Blogging

It's no secret that from time to time I'm sent 'free' products. Occasionally I'll receive skincare items, clothes, and even a gifted lunch here and there. The 'freebies' I'm sent often give me great content ideas and I love unboxing them on my Instagram stories too. While I don't accept every gift I'm offered, I have received an influx of PR packages recently which has caused my DM's to practically explode with questions.


Right now my inbox is flooded with a million queries about my blogger mail and that's understandable! So I'm going to let you guys in on the secret.


Grace is holding 3 boxes full of free PR products

How I get PR products and everything else you've ever wanted to know about blogger mail...



What is blogger mail?


Blogger mail is a fun little name for products sent by businesses to influencers in the hope that their product will get coverage. For brands, this is a very inexpensive way to advertise which is why it's so popular at the moment. But a word of warning - starting a blog or an instagram account just for freebies won't get you far. Bloggers and brands can spot it a mile off and besides that it takes real dedication to post regular content and build up quality following.


How I get my PR packages


The majority of my press packages are from big brands or PR companies who usually contact me over email. To make everyone's life easier, and to make sure I don't miss out on opportunities, I ensure my email address is clear and visible on all my platforms. While some brands are happy to slide in the DM's I still find the majority like to do business over email and they will be much more likely to get in touch if your email address is easy to find. 


From time to time I'll see that a brand I love is actively working with bloggers, and if I want a piece of that pie I'll email them first. I have secured a few goodies this way before but it's never guaranteed results. If this is a path you're considering taking just remember that while big companies often have a budget for gifting, it's not fair to ask smaller businesses for 'freebies'. 


Do I get paid?


Occasionally I will receive a PR product and payment, this usually happens when a brand has specific requirements. Many bloggers and influencers will be happy to accept products on the understanding that they may or may not receive coverage, but this isn't always the case. If a brand expects coverage or gives guidance on the type of content they expect to be produced to promote the product I would encourage the recipient to discuss payment. There won't always be a monetary budget for this but brands have got to start understanding that as amazing as their new skincare launch is, we can't pay our bills with a fancy pot of moisturiser.


Grace has opened one of the PR boxes and is looking at the items within


How to get on a brands PR list


There is no foolproof way to get a space on your favourite brands PR list, sometimes it's just down to luck! I do however have a couple of tips to help you on your way:


  • Interact with the brands you love on social media and tag them in relevant content you create, they might just notice you.

  • Check #BloggersRequire and #BloggersWanted hashtags on Twitter. Yes, these are often clogged up with other bloggers chatting shite, but PR teams often tweet about upcoming opportunities using the hashtags too!

  • Keep in touch with PR's after you receive a product, let them know you've received it and when you are going to mention it. It's also helpful to send over your engagement stats if you mention the product on social media. Be nice to you PR and they will remember you fondly for future opportunities. 


Beware of the scams!


Because gifting has become such a popular thing in the influencer world, scammers have picked up on it. Ever received a comment on your latest Instagram post that goes along the line of "Hey babe DM us for a collab!" Well, chances are it's a scam. They work by offering you a collaboration where you either buy the product and are later refunded after your post about it, or you pay the postage and are later refunded. The only problem here is that you will never get a refund. A legitimate company will never ask you to pay for any part of a press product. 



I hope this has answered a few of the burning questions you all have about PR packages and freebies! I know that not everyone likes or even understands the influencer industry, but for so many of us who have spent hours creating content and building relationships with brands, these are just little perks of the job.

 


Still have a question about how to get free press products or anything else? Feel free to leave a comment below or drop me a message on any of my social media accounts!


Thanks for reading!


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Grace is holding 3 boxes full of PR products, below her is text that reads "How to get PR packages & everything else you've ever wanted to know about blogger mail"


Birmingham, UK

HOW TO GET PR PACKAGES & EVERYTHING ELSE YOU'VE EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT BLOGGER MAIL

* This is a sponsored post

Over the years I've consumed tones of advice on how to grow my blog, but there's always one tip which seems to come up time after time - pick a niche. Now there are plenty of tips and tricks I'll happily listen to in the hope that my online presence grows however, this will never be one of them.


Grace is facing the camera, holding the laptop she has just been working on

While I agree that by picking a niche and focussing on one area to write about, your blog may grow quicker, and yes it will probably help with SEO too, but I think it also hinders your creativity and limits your blog's potential. That's not to say you shouldn't pick a niche when starting a blog. If you have a passion for something in particular or you run your blog alongside your business it makes sense, but for budding bloggers just starting out, I don't think it helps to restrict yourself.


Why am I so against this advice? Well, there are a few reasons. The first reason I never took it onboard was simply that I have so many interests. Right at the start when I created my blog I knew I wanted to talk about fashion, and makeup, and travel tips, and anything else I found interesting. I simply didn't want to chain my blog to one subject.


Another reason I steered clear of picking a niche for my new creative venture was that I saw it as a hobby and not a revenue stream. Making money from my little space on the internet was not my priority. That's not to say blogs featuring various content can't be profitable, many bedroom bloggers have gone on to make millions from their diverse, multi-subject blogs. It is possible to be a successful lifestyle blogger while also covering a multitude of areas. Which brings me to my next point...


The problem with so many articles on growing your blog is that they suggest you cannot be a successful blogger without picking a niche. This is an issue because not only is it false, everyone's idea of success is different. To one blogger success might be achieved with a certain amount of monthly views, to another, it might be when their blog starts to generate income, it depends what each blogger is hoping to get out of creating their blog.  


