20 Minute HIIT Workouts For Beginners To Kick Start 2020

Everyone heading to the gym to start a healthy & happy 2020, whether they are beginners or gym bunnies just having another day of training. You may have seen the word HIIT floating about in the fitness world, but if you are just starting out you might be unaware of what it means.

It’s not some top secret gym slang and it’s not something that only the finest athletes can complete. What if I told you that the average gym goer can do this and not only will it take you less time in the gym but if done correctly, give you better results than an hour on that running machine?

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, which might sound daunting but don’t fear, if you’re willing to put the graft in HIIT workouts can shave off those calories in no time.

HIIT has been around for a long time and is a complete all rounder that’s sure to aid your efforts in the gym whether that be muscle gain, weight loss or increase your fitness level in general.

The idea behind HIIT is to get that heart rate going (within 80-95%of your maximum heart rate) by doing a series of exercises in short bursts ranging from high to low intensity instead of a continuous routine going at one pace.

Seasoned gym goers can get their workout complete in as little as 5-8 minutes as their bodies are used to the highest level of intensity. For these workouts we are still going strong, but they can be done in a 20 minute time frame allowing for beginners to try this out too.

A few bits to remember – HIIT is meant to be uncomfortable guys & gals, it’s giving it your all so it’s gonna be tough but the results are so worth it, especially the afterburn.

Remember that you need rest days in between gym going, you can cause yourself more injury or risk overtraining, not the one.

Before engaging in any high level activity, especially ones that raise the heart rate at such a pace, make sure you know your limits and what your body is used too. Always consult your doctor if you are unsure about taking part and remember to stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet.

Adjust weights to suit your needs, try to stick to the reps and remember it’s all about raising that heart rate. Repeat each of these sets 3 times with minimal rest in between – 30 seconds max between sets and if you are unsure of any of the below, there are tonnes of Youtube videos on how to do each exercise properly.

Abs/Core Focus

Weighted Sit Ups 

Reps: 10-15

Holding onto a weight (such as a 10kg wheel) with both arms across your chest, begin your sit ups. Using a sit up bench at the gym helps keep your feet firmly placed but you could also place weights on your feet to keep them down to make this easier.

Weighted Russian Twist

Reps: 20-30

Tough to master but once you have got your balance in check, you can smash these out when you’re in the rhythm. Hold onto the weight with both hands and make sure it touches the ground as you go from side to side.

Bulgarian Bag Squats

Reps: 15-20

Your gym may not have bulgarian bags but a kettle bell will do just fine, as long as the squat is weighted, try a 10kg bag or 14kg kettlebell.

Plank

60 Seconds

These get tougher as you go through the sets but the result is getting your sweat on and massively engaging your core. Remember to use your abdominal muscles to keep yourself in check, otherwise you will uncomfortably transfer the weight to your arms and defeat the purpose of plank. If 60 seconds is too much, try for 30 and see if you can push for more.

Arms Focus

Jumping Jacks

30 seconds

Grab yourself a mat and start yourself off with one of the easier exercises on the list

Press Up’s x 30

Self explanatory, smash out these bad boys as fast as you can.

Dumbbell Overhead Press

Reps: 10-15

Try this with an 8kg weight as a beginner and increase if your arm strength is already in a good place.

Burpees

30 seconds

The dreaded burpee, a full body heart racing exercise that packs a calorie burning punch – doing a minute will burn an average of 10 calories!

Cardio Focus

Running/ Running Machine

Aim for 5 minutes minimum not including warm up.

Yes, running machine is on here but don’t be on there lightly jogging for half an hour, this is a mix of stopping & sprinting to get yourself going. Start off doing 3 minutes of warm up jogging, then pump up that speed and start sprinting 30 seconds on and off. 

To do this, high speed run for 30 seconds, straddle the mill (just jump off the belt by placing your feet either side on the machine), rest for 30 seconds and jump back on for another 30. Repeat this process until you can no longer do this, but aim for going for 5 minutes.

If this seems daunting, you can also do this outside before the gym/en route.

Rowing Machine

5-10 minutes

Get the gloves out if you have them because this can take a toll on the hands. You’re going to do 30 seconds fast intense row then 30 seconds steady row, aim for between 5-10 minutes, as long as the short bursts of high energy are happening you are good.

Cycling

5 minutes

Simple – as far and as fast as you can go in 5 minutes!

Make sure you keep yourself hydrated and warm up before getting stuck in, stretch and cool down once you are done, you got this!

Sustainable Holiday Party Style 

Guest Post by Jenni at ‘I on Image

About Jenni

Jenni Ryynänen is  a Finnish Image & Style Expert, Blogger and Speaker living in The Netherlands who wants to help you to develop your personal style and confidence through image consulting services that include wardrobe edits and personal shopping. Wild about accessories and fabulous basics. Believes that fashion belongs to everyone. Fascinated about the hidden messages we give with our style. Owns too many brocade coats. Must be caffeinated at all times. Loves autumn, sushi and Netflix.

Social Media Links

Blog: https://ionimage.nl

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/IonImage

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LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenniryynanenionimage

Sustainable Holiday Party Style 

There is not a soul who doesn’t know by now that sooner or later we will be drowning in fast fashion. Or will its toxic side product, pollution, get to us first. I haven’t quite decided which way I want to go down but let’s assume that on a long run people would still choose a healthy life over a glitter-bombed one-night stand with an outfit that cost less than a proper meal in a restaurant. 

Please don’t think that I am a saint. I too have an array of fashion skeletons in my well-curated closet. There are clear traces of online sale shopping out of boredom. Evidence of high street prowls after liquid lunches. Discarded victims of fashion haul culture that serves literally just 1% of the population. 

I am far from perfect but I strive to be better, and I would like you to do the same this holiday party season. In this guest blog I am sharing some stylish ideas on how to look amazing at every party without torturing the already overworked planet. 

  1. Shop your closet

If you are like me, your closet is probably bursting out of it’s seams but oddly you feel like you have nothing to wear. In this situation the answer is not to shop for new, but to sort out what you already own. 

I offer this as a popular service called “Wardrobe Edits” but with the step-by-step free guide in my blog you can also do the work on your own. Get started in here.

The idea is to have fun and to discover new ways to wear what you have. My clients are always amazed how much they can actually get from so very little. You too can achieve that with just a little patience and some organizing skills. 

I am sure you will find outfits to wear throughout the entire holiday season just by taking a deep look in your own closet. Remember that the most sustainable outfit is the one hanging in your closet. 

  1. Buy a second hand outfit

I have recently rediscovered second hand shopping. When I was young and had no money I was forced to drift shop. Going through racks of donated clothing in charity shops developed my style sense and showed me what a well-made garment really looked like. I am thankful for those style lessons that preceded my formal fashion education years later. 

I forgot the habit for years but to my delight I am vintage shopping again. Nowadays there is more selection than ever before. You won’t believe the amount of almost new –or even brand new- items in second hand shops. 

People simply buy more than they can possibly handle. As a result, you can profit from amazing finds for a fracture of their original price. I have also found second hand items that I missed for their original price, which was a thrilling experience for a fashion nerd like me. 

  1. Rent your holiday party dress

Sharing economy is big news right now. If we are already our renting homes and cars, then why not our fashion too. I recommend fashion rental services for people who have either a once-in-a-lifetime event, limited storage space or so many events that buying new would bankrupt them in no time.

Look for a local service to minimize transportation because your dress will have at least two trips. Check what type of dry-cleaning services they use. Opt for one that use exclusively eco-friendly dry-cleaners. Some fashion rental shops offer you the option to buy the items you really fell in love with. It’s like test driving a car before buying. 

Think also if you want to rent from a curated collection at a central location rather than from someone’s personal wardrobe. One of the advantages is that their dresses come in multiple sizes. This way you don’t have to search for your fashionable body twin. 

  1. Swap frocks with your most stylish BFF

The advantage of having stylish friends is that they will always be happy to spill the fashion beans. If you have a good reputation, and the same dress size, they might be open to a clothes swap too. 

I am often lending items to my friends, if not a dress, then at least accessories. My walk-in-closet is like the shop that opens when all the other shops are closed. Just a bit more interesting! 

