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

Some of these things are just annoying. Some are more to do with accessibility. But I thought I’d share this list here, partly to have a little rant about the state of the internet, but partly to point out why some of these things don’t work, or how they make life harder for anyone with a visual impairment.

I also asked in my Facebook group for English learners what things people there wished people would stop doing on social media, and I’ll share those answers too.

If you’ve got anything to add to the list – anything people do on any social media platform that really winds you up or that you think is completely pointless or unhelpful, please add it in the comments!

1. #Every #single #word #is #a #hashtag

#This #is #ineffective! When was the last time you did a search on the word “is”? I get the idea of adding some relevant hashtags to the end of a post on sites where hashtags are used, but you can have too much of a good thing and it definitely shouldn’t be every word in a sentence because it really doesn’t add value.

2. Statuses that don’t tell you anything, but are clearly looking for attention

Like the Facebook equivalent of clickbait. “Now I know who my real friends are”, or “Some people do my head in” or “all men are the same” (I want to be gender neutral, but on the whole I haven’t seen this kind of stuff posted about women!)

things that make people ask what’s wrong, either because they genuinely care, or for fear of not knowing the latest Facebook gossip. I do have a heart. I can understand if people really need help with something that’s a big deal to them, or a shoulder to cry on at a difficult time, but if you leave it a few minutes until someone’s curiosity gets the better of them, (“you ok hun?” or “oh no we still love you, what’s wrong?”), you find out that it was really just another first world problem, Or the latest friendship drama that most people don’t care about. It gets old when the same people do it all the time. Scroll on by!

3. Answering with pictures

This isn’t bad practice as such, but it’s a pain when you’re blind and can’t see what the pictures are. It seems to be more of a thing on Twitter, but I see it coming into Facebook groups too. I’m not asking the world to stop doing it, but please don’t do it if you’re answering me! You’re replying in a language that I don’t speak. My software can interpret emojis, but not pictures.

4. Retweeting about 20 tweets from another account

We get the idea after the first couple. If we really care, we can follow that other account. We don’t need you to retweet its entire feed!

5. Aggressively scheduled tweets

Like your latest blog post … every single hour. I for one am glad that Twitter is clamping down on this. I know some people have been affected who weren’t abusing it, but seriously the same old stuff being automated and churned out repetitively is too much. If your last 10 tweets are exactly the same, I’m probably talking to you!

6. People thinking all Facebook group admins are their new best friend, or girlfriend material

It doesn’t happen much now, but in another group that I co-moderated, I’d barely approved a request to join when the friend request appeared and someone started trying to chat me up. Really not cool. In fact randomly hitting on people using social media is generally not cool! Ever!

7. People tagging everyone they know so that more people will see the post

I’m not talking about my real friends tagging me, either in posts or when they see something I might like. This makes me happy, because it showed that that person was thinking of me.

I’m talking about the people who tag 50 of their contacts, just so more people see their newest blog post, event, or what they did today. I don’t need that on my feed and it feels like you’re using me so that you can benefit from my network.

8. Hijacking of hashtags just because they’re trending

I think the worst example of this that I saw was a Turkish hashtag about some people who had died, and some insensitive person decided it would be a good idea to use it in their post selling some random thing. If you don’t know what a hashtag means, just don’t use it.

Then there are the more intentional misuses of hashtags, such as people using the #bloggerswanted hashtags to promote their latest post. These tags were set up for brands or journalists to post requests to speak to bloggers, not to be hijacked by bloggers who can’t be bothered to publicise their posts more creatively.

9. Automatic direct messages on Twitter

Do you know anyone who actually likes receiving them? Especially when they follow the format of “thanks for following me. Now please buy my book, like my Instagram, follow me on Twitter, sign up to my newsletter, and send me chocolate!” Ok nobody has ever asked me to send them chocolate, but getting an automatic list of demands just because I followed someone doesn’t make me want to interact with them!

