15 March 2013, 08:58
Photo by Brooke Davis.
Hey, blogger babe: this is part eight of a ten-part series all about this crazy thing we call the blogosphere. You can read the others by clicking on the blogging tag! Enjoy!
Hello! Good morning. I’d like to start off today’s column with a multiple choice question.
How do you think the A-list bloggers got to the top of the game?
A) They asked everyone around them for their opinion and advice all the time;
B) They met a blogger guru who told them the secret to SEO and passive income;
C) They watched what everyone else did and copied them;
D) They hustled their ass off. They tried plenty of things and made plenty of mistakes. They didn’t ask people silly questions — they used Google, instead. They listened to other people’s opinions selectively. They did what they felt to be right.
Hopefully, you picked D. You did pick D, didn’t you?!
In life, a lot of people want to be spoonfed; they can’t do anything for themselves. These people will never be successful at their chosen pursuit because they are too afraid to strike out and make their own moves.
Being successful is not about following the rules, being politically correct and kissing everyone’s ass. It’s about making hard choices and being unpopular sometimes. It’s tough, and that’s why most people straggle along, never rising to the top of their game.
Sure, as a blogger, you could do what everyone else is doing. You could try to put your spin on someone else’s advice; you could imitate someone else’s street style. You could rip off someone else’s video format, or knock together a trendy blog design.
All of that stuff is a waste of time.
Of course, there is always plenty to learn: new ideas, tips and tricks; writing skills to improve; networking to do and tactics to brush up on. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel — there is a wealth of information out there which you can absorb and use to your advantage. But you can ask all the right questions, take all the classes and sign up for all the e-courses, and it doesn’t amount to anything unless you take some real, decisive action.
There is one crucial element that no one can teach you: to take initiative. You are either a self-starter or you aren’t.
If you want to be successful, you have to make people sit up and take notice of you. If you’re not comfortable in the spotlight, it’s safe to say that blogging is probably not for you. With attention comes scrutiny, and it takes the thickest of skins to deal with that on a daily basis. But if you love the limelight? Dive on in, the water’s fine.
If you really want to thrive in this environment, you have to relentlessly push the envelope. You have to try new things. You have to post pieces that make you feel a little nervous or sick to the stomach. You have to be prepared to take it where no one else will.
When it comes to blogging, you have to embrace your weirdness! Click to tweet!
Photo by Lisa Devlin.
Remember what I said a couple of weeks ago? You have to go your own way. As proof of concept, my site is not like anyone else’s, and I love that. I am often imitated, but never duplicated, and I cannot be pigeonholed. I march to my own fabulous drum, and I dance to my disco beats, and I put sparkles on that shit and I make it my own.
I change things all the time. I try new tactics. I experiment by writing about different topics in different ways. Some of it doesn’t work, but some of it does. In any industry, you have to be constantly innovating in order to stay fresh and relevant. Don’t be fooled into thinking blogging is any different.
You will never make a name for yourself by pretending to be someone else. You will never carve out a niche by playing it safe. You will never make the grade if you never try anything new.
Get out there and rip the pants off the internet! Shock us stupid! Do something devastatingly brilliant. Give us what we didn’t even know we needed.
14 March 2013, 13:02
I’m really getting into the spring mood, and even though it hasn’t been super-warm, the peeks of sunshine and the chirping of birds is letting me know it’s just around the corner! By the time I get back from Los Angeles, I know spring will be in full swing…
Last night I presented an award at The Fashion 2.0 Awards, and it was pretty fabulous! We had a very fun, silly time. I took Rabbit as my date and wore a violently violet dress by Carlos Miele, courtesy of Rent The Runway. (If you use that link, you’ll get a $20 discount on any dress rental! Do it!) Joey Camasta (who is an absolute genius) did my make-up, and Maria at Fox and Jane did my hair. Babes, one and all!
Head to toe at Fashion 2.0; mirror portraits in the East Village; a solo carnation; another picture of us at Fashion 2.0; pulling The Magician card from The Wild Unknown tarot.
