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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Beating the Instagram Algorithm

Beating the Instagram Algorithm
Tuesday, 25 July 2017
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Every blogger has a love/hate relationship with Instagram, it's one of the most talked about topics within the community. For a long time it has felt like the new algorithm has meant that a lot of bloggers have seen a decrease in their levels of engagement on the platform, from likes and comments on their pictures to the amount of followers they are gaining and losing on a weekly basis. I don't always feel like the negatives of Instagram apply to me just because I do what I do and hope I obtain the rewards of good engagement and following. Don't get me wrong recently there's been a decrease in my own individual engagement, and whenever I check my following app more and more seem to be unfollowing. 


It's frustrating, besides that I have managed to hold onto 4.6K followers on the platform and the growth to this number has developed over the last year or so. It is definitely frustrating when you've posted a photo that only gets over 100 likes, especially when you have 4.6K people following you. I wanted to share with you some tips which hopefully will put your mind at ease and maybe spur you into beating the Instagram algorithm by working hard on your own Instagram. They are the well known tips that everyone talks about but I wanted to share my thoughts on those individually. 

POST GOOD CONTENT CONSISTENTLY
This one goes without saying, if you don't post at least every day or every other day on your IG account then it's really hard to sustain any kind of following. You don't need to use the latest in camera equipment in achieving good photo content, most of mine are taken on a IPhone 5s through the camera app then edited slightly using the IG app itself. This is more because it's easier for me when I have little time to produce some of the visual content I need, but you really do not need to have some top camera like the Olympus Pen to achieve good photography. Have an experiment with different photographs taken on your chosen device and see what happens. 

TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS
I didn't think about this until recently but bulk photos is as effective with your blog as it is with a platform like Instagram. There's nothing worse than being away somewhere and suddenly realising you don't have a photo for Instagram, therefore you fall behind on your consistency. I didn't learn until recently you could save drafts of photos you've already edited and write the caption, making it quick and easy to get something uploaded in minutes should you need to. I tend to have as much as 20-30 photos just ready in my camera roll because you never know when you'll need them! I would definitely advise you bulk some photos into your camera roll.

USE COMMENT PODS
I love Comment Pods, I think they are really effective in some organic engagement and also enables you to be inspired by some other great IG accounts whilst your at it. I have joined around 3/4 in the last 6 months, the engagement from them is next to none. It can be really obvious that people participate in comment pods when there's as little as 'cool pic' as a comment or something which is irrelevant to the post, therefore I would be careful in what pods you participate in. 

Most of the pods we have rules that include at least 3 words in a comment and a regular activity in commenting on others photos can be really effective. I would root around for a comment pod and find the ones that you think you could best write comments for, it's no good joining a pod full of beauty bloggers when your the only one posting more lifestyle based photos. You won't be effective in reaching the engagement with those you should be. 

USE HASHTAGS
Once you've uploaded your photo, take the time to use all 30 Hashtags you are able to in the next comment. Hashtags can be really effective to put your photo out there amongst like minded individuals posting images similar to yours. It's also important to think about the hashtags that you are using, there's no point using a hashtag like #beautyblogger if it has no purpose to that niche. I do regular research into hashtags, scrolling through the ones I use to see whether they're used regularly or not so. Some hashtags have seen individuals be Shadow Banned for using one regularly, and being shadow banned can stop your pictures reaching your non-followers, urgh. So definitely be aware of that when researching the hashtags you should be using. 

Not sure what hashtags to use? Then I'd look through some of your favourite IG accounts and see what hashtags they're using. I have broken my hashtags into specific topics and saved them onto the notes section in my IPhone, this means that when I've posted an image I can just copy and paste the list of hashtags straight the way. I've found some great lists of hashtags through Pinterest too, it might just take you some time to sit and discover the ones most suited to the content your posting.


PROMOTE ON OTHER PLATFORMS
Recently I decided to see whether I could gain some more organic engagement by researching for Facebook Groups that do effectively help your IG grow. I have been using these groups to develop some of my views on the blog so it's definitely been of use when it comes to my Instagram. There's things that are ran like Instant Instagram when you are asked to leave your latest picture and engage with others in the space of 30 minutes. It's quite a quick activity to participate in and does demand your attention for the 30 minutes, especially when you need to engage with other people's photos too. There's nothing worse then contributing to something and not giving back so make sure you do that. 

Also, keep an eye on the usual load of Facebook group for bloggers there has been a growth in posts where the owners of the group ask for IG links, get your link up there and see what else you can find whilst doing so. 

FOLLOW SIMILAR ACCOUNTS
There's nothing more motivating for your own individual visual style then seeing the work of others around you, so get following similar accounts. You don't have to follow everyone's you set your eyes on but I'm sure there's loads of similar accounts out there that will be really beneficial in growing your own.

