What’s in My February Ipsy Bag?

20170222_170644-02.jpeg

I know, I know.  A few months ago I went on a long rant about how I was never going to do Ipsy posts again, yet here I am, unzipping a fresh new one.  Well, I’m doing it for you.  I’m not paid to review this stuff, so think of me as your brutally honest friend who’s brutally honest because she loves you.  We all need that friend.

20170222_170741-02.jpeg

SOO AE

Sheet Mask Duo – Purifying Black Charcoal Mask and Nature Green Tea Collagen Essence Mask

I’m still trying to get into sheet masks.  They’re slimy and hard to unfold, and then it’s a challenge to align them with your eyes, nose, and mouth.  And for what?  I’ve never really noticed a difference in my skin after using a mask, and these were no exception.  Let’s be real: the only reason my skin looks so good right here is because Snapseed is a gift from God.

20170222_170809-02.jpeg

JAPONESQUE

Coconut Solid Brush Cleaner

As someone who regularly cleans her makeup brushes with dish soap, this was a foreign concept to me.  Now that I’ve been civilized, though, there’s no going back.  This cleaner smells really good, but what’s more important is that it does a great job getting all the gunk off my foundation and blush brushes–and it leaves them softer than a baby’s butt afterward.

20170222_170929-02.jpeg

NYX Professional Makeup

Butter Lipstick in Ripe Berry

This lipstick, guys.  The color exactly matches its name, and that pretty raspberry tint lasts a long time (it was even there after my daily McMuffin!).  The best part is that it’s so jam-packed full of hydration that I don’t have to reach for my Chapstick when I have it on.

20170222_171025-01.jpeg

Absolute New York

Nano Liner Ultra Fine Precision Liquid Liner in Black

Whenever I try to wing out my eyeliner, it usually takes me about five or six tries and ends with me sadly tossing a used makeup wipe in the trash along with the remains of my dignity.  You know how many tries it took me with this liner?  ONE.  The tip is so precise that it’s almost impossible to screw up.  And it lasts all day!

20170222_171102-01.jpeg

Marsk

Mineral Eye Shadow in You’re Toast

Dear Lord, I hate loose eye shadows.  The tiniest breath of air will send shimmers through the air, and not in a cute way.  In a “crap, now I have to clean the sink again” kind of way.  I also didn’t really like the color (too orangey/peachy for my skin).

20170222_171158-02.jpeg

So that’s it!  Have you guys tried any of these products?  What do you think?

 

Links a la Mode, February 23

dsc_0122

I’ve been featured on Independent Fashion Bloggers’ Links a la Mode again!  My post on how to get more comments on your next blog post was included with 8 others by some really talented bloggers.

If you’d like to get featured as well, here’s how it works: submit your post to the IFB Facebook page by Tuesday of each week.  The top posts will be chosen and rounded up on Thursday.  If you were picked, paste in the roundup on your blog (like I did below).  This means that not only are you featured on the IFB website, but you’re also featured on lots of other blogs!

Here’s this week’s list!

Links à la Mode, February 23rd

Outfit: The Rose Sweater

DSC_0015.jpgHaving blogged for a couple of years now, I’d like to think I’m a little seasoned.  Sure, I’m not a pro, but I’ve got some things under my belt, like working with brands.

dsc_0004-2dsc_0031dsc_0018dsc_0034dsc_0025dsc_0037

A lot of the time, it’s a little thrill when I get an email from a brand saying they want to work with me.  It feels good to be recognized for something I put my heart and soul into.  Most brands operate on the same game plan–they send me something for free, I wear it on the blog, and we both go home happy.

But then there are the sneaky brands.  They, too, send an email saying they want to “work with me.”  As I read further into the email, though, it becomes clear that they want something for nothing.

Here’s an example.  A bra company recently contacted me and asked me to do a blog post for them.  I was to include a little quiz they made up and put in a promo code for 30% off one of their products.  I told them that before I could promote their brand, I’d like to receive a free bra–after all, I have to know what I’m talking about!  They said sure.

Kind of.

The company told me I could do a “free trial” and if I liked the bra, I would have to pay for it.

Um, are you kidding?

I sent them back an email politely declining the offer, and I explained that it’s not fair to ask a blogger to take the time to put together a post in return for nothing.  A loss, even, if I decided to purchase the bra after the “free” trial.

How do these brands justify this kind of thing?  Sometimes I imagine they must be thinking, “This blogger should be SO FLATTERED that we reached out to her!”  Maybe they really don’t understand how much work goes into a blog post, or that we totally deserve to be compensated for it.

Clearly, I find this practice super annoying.  Has this ever happened to you?

I’m thinking of putting together a blog post next week that explains how you can politely decline something like this but leave the door open to the brand.  What do you think?

Two Ways to Wear a Red Striped Sweater

dsc_0122

I’ll ‘fess up: I have a severe stripes addiction.  I have striped sweaters, tees, shirts, and shoes up the wazoo.  Out of all of them, though, this red one wins.  I can never wait for it to dry when it comes out of the washing machine, so sometimes it’s even a little damp when I put it on.  This thing is just so freaking soft and cozy!

A sweater like this can’t be worn just one way.  It deserves more than that.  Here’s a couple of my favorite ways to style my red sweater–and keep an eye out for more someday soon!

