5 types of emails bloggers don’t want to receive and what to do about them

I get a lot of interesting emails as a result of my blog – sometimes from blog readers, sometimes from people who want advice about the topics that I write about, and sometimes from family or friends who have something to say about one of the articles, but they don’t want to post a public comment.

That’s all great!

Sometimes I get emails about opportunities for Unseen Beauty. Some of them are things that I want to pursue – others aren’t. But people won’t know that unless they ask.

However, I can think of 5 types of emails that come to my Unseen Beauty inbox that I don’t want to receive, so I thought I’d write a quick post about them with tips for other bloggers. In most cases my advice is to do nothing with them, but a couple might convince or unnerve particularly new bloggers, so I thought it was worth highlighting them.

1. Phishing emails

These are malicious emails that claim to be from legitimate sources, but which take you to their own site in the hope that you will input sensitive personal details such as passwords or credit card details. Previously these were so badly written that they could be spotted a mile off, but the criminals behind them are getting smarter and sometimes they manage to write an entire email without any spelling or grammar errors.

These criminal activities are nothing new, but the relevance to bloggers is that I’ve seen a couple which claim that my blog-related mailbox will be deleted if I don’t take action and follow their dubious link very quickly!

I knew it wasn’t true, but the emotional language used in this kind of mail can get people panicking, and if you’ve got someone reacting with their emotions rather than thinking logically, you’re one step closer to persuading them to make a bad choice.

I don’t actually know what opening the link would have done. It was asking me to update my details, so it could have been after login details to my site, my financial details, or it might have just opened me up to some kind of malware.

The basic advice is, don’t click on links in random emails. Know who hosts your site, and your blog-related mailbox if you have one, and communicate with them directly if you are unsure. Look at the message headers – these will often help you to see that something is wrong or the person isn’t who they claim to be.

Domain registry emails

I have a couple of blogs. I received an email to say that someone was trying to buy the site that had my site’s name, but with the .cn (China) top level domain and asking whether I wanted to buy it instead.

There are two problems with this. Firstly, Unseen Beauty has a .com domain. If I wanted to and it was available, I could for example buy the .co.uk version and redirect it to my .com site – so whether you use .com or .co.uk, you would end up on my site. Sometimes from a business point of view, it makes sense to buy several variations, both in case people make a mistake when entering the name of your site, and to prevent other people from having that domain.

But the list of possible top level domains is endless and the only people who can really afford to snap them all up are multi-national companies with loads of money! This is further complicated by discussions about trademark infringement and domain names, but I’m not going to get into that here because I’m focussing specifically on bloggers and people trying to target them to purchase domain names for countries where the bloggers generally don’t have an audience or do business.

The only site that is really yours is the one that you have paid for – and that is only true for as long as you continue to pay for it. Someone can’t take something away from you that doesn’t belong to you in the first place.

If people want to buy a website whose name looks like mine, but with another top level domain, that’s their choice. There are so many top level domains – as well as all the country-specific ones, there are also the well-known ones such as .net and .com, as well as the newer ones such as .blog .club etc.

Secondly, if you’re going to purchase a new domain or a variation on one that you already own, go to a trusted domain registrar, not some obscure company that nobody has ever heard of until they sent you an email. For all you know, it could be someone just trying to extract money fraudulently that doesn’t even have authorisation to sell and register domains.

3. Horrible comments

I’ve been lucky so far and haven’t got any abusive comments from people trying to contact me directly. They’ve tended to be more of the nuisance creepy variety. But I know some people have had to deal with this. It’s not fair, but if you write something controversial or people just decide to be mean, they may choose to do it privately, where your friends and supporters can’t see it and stick up for you.

Don’t suffer in silence. There can be drama, but overall if you don’t join in the drama, I’ve found the blogging community to be very supportive.

4. Spam and guest post spam

The blog spam filters work fairly well now, although it’s worth checking out your comment spam folder once in a while to make sure there are no false positives – genuine comments that have been marked as spam. For example, if you have people leaving more than one link in a comment, it might be sent to the spam folder because this is a technique that spammers often use to get backlinks from your page to their sites.

I’m a bit of a control freak, so I moderate all comments before they go up. If you’re more trusting and you use WordPress, there are settings to reduce the work for you here.

Guest post spam is also a thing. It’s a term used for people who want to write for your site, but the email looks very generic – they probably don’t even have your name right. It’s all about getting other sites to link to their site or products, because this makes them appear more trustworthy or popular in terms of their search engine ratings.

