Saturday, June 24, 2017

I bet you're thinking; it's easy, just choose a photo, whack a filter on and share it. Ha. Unfortunately it's no longer that simple (and if that works for you then you're a natural). If I'm wanting to build my followers and keep them attracted to my feed, there's much more to consider. And this is where I'm going to help you, by giving a mini guide on the stages to creating a beautiful Instagram feed.
Now, I know I'm no expert by faaaar and I'm not insta famous or have a large following, and I'm not aiming for either of those (obviously it's a nice feeling to think people are enjoying your feed and want to see more). I do all this faffing around just to share beautiful photos, my travelling photography and also (often) use it as a way to drive traffic to my blog.

I started regularly using and uploading on this account at the end of March this year, so only a few months which has boosted my follower stats by 300+ (but as I said, I'm not too bothered about that aspect). I do have another personal account but I have almost completely neglected that one. I put all my focus and energy into this one and try to post daily (although I'm currently going through a dry patch, uploading a few times a week).

There are 3 main factors to consider when thinking of posting a photo, which will ultimately affect the popularity of the post:
1. Photo quality
2. Caption and hashtags
3. Time of posting

Photo Quality 
To build your followers and attract people towards your photos over others you need to maintain good quality photos. People generally tend to show more attention towards better quality photos, regardless of what they were taken on. Even if this means editing the hell out of them, you can change a bad looking photo into a work of art. I always use my Nikon to take my photos on, but, having said that, I know so many people who rely on their phones and create beautiful photos of just as great quality. Sadly, it's either my phones age (iPhone 6) or just my lack of creativity with it, but I cannot get any good photos out of my phone, it just never works out the way I want it, how do people do it?!
For editing I use Snapseed which has everything I really need for my Instagram photos. Amongst Snapseed, VSCO, Facetune, Afterlight and Photo Editor by Aviary are all great alternatives to the Instagram filters and allow you to go PRO with your photo skills.

Caption and Hashtags 
Even though I am terrible with captions at the moment (I will get better hopefully), here are a few options on how to write a catch caption:
 - Tell your followers what you've been up to that day, end it with a question to get a conversation going
 - Mention a story behind the photo, get people's attention more
 - What products are you using in the photo?
 - Make a pun (I love a good pun), whether it's cheesy or not
 - Say it how it is (where the photo was taken, what the photo is of, how you took the photo)
 - Add in a quote relating to the photo (who doesn't love a good quote?)
Obviously don't think too much into this as it's just a caption but there are some captions which get more noticed than others, for example just telling us what you've been up to lately, or a funny story.
Hashtags are also vital if you want your photo to go beyond just your followers. Ever since upping my hashtag quantity, I've been getting so many more people out there finding my Instagram just from one simple hashtag. Now it is more difficult these days after the silly hashtag banning (I've been banned from many already) but there's lots out there to use and you can just change it around (for example, I used #traveltheworld and then changed it to #worldtravel). A little tip to save you rewriting hashtags all the time: make a note of different hashtags in certain categories such as Lifestyle, Travel, Beauty etc.

Time of Posting 
This can be a real game changer to how many people see your photo, who see's your photo, and how popular it becomes. Posting at midnight isn't exactly going to do too well but then you can consider different time zones too. Morning and early evening times seem to suit people best because most people will check Instagrams before the day starts and they head to work, and early evening is perfect as people are starting to finish work, get back home and relax a little. If you are unsure what times to post, there are a few apps out there which post your photos automatically on a time they think is the most popular on that day which is very handy and it means you don't have to worry about forgetting to post the photo.