Dive in your friend’s closet but remember to be nice. Return the items in pristine condition and offer to replace damaged goods. If your partying can’t take a vintage Versace, don’t swap a vintage Versace. Go a few price brackets down. The idea is to keep this good thing going on for years. 

  1. Wear what you wore last year

This is a tough one and almost unthinkable. Who in their right mind would wear the very same outfit they wore to the last year’s party? In reality nobody will remember what you wore last year. Especially, if in every single photo some in that aforementioned glitter-bomb stands in front of you. 

I have been to many events in one and the same Little Black Dress and, while it’s painstakingly stylish, it’s also kind of invisible. People tend to remember me and not what I wore. Coco Chanel said: “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman”. I think she was really onto something!

This option will save you loads of time, money and effort. Just repeat what was fabulous last year. Simple as that.

Get more sustainable style in I on Image’s blog:

How to Be a Sustainable Fashion Consumer?  

10 Sustainable Fashion Myths Explained

Share your best sustainable holiday party styling tips in comments! I am curious to hear how you manage to look so amazing!

Stay stylish everyone!

-Jenni

Your image consultant with an eye for detail



How To Utilise Your Social Media Insights For Beginners

Know Your Reach From Your Impressions & Use These For Optimum Scheduling & More!

Hey all! If you’re here it’s because you’ve finally decided to press the analytics & insights link on your social accounts and brave all those numbers and stats.

I can hear you all now, “What the HELL am I looking at? Impressions? Reach? Organic?! What is this foolery!” 

Okay, maybe you didn’t say it quite like that but you see a lot of beginners to social media marketing, from new businesses to bloggers, that aren’t always social media savvy and not everyone knows how to use their insights, let alone what half of it means.

I want to mention whilst I’m here that we will be looking more at tracking the ongoing analytics of your socials and content and less on campaign metrics, we will touch on it a bit however.

Beginners (and you know what, a lot of intermediate folks) tend to focus more on how great they want their content to be, which isn’t a bad thing and is 100% important.

But you want the most possible engagement out of it, right? You want to know what works and what doesn’t? You want to get to know your audience? And most importantly, you want that sweet ROI.

Before you get into this post, make sure you read my first how to guide in this series ‘How To Create Engaging Social Media Content For Beginners’ so you know you’ve got some A* posts ready to go!

In this guide we will look at:
  • Deciphering The Lingo
  • How To Operate Insights/Analytics On 3 Major Platforms
  • Storing Post Related Data To Plan Your Schedule
  • Using This Data For Scheduling

It’s good to remember that if you have just started a social account, data can take over a week to initially appear so bare with it, pens & paper at the ready!

Dictionary: Dechiperhing The Lingo

Now with the power of search engines, you could Google each and every one of these words as you go, but ain’t nobody got time for that, we’ve got empires to build! So I’ve done the hard work for you and below you will find the meaning for each word in the insightsphere that you need to know.

R.O.I example – you’ve run a boosted post on Facebook for £20 and it runs for 5 days. Once the 5 days is up, you need to measure the results of this campaign and if it has delivered said results with the £20 you placed on this post.

These results could be ‘x’ amount of website clicks, ‘x’ amount of sales or something simple as ‘x’ amount of likes on the post. The return could be measured in many ways depending on your goal for this campaign.

For large businesses they want to make sure the money they are investing in this is giving them the results they want, usually in the form of earning the spend back and then some from sales.

Another one I couldn’t fit on there was Campaign, I wanted to just keep it to the basics but as this is insights for beginners, I wanted to make sure I covered things I wasn’t sure of when I first started out.

A campaign is a coordinated marketing plan and the subsequent content has an end goal in mind, it can be live on various social media platforms. They are strategic plans with a heavy focus on specific targeting and reporting back the resulting data measurements.

How to Operate Insights/Analytics On 3 Major Platforms

Twitter

If you’ve been here before, you will know that I’ve only been blogging for just over 2 months and although I have two other social accounts that I have built up for years before this, Twitter is something I’m newer to in a sense of brand promotion.

Having done a marketing degree and worked in social media, I have an awareness of what to look for and how to build my profile organically for the most part so I have been able to figure it out solo, for most beginners that luxury isn’t always available.

I also want to admit that up until about 6 months, I slated Twitter. I didn’t see the pull and I thought it’s only true use was allowing us to see inside the ridiculous and yet frightening brain of Donald Trump.

Nowadays however, I wouldn’t be where I am without it and I use it more than Instagram, which is saying something for me.

To access your analytics dashboard your Twitter account needs to be at least 14 days old, not be breaking any rules (naughty, naughty) and not be suspended, of course.

On your desktop version, click the left sidebar and press ‘More’ and from there click ‘Analytics’. On your app you can get individual Tweet analytics, but only if you have an iPhone with the latest Twitter update.

Let’s start by looking at my analytics dashboard for Twitter in this lovely image below shall we?

The first thing you will see on the dashboard is this 28 day summary which is ideal for a monthly overview. Now remember the dictionary from before, we can now use that in conjunction with this to see how we’ve been doing.

Twitter I’ve found out is the easiest out of the three to get engagement fast and maintain this because of its short time span on content. Tweets get an average of 20 seconds to make an impression so timing is so key, we will cover more on that later.

You can see that my data is all in the green which makes a lovely surprise, you can also see straight away I’ve tweeted more on average in the last 28 days which has resulted in more impressions, profiles visits, mentions & followers.

You can’t click on these numbers for anymore data but you don’t need to really, you’ve got what you need there. Notice the little graphs underneath, you don’t need worry too much about these but it’s good to see what’s been consistent and what’s fallen.

You can see on mine there was a spike in visits, impressions & tweets at some point earlier on in that 28 day period. Whilst impressions then carried on sailing straight, there was a drop in the other two. Followers are constantly on the up and mentions did a small spike previously.

Here your dashboard gives you a month by month breakdown, we’re 12 days into November as of this print screen and we can see all the data in that 12 days such as 31.9k impressions & 146 new followers.

What I like about Twitter analytics is it also highlights your top tweets and top mentions. Having your top tweets is SO GOOD for content generation purposes as I have a clear understanding of what my followers engage with, Twitter is very writer friendly so posts about collabs/guestposts are always popular.

Scroll a little futher and it gives you your top media tweet & your most popular follower of that month so far. You can also expand on this to show in more detail the actual activity of said tweet as you can see below.

Let’s have a look across the top menu bar and select ‘Tweets’, It will open a separate section focused solely on, you guessed it, your individual tweet activity.

The data here shows the impressions of your tweets each day represented by these bars. I must of been on a mad one on October 28th because that skyrocketed!

You can see it’s pretty plain sailing with some days being stronger than others, when you hover over the bars it gives you details of the organic impressions on that day and how many tweets you posted.

Directly underneath you can see individual results of tweets and top tweets, so as an example of impressions etc here is my most popular tweet! It was a meme about Brexit which was very amusing if I do say so myself and it got me a lot of results.

However this had a trending hashtag and a meme so I don’t want to flex too much over here. You can just have an idea of what the data means, 8449 accounts were reached, 1116 users engaged with it and this resulted in an engagement rate of 13.2%.

This percentage equation is engagement rates divided by impressions x 100. I wanted to show you an example below as well of 2 tweets, one with a low engagement but high impressions and vice versa, just to show you that it exists and that more impressions don’t always mean more engagement!

To the right of all of this data we have more info on our engagements via different measurements and their daily numbers. Handy to know, it really is just information to keep you in the loop and this won’t necessarily help you with content future planning.

For the nature of this post, I don’t want to go too deep down the Twitter analytics rabbit hole as we have a lot to cover, but if you go across to audiences there is also some useful data here if you are planning a campaign sometime soon.

I haven’t done too much with mine, I only dip in now and again. If you’re just starting, I wouldn’t worry too much about this to start but I would 100% have a look at it at some point and see if there is anything you can use.

Also quick side note, I’ve done some more digging and it looks like you can’t change that audience from US to anywhere else unless you are doing a tailored audience for your campaign. Which is slightly annoying when you live in the UK and you just want to know how many people over HERE like dogs…

Facebook

Now I will always be real when it comes to marketing and how my engagement is across the board. I’m not famous, I’m not a powerhouse brand and I only started this account 2 months ago.