10. Follow for follow

The message still hasn’t got through that it’s a bad idea. If I get 1000 new followers to my Facebook page through this practice, and they never interact with my page, my engagement rate actually goes down, because a lower percentage of my followers cares what I’m posting. Facebook sees this as my content becoming less relevant, so it will be shown to less people. Follow for follow is bad news!

11. People sharing before they check the facts

Often this is done with the best intentions, but people sharing warnings that are at best hoaxes, and at worst helping out the criminals by redirecting people to malicious sites. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you see a terrible story that isn’t being reported on any credible sites, it’s probably just a terrible story. There are whole sites dedicated to debunking myths and hoaxes, so take the time to google before whipping up your friends into a Facebook frenzy!

12. Pictures of text inviting interaction in groups

Again this is a problem for me as a visually impaired person. If people want to post memes or other pictures of text on their own wall, it’s their choice. I’ll scroll past because I have no idea what it says, but I don’t expect people’s private walls to be made accessible on my account. Having said that, I am always happy when people do take the time to comment on their images, because then I know what they are sharing. The Facebook AI is getting better at identifying dogs, cats, people and food, but there’s still some way to go. It thought our skip of building waste was food.

But the problem I have is in public groups, where people post a picture of text on a thread that is inviting people to post something. I can maybe work out the rules from the other responses, but this takes time – time that other members of the group don’t need to invest. Groups for bloggers and small business owners tend to be the worst offenders.

13. People not listening

People will have different opinions. That’s life. But if you’re going to get into a discussion, at least have the courtesy to listen to the other person as well as expecting them to listen to you. I went into this in more depth in my 20 things that you shouldn’t do to win an argument post.

14. Blog giveaways with conditions on other platforms

All people can’t be on all platforms. Some people don’t want to be on some platforms. If you’re doing a blog giveaway, can you not at least make the main entry something to do with your actual blog? Hard as it is to believe, there are some people who don’t like Instagram, but they might still be loyal readers of your blog or followers of your YouTube channel!

15. People from groups trying to sell stuff via private messages

I run my own business. I am in some Facebook groups for business owners. That doesn’t mean I welcome spam from anyone else in that group who wants to try the Facebook equivalent of cold-calling. You will be blocked!

Points from my learners of English group

Some other things came up when I asked about this – things that I hadn’t thought of. My group members wanted people to:

Stop unfriending people with whom you’ve been friends for a long time, and not explaining why you unfriended them;
Stop posting hate speech and false news;
Stop unfriending people because they have different opinions;
Stop trying to shout everyone down when you have no idea what you’re talking about. The person who shouts the loudest isn’t necessarily right.

So what about you? What would you add to this list? How can we make the internet a better place for everyone?

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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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They lost my business after 15 years – why website accessibility is important

Why I recently switched from Tesco to Ocado for my grocery shopping.

Sometimes my international customers are surprised that I do my grocery shopping online. It’s not as popular in Germany as it is here.

I’ve been doing all my grocery shopping online for years now – since shortly after I moved to London. So that’s at least 15 years. It made me so happy, because previous trips to the supermarket had been a challenge.

In theory you can ask for assistance if you are blind and can’t locate the products yourself. In practice, you are sometimes given any member of staff who can be spared, and that doesn’t always work out well. I had one really helpful lady, but the next week I got a young guy who thought that you find cheese in the freezer section, and when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the next week I got someone who couldn’t read. This was appalling – both because I ended up without most of the things that I wanted, but as an employer, the supermarket set that guy up to fail, giving him a task to do that he had no fair chance of completing. He felt bad because he wanted to help, but couldn’t. I felt bad because I couldn’t point out the things that I wanted. It was a disaster.

So, I tried online shopping and it was amazing. At first Tesco had a separate access site for screenreader users, and this was later removed, but the main site was perfectly accessible. I used it for years. Around 15 years. But then things started to go downhill.

I found the site was getting slower, and a recent revamp meant that it became considerably less accessible. I’m not sure how the appearance of the site changed, although in an IT group for access technology users, one member said his sighted wife didn’t like the new site much either.