So what is my routine to posting a photo on Instagram?
1. Firstly I choose what photo I want. At the moment my Instagram is mainly travel related and I will start to posting some Lifestyle photos in there in a few weeks time. I get these photos from all my travels in the past year, from America to my South East Asia travels. I do mix it up so there won't be two photos from the same place posted one after the other.
2. I edit the photo in Snapseed using the same filter I always do (find my Instagram editing step-y-step guide here).
3. Opening up Instagram, I upload the photo onto the app and add the ludwig filter, and occasionally adjust some of the settings beyond that depending on the lighting, contrast, saturation and sharpness.
4. I save the photo into my drafts just incase I lose it or the app decides to suddenly shut down on me, as it likes to do that once in a while. One thing which helps me out if I ever want to upload but don't have a recent one to post, I keep at least 20 images in my drafts all edited and ready to post there and then (it seriously helps having them there).
5. Once I'm happy with what photo I want to post, I go to edit the caption, think of a caption (which could take a good while), add appropriate hashtags to the caption and once I'm happy I share it.
Sometimes I do have to delete the post and post it again if a hashtag ban happens, annoying right? So make sure this doesn't happen to you if you've used the same hashtag a few times before. 

Tips that help me out a lot: 
- The app Preview. If you're all about the look of your Instagram, you shouldn't think twice about getting this app. It allows you to upload all the pictures you're wanting to post to Instagram in the future and re-arrange them in a way which looks best. It is a copy of your Instagram profile, just not public. It's free and extremely useful, what are you waiting for?
- Editing images and saving into my Instagram drafts is extremely useful. If I find myself not having posted in a few days or a week, I will always have a photo saved in there to post at that moment in time.
- Saving grouped hashtags in your notes for certain categories for future posts. This is a time saver and also just saves effort from writing them all down again, just copy and paste them.
- Occasionally tagging related pages for more views or possible re-posts.
- I always share my posts to my Twitter.

Things I want to improve on: 
- Creating a variety of posts instead of just travel related.
- Making more effort with my captions. I love reading captions which tell viewers about their day and include the audience into the conversation by asking questions etc.
- Interacting with my followers more. Something I always struggle to find time to do, I think being in a different time zone really affects that (I promise I'll get better when I get back to the UK!)
- Bringing my blog into my posts more and allowing people to find my blog from a different platform other than just Twitter.

What are your tips to creating a nice Instagram feed?

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

There are many things about summer which make me 100x happier than when it's winter...the sun is one of them. My mood escalates, early mornings are easier, everything just seems to be an easier task. I think the summer in the UK is underrated and thought of negatively. It isn't so hot that we burn ourselves everyday, dread going out and doing activities for the day, it's never so cold that we don't enjoy going outside and have to layer up if we's just right.

Summery drinks
Let's be honest, a summer in the UK wouldn't be complete without a nice glass of Pimms, or as some of us call it Pimms o'clock. On a warm summers evening a Pimms always fits in perfectly, and it's so tasty and refreshing, a nice way to cool you down on a hot day. My mum makes the best Pimms, although occasionally a little too strong for my liking, haha.

BBQ evenings
One of my favourite parts about summer is having a deliciously cooked BBQ in the garden. BBQ food is the B E S T and I always get so hyped up when we decide the weather is good enough to have one for dinner. I just love the concoctions and the different foods. Also, my dad whacks out his chef skills and makes amazing BBQs. AH I CAN'T WAIT!

Family day outs
With the glorious summer weather we often get, it opts for an adventurous day out with the family; a day filled with sunshine, new places and your family? Yes please. Whether this is a walk along the canal, or an escape to the city of Bath (because Bath looks 100% more appealing in the summer). Obviously these days usually happen on the weekends because everyone's at work during the week but if my sister and I have a day off, we'll sometimes choose to venture out for the day.

Beer gardens
Even if it's not to indulge into a pint of beer (because I personally hate beer), the atmosphere and long, warm evenings make it so worth it. An evening spent with your favourite people, just chilling out and enjoying a few drinks is a great one. There is such a wide range of choice around county is a pub heaven.

Positive moods all round
There's something about the change of season to Summer which improves the attitudes of people. Everyone comes out happier, the streets get busier, sunglasses and hats being worn and positive vibes are all around. I genuinely can't wait to indulge in a BBQ, crack open the Pimms, spend quality time with my family and catch up with all my friends.

