1 March 2013, 11:30
Photo by Shell De Mar.
Hey, blogger babe: this is part seven of a ten-part series, in which I tell you my top tips for kickstarting your blog & pushing it to the next level. Have a read of the other pieces in the series by clicking on the blogging tag! Enjoy!
It seems that everywhere I look, proto-bloggers have a singular goal. They want to be the next Fashion Toast, the next Bagsnob, or “the Problogger of food bloggers”.
It’s natural to look at other people who have found success and wonder how best to emulate that. Certainly, there is a lot to be learned from other people’s triumphs and failures: why reinvent the wheel, after all?
But the problem with wanting to be, say, “the next Sartorialist”, is that you’re unconsciously limiting yourself. You’re narrowing your focus too much. Your vision becomes small, coloured by anything and everything Scott Schuman has ever achieved.
And you know what? The world already has a Sartorialist. It’s been done. What the world needs is something brand spanking new and individual: something only you can create and provide.
That’s what I want to focus on today.
It’s not just about emulating others. It’s about envy and comparison, too. One of the major stumbling blocks for every blogger is that we are constantly comparing ourselves to everyone else.
It’s hard not to, really, when your Twitter feed is full of everyone else’s highlights. You must remember that you’re only ever seeing the “best of” on Twitter. Not many people are tweeting about the fight they had with their husband and their money woes! It’s human nature to want to appear to have it all together, and nowhere is this more apparent than on Twitter!
So, the next time you’re feeling bad about your life and Twitter puts you into a shame spiral, repeat after me: Twitter is not reality!
But the worst thing about all of this is that often, the things that make us feel substandard are things that aren’t important at all. We wish we were shot by more street style photographers, perhaps, or maybe we look at campaigns with a sense of envy. You might love to have a photographer boyfriend like Rumi, or think your life would be complete if you were invited to fabulous events like Susie Bubble.
Humans are notoriously bad at predicting what will make them happy. So while you may dream of being an A-list blogger and sitting in the front row at Paris Fashion Week, once you get there, you might realise it’s not all that.
The thing that’s most upsetting is that we don’t seem to get envious over the really important things. What are the important things in blogging, you might ask? Well, to me, the things that matter most are good writing; high-quality images; truly original content; connecting with your readers in a meaningful way; having a sense of purpose; and your blog being a resource, a place that helps other people.
As long as we’re comparing ourselves to one another, we can’t expect to make much progress. If we continue to contrast ourselves against our peers, we lose sight of our own unique spark. When we try to emulate others, we dilute our own magical essence.
None of these things bring us any closer to a sense of fulfillment, happiness or real growth.
In a nutshell: be yourself. That’s what the blogosphere really needs, and it’s exactly what will enable you to expand your blog to the stars and beyond.
22 February 2013, 08:56
Snapped shooting some Instax, by Jessica Roberts!
Hey, blogger babe: this is part six of a ten-part series, in which I tell you my top tips for kickstarting your blog & pushing it to the next level. I’ve also written about getting organised, demanding your worth, creating new features, setting goals & forming a blogger posse! (You can make it really easy on yourself by just clicking on the blogging tag! Enjoy!)
One of the wonderful things about blogging is the very low barrier to entry. As long as you have internet access, you’re away laughing!
You can go far with a blog on a free platform, some photos from your iPhone & a moderate amount of effort. But if you want to perform well, you need a bit of kit.
A good camera makes an enormous difference, though it won’t be much use to you unless you learn how to use it! (Make friends with your user manual & practice, practice, practice!) A smartphone which allows you to Instagram, tweet & Facebook on the go is invaluable. A fast computer, a Wacom tablet, & some cute head-shots can make such a huge difference. Using an Instax or Polaroid camera to take some of your photos can really add another dimension to your blog, too.
As tempting as it can be to use your iPhone for all your pictures, picking up your camera & actually using it is imperative! It adds a massive air of sophistication to your blog, & elevates it to a higher level. Think about your favourite blogs: one of the things you (probably) love most about them is that they use beautiful imagery.
There are a number of small things you can do to boost your blog too, like purchasing your own domain name, upgrading your layout & moving your blog to Wordpress.
Now, I know that doing all of these things may seem annoying, superfluous or indulgent, but there’s a method to my madness. When it comes to blogging, it’s just like what your English teacher said in school: “Show me, don’t tell me.” Blogging is such a visual medium, so if your site is hideous with blurry photos & a cheesy free layout, it will be judged accordingly.
The other thing is that I can guarantee you will feel 500% more motivated to write for your blog — & write great content at that — if you like the way your blog looks. I love my new layout, it makes me so happy, & I am thrilled to refresh it & see a new post appear. I’d had the same design for such a long time, & I was sick of the sight of it!
Making a few tweaks to the design has given me so much inspiration. Never underestimate the power of design on your happiness!
Additionally, I strongly believe in doing as much as you can on your own, & outsourcing the rest. A lot of bloggers are looking for anything that’s free, & I hate to tell you this, but you get what you pay for. PAY a photographer & get some great pictures for your about page. PAY a designer so your site looks clean & professional. PAY a copywriter if you’re having trouble coming up with the perfect bio. If you don’t have any money, trade!