The thing that a lot of people don’t understand with accessibility is that it’s not how the page looks, but the way it’s been designed, and whether a good user experience for access technology users has been built into the page at the design and coding stage.

For example, using style headings for product names means that a screenreader user can quickly jump from one product to the next by pressing just one button, without having to read all the associated information if they don’t want to buy that product. A screenreader user can’t skim read and scroll, so having a good navigation structure on web pages is essential if you want screenreader users to be able to move around efficiently.

Anyway – the headings for product names were done away with and the information was presented in a list, which was harder to navigate quickly. In addition to the slowness, sometimes the site crashed completely or threw up script errors. I tried different browsers, because sometimes this helps. But no. I just got more and more frustrated. Shopping took longer! My patience was at an end and I began to put off a job that I’d been doing easily for years.

I did pass on my comments, but never heard anything back.

One day was particularly frustrating and I ended up asking S to help me just to get the job done. But something had to change!

Some of our friends had been talking about how happy they were with Ocado, so I decided to give it a go. I signed up for an account and hoped that the experience would be better.

The first task was to import my favourites from Tesco. I believe a 3rd party site is used for this. It wasn’t great, because the buttons for the various supermarkets weren’t labelled properly, but I knew it couldn’t import anything without me logging in to the other site, so I clicked the first one and hoped for the best. It was Tesco! The cynical part of me wonders whether this is where most of Ocado’s customers import their favourites from! Who knows? This shows the importance of labelling your graphics – there are some people who can’t see the graphics and need to know what will happen when you click that button.

Anyway – the favourites will only be imported if there is a comparable product in the Ocado database, so I inevitably lost some. However, it wasn’t difficult to search for things that were missing, and I ended up getting a bit carried away with new things that I wanted to try as well!

It was easy to navigate around the pages, and Ocado does style their product names as headings, so I can quickly move through pages such as my favourites or a page of search results to find what I’m looking for.

Booking my slot and paying for the goods was easy as well, and when the shopping arrived, everything was as it should be.

I was also happy with the receipt. Tesco only provides an email confirmation of the order, but this doesn’t give any information about what actually arrived (for example if something was out of stock). The Ocado receipt tells you what was delivered, and also gives you information about when the products should be used up. This is particularly useful if you can’t see the packaging to check. To be honest I’ve never given myself food poisoning with out-of-date food, and now S is around to check, but in the past I’ve often frozen things to be on the safe side. With this information on the receipt, I don’t need to.

In terms of Unseen Beauty, I have been impressed at the extensive skincare and beauty section, so there will be some new reviews coming soon.

At the moment I am enjoying free access to the smart pass, which gives you free deliveries as long as you hit the £40 minimum spend. I will probably renew this when the free trial runs out because we will save in the long-term on delivery charges.

I couldn’t imagine doing my grocery shopping any other way now – as someone who is blind, there are so many advantages. I can read about the products. I can choose exactly what I want. I can browse for new things when I feel in need of some inspiration. I don’t have to wait for a taxi to get myself and all my shopping home. I don’t have to ask for help in-store. I can do the shopping any time that suits me, even if that’s the middle of the night. If there are cooking instructions for something, they can usually be found on the website.

In addition to all these advantages, it’s still important to have a website that works, that’s efficient, that provides a good user experience, and that doesn’t drive me crazy every time I want to do our weekly shop! Ocado ticks all of these boxes and I wish I had made the switch sooner.

Much is said in marketing about loyal customers, but even someone who has been using a company for 15 years will leave if they feel that the quality of service is not what it once was, or that there is a better deal elsewhere.

In addition to the plus points I have already listed about Ocado, there are other benefits such as the price match. If your shopping is found to be cheaper at Tesco, as mine was last week, you get a voucher for the difference. You can then redeem this voucher when you do your next shop. You also get 5p back for every carrier bag that you return, and there is a good range of products for people with dietary requirements, such as gluten or dairy free diets. When you’re checking out, you have the option of healthier choices for things that are in your basket. Ok you may want an unhealthy treat, but if you’re looking for a healthier diet, it’s nice to have the suggestions.

