31/05/2020

The 5 Best FREE Apps for Instagram.

Good morning guys, I'm back with another Instagram related post! I've been really enjoying Instagram recently and luckily my account is still growing steadily which is fantastic news as I know the algorithm can be a bit temperamental. Out of all the social media apps I think people find Instagram the hardest to grow on, whether that's creating cool inspiring content or improving their reach and followers. So today I wanted to focus on the apps that I use and some hints and tips or curating a beautiful Instagram feed.

Before we go any further be sure to follow me on Instagram!

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28/05/2020

So You've Finished University... Now What?


If you'd asked me six months ago what I would be doing after I finished at university, my answer would be very simple: I'd have a job ready and waiting for me and I'd be moving in with my boyfriend. You see, I'm the kind of person who likes to have everything clearly planned out in my head and the thought of not knowing is super daunting. When I did my gap year, I already had my place at uni sorted. When I applied for my placement year, I was one of the first to get a job sorted. And I thought finishing university would be the same. I have good grades from a good university and a year of relevant experience so I wasn't overly worried about finding an entry level role in Marketing.

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24/05/2020

How to Grow on Instagram Fast: 1000 Followers in Under 3 Months.



After three months of posting almost every day to my instagram - I finally hit 1000 followers! This feels like a massive milestone as I remember saying when I started my account that if I ever make it that far I'll consider it a success. At the time I didn't really know how long it would take or if I would even stick it out that long - I had a blog instagram a few years ago that took me AGES to grow. I posted semi regularly (approx 3 times a week) and it took me a year to hit 300 followers. However, since then I have worked as a Social Media Manager and I feel like I understand the platform a lot better from both a professional and individual sense. So today I wanted to share my top tips on how to reach your first 1000 followers AND have a high engagement rate (Mine is 9.96%).


1. Be Consistent

There is a lot of debate at the minute as to whether posting every day or a few times a week is best. In my experience the Instagram algorithm favours consistency - meaning posting daily at roughly the same time each day. 

I would suggest looking at your insights and going to the audience tab. If you scroll down a little, Instagram will show you when your audience is most active. Aim to post everyday at this point. This will give you the best chance of increasing your reach and engagement. For me this is between 6 and 9pm so I aim to post at about 6:30pm to get the most views possible. Remember: photos on Instagram have a limited lifespan so post towards the start of your audiences most active hours. 

Being consistent with your posts not only helps the algorithm, but it makes you more memorable to your audience. If you follow 800 people and post everyday, your audience is more likely to remember your face / posts than someone who only posts once a week and may get caught up in the feed.  

2. Use Instagram Stories Daily

I know that sometimes this is easier said than done. I have days when I feel like I have nothing to post about. Like literally nothing. But Instagram stories is such a fantastic tool because it shows a less 'filtered' version of the person you follow and they're a great way to make a real connection with your audience. I know that when I watch people's stories, I like to feel like I'm getting a glimpse into their real life. It makes Instagram more personal and less polished.

On stories I still try and post things that are relevant to my niche, but you can be a bit more relaxed here. If you strictly post fashion content, showing your new makeup finds or what you're having for dinner wouldn't feel out of place on your stories.

*Top Tip* Be sure to use Instagrams built in features like gifs and the temperature symbol etc. I don't have any solid evidence but my views tend to be better when I do which makes me think the algorithm prefers it.

3. Follow loops, engagement pods etc

I think everyone has their opinion on whether using follow threads and that kind of thing is worth it. On the one hand, it's a great way for a quick follow boost, on the other: is it actually going to be worth it in the long run because your followers won't be genuine 'fans' of your content. 

My opinion is that follow threats with no firm requirement to follow back (I've seen Facebook groups that kick you out of the group for not following back all 100+ people in under 15 mins) and that are relevant to your niche are no problem. It can actually be a great way to discover new accounts and build connections. 

I have a problem with them (as I said above) when they become a high pressure thing where everyone MUST follow everyone else regardless of their gender, age, content and niche. Having an extra 300 followers means nothing if they're not interested in what you post and won't engage with it. In fact all this will do is negatively impact your engagement rate. 

My recommendation would be: be careful. By all means use some of follow threads on Twitter that are targeted to your niche, but don't rely on them. You want people to find your content organically however that being said, they can be a great way to give your numbers a boost now and then. 

4. Use Twitter to Your Advantage

Twitter has the best blogger community from what I've found. Facebook is too focused on 'follow groups' and 'engagement pods' and it all seems very fake to me. No one genuinely seems to want to connect it's just a constant stream of 'follow me, I don't care who you are, I just need 10K so brands will give me more free stuff'. I doubt most of the people on these groups have genuine engaged audiences. 