I schedule posts everyday based on insights and my engagement is very varied, I don’t get most of my blog traffic from Facebook and I’m okay with that, it’s a work in progress.

To get this data you need to have a business/fan page you monitor, you can’t get it for your profile. I’ve had mine since 2008 so you can just IMAGINE all that history backed up and I’m just one person out of 2.37 billion!

For the purpose of this guide, we will jump straight into post data as this is the most relevant information for your content generating and scheduling. Your dashboard will give you an overview of your pages activity which can be shown as Today, Yesterday, 7 days or 28 days.

The first thing you will come across how often your fans are online, this is just what you need to help you schedule your content so it’s very useful data to monitor and utilise.

That being said, see that little bit of text at the top about it being shown in Pacific time zone? Yeah. So once again, the Americans get to have all the fun and the UK is left in it’s rainy, Brexit misery :(.

Not all is lost however, you can make some pretty educated guesses with this information, especially when comparing it to when I post my content compared to what this tells me.

I know for a full on fact that over 100 of my fans aren’t online at 3 am unless they all happen to be insomniacs which common knowledge would tell me is highly unlikely.

In comparison, I also know engagement doesn’t drop to it’s lowest at 6 pm, as that’s when everyone is scrolling after work and when I’ve had some of my highest engagement rates.

So I have to manually check and see what time that would be here in the UK, for example 4 am in Pacific time zone where the majority of my fans are active, is 12 pm which is lunchtime in GMT which makes sense.

Oh, that’s another thing if you were unsure the UK falls in Greenwich time zone, so we’re GMT baby. It’s a quick fix but annoying none the less and from what I have looked into you can’t change this for insights. What you can do is change it on Ads Manager, but that’s a whole different space to discuss.

By looking across at Post types, you can see which kind of content gets the most engagement. As you can see mine needs some work, but it’s an example of more data that you can utilise.

Okay so here is a section of my most recent posts, below you can see snippets of what those coloured bars all represent. What’s important here especially with the issue of Pacific time zone is the time the post went up to the left, so you can use this to help with your scheduling.

The columns represent in order: time & date, post, post type, targeting, reach, engagement and an option to pay to boost this post. Below I’ve added some examples of what happens when you change your reach data via the dropdown.

This is just a way to view different data in the same place, it’s ideal to know especially if you planning a campaign with a particular end goal in mind.

Top left you can see an example of a post that was boosted and the resulting reach. I never boosted my posts that much so my reach isn’t very extravagant but you get the idea.

When double clicking the post example, you will be able to see more data for said post, like in the example below.

There is a lot of data knocking about on Facebook insights, to the left you have a menu of each section in more detail. For this how to guide I just wanted to focus on this section as it has all the data you need as a beginner for your content.

I also have to admit I haven’t found the time to draw up a decent Facebook marketing strategy/campaign in a while or put a lot of focus there as it isn’t my main source of traffic, being a one woman team can be tough sometimes so there will be sacrifices.

I have 176 fans on Facebook, it’s nothing compared to Twitter and not a scratch on Instagram. Facebook is notoriously hard to grow on organically unless you are a well known brand with more things to give away.

Instagram

We’re nearly at the end of our first section, It’s a lot to take in but it will all be worth it in the end when you understand why all this is so important! Now I’ve had my Instagram since 2012 and only in the last few months have I started using it for business also.

You find it happens a lot with bloggers especially if they already have a base, growing your ‘gram from scratch organically is also hard and I wasn’t going to do that again!

First things first, you can only see this data if your account is a business account but making the switch is so easy via your settings. What it does mean however is you can’t be private, so it’s your call really but this data is important!

The first thing you will see on your profile is your profile visits from the last 7 days, tap this and you get to the main page of your analytics.

Once you are there you’re got a few sections you can wander through so now it’s time to navigate! There is Content, Activity & Audience at the top and by default content is open first, here you will have your posts, stories & promotions on display.

It will show you your latest posts and automatically the little number with the eye is the reach of your post. Tap Activity and you will see what’s been going on with your profile

You can see your discovery, which is how many accounts saw your content and where they found it. There is also your interactions which shows you the actions taken on your account in a certain amount of time.

Now we’re getting into audience data, arguably the most important especially when we get to days and times of online users!

You are shown first a graph of your growth in terms of followers, this is based on one week and you can move the bar to represent each day. So on Sunday, 12 people followed me, 1 unfollowed me (whyyyyyyy) so overall my growth was 11.

Then we dive into audience data, I spent the last 4 years living in Leeds so it makes sense that’s where the majority of my followers are based. Congleton is my hometown so second largest would also make sense and then dabbling into surrounding areas.

London is a random one, but I’m not complaining! Age range again self explanatory, you can also toggle this to show just men or women but I don’t care about that so it’s always on all for me.

There is also a graph showing which gender is more prominent within your follower base, now for me again this doesn’t really matter as my profile is business and personal so I’m expecting a mix of both and don’t target one specifically, it’s what’s underneath that I’m really excited about…

…why your followers average online times of course, what did you think I was on about! This section is easily the one I focus on the most because this is what helps me schedule content at the right time on certain days – as you can see Mondays are most popular.

Research tells me that Instagram bases this data on the time zone represented by your phone time & date settings, so let’s do a little happy dance and all laugh at Facebook for not switching up their game.

Using Tuesday as an example, you can toggle this to read either hours or days so above we’ve got Tuesday hourly data, make sure you tap the bars for individual numbers.

So you can see at what time on a Tuesday the majority of your followers are online, looks like between 6-9 pm which would make sense. You can see this gradually grows from lunchtime.

This little section helps me plan my content every week in conjunction with other bits of data. If you go back to the content section of your insights you can click on all posts and look at these in more depth also.

Those drop down bars can be changed to show exactly what you need to see with your posts. By pressing ‘all’ you can choose to show a select few posts, ‘reach’ will drop down to show you every single measure you can think of, below is an example Impressions.

Again this is all useful especially if you measure historical data or do comparisons on posts but since mine is mainly personal, this information is not as crucial to me as followers activity.

Phew, you can now be safe in the knowledge that the extensive part is over! Take some time away from the screen and we can jump into the next section.

Storing Post Related Data To Plan Your Schedule

So you’ve had a look around and you’ve familiarised yourself with all they have to offer. I want to take this opportunity to say that I know what you’re all thinking, “but Katt, you’re a blogger, where’s Pinterest?!”

Good question, I don’t use Pinterest that much just yet. It’s on my to-do list to teach myself more about how to use this platform and utilise its data for my blog. Until that time, I don’t know enough about it to teach you but there are loads of guides online so make sure to check them out after this!

When you’ve got all those numbers bouncing around for your content it can be tough to keep track of it all to see your ROI, paid or organic (your time and energy can still count as an investment!)

With Facebook & Twitter you can download this data into a spreadsheet, I know what you are thinking and yes I thought the same too, spreadsheets are dull af.

BUT learning the basics is easy and can you move this info around and present it in a manner of your choice. You can make selections for what chunks of this you want to download, I’ve chosen post data for the last week on Facebook and Tweet data on Twitter for the last week – make sure to download these in CSV files to open in Google sheets/excel.

Storing – Facebook Example

Now as a beginner you probably won’t be needing to present this to clients anytime soon so let’s look at storing methods for yourself. I’m using Google sheets as I think its the best way to store & report, it’s also free you just need to make an account!

At first, this is going to look a little messy so don’t panic. You need to go through and expand columns and delete bits as appropriate. Don’t need to know the post type? Get rid. Countries? Delete. Anything that’s going to clutter this up needs to go, it will be a work in progress until you get it how you need it.

You need to have an idea of what you want to track so as to know what you need to keep and what to delete. As a starting point, I would do two separate tabs and have one called ‘paid’ & one called ‘organic’.

Now if your focus isn’t so much on results from paid posts then just stick to a tab called ‘Organic’ for now.

Maybe add a little more detail such as ‘Organic Facebook Post Data Nov 7th-14th,’ yes it’s a mouthful but I’ve learnt the hard way what happens when there’s no organisation or labelling with data.