So what advice should you take when trying to grow your blog? While I'm no blogging expert, I've read a lot of blogging advice over the years and these are the tips which seem to pop up quite a lot:


  • Use social media. Instagram, in particular, is one of the best platforms to get your creative content seen. You should also share your new blog posts on social media and engage with other creatives too.
  • Get to grips with basic SEO. Yes, search engine optimisation can seem like a minefield for newbies but it's an important technical part of growing your blog.
  • Leave meaningful comments on other blog posts and social media content. Generic 'nice post' comments may get you noticed but building relationships is much more important.
  • If you don't already own a custom URL for your site it would be worth buying one as it makes your blog look more professional and can help build trust with your readers. 


To conclude, there is tonnes of really great advice out there that may help budding bloggers to grow their platforms. Whatever you chose to do it's important to pick the advice that works for you and your blog, and if that means writing about a whole host of subjects then so be it. There are some things you'll need to do to grow your blog, but picking a niche isn't necessarily one of them.


Thanks for reading!


If you liked this post don't forget to click here to follow me on Bloglovin!


A Pinterest image. Grace is looking into the camera holding the laptop she has just been working on. Below here is text that reads " Trying to grow your blog? - Ignore this advice"


Birmingham, UK

TRYING TO GROW YOUR BLOG? IGNORE THIS ADVICE*

2020 is already a year for the history books, and we are only 6 months in. There are a lot of things happening around us right now, and whilst it might seem very doom and gloom, I think many of us can already see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

This year is going to be a year of big changes. Millions of us have already seen our lives turned upside down because of the pandemic, and now we have more change on the way due to the massive surge in support for the Black Lives Matter movement. But these events have accidentally caused a mini-revolution within the online world, I believe they've triggered the demise of the influencer.


Photograph of a computer screen showing the definition of an influencer
 Definition of an influencer 

Influencers will always be around, the very definition of an influencer is ''a person or thing that influences another'' so for that reason we will always have an influencer of some sort. However, the influencer as we know them are running the risk of extinction, and I'm not mad about it.

Instagram is full of the typical influencer, you know the 'do it for the gram' crowd, and if I'm honest I've fallen into this category myself one too many times. We've all taken a photo, or shared some content purely because we knew it would get likes. I mean I still do it, I'll spend hours getting ready just to take a couple of cute shots and whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, I think the world is starting to getting bored of it. My generation, in particular, is getting tired of empty Instagram posts and a lot of us have already abandoned celebrity culture for this exact reason.


Photograph of a phone screen showing the instagram page of Stephanie Yeboah
Stephanie Yeboah

I've followed bloggers and influencers for years on many different platforms, and whilst my favourites have changed over time, there are certain people I have always kept around. I didn't realise the reason for this until last week when it hit me that some of the 'influencers' I've followed the longest are the ones with a voice. People such as Stephanie Yeboah, Grace Victory, Leanne Woodful, they've all spoke up on important issues, and I've always admired them for that, whether I realised it or not.

This certain type of influencer offers the world so much more than a pretty face. They share important information and opinions, they unapologetically advocate for change, and they give us hope of a better world. As much as these women can influence others to purchase the latest skincare products, they also have the power to inspire a revolution, and that is what I believe my generation is now looking for.

So how are current events causing the demise of the current top influencers? I think it's been very clear over the last couple of weeks just how fragile this industry is, and how shallow some of the most popular influencers are. With the murder of George Floyd and the disgust that followed both on and offline, it was obvious that many of us looked to our favourite influencers to speak up. And many of them did. Our feeds were filled with information and acts of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but disappointingly many influencers chose to stay silent.

Photograph of a phone screen showing the instagram page of Grace Victory
Grace Victory

Influencers with huge followings seemed to ignore the disgusting acts of police brutality and everyday racism that was being shown on all platforms, and this simply wasn't good enough. Staying silent when the most important civil rights movement of our generation is battling on around us is not good enough. If you're not using your voice for good, what are you using it for?

I think maybe some influencers, especially those with a smaller following may have felt they didn't have anything of value to add to the conversation, especially after the controversy around the black square on Instagram. But I also think more and more of us are waking up to the fact that with a following of any kind comes responsibility, and it is our job to at the very least amplify voices of change, which in this case was the Black community.


Photograph of a phone screen showing the instagram page of Leanne Woodfull
Leanne Woodfull

"Influencers" won't be going anywhere just yet, but influencers, as we know them, will soon find themselves dying out if they don't shape up and find a voice. People are tired of nothing but empty Instagram posts and they are tired of influencers, especially those with a large following, staying silent on important issues. In the coming weeks and months, we are going to see a surge of people looking for leaders and I'm not sorry to say if that if you're not with the movement publically, your silence suggests you're against it.

The way is currently being paved for influencers who have the power to change things for the better, and that is something I can get behind.


While you're here, have you had a chance to donate to the Black Minds Matter fund? The fund aims to provide mental health services for Black people in need. If you would like to make a donation you can do so on the Black Minds Matter Go Fund Me page.

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Birmingham, UK

WHY THE DAYS OF THE 'INFLUENCER' ARE NUMBERED

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 advice 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! 



Thanks for reading!



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Birmingham, UK

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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Birmingham, UK

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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Birmingham, UK

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