How To Get More Likes: 10 Tips For Instagram Overachievers!


Since tomorrow is the start of #lovetober, I thought it would be the perfect time to share with you a few of my favourite tricks for getting my Instagram photos to look wonderful.

I like to use Instagram as a kind of visual diary, but I’m also very thoughtful about what I post. My goal is that anyone who looks at my account will feel good and happy, so even if I see something that makes me laugh but is a little mean-spirited, I won’t post it. Like all my other online spaces, I strive to make it a place of positivity.

Now, here are my top tips!


The most important thing about taking great photos — whether they’re for Instagram or not — is to think about your light. Even if your make-up was done by Kevyn Aucoin, if you took a selfie in a dark room, it won’t look terribly lovely. It’s all about light.

I almost never take a photo once the sun has gone down, because the lack of light will automatically make your shot look grainy. Use natural light! If you’re going to shoot a still life image (see below for more tips!), do it near a window. And if you’re going to take a photo of your friend, don’t do it in the middle of the day: the sun will be above them, casting terrible shadows all over their face. Instead, take portraits first thing in the morning or a couple of hours before the sun sets.

The difference between a great Instagram photo and an average one is the amount of light in the picture.



Afterlight is one of my favourite apps, and has been for about a year or so. It has a lot of filters but I don’t really use them. What I love Afterlight for is brightening photographs, so you can fake the aforementioned light if you need to!

Once you’ve loaded up your photo, press the second icon (three lines with dots on them). I like to brighten my photos by increasing the Brightness (sun icon), Contrast (half-coloured circle), and Exposure (square with a plus and minus in two corners).

As long as your photo wasn’t super dark to begin with, this makes an enormous difference. I brighten every single photo I take!

You can also use Afterlight to fit a normal photograph into a square. Just press the icon on the far right (it’s a circle inside a square), press Original, and then choose the image of two vertical lines. It will automatically resize your rectangular image so that you can post it on Instagram. Yay! I also love their Instant Film photo frames. Very cute.



Whenever I see a beautiful sunset or I’m standing somewhere with a great view, Pro HDR is my go-to app. It takes two photos and then knits them together so that you have an equal amount of light and dark, and it makes everything look gorgeous.

The photo above was taken in Central Park using Pro HDR, and I didn’t need to edit it at all. The most important thing to keep in mind when you use this app is to stay absolutely still. Lean on a tree if you have to, or just hold your breath!



Some people consider this “cheating”, but hey, I say, if it makes your photos look better, go for it. Your phone’s camera is only going to be so good, after all. I have a Samsung NX 3000 which rocks my world because a) it is small and lovely, b) it takes amazing photos, and c) I can send my photos to my phone using the camera’s built-in wifi! Genius!

In fact, since I bought my camera a couple of months ago, I’ve only posted a few photos I took using my phone, and I used Pro HDR for most of them!



We always say at The Blogcademy, “Photos of experiences get more engagement than selfies”, and it’s true. People want to see where you’re going and what you’re doing, and that will invite more conversation and new followers than pouting in the backseat of a taxi. You can certainly share photos of mountains, vistas, and hotel rooms, but sometimes a fun way to tell a story is by taking a still life photo containing elements of your latest adventure.

If you’ve just visited New Zealand, for example, maybe your photo shows some of the colourful currency, a bottle of L&P, and some souvenirs you picked up. My babe Shauna is a complete still life genius, and she arranges great arrays of stuff to tell a story about a trip we’ve taken. There is definitely an art to this: it’s not just as easy as throwing a bunch of stuff on a table and shooting it! In fact, we have a Home School video full of tips, and it’s only $20. Check it out!



Stand facing a window, so you have soft filtered light on your face. Hold the camera slightly above your head. Use the volume buttons to activate the shutter (whether you have an iPhone or an Android, this works!). Think about your background, too! And if you’re looking extra-tired, or you have a random pimple, use FaceTune (see below!) to improve the result.

In case you’re wondering, I did all of the above for the photo up there!



