I've worked with all kinds and I've learnt a lot in the process.


It's okay to say yes

There's been a lot of opinions on bloggers getting 'freebies' or being paid for sponsored content lately, but honestly who cares? If you want to try that new product out or you could do with a little bit of cash go for it! As long as you are always honest and it's relevant to your style of blog I don't see the problem. Bloggers put a hell of a lot of time into their blogs so I don't see why they shouldn't get some perks.

It's okay to say no

Sometimes a brand will get in touch and they don't quite fit in with your style. It's okay to turn down their offer. They will find another blogger and you won't feel like a sell out. On the other hand a company might ask you to work on a project you like the sound of but their budget might be a little low. As a blogger you have to understand that sometimes companies look at us as a cheap way of advertising and it's not always worth spending hours on a blog post for pennies. I've been asked to write posts for as low as £4 and honestly I think its a bit of a piss take.


Treat PR people like friends

PR people spend a lot of time looking for the right bloggers for a campaign. They might have looked at hundreds in one day and if they send a personalised email to you I think it deserves a reply. They won't expect to hear back every time if they've sent out thousands of generic emails but if they've took the time to address you specifically or even mention a particular blog post, you should take the time to email back. I also don't think it hurts to be nice and ask them how their day/weekend/ holiday has been as well. Building business relationships is important but it's just as - if not more - important to be friendly and polite.

Stick to your word
  
If you've been gifted a product to review or feature on your blog/ social media, you should do just that. PRs will be nagged by their managers if they've sent products out without results. They might send you a friendly email asking when you will feature that product and you should always be honest with them. If you can't feature it for a couple of weeks, let them know, at least then when their manager asks they can say you've been in contact. You might not be given opportunities by the same PR company in the future if you go AWOL after getting 'freebies'. Along the same lines I always drop the company a little email when a post featuring their product goes live, they might not care but it's good to keep them in the loop.



Read the small print

Lucky for me I don't have any horror stories to tell but I always think its a good idea to read the terms when working on a campaign. I'm working on something right now which, when it goes live, the company has the rights to use any photographs featuring the product. I agreed to this at the start but if you don't read through things properly when you sign up, you might have a nasty surprise later down the line.

Enjoy it

Even though us bloggers do spend a lot of time and energy on our content we are lucky to be given some opportunities. I think it's important to enjoy the experience and take pride in the work you create whether it's paid or unpaid. 



So that's about everything I can think of right now. I don't claim to be an expert blogger but I've been on the scene long enough to have picked up a few tips that you guys might find useful. Just a side note, I've put the word 'freebie' in quotations as we all know there as nothing free about products gifted to us for promotion.

I really hope you liked this post and I'd love you to get in touch if you have any tips when it comes to working with brands!

Thanks for reading

x

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THINGS I'VE LEARNED FROM WORKING WITH BRANDS

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