Want To Learn How To Deal With Haters, Build Your Audience, Set Your Rates, And Take A Great Still Life Photograph?

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We’re super-excited today to announce the addition of four new videos to our Home School roster! Filmed in in a picturesque English garden, we created lessons around some of the questions we’re asked most often.

Dealing With Negativity features all three of us discussing how we deal with negativity online. The potential of getting negative feedback stops a lot of people from sharing their true selves online, which is such a shame! If this is happening to you, don’t worry: you’re not the only one! We trade war stories, talk about coping strategies, and ask, does it ever get any easier?

Still Life 101 was inspired by a segment Shauna created on-the-fly in our Chicago class. It’s now a staple of our Blogcademy weekend! In this lesson, Shauna shares her top tips on how to craft a great still life, no matter whether you’re using Instagram or composing images for your latest blog post. Remember, photos of experiences usually get more engagement than selfies because people genuinely want to see what you’re working on and what you’re inspired by!

How To Set Your Rates is all about coming up with a price (and sticking to it!). Shauna and Kat have a great conversation about setting rates, and cover it from the perspective of both a blogger figuring out how much to charge for sponsored posts, advertising or collaborations, and as a creative using your blog to sell your services.

Building Your Audience is clearly one of the most important things you can do, and it’s one of the things we get asked about most often. There are so many things you can do to engage readers and make sure your content is reaching the right people, and in this video, you’ll learn all about the techniques that we used when we started our blogs. In fact, we continue to implement them to this day!

We’re delighted to build on from our original 9 components, which covered Blogging Basics (a free class!), Media Kits For Bloggers, Creating An About Me Page, Blog Brand Audit, Brands Working w/ Bloggers, PR & Marketing For Blogs, Advertising, Creating Killer Content, How To Work With Brands, and Pinterest for Bloggers. Phew!

Each lesson is priced at $20, and they all come with worksheets, checklists, and prompts to help you put into practice what you’ve learned. They’re designed and presented efficiently, because we know how busy you are — we don’t want to waste your time, babe! We promise to only give you real, actionable information you can actually use. Our tagline is No Boredom, No Blathering, No Bullshit, after all!

Got questions? Hit us up on Twitter! We’d love to see you in our digital classroom!

Much love,

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Radical Self Love Letters
 

More Radical Self Love Bible Inspiration!

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Radical Self Love Bible School is still selling like delicious little hot cakes, and whenever I check #radicalselflovebible on Instagram, I’m thrilled by what I see. I love to think about you all sitting in your bedrooms, hunched over a stack of magazines, doodling, dreaming, creating, and making something meaningful!

Caylee Grey — whose Bible I featured a couple of months ago — updated her blog with more photographs, and they’re too gorgeous not to share. (Her whole blog, by the way, is full of beautiful art journals. It is so great.) I hope these pictures give you a massive dose of inspiration, no matter what creative project you might be working on!

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If you’d like some prompts to make your own art journal, check out Radical Self Love Bible School. You’ll get a lesson every Sunday for three months. It’s so much fun!

Washi tape and sticky fingers,

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20 Questions (And Answers) On Life, Love, Blogging And Business

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Over the weekend, I put out the call for questions on Facebook. The response was great, with lots of thoughtful questions spanning many different topics. I’ve picked my favourites and answered them below. It was a pretty nice way to ease into the week!


RADICAL SELF LOVE

Q. What’s your go-to for banishing self-doubt & defeating thoughts? — Ashley

A. Tapping. It’s still the best tool I have for getting myself out of a mental or emotional funk.

Q. Does RSL include taking care of your body? If I love eating junk food and eating is something I enjoy, but I also know it harms me, how do I deal? It goes for smoking and having drinks… How do I create a balance? How do I really start loving myself to the point of NOT doing things that I know are harmful? — Damaris

A. Firstly, stop beating yourself up for eating junk food. It’s okay. Sometimes, all you really want in life is a Snickers bar, and that’s fine! The first step is forgiveness. Lighten up!

My advice is that if you want to stop eating that stuff, smoking, or drinking, you need to look at your motivations. What is it that makes you want to eat shitty processed food? Is it comforting? Does it feel like a reward? Does it remind you of childhood? The same thing goes for smoking and drinking: what do smoking and drinking give you that you feel are valuable?

I smoked from the age of 13 to 26. I quit cold turkey, and now I can see that I used cigarettes as a way of preventing people from getting too close to me. It literally creates a smoke-screen between you and other people! Have a think about your habits. Once you figure out what benefit they give you, you’ll be more aware of your own behaviour, which will help you to make healthier choices.