FaceTune is kind of brilliant. Every time I tell people about it, they come back to me raving excitedly. You can use FaceTune to get rid of blemishes (using the Patch tool), improve uneven skin (using the Smooth tool), darken your eyelashes (using the Contrast tool), and even whiten your teeth (using — you guessed it — the Whiten tool). You can also get really nutty with FaceTune and reshape your entire body if you so desire, though this may be taking it a little far.

It can be tempting to go really overboard with this app and end up looking like a CoverGirl commercial, but try to restrain yourself! I may have used it a little bit too much on this photo of Tiffany and I, but we were under fluorescent lights, so I say it’s okay.



PartyParty is a relatively new app from those lovely girls over at A Beautiful Mess. It takes a series of photos — 4, 9, or 16 — and then turns them into an animated gif, which you can post on Instagram or save as a gif for use on your blog. Needless to say, we love it.

Loulou and I took the photos above using PartyParty: we just sat really still, took a series of shots, and then sped it up!



VSCO (available for both iPhone and Android) is my favourite app for changing the look of a photo. It has the widest range of filters you can actually use, and they’re all lovely.

My tip? The previews are all at 100%, but you can change the intensity of the filter, and often the images look much better when you only use them at 50%.



I mean this in both senses of the word: edit your pictures using the apps I mentioned above, but also, be finicky about what you post. I don’t post on Instagram every day, even though I know that if I did, my following would probably grow faster. Instead, I only share the images that I really love.

Don’t post any old crap because you’re bored; post the images that speak to you.

It’s okay to have certain things that you post over and over, too. When I look through my Instagram, I see the same motifs regularly: flowers, street art, and photos of my travels. That’s fine, because that’s my life. If there’s something you love to take photos of — like, in my case, flowers — that’s great, and you don’t have to apologise for it!

Finally, come up with some sort of photo editing regime that works for you. I use the same filters and editing processes on almost all of my photos, because I know how I like them to look. Once you’ve figured out your secret recipe, stick to it! Consistency makes an Instagram account even more beautiful.

I hope these tips help you make #lovetober amazing!

Love forever,

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Radical Self Love Letters

It’s Time For Another Instagram Challenge: Let’s Go, #LOVETOBER!


The last Instagram challenge we did, #radicalselflovejuly, was a massive success, with well over 14,000 entries and plenty of new friendships formed! What could be better than that?

I have the answer: doing it AGAIN, calling it #lovetober, and throwing prizes into the mix!

Oooooooh babe. #lovetober is going to rock your socks off! Below is all the information you need to take part…



October 1: Flower power
Let’s kick it off with a photo of your favourite flowers. Roses, peonies, ranunculus? Show us what you love, and tell us why!

October 2: Nostalgia
What are you nostalgic for? What do you miss? Show us one of the best times of your life.

October 3: Photobooth Friday
Taking photobooth pictures on a Friday is an underrated tradition. Squeeze into a booth today and share the results, or just go through some of your old favourites!

October 4: Made me laugh
This could be anything, from street art to your favourite comedian. The only criteria is that it has to make you laugh.

October 5: Daily mantra
How do you keep yourself going every day? What words do you tell yourself, and what quotes keep you feeling inspired? You never know, your daily mantra could be exactly what another #lovetober babe needs to see right now.

October 6: Your bookshelf
There’s nothing more revelatory than looking at someone’s bookcase, so show us: what’s on yours? And if your bookshelf is huge, give us a glimpse of the stack you’re working on!

October 7: Thankfulness
Time to get grateful. Your photo can be anything, but this is one prompt where your caption will really count. Make us a list of at least 10 things you’re glad to have in your life!

October 8: Street art
Spend some time hunting out the coolest, most colourful and surreal street art your city has to offer. Stickers, posters, and random graffiti are all fair game! (Tag the artist if you know it!)

October 9: Favourite colour
What’s your power colour? What colour makes you feel like you’re “on” when you wear it? What is it about that colour that makes you feel so damn good?

October 10: Your inspiration
Who or what inspires you? There are no wrong answers here, and feel free to get weird!