J’adore! I’m so excited we’re back to Daylight Savings! Being 5’11” in my dress and heels last night! It’s less than two weeks until I fly out to Portland! Ah!!! Carnations on my desk (“I hear they’re making a comeback…”) Stacks of new books to read — YAY Buying teeny turquoise bottles of bubbles for our Blogcademy babes Sugar body scrubs and cocoa butter and self-tanner All almond everything I’m unreasonably excited about Sofia Coppola’s new movie, The Bling Ring Smoothie alchemy Wearing my Madewell Skinny Skinny Ankle jeans pretty much every day… Setting new goals with the New Moon (best time to do it!) Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Hibiscus (I keep one in my handbag at all times) Talking about runes in the ladies room Walking out of bad movies — life’s too short! (But I am shocked that Oz was so awful) Treasures and trinkets in the mail Loving my true self…
“Dare to love yourself / as if you were a rainbow / with gold at both ends.”
P.S. Google Reader is going the way of the dinosaur… But you can follow my blog with Bloglovin!
13 March 2013, 10:00
Where would we all be without our phones? Mine is constantly at my side, and I’ve discovered it’s not just great for obsessively decorating, listening to music or taking a million photos. In fact, there are a bunch of iPhone apps that can actually improve your life. Here are a few of my favourites!
If you can’t sleep: Relax Melodies
Relax Melodies is basically a little sound machine in your phone. You can choose any combination of sounds — like ocean, rainforest, thunderstorm, or rain on the roof — and they just loop for hours. I know you’re not meant to sleep with your phone beside your head, but sometimes, when there’s a guy parked outside with his car stereo booming, I need something to help me get to sleep!
I love Relax Melodies. It really does relax you, and falling asleep to the sound of rain is about the most peaceful thing I can think of.
P.S. There are two versions of Relax Melodies: free and paid. I upgraded mine, but I think the free version is completely adequate!
If you want to get your inbox to zero: Mailbox
First, the bad news: At time of writing, there are approximately 700,000 people ahead of you in the queue to use Mailbox. But the great news is that the queue moves quickly — I waited about two weeks, I think — and when you’re granted access, Mailbox is a complete game-changer.
Mailbox makes it really, really easy to archive or delete your mail, as well as a brilliant “show me later” feature. You can choose to delay a message, and deal with it tomorrow, next week, or even next month. Mailbox also keeps a little numeric tally of messages as part of its icon, which really inspires you to clear out your inbox on a daily basis!
Mailbox has replaced iPhone’s OSX Mail app as my email application of choice… And I’ve never been happier. Just watch their video and I think you will be similarly convinced!
If you have a goal: Everest
Everest encourages you to break your goal down into manageable, bite-sized chunks. No matter what your intentions are, this app will help you get there.
You can connect with friends to help keep you accountable, as well as browse around and see what complete strangers are doing. I haven’t had a lot of time to play with this app yet, but I think it is so brilliant!
Additionally, if you’re looking for some more adventure in your life but aren’t sure where to start, just tap the Challenges tab and accept someone else’s dare! Some examples include cut out sweets for a week, don’t complain for 24 hours, do a silent retreat, create a plan to get debt-free, and run a half marathon. Each challenge is broken down into steps which you simply swipe to complete.
If you’re stressed: Take A Break
Take A Break is a free app which comes with two different guided meditations: one is a “work break” that runs for seven minutes, and the other is a stress relief meditation, which is thirteen minutes long.
You can choose whether you’d like to just hear the voice, if you’d like music in the background, or nature noises, which makes this very simple app a little more customisable.
Guided meditation is one of my favourite types of meditation, and it’s particularly useful for anyone who is new to sitting still and quieting their mind! It gives you something to focus on, rather than trying to think of nothing and obsessing over how much your nose itches!
I always feel much more serene after using this app. Give it a try!
If you can’t remember everything: Wunderlist
I have tried so many apps over the years, always looking for that sacred sweet spot: the intersection between ease of use and practicality. I’ve recently come back to Wunderlist, and I’m in love with it.
One of the reasons I love Wunderlist is because it has a desktop app. I don’t like to do everything on my phone, I like to be able to type and research on my computer, and Wunderlist syncs beautifully across all devices.
