Tuesday, 31 July 2012

10 Things I Wish I'd Been Told When I Started a Blog

10 Things I Wish I'd Been Told When I Started A Blog
After one year of blogging I've realised that it's very different to what I thought it would be when I started. These are the things I would tell myself if I could go back in time to the date of my first post... though there may be some you guys agree with and some you don't, which is totally fine! It's simply a list of tips I personally would have found useful - if you find some of them useful too then that's a bonus!

(Remember this is me writing to me... I either found out the hard way about this stuff, had to ask for help or tried to look it up. In a way I want to repay the favour to those who helped me :)

1. Link up parties bring you traffic

There are loads of them out there, but good ones to start with are What I Wore Wednesday, Visible Monday and Monday Mingle. Return the favour and visit others who have linked up and leave a link to the host.

2. Get out there and promote your blog straight away

You don't need to post outfits on your blog for weeks before doing this. People will visit AND comment if they like your one and only post so don't be afraid to tell everyone where to find you.

3. Don't use the Google "insert image" button when compiling a post

Instead embed the images from your Picasa album or similar - they'll be crisper and easier to resize to all the same width.

4. Leave an actual link to your blog when commenting

This applies to Blogger blogs only - the link on your name doesn't go straight to your blog so you need to leave it in the comment. You'll need to get to grips with basic HTML code:
<a href="YourBlog'sURLhere">TheTextYouWantToAppearHere</a>
...make it dead easy for others to go straight to your blog rather than round the houses via your profile.

5. Sort out a bold, eye-catching avatar

Make it recognisable and colourful, then get it registered on gravatar.com - it will follow you from site to site appearing beside your name when you comment or post on (most) blogs. Use the same avatar on everything from Facebook to Twitter so everyone will recognise you instantly. Using a clear shot of your face will make you recognisable: a real person rather than a virtual entity.

6. Comment on the top blogs even though they get 100+ comments

It IS worthwhile because it actually brings you traffic if you leave a thoughtful, well observed comment (and you've got yourself that bold avatar so you stand out).

7. Add LinkWithin thumbnails to the bottom of your posts

The more outfits and posts you can promote, the better - others will get more of an idea of your style and whether yours is a blog they want to return to (which it is, tell yourself).

8. Turn off the word verification thing for comments

Google will make them almost impossible to read (etjtlbTrav 54? Is that right??). You will get zero spam even when it's turned off so it's totally ineffective, just a barrier to easy commenting.

9. Don't be afraid to nurture relationships with other bloggers

Remember they are real people, so use their name in your comments, leave yours when signing off - it makes it so much more personal. They'll be more likely to remember you next time you comment, because you'll remember the ones that do likewise on your blog.

10. Blogging will take up an inordinate amount of your time

From outfit choosing, accessorizing and photographing, to editing, posting and commenting, your whole daily routine will change beyond recognition. But you will realise that the internet isn't completely full of trolls and cowardly people hiding behind a computer - there are some truly wonderful, real people out there who you'll form great bonds with. These are the special ones you'll refer to individually as "one of my girls"... and you'll wonder what you did before blogging ;)

As I said these are not things I'm telling everyone to do. It's just what worked for me and what I wished I'd known up front... the stuff that your blog host doesn't tell you. If you've got any more tips (I'll bet there's tons more) then feel free to share them below - I love learning new things!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Swallows but no Amazonian

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... because I am above average height (5'7"), but Amazonian only when wearing 5" platform heels. And there are swallows on my top. Score!

This top was picked up from my fave supermarket clothing section (they truly have some little gems for next-to-nothing) - it worked perfectly with my neon-trimmed ASOS blazer and floral scarf. I haven't done any pattern mixing for a little while, so I threw in my ready-made pattern-mixed scarf (stripes and florals) with the swallows... so that's actually three patterns in all.

And I'm finally getting more adventurous with my nails - I knew all that Pinning would pay off eventually.