October 11: Jump!
…Yep, just like Van Halen says! Take a photo of you in flight!

October 12: Perfect weekend
What would your perfect weekend look and feel like? This is your opportunity to create a beautiful weekend for yourself, then share the results. How sublime.

October 13: I’m obsessed!
Ever get something stuck in your head that you just cannot stop thinking about? Me too! So, what are you really obsessed with right now?

October 14: A beautiful place
What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen? Share a photo of you standing right in the middle of it, or simply your favourite view of all time.

October 15: Pay it forward
Do something good for someone else today — pay for a stranger’s coffee, give your time to a cause, or help out a friend — and then tell us all about it.

October 16: Big dream
What’s your big desire? Tell us about that thing that burns inside of you, that terrifies and exhilarates you in equal amounts. Who knows: maybe one of us can help you make it a reality!

October 17: Favourite artist
Whose art really speaks to you? Is there one specific artist whose work lights you up inside? Share one of your favourite pieces, and be sure to tag and attribute the artist so we can explore their work, too!

October 18: In the morning
What do you do every morning? Show us that quiet moment before you start your day: a cup of tea, a stroll with your dog, a moment on the yoga mat.

October 19: Your bucket list
What’s on your list of things to do before you die? Bonus points if you scribble it down so that we can see your handwriting!

October 20: Favourite city
Do you have a favourite city? Show us a photo and tell us why it is so special to you. And no worries if you’ve never been there: my favourite city was New York, even before I had ever set foot in it!

October 21: Your babes
It’s time for your best friends to get their moment in the sun. Who are your best babes, and what makes your friendship so remarkable?

October 22: Seasonal love
The seasons are changing all over the world, so show us, what is your favourite part of the changing seasons? (My vote is firm: hot chocolate, all the way!)

October 23: Throwback Thursday
Takin’ it way back! Share your silly old photos, and bonus points if it’s a picture of you as a child.

October 24: Spirituality
How do you define spirituality? What is your connection to God, universal energy, love? What does the word “spirituality” mean to you?

October 25: Before and after
Find a picture of yourself from ten years ago, and use an app like PictureFrames to place it alongside a photo of yourself today. How have you changed, grown, and transformed in that time?

October 26: Self-care routine
How do you take care of yourself? Epsom salt baths, massages, non-negotiable nap-time?

October 27: Wonder
What fills you with a sense of wonder every time you see it? Trees, stars, your dog’s nose? (My dog’s nose definitely fills me with a sense of wonder. It’s amazing!)

October 28: Biggest challenge
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve ever experienced, and what did you learn from it? How did it change you and make you a stronger person? Don’t be shy or ashamed: this is all part of your story, and it’s what makes you so magical today.

October 29: Beside your bed
What do you keep next to your bed? Yes, this one is pretty intimate, but says a lot about a person, I think!

October 30: Advice
Give advice to your fellow #lovetober participants. What do you wish you could tell everyone?

October 31: Halloween!
How are you celebrating halloween? Will you decorate your house, dress up like a vampire, or commune with spirits? Let us in on your spooky world!

How do I play?
It’s easy-peasy. Either save the image above — or like it on Instagram — so you have a reminder of the prompts on-hand! Then, use the prompts to spark your creativity. Take photos, upload them to Instagram, and be sure to tag them with #lovetober! I’ll be sharing my favourites over the month, too.

Wait, what about the PRIZES?!
Oh, you! I’ll be revealing our awesome sponsors soon. Prize winners will be chosen at random, and eligibility is worldwide. The more photos you post, the more chances you have of winning a prize!

How do I get the most out of this experience?
Take some of your photos ahead of time if you can — that will guarantee you’re never stumped for a particular day of the challenge! Reach out to other #lovetober babes: comment on their pictures, add them as friends, and give them feedback on their photos! And finally, write something meaningful as your caption. This will help you to look back on #lovetober as a kind of diary!

What if I miss a day?
That’s okay! Just catch up whenever you can.