Everyone will have their ideas of what’s important to track and how they want to organise it, you can see the transformation in my example below.

I’ve kept the titles as they are for now and added some colour because I can’t help myself. This is now a million times easier to read and there is a focus on the important/correct data based on your goals.

From here you can carry on to create more tabs and organise them in sheets tracking this week by week and categorizing this how you see fit, here is an example of how you could do this.

Here is your sheet title & sheet sections at the bottom. This can then be saved to a folder of your choice, again you can see an example below:

Do the same for all your socials until you’ve got the data stored how you want it ready to extract information from it to track. Understand this can be a time consuming job but it’s good practice to get into, especially if you ever need to present this information.

You can download Twitter data in the same way and use the same technique as Facebook, but for Instagram it’s a little more leg work. You can download some types of data, but you have to send a request to Instagram via the desktop version and wait up to 48 hours for a link in your inbox.

I don’t know about you guys but I can do this faster solo, so it’s time to open up analytics and have your data ready ’cause we’re gonna start out mini review of the key takeaways of allll these numbers.

Using This Data For Scheduling

For personal use this information doesn’t need to be presented via in-depth report full of graphs, numbers and screenshots. We’re going to keep it simple and I will show you how I manually track my insights/analytics.

I will say there are tools out there that do track and report for you and lot’s of different aspects of your insights you might want to track and monitor. But for an individual I find it so much easier to do it my own way manually for the purposes of content planning.

So I’m going to take my stored data and pick out the most popular pieces of content from each platform for that week and put these into separate tabs for each one.

Twitter

Each platform will need different categories as some don’t apply to others. The shame about Twitter in terms of audience data is that it doesn’t show you the most optimal times and days for your audience to be online.

You have to measure it based on a mix of what gets traction with your content & in depth posts by marketing big players who gather this kind of data for your disposal, I will add a link towards the end.

From the table you can see what’s working and what isn’t and from there you can plan when you will be scheduling your content.

For example I know I’m going to schedule a tweet for Monday lunchtime again with relevant emoji’s, hashtags & images and make it about an achievement of that week.

I might decide to do that as standard every Monday lunchtime and track the progress of that type of content.

Facebook

With a similar layout to Twitter, Facebook has extra space for audience data and different categories. Like above I have gathered the data from the download and placed it into a separate table for a more accurate breakdown of information.

Instagram

I had to input Instagram’s data manually, but it isn’t that time consuming when you are only covering a small period of time at once. Again you’ve got specific category listings and audience data below.

You’ve now got your insights/analytics from the week before, stored and presented in a way that you can understand them and from this, take out what you need to plan your content for the week ahead!

Remember the link I mentioned? Check it out – Sharable.

Please note, mixing data like this with your own data can be messy so make sure you use it as a guide and like it says in the post, it’s all about the trial and error. Track your results for a few weeks to see what works and what doesn’t

This is why planning content weekly is is important, what could have been a big hit 3 weeks running, might not have the same impact the 4th week. You have be always on top of trends and planning to get your content noticed.

I spend a lot of time organising and colour coordinating this information because I find it easier to understand. Don’t feel like you have to go to this length of details as long you take the basics from this you could have a basic word document with days of the week and times, not a problem.

This guide is in depth to provide you with everything you need and to take away as much or as little as you want! The final guide in this series will talk you through scheduling your content, it will be shorter than these last two.

That’s it, guys! Make sure to bookmark this for future use & don’t forget to leave comments below to let me know what you think! x

How To Create Engaging Social Media Content For Beginners

A how to guide on creating engaging social media content for your platforms!

Hey all! I’m very excited to share these How To Guides with you. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while as I’m very passionate about digital marketing, especially social media content.

I’ve been using social media since the Bebo & Myspace days so my experiences date back to 2008. My education and work experience is also coming into its 5th year so I think I’m ready to share some knowledge with you all, in the hopes that it will help you to create engaging social media content even if you are a beginner!

Before We Start

At this point I should say that although this post is for beginners, you should have some sort of following on your platforms otherwise there’s no one there to check out your amazing content!

I’m not saying you need thousands and thousands of loyal fans but having some people as a starting point is important, even if it’s just 10 Facebook likes and 5 Twitter followers.

You must always be working on growing this fan base and this WILL grow with time, nailing the content now will increase the engagement and thus, the following.

Make sure to take notes to use later or bookmark this post 😊.

So, where do you start when creating social media content?

You know your niche/industry/business inside out.

You’ve got experience in it, you may have studied in it and you’ve probably been doing it for years. So why is it so damn hard to take all that information out of your head and turn it into an engaging piece of social media content?!

I feel you, I have been there and some days I still am.

You’ve got so much knowledge on it but for some reason you can’t get it out of your head and onto paper/screen, it’s very soul destroying sometimes.

We have to really start from the bottom here and create some order in your mind. You are juggling multiple idea balls and they are dropping everywhere into a sea of sadness that makes you just ending up posting anything and everything, not ideal.

What Tools Can We Use?

Mind Maps
These really are great for getting everything out! Remember them from school? Teachers really did love to use these and now I see why.

Start a middle circle with a category, remember we are figuring out what we actually need to post about here so no days and times just yet.

Let’s use me as an example – to narrow it down I am a fashion blogger and freelance writer so that would be my middle circle.

I know that I need to write social media posts about my writing outside of my blog, so one of my outer circles is titled ‘my services.’

From there I have put down who I write for to make sure I post about all of them, so let’s take Fizzy Mag.

Let’s say that I know I’ve done an article this week for them and I need to write an engaging bit of content on all my social media to promote this using relevant hashtags/links/images.

Here is my rough example for you guys, I did try to do this online at first but it looked trash and then I remembered that nothing beats pen & paper my friends.

Make this map as extensive as you need it to be so you know what you need to post about in enough detail to move forward.

Category Lists
Having a good old fashioned list can make your ideas clear and concise so you know where to place them as they pop into your head!

They are great to use either instead of a mind map or after to allow space to add more ideas, let’s carry on with myself as an example.

Along the top of your page you can write the categories that came out of your inner circle and underneath you can list everything you will need to post about for that category. 

Post It Notes
I did a post not to long ago on this called ‘How To Organize Your List.’ This involves an organisation technique that helps sort out a to-do list for your business but the same principle can be applied to this.

Give is a read and I promise it will clear your mind/list up in no time and help you to sort your ideas visually and physically.

These tools are so simple and in most cases so obvious.

But what you find is that a lot of the time you are too busy thinking of things, doing them as you go and repeating every week just to get them out of your head, you end up with that ‘tick, next job’ mentality.

Without basic planning initially your posts can end up not making any sense, look rushed because you just want it out the way and they end up being full of bland content that gives you nothing back.

You are getting out of your head and onto paper everything you need to write about with these tools, ensuring you cover as much as you can.

We will flesh it out later, for now you need to know what you actually want to post about that’s going to be relevant and useful to your blog/business.

Writer’s Block

Now we have our list and know the basic outline of your post, how are you going to bring this to life?

If you are already in the blogging/writers world then you are by default a good writer, beginner or not.

Doing this job would be impossible if you a) disliked writing and b) were terrible at it, so don’t think you can’t at any point because you totally can.

You have to apply the same energy to your social media content, treat it like your blog post/writing project.

You find this happens a lot especially when you are starting out, you focus so much of yourself into writing your blog/project and making that perfect that you end using 5 minutes ‘here or there’ to actually post on your social channels.

All this does is make for boring content that will attract no one and that’s the last thing you want your audience to think.

This is my first Tweet a mere 7 weeks ago. Now it’s not bad for a first go, there’s relevant hashtags, there’s an emoji and it’s a little bit less dull to read than some.

I do have a slight advantage in that I have done a lot of social media marketing not only for myself but for other companies too, so I am more comfortable with writing the content.

However, this didn’t have any structure, no planning and didn’t really achieve much for me – it got one like and that was from my boyfriend.

If I saw this Tweet on my feed I would be like “oh, good for you honey” and 100% scroll past it.

Why?

Well, what does it do for me? The important thing to remember with making content is it has to be engaging (like I haven’t said that enough already) but you need to figure out WHY your audience would want to engage with it.