Are you all well and having a wonderful weekend I hope? Thanks so much for stopping by!

Blazer: ASOS, Top: F+F at Tesco, Jeans: Miss Sixty, Wedges: Levi's, Scarf: F+F at Tesco, Bracelets: New Look / Debenhams, Watch: Jasper Conran at Debenhams, Rings: ASOS / ASOS, Nails: Rimmel Camouflage Chic similar / Nails Inc Black Taxi

Linking up to:

Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style
Monday Mingle at Glamamom
What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy
Trend of the Month: Pattern Mixing at Marionberry Style

Friday, 27 July 2012

Photo Tips | 12 Quick Ways to Improve Your Blog Photos

12 Quick Ways To Improve Your Blog Photos
A lot of you have been asking how I get photos for my outfit posts; I'm certainly not a professional photographer and neither is my husband (who takes my photos), but I do have a degree in photography so hopefully I have a little knowledge in the subject...!

If you overlook the first two points (buying the camera and lens), these 12 tips can help improve your photos instantly and don't involve learning about camera settings or equipment, i.e. basic stuff that doesn't cost money.

1. If you have the cash, buy an SLR camera before that £300 bag

If you're desperately saving up for that Marc Jacobs and you don't have a DSLR camera, STOP. RIGHT. THERE. Buy the camera first - I guarantee it'll be the best thing you (as a blogger) will ever spend your money on. A designer outfit shot on a compact camera or phone will look inferior compared with a thrift store dress photographed on a good quality SLR with a fast lens; the thrift store dress is the one that'll look a million dollars. And talking of fast lenses...

2. If you only buy one lens for blog photos, make it a fast 50mm lens

To translate: a 50mm lens photographs closest to the view seen by the naked eye, i.e. it won't widen you in places you don't want to be widened. A fast lens means one where the shutter - the hole inside that opens to let the light in when you "click" - is able to open up to the maximum size any lens can go. Light is everything in photography, and more light = better quality photos. (I'll cover lenses, equipment and camera settings in other posts.)

3. Always keep a pair of sunglasses in your bag or car

You'll avoid squinting which can make you look unintentionally grumpy; even if it's cloudy it can often be really bright. Don't ever leave the house without a pair - if you're a driver keep a cheap (but stylish) pair in the glovebox.

4. Practice your smile

A great smile will always make people feel good when looking at your blog. You don't have to grin like a Cheshire cat in every photo, just throw in a few good ones here and there. If you look like you're having a good time, readers will feel happy reading your blog.

5. Think about your background

If you're wearing green for example, avoid standing in front of a lot of grass and bushes or your outfit will get lost. Pattern mixing will look best in front of a plain wall. A street full of parked cars as background will detract from any outfit. The further you can stand in front of a busy background (like those parked cars) will place more emphasis on you in the photo.

6. Take your camera everywhere you go

You never know when a photo opportunity will arise - you'll kick yourself afterwards if you miss it.

7. Give your outfit a visual once-over before you start clicking

Are your collars straight? Is your necklace clasp at the back of your neck? Are your hands and feet moisturised? (I've seen more rough skin on heels that I care to think about.) Point out the things you want the photographer to keep an eye on, like making sure your top isn't riding up or that you're not slouching (my husband has become very over zealous about that one and reminds me all the time now, damn it).

8. Take a LOT of photos

Gone are the days of having to be frugal with film, so get clicking. I'll average 150-200 shots for each shoot... sometimes more.

9. Vary your shots to add interest

Photograph with the camera in the "portrait" as well as "landscape" format; shoot some details if your accessories or shoes are fabulous; turn away from the camera so you have views of the back of your outfit.

10. Visit places you've never been before or go for a walk near your home

Use shooting photos for your blog as an excuse to get out and explore the immediate vicinity around your house or workplace. You may discover some quiet, secluded spot you were totally unaware of that's perfect for taking photos. You may feel safe in your garden in front of your fence, but if you don't get out there and explore you may never find that gem of a location.