Can I post the challenge graphic on my Instagram?
Yes, of course! That’s probably the best thing to do, because then you’ll always have it to refer back to. Just remember to use the hashtag!

OMG, I am so excited. I can’t wait to get cracking!

Click click flash,

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Carousel: Ghost Sex, A Funeral For Fashion Blogging, And Childlessness


Oh hey! It’s almost October — fancy that! I’m extra-excited about it BECAUSE on Monday, I’ll be revealing our October Instagram challenge. Ahhh! It’s going to be so much fun. Just you wait!

I have a big weekend ahead, teaching The Blogcademy, and gallivanting around the city with my best babes. It’s gonna be a goodie. Hope your weekend is superb, too!

The Coveteur reviewed some celebrity workout videos, including Cher, Claudia Schiffer, and even Marky Mark.

I love these fluoro bathrooms.

Veronica Varlow advises us on creating your very own badass gang of inspiration.

I did an interview with Cleo magazine about, well, everything!

There are now Diana Vreeland-inspired perfumes. Pretty amazing!

Here’s everything you need to know about ghost sex. Okay then. I didn’t know that was a thing! You learn something every day…

Are You The One? is the BEST show I’ve seen in ages. 20 people are in a house in Hawaii, and everyone has a perfect match… But now they have to figure out who it is. Serious binge-watching material (and it’s free on Amazon Prime). Mike and I devoured it in three nights. Ughhhh so good.

Hey, let’s talk about dick size. And vaginas. Why not?

Prayer is stupid, right? I love this take on prayer, because it’s exactly what I believe, too.

Would you ever try heavy metal yoga?

Let fame and fortune be the byproducts of a life well-lived. NICE.

Then, it hit me during a conversation I had with my cousin, that everything I’ve thought I desired were meant to be BYPRODUCTS, not DREAMS. Most of what I’ve desired (money, fame, fortune, accolades, admiration) are byproducts of a life well-lived and a life that is guided by passion and love. Because, although of course it would be wonderful to write a bestselling novel, I have to enjoy the time it takes to write the novel, the bestseller status a natural byproduct (or not!) of the work I put into it. I want money to come as a byproduct of a day to day work that is fulfilling and worthwhile to me. Money, as a goal, has been the most fruitless pursuit of my life and I’m glad I’ve realized this at only 29 years old.

Here are some ways to support the bloggers you love. Great ideas!

The Magnolia hype in NYC has, I think, finally died down. Here is one man’s story about working as a Magnolia Bakery cupcake bouncer. Yes, this is a real thing.

Want a rug with Fiona Apple lyrics woven into it? Of course you do! Me too!

Here are 11 bird’s-eye views that show how NYC has grown in the last 350 years.

Robin Williams was way cooler than I ever thought possible.

Nothing is better than finding a new blog to obsess over. My new favourite is Aunt Peaches. I am totally gung-ho on this knob bobbles idea. Oh Aunt Peaches, let’s be FRIENDS!

Do bloggers make more money than editors? (Yep!)

I love Karley’s Vogue column, Breathless. This one, on marriage, is excellent.

The oral history of Tinder = FASCINATING.

What’s your learning style? Take a quick test to find out!

How the lost chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was discovered. (Roald Dahl is my birthday twin!)

Why do musicians want to leave major labels? It’s because labels don’t have a clue.

A damn good question: who is living your dream? Love this post.

A funeral for fashion blogging. It’s true, the game has changed.

Does hip-hop cause crime?

Nick Cave on the creative process.

Here’s an iPhone wallpaper to remind you to read a book, instead!

Also, keeping your overhead low is the secret to success. Totally agree.

The vocabulary they use in New Girl is the best. “I can see your party hats.” Meow!

What’s the difference between riches, wealth, and success? So good!

Spanking is great for sex, which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.

Ayahuasca will make you cry, vomit, and feel amazing.

Here are some Netflix hacks that will change your viewing experience forever! I didn’t even know Netflix hacks existed. Just, wow.

What if you’re not sure whether you want kids or not?