And remember, it is a gradual process. Most people don’t wake up one day and completely transform their habits. Pay attention to how you feel when you don’t smoke, eat more greens, and put the bag of chips back on the shelf. It makes you feel amazing. But the process takes time, and that’s okay. All that matters is that you make the effort.

Q. What’s your best advice for girls in their early twenties trying to get life figured out? — Lauren

A. Don’t take life too seriously. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. Make yourself proud. Experiment. Try new things. Do something that makes you happy. If your job sucks, quit. Take risks. Travel alone. Keep a journal. Don’t concern yourself with other people’s expectations. Listen to your intuition. Don’t settle down. Have wild love affairs. Make mistakes. Spend time by yourself. Discover the world: it’s beautiful, and there’s no rush.


PERSONAL

Q. How scary was it for you moving abroad to NYC, and what advice would you give to people like myself who dream of living abroad someday? — Mary

A. It wasn’t scary at all. Usually, our fear comes from analysis paralysis, and the very best way to deal with fear is to just take action — any kind of action. I didn’t have any time to analyse my situation, which was definitely an advantage. I essentially started living in the USA by accident — I came over for a party and decided to stay! — and once I’d make the decision not to go home, it was simply a matter of figuring out the best way to do that. Moving to NYC happened instantly: once my feet touched the ground at JFK, the city never let me go!

I’ve written extensively on moving overseas. Have a gander at If Your Dream Is To Move To New York City, Lonely And Drifting: The Flipside Of Being An International Playgirl, and Want To Move To NYC? An International Playgirl Tells You How! My biggest piece of advice would be to never let fear dictate the way you live your life. We only get one shot, and you might as well spend it somewhere that lights up your heart.

Q. Super shallow (!) but if there was a fire in your apartment, what are the five things you would grab as you ran out the door? (Apart from husband and dogs!) — Karen

A. Good question. I don’t think I’d take anything except my laptop! To explain: I’m not a very sentimental person. I don’t have any meaningful possessions I couldn’t do without. I suppose I might, at some stage, miss some of the stuff I’ve accumulated in the last six years, but it is just stuff, and really, who cares? I’ve moved around so much, and often with just one suitcase, so I know I can live with nothing. It doesn’t affect my quality of life one iota!

Q. What do you eat? Like daily. — Dana

A. I’m pretty routine, and I find eating the same thing every day kind of comforting. For breakfast, I’ll have oatmeal with almond milk, hardboiled eggs, or Greek yoghurt with raspberries, and all three if I’m working out really hard. I also love cacao smoothies, green juice, and yerba mate tea with almond milk. For lunch, I usually eat salmon with saffron rice and green beans, or I’ll have a big salad (spinach with lots of vegetables, plus chicken), or a grilled turkey sandwich. For dinner, my favourite thing is grilled chicken breast with sauteed greens and couscous, but I’m obsessed with turkey burgers, too. My favourite thing to snack on is guacamole (I make the best guacamole) with corn chips… And I eat ice-cream probably every second day.

Q. What kind of fitness regime do you follow? — Sophie

A. I do Pilates twice a week, weight-training three days a week, and I walk at least two miles a day. If I’m not writing, I’m on my feet, walking pretty much everywhere — I don’t live anywhere near a subway stop, and I only take cabs if I’m going higher than 30th Street (which rarely happens).

Q. Best piece of relationship/marriage advice? — Sophie

A. Have real, meaningful conversations. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth about how you feel. Leave your bad mood elsewhere: don’t walk through the door like a little stormcloud. Do your best to make yourself and your partner happy every single day. And have sex. A lot.


BLOGGING AND BUSINESS

Q. Do you ever scream at your blog and consider stopping it all together? I’d love to know if there has ever been a moment where you’ve decided this might just be time to move into something new? — Sue

A. When I first started my blog, it was really, really hard. I wasn’t making any money, and I couldn’t see the path; I wanted to quit every month. Thankfully, my boyfriend (Si) would talk me off the ledge every time, and encouraged me to keep going. Now I’ve been doing it for almost eight years, and I’ve learned that those feelings of dread and doubt are normal. They come and go, but even though they’re not permanent, I learn from them every time. The most important thing (for me) is to use those feelings as fuel to shake things up. It’s those down moments that inspire me to make changes, and try new things. 

Q. How do you deal with the haters? Does it ever get you down, and how do you restore your energy (protect your magic, even?) in the face of cyber viciousness? — Emma

A. Such a good question. I have a little something to share with you on Wednesday all about the subject! Keep your eyes peeled!