There’s a fine line with promoting your blog post and getting engagements and just promoting your blog post.

We have to word content in such a way that makes your audience want to go, “hell yeah, one like from me” or “wow, I absolutely have something to say to that, take my comment!”

And the best option for maximum exposure, “I TOTALLY agree with that, time for a retweet!”

So how do we do that? 

Passion, research & coffee/wine/something on ice

You have to give a shit about your social media post, how can you expect anyone else too if you don’t? 

Let’s pick a topic from my list to use as an example – my latest article for Fizzy Mag is live and I want people to read it, duh.

So I ask myself:

  • What platform is this going on? Just one or all of them? Different platforms have a different tone of voice, we will get to that.
  • What do I want to achieve with this post? More views on my articles? Comments on the post?
  • How do I want it to sound? Friendly? Exciting? Intriguing?
  • What calls to action will I have? Do I need any? (answer is most likely yes)
  • What hashtags are important? Does it need them?
  • What imagery/gif will I use? Will I need any?

I know it seems like a lot to consider for what can sometimes be just a 240 character Tweet and if you’ve got to this point and thought ‘f*** this shizz, I’m out’ I would understand. 

Sometimes I struggle with the motivation too but once you’ve done this once, you’ve done it a 1000 times and I promise you, content for future posts will just come to you because you will be a fountain of knowledge!

Grab a glass, have 5 and come back to me.

Building Your Post.

It’s time to answer the above questions to build my example post.

It is going to go on all of the platforms which means we will need to word it slightly differently to each other.

What I want to achieve is more exposure to the work I can do outside of my blogging and that not only do I have article writing experience but I can also cover a range of topics.

This kind of post is important to me for potential clients, to showcase my skill set whilst also promoting brand who has given me the opportunity to write for them. When I write this post I will be tagging them in it so we have to bare that in mind also.

I want it to sound fun & intriguing, why should my audience read this? Will they learn a new fact? Will they get to check out a newly dropped clothing collab? Will it just give them something entertaining to read on their coffee break?

All these things need to be considered and can help you flesh out your content.

The call to action for this one will differ depending on the platform, ‘click the link below to find out!’ or ‘check out the link in my bio for the latest drop’ etc.

Hashtags for this are important as well, they will be for pretty much everything you post but some are more vital than others.

The link should provide me with an image and if not I will find one online (free to use of course!) on somewhere like Pexels that matches the articles content. 

Finally, the fun part!

For some people the actual writing will now come naturally but for others it still might be tough to think of something and that’s okay! This is where research comes in, we all need some inspo from time to time.

Have a look at what your competitors/fellow bloggers are doing, look at their socials, look at what is getting engagement.

Look at what’s trending, can it tie in? Look at their hashtags, are they popular? What are they posting on Facebook compared to Instagram?

Write out a few versions of your post too, don’t limit yourself as you want this to be just right.

Down to their emoji’s and tone of voice, look at what is successful for them and apply it to your situation but it goes without saying not to copy.

It is also important that when doing your research you look at what hashtags are relevant in your niche and which ones get engagement.

Each post will need different hashtags, If you re-use this guide until you’ve got it nailed you will know them off by heart!

My Latest Post Has Just DROPPED!!

Just kidding, but my latest example content is here and ready for you to take a look at! So I answered all my questions and here is what I came up with.

Take note of the differences in all three – I’ve left Instagram out because the text box is too small for an example post.

These casually get more formal as you shy away from Twitter and head into LinkedIn territory.

Twitter

Casual relaxed tone, slang, Twitter & content relevant tags, plenty of emoji’s, tag the brand.

Facebook

Still relatively casual but my audience there is a little different, so I make it a bit more formal with less hashtags (I use 2 or 3 max).

LinkedIn

Business focused – I’m not saying you have to be a complete nun but potential employers look at your profile and your professional presence here, a post like that one for Twitter will do me no favours.

Two hashtags for me is still a bit much here but we’re going with it for now and I’m still tagging the brand as they are an online publication with a LinkedIn profile, it also gives potential clients something to link back too.

Notice how my aim on LinkedIn is the same which is to get people to read the article but my approach is totally different because of my audience.

Posts like this get me engagement on LinkedIn, I am discussing this from a professional growth perspective and not just trying to get my audience (who probably won’t care much for the latest Nike drop like my Twitter followers) to view the article.

I want them to understand why it’s important for me from a business point of view to share it there. Understanding your audience on different platforms is so important for your content to work in your favour.

Time For A Quick Recap

Organising your content – A list of everything you need to post about that’s relevant to your business/blog e.g sharing fashion news or promoting your latest blog post.

Asking yourself key questions – Flesh out your content by asking important questions and using the answers as a guide. Note, these questions can vary depending on your goals but the general rules apply.

Answer the questions with your content – Give your audience what they want whilst also making sure you meet your goals for this post.

Would you like/comment/share it?

The answer better be yes!


Now time for some bad but not really so bad news…

Until you are seasoned with your insights, your schedule and who likes what, you are going to go through the motions with your content and that’s not a bad thing.

Once you have a better understanding of what gets your audience engaged you can then start to tailor your content around that data. I, like many others, have spent a lot of time posting content that gets me nothing.

Then one magical day a variation of a regular tweet I posted managed to get more engagement than others…why? It had a GIF.

And boy does Twitter loves GIFS. If you didn’t know there is whole threads dedicated to your favourite ones, it’s bloody great.

So now for this particular themed tweet every week, I make sure it has a relevant GIF and it keeps getting engagement!

This is obviously an easy difference to spot and sometimes it isn’t that obvious to see what works and what doesn’t, it really can just come down to something as simple as timing.

Where Do I Store All My Sexy New Content?

I would strongly advise that you store this information digitally once you’ve got it all figured out through your mind map/list. There are multiple ways to keep this all in one place:

  • Word Document – a classic and simple approach that will have all your text in one place.
  • Excel Spreadsheet – used a lot by companies as opposed to individuals to be able to quickly upload CSV files to bulk schedulers. I’ve seen this in its final form and it’s not pretty or fun – two things I give many shits about, but it is practical and makes bulk uploads easy.
  • Google Sheets – now we’re talking, like Excel’s fashionable younger sister, Google Sheets is what I use to keep all my content in one place.
  • Straight into the scheduler – for those with little time on their hands, this means putting content straight in to get posted on a day and time of your choice. Keeping it here means it won’t post until you arrange it to, allowing you to come back for edits. It also previews it for you, I also use this method but not for all of my social platforms.

And that’s it folks! A guide on how to create engaging social media content for beginners, but why should we stop here? I wouldn’t do such a thing!

Watch out early next week, I will be posting the second in my Social Media Content For Beginners series and showing you How To Understand & Utilize Your Insights & Analytics.

Do leave any comments below, is there anything that helped you? Should I have covered something else? Do you have any top tips? Ciao darlings!

How To Organise Your List

Mind Organisation Exercise From A Recognised Leadership Course

Taught to me by Josh

Okay guys, I’ve been so excited to share this with you because it’s honestly changed my mindset and has helped me so much in a short space of time.

I literally did this yesterday, so it’s fresh in my mind and I’m still playing around with it. Grab the sticky notes and get ready because I’m about to show you how to organise your list!

An important thing to note is something Josh told me yesterday, he can tell me many ways to help me organise myself, but it doesn’t mean they will help me learn. I am such a visual leaner so this is a great tool for me and I hope you guys can benefit from it too!

First step is to start to write your tasks/thoughts/jobs/ideas anything that you want to sort out on the notes, and get them up. Don’t think about it too much or give it any order at all, just get them out of your head and onto the wall.

That was my first issue, trying to the put them up in order because that’s naturally how I wanted it to be, but I ignored the pain and carried on.

You want to change your thought into a physical thing, to help you get away from that cycle in your brain of thinking you’ve got to do this and you’ve got to do that, then this task next and then this other task.

It’s like you are riding a bike downhill, it’s out of control but you don’t stop and think about the problem, you’re still peddling and not slowing down.

You have to keep it quite fluid in terms of what you want to get out of this process, if you plan too much ahead that defeats the purpose. We are learning how to organise your to list, but visuals are very important for getting the thought out initially, you can arrange it later, clear your mind now.