You don’t benefit from this at all. You may get some content, but it’s often poorly written and more likely to drive readers away than make them want to read more.

I’m not saying this is true of all guest post requests, though I don’t think I’ve accepted any of the ones I’ve received out of the blue from complete strangers. If someone that I had been communicating with already should ask me, I’d probably view that a lot differently. But the point here is about the mass emails that are sent to hundreds of bloggers at the same time in the hope that one will respond, and that really just look like spam.

5. Unwanted attention

I’m not going to write a lot about this because I pretty much covered it in my being female and the face of your business can lead to unwanted attention post. But again, you don’t need to suffer in silence, and don’t think that just because someone emailed you, it means that they deserve a response. Sometimes silence is the smartest, and in their case most annoying, thing that you can do!

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

Post index update and change of direction for Unseen Beauty

I was quite ashamed to realise that I hadn’t updated my post index page since October 2018! I had it on my list of things to do every week, but somehow it slipped off my radar and the next thing I knew, I had over 3 months of posts to add – not good really as I know that some people use it.

The idea for the index was to break down the content into topics because I know some people are only interested in certain topics here, so having the content arranged under headings makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.

So, I’m up-to-date again now, and I’ve rearranged the sections. If you want Blogmas, you need to scroll right down to the bottom. The empty products and favourites have also been shifted down now as I’m not planning to continue with these regularly.

I know some readers just follow along with the blog as new posts are published, but hopefully the index will help anyone who’s looking for something specific. And if you did notice I hadn’t been updating it – sorry!

Changes to Unseen Beauty

In January the blog celebrated its second birthday. I didn’t do a post, but I had some celebratory chocolate and thought “yay! Unseen Beauty is two years old”!

When I started, I didn’t really know where I was going with it, but I knew a lot of the things I wanted to talk about would be out of place on my business blog.

In those two years, the audience has grown, and I’ve known for a while that it has broadened out a lot. It’s read by friends, at least one family member, and people in the UK and other countries whom I’ve never met. I called it a beauty and lifestyle blog, but it’s become a lot more lifestyle than beauty, because there are so many other things I want to talk about.

So if you’re mainly here for beauty product reviews, you’ll probably be disappointed. But there are so many people doing that. My take has always been a bit different, because I can’t just go on looks, but even so – it’s a very busy space online.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that my content is being read by people who would never come for the beauty and skincare posts.

I haven’t abandoned those posts completely – although I am pretty much an all-or-nothing kind of girl in most other respects. I’ll still do round-ups when I’ve got some products to talk about, but I’ve cancelled all of my subscription boxes now and am focussing on what I have.

It’s not that I’m bored of skincare and trying new things, but I reached saturation point in terms of constantly testing the latest releases, and I don’t want things to go to waste – especially as I pretty much bought everything myself as opposed to being sent it by PRs.

I’ve also got a bit bored with the content in the beauty blogging scene. Some people are still doing a fantastic job talking about what they like or have tried recently, but it feels like there is a lot of noise with people churning out sponsored posts with products they wouldn’t normally buy, or saying that a skincare product is the best thing ever, when they’ve only had it for a few days. It doesn’t work like that, and as a result feels a bit fake to me.

People can do what they want with their blogs, but I’ve had a bit of a spring-clean of the blogs I read, and the people who are still there are people with something unique and individual to say. I think this is going to become increasingly important as the number of blogs gets higher and higher – we need to stand out from the crowd by having something original to say. Otherwise we just melt into the noise. I don’t want to do that.

So what’s coming up this year?

I’ve already changed my tag line on the blog and am not entirely happy with it, so what you see now might not be the final version.

  • My course is definitely a bigger part of my life now – I wasn’t even doing it when I started the blog – so I want to talk about it in a way that is engaging for those who understand far more than I do and those who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. That could be a challenge, but I’ll try!
  • Accessibility has always been something that interests me, so I’ll continue posts on that, with a focus on websites, apps and access to information.
  • I abandoned my book reviews last year, but I quite enjoy writing them if I have something to say about the issues in the book as well. So you’ll probably see more of those.
  • There will still be some beauty and skincare posts when I have something to say, but you can expect fewer of this type of post.
  • Animals, and especially dogs, will no doubt still feature, along with the charities that Unseen Beauty supports.
  • I’m not feeling inclined to publish guest posts, unless I think the subject’s really relevant, but I do have plans to interview people who have interesting stories or insights to share – watch this space!
  • More general things that interest me. I noticed that some of the posts that got the most engagement were the ones where I shared a story or idea that started a discussion. I’d like to see more of that because I am genuinely interested in what my readers think!