There’s really no evidence, she says, that women have a biological urge to procreate. Humans are the only animal that can choose whether or not to spawn. When you joke that your ovaries are jumping, it’s really your brain thinking, I’d like to be a mother someday. You’re emotionally — not biologically — processing all those cute baby photos on Instagram.

Here are 25 famous women on childlessness. And if this resonates with you, my article — I Don’t Want Children! Am I A Freak?! Why Won’t Everyone Leave Me Alone?! — might make you smile, too!

This is ridiculous, and funny… 24 grandparents who are way better than you at using the internet. Oh geez.

I couldn’t help but wonder (lol) about these Sex & The City facts.

Jokes that only American Horror Story fans will understand. Oh, AHS! I can’t wait for it to come back to television!

I absolutely love Orange You Lucky and her beautiful, bright artwork!

Joan River’s spiritual guide is fighting crime with Voodoo in New Orleans.

Why do rappers put on fake accents? Linguistics is so fascinating.

Nicholas Cage, you sure are a character.

An English journalist complained about the NYC subway, and of course, the MTA bit back.

Who needs a cuddle buddy? Everyone, it turns out.

My babe Helen wrote an awesome post on poverty.


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Stop Waiting To Be Picked; Choose Yourself

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A couple of weeks ago, I announced that I was publishing my first book. I’m beside myself with excitement, and it seems that a lot of you are too! (Thank you so much for your enthusiasm!) In the past, whenever I’ve heard that someone is publishing a book, I always wonder, How did they do it? So I’m going to pull back the curtain.

I didn’t get a life-changing phone call or receive an email that said, “We want to release your book!” I didn’t sign a contract or bank a six-figure cheque. I simply decided to self-publish.

Why? I had a meeting with the biggest publishing house on the planet who said, “We don’t get it.” I worked with an agent who eventually said, “It’s not a good time to sell this.” I kicked my own ass about it for years before realising that everything else in life I did on my own. This would simply be another one of those things.

I sold over 100,000 copies of Love & Sequins as an e-book. Wait, scratch that: it wasn’t even an e-book, it was a PDF! Maybe the fact that this agent and that publisher didn’t grasp the concept is a blessing, because it means I get to do it my way. It means I get the opportunity to create the book I believe in; the book you need.

At Spirit Junkie Master Class, Gabby invited me up on stage to talk about my book. With a microphone in hand, I told everyone in the audience that they needed to choose themselves. I said, “Don’t wait around to be picked. You need to back yourself 100%.”

The days of waiting for a publisher, an agent, a record label, or a talent scout to pluck you out of obscurity are over. No more waiting. No more daydreams about Prince Charming. If you want something, you have to go after it yourself.

The world has changed. There are no gatekeepers anymore. There is nothing stopping you from publishing that book, releasing that album, starting that business. Nothing but yourself.

You could spend years refining your book proposal, honing your elevator pitch, or mastering your demo, when you could simply be CREATING. Making more stuff, trying new things, growing as an artist and as an entrepreneur.

It doesn’t matter what you do: you know your audience, your clients, your people, better than anyone. You know their needs, and you know how to help them. So don’t let someone else’s lack of vision get in the way of serving them. Do what you need to do!

Not everyone is going to “get it”, and that’s okay. They don’t need to. Maybe that literary agent didn’t share my vision, and perhaps it wasn’t the right time to work with that publisher. But I have enough vision for both of them combined, and I’m not going to let all that get in the way of the work that needs to be done.

You shouldn’t either.


Want updates on my book? Enter your name and email below!

Photo by Made U Look.

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Your Guide To Perfectly Winged Liner


Oh, how I love winged liner. It’s my standard, my go-to look, and it has been for years. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way since I was 13 and mimicking the Eye of Horus with a dull, blunt pencil!

Did you know that the ancient Egyptians used a mineral called galena to line their eyes? They believed that cosmetics had magical powers, and that you had to line your eyes with kohl in order to move into the afterlife. I’m onboard with this sentiment: who would want to spend an eternity without eyeliner?! Anyway, as you may have noticed, cosmetic technology has made massive strides since then! It has even changed a lot in the last 18 years. (There I go, showing my age!) There’s no excuse to use a worn-down nub of a pencil anymore!

