What kind of Instagrammer are you?

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Love it or loathe it, you can’t help but admire how far Instagram has come from its early bordered, Nashville filtered days. These days it seems to be changing so fast that it’s kind of getting hard to keep up (I get all excited when I log in and see a little “new” symbol glowing in the corner of the screen – a sure sign of addiction, eep!) – and yep, it’s harder than ever before to grow.

What is it that makes us tap that blue button, and why do we decide to stick around?  What drives us to like and – better yet – comment on posts?  The problem with answering that question is that we all get different things out of Instagram and follow very different accounts for very different reasons – and there are so many different accounts out there!

So, in an attempt to figure out an answer to that impossible question, I’ve broken those millions of users down into five different ‘Grammers.  Which one are you?

The Pornographer

We all follow a few of these. Whether it’s food, fashion, flatlays, fur babies or far flung adventures, The Pornographer‘s posts have made it to your feed because you know what you like and you like what you see *quirky eyebrows*. Aesthetically pleasing, they give good ‘Gram – with their flawless photography and clear style – and you’re probably going to hit that Like button before you’ve even scrolled down to read the Caption. Do you even need to read it? The picture was satisfying enough.

Tips for Pornographers (…huh, never thought I’d write that phrase…):

  • Pretty Pictures! Pornographers need to create content that’s easy on the eyes, so prepare to up your photography game!  I cannot rave enough about editing apps like Snapseed (VSCO’s good, but the amount of fine editing you can do with Snapseed is seriously in-cred-ible – plus, it’s completely free!), Color Story and Lightroom.  Whereas Apps like Prisma are great for creating special effects, and Apps like Hypetype, Fontmania and App for Type allow you to add text.
  • Plan Ahead. Apps like Planoly and Mosaico are gold dust for helping schedule your posts and see how they’ll look on your feed… y’know, if you’re one of those types who’s super serious about their “theme”.
  • Develop a “style” which – alright, yeah – is so much easier said than done.  A good starting point is to figure out what colours/filters you use the most, your favourite physical settings to snap, and which photos perform the best.  Apps like VSCO allow you to create editing “recipes(and Snapseed has a “last edits” feature) which help keep all your photos similarly styled.
  • Organise Inspo. Use the bookmarking feature to create mood boards and save pictures that might inspire your own future posts.

The Soul Mate

The Soul Mate is the total opposite opposite of The Pornographer. I mean sure, you were probably reeled in by that candid of them eating brunch or a snap of their cute doggo, but the truth is that at some point you made a connection with the person behind the account. They could post literally anything now because the truth is you’re scrolling to read their caption, nodding along to news about what they’re binge watching or how rubbish work was and then commenting “Same!”.

Tips for Soul Mates:

  • Connect! For Soul Mates, their following is completely dependent on building a connection with their followers, and to do that they need to remember that Instagram – at its core – is a social media app.  So go find your own Soul Mates; like, comment, message and work on building relationships within the app. 🙂
  • Micro Blogging is a great way of building a connection with your followers.  For Soul Mates, this means telling little stories of their daily lives within every caption.  The days of getting away with posting just a hashtag and an emoji are OVER.  Soul Mates should be revealing pieces of their soul in every caption and adding a call to action to get conversation (engagement) going; ask your followers a question, even if it’s as simple as, “What are you up to today?”
  • Micro Vlog. Instagram Stories is one of the best ways of allowing your followers to see the real you (or as much of it as you’re willing to let them see!).  Just as captions are a great way to Micro-Blog, Instagram Stories are great for Micro-Vlogging.  Take your followers on  one of your daily adventures – even if it’s just a trip to Tesco.
  • Bookmark your Besties. Because of the pesky Algorithim (grrr!) some of the accounts you want to be interacting with might not always pop up on your feed.  So, why not use the Bookmarking Feature to organise who you follow and easily keep up with their new posts.  Or failing that, turn on the notification feature.
  • Block the spammers.  Nifty little trick this, to stop all those spammy “Love this!1!” and “Cool! Check out my page!” comments, head into your comment settings and type those phrases into the box to block them (read more about that here).  Bye bye bots!
  • Instagram Live. Go Live; If you’re brave enough, it’s a great way of having a heart to heart with your followers or bringing your followers in on special moments or adventures with you.

The Insta-Famous

You can spot The Insta-Famous a mile off because most of their comments are just the word “Gooooooals” repeated over and over and over again, and they’ve probably got the social media badge of honour on their profile (the big blue tick!). You might not be able to relate to their lifestyle, but behind the eye roll you’d be lying if you said that you didn’t enjoy snooping in on them from time to time.