So, whilst people are still being told to find their blogging niche, I’m busting out of mine and looking to make Unseen Beauty more diverse! Hopefully you’ll stay with me on this journey of discovery!

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Blogger tips – 10 things I learned from doing Blogmas

So, Blogmas is over, and I haven’t yet decided whether I’m doing it again next year. December is a looong way off!

I actually found it easier this year – mainly because I didn’t have the week before Christmas off, and it was easier for me to get my act together and write when I was already sitting at my desk in work mode. The weekends were a different story and the only times I nearly didn’t make it were weekends.

Overall I had a lot of fun and asking questions also helped me to get to know my readers a bit more to, which was a bonus. There are lots of positive things to write about during December, and although it was quite a lot of work, I enjoyed the experience of doing it again!

I think these things that I’m going to talk about are definitely true for Blogmas, but they also apply to any kind of regular blogging challenge such as Blogtober.

Did you do Blogmas this year? Would you add anything to the list? Do you like it when blogs that you follow take part in regular posting challenges, or does it drive you crazy when you suddenly have more posts in your feed? Let me know in the comments!

So here’s what I learned!

1. Decide before December whether you really want to do it

I wasn’t going to this year, but then one of my readers changed my mind. Some people like to plan more than others, but it does help if you can do a bit of thinking and preparing before you start.

2. Plan out your ideas

Following on from point 1, I’d already decided that I didn’t want to repeat any of the posts, which that meant that I had to come up with around 24 new ideas. Could I do that? I needed to know before I committed to Blogmas.

I didn’t write any of my posts in advance. That’s not to judge anyone who did, but I wanted it to feel fresh as I was writing it. But I did have my spreadsheet with the ideas all mapped out, which meant that on the day I just had to get the text written and posted.

3. Reciprocate – it’s about the community!

It’s obvious that most bloggers are going to have less time around Christmas, but if you want people to take the time to read your posts and engage, it’s nice to do the same. Ok, you won’t always have something meaningful to say and I don’t like leaving comments that just say “great post” because they don’t really convey more than a like would.

Sometimes it just feels as though people get so caught up in the act of creating and promoting their own stuff that they forget to engage with other people in the blogging community. This can happen even more when time is at a premium and you’re working to turn around posts quickly and at the same time enjoy yourself before Christmas. So even if you’re doing Blogmas yourself, it’s nice if you can try and find a bit of time to read and comment on other people’s posts as well.

4. It’s hard when you’re not at your desk

I’ve already touched on this. The discipline needed to sit yourself down and write a blog post, when really all you want to do is curl up on the sofa with a good book and mug of hot chocolate is not to be underestimated. My strategy was to try and get it done earlier in the day so that I could relax afterwards, rather than leaving it till I was panicking at 11 o’clock at night! Obviously that doesn’t work if you have plans to be out all day, but you can look at what days each date will fall on, and if you know you’re going to have less time, plan something for that day that won’t take as long to write.

5. Eliminate the one thing that will do your head in!

This is going to be different for everyone, but have a think about it – what is the one thing that is likely to derail your attempt to complete the challenge? Is there one thing that you can say up front that you’re not going to do?

For me, as a blind blogger, it was the photos. I can’t take my own photos. I can’t see the quality of, or even what’s on stock photos. Stressing out about getting photos for daily blog posts would make me want to give up before I even started. So I didn’t.

I got help with photos of specific things like stroking the reindeer or the cheese advent calendar, but if I wanted to write a post about looking after your hair in winter and didn’t have an image for it, so be it. I’m not going to have my life ruled by the expectation that every post needs 20 photos before people will look twice at it.

This is my space on the internet. If people like what I do, they’ll come back.

For you it might be something else. Maybe you hate writing long posts and that’s stopping you from signing up to something like Blogmas. Ok, then write short ones and make this part of how you do Blogmas.

Do you hate writing gift guides? Don’t do any then! There are plenty of other things you can do.

IF 24 days will be too many, start with 12! Or do 24 days about something you enjoy, rather than something that everyone else is doing.

Or don’t do a challenge like this at all – I’m not saying you have to. I’m just saying that the way everyone else does it doesn’t mean it’s the right and only way. It makes me sad to see people wanting to be a part of something, but then not doing it because they can’t do it in quite the same way as everyone else.