I started with my social media tasks, the scheduling of content to start. Write down the task and the time it takes, nothing else just yet, no days or anything like that.

Because I wasn’t sure how this was going to be organised eventually, I timed the tasks in terms of how long this would take me in the course of a week.

It doesn’t have to be a time either, it can be an importance ranking measurement for example, such as using the traffic light system. I know I have limited free time during the week so this was my focus, yours may be that you need to clarify in your mind what is the most important task.

To start off with it was really hard, naturally I want to write it all out in an order to actually get it out of my head so that I don’t miss anything, it had to be organised already if that makes sense. But once I was on a roll, more and more tasks just came to the front of mind and onto the paper!

I also included personal tasks such as the gym and me time, It got a little sad and ridiclous when I actually looked at the personal time in my week compared to everything for the blog/freelancing business.

That no exageration by the way I promise, I work 9-5:30 mid week and I lie in as much as possible in the morning, so I do a lot of quick morning tasks on my 40 minute commute. By the time I’ve got home I try and fit in the gym which is the one thing I won’t sacrifice at the moment, never go on holiday.

Then it’s trying to find some time for us to watch Netflix and eat dinner, but the laptop or phone is always on and in use for extra jobs that I try to squeeze into my precious evening hours.

‘See friends’ is literally if I have plans, I see my work friends everyday and me and my best friend try and catch up once a week considering we now live on the same met line. But if there’s no plans, I just cram in more of the work instead of any me time…one hour is lucky.

Because I am still figuring this business out it’s very hard to organise something you are new too. You are unsure of every single task because you are still learning them, as you can see Pinterest marketing is the newest one.

The last few months have been me just doing everything as soon as I read it so it’s done and I don’t miss out on anything. It’s exactly why I’m doing this, because I barely have time to do anything else during my average week and it starts to get tough.

So I’m halfway through the task and shock, feeling a little stressed that I might be missing things. So far, I haven’t learnt how to organise my list, just how to stress myself out a little more. I go to grab the notebook and in all honesty, start to doubt the process.

As every week is different, it’s hard when your muddled to keep it generic and you start to think of things like “if the post and social media theme for the week beginning the 13th of January 2020 isn’t on there IT WILL ALL FALL APART AND IT WILL ALL BE FOR NOTHING.

When I get pull it back ponder the wall, I start to break it down to see what I might have missed from the list. This can also help you think of tasks you might not have done before, so you can then add these on.

By this point you are ready to start the first breaking down of tasks, suddenly as if by some miracle, it just clicks and the whole process makes sense.

Once you start to organise it into groups and get into the swing of things with that, you will be on a roll and moving sticky notes back and fourth.

I decided to firstly organise it by type of task which was graphic design, website upkeep, research, analytics, social media scheduling, content writing, engagment/connecting and life.

It really did all become clear so fast and you wonder how something so bloody simple like sticky notes on a wall can also shock you into actually realising how disorganised you were before.

You should then keep breaking this down until it is in categories you are happy with. I decided to change this into days of the week, I had an idea of what days of the week certain tasks needed doing so that gave me a starting point to move around again.

Just want to add that at this point, ignore the time on my notes now as they are incorrect, no one is going to spend 2 hours on Twitter on a Thursday constantly tweeting about their latest blog post in one sitting…I hope.

Because of limited time mid week evenings I gave myself a little bit less on those days thinking that was all the time I had for it.

It was then interesting to see how much I actually was going to leave until my Friday nights & Saturdays off. Meaning I would have no life as all the big, time consuming jobs wouldn’t be spread out and I would just have to get them done that day.

My nature is to just get things out the way in one go, I am unfortunatley a rusher and in other areas of my life I have had to manage this too.

You need to make sure you are organsing tasks in a way that will benefit you and manage your work fairly to yourself, you might not think you need chill sometimes, but you do.

I knew I couldn’t do 4 hours of tasks every mid week night and still have all the big time consuming jobs every Friday & Saturday, that’s like working 2 full time jobs with no life and next to no sleep, that my friends is called burn out.

I decided to start to move things around a bit more and spread out the jobs over the course of the weekdays, cutting some tasks and moving some from Saturday to midweek.

In terms of social media, it helped putting different themed content on certain days e.g #MotivationalMonday on a Monday (obviously) to make Saturdays scheduling easier.

I played about a bit until I had a more organised weekly ‘skeleton’ schedule visually in front of me and decided it was time to get this all down in a list to make it extra clear.

If you are like me this step is super helpful, because now I have this basic list of tasks that need to be done every week for the blog/business to run, regardless of personal plans.

I made morning and evening sections, leaving space to add anything I might not have thought about. I noticed how much free space I had mid week to play about with even more in the organised list, so made sure it was fair for each day.

Unfortunately Saturdays are always going to be the biggest days for me to get jobs done, but I can 100% do more midweek than what I had been doing.

I also do want to be able to have more of a life, some people just need a little more structure and I guess I’m one of them. Obviously there are things here you need to do everyday, such as social media engagment and new blog promo on threads, so there’s a list for that too!

Sundays unless otherwise stated should be free days, these are mine and my boyfriends days to do something a bit fun (Ikea counts.) I also want to fit in more me time so I can feel like an actual human woman sometimes and not just a zombie.

I honestly really have benefitted from this task, I feel more at ease and less guilty not sitting staring at my screen all day (I work in SEO, so I literally spend my LIFE looking at a screen at the moment.)

Key things to remember!

Yes, every week will be different, I think this is why I doubted this task could help me and started to stress. Maybe Tuesday next week something could happen to change that idea or I have to be somewhere next Saturday so that fucks up all my big jobs for the week blaaaa blaaaa, STOP.

Think of this as what I called it before, a skeleton list of important tasks that are required each week for your blog/business/whatever to function.

We are learning how to organise your list so you can flesh it out as you go, so each week you will need to write a new list – a small price to pay for a clearer head! You may also work month to month (you guys give me life) and you write this every month instead.

The basics for it to function need to be in this list, because then you panic if they are not. As an example, say you NEED to publish a Facebook post every day of the week to promote your latest blog post, you don’t know what it’s going to say word for word yet but you know it NEEDS to be posted or you can’t market your work.

If anything, you now have a weekly organised list where you can add a task because you know you have the free time to do it on a certain day.

Some things that are relevant this week, might not be next week and everyone’s idea of what is most important will differ. When you flesh out our list, you can then add a theme or content and then this can be transferred to whatever you use as resources for your business.

I use Google Sheets for my content ideas and then Hootsuite to schedule some of these, so there’s a few more steps involved after this.

Now obviously, you can’t do this every week to plan your time…unless you want too lol. So keep the list so you can copy it across to the next week and pick a day to rewrite it, I find Saturdays a good reset day.

Remember, you can’t control everything but you CAN organise your list of jobs so that the important things that ARE in your control are ticked off, for everything else my dudes, you just gotta take each day.

5 Toxic Ingredients in Your Make Up

Do You Know What’s In Your Make Up Bag?

I switched to an all natural skincare routine about 3 months ago. When I did my guest post for Roccabox – My 10 Step Natural Skincare Routine, I had already done the bulk of my research into skincare at that time and had begun my work into make up.

Ingredients are essentially similar, there are a couple of exceptions such as 1,4 – Dioxane which is found in products that foam, not something you want with your make up! But for the most part, you can look for these ingredients in both your skincare and make up.

There are more ingredients to look out for than what we have in this list. These are just some of the worst and most common ingredients you will find, so make sure to read the lists on the back if you can. Another thing to add, I have tried for a while to find make up on the UK high street that has little to none of these in – it is HARD.

If you choose to read more into this you can find there are a lot of make up products/brands online that are free from a lot of nasties, but they are on the pricer side. You can argue it is 100% worth the investment but unless you making enough disposable income, for most people like me it takes time to fully transition so don’t panic if you can’t change everything across straight away.

Phenoxyethanol

Used as a preservative in cosmetics to limit bacterial growth, it is linked to high risk skin irritations including lungs, organ system toxicity & impact the nervous system. It can be found in foundations, lip gloss, concealer, lip balm & mascara and they can be especially bad for nursing mothers and infants. When looking at the label you are keeping an eye out for Phenoxyethanol, 2-Phenoxyethanol & PhE.