If you would like me to send you an invitation to Ocado, just fill out your details using the form below. You will receive a £20 voucher for your first shop, and a free smart pass, which gives you free deliveries for one year (minimum spend applies).

If you request an invitation, your email address will be entered on the Ocado site to generate an invitation. It will not be stored by English with Kirsty. If you request the news updates, your email address will be added to my mailing list so that you can receiveUnseen Beauty news, usually twice a week.
I will receive a reward if anyone signs up through me, but I only promote things that I believe are good value and am using myself.

Blog of the Month – Kerry Life and Loves

Welcome to the next instalment of my blogger of the month series. It’s a way for you to get to meet the people behind some of the blogs that I enjoy.

Kerry is a regular commenter here and I’ve been a fan of her blog for a while, particularly her posts about make-up and skincare, and the ones in which she gets us thinking about real-life questions. I’m also happy that she recently started a skincare series as someone who works in the industry. Don’t forget to check out Kerry’s blog and show it some love!

1. What’s the link for your blog and how would you describe it in a couple of sentences?

Hi, my name is Kerry and I blog over at Kerry Life and Loves My blog was once described as a Lucky Dip blog, as you can find anything over there, and its probably a pretty good description! I class it as a lifestyle and beauty blog, but I have been known to discuss my love of gin, living in a car and dancing in a field!

2. Have you always enjoyed writing, or did you only start recently?

I have always had a love of writing, and its a long running joke in my family that every thing that happens in our lives will end up in “my book” I have a million notebooks full of short stories, poems and chapters of a book I have written. I love writing and the dream is to finish the book I have in mind.

3. What’s one of your favourite posts from your blog, and why?

Ohhh one of my favourite posts! That’s a hard one as I am ultra critical of all my posts. I tend to enjoy writing the posts that inspire discussion, as I absolutely love the engagement that can happen. My cuppa and a chat series probably holds some of my favourite posts. if I had to choose just one, it would be Your Just Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea. I think I love it because it was the first time I felt like I really connected with my readers and began to get the people who read my blog. It was incredibly satisfying

4. How do you make sure that you don’t run out of ideas? Where do you get most of your inspiration?

I have only been blogging for 18 months, so haven’t yet run out of ideas! I think because I cover all subjects, I always have plenty to write about. I feel inspired by anything and everything. Anything from a song lyric, a quote I have heard or something that’s come up in discussion with my friends/family. I am a massive over thinker, so tend to want to pull apart and understand everything! I also have a huge love of make up, so often have products to be shared with my readers if I have loved something. I do sometimes have times when I sit down to write, and can’t make it flow. I just go off and have a cuppa, walk away for a little while.

5. What would you say is the best thing about blogging?

I have gained so much from blogging, far more than I ever thought possible. It has honestly kept me sane throughout my husbands cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as being an outlet and focus for me in the dark days of his illness. I have met many, many wonderful people that I consider friends, and I love everything about writing a blog. Sorry, I went a bit gushy and overboard there haha!

6. What’s one of your most popular posts? Why do you think people liked it so much?

One of my most popular posts to date was a product review, which really surprised me. It was for a Bobbi Brown eyeshadow stick, and even now, almost a year after it was posted, it gets views every week. I have no idea why! Perhaps the SEO was just right on that post!

7. If you were asked to put together a beauty and lifestyle box with 4 products inside, which favourite items would you put in?

Ohhh I would love to put together a box! Ok, I would 100% have a scented candle, I can’t personally get enough of them. I’d also have a Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick, an Environ Moisturiser and any one of the Urban decay Naked palettes.

8. What’s one thing you wouldn’t have done or learned if you hadn’t started a blog?

Starting a blog has taught me so much, as well as pushed me to come out of my comfort zone. I can be a little lacking in confidence, so making myself go to blogging events has been a huge challenge for me. It’s pushed me, I have had to dig deep at times, but I think it has taught me a lot about myself. I also know a little bit about SEO now, which is a miracle!