Tips for The Insta-Famous:

  • Schedule. The Insta-Famous haven’t got time to mess around on the app like they used to and so scheduling apps are their best friend.  There are so many scheduling apps out there all bragging different features – like Hootsuite, Buffer and Tailwind – so find one your like, and use it!
  • Insights and Analytics. Now that you’re in the big leagues you’re going to want to keep track of how your profile is performing.  Apps like Iconosquare allow you to get a peek into your analytics and better understand who’s following.
  • Use your links!  Once you hit 10,000 followers you can add swipe up links within your stories that can funnel followers to your blog, business page (or through an affiliate link – kerching).  Outside of stories you’re only allowed one link on your profile page – so be sure you add one!
  • Tag Brands and other Big Accounts. For a chance to blast your content out and gain even more followers (greedy, much?), don’t forget to tag brands both on the grid and within stories.
  • Hashtags are the obvious way to boost followers, but if you’re only using them on your grid, then you’re missing out.  Stories are a whole other… uh, Story.  Hashtag, tag users and brands and most importantly of all, tag your location.  Your story will appear within Location Stories, blasting it to a whole new group of users who might just click through and follow.
  • Be careful with Location settings.  It kind of goes without saying, but be safe!  Don’t ever post pictures of the front of your house, important documents, and never ever post your home’s location.

The Teacher

I’m not suggesting that we all start stalking our old Geography Teacher, but we’ve all got a teacher or two on our Instagram feeds. The Teacher has something to offer their followers other than photography. Maybe they know all the best brunch spots in your home town, or are always sharing their latest Primark steals (uh, not literally…), or know how to do winged liner without shoving the tip in your eye every damn time (teach me your ways!). You follow them for their wise words, hacks and tips and then do the homework yourself.

Tips for Teachers:

  • Videos and Tutorials. For Teachers, their followers rely on their tips, tricks and words of wisdom.  So teach!  Create video tutorials of recipes either for your grid, or within Instagram Stories.
  • Highlights. One of the best new features within the app is the ability to save your stories within an easy to navigate (and very easily organised) bar on your profile page (read more about how to do that here).  So if you do some DIY, bake something, film your makeup or come up with a cheeky hack, pin it to your profile so your followers can easily go back to it whenever they like!  If you have a blog and post a recipe, why not add a link to your Instagram profile within the post letting people know that there’s a video tutorial there if they want to see it?
  • Special Effects. Video editing apps are GOLD.  Apps like Videoshop allow you to speed up and slow down videos, trim them and add music and sound effects.  You might also want to download a screen recording app like AZ Screen Recorder which allows you to record your phone screen – handy for tutorials, eh? (…Or if you want to show your followers what you’re listening to in Spotify… that’s what I use it for 😉 )
  • Class is in Session!  Go Live!  Take your tutorials and demonstrations live!  Let your followers know what date and time you’ll be giving a live demo within a post 🙂

The Real Lifer

That old school mate who keeps posting photographs of their baby, Dave from accounting who posts photographs of every craft ale he drinks, or your Mum (MY Mum), who’s on a mission to turn all your old baby photos into digital ones (thanks Mum!). You follow them because they’re a Real Lifer; you know them off the grid and it would risk an awkward face to face conversation if you UNfollowed them… right?

Tips for Real-Lifers:

  • Privacy Please. So Real Lifers might not need or want tips on using Instagram, but if you’ve got a few Real Lifers on your follow list then you might want some tips on how to manage them!  You could set your account to private if you’re worried about who’s viewing your photos, and you can even block users that make you nervous.
  • Hide Your Stories. But what if you don’t want to get extreme?  Unfortunately, you can’t pick and choose who sees your actual Instagram posts unless you go private or block, but you can control who sees your Stories.  If you go into your story settings, you can hide them from certain followers.  So you can hide that story you posted when you were drunk from your Mum, or the stories of you living it large from your co workers who all think you’re off sick.  They’ll never know!  😉

What type of ‘Grammer are you?  Are there any I’ve missed?  Leave your Instagram links below! 🙂

 