What are your favourite things about summer?

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Here are my personal tips and advice when you are looking into choosing hostels to stay in. Most of them I have learnt during my experiences and I have shared them to help prevent you from making the same mistakes. 
Hostels are such a good choice for travels, not only because they are so much cheaper but they can offer more than you would think, they're a popular choice amongst travellers, and just very sociable and friendly environments.

Where to look:
There are so many websites out there providing all the accommodation in the specific place you are looking into. I tend to stick to the following two: 
  • - You can't go wrong with this site. It gives you beyond the detail that you really need, including places around the accommodation, specific ratings, reviews from other travellers and pictures to get an idea of what the hostel looks like. For the past few places I have travelled to, I transferred to from Hostel World, mainly because they give a wider range of accommodation, not just hostels, it seems a little more trustworthy and a lot of places you can cancel your booking for free before a certain date. Also, it gives you really useful travel guides to destinations. When you book through them 5 times, they have this reward called the Genius Reward which gives you 10% off your next booking and other travel perks. 
  • Hostel world - Ever looking for hostels specifically? This is the website you need, providing hundreds ands thousands of hostels across the world, as well as a few hostels and B&B's. I have used this website plenty of times in my past and nothing has ever gone majorly wrong, and when it has they have managed to solve it without any hassling. Each hostel is given an average ranking created from reviews and personal ranks from other travellers, reading the reviews is crucial! 
This is regarding my preference and what I tend to look for/think about when choosing a hostel.
  • Location - I like to know if the accommodation is close to the centre of the town, near amenities, easy to get to from the airport/bus station/train station etc. I tend to use google maps to help navigate myself around the area.
  • Ranking - I always choose hostels which are ranked 8+ and have plenty of reviews so the ranking is reliable. 
  • Best Valued - Obviously the cheaper the hostel, the better so you have more money to spend on other activities on your travels. Think of it this way, you're only using this place to sleep in, that's it. I'd rather spend little on accommodation and more on adventures. It's the adventures you will remember, not the accommodation. 
  • Facilities - Do they provide plenty of showers, wifi, breakfast, lockers, towels? Showers is quite important for me...for example, there was one hostel I was looking into in Ubud and it had one room with about 20 beds in it all sharing ONE bathroom between them (meaning one toilet, one shower and one sink), think about what a nightmare that would be! Also lockers are quite useful to have; although I trust hostels, having that little extra security makes you less worried about your belongings disappearing or being stolen. 

Top tips:
Here are a few things to help you and I've learnt from personal experience. 
  • Read reviews. This is so important to any hostel/hotel/bed and breakfast/villa that you are looking into. Other people's opinions on their stays can help you out an awful lot. The detail given by the hostel can sound like the perfect place and then be critiqued massively by reviewers due to certain aspects of the accommodation, which the hostel may have avoided to mention. I will never book accommodation without reading at least 10 reviews. 
  • Check any individual prices. Sometimes they can catch you out and charge you extra for using certain services like a hair dryer or to borrow towels. Check the details thoroughly or email them with any enquiries you have, they always seem to be very responsive. 
  • BED BUG WARNING?! This has happened twice now, luckily not to me, but to other friends or people staying at the hostel I've been in. The warnings were hidden in the reviews but clearly I missed them. Read through the reviews thoroughly to make sure the hostel is free of bed bugs. They are not nice and you don't want to have an interrupted night's sleep with these biting you and crawling through and into your belongings. If you ever have this problem, let the hostel know as they should change your bed, and may possibly give you a refund (my friend got all her money back after finding bed bugs in Japan!)
  • Blog posts to help you. There's thousands of travellers out there blogging about the hostels they have stayed at so use these to help you make your decision and get a thorough review. 
  • Choose popular/sociable hostels - Unless you are wanting a quiet or completely solo trip, I'd advise you to choose the more popular and social hostels in the area. You're more likely to meet and bond with fellow travellers, be given advice or recommendations to places you should visit, and join forces with other people on tours or days out. 
  • Reach out to friends/other travellers for recommendations - If you have friends or other travellers which have been to the place before, they must have some tips or suggestions on the locations you should avoid or stay at. 
So these are a few tips I'm hoping will help you make firm choices in your hostels on your travels. I wish I had been given some of these tips when I found myself picking my first hostel, but hopefully this will help you out a little and make the most out of your hostel experience. 