Q. Is blogging more of a job or a passion? — Grace

A. It’s a pretty even split. I’m absolutely passionate about it, and thinking about it all the time, from a creative angle. Having said that, it is also how I put food on the table, so it would be disingenuous for me to say that I am in no way strategic about the content I create or the image I put forward. I would like to think that I am very measured and thoughtful when it comes to my business and my brand.

Q. When you started blogging as a business, how much time did you spend per week marketing yourself? I find blogging is one thing I can keep up with but following others on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ etc and commenting and trying to gain readership is more difficult. How would you recommend dividing time? — Scarlett

A. For the first two years, I was basically online 24/7, blogging, commenting, tweeting (there was no Instagram or public Facebook back then), and eating, sleeping, breathing my blog. I had no life, but I didn’t mind, because – except for moments of doubt — I loved it. I wasn’t very strategic about how I engaged with people, I just did it. A lot.

You have to remember that my situation was different to most people’s: I started my blog because I had no job, and so a) I had all the time in the world to mess around on the internet, and b) if I didn’t commit myself thoroughly, I knew I wouldn’t make any money. The stakes were high, and it forced me to take it seriously. P.S. Do not — I repeat, do not — quit your job to start a blog! Ever!

Back to your question: I would recommend making yourself a checklist. There will be things you need to do every day (blog posts, answer comments, respond to emails), some you do three times a week (retweet other people’s stuff, post Instagrams), and some you do once a week (find new people to follow, email potential collaborators, brush up on skills). That will help to keep you on track.

Q. As a writer, you have basically “made it”. You are earning a mad living from writing & teaching. You have a ton of readers who your words inspire. So how do you raise the bar higher from there? How does Gala Darling continue to improve when she’s already achieved what many writers will only dream of? What is next for you? — Steff

A. Thank you! That’s so nice of you to say… But I don’t see myself that way at all. Like, not even close. I have so far to go! I see myself as someone who has managed to make the blogging thing work, but that is only Level 1 of what I want to accomplish! The next phase supersedes the online world. Speaking and teaching is a big part of that, and also making physical products: real, beautiful, tangible things that you can touch, see, and carry with you. I’m beyond excited about it!

Q. How do you stay true to Gala Darling the person and how does that relate to Gala Darling the brand and Gala Darling the headmistress of the Blogcademy? — Brit

A. They’re all one and the same, and that’s the benefit of being REAL, both online and in your personal life: there’s no “story” to keep straight! There is some differentiation, though: Gala Darling the person has bad days, and can be angry, impatient, irritated, etc., while Gala Darling the brand is my highest self. I still share when I’m having a rough time, but only if I think it will help my audience in some way. There’s no sense in airing all your dirty laundry online: as we say at The Blogcademy, don’t be a car-crash blogger!

Q. How many people are on your team? — Dana

A. Officially? Just me. But I have people I call on regularly. My husband helps with design, my ex-boyfriend Si helps with the back-end technical stuff of the site, Shauna does my design work, and I have a lawyer, an accountant, and a manager. Plus, we have The Blogcademy, which is another kettle of fish entirely. I need to hire a virtual assistant, badly!

Q. Your photos are always amazing on your blog, do you travel with a photographer? — Angie

A. I wish! Kat, Shauna and I are always carrying cameras and we snap as much as we can (and we’re not precious about sharing our photos with each other, which is great!). We often meet up with a photographer wherever we go, which is our chance to get some professional shots. They’re thrilled to be featured on Kat’s site, too, because it’s full of people looking for a wedding photographer! Win/win!

Q. What has the shift been like moving from an online fashion based blog into more dynamic opportunities like Blogacademy & the RSL Salon? I have been a reader since 2010 and from this end it seemed like big change happened all at once for you, how did you deal with that sort of change? PS. Will you be dying your hair a radical new color soon? lol — Cara

A. The shift has been fantastic! I’m so much happier now doing this than I was when I was more focussed on fashion. I love clothing, shopping, and styling, but I quit going to fashion week years ago. I would rather be known as a woman who does a lot of work around radical self love, and who just happens to have interesting style, than to be known for my style alone. Or, “You’re that girl with the pink hair.” That’s very shallow to me. I still enjoy sharing my fashion and beauty discoveries, but I don’t want to write about it for a living.

It did happen quickly, and I think a lot of it was Saturn return stuff. I wanted to stop living my life online and get out into the real world, and it has been magnificent. I love change, so maybe I am an anomaly! As for my hair, watch this space!


RANDOM

Q. How do you stop lipstick from smearing on your teeth constantly? — Jay

A. Haha, I love this question! Here’s the trick: apply your lipstick liberally, and blot it with a tissue (if you want to). Then, gently purse your lips (like you’re puckering up for a kiss), and push your index finger into your mouth. When you pull it out, it’ll have lipstick all over it, which would have otherwise ended up on your teeth! TA-DA!