I see a lot of bloggers who on a weekly basis share their favourite accounts of the week with their followers through IG stories. I have found loads of new accounts I've followed from other people's IG stories and this is something I would definitely like to do more of individually. 

ENGAGE WITH OTHER INSTAGRAMMERS
With following similar accounts comes the opportunity to engage with other accounts, make sure that the one thing you are doing above everything else is engage with other instagrammers. We are all in fighting the algorithm that annoys us so much together, you don't have to comment every single photo on their feed but see something that you like? tell them that you liked it. There is a lot of great visual content out there on IG and it doesn't take more than a minute to acknowledge that. 

DON'T PRESSURE YOURSELF
I know that growing your Instagram account is a difficult process, especially with the algorithm sometimes working against us. I think a lot of bloggers feel negatively towards Instagram so won't probably post for weeks because they're struggling to get engagement, it's important to continue doing what you do and hoping that the results come through from your consistency. Some photos will sometimes get over 100+ likes whilst others won't even reach that unless you pop it into a comment pod or Facebook group.

Also, I understand when bigger bloggers with a following over 10K don't even engage with your photos after engaging with theirs. I've learnt in the past to engage with the people I'd like to and the ones I know will relay that engagement with my own platform. Don't sit and dwell on a platform that is difficult, there's still plenty about it to be positive about. 

Do you have any tops on beating the Instagram algorithm that I haven't shared or maybe you can tell me what's the biggest challenge you are experiencing with Instagram.

thanks for reading,

Monday, 24 July 2017

The Essential Home Scents with Village Candle*

The Essential Home Scents with Village Candle*
Monday, 24 July 2017
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Village Candle are a fabulous brand that are committed in creating the essential home scents with their incredible range of candles. They have respect for the positive, emotional effect that their fragrances has on their customers well being, being one of the most popular brands out there for candles. Their business has remained family owned which resonates out towards their customers who are central to the work that Village Candle do. 

As you can imagine there is a lot of work that goes into creating fragrances that last in your home. It's their promise to the customers to use the finest quality of ingredients available in order to craft together the products. In order to do this they have 3 steps;

1. Their fragrances include pure essential oils and plant extracts from around the world to provide the finest quality fragrances.
2. Use only food grade paraffin wax and wax blends.
3. Village Candle's Dual Wick™ technology provides a slow even burn in the jar and enhanced fragrance release. 

The company have over 100 combined years of candle and fragrance development. Their innovative team have the experience you can trust to provide the quality products you deserve as a customer.  



As Autumn approaches, so does the more chilly weather and quite frankly I enjoy the range of scents that emerge in fragrances. Autumn brings with it the more cosier scents, the pumpkin, the cinnamon and such to make you be more than happy to be snuggled up on the sofa in the evenings. The Cozy Home Candle is a comforting scent with it's notes of warm cinnamon, spicy nutmeg and clove. It definitely has a scent of warmth that makes it's the perfect finishing touch in any room in your house. It's medium sized jar will last you for a fair amount of time too. 

I've always been on the lookout for the perfect scent that aligns with a rainy day spent indoors and I think Village Candle have accomplished that with their Rain scent. This candle brings with it a tranquil, relaxing vibe with it's fresh scents of bergamot, lily and amber, closely resembling fallen raindrops with these light floral notes. Out of the two scents I was kindly sent to review this was probably the one most suited to my personal preferences, it would have been the scent I would go more towards purchasing for myself. The scent undeniably fills the room and really creates a comforting atmosphere in your home.

You can find more out by Village Candle and their brand by following their social media channels or by visiting their website here

thanks for reading,

*Product review. All photos and views are my own.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Latitude Festival 2017*

Latitude Festival 2017*
Thursday, 20 July 2017
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Photo Credit Carpe Diem Emmie
40,000 people ascended onto Suffolk's Henham Park for the 12th edition of Latitude Festival. One of the UK's most varied and immersive festival experiences once again played host to my first festival experience between 13-16 July. There is a real feel for the buzzing atmosphere once you arrive at the festival gates, quickly immersing yourself into the sea of tents to find your pitch for the weekend. 

The festival really transforms the park space and captures more than just live music; there's the opportunity to see and watch some of the best live Dance and Theatre performances, Comedy performances, live DJ sets and spoken word to mention a few. Being a family friendly festival there's also a kid's arena where activities are put on specifically for the younger audience to enjoy.  There is really something for everyone in this festival, the festival also include disabled access making the festival as accessible as possible for it's audiences to enjoy. 
Tuesday, 18 July 2017

30 Books To Read Before The End of 2017.

30 Books To Read Before The End of 2017.
Tuesday, 18 July 2017
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At the beginning of the year I wrote a post entitled '30 Books To Read Before June 2017' which definitely enabled me to be a hell of a lot more productive with my reading this year. I've managed to already get through 20, some of which came straight from the list I wrote in January. However, sometimes you discover new books or you are kindly sent some in the post from publishers themselves, it's hard to resist digging right into them even though your reading pile is already stacked enough as it is. I've really tried to formulate a list of classic stories, thrillers and some of the books sent to me. 