9. Have you ever bought anything because a blogger was talking about it?

Ohhh I have bought so much that a blogger has recommended, and in fact, I wrote a whole post on it last year. I am an easy sell. Being a make up junkie, I tend to fall in love with new products that are shown. Fleur de Force convinced me I needed a Chanel eye liner, Sam and Nic from Pixiwoo always convince me I need what ever they use as they are so gorgeous, and any book reviews always make me want to read the book! I’m a nightmare!

10. What type of posts do you most enjoy writing? What type of posts do you find hard to write?

I really enjoy posts that hopefully, give my readers food for thought. I am a talker, I love to talk late into the night with company, so if I can inspire discussion, encourage people to want to give their input, that makes me happy. I do find it harder to reveal too much of the inner workings of me, the more personal stuff, but I am getting better.

11. Have you read any good books lately?

I am a book worm and devour books! I love reading mystery/crime type books, and self development books the most. I have just finished a book called Then She was Gone and it was brilliant. I read it in 3 days. I also recently read the Jo Malone biography, which I really enjoyed. I like reading about people’s lives.

12. Online shopping or going to the shops – which do you prefer and why?

I love going to the shops, we have to support our high streets, but funnily enough, everything I went to buy today in Lakeside shopping centre was out of stock. I’ve had to come home and order it. I do ALWAYS use a blogger’s affiliate link if they have one on something they have suggested and I am buying, we gotta support our fellow bloggers!

13. What’s a trend that you think should stay in 2017 – something you hope will go away this year?

Ohhh I really would love to see the game playing on social media disappear. The follow/unfollow, the bots, the cliques. I just want it to all be fun and less serious.

14. If you were in a hurry and only had time to apply 3 make-up products, what would they be?

I could easily only apply 3 make up products, and if you have seen my “morning minger: moments on my Instagram stories, you would see a lot less than 3 products haha! my three would be mascara, lip balm and a bit of bronzer.

15. What do you need for the perfect night in?

My perfect night in would be a gin and tonic, fluffy blanket, maybe an Indian takeaway and my hubby and boys home. If its a night in with the girls, still gin and tonic, funny films like Bridesmaids or Identity Theft and lots of talking and laughing.

16. What’s one thing that you would like to do this year?

The last 12 months for us have been tough. This year I would just like my hubby to be well, and us to have adventure. catch up on the things that were put on pause for a while. I’m full of hope for this year!

Thanks Kerry for answering my questions and I hope that this year will be a wonderful one for you and your family.

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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 deals or discounts that I think my readers might like.

Blog of the month – the Emma Edit

So, it’s time for the next instalment of my “Blogger of the month” series and today I’m talking to Emma from the Emma Edit. I got to know Emma’s posts through her Blogs in Bloom Facebook group, and she writes on a wide range of topics from food to homeware to travel posts. It was also Emma who gave me the idea for the chocolate subscription! Here are Emma’s answers to my questions:

1. What’s the link for your blog and how would you describe it in a couple of sentences?

You can find me here.
I started my blog over a year ago now, my, how time flies! I could never decide on a niche for my blog, so I decided to blog about a wide range of topics that are of interest to me. My favourite things to write about include: beauty, blogging tips, fashion, lifestyle, out and about and recipes- phew!

2. Have you always enjoyed writing, or did you only start recently?

I used to enjoy writing a lot when I was a teenager; I remember I used to love writing poetry and short stories. My blog is the only thing I write at the moment, though.

3. What’s one of your favourite posts from your blog, and why?

Can I pick more than one, please? My favourite posts are titled ‘My Home: One Year On’ and ‘Holiday In Ibiza’ because they are the most personal to me- they are really nice to look back on as they bring back memories.

4. How do you make sure that you don’t run out of ideas? Where do you get most of your inspiration?

I had an almost blogging break in February because we all run out of inspiration sometimes. If you feel like you need a break, have one- it will benefit you more in the long-run. But apart from that, a friend and other bloggers inspire me to keep going.