10 Female Welsh Bloggers to Watch in 2018

10 Female Welsh Bloggers to Watch in 2018 - The Cardiff Cwtch

If there’s one thing that I bloody love about the internet (…other than Spotify, Wikipedia and my ASOS wishlist) it’s the fact that it allows you connect with so many like-minded, creative peeps you’d have otherwise probably never met.  Before I started blogging there were times where I felt incredibly lonely when it came to my own creativity; taking pictures, cooking and throwing my thoughts down was something I did completely on my own and only shared with my family and friends.  Before I started blogging I had absolutely no idea how many soul sisters there were just around the corner.  There are loads of talented Welsh Bloggers out there – waaaay too many to cram into just one blog post – but here’s a handful of my favourite online ladies as well as a few recent discoveries to get you started. 🙂

1. Rachel of “Rachel the Hat

I first came across Rachel over on Instagram. I was initially drawn in by her colourful daily outfit posts but quickly became hooked on her fun and friendly Stories updates and her down to earth personality.  She’s also got a killer blog and YouTube Channel, hosts Blogger linkups and was recently chosen by Laura Ashley as their Style Crush for December.

Suggested Posts: Not Keeping up with the Insta-Jones’ – Stopping the Constant Buying“, “Five Ways to Downsize Your Wardrobe

2. Christy of “Style Rarebit

I’m continually blown away by Christy’s daily fashion and beauty posts over on Instagram, as well as her clean and crisp looking blog.  And I can confirm that she’s just as stunning and as lovely in person as she is in her beautiful photographs 🙂

Suggested Posts: When am I going to ‘Make it’?“, “Flower Shopping

3. Gwennan of “Twenty Something Meltdown

If you’re into Bullet Journals and Stationary then you seriously need Gwennan on your blogroll.  As well as being a talented illustrator, she also blogs all things lifestyle over at Twenty Something Meltdown and was even nominated as Lifestyle Blogger of the Year at last year’s Blogosphere Awards.  You’ll LOVE her real and relatable Instagram posts.  (Also, I’m pretty sure we live right around the corner from each other – I have literally no idea how we haven’t bumped into each other down the supermarket yet)

Suggested Posts: Two Hearty Meals to Make in Winter“, “43 Things You Remember if you grew up in Wales

4. Naomi of “Teatime with Naomi

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and so lived vicariously through Naomi’s blog posts and Instagram back when she was teaching in Nagasaki.  Now she’s back in the UK and studying for an MA in Creative Writing in Bath, her cosy blog is still just as addictive with posts about feminism, mental health and writing 🙂

Suggested Posts: You Are Enough“, “Why I Just Can’t Go for a Walk

5. Lottie of “This Girl Is

Lottie’s only been blogging since October but I love her style and her Instagram is absolutely banging.  Definitely go follow her if you’re not already 🙂

Suggested Posts: Coffee Table Stylin’“, “This Girl Is

6. Annie of “Annie Bishop

I absolutely LOVE Annie’s photography over on Instagram and her style carries right on over to her blog where she writes about music (she’s freelanced writing gig and album reviews) and her travels (definitely check out her “Cities Stories” if you’re planning a Eurotrip any time soon!).

Suggested Posts: Embracing a Settled Life“, “A Beginner’s Guide to Cardiff

7. Charlee of Rose above the Thorns

Charlee recently lopped off 12 inches of her lovely long hair to give to the Little Princess Trust, raising £500 to boot, which is amazing!  Based in Swansea, she also blogs budget fashion, beauty and lifestyle over at Rose above the Thorns and also helps run the Welsh Bloggers Twitter Account (also, her pup Beau is so cute!).

Suggested Posts: “Sustainable Fashion: What is it, and how can we make it more accessible?“, “How to Feel Pretty in a World Full of ‘Perfect’ Social Media

8. Charlie of “Charlie’s Chapter

Fellow Cardiff foodie Charlie blogs all things food and lifestyle over at Charlie’s Chapter, and I love seeing snaps of what she’s recently cooked up over on her Instagram.  Definitely one to watch if fresh and healthy cooking is one of your top priorities for 2018!

Suggested Posts: Cardiff’s Top 5 Breakfast Spots“, “Meal Prep Top Tips: Charlie’s Cheats

9. Leanne of Be Your Natural Self

I first started following Leanne over on Instagram as I totally admire her no nonsense approach to fully embracing life, caring less about “perfect” and being yourself.  As well as blogging beauty and lifestyle, she also sings and supports the Alzheimer’s Society.

Suggested Posts: “Why Instagram Perpetuates my Feeble Obsession with Acceptance“, “When I’m Skinny I’ll be Hayley Williams

10. Lucy of Lucy Mary

Lucy has only been blogging for a year, but you’d never know it!  It’s clear she’s put in so much work to her lifestyle blog Lucy Mary, where she writes about everything from Wellbeing and living with Cystic Fibrosis, to Fashion and Personal Growth.