Retinyl Palmitate

Retinol is a chemical name of the micronutrient vitamin A, it can be very harmful when added to cosmetic products in certain forms. One of them is Retinyl Palmitate, but you are also looking for: retinol, retinyl acetate, retinyl & tretinoin. It is commonly used in foundations and is a possible carcinogen, can cause organ toxicity & changes in the body on a cellular level.

Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide is used in a variety of products and is especially dangerous in pressed and loose powders where it can be inhaled. It is designated by The International Agency for Research on Cancer as a carcinogen with possible increased chances of lung cancer upon frequent inhalation. You are either looking for the regular name or TiO2, remember to be cautious when looking for powders for blush, foundation & bronzer.

Butylated Compounds

Linked to several health concerns, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are preservatives that are linked to organ system toxicity, development toxicity & cancer. When reading the labels you can look for the names above in bold, you can find these in various make up products especially lip products.

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

These ingredients are built around fluorine and can be found in pressed powders, bronzer, blush, mascara & lip balm. On the ingredients list, you are looking for other names like Polyperfluoromethylisopropyl Ether, DEA-C8-18 Perfluoroalkylethyl Phosphate & Teflon, mouthful.

“PTFE is generated using another fluorinated compound, perfluorooctonoic acid (PFOA), which may leave residual amounts of PFOA in the final ingredient.” It is these small amounts that have been linked to cancer, mammary cancer & reproductive toxicity.

It is fair to say that yes, these ingredients can fend off bacteria and help the product perform better. But the amount of damage they can cause over a long period of exposure just doesn’t seem worth it.

Top tips for starting to go chemical free:

  1. Start by looking for products with the least amount of harmful chemicals. You will be lucky to find any with zero on the UK high street, so try for the least amount that you can to start with.
  2. When identifying chemicals, pick the lesser of two evils and look for the worst ones. Unsure where to start? Once you’ve ruled out the ones above, check out the Skin Deep Database this incredible site (and app) ranks products on different levels of cancer concern, irritation etc. The website is better for ingredients and the app for products, they cover food too!

3. Make your own! There are sooooo many online guides/tutorials on how to make your own make up products with natural ingredients! It’s the next step I want to take for a cleaner make up bag.

An Advice Piece on Managing Social Anxiety

“You Can’t Make Everyone Like You”

I guess high school was when the ball started rolling with this, although I didn’t know it was that back then. Social anxiety doesn’t always mean you are uncomfortable in social situations, I find that I am rather confident and comfortable in social situations, even meeting new people.

I am chatty, friendly and hate awkward silences, a lot of the time I don’t shut up. I’m opinionated, I always have a story and to be honest, I even have a naturally loud voice.

My weakness? The fear of not being liked. I was ALWAYS worried about people not liking me and it still gets me from time to time, it can really hold you back when you worry about how people will think of you. 

For most people, they won’t bat an eyelid if someone didn’t like them, you just move on. But for some people, it eats away at them, it bothers them so much and worries them to the point where they feel sick and panic about what they might have done to make people not like them. It may sound stupid to some, but these symptoms of social anxiety are really common and for people with personalities like mine, it can be hard to believe they even struggle. 

The NHS lists symptoms of social anxiety that include fearing criticism, always worrying about doing something embarrassing, analysing social situations after they have occurred and skin picking (also symptoms of GAD).

For this piece, I wanted to chat with someone who is doing something amazing for young people & mental health back in my hometown. I sat down with Harry, a founder of The Compassion Initiative, a non-profit mental health organisation based in Congleton, Cheshire.

Throughout our meeting, we got the chance to discuss social acceptance and anxieties and his thoughts on the process. “I think people are predisposed majorly, to want to succeed in a hierarchy…” Harry says “…where to stand in that hierarchy is where most people derive their worth from”. This is true for most people, in a basic principle of social situations, basing your worth as a person on the beliefs of someone else, or what your mind perceives that belief to be.

Harry goes on to discuss the beginnings of his anxiety, “...I suppose that I put so much pressure on myself to be that type of person…I need to be that person so other people perceive me as worthwhile…that’s when all my anxiety kicked in after that, it’s ‘cause I put too much pressure on myself”. 

As I have grown older I have started to come to terms with the symptoms, although it hasn’t been easy. A lot of these stemmed from putting too much pressure on myself to fit in socially and to be liked. For a long time I remember thinking (stupidly) that because I was always so nice to people to avoid this exact scenario that no one ever bitched about me, ever. 

When I heard people had, I used to take it to heart so much and it would really affect me. Was it something I said? Was it something I did? What did I do? Hoping and praying it wasn’t something stupid. For someone who talks as fast as I do, words can come out before I have a chance to think. This has caused me problems in the past, so I would always hope and pray it wasn’t something stupid.

The anxiety then follows. It’s the usual “oh my god, they are going to tell everyone this” or “oh my god they are going to tell everyone they don’t like me and then everyone else won’t like me” or “now I have to pretend I don’t know, are they even my friend, did they ever even like me?” It took me a long time to actually stop and just think, well, what is that person is thinking. The answer? Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. 

They have their own things to deal with, and you know what else? Not everyone is going to like you. Analyzing the social situation you were just in, isn’t going to change how it went down. Worrying about what people who just met you think of you isn’t going to change how they feel. 

I have learned, especially whilst growing up and moving towns or cities or starting new jobs or go to uni, is that you can’t please everyone. It is impossible no matter how nice you think you are being. You must understand that people will not like you simply because you are you and you have to be okay with that. 

Unless you are a horrible, nasty person (If you are, I suggest you check yourself) they will never have a reason to not like you. Now, I want this to be a bit of a tough-love kind of piece, but I also understand this isn’t easy for people to come to terms with or even want to hear. So I want to pass on some advice and you can either take it or ignore me and go back to binging Netflix (I won’t judge you.)

What you do instead of worrying about it spiraling out of control, is learn how to manage it. As you progress in life and especially in work, you can train your mind to manage these thoughts.

Remember these things:

1.

The first thing to do is put yourself in someone else’s shoes. EVERYONE is going through shit, even rich & famous people who look like they have perfect lives. We all have our own problems and struggles and we all handle these differently. Imagine, for a minute if every single person in the social situation you were just in, has gone home and had the exact same thoughts as you? ALL of them has analysed it? ALL of them are worried someone doesn’t like them? You are not alone in your struggles and you don’t need to worry about how other people view you, chances are, they are too busy worrying about themselves.

2.

Understand what you really need from people. Are you willing to burn out running around being nice to Susan from accounts when she constantly ignores you, just to soothe your anxiety? Is it not making it worse? Some people are just NOT worth your good energy. If you are a people pleaser like me, this is a tough one. It’s like you challenge yourself to win over these impossible people. Don’t, it will drain you.

3.

The most important – you will be okay. There is a big picture, you have to power through because life/work won’t stop for you and people rely on you, whether it’s family, friends or coworkers and whether you want to believe it or not, they do.

Once you start to change your mindset into a positive (and somewhat) selfish one, you can overcome your fears and just be happy being you. It’s not easy and it takes time. It takes a lot of truth bombs and I’m still working on it. My anxiety will probably never truly go away. But by managing it so that it works for me and not against me, I can overcome it and be okay in my day today.

It starts with love and self-care it took me probably up until a year ago to finally learn to love myself, no joke. If other people don’t like me that is their problem, not mine. And I feel sorry for them because I’m hilarious (obviously) and fun to be around and they will never get to enjoy being in my amazing company…not taking yourself seriously & sarcasm can help too ;).

5 Things You MUST Know Before You Au Pair In Paris…

5€ wine by the Tower anyone?

When I tell people I lived in Paris, it sounds so glamorous. Shopping on the Champs-Élysées, cocktails in the secret bars, dinner on your balcony that overlooks the Eiffel Tower…or so they think. Think shopping (if you can afford it) in Châtelet–Les Halles when the sales are on, drinking cocktails that cost 5€ for 2 on happy hour and cramped pre-drinks in your friends’ mini apartment, pretty close to the Eiffel Tower. It was some of the happiest times in my life.