6. Answer your comments

It’s only polite. If someone has taken the time to leave you a comment, and by that I don’t mean the spammy “Love your post now come and look at mine” ones, it’s not good to ignore them. Carry on the conversation if you can, and if there’s nothing to say, at least acknowledge it with a like or a thank you.

I admit I was a few days late with mine, but I do always try to come back to them.

7. Make the content feel like yours, not just a list of generic prompts

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using prompts if you’re stuck for ideas, but there are only so many posts that you can read on the same topic before it gets a bit boring. Unless, that is, someone did something a bit unusual to make their post stand out. Maybe they told a story. Maybe instead of a generic gift guide, they did one for someone with a specific hobby. Maybe some of the posts could be tied in to what the blog is about the rest of the year, but still have a wintry twist.

I don’t know. It’s different for everyone, but when people’s feeds are inundated with posts, you need to be a bit creative if you want to get people’s attention.

8. Send out some emails before December

You don’t have to do this, but if you can think of a couple of brands or charities that you’d like to work with, or another blogger who you’d like to ask about a guest post, why not see if the idea has a chance before December. Then, if they don’t get back to you, you know that you need to fill the space with something else. Or, one thing may lead to another. Originally I contacted Dogs Trust about interviewing a volunteer, but we were also invited to visit the rehoming centre, which meant that one idea generated enough content for two posts.

Many people are planning events way before December, so if you want to find out what’s on, it’s also good to plan in advance so you don’t miss anything that you’d like to have gone to.

9. Find other people who are doing it

It’s nice if you can read what other people are doing and encourage each other along the way!

10. Don’t forget to share

It’s like blogging the rest of the year. You’ll hopefully build up a following of loyal readers and sometimes they’ll share your posts. Sometimes people will magically find you via the blog reader. But most of the time, people won’t know your posts are out there unless someone tells them – so don’t forget to take the few minute to post or schedule on social media so that more people find out about your posts.

Let me know if there are any other tips that you would add!

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Blogmas giveaway winners

Happy New Year everyone!

It feels as though everyone has written a new year post about goals and stuff – I do have some, but I’ll talk about that later when I’ve had some time to work towards reaching them!

For now I’ll just let you know about the winners for the Unseen Beauty giveaway!

Here’s a reminder of what was in the box:

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge
  8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush
  9. Himalayan charcoal face mask from the Body Shop.
  10. Oils Of Life™ Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil

 

I did the draw with help from Siri and the winner – out of 101 entries – was number 8, which belonged to Kerry.

So congratulations to Kerry – if you haven’t visited her blog before, go and check it out! She has some really interesting posts that stop and make you think, as well as some lovely travel posts and ones that can teach you something (Kerry works in skincare, so I’m always interested in what she has to say on that subject).

I said “winners” because although I didn’t announce it at the start, I had put together another box with some make-up and skincare products for the reader who was most active during Blogmas. If this person had also won the main giveaway I’d have just done another draw, but as it happens, I don’t need to. My most active reader/commenter/giveaway enterer had a clear winner and it was Caz so also go and have a look at her site too if you don’t know her Invisibly Me blog already. Doing Blogmas is a big undertaking, but it’s easier when you have the support of lovely readers who interact with the posts – so this second giveaway is just a thank you really for the time Caz took to do that. It sums up a part of blogging that sometimes gets missed – not just creating your own content, but building the community and supporting others in the space as well. Of course other people did that too, but I had to pick one winner!

So congratulations to Kerry and Caz. If you let me have your addresses, I’ll get your boxes out as soon as I can.

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.

The most popular posts in 2018

I love numbers and spreadsheets and things. I try not to get caught up in the whole numbers trap with blogging, but I’m still interested in the stats, and which posts people most want to read.

I decided to do a round-up of the most popular posts in 2018 so that any regular readers can have a look at anything they missed if they want to, but also because I got some new readers during Blogmas, and I thought it might be helpful for them to see what kind of things I write on here when I’m not doing Christmas content.

So I’ve looked at my stats, taken out posts that weren’t written this year and the giveaway links – because who wants to be directed to a giveaway that is closed? However, the December 2018 giveaway is open until 23:59 on 31st December, so if you want to enter that, you can fill out the form on as many Blogmas 2018 pages as you want.

I always find it fascinating – the posts that I enjoy writing the most aren’t always the ones that get the most interaction.