11. Practice the best pose for your outfit in front of a mirror

This is probably the most embarrassing admission of mine in this list, but before leaving the house I always spend about 30 seconds finding the best pose for what I'm wearing (really!). One pose does not work for all outfits, and one outfit does not work in all poses. It will also save time when shooting - you already know the best pose to show off the clothes and then you can vary it just slightly with each shot. But be flexible... check the pictures after shooting three or four, and make sure the pose is doing your outfit justice. If it isn't - change it.

12. Avoid bright, midday sun at all costs

It can be the most unflattering light, casting high contrast shadows on your face and outfit and making you squint. While you can get round squinting by wearing sunglasses (tip no.3), either find some shade or shoot with the sun behind you [the subject] so you get that wonderful backlit halo effect. Or simply wait till the sun is setting, in which case get your sunnies on and face the sun. Known as the golden hour, that's your perfect lighting conditions right there.


I'll be covering camera settings, lighting and other tips in more posts to come on Fridays during my sabbatical. I hope these are of some help - if you have any more quick-fix tips that I haven't mentioned (that don't cost anything or require studying camera settings) then please leave details in the comments!


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

My Jazzy Owl Outfit

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You may be disappointed that I'm not dressed up as an actual owl ready to play a session at Ronnie Scott's - sorry about that ;)

I still love my pretty blouse I got from eBay last year - though as it's sheer I either have to layer it or wear it during slightly warmer weather, and on this day it was the latter (unlike this week which has been gorgeously boiling). And it's the brogues that makes me think of jazz and the 1920s... I have yet to find some better laces for them, the ones that came with them are far too long. More eBay purchasing, methinks!

So I'll soon be starting my blog sabbatical, and as it was my birthday on Monday I've already started enjoying my forties. I have to say I feel somewhat proud to be a 40 year old (like being at school and reaching double figures: What, are you still only nine?? Oh yeah I'm, like, TEN now). It may be weird but I really like it - I guess because I embrace change...! Like changing my name when I got married - I couldn't wait to be called something else because it's like taking on a new persona. So that's why I feel different being 40. It's cool with me :))

Blouse: eBay Vintage similar, Skirt: River Island similar, Belt: ASOS, Brogues: eBay, Bag: Julien Mcdonald at Debenhams, Necklace: Very similar, Bracelets: Tiffany & Co / ASOS, Watches: Debenhams / Gift


P.S. Don't forget to leave your questions for my Vlog!
I'll be answering your questions about anything you want to ask me. Don't leave your questions on this post...


It'll also explain a bit more about what I'm doing - and thank you to those who have left comments already, Mr. Summers is reading them so they'll be a surprise for me :)

Linking up to:

What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

An outfit preview, plus Instagram and Twitter news

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Okay, so after all the shenanigans and hullabaloo over my birthday, I have a few things to tell you guys about. Firstly, a sneak preview of tomorrow's outfit (owl-fit) post!

Secondly, I am a very lucky girl because I received all sorts of wonderful things for my birthday, including an iPad from the lovely Mr. Summers... how excited was I???? It now means I'm on Instagram (I've been desperate to get on Instagram!), so I can get some spontaneous snaps up on my Twitter feed too. What's that you say, you didn't know I was on Twitter...?

Well I have to admit, I haven't really advertised the fact that I'm on Twitter for a reason. I just wanted to see how I got on with it, if it lived up to the hype, etc. etc. (I did a quick survey earlier in the year to find out whether people thought it was a yay or a nay. 62% said yes they'd follow me, so I thought I'd test it for a few months.) And I have to say that I'm quite liking it, I have a few followers already but now I'm going to tell you all where you can also find me (if you're not ahead of me and already following, that is)!

Follow me on Twitter: @notlamb

Follow me on Instagram: @notlamb

And while we're at it, you might as well know you can...