5. What would you say is the best thing about blogging?

As a person who’s never really had a hobby before, I’m proud to say my blog is my hobby!

6. What’s one of your most popular posts? Why do you think people liked it so much?

My most popular post is the one where I talk about my Facebook group, Blogs In Bloom; this post is most popular because I upload it once a month to reach new followers. I have a haul post which includes homeware, beauty and fashion items- this is my 2nd most viewed post.

7. If you were asked to put together a beauty and lifestyle box with 4 products inside, which favourite items would you put in?

It’s so difficult just to pick 4 items! 1) a cute leather purse, 2) Benefit Roller Lash Mascara 3) a fancy candle 4) Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser.

8. What’s one thing you wouldn’t have done or learned if you hadn’t started a blog?

Honestly, I have already learnt so much along the way with this blogging journey! Even just learning how to use WordPress is an achievement on its own.

9. Have you ever bought anything because a blogger was talking about it?

Good question! I always read blog posts by others and lust over the pictures, and appreciate a good write up. I have a mental wishlist, but I don’t think I have bought anything recommended by a blogger- yet!

10. What type of posts do you most enjoy writing? What type of posts do you find hard to write?

I love working with brands, but I find those posts most difficult to write because I want everything to be just right. My favourite posts to write are lifestyle and spontaneous posts that you can’t wait to write.

11. Have you read any good books lately?

Reading is definitely a seasonal activity for me that I like to do in the summer- you can’t beat taking a book outside in the sun! I’m a sucker for a girly love story, so I loved reading Me Before You by JoJo Moyes last summer.

12. Online shopping or going to the shops – which do you prefer and why?

I like to browse online, but I like to make my purchases in store. It’s just nice to get out of the house, isn’t it?

13. What’s a trend that you think should stay in 2017 – something you hope will go away this year?

I honestly know nothing about trends, so I can’t answer this question- sorry!

14. If you were in a hurry and only had time to apply 3 make-up products, what would they be?

For me, it’s got to be: 1) eyebrow pencil, 2) mascara, 3) liquid lipstick

15. What do you need for the perfect night in?

I love a night in (every night!). A relaxing bath, a glass of wine, chocolate, music and candles make a night in perfect for me.

16. What’s one thing that you would like to do this year?

When the weather warms up, I am going to be on a mission to get out and about and visit lots of new places.

Thanks Emma for answering my questions and I enjoyed getting to know you a bit better through this post.

Don’t forget to check out Emma’s blog, and for those of you who are bloggers, I can definitely recommend her group. It’s one of the most friendly places on the internet when it comes to bloggers getting together, encouraging, and helping each other out.

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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 deals or discounts that I think my readers might like.

Blog of the month – Thenellybean

Welcome to the first instalment of my blogger of the month series. It’s a way for you to get to meet the people behind some of the blogs that I enjoy.

We’re starting with Janelle from TheNellyBean – so if you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend that you check her out – after you’ve read her answers of course!

1. What’s the link for your blog and how would you describe it in a couple of sentences?

I’m over at The Nelly Bean and my blog is all about beauty, life’s funny moments and my experiences as a music teacher. Me in a nutshell!

2. Have you always enjoyed writing, or did you only start recently?

I’ve always loved writing since I was much younger, and always felt like I could express myself better through pen and paper rather than verbally. I’ve learned how to function socially as a human being since then (hopefully) but I still feel the same way about writing.

3. What’s one of your favourite posts from your blog, and why?

Probably my post called Rambly Ramblings, which was written after I’d been away from blogging for a long time – life gets in the way sometimes. I felt as if I was just emptying my thoughts when writing it and it felt so natural – for me, that’s what blogging is all about.

4. How do you make sure that you don’t run out of ideas? Where do you get most of your inspiration?

I always keep a little list of drafts to hand, and always brainstorm ideas for blog posts when I have a bit of spare time or when I’m feeling particularly creative. Most of my inspiration comes from observations in real life or thoughts that cross my mind during the day (or night).