A couple of these nearly didn’t get published. Would people even know what I meant if I started talking about sensory sensitivity? (It turns out that they did). Did I really want everyone to know I’d had an accident at home because I wasn’t paying attention? The post had only been up a couple of minutes when I got messages from concerned friends, so although my first instinct wasn’t to share, writing the post made it easier for me to start talking about it, even though I felt stupid, and maybe some of the tips could help other people if they ever get into that situation.

One theme I can see is that the more personal posts ranked higher. I find those harder to write, but I think that the blogging space has become saturated by people writing generic posts about lots of stuff, so it takes something a bit more individual to stand out. That’s tough for someone who’s more private, and whose day job involves writing educational content. Still, I get the message that there at least needs to be some kind of personal angle or story.

I’ve also noticed that some of the disability-related posts got more interaction. I’ve always been very clear that whilst I write about these topics and how I experience the world as someone who is blind, I don’t want to limit myself to writing a disability blog. That’s nothing against people who do, but honestly it would bore me, and the way I show that blindness is just a small part of what makes a day in the life of Kirsty is to write about other things as well – or to incorporate my experiences into other posts. It’s no good if I churn out blindness-related content till the cows come home and don’t get any joy from it – there has to be a balance.

The other thing I’ve noticed is how my audience has grown and become more diverse. I’m not talking about the numbers here, although they do make me happy. I mean, originally Unseen Beauty was very much focussed on beauty and skincare products. I have still been writing about these things, but I’ve also been enjoying writing the opinion pieces about disability, living and working in the online space, and questioning some of the things that we just accept as part of everyday life. I’ve also loved doing the animal and charity articles and would like to continue this next year. I’d also like to write more about my studies and the things that I’m learning.

So you’ll probably still see the product reviews and beauty box posts, but I want to broaden out the topics here as I have more to talk about and an audience with broader interests than this time last year.

I’ve also realised that people who I know in real life are reading the blog too, and I wasn’t really aware of that before, so hi to you as well!

Enough rambling – these are my top 10 posts for 2018!

10. Blogmas 2018 – my first Braille chocolate Advent calendar

Day 11 was the most popular Blogmas post – probably because Braille Advent calendars aren’t a thing here in the UK, and I imagine it got shared in groups where people are likely to want one!

9. Too many words were happening – sensory sensitivities

This took courage to write, but as I come to terms with things that I find hard, rather than just pretending I don’t, it was good to find a name for them and even better to find that others could relate.

8. April make-up and skincare empties

Not sure what was so special about April – I do an empties post most months to talk about the products I’ve used up and what I thought of them.

7. The value of online friendships

This wasn’t even planned – I saw something on another blog post, responded to it, and then had to get down all my ideas about online friendships before I forgot what I wanted to say. I think people can be really dismissive of the contacts that we make online, and I wanted to put the other, more positive side to that.

6. What I learned from an accident at home

I fell over the bathroom rug and am still having physio now. Always keep your mind on what you’re doing!

5. Don’t be annoying – 15 things I wish people would stop doing on social media

I’ve heard there’s research that says you get more clicks when you use negative words in your headlines. I didn’t do this to get views – maybe people just wanted to see whether they were doing the things that other people find annoying!

4. February favourites

My favourites posts don’t usually do this well, but I did mention that one of them was winning a beauty box, so maybe people wanted to see who was giving away beauty boxes!

3. Blindness myths that need to go away

Sometimes the myths and stereotypes get too much – I decided to deal with as many as I could think of in one post!

2. I’m tired- the disability reality that people don’t talk about

I really struggled with whether to post this one. It’s probably the most open and honest post that I’ve written on the blog, and it seems people can relate to it. I got comments from people in all kinds of situations with different challenges who all new exactly what I was talking about.

1. Making D&D accessible to blind players

This post really took off on Twitter, which is how I believe it came to be in the top slot. It’s not usually something I write about, but I think the Dungeons and Dragons community on social media was just interested to see someone writing about this topic, as not many people do. I was just sharing my experiences and I don’t feel there’s a whole load more I could write on the topic, but I’m really happy if the things that I have learned have helped other people too.

So there you have it! Those were my most popular posts.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s been with me on this Unseen Beauty journey this year. Thanks for all the comments – whether on the blog or privately. Thanks for the likes and shares. Thanks for reading!

Happy New Year and I hope 2019 will be a good one for you!