Follow me on Pinterest: @notlamb

I think that's it! Facebook is where I draw the line, there's only so much social networking this old bird can do, plus it is waaaay too complicated for me ;)


Monday, 23 July 2012

Happy Birthday to Me (40), Happy Birthday to Blog (1)

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The day I've been banging on about for so long has finally come around... My blog is one year old today - and I am 40 today, woo-hoo!!!!!

I've scheduled this post to publish at the exact moment I was born - 01:50 in the morning, so I'll be tucked up in bed when it goes out coz I'm an old lady and won't be out partying that late ;)

But the official celebration (i.e. knees up party) is happening in September - a little late I know, but summer holidays are an awkward time of year to get everyone together as so many friends and family go away on holiday. I'll be spending a day out with the lovely Mr. Summers; fingers crossed for good weather!


Something I need your help with... As part of my blog sabbatical I wanted to do a vlog so you can all laugh at my English accent (which is very dull and not at all regional, sorry to disappoint). I've been wondering for a while what to do it about, and I finally came up with something: I want to do an "About Me Vlog", answering your questions about anything you like, from style, to age, to who would I choose between George and Brad. I'll try not to look at the questions until the camera's rolling so the answers should be pretty spontaneous, BUT:

To keep them separate DON'T leave your questions on this post...

(It was a quick post before this one)

Make them silly, trivial, philosophical - just make them interesting and very forthcoming. Leave as many as you like (and before 10 August), and with Mr. Summers' expert editing skills we should be able to come up with something fun (and hopefully funny) to watch....!

P.S. I apologise for the tremendously cheesy glasses, but I hope the manicure more than makes up for them ;))))

I'm doing a vlog: ask me questions!

Here's the crack.

As part of my blog sabbatical I wanted to do a vlog so you can all laugh at my English accent (which is very dull and not at all regional, sorry to disappoint). I've been wondering for a while what to do it about, and I finally came up with something: I want to do an "About Me Vlog", answering your questions about anything you like, from style, to age, to who would I choose between George and Brad. (The sorts of questions you'd want to read about on someone's About Me page.)

I'll try not to look at the questions until the camera's rolling so the answers should be pretty spontaneous - it'll be a challenge!

Make them silly, trivial, philosophical - just make them interesting and very forthcoming. Leave as many as you like (and before 10 August), and with Mr. Summers' expert editing skills we should be able to come up with something fun (and hopefully funny) to watch....



Saturday, 21 July 2012

My last post as a 30-something...

... so here's my top 10 blog moments of the last year before my bloggiversary/birthday on Monday. Some are favourite outfits, some are favourite photos, some are simply posts that really meant something; they all sum up why I'm continuing on after my initial plan of doing this for one year only. And of course THANK YOU to all you lovely, lovely followers for being so wonderful and making my little creative outlet so enjoyable - hope you like my choices :)

1. Heathcliff - it's me, oh Cathy

This post attracted more than about three or four comments for the first time and I started to think maybe people actually quite liked my blog...!

2. The windy city is mighty pretty

This was the first shoot using my new, fast lens - so from then on it was lovely blurry backgrounds (bokeh) and sharper images... it made all the difference to my photos.

3. It's Lacroix, sweetie

My best-ever thrifting find... the title (and beautiful photo in front of a lovely setting sun) says it all. Mr Summers was getting a bit good at this photography lark.

4. Lily the pink

The photo that gave me my new avatar (with a little colour enhancement from pixlr.com).

5. English Riviera style

This was, to date, my favourite photo ever on the blog - and I think it's still up there in my top three. Unposed and all Mr Summers' own work (i.e. no art direction from me, which is pretty rare)!

6. Pink gingham and pearls

One of my favourite outfits, with my favourite necklace and favourite sweater - it just worked.