The best way to run a business — & yes, your blog is a business — is to focus on what you’re good at, & delegate everything else. When you’re just starting out, that can be a big ask, & for a while you’ll have to wear multiple hats. But as you grow & your blog picks up steam, you’ll be able to work with people who are professionals… & it makes all the difference.
You can only go so far on a free template. When you start hearing the call to step up to the plate, put on your best shoes & DO IT!
You are your own best investment — & when it comes to blogging, doubly so! Click to tweet!
17 February 2013, 11:33
Photo by Shell De Mar.
Good news, everyone! I’m still offering ad spaces for small businesses!
Do you have a fledgling business that you’re sweating over? I feel you, girl! These ad spaces are for YOU. I see you there, selling vintage clothing on Etsy! I see you, graphic designers looking for new clients! I see you loitering in the corner, filming your Youtube beauty tutorials! If you’re looking for a customers or an audience & have no idea where to find one, why not borrow mine?!
My intention was always to make these ad spaces ULTRA-affordable, because I know how hard it can be to kick-start your advertising, especially when you’re just starting out. They’re served in collaboration with Blogads, who are great — they provide advertisers with a fantastic system so you can easily track the efficacy of your campaign!
How does it work?
The spaces are $3/day, & you can claim it for as many days as you like — up to 30 at a time. You are, of course, welcome to renew it as soon as those 30 days are up!
The spaces are a 125 pixel square. Like this:
Your ad will be in the right sidebar of the front page, & on individual article pages, underneath where it says SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES!
“Advertising on GalaDarling.com showed an immediate boost in site traffic, exposing my design consultancy and journal to new readers everyday…” (Steve G., RDQLUS Creative)
How can I get the most out of this?
Make your ad as engaging, dynamic & eye-catching as possible! This means USE your space as best you can! Fill the space, use a bright colour & bold imagery.
Give people a reason to click! Officially, this is known as a “call to action”. Why should someone click on your ad? Offer them something, whether it’s a discount code, free shipping, a gift with purchase, or something even better!
Animate it! Well, this is optional, but in my experience, an animated ad — a .gif with a few frames — performs better. You can relay more information & it is definitely more eye-catching. Try not to make it too much of an assault on the eyeballs, though!
If you’re not a designer, have someone else make it. This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you have a friend with a great eye, beg, plead & make cookies in exchange for a nicely-designed 125×125 ad. A designer will always do a better job than you can.
Be smart about it! Use fonts that are easy to read, & colours that don’t assault the eyeballs. Check your ad for spelling or grammatical mistakes. This is a representation of your business, so make it as wonderful as you can!
“I’ve done several promotions on Gala Darling’s site, and the results have always blown me away. First off- there’s the sheer volume of hits she sends me- thousands and thousands of uniques a day. But, more than quantity, there’s quality. Gala’s fans are a sparkly, tight-knit community that love and believe in her. If you’re lucky enough to do a promotion on galadarling.com, you tap into that good will. Promotions on galadarling.com have netted me passionate fan letters, wildly creative responses, and new fans from all over the world…” (Molly Crabapple)
All you need to do is choose how many days you’d like your ad to run, upload your image, & submit your link. Then click Preview or Buy! It’s THAT simple!
Mega-lovin’, all day, every day!
15 February 2013, 14:00
Hey, blogger babe: this is part four of a ten-part series, in which I tell you my top tips for kickstarting your blog & pushing it to the next level. You can make it really easy on yourself by just clicking on the blogging tag!
One of the most important things you can do as a blogger is to create yourself a blogger posse! This often happens quite quickly & naturally, as you start to read other people’s work & they become familiar with you at the same time, but it’s something you should be thoughtful about.
When you get down to it, blogging is a very solitary activity! While it’s valuable to allow yourself time to work alone — & since it’s almost impossible to write when people keep interrupting you! — it’s also immensely beneficial to have people you can bounce ideas around with.
As your relationships develop & deepen, you’ll find yourselves sharing triumphs, worries, asking for advice & sharing contacts. You can think of these people as your co-workers, or even a kind of creative council!
Obviously, my core blogging posse consists of Shauna & Kat, but that’s not the end of it. My husband, Mike, & Kat’s husband, Gareth, & are definitely part of my blogging posse. I know I can go to Simon whenever I need help, too.
I talk to my friend Rabbit a lot about blogging, simply because she’s one of the most clued-in people I’ve ever met. Veronica is a magical babe who always knows what to say or do, & has such an incredible sense of empathy & wisdom. I know I can ask Danielle or Kris for their advice anytime, which I really appreciate, & I have to admit I’m still thrilled to get an email from Problogger!