More from Unseen Beauty

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Autumn giveaway winner

I’ve done the draw for the autumn giveaway and you can find out who won here:

Siri is still a bit quiet, but I boosted her as much as I could. I couldn’t rerecord it because then she would have chosen another number, and that wouldn’t have been fair.

To anyone who didn’t win, as long as you said that I could, I will transfer your entries into the next giveaway, which will be happening around Christmas time.

Again I was interested to see what products people were interested in. Some people chose the L’Occitane products or the wipe-out cloth, but the clear favourite was the shampoo bar, and I’ll bear that in mind for the future.

For me, these giveaways aren’t about attracting loads of new followers, who then disappear as soon as the giveaway is over. It’s more about giving something back to my readers, which is why I do the thing with transferring entries.

Some people already have 2 or more entries in the next giveaway, so it’s good to keep entering because that increases your chances. The person who won today had more than one entry.

Have a great week everyone!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

Autumn Unseen Beauty giveaway

This giveaway has now closed. If you want to be the first to find out about future giveaways, you can either follow the blog on WordPress, or sign up for my weekly update emails.
It’s time for my Autumn giveaway on Unseen Beauty. It’s open internationally, and all you need to do to enter is fill in the form at the bottom of this post.

I know some bloggers wait till they have a huge box of stuff before doing a give-away, but I’d rather do smaller ones and run them more often so that more people have a chance of winning something. I like to show that I appreciate it when people regularly interact with my blog, so if you don’t win this time, you have the chance of carrying your entry forward to the next giveaway.

The winner of my Autumn giveaway will receive:

  • A L’Occitane verbena body lotion mini
  • L’Occitane verbena icy lip balm
  • L’Occitane Verbena soap
  • Trifle cosmetics – praline eye shadow palette
  • A shampoo bar
  • A mini mask from Mudmasky
  • A wipe-out make-up remover cloth
  • A shell make-up brush
  • The Beauty Crop Wing Woman liquid eye liner
  • Palmer’s cocoa oil lip balm
  • Your answers to the questions will help me to get to know what my readers like and where they are. Also, they prove that you’re a real person as I don’t use CAPTCHAs on my site.

    The giveaway is international, but if postal restrictions prevent me from sending a product to your country, I will replace it with an alternative.

    It’s one entry per person using the form, but if you’ve entered giveaways before and asked for the entry to be carried forward, I will make sure your additional entries are counted.

    Terms and conditions

    1. The give-away is open until 23:59 on Sunday 8th October 2018 and I’ll draw the winner on Monday 9th October.
    2. I will give each person a number and then draw the winner by asking Siri to generate a random number. I don’t like Rafflecopter and want to make it as easy and accessible as possible for people to enter.
    3. Your email address is being collected solely for the purpose of contacting you if you win the prize. You are welcome to sign up to my newsletter at the same time, but this isn’t necessary to take part in the give-away. If you do not win the prize, your email address will only be stored if you have signed up to the newsletter or asked for your entry to be carried over to the next give-away. Otherwise it will not be retained.
    4. I will email the winner on 9th October to ask for their address so that I can send the prize. The winner will have 7 days in which to respond. If they haven’t responded after 7 days, I will draw a new winner.

    5. No cash alternatives are available and the winner is responsible for checking product ingredients for any known allergens)

This week has been a challenge -what I have learned after an accident at home

So – my week was going well – until Tuesday evening at around half past 11 at night.

I’d never really thought about legs before – how they work, and how they support you when walking around, going up or down steps, and how staying balanced isn’t really something I ever worry about – unless I’m out and it’s icy.

I have a visual impairment, and I’m used to finding different ways of doing things for which other people use their sight, but that doesn’t stop me expecting that other parts of my body just work as they are supposed to.

That is until I slipped over on the rug. I may have been rushing. There was nothing to trip over – I just wasn’t paying attention. My mind was somewhere else. It all happened really quickly and I found myself lying on my back on the floor with one leg twisted at an angle I didn’t know it could go, and incredible pain in my knee. So much so, in fact, that I couldn’t put any weight on the leg because the knee hurt so much. That’s kind of annoying when you want to go to bed, which is on the next flor up. Even more annoying when you do something stupid like that on the day that your partner goes away on a business trip!

The only good thing was that my head landed in the doorway and didn’t collide with the door frame or the wall.

But seriously! I never have accidents!

So, I dragged myself up the stairs like some kind of mechanical spider, but less graceful. Our stairs have lots of corners!