You’ve probably heard about Benefit Cosmetics’ new They’re Real Push-Up Liner. The hype is huge… and with good reason! The liner is a gel formula which hugs your lashes, and it comes with a built-in Accu-Flex tip for super-easy application. I love the matte finish on it, and it’s totally waterproof too, which means your look will last all night. Ooh yes, bad girls unite!

Right now, if you buy your tube of They’re Real Push-Up Liner at Macy’s or, you’ll receive a FREE deluxe sample of They’re Real remover. Hell yes!

I’ve teamed up with Benefit Cosmetics and Macy’s to bring you a few of my tips for getting the perfect winged eye. Listen, learn, and line those babies!


I like to curl my lashes and apply mascara before I whip out my gel liner. Sometimes, your liner will get stuck on an eyelash curler and come off in little chunks, which is the most annoying thing ever. Start with your lashes first, and then move into eyeliner.

One of the trickiest parts of winged eyeliner is getting it to look even. This can require some finessing. Even if you drew identical outer flicks, you might find it looks a bit skew-whiff, and this could be because your eyes aren’t perfectly symmetrical! Don’t worry if this is the case for you, because it is for me too. My eyes are two different shapes, and one of my eyebrows is a couple of centimetres higher than the other! Never fear: with a little skill, no one will ever know (unless you tell millions of people on the internet, of course!).

Start by drawing one angled line, from the corner of your eye upward. Draw one side, then the other, and then sit back and compare. If they’re not dead right, it’s okay — just wipe them off. They’re Real remover is perfect for this purpose: soak a q-tip and dab it away, then start again. The reason to start with the flick is that then you don’t have to mess up the rest of your liner in the process. Meow!

I also like to lean on something sturdy while I do this. You should always do your makeup in natural light, so set up a little mirror in a window and then lean on the sill while you line your eyes. It makes a huge difference!

I will never forget one of my very best friends telling me, when I was about 14 years old, to flick my eyeliner upwards instead of out to the sides. (We didn’t have Youtube beauty gurus back then. You kids don’t know how lucky you are!) Anyway, the reason for doing this is that winged liner is creating an optical illusion. An angle of about 20 degrees will change the shape of your eye, making you look more flirtatious and coquettish. If you simply draw a straight, horizontal line, your eye will just look… wide. You don’t want that. Flick up, babe!

Once your wings are looking wonderful, it’s time to line the rest of your eye. Now, unless you have the steadiest hand in the world, this may end up looking a little irregular. For example, you might have a tendency to go a little heavier on the left than the right, and then when you try to even them out, it just gets worse and worse.

To avoid this scenario, I like to dot or press the tip along my lash line, joining them together slowly. Start with a slim line, and you can build it up slowly. By the way, your liner will look more natural (and professional) if you add a little curve in the middle of your eye. A little arch looks so much better than a straight, flat line — your eyes are not rectangles!

Here are two things to keep in mind. The first is that the angle of the flick should follow the natural curve of your eye. If you press a pen along the arc of your eye, you can easily see the angle your wing should be. If that doesn’t work, an awesome trick is to use a piece of tape as a guide. Yep: just stick it to your face, and trace along the edge with your liner!

I’ve heard so many people say they’re terrified of liquid liner, and that is, quite frankly, silly. It’s only makeup, and if you really make a mess, you can simply take it off and start again! Learning how to create the perfect wing is a little bit of a learning curve, but it is so worth it, because it looks so damn good! And now with Benefit’s They’re Real Push-Up Liner, it helps make lining eyes that much easier!


I’m giving you the chance to practice your liner skills, because I’m giving away a tube of They’re Real Push Up Liner to one lucky reader! (Your crush doesn’t stand a chance.) All you have to do is comment on this post and tell me your best makeup trick. I’ll pick a winner at random next week!

Winged liner for life,

This post was brought to you by Benefit Cosmetics and Macy’s. Holler!

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