Suggested Posts: We’re all Different, but Equal“, “80 Acts of Kindness

Have a fab weekend everyone! X

Shadow Bans and Insta-Shams: Are we to Blame?

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These days you don’t have to look far to find someone complaining about Instagram (it’s even been in the news). It seems like every fifth tweet I see when I do my usual breakfast browse of the old feed is a rant about bots and shadow bans and fake birds. Between the algorithm and the recent hack that wiped thousands of accounts and caused an engagement blackout for even more, it seems tougher than ever for brands and bloggers to build a meaningful audience on an app that’s barely recogniseable from its earlier versions.

It’s true; Instagram has completely changed from the app we all fell in love with back when it first appeared. Ah, those hazy, Valencia filtered days when we only followed people we knew in real life, posted blurry snaps of our breakfasts that would appear on the feed at – yep, you guessed it – breakfast time.  The days when three hashtags was considered over-doing it, when no one had even heard of a flatlay, and Facebook hadn’t sunk it’s teeth into the app yet. They were simpler times…

Oh how things have changed! Nowadays – with an algorithm that decides exactly what we see on our feeds and when, a plague of “Love this!!” bots and the risk of being mistaken for one yourself if you’re too active – it’s easy to think that the app’s actively out to sabotage its own users. It’s so easy to blame the app when no one sees or likes your latest post, and then strop on over to Twitter to find someone to agree with you that The ‘Gram’s out to get us (…and y’know hopefully draw enough tantrum attention to bring over a few new followers in the process – yeah, I see what you’re doing there). But, the cold hard truth is that we need to shoulder some of the blame ourselves on this one.

Aside from the obviously annoying in-app changes beyond our control, we – as its users – have brought on a few changes ourselves. I mean, the way we use Instagram and what we want to get out of the app has completely changed – particularly over the last year. Instagram has become far more than just pretty pictures – after all, there are plenty of those. With feeds that are scrambled and littered with ads, we’ve become fed up of scrolling. We just want to see the content that makes us smile, and nothing else. Because of that, we’ve become a fussy bunch when it comes to following – and we seem to purge our feeds more often than we pack them with new accounts.

Think about it; when was the last time you followed someone new, and – more importantly – stuck with them?

Think of following a new account like starting a new relationship. You probably hit that follow button because you liked what you saw (I saw the complementing tones and the balance of selfies, flatlays and outfit posts on her grid and it was “like” at first sight…), but what made you stick around?

It seems like we’ve all learned that beauty is only screen deep when it comes to Instagram; these days we’re after more than just a pretty picture, we want the whole package. We follow accounts that get “real” in the captions, instead of summing up with two words and an emoji.  And we want accounts that are honest and humble instead of all those smug-face Insta-shams. A little aspiration is good for everyone, but these days – and in today’s world – we prefer to be reminded of the great things we already have in life instead of that designer life we’re lacking.

Instagram Stories has become bigger than I think anyone could have predicted and a huge reason why a lot of people stick with new accounts. We like to see real life every day moments and flashes of personality; the good, the bad and the ugly. We’re forgetting one of the main reasons why we all fell in love with Instagram in the first place, something that Stories feeds into in a huge way; we all love to snoop!

And lastly, and probably most importantly, we like accounts that talk back (and not the like for like, comment for comment accounts and pods – because that isn’t supportive nor is it genuine engagement). I’m talking about accounts that teach us something, support and inspire. Accounts that go that extra mile to make us laugh, smile and feel better about ourselves.

So, instead of moaning and getting down about the stuff we can’t change about Instagram, maybe we’d be better off putting all pent up energy into changing the things we can. Post all those random daily highs and lows on Stories, make the effort to throw positive comments around, and just have fun!

What type of accounts do you like to follow on Instagram, and what makes you stick with them (or unfollow them)? 🙂

Help! I’m too Shy to Blog!

It’s a funny old business Blogging, isn’t it?  It’s a sort of introverted way of being extrovert.  A quiet way of being loud.  A safe way of being ourselves. I think most people start blogging because they need an outlet, a way of throwing their own unique brand of personality, creativity and voice out there on their own terms. Personally, I’ve always found it a bit difficult expressing myself honestly in person (without hitting the gin first…); I’ve always been better at writing than speaking.  Those who know me well, know that when I open up I’m capable of being loud and opinionated, funny and sometimes even smart… but that’s something that takes time.  With blogging though, all the interaction happens through cables, wifi and computer screens with profile pictures and screen names, and that gives us a bit of a buffer zone; we can be as up front and as honest as want about who we are (or want to be) without fearing that dreaded face to face, real life , real time reaction.