5. What would you say is the best thing about blogging?

Being able to have a platform dedicated to the expression of anything and everything you fancy. It’s like having a blank piece of paper – terrifying yet so exciting.

6. What’s one of your most popular posts? Why do you think people liked it so much?

My post called 10 Thoughts I Have Whilst Putting Makeup On – I felt like I couldn’t be the only one having these random thoughts whilst doing my face and it turns out lots of other people could relate.

7. If you were asked to put together a beauty and lifestyle box with 4 products inside, which favourite items would you put in?

I’d go with the NYX Blush in Taupe (absolute saviour for contouring), a big bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, a red tinted Vaseline and a pair of fluffy socks. Those four never let me down.

8. What’s one thing you wouldn’t have done or learned if you hadn’t started a blog?

I would definitely never have realised the sheer power of social media, and I would definitely not have learned to navigate WordPress. I’m far from good at it and coding still baffles me, but I’ve come a long way.

9. Have you ever bought anything because a blogger was talking about it?

Yes – the NYX Lip Lingerie in Exotic. Now I’m another blogger who raves about it and I have zero regrets.

10. What’s your most recent post?

It’s called 5 Things I Have Learned In 2018 (So Far). Short and sweet one, I was feeling retrospective.

11. Have you read any good books lately?

I’ve been meaning to read The Picture Of Dorian Gray – maybe when uni work calms down a little.

12. Online shopping or going to the shops – which do you prefer and why?

I tend to go online to do my research but I almost always prefer to buy in store. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but there’s nothing quite like being able to try the product for yourself – especially when it comes to jeans and makeup!

13. What’s a trend that you think should stay in 2017 – something you hope will go away this year?

Everything about Logan Paul.

14. If you were in a hurry and only had time to apply 3 make-up products, what would they be?

Mascara, tinted vaseline, concealer.

15. What do you need for the perfect night in?

My laptop, fluffy socks and a massive mug of lemon and ginger tea.

16. What’s one thing that you would like to do this year?

I’d love to say yes to more things and take more chances. And be hella proud of myself for it!

Go for it – I hope 2018 will be a year full of new opportunities for you Janelle, and to everyone else, don’t forget to go and check out her blog!

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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 deals or discounts that I think my readers might like.

Would you read your own blog?

Taking a fresh look at your blog from an outsider’s point of view.

If you were a visitor to your blog, would you want to read it?

It sounds like an odd question, but think about it for a moment. Is your blog something that you would like to read if you hadn’t seen all the content before?

Hopefully the answer is “yes!”

The reason I’m asking is because it’s really hard to write things that you don’t find interesting. You might have to do it for a job – I wrote plenty of documents in past jobs that didn’t get me excited – (strategy delivery action plan anyone?) but when it comes to your own blog, people will be able to tell whether you’re passionate and feel excited about the content.

I’m sure there have been articles that you clicked on because of an interesting headline, but then you clicked away after a couple of seconds. Why is that? I’d say there are two groups of reasons.

Mistakes or a bad user experience

The first reasons are that there is something wrong with it. Different things will bug different people. Maybe there are lots of mistakes in the writing and that puts you off. I’m not talking about grammar so much, but if it looks as though someone hasn’t given it a once-over before publishing, and dashed it out, leaving lots of typing errors in, I find it really distracting.

Maybe there is too much clutter to make it an easy reading experience.

Maybe the in-your-face pop-up drove you crazy!

Maybe there was an exciting title, but the content didn’t live up to it. Nobody loves clickbait.

Maybe the article is exactly the same as a bunch of other articles on the topic, and the blogger didn’t do anything unique to make it their own.

The list goes on, but they are generally things that can be fixed, and probably should be fixed so that readers don’t click away.

Personal preferences

Then there are the other, more personal things. These aren’t mistakes, but they’re about personal choice. They’re what makes you stand out from the crowd, and because of this, some people will be drawn to your blog because of them, whereas others will click on by. They aren’t bad things – but it’s good if you can be consistent with them so you give a clear message about what kind of vibe you are going for. How will you do this using your language/layout/images/choice of topics?