Q. I want to start reading poetry, but I don’t know where to begin! Do you have any recommendations? — Lauren

A. Yes! I’m so excited for you. Poetry is a whole new wonderful world. Some of my favourite poets are Charles Bukowski, ee cummings, Richard Brautigan, Rumi, and Pablo Neruda. (Click their names, I linked to some of my favourite poems.)

Q. Favourite Books/s? — Kristy

A. I just read Francesca Lia Block’s Beyond The Pale Motel and loooooved it, and yesterday I bought second-hand copies of all of Jonathan Ames’ novels because I think he is hilarious. My favourite books of all time are Dangerous Angels, American Psycho, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Lolita, Fear Of Flying, and The Witches.


Have an exceptional week, babes!

Love and ladybugs,

Photo by Corey Sleap.

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Things I Love Thursday: Autumn Dreams

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This has been one of the most wonderful summers, but… I admit… I’m ready to start bundling up. Confession time: in Amsterdam, I bought this sweater. I’m stocking up on hats (I got this one in navy blue, and a bunch of new beanies). I’m looking lustily at blazers and stockings.

This morning, as I made tea, I had a sudden rush of excitement while thinking about winter. I know that by December, I’ll be 100% over it, but for now, I’d love to be able to wear a cardigan!

Do you get like this, too? It’s like perpetual the-grass-is-always-greener, but for seasons. I blame it on my upbringing in New Zealand! It’s always so mild there, and I wish NYC could be a little more like that. NYC is a place of extremes: it’s either sweltering hot and humid, or frozen solid. Mike and my friend, Tommy, like to tell me that I only enjoy the weather for about two weeks out of every year. Sadly, it is true!

Alright, let’s switch it up, and try a slightly different format today. If you write gratitude lists too, I encourage you to give this version a shot! Instead of listing lots of little things, I’ve chosen five things I love, and am going a little deeper into my explanation. Give it a go!

Beyond The Pale Motel
What can I say other than “Wow”?! I read an advance copy of Francesca Lia Block’s Beyond The Pale Motel on the flight back from London, and it kept me thoroughly gripped the entire time. When Francesca emailed it to me, she wrote, “It’s dark. I hope you enjoy.” She wasn’t kidding. It’s magnificent: very dark, very sexy, and so, so good. Don’t expect Weetzie Bat to pop out of the pages: even though Beyond The Pale Motel is set in Hollywood, this book is about the city’s grim underbelly. I absolutely loved it, and it keeps rebounding into my thoughts a week later. The hardcover will be released September 16th: pre-order it if you know what’s good for you!

Involuntary Kiwi moments
The other day, I was walking Dolly (and wearing the hat I mentioned earlier). A big gust of wind blew, and my hat almost went flying. Totally without thinking, I said, “Bugger”. You can take the girl out of New Zealand… !

Our new couch
…Otherwise known as the most comfortable couch on the planet. I can’t even tell you how much we love it. It was delivered a couple of hours before I flew to Europe, so we — as in, the couch and I — have been getting acquainted. I ordered it in Chenille Tweed, in Frost Grey, and I’ve been working from it most days. The couch cushions are really deep, so you can sit back and completely relax, and it’s wide enough (75 inches!) that I can lie all the way across and fall asleep on it (and trust me, that has happened). I’m so obsessed!

Being back in my routine
I absolutely love excitement, spontaneity, and not knowing what’s around the next corner. It’s the best, and it’s what I eat, sleep and breathe when I’m travelling. But when I get home, my GOD, it’s wonderful to slot back into a routine. Waking up in my own bed, eating oatmeal with almond milk and drinking a cup of yerba mate for breakfast, writing all morning, and going to the gym in the evening, is like living the dream. Coming home always makes me so thankful for this life.

Focus and relaxation
I’ve been working on something exciting (!!!) this week, and I’m psyched about it. Because I’m so happy to be working on it, the time has been flying by, and I’ve been able to focus like a laser. Of course, by the time I’m done, I’m absolutely exhausted… So I’ve been hanging out, watching Bored To Death, Daria, Extras, and The Birdcage (sniff). It’s so nice to unwind at the end of the day.


I wanted to add to this post how devastated I am by the passing of Robin Williams. He was always my favourite comic, and I adored him. It’s easy to go down a dark rabbit-hole, reading about his last days, and theorizing about what made him feel that he should take his life, but I promise you that it won’t make you feel any better. Instead, if you loved him, celebrate his life by watching your favourites of his films, laughing out loud at his spectacular stand-up, and remember him as he would have wanted to be remembered: making the world smile.