How many au pairs can you fit in a box room?

I went to Paris in 2015 and it is, to this day, the most spontaneous things I have ever done. Ran off to look after children and get away from England for a little while. I was an Au Pair, who is essentially a nanny that gets paid nowhere near as well as an actual nanny out there, them gals were making bank. It was incredible, beautiful and it changed my life. Now I visit every year and have made forever friends (yes, we still all somehow meet up even 5 years later!)

But there are 100% some things I found out the hard way whilst I was there, and luckily I am going to share them with you so you don’t have to suffer, get your pen & paper hun.

Number One – Make friends before you go.

“Really? Before I get there?” Yes, really. We have this nifty thing called social media nowadays, so it makes this easier. I can’t quite remember who started it, but it was a lifesaver, having that support group of girls was amazing. You are going to a new country to LIVE there, remember this, with strangers (if you live in the family home) or on your own and having that network of girls in the same area and situation as you is so important, especially for your mental health.

This group chat was home of some crazy stories, much-needed advice, planning nights and days out so you didn’t go insane and it even helped one girl out in a VERY sticky situation. You have a tinder date? Tell the group chat girls where you are going and when you are home. Live far out of the city and haven’t interacted with anyone but children for 7 days? Message the girls and meet up for drinks. Your host family has taken a turn after you’ve said you want to live somewhere else? Let the chat know so that you don’t end up on the street (yes, this happens sometimes).

If you aren’t already in an Au Pair Facebook group, join one. Introduce yourself with something like “hey guys, I fly/travel into Paris on the (insert date here) and I just wanted to see if anyone wanted to meet for drinks?” and watch it go from there! Everyone is in the same boat here and nearly everyone is mostly super friendly.

Number Two – Research the area in which you are going to live.

By this point you have established the basics, you’ve joined an Au Pair group on Facebook, you’ve found a family that you think looks perfect, but hold your horses a minute. If you, like me at the time, have never been to Paris before, you may be a little unsure about what arrondissement is where, how close some areas are to the city centre & general navigation. Everywhere is super close to each other, right? Kind of, but also, wrong.

A lot of families live in the Parisian suburbs, still pricey but nowhere near as pricey as the city. These are places such as St Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Leu-la-Foret, Garenne Colombes & Versailles and although they are beautiful, they are 100% not as close to the city as some host families will claim they are. For my first 2 months I lived in St Germain, it was lovely and I was lucky enough to have a friend from the group chat who was close to me, so close in fact that both our host parents were best friends, so we spent a lot of time together.

Me & Izzy out and about in St Germain

But I underestimated how far out of the city I was AND how much it would cost me in travel each time I wanted to go, it’s hardly a secret that Paris is pricey. I was on 80€ a week, not including my travel, living in the house and I was MISERABLE. I would constantly tell the girls how hard it was looking after the boys, how I felt trapped in the four walls with no personal space and they all lived in the city apart from the girl near me (but she wasn’t always free).

It was costing me 10€ each way, then you want to eat or have some drinks, maybe treat yourself to some nice things and before you know it, your weekly spend is gone in one day and you’re stuck in the suburbs doing nothing but complaining on Tumblr and your precious time in Paris is passing you by.

Research the nearest metro stop, is it far from your home? How long is it going to take you to travel into the city and for how much? Is your host family going to cover your travel expenses on top of weekly pay? Check this beforehand and you will have a better idea of which location is best for you and won’t suffer in the long run.

Number Three – Compare payments with your friends/other au pairs.

It wasn’t until I was living with my first host family, that I realised I was being overworked and underpaid. My host family was nice, but the boys were DIFFICULT and I mean hard work. Remember I said my host family were friends with my friends’ host family? (try saying that 3 times fast). This meant that I found things out about previous au pairs. Many had left before me because they couldn’t handle the boys and the mum didn’t really help. They were constantly hyper and they it turns out they had behavioural problems that I was not made aware of.

I worked Saturday mornings (pretty much unheard of) 11-3pm, and every weekday evening, and I only got 80€ a week NOT including travel, again pretty much unheard of ESPECIALLY if you are living so far out of the city. Whilst all my friends were having fun on Saturday mornings & afternoons, I was trying to get a very uninterested and bad-tempered 10 year old to do his homework, it was exhausting and upsetting, I was missing out SO BAD. It was only when I told the girls the amount that they said it wasn’t right, especially for the amount of work I was doing.

St Germain, you are beautiful but too far away from my friends 😦

In the end I left and found a new family (I will cover that later). But that was stressful and potentially dangerous depending on how you go about it. Ask the others in the group, do some research online and get some opinions, I actually surprise myself now how little I researched anything before I just said “sign me up!”.

Number Four – Know your rights BEFORE you agree to anything.

This isn’t a 9-5 job, there’s (in most cases) no physical contract and you’re about to move to a different country with different laws and you might not even speak the language, families take advantage of that waaaay more often than you think. I was in a chat with 11 girls, at least 5 of us changed families within the first month or so, maybe a handful had any kind of written agreement and one nearly ended up trapped in the middle of nowhere in a dangerous situation when the host mother found out she was wanted to leave and threatened her.

Get outta there gal!

Whilst there is requirements in France for there to be an agreement, hardly any family does. Why? Money. You have to be ‘declared’ as an au pair in Paris, if you are not and you require medical treatment this will cost you a pretty penny, but most families are willing to take the risk to avoid paying the Social Taxes which cost 100’s of euros a month.

Great for them but bad for you and can lead to some serious potential problems down the road. You should be getting paid a minimum of 320€ a month AS WELL as travel (a Navigo) and in some cases, a phone. There are also different rules for attending French courses depending on if you are an EU citizen or not, I didn’t have to because I’m from the UK, my American friend did.

Don’t make the same mistake I and so many other girls make. Draw up a contract before you get out there and if the family aren’t willing to do that, you can pretty much bet they are going to take the piss further down the line.

Number Five – Most importantly, stay happy, even if it means saying no.

I can’t tell you how miserable I became after that first month in Paris, this is not how things were supposed to go. I do believe I have only been truly depressed about 3 times in my 27 years of existence, January & February of 2015 was one of them. I was struggling with the boys, I HATED having to work Saturdays whilst all my friends were having fun, I was drained because every morning was a full-on battle to get the lads ready for school whilst the mum dolled herself up (looking back, I think she was struggling too, she used to shut herself in her room and play candy crush). I always went straight back to sleep after the battle mornings and spent most days doing just that, I had no money to spend during my free time, no space (the mum didn’t work so she was ALWAYS in the house, leaving the room was pretty much a no) and I felt trapped.

I lived there, where was I going to go? I had no contract and you hear the horror stories about telling you’re family you are leaving, they could have kicked me out in the street and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it. But everyone kept telling me, you have to find something else, you have to leave because it is not worth the sadness. I was lucky and after some secret searching, I found a lovely new family and after they accepted me I told them my situation. The host dad was very supportive, he said that if after I had told my current host family I was leaving and they tried to kick me out, to call him and I could live with them early.

Me & the girls in the new host family

It took me over a week to pluck up the courage to tell them and I can’t tell you how scared I was. They didn’t kick me out, but they were NOT happy, the host dad said I needed to help them find a new au pair and said I had to stay a bit longer so that they can find someone to replace me. I didn’t sign a contract, I didn’t have to do shit but out of courtesy I tried to help them look, but I was not staying there a minute longer than I had too. I also had no sympathy in a way, the mother didn’t work so she was more than capable of being there until they found someone and looking back I think they got an au pair because they couldn’t handle their own children.

Conclusion

I had some tough times as an au pair, but once I moved into the city (I was a 15 minute walk away from the Eiffel Tower, awesome) and I made some memories there that I will cherish forever. My new host family was so great, I visit them every time I go back and it’s been nearly 5 years! But I found things out the hard way, you don’t have too!

Don’t be scared or put off by anything, 9 times out of 10 there is no issue and no problem, just make sure you have a plan and know your shit before you confirm anything, you don’t want to let a family down either!

There is a special place in my heart for Paris and I know I will live there again one day.

All of us in 2015 and below in 2018, some things never change.