I found it easier to sit down and go up backwards, using my one good leg and my two hands. Getting undressed was a challenge. Looking for pain killers was a challenge because I couldn’t rely on the leg not to give way again and had to hold on to the radiator, the cupboard and the chair.

By the time I was ready to sleep, I decided I needed to go downstairs again for something, so the whole thing had to be repeated twice.

The next morning, I thought everything would be better, so I tried going down the stairs standing up, which was a mistake because the leg gave out halfway down. I could just about manage to go up stairs if I took my time, but for some reason, down was harder.

There was nothing to stop me working – I just sit at a desk all day for the main part – but it made me think about all the other things that I never even consider.

If I want something, I just get up and get it.

Now, until I can rely on the leg more, I can’t carry hot drinks. So I have to put the cup on my desk and carefully bring the kettle over, because it’s easier to carry that than the hot drink. Or drag a chair over to the drink-making area in the kitchen and drink coffee there. This was until I had the idea of using our old office chair, which was conveniently in the kitchen, for shifting hot drinks and food around as I sit on it. Result – dinner at the table like a civilised person!

I had to prepare food sitting down so I didn’t fall over. I can’t just leave things in random places, because going to fetch them would be a mission. I was 3 minutes late for my meeting on Wednesday morning because I couldn’t just dash up the stairs as I usually do.

I have also learned that:

  1. Office chairs are great for getting around on. Office chairs are also great for using as transport when you need your hands to move hot or heavy things!
  2. If you’re going to prepare food, sitting down at the kitchen counter helps, but then it’s too low and your arms ache! You’re constantly reaching up and across because there’s nowhere for your legs – particularly if you’re not very tall!
  3. There is a limit to how much you can stuff down and carry in your top to keep your hands free. Across-the-shoulder bags are better for this!
  4. Long dresses maybe aren’t the best for when you’re sliding up an down the stairs sitting down!
  5. Everything takes longer!
  6. The hardest rooms to negotiate are those with a big space in the middle and nothing to hold onto so that you don’t fall over.
  7. It’s good to know where basic things are, such as pain killers, so you don’t have to go hunting for them.
  8. If you use other arms and legs to compensate for one that you’ve hurt, they will ache the next day as well!
  9. Today does feel a bit better, but I think this is going to take a while, and the worst thing I can do is overdo it and make it worse again. Patience isn’t my thing, but I’m going to have to ride this one out!

    Some people who have blind children talk about the way that their kids are always having accidents. I never did, and as an adult I’ve been lucky too, especially as I’ve often done things like horse-riding, skiing, tandem cycling or canoeing.

    Now it makes me think of what it must be like for people who have to think about this kind of thing all the time. Not in a pitying way – I’m sure if this were my life, I’d find strategies round the problems and get on with it. I’m also not comparing my problems to theirs, because in a few days I’ll probably be fine. It’s just all the little steps that I’m having to plan and think of now, that I don’t even give a second thought to usually. It makes me appreciate what I have.

    It’s made me stop taking my legs for granted, and the way that they just carry me wherever I want to go, and usually hold me up without collapsing. It made me grateful for the fact that so many things, even the things inside of our bodies, just work – and we only really notice them when something isn’t right.

    I’m sure it’s just a sprain and if I don’t overdo it, it’ll be back to normal soon.

    Till then I’ll be appreciating every cup of coffee that little bit more because of the mission it’s taken me to get it.

    More from Unseen Beauty

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On integrity and balance – can a blog have too many sponsored posts?

I’m in a number of groups on Facebook. Some are for bloggers, and others are for people who are interested in the same kind of things as me such as subscription boxes and beauty or skincare products.

A common complaint that I see is about bloggers and YouTubers, and how they get so many free products, whereas the rest of the population has to save up hard-earned cash. There is definite resentment there sometimes, and it’s definitely against the “influencers” (I hate that word), not against the brands that send out the free stuff – which in itself is interesting.

This is often met with the response that people who say these things don’t realise how much work actually goes into running a blog or Youtube channel and they have no idea about everything that goes on behind the scenes.

There is truth in that – but is it the whole story? I don’t think so, or it wouldn’t find so much resonance with other beauty and skincare lovers.

Do I work with brands?

Unseen Beauty isn’t my job. It’s my hobby. I sometimes make money from it, but I don’t live from it. Most of the things I talk about on here have been bought with my own money. If I get free products or have sponsored content, it’s marked as such.