I like something to read, so a couple of lines of text with a bunch of photos doesn’t do it for me, whereas other people might fall asleep halfway through some of the articles that I enjoy because there’s too much detail for them.

I can’t stand football, but some of my friends hunt out articles about sport.

I love dogs, but most of the time I don’t want to read about cats (sorry cat lovers – one or two articles won’t make me run for it, but a whole blog on them wouldn’t be my first choice of reading material!.

As someone who is blind, content will always be king over images for me, but I know people who will stop reading if they don’t like the blog design or lack of photos.

If every product is amaaazing and every post feels like an ad or promotion, it somehow doesn’t feel real, and that’s a turn-off for me. I’d much rather someone say why they didn’t like something once in a while or that something just wasn’t their thing.

Whilst everyone can work to improve their writing style and presentation, these are more personal things. You can’t please everyone, and trying to please everyone will just give you a headache and make your blog blend into the noise of the hundreds of other blogs out there because there’s nothing that makes it stand out!

Take a look at your blog through the eyes of a visitor

So, if you want to get a better understanding of what’s important to you as a reader, why not make a list of things that make you really want to read a blog, and things that make you click away after a few seconds and never return? Some of them will be just basic good practice for running a blog, but some of them will be more specific and based on your personal likes and dislikes.

Once you’ve got your list, think of how it applies to your blog.

Do you unintentionally do any of the things that would make you click away as a reader?

Let’s take my ideas. I try not to do any of the generic things that I think are bad practice because if they wind me up, I don’t want to do the same to my readers. So no annoying pop-ups or ads scattered throughout the text. I can’t say I’ll never make a mistake, but I do read through the posts and check them before hitting publish.

It gets a bit less clear-cut when it comes to the personal stuff. I do write the kind of longer posts that I like to read. Partly because I have a lot to say, and partly because I’m looking for like-minded people.

I don’t write about cats or football, partly because they don’t interest me, but also because I would have nothing to say and it would be a bit of a rubbish article!

I try to come up with ideas that other people haven’t covered before, but I could do more to write posts with more of my own feelings or personal experiences in them, otherwise it can sound a bit generic. When you’ve previously worked in a job that encourages you to not put yourself in the centre of your writing, you have to develop new skills for blogging.

I like reading empties and favourites posts, but if I get 10 posts in my reading queue called “January favourites”, I might get a bit bored – so I’ve been experimenting with the titles. Such as November favourites – bloggers, body lotion and bunny ears! or 15 November empties – lots of handcream and a disappointing panda. Just something a bit different.

I like book posts, but never write them. That’s going to change!

People seem to like my disability posts, but I don’t find them the most exciting to write, because writing about my every-day life is kind of old news for me, whereas to the reader they’re often something new. So I combine it with things that I love –blindness + make-up tips or the accessibility of online shopping for someone who can’t use a mouse.

Sometimes it can help to do a year top 10 post to see which ones people are interacting with more. It’s tough if the posts people most enjoy reading aren’t the type that you most enjoy writing – and it’s definitely not good to just write for others without thinking about what you want to talk about. It’s your blog after all! But if you want to take the blog in a certain direction, give some thought to where people who like that type of content or share that interest may be hanging out. It might be that there’s nothing wrong with the content, it’s just not getting in front of the right people!

It’s good to try out new ideas to see whether they work – then you can carry on with them if you enjoy them and readers are engaging, or keep it to a short series if you run out of steam or the idea doesn’t work for some reason.

If you try to look at your blog and think about the things that you don’t enjoy on other blogs, it might help you to identify things you could do to make your own posts better, and improve the experience for long-time or new readers.

You could also think about some words or phrases that describe how you want your blog to be seen or remembered, and then see how some of your trusted readers describe it. Do the two sets of words match up? If not, what can you do about it?

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 deals or discounts that I think my readers might like.