But Twitter is a more friendly community for bloggers to get to know each other and ask questions and engage with people they wouldn't have previously found. Even if you don't use your Twitter to constantly tweet about your Instagram, it's a great way to meet more likeminded people and get more involved in the blogging world. 

5. Curate your Feed with Inspiring Content

This really should have come at the start because I truly believe that without an aesthetically beautiful Instagram it probably won't go that far. That might sound really blunt but Instagram is a visual platform and we are bombarded with beautiful content on the daily. If your individual photos and your feed as a whole doesn't look stylised then a possible new follower will probably just click off your profile. 

Some of the apps that I use and their purpose:

Facetune: Renowned as the retouch app, this does way more than just give the Kylie Jenner fake waist look. Personally I don't edit my body in my photos but I do use some of the amazing tools such as 'makeup' to go over background and enhance individual colours. I could literally do a whole post about this app, I think it's one of the best on the market.

Preview / Planoly: Instagram feed planning apps. Both are free and absolutely ESSENTIAL if you want your feed to look curated.

Lightroom App: General touch ups like exposure, saturation and contrast. If you use presets this is the app to have as well.

Unfold: If you want to take your stories up a notch - this is the app for you. I use the free version but there is a paid one too. 

I'm actually thinking about doing a whole post dedicated to how to achieve a seamless and attractive feed so let me know if that's something you would like to see!


So they're my main tips! Be sure to follow my Instagram as I post daily and follow back all bloggers!

If you want to see anymore posts about instagram such as a more detailed look into some of the best photo editing apps or how to achieve a curated theme, let me know and I'll be sure to write it!
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20/05/2020

How to Spend 4 Days in Iceland.




Good morning guys! So obviously with everything going on at the minute, this post is not about a recent trip but I asked on my instagram stories and you guys still really wanted to see it - so here we are: my take on how to spend four days in Iceland! A bit of back story - I booked this trip for March 2019 after my previous relationship ended as something to look forward to. At the time, I was working a high pressure job that I wasn't loving and this coupled with the fact I'd just had my heart broken, left me in a really low place for a while. So me and my best friend decided to book a holiday and after looking around at a few places, settled on Iceland. 

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10/05/2020

How to Achieve the Perfect Glowy Base.



Morning guys! Recently I feel like I've really nailed my makeup base. After years of not wearing foundation I've gotten back into it big time and I wanted to discuss some of my favourites with you. When I put on my makeup in the morning I love the glowy, lit from within look and whilst this can sometimes be synonymous with shiny, I feel like I've amalgamated a few key products that help me achieve the perfect glowy base. 

Side note - obviously we're in lockdown at the minute and I'm aware not everyone wants to wear makeup. That's fine - but for me, I feel like if I don't do my makeup and get ready for the day, I'll just end up sitting around and watching Tik Toks all day. Which, unfortunately I don't have the time to do! So I wanted to create this post to talk about some of my makeup favourites that are perfect for spring and summer.



The Foundation and Concealer

I have combination to oily skin and I hate when foundation starts to separate and go oily. That's one of the main reasons I stopped wearing it because after about two hours it just didn't look good anymore. But a couple of months ago I treated myself to the NARS Sheer Glow and applying this was like airbrushing myself. It doesn't feel overly heavy on my skin and the coverage is buildable. I haven't found this to separate too much and it lasts pretty much all day! I find that this foundation gives such a lovey, glowy undertone to your skin that really catches the light in the prettiest way possible.

My all time favourite concealer is the Collection Lasting Perfection. This is such an OG concealer I can almost feel Zoella stirring...
But it's SO cheap and the coverage is amazing. I've tried concealers by Chanel and YSL and I always go back to Collection. With concealer I would recommend getting one or two shades lighter than your foundation for an added highlight. 


The Powder

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a couple of weeks ago I treated myself to the Laura Mercier translucent powder. This was my first time using a loose powder and I was a little skeptical about whether the lack of colour would make me look pallid and washed out. But there is something about this powder that just disappears into your skin when you blend it. It doesn't completely omit the glow from the foundation, but it definitely stops you looking so shiny! I have to say I'm a massive fan of this and I may be a convert to the loose powder life.

The Highlight

Nothing satisfies me more than catching your highlight in the mirror. I absolutely LOVE the Benefit Cookie Highlighter because it's just so beautiful and shimmery. This always works so well as an eyeshadow for an allover glowy look. I would definitely recommend this highlighter - I use it every single day and I'm not even close to hitting pan which is fantastic.