Autumn is on the horizon and for me there's nothing like spending those chillier, darker evenings on the sofa with a mug of something warm and a good book. I really hope these last few months of 2017 will see me really accomplish this challenge, even if it so means less content is produced on the blog! I would love some recommendations if you have any to add to the overgrowing pile of books! 
Monday, 17 July 2017

Quick Film Chats #03

Quick Film Chats #03
Monday, 17 July 2017
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With another month rolled by it means that I've watched 10 more movies and therefore another 'Quick Film Chats' post is here! Looking back I've watched a whole mix of movies this time, some recent film releases and then some oldies! I sampled the NowTV free 14 day trial as a lover of films and considering Netflix can be a hit or miss to see whether it was any good. Tbf the choices available for films are pretty top notch, it was quite difficult to decide what to watch within the 14 days! (hard going let me tell you!) However, I don't know whether I'll give up Netflix to use that service full time yet... suppose time will tell! 


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Miss Saigon UK Tour, Curve Theatre, Leicester

Miss Saigon UK Tour, Curve Theatre, Leicester
Thursday, 13 July 2017
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Photo Credit: Johan Perrson
Miss Saigon UK Tour
Curve Theatre, Leicester

The critically acclaimed production of the Boublil and Schonberg's legendary musical Miss Saigon is embarking on its huge UK Tour, taking the success it had whilst being in London's West End through to venues across the country until 2018. With producer Cameron Mackintosh at the very heart of bringing this epic production to the stage with a company of 60 in tow, they bring to life a timeless love story surrounding by history. Having not particularly enjoyed my first encounter with this musical when I saw it whilst it was in London, mostly due to lack of sound, I was thrilled to see how such a big production would be transferred into Leicester's Curve Theatre. 

The story begins in the last days of the Vietnam War, a 17 a year old girl (Kim) is thrust into the unknown, forced to work in a Saigon bar full of dancers and American soldiers. The bar is ran  by a prominent character known to many as the Engineer. In the bar she meets and falls in love with an American GI called Chris, however their love is torn apart by the fall of Saigon and the love feels like it's no more exists. Kim spends 3 years on a journey of survival to find her way back into the arms of Chris, whose life has moved on from Saigon, he has a new wife on his arm and no idea that he has fathered Kim's son. The themes that are embedded within the set design are as big emotionally as they are physically present. The themes of love, loyalty and duty are so prominent through the production and presented well.

The musical production is a complete triumph from start to finish with the entire set and set-pieces helping to take centre stage in setting the various different scenes and atmospheres that are sometimes only lit up by a few stage lights. There is a real great play with contrast between the sleazy glitz of Saigon's bars and clubs to the American embassy. One of the most significant moments for me within the musical was the scene where the Americans are seen to be evacuated in a chaotic manner from the embassy, with a real lack of organisation, it's very frantic and tense. All of the sudden we hear the thundering, overwhelming sound of an oncoming helicopter and it's soon obvious to the audience that the locals are swarming towards it, helpless and desperate to not be left behind. There was real artistic masterpiece and definite 'wow' factor as a helicopter comes to the forefront of the stage, something I hadn't expected would be recreated on the UK Tour. Often I feel like UK Tour are a more condensed version of a London smash hit but Cameron Mackintosh and his creative team hit the nail on the head with this production and it was flawless!
Photo Credit: Cameron Mackintosh Limited

Leading characters Kim, played by Sooha Kim and Chris played by Ashley Gilmour really grabbed the audiences attention with their raw, heartfelt emotion and vocals that really brought the house down. There was no doubt that these two characters aligned well with one another, they're chemistry was very effective within their roles and in some fast paced song numbers they managed to articulate every single word well. Watching Ryan O'Gorman undertake a different role after seeing him play Tom Collins in the recent RENT UK Tour production was very refreshing, he executed his role as John well and was emotionally gripping in the musical number Bui Doi

The Engineer, a eccentric and very much a dreamer character was captivated beautifully by Red Concepcion. He even managed to get a few laughs from the audience as he told tales of his dreams and aspirations. 

Of course the leading cast had incredible support from the entire cast in order to create such a moving masterpiece of a musical, the choreography was executed with flare and sharpness. Particularly in The Morning of the Dragon where the choreographic is so specific and sometimes linear. 

All in all, I was highly changed in my opinions of Miss Saigon on seeing the UK Tour production, it's captivated my emotions and was one of the best productions I had seen within the Curve Theatre in a long time. I wouldn't want you to miss it whilst it embarks on it's UK Tour, it's not something you want to pass! 

thanks for reading,
*I was gifted this ticket in exchange for a review, but all words and opinions are my own.
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