What are your priories when looking at hostels?

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

A few weeks ago I made a post on things I was happy about with my blog at the time. It's always nice to take time to appreciate the things you love about the blogging life. So here's what I love about blogging:

1. The blogging community is growing everyday

2. Create the content YOU want
3. No pressure put on you
4. Discovering other blogs with a similar style as yours
5. There are no limits to blogging
6. The excitement of having endless opportunities on your door-step
7. Helping and supporting others
8. Creating and putting extra time into beautiful photography
9. You learn so many different skills through blogging
10. Ideas of having events, courses, talks, general meet-ups

What do you love about blogging?

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Friday, June 16, 2017

About a month ago, I introduced a new series on my blog, my first series actually, which is all about travelling and different aspects of it. Because I have a huge passion to travelling, I was very eager to make a start on this series. It's been a long time coming, but the second post is here and it's all about...


Ever since I moved across the world to Taiwan in my Childhood, I have had a strong appreciation for the way different countries make a living. And I wanted to start seeing this happen in person. In Taiwan, we lived on a mountain which exposed me to nature, beautiful sceneries of the city and a different way of life compared to my one back in the UK. Obviously, I was very young at this point so I didn't really understand what travelling was, but as I started growing up and seeing videos/photographs and hearing other people talk about places they've been to, people they've met and experiences they've encountered, it's allowed me to really have a deep understanding to how travel can expand your personality. The things I love most about travelling is the personality that comes out in me, becomes exposed to scenes which you didn't think existed, just embraces the life these people are living, and be lucky enough to witness it all right in front of your eyes. I have always been an enthusiastic person but travelling makes me incredibly energetic and more passionate about exploring the world we live in. 