7. Preppy neutrals with blue

In this post I finally came up with a way to describe my style ('Preppy with a Twist'). I'd been asked what it was in a couple of interviews I'd done and I couldn't think how to define it before this outfit.

8. All I need now is a yacht

A double whammy on this post: one of the most fabulous photographs Mr. Summers has ever taken, and to date it's the most viewed post on my blog.

9. Seventies sunset with backlit florals

Another beautiful photo that I still love. Thanks, Mr. Summers - you're getting too good at this - the backlighting is just gorgeous :)

10. Probably my favouritest office outfit. Ever.

I know this was only posted two days ago, but I couldn't pass over a picture where I was photo bombed by a bee. A bee...!


I hope you've all enjoyed my first year of blogging as much as me - where has the time gone?? See you on the other side of forty, everyone!


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Probably My Favouritest Office Outfit. Ever.

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Although I want to talk about my new favourite day-at-the-office outfit, I have to first mention the last photo (I promise you, it's NOT photoshopped): if you look very closely you should see something...

Got it? What are the chances, eh?!!!

In fact, if Mr. Summers had taken another photo a split second later, it would have been of me flailing about as the busy little bee [okay, hoverfly] flew right into my face :)

So, my outfit ... an office favourite simply because it was thrown together that morning and surprised me how coordinated it looked, but only after looking at the photos. Do you guys ever do that - you quite like an outfit when wearing it, then see the pictures and you realise it actually looks so much better than you thought...? Usually it's the other way round for me so this was a nice surprise!

Oh and Happy Thursday! My last as a 30-something (did I mention it's my birthday on Monday... ;)

Cardigan: La Redoute I like this one and this one, Top: F+F at Tesco similar, Trousers: Next (old), Heels: Nine West similar, Bag: Next, Hairband: Unknown similar, Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters similar, Earrings: Accessorize, Bracelets L-R: ASOS / H&M / ASOS / Debenhams, Watch: Seiko similar, Rings L-R: H&M / H&M / ASOS / H&M, Nails: Barry M Magnetic Dark Silver

Linking up to:

Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style
Monday Mingle at Bonbon Rose Girls
What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Geeky girl garb for grey days

Oh I wish I could bring you all some floaty, summery outfits, but our British summer just isn't playing ball. I mean come on, July - scarf? sweater? jacket? I have a lot of summer dresses that aren't getting worn at the moment and I'm desperate for some sun!

Happy Tuesday lovely people :))

Jacket: La Redoute, Scarf: ASOS similar, Sweater: F+F at Tesco, Jeans: La Redoute similar, Wedges: ASOS similar, Glasses: ASOS similar, Bracelets: H&M / ASOS / Debenhams, Watch: 4itgirls.co.uk, Rings L-R: ASOS / ASOS / H&M, Nails: Barry M Magnetic Dark Silver

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Animal print and the blues

Today's thoughts are going to be brief... I've had a total waste of a Sunday being flat on my back with the worst backache ever - thank goodness I had 90% prepared this post in advance! So this outfit was inspired by the colours of this pin which I absolutely loved (and yeah I know it was a guy's outfit). And I'm reeeeally loving my round green sunglasses at the moment, they're fast becoming my go-to sunnies for our British pseudo-summer ;)

Hope everyone had a great weekend and a rather more productive Sunday than mine. This pain had better be gone by the morning... I think my body is saying to me "40 in a week, you say? Well in case you forgot you're not getting any younger - get a load of THIS!!"

Jacket: La Redoute similar, Top: Topshop, Trousers: ASOS, Heels: Betty Jackson at Debenhams, Feather hairband: Accessorize, Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters I like these ones, Belt: Unknown, Bracelets: H&M / ASOS / New Look, Watch: Seiko similar, Rings L-R: ASOS (set of 3) / ASOS / H&M / H&M, Nails: Revlon Sassy / No.7 Midnight similar

Linking up to:

Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style
Monday Mingle at Momtrends
What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy
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