Wunderlist is basically where I vomit everything I need to keep in my head. At the moment, I have lists for places I want to visit in Los Angeles, pictures I want to take for Instagram, articles I want to write, things I need to procure to make my living room a better place, a Blogcademy “to do” list, a generic shopping list… And that’s just for starters.
It really helps to keep me on track, and I think it will help you, too!
If you want to keep a journal: Day One
There are a lot of journalling apps on the market but Day One is my favourite. The design is sleek and easy, and the app just does exactly what it says: no more and no less. One of my favourite features is the ability to add a photo to your diary entry. It makes it more visually stimulating, which provides a whole lot more motivation to keep adding to it.
The best thing about Day One is that you can set an alarm to remind you to update your journal. Maybe setting an alarm for 10pm or 7.30am would be the best time to get your thoughts down. Play around with it and see what works for you!
If you want to be on time: Uber
Uber is like having access to your own personal driver through your phone. It’s different in every city, but in NYC they have partnered with a number of black town car services, and it simply pings the one who is nearest to you.
It’s so easy to use: you input your address and it gives you an estimate of how close the nearest car is. Where I live, in the East Village, a car is usually about 6 minutes away. Once you submit your order, Uber will actually chart the path of the car while you wait.
Using Uber is a little more expensive than a taxi, because it’s a town car service. A trip that would normally cost me about $16 cost me $24. But I didn’t have to leave my house and go searching for a taxi, the car was impeccably clean, I didn’t have to swipe my card at the end (it’s all done in the app), and the tip was included. (A 30% tip on a $16 fare is almost $5, anyway.)
I am completely obsessed with this service! It’s truly perfect if there’s somewhere you need to be, if the weather is terrible, or if you’re just feeling too fabulous to want to prowl the streets in search of a taxi!
By the way, if you use my invite code, you’ll get $10 to use towards your first trip! Awesome!
If you want to eat healthy: My Fitness Pal
You know how they always say you should keep a food journal if you want to become more conscious about the amount — and type — of food you’re eating? It’s a great idea, but no one really does it. Or at least, I’ve never met anyone who managed to make it stick!
MyFitnessPal seeks to fix this problem. You can search for foods or scan any barcode and have it instantly entered into your food diary, figure out serving sizes, and even discover how many calories you should be eating if you have a certain weight goal.
If you’re anything like me, you have serious eating habits. I eat the same foods every week, and with MyFitnessPal, once you’ve entered them once, they get saved in your regular foods list. This makes it really easy and fast to keep on top of your diary.
There’s also space to enter any exercise you do. Great for gym bunnies!
If you want to say thank you: Ink
With Ink, you can instantly create greeting cards using the photographs on your phone. I love this app, because it removes any and all excuses for not sending a quick thank you to anyone who deserves it.
Using their app, you select a design, pick a photograph, add any text, then choose a contact to send it to. The Ink nymphs print it out at their magical factory, then slap a stamp on it and send it out. It arrives at your friend’s house soon after, and you all rejoice!
Now you really can be the babe with the best manners!
If you want to get centered: Pranayama Universal Breathing
Pranayama Universal Breathing is a super-simple app. When you fire it up, onscreen you see an animation of a man sitting cross-legged. Next to him is a pie chart, which shows how long your inhale and exhale should be. The first 1/3 of the pie chart is devoted to your inhale, and the rest is intended for your exhale.
Then all you have to do is follow the instructions. Breathe in… Breathe out. Breathe in… Breathe out. Do it for a few minutes, and you’ll feel back to your old self in no time!
You can up the ante, too, if you’re looking to try some more advanced breathing techniques. Fabulous!
I hope you have fun playing around with these apps!
Help! I think I’m in love with my phone,
11 March 2013, 11:19
Just shopping at Bergdorfs… !
Witches are having a pop culture moment. From dark clothes on the runway to mysterious editorials and a slew of new fairytale films, the witch has replaced the vampire as the new icon of power and fantasy. (Hey, if the New York Times says it, it must be true!)
We’re being encouraged to embrace a spookier side of life, and even though there are fresh green shoots emerging from the dirt, I still want to spend my time anointing candles, pulling cards and lighting incense.