Now you may notice I haven't included bronzer in these pictures. I do love bronzer - I use the Body Shop Honey Bronzer every single day but I accidentally smashed it before I went to take these photos... oops. So I'm currently in the market for a new one! Let me know if I should stick to Honey or branch out? I love a warm toned bronzer that gives the affect of the sun hitting the high points of your face.


Thanks for reading guys! I would love to know your favourite base products in the comments and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more beauty content! I'll be back on Wednesday with a new post x

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07/05/2020

Lemon Drizzle Banana Bread Recipe



Good morning guys! I posted a photo of my lemon drizzle banana bread on Instagram the other day and a few people DM'd me and asked for the recipe! So since I took a whole bunch of photos I thought I would write it up - because who isn't baking banana bread right now?! This cake is super moist and moorish - you could definitely add chocolate chips or walnuts if that's your cup of tea - but I stuck with a simple banana loaf and some super easy icing. 

Ingredients

For The Cake:

- 140g caster sugar
- 140g softened butter (I use Bertolli because it makes the cakes lighter than using actual butter!)
- 140g self raising flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 2 ripe bananas (overripe works perfectly!)

For The Icing:

- Juice of half a lemon
- Enough icing sugar to form a thick but still runny consistency. About 50g.


Method:

1) Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and smooth. I use a stand mixer but a hand whisk works just as well!

2) Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour.

3) Mix in the flour and baking powder and whisk until combined.

4) Mash the two bananas until they are smooth and 'wet'. Mix into the cake batter and give a final whisk. At this point the mixture will probably be quite wet - this is normal!

5) Transfer into a loaf tin - be sure to grease and line the base as it will make your life a lot easier later on. 

6) Cook for 40-45 minutes or until a cake prong comes out clean at 180C. If it looks like the edges of the cake are cooking but the middle is still runny - lower the temperature to 160C for the last 15 minutes. 


7) when your cake comes out of the oven, let it sit in the tin for about 10-15 minutes before taking it out to cool.

8) To make the icing, squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl and add the sugar a few table spoons at a time. Keep adding more until it is thick but still runny. Remember you can always add more, but you can't take it away!

9) When the cake is fully cooled, transfer to a serving plate and drizzle with the icing. Leave in the fridge for half an hour until the icing is set... if you can wait that long!


And that's it! Honestly this cake is so moist and delicious I would highly recommend. It's such a simple bake - perfect to do with kids - or just for yourself! Thanks for reading guys - I will be back with another post on Sunday x


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03/05/2020

Review: Pasta Evangelists: Fresh Pasta Delivered to Your Door?!


If you asked anyone what my favourite food is, I guarantee they would say pasta! And they would be right. Nothing beats a delicious bowl of fresh pasta, creamy sauces and maybe some warm garlic bread on the side. So when I discovered Pasta Evangelists I just knew it was something I had to try. Essentially, it's a delivery service similar to Eat Fresh or something along those lines. You order what you want from their menu of amazing options and they send it to your door! The idea is that you get fresh, authentic Italian pasta which takes minutes to prepare. 

With lockdown going on at the minute, my lovely boyfriend surprised me with a delivery from Pasta Evangelists, and I just had to write a post on my thoughts about it. I also this another post talking about how to treat your loved one in lockdown, so be sure to check that out to!



Dish Number 1: Porcini Mushroom & Truffle Ravioli

So literally within an hour of my package arriving I cooked the first pasta. Each order comes with a little booklet of the recipes but they're so super easy to make. For some context to make this pasta, I literally boiled some salted water, cooked the pasta for three minutes and melted the chunk of garlic butter that came with it. After mixing the two together I added the chopped hazelnuts and a whole lot of parmesan. AMAZING. 

For something that took under five minutes to make I really cannot fault this! I would definitely order this again however be warned, if you're not a massive fan of garlic, this pasta is SUPER garlicky! 


Dish Number 2: Fresh Pesto Tagliatelle



So I didn't think the second pasta could possibly top the first but oh my goodness it was incredible! Pesto pasta is such a simple pleasure in life but there is a difference between a jar of sauce with dried pasta, and a fresh homemade meal. The tagliatelle was super light and cooked in just three minutes which is AMAZING! Literally these meals are perfect if you're a lazy cook! The pesto itself was really rich in colour and flavour. Often I find homemade "restaurant" pesto can be a bit bland, but this was super flavoursome. I topped it with some of the leftover hazelnuts from the first pasta and a whole heap of parmesan.

Overall I will definitely be ordering from Pasta Evangelists again... It was so worth it!


If you're interested use my discount code for 25% off at checkout!

Use code "Lily Jamieson"





Thanks for reading and I will be back with a beauty post on Wednesday!
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