I don’t work as much with brands as I could.

I get inspiration from other bloggers and Youtubers who work with brands, and if done well, I think it’s definitely a good way for brands to let people know about their products.

The first time I was sent some gorgeous products from a brand that I genuinely liked, I felt so humbled and grateful. But I still wrote an honest review of them. I loved a couple, liked a couple more, and there was one that wasn’t a bad product, but it wasn’t really one that I would buy again. That’s normal.

I was reminded of this again yesterday when I read a review of some facemasks that another blogger had been sent. She liked some, but thought that one didn’t really do much for her. I respect people who do that. And there are plenty who do, both bloggers and Youtubers who won’t say everything was amazing. Because let’s face it, it’s rare that you think everything in one selection is equally amazing. Readers and viewers know that. If content creators don’t keep it real for fear of upsetting a brand or never being picked for another campaign, they will pay in the long-run because people won’t stick around.

Also there’s another side to it. Several of my readers have contacted me to say that they’ve bought things as a result of my recommendations. I know that just because I loved something, it doesn’t mean other people will, but I have a clear conscience about the recommendation, because I mean what I say on here. Some of my blind readers have bought things directly because I said I found them easier to use as someone who’s unable to see. I have a responsibility to my readers to be honest about things like that, as well as my more general opinions.

So, yes, I do work with brands, although not as many as some other bloggers. Working with brands is exciting. It feels good. It’s fun. But it also comes with a responsibility to stay true to yourself.

I could spend more time identifying opportunities, and I also turn some down because they have nothing to do with my site, or are things that I would never use.

In a previous job I ran the staff magazine and whilst some people had great idea, there were other stories that we just couldn’t run. The magazine had a set of aims and things that it could cover, and some things just fell outside of that and we had to say “no”. It’s the same with my blog. If something doesn’t feel right, or if I’d have to lie and either make out I’d use something when I really wouldn’t, or else say I loved a certain type of product when I really don’t – I won’t do it.

I don’t think that collaborations, free products or promoting specific brands are a bad thing either, but I do think that some people make a better job of it than others.

Getting it right

I do watch YouTubers who get sent a lot of stuff from brands, but I think the people who come across in the best way are those that make it about sharing information, rather than saying “look at me and how lucky I am!” That’s such a turn-off. But if you do it in a way that says “hey, here are some new things that are coming out this month”, it adds value and might give the readers or viewers ideas about things they might like to try.

I think the other problem I see, mainly on blogs, is when people go down the road of only posting sponsored content and never mixing it up. Some say they are blogging full-time and need to make money, but I’d say there’s a difference between not being willing to work for brands for free, and not being willing to create content that adds value to your own platform. The latter is called content marketing and should be part of any online presence. Otherwise it’s just like doing advertising – advertising – advertising. It gets boring if you don’t throw some other value-adding content into the mix such as opinion posts, how-to posts, information that will help readers, or even just things you’ve been enjoying recently that you aren’t being paid to promote.

What other value is the blog giving to readers? Why should they keep coming back, rather than visiting all the other beauty or fashion blogs?

It’s a fairly saturated space out there. I don’t mean it’s impossible to get and keep people’s attention, but I do think that content creators have to offer something unique, and two ways they can do that are by mixing up their content with things other than sponsored post, and keeping it real, which means not adoring or recommending every sponsored single item 100%!

It’s easy for me to say because this isn’t my career, but even if it were, keeping your sense of credibility and integrity has to be better than selling yourself out to make a quick few pounds. I mean it both morally, and also in terms of followers, who are like a type of customer, believing in your opinions and choosing to stick around.

Finally, some of the blogs that I enjoy the most don’t have any sponsored content. It doesn’t have to be about that. Blogging was originally a place for people to write, and it still can be – without us all feeling that we have to fit the same mould.

So what do you think?

I don’t expect everyone to agree with me here, and that’s fine, as long as you can be respectful in the comments! But I have a feeling that some people will get what I’m saying!

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

Winner of the Summer giveaway

This is a quick post to announce the winner of the Unseen Beauty Summer giveaway – find out who won here:

If you didn’t win and you ticked the box for your entry to be transferred, it’ll go into the Autumn giveaway in September, giving you an additional chance to win then.

Our winner said that she would most like to try the face mask, which with around 25% of the votes was the most popular choice. So, for anyone who was interested in that, there’s going to be a similar one in the Autumn box.

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually twice a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.