Witches get a bad rap. Far from devouring children (à la Hansel and Gretel), modern witches celebrate the divine in their own way. For more information, check out my interview with two wonderful women: I’m A Witch!
Either way, here’s my very stylised take on the whole phenomenon…
“The witch is the ultimate bad girl. You want to be her.”
A modern witch would wear a white lace dress with supersonic leggings, white moto boots and a wired crystal pendant around her neck. She would enchant in a harness-back maxi dress and t-strap wedge sandals. She wouldn’t go out in public without a pair of oversized cat eye sunglasses and a skeleton hand collar. She would stash her treasures in a studded tote bag, and at night she’d go dancing in a pair of striped platform sneakers.
A modern witch always has her divination tools within arms reach. My new favourite set of cards is The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck, a gorgeous illustrated deck which has a guidebook that I’d highly recommend if you’re new to reading the cards. In an ideal world, you wrap your cards in silk and put them in a little bag, but this leather tarot card pouch is fantastic!
A modern witch is always thinking about the stories we tell with our hands. Fingernail rings, knuckle rings, chunky cocktail rings and engagement rings all have their own narrative. They are part of our make-up, an essential piece of costume. A modern witch selects her rings with care every morning, and slides them onto her fingers: elvish twig rings which stack magnificently, rune rings and a Lily Dale spiritualist ring all take pride of place on her hands.
Her jewellery box is full of sparkly gems and unusual finds. A cobra ring in diamond, ruby, black rhodium and 18k gold sits alongside an amazonite pendulum and a crystal point necklace. She scours flea markets and antique shops for anything that catches her eye.
A modern witch embraces symbols and talismans. She adorns herself with charms and amulets to protect her from the evil eye: a little diamond ring, or a necklace from Max and Chloe. Her martlet and heart necklace guarantees good news. She wears a bracelet showing the phases of the moon...
A modern witch has a well-stocked library. All of these books are excellent, and give a friendly introduction to what modern witchcraft is all about: Confessions of a Teenage Witch: Celebrating the Wiccan Life / A Witch Alone: The Essential Guide for the Solo Practitioner of the Magical Arts / Llewellyn’s 2013 Witches’ Datebook / Llewellyn’s 2013 Magical Almanac: Practical Magic for Everyday Living / Grimoire for the Green Witch: A Complete Book of Shadows / Practical Protection Magick: Guarding & Reclaiming Your Power / Llewellyn’s Complete Formulary of Magical Oils / Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery: Everyday Magic, Spells, and Recipes / Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home / Llewellyn’s 2013 Witches’ Companion: An Almanac for Contemporary Living
...But most of all, a modern witch knows that the magic comes from within. She knows that she contains all the power, guidance and courage she’ll ever need. She loves boldly and she is never ashamed of who she is.
8 March 2013, 12:46
Hey, blogger babe: this is part eight of a ten-part series! Phew, we’re almost done! If you want to read the other pieces, just click on the blogging tag! And of course, if you have any questions or things you’d like me to address, hop on over to my Facebook page!
The best thing about being a blogger is that you get to create any kind of content you want, on a schedule which suits you, as often or as infrequently as you like. The worst thing? Sometimes an overdose of Pinterest, Twitter and other peoples’ blogs can clog up your brain… In a bad way.
So this week’s tip is a simple one. All I want to do is encourage you to leave the house this weekend.
Slide your camera into your handbag and go out to see something different. Wrangle your friend into taking a roadtrip, ride your bike through a new neighbourhood, or go out dancing. Sit in the park and soak up some sunshine, make conversation with strangers, or finally visit some of those places you have bookmarked on Yelp!
(If you’re in New York City especially, there is no excuse to stay inside! It’s going to be 50 degrees and gorgeous!)
The best ideas come to you when you’re fully engaged with life; when you’re experiencing something new, or taking a walk. That’s when you have those realisations that change the way you do things.
When you have time alone with your thoughts, it strengthens your sense of identity. It helps you realise who you really are, at the core of it all. The more you can do that, the happier you’ll be as a person… And the more individuated your blog will be, too.
Go on, then!