Charlotte - Tickets and Travels
"Travelling and exploring make me feel free like nothing else. There’s so much to be said for visiting somewhere completely new and immersing yourself in everything it has to offer; the new sights, smells, sounds and more often than not, food! One of the main things I love about travelling is how you look at your own home in a new light once you return and how it opens your mind to new ideas and ways of thinking. There’s no better way to learn about a different culture than to go and experience it for yourself. I love finding local gems and stunning views too, seeing them in a picture is never the same as standing right in front of them."
You can follow Charlotte on
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Christopher - Travelingmitch
"What I love about travelling is actually quite simple - the unknown. Perhaps it's strange, but in many cases, some of my favourite parts of trips are actually while I'm in transit to a destination, and I spend time visualizing what it might be like, or what I might do there. I can vividly recall being on long train rides with the sun streaking through the windows and an unbreakable smile on my face simply because I don't know quite where I'm headed, but I know that it's where I need to be going. I love the idea that I'll be able to imbue a blank space on the map with meaning and understanding, as if I'm shedding off layers of ignorance. I can't recall ever getting somewhere and wishing I'd gone somewhere else, to be honest, as I see value in converting the unknown to the known, and developing empathy for a town, city, province, or nation that merely was an idea for me before I arrived."  
You can follow Christopher on
"What do I love about traveling? Here we go! So many awesome things come to mind! Meeting new people, exploring new places and new cultures, experiencing the world through other peoples eyes, exploring new and exciting places, partying, enjoying life instead of sitting in a 9 to 5 box all day, living life on my terms and values. Travel means everything to me, and I'm on a mission to inspire others to travel too! Travel really should be experienced by everyone - get our of your local town or city, explore the world and see what life really should be like - trust me, it really will change the way your view the world! Your reality will change!"
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Rose - Mrs A To B
""Travel - the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer." This is one of my favourite quotes and it couldn't speak truer for my love of exploring the world. The entire process of travelling from planning and packing to independently navigating new continents and cultures enriches every aspect of who you are. You will experience things that are beyond your wildest dreams – hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, paragliding over Rio and eating a tarantula’s leg are just a very few of mine – and make memories and friends that last a lifetime. It is honestly the best investment you will ever make."
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"I love traveling for a number of reasons, but meeting locals is by far my favourite part of traveling. There's nothing like experiencing a new place and culture through a local's eyes - plus, you get the opportunity to better understand the intricacies and layers of a place. It's common for travelers to have preconceived ideas about a certain destination, but I often find that places surprise me (in a good way). This is why I encourage people to meet locals on the road - so they can shatter their misconceptions and really travel deeper."
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Sarah - Endless Distances 
"I love so many things about traveling that it is hard to pick one. Living as an expat, I often feel like my whole life is "travel." I get excited and feel like a tourist when I'm walking to work or taking the train or if I turn a corner and a housefront looks particularly "quaint" and British. So I love that slow aspect of travel when your whole life is infused by it. But I also love jetting off to foreign countries on shorter trips... the rush of streets I'm unfamiliar with and languages I'm trying to piece together, and of course food I've never tasted! But if I have to pick one thing between all those types of travel it's probably people. I'm very grateful for the people I've met from all over the world, that I never would have known but far traveling. I've crashed on couches in Norway, Girona, Cuenca, all across the UK, and in return offered my home to many others! It's so valuable to see others' perspectives and ways of life, to share views and traditions and stories. So, even as an introvert, I definitely have to say people are what I love most about traveling!"
You can follow Sarah on
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Don't forget to get involved! If you have any post ideas you want us to include, please let me know :)

Want to have a read of the other posts in this series? Here's what we have for you so far...
What do YOU love about travelling?

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Whenever I find myself in a bad mood, there are certain things that will instantly boost the mood. Some may give you some ideas for what you could do if you ever find yourself in a bad mood.

Listen to music
I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that music can change your mood quite instantly. Getting up, signing your heart out and having a little boogie can really boost that feeling, it does for me anyway. A few favourite artists of mine: Queen Bey (obvs), Oasis, Sia, Jack Garrett, The Weeknd (a bit of a range but I like all music types).

Do something productive 
Whether it's learning something new or fixing up a DIY project, being productive can be a good distraction and get yourself focusing on other things. I love searching the internet for new things I can learn or create, Pinterest is the best for these sort of things. Occasionally, I will start to learn a new piano piece, but only if I have enough patience (because it's a long process normally).

Going out and socialising with friends or family, or even just messaging them can help get rid of your bad mood. I find talking to my friends about some old memories or remembering the funniest of times can get a good laughter out of me.

Exploring new places
Just a change of setting or an adventure in a new place you're yet to discover. I love going out, exploring and finding new and beautiful places that happen to have been sitting on your doorstep all along. I love stealing my Nans dog for a few hours and taking him on a scenic route for a walk.

Watching my favourite movie 
Putting on your favourite movie is always a good move, especially if it's a happy or funny film. Just relax and get cosy on the sofa, and watch one of favourites or a good series perhaps. I always find that Friends immediately puts me in a good mood; one of Chandler's jokes, Joey's stupidity, or Phoebe's's just a great series!

Who doesn't love a good road trip? I live in the countryside so you can drive for miles with views of just the fields, hills and nature. Banging out to my best tunes and just enjoying what's around me is a great way to boost my mood.

Reminiscing through old photos 
Something which you'll often find me doing is going through old photos of my childhood, past holidays, or maybe just a memorable day I've had before. Nothing makes me more happy that looking through photos reminding me of my childhood.

How do you escape a bad mood?

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