Ever,

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Salted Vanilla, Roses And Vitamin C: 5 Fabulous Beauty Products For Your Hair, Face, And Body

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Summer is my favourite time of year to experiment with new beauty products. After a long, hot day in the city, few things feel as good as giving your face a thorough cleansing, and covering your body in oils. Insert hearts-for-eyes emoji here!

Here are my top five products of the moment…

Treat Salted Vanilla Beach Hair Sea Salt Spray
When the weather is sweltering, the last thing you want to bother with is your hair. Looking immaculate is simply not gonna happen, so why even try? That’s where a beautiful salt spray can help: spritz a little at your roots to add instant grit and texture.

There are a lot of salt sprays on the market, so why am I recommending this one? Well, because it smells like salted vanilla, and if you, like me, want to smell like a cupcake 24/7, this is another way to do it. I love to layer up scents, and honestly, WHAT is better than hair that smells like vanilla? Nothing, that’s what! Plus, Treat is a great company: 100% vegan and owned by a badass babe. Their lip balm is my holy grail — nothing else even comes close, and I am never without a jumbo tube of the stuff. Swoon-o-rama.

Verso Skincare Super Facial Serum
I went off retinols for a while, because I started developing some sun spots and I was convinced it was because I was using retinols incorrectly. That was not the case. Sun damage is cumulative, so if you’re getting sun spots today (like me, grrrrr), it’s probably because you were irresponsible when you were like, 17. (Bummer.) I recently read what Caroline Hirons had to say about some of the retinol myths, and I decided to give it another go. My first stop was this little gem from Verso.

If you have sun damage, fine lines, or you’re simply not looking as “fresh” as you once did, I have to recommend giving retinols a try. Retinol literally reverses the signs of aging, and it does it well!

As for Verso’s Super Facial Serum? I only have one word for it: transformative. It’ll brighten, clarify, plump and generally invigorate your skin… And quickly. Don’t fear the retinol. Dive on in!

Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil
I don’t select my skincare based on how pretty the bottle is, but if I did, this would be an obvious favourite: the base of the glass bottle is purple, which makes the oil look two-tone. (It’s awesome.) This oil (or Ole Henriksen, below) constitutes the last step of my night-time skin routine, which, FYI, looks something like this: cleanse, P50, Serozinc, eye cream, retinol, serum, oil. Yes, that is a lot of steps. No, I am not crazy.

I loooooove this oil (and you kind of need to, given that it is $125). It’s a dry oil, which sounds weird, I know, but basically just means that it sinks in easily and doesn’t loiter on the surface of your skin. It’s jam-packed with “antioxidants, vitamins, essential amino acids, Omega 3/6/9, UV shields and natural anti-inflammatory agents for a luminous, radiant complexion”. Sign me up!

P.S. Sunday Riley also does an oil called Isis if you’re a little older (40+) and need something that packs more of a punch.

Ole Henriksen Pure Truth™ Vitamin C Youth Activating Oil
Up until about three weeks ago, I was using a Sodashi oil at night, which I loved. (I prefer an oil-free moisturiser with SPF for daytime.) But my Sodashi finally ran dry (although it lasted me a year, which is flabbergasting), and so I’ve been looking for new oils to take its place. This one is a goodie. Get thee to a Sephora and ask for a sample of this little beauty before you snap it up. (They will make you a sample of anything, by the way. Just ask!)

The oil is orange (Vitamin C and all), and has a pretty weird smell: not unpleasant, just unusual. However, I’m a big fan, and a little goes a long way. I’ve been alternating this one with Sunday Riley’s Juno, which is partly me being economical, and partly me wanting to keep my skin guessing. This is a lovely oil to brighten your skin and make your complexion shine bright like a diamond (holler, Ri-Ri!).

Aura Glow: Rose
Meow. There’s something magical about smothering yourself in rose-scented oil: roses are immensely rich in symbolism. In tarot, the rose signifies balance, and a promise of hope and new beginnings; roses represent secrets, immortal love, and the goddess Aphrodite. You can use rose oil to attract love, boost your confidence, and convey passion. In short, roses are powerful and otherworldly!

Aura Glow is a body oil, although you can use it as a massage oil (eyebrow wiggle) if the mood strikes you. I keep my bottle near the edge of the tub, and I use it all over my body in between turning off the water and grabbing a towel. It sinks in quickly, and smells insane. Plus, it’s cheap: around $10 for a huge bottle. Go get some!

Rose-scented hugs,

Illustration by Louise Androlia.

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