These friendships will pop up in likely & unlikely places. Shauna & I have been reading one another’s online journals since Livejournal in 2001! We had our first in-person rendez-vous in 2008 in NYC: it was a raucous time, involving weird parties in treehouses, rooftop photoshoots, & plenty of dancing. (Of course!) We only met Kat last year (this is the first photo we ever took together!), but when you discover someone who makes your heart do sparkly cartwheels, it’s hard to stay away!
When Rabbit lived in Chicago, she came to NYC & invited me to afternoon tea at Lady Mendl’s. Over slices of amazing crepe cake, we fell in love a little bit. (A month later, she emailed to tell me she was moving to New York… & the rest is history!) Veronica emailed me to invite me to one of her workshops, & when we met, something clicked for both of us. I discovered both Kris & Danielle through their blogs, & when I met them in person, realised they were both Good People™. Darren & I became friends after meeting at an event, & then regular coffee dates during which we discussed all things blog!
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that “normal” friendships & blog friendships are quite different. Bloggers are a weird but fabulous bunch, & we live in a unique & bizarre world. It helps so much to have like-minded people with whom you can discuss these things!
Most importantly, it’s essential to get offline & meet these people in real life. You can’t be best friends with someone you’ve never shared a meal with! The really good, deep, gritty stuff happens away from the keyboard… & you’ll never know unless you’re right there for it.
No one can do it alone, & you shouldn’t even try. Start building that support network! You probably already know some babes who you’d like to have in your blogging posse, so don’t be nervous… Reach out to them more regularly!
Oh, & if there’s a blogger you have a crush on, why not email them? You’d be surprised by the amount of girls who will happily write back!
12 February 2013, 13:03
When it comes to Vine, there are three questions that need to be asked.
First things first: do you know what it is? If not, it’s an iPhone app which enables you to film up to six seconds of video which loops. The videos end up looking like those thumbnails above… Except they move.
If you have an iPhone & you don’t have this app yet, well, what are you waiting for?!
The second question is, are you following me?! My username is galadarling, of course. My stream is very silly, featuring Shauna rolling her r’s in David Bowie’s bedroom, Kat chugging entire glasses of wine in Paris, & more public dancing than you can shake a stick at!
But perhaps the most important question is, are you as obsessed with it as I am?! Ever since downloading the app when I was in London, I’ve been tinkering with it, thinking about new ways to use it & what the medium is best for.
Sure: it’s great for filming your amateur ballroom dancing skills in Paris in the middle of winter…
But it’s also brilliant for sharing experiences & showing highlights. For example, on Friday I made these Vines at the Kate Spade presentation…
From making these videos, I started to realise the infinitely cool ways Vine can be used. Here are a few things I’ve learned…
1. Vine is not long-form Instagram. It’s a completely different medium, so think about using it in innovative ways.
There’s only so much you can show in a picture; with Vine, you can see different angles & details with ease. It’s not just about keeping your focus on one thing for six seconds, it’s about revealing more than you can with a photograph.
Think about the kinds of things that lend themselves to multiple shots. Once you get the gears turning, I know you’ll come up with more ideas than you know what to do with!
2. Download VineGifR. It’s a Mac app which allows you to turn your Vines into animated gifs. VineGifR is brand spanking new, & as such, it’s not perfect: the gifs it produces are only 200 pixels wide — as you see above — & are a minimum of 2mb per file. But it’s a great way to share your Vines on your blog.
The other way of sharing, which is to embed them, is not something I’d recommend, simply because they autoplay with the volume on. Firstly, websites that make sound are annoying & extremely 2002. Don’t go there! Secondly, if you embed more than one Vine, your website will sound like a mad cacophony, & there’s no faster way to get your reader to close the tab!
3. Follow people who are experimenting with it. By the way, this doesn’t mean “blatantly steal & rip off people’s ideas” because that’s never cool, but there is nothing wrong with being influenced (or awed!) by something someone else has done!
Over the weekend, I went through & followed a whole bunch of people from different arenas — blogging, fashion, technology, design — just because I’m curious to see what they make of the medium. Once you follow me (wink wink, nudge nudge!), you can look through my list & add a whole lot of them.
4. Stick with it. There’s a bit of a learning curve, & yes, the app is a bit buggy right now. But the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it.
Don’t feel obliged to post everything you film! It might take a few tries to get your Vine right. Here’s a tip: once you film it & click Next, the Vine will be saved to your phone’s Photos, so if you need to review it, you can.
Also, if you want to share your Vine with Twitter or Facebook, be sure to slide those dialog boxes over to “On”! Once your Vine has been posted, there’s no way of sharing it out to your social networks. Hopefully this feature is coming soon!
5. See Vine as a positive thing! I’ve seen a few bloggers lamenting Vine. “Do we really need another social network?! I’m already tapped out!”
Spoiler alert: you don’t have to be on every single social network. Just use the ones that you enjoy, & that make sense! Don’t spread yourself so thin that keeping up with your social media becomes a chore. Keep it fun & lighthearted.
Personally, I’m really enjoying having a new tool at my disposal to experiment & play with. I feel like I’m slowly beginning to get the hang of it, & it’s exciting to see the innovative & creative ways that other people are using it, too!
See you on Vine!
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