Look One

I’ve dressed it up a little bit by pairing it with a simple black skater skirt, tights, and pointed-toe flats.  My leather bag does a nice job of keeping the outfit from looking tooooo sweet and balances out my (frankly, quite) adorable Book of Deer hat.

Look Two

This one’s a much more casual look.  I’ve swapped out the skirt and tights for jeans and duck boots, and I’m wearing my wool toggle coat for just a little extra coziness (and by a little, I mean a lot).  Still gotta have that hat on, though!

How would you guys style this sweater?

How to Get More Comments on Your Next Post

DSC_0116.jpgDSC_0123.jpgdsc_0111DSC_0133.jpgdsc_0130dsc_0135

I was going through some of my old blog posts, and I discovered something quite unexpected: my personal favorite posts were not the most popular.  It seemed so weird at first.  I started questioning myself–didn’t anyone like what I liked?  Was I doing something wrong?

I did some digging, and I noticed a pattern.  The posts that got the most engagement were the ones that gave something of value to the readers.  Things like tips, tutorials, and how-tos.  It totally explains why my post about curating your closet got a lot of comments while my last one was, well, pretty silent.

Now I want to share a little bit about what I learned with you!  Here are a few ways you can get some more comments on your next post:

  1. Come up with a catchy title. Most of the time, when I write up an outfit post, I’ll title it something like this: “Outfit: Obscure 1980s Song Lyrics.”  That’s not really enticing, is it?  Not to mention it’s almost completely unsearchable.  Instead, a great blog post title offers something to the reader–maybe a how-to or a list of tips.  For my last blog post, instead of “Outfit: Blending In,” I bet something like “How to Wear an All-Neutral Outfit” would have gotten a little more noise.
  2. Find a way to help.  Going off the last point, posts that help the reader are the ones that get the most love.  If you can put together a hair tutorial or a review of your favorite (and not-so-favorite) beauty products, I can almost guarantee you’ll see positive results.  Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with some good old-fashioned inspiration.  Showing off an outfit with amazing pics is also an excellent way to attract readers–just make sure you don’t scare them off with a weird title.
  3. Ask questions.  Don’t just leave your reader hanging at the end of a post!  You’ve just spent a ton of time talking, so let them get a chance to weigh in.  If you’re posting an outfit, ask them what they think or how they’d style the dress you’re wearing.  Make it a conversation–and always try to respond to your comments.
  4. Leave comments of your own.  Nothing brightens my day more than a thoughtful comment.  When a person takes the time to write something nice to me, I always check out their blog, and if I have time, I like to return the favor.  The more you get out and engage with other people, the more likely you’ll see them reciprocating.

So what about you?  What strategies do you use to get more comments?

Outfit: Blending In

DSC_0072.jpg

dsc_0079

dsc_0085

dsc_0098

Redoing my wardrobe has been marvelously helpful in so many ways: I’ve cleared out all the junk in my closet, I’ve learned to shop with intention, and I really look forward to getting dressed in the morning.

But.  (Yes, there’s a but.)

After spending so much time thinking about the kinds of clothes I want to wear, it’s been another thing altogether to put those wants into action.  I’ve spent a lot of time the last few years in little else but A-line skirts and dresses on the blog, which, while flattering, make it easy to hide the parts of my body I don’t like.  (Whether I think things are too big or too small or too short or too long, I won’t say–that’s not the point!) While I’m still very much in love with a good skater skirt, I’ve also found myself drawn to skinny jeans and pants lately–and you can’t hide anything in those.

Sure, I’m in jeans all the time, but I seldom wear them for the blog.  I always told myself it was because they didn’t look “pretty” enough for a blog post, but I do think that part of me always felt a little uncomfortable with how revealing they are.  I was definitely feeling a little insecure when I took these pictures.  People are going to see the parts of my body I don’t like!

The thing is, I really love outfits that incorporate jeans and pants on other bloggers, so why not me?  Why can’t I rock them too?  They’re essential to my new style, and I love wearing them when I’m not going to be “seen.”

It’s something I’m going to have to work out on my own, but I wanted to get this out there. I’m hoping that spending more and more time getting to know my bod in some new clothes will help–it certainly did in the past.

How Many Blog Post Pictures Do You Need?

DSC_0067.jpg

dsc_0056

love taking pictures for this blog.  On the weekend, I can hardly wait for the sun to start going down so I can grab my tripod, timer, and camera to snap a bunch of pics.  When I’m out, I spend a good 30 minutes to an hour working on different poses and camera angles, and I can really get lost in it.

But here’s the thing–when it comes time to write up a post, how many of those pictures are you supposed to use?  I know how much work goes into each picture, but there has to be a limit.  As a reader, I really don’t like blog posts that feature pretty much the same photo over and over, with slightly different poses.  They don’t add any value, so what’s the point?

For the last year or so, that’s been my rule: make your point and move on.  Some bloggers, like A Robot Heart and A Clothes Horse, use their pictures to tell stories, and every shot has something different and interesting.  Other bloggers are all about the outfit, so they show one or two head-to-toe shots and a few detail pics.

A lot of the time, I like going for that narrative quality, but when I’m not, I honestly don’t think I need more than a handful of pictures.  In fact, because this outfit is so simple, I only needed two.

I think there’s a little fear that fewer pictures is a bad thing, but really, I think it’s better to pare down the number of shots you use.  Use only the best ones–the ones that add the most value to the post.

What do you think?  How do you decide which pictures to use for your posts?