Or at least that’s how it is to begin with, when you first start blogging.  After a while – if you’re successful (whatever that means) – you’re going to be forced to step out from behind your computer screen.  You might get invited to an event, or into a collaboration with a brand which (Eeek!) requires real life, real time interaction with actual human beings.  You might suddenly want to write a very raw, very personal blog post, or, after months and months of keeping your face out of your blog photography, you’ll suddenly feel the pressure to reveal more of yourself in a profile picture or outfit shots with yknow, your actual face.  And yes, at some point your friends and family are going to clock what you’re doing and say those dreaded words, “So hey, I found your blog…” *Gulp*

The truth is that at some point, you’ve got to actually own your blog.

For a lot of bloggers this is where things get exciting, but for some, it’s a scary kind of exciting. Suddenly, blogging isn’t an exercise in introverted extroversion (…?!) anymore, it becomes real, and the inevitable question that goes along with that is whether you can actually do it – whether you can take that next step and put yourself out there like that.

So what do you do if you feel like you’re too shy to blog?  If the thought of talking into the camera on Instagram Stories or YouTube makes you feel sick?  When you can’t quite bring yourself to send that ballsy, opinionated tweet, or publish that honest ‘I cried while writing this’ blog post.  What do you do when you’re considering ditching an event because you’re just too nervous to promote yourself, or you’re thinking of deleting every single one of those outfit shots because, ugh, awkward?

Well, the first thing to ask yourself is whether you actually want to do any of those things.  Do you want share everything with the internet? Do you want to post pictures of yourself online or share your most unpopular opinions with the world?  If the answer’s no, then don’t do it. Simple as. Don’t ever feel pressured into fitting into someone else’s idea of what blogging should be.

But, if the answer’s yes and your own insecurities are holding you back, then it’s time to get over yourself, get real and just say, “Screw it, let’s do it.” The blogs that do well are the ones written by bloggers who are human, with flaws and imperfections who – instead of being crippled by them – embrace them and put them out there in the most honest way possible.  They’re not too shy to say f*** it, this is me.

I think this probably applies to everything else in life.  You know that old mantra, Sing like no one’s listening, Party like there’s no tomorrow, and Dance like there’s no one watching.  Wellmaybe we should all   just Blog like there’s no one reading.  😉

Do you ever feel too shy to blog?  Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to post but have been too scared to?

*DIY Insta Heart Collage

I first got into photography back in University.  Only back then I didn’t call it “photography”, it was just something I did.  Taking photographs to capture moments was something that – for whatever reason – I felt was important. Long before I had a fancy DSLR and was obsessed with Instagram (it didn’t even exist back then!), I lugged around disposable cameras on drunken nights out, drunken nights in, adventures away and trips down the beach (Swansea University is literally right on the beach).  It was a point, click, fingers-crossed world where you never knew how the photographs were going to turn out until you popped down to Boots to get them developed, and then laughed at them with housemates as you stuck them up on the wall with all the others. Photographs really were – as Angela Carter once wrote – chunks of time you could hold in your hands.  Good times!  And that’s probably the last time I actually got a proper film of photographs developed.

Nowadays I’m taking more photographs than I ever have in my life – and yet they remain in digital suspense on Instagram, my blog and on Facebook.  They can be seen by the entire world and yet I only get to see them if I log in and scroll!  What happened to those walls covered in photographs? So when Printiki got in touch with me recently and asked if I’d like to try their photo printing service, I said, yes please!

You can order prints, posters and albums of your favourite grams straight to your front door in varying sizes and shapes (matte or glossy), from retro Polaroid-style photographs to the square ones I chose.  You can even add text to them in their easy to use editor.  Choosing which photographs to print was the hardest part, and once I’d ordered them they dropped onto my doormat barely three days later! 🙂  I was really impressed with the colour and quality – and you guys know how much I love colourful things!

There’s a very boring bare wall above my sofa at the moment that Sunny and I have been having arguments over what to put up there, so I took a tip from my university days and decided to brighten it up with a heart shaped collage made with my new prints!


What do you think?  ♥  Do you ever print your photographs?  What do you do with them?