Thursday, 28 April 2016

Festival Fancy Dress with Tickled Pink and Hogsozzle 2016

Festivals are the best excuse I've found as a grown-up to dress up and this year, I'm going full throttle :) The first camping festival of the year, Hogsozzle, is 30 days away, and I've been collecting inspiration around their theme 'Childhood Dreams' over the last few weeks! I'm thinking unicorns, wings, mermaid sparkle and rainbows...I'm going to share some of my most coveted wishlist items here...links below the images where purchasable!

Sequin Leggings / Sequin Playsuit - Rosa Bloom
Feathered Cape / Embroidered Jacket- FeathersAndThreadUK on Etsy

Red Indian Make-Up - Original Source (DIY)
Unicorn Make-Up - Tumblr
Beaded Headband - Asian Wedding Ideas
Butterfly Wings - CostureroReal on Etsy

Unicorn Onesie - Tickled Pink
Flower Wings - Inspiration from here
Happy Camper Tank - Teesandtankyou on Etsy
Rainbow Maxi Skirt - Free People

Moon Phase Leggings - WhiskeyDogWares on Etsy
Starry Boots - Modcloth
Galaxy Print Shorts- Coquetry Clothing on Etsy
Body Harness - Iron Oxide on Etsy

I've just shared a sneaky look at my first-night fancy dress for Hogsozzle over on my instagram - keep an eye out as I add to my costume with some fun DIY's over the next few weeks. I'm working with Tickled Pink Fancy Dress and the Hogsozzle organisers to bring you loads more fancy dress inspiration in the run up to the festival season. Share your ideas on social media with the hashtag #festivalfancydress! I can't wait to get on the road with The Turner Brothers and start the rum-soaked, sunshiny, field-living dress-up fun :)


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Curious Yellow Weekender - Video & Line Up 2016!

The Curious Yellow Weekender is Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd July, 2016. You can read my full write-up and see photos of last years brilliant event here. This year, it's going to be even better, because along with Sweetcornbread, who I went with last year, Black Cat Magic and another local favourite that I can't wait to see perform live, Brocker - check them out on their Facebook page hereThe Turner Brothers are joining the line-up too! I'm so excited to see the boys perform this festival - it's one of my most anticipated gigs of the summer.

The organisers just released a little promotional video and they quoted me at the beginning!

Here is the full video, which gave me the biggest yearning for summer I've ever had...

The Curious Yellow 2015 "Caught On Camera" from Daniel James on Vimeo.

This year, I'm hoping to take my little boy for his first festival experience. Last year the kids had free run of the secret garden location, they played in a freshwater spring, got muddy in a shallow, swampy river and danced along with the grown-ups until bedtime. I'd love to share something like this with my video-game orientated eight year old - any advice on taking kids to festivals would be gratefully received!

I've got some great stuff planned this summer for my little blog, festivals both with the band and independently and I've joined forces with some great event organisers and festival based businesses which I can't wait to start sharing with you too - I'm determined to make 2016 the best summer ever :) If you want more information about The Curious Yellow - head to their website, where you can buy tickets and check out the full line-up.

I'd love to hear about other events like this, or team up with business and suppliers in the festival and music event industry. You can email me here.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

MuzikMeet at Haresfoot Brewery with Sweetcornbread

Thursday night, a local brewery hosted a music night with one of my favourite local bands and some other fantastic artists at their premises just outside Berkhamstead.

Sweetcornbread usually pull a bit of a crowd, and this gig wasn't an exception - there were quite a few friendly faces in the audience who often come out to support the band. I love the atmosphere of their gigs!

On top of that, it was a great venue. We made all the usual jokes about the band not being able to organise a piss-up in a brewery (and I was convinced it was going to be freezing) but the building had surprising good acoustics, there were plenty of heaters and the staff were extremely friendly and obviously had a passion for their business.

There was a well stocked bar with around ten locally brewed beers available straight from the keg and prices were reasonable. I'm not a big beer drinker, so I mostly stuck to Prosecco but the boys were loving trying out the different beers - I think it was generally decided that Sundial was the most popular but  I'd strongly suggest you pop down to one of the brewery's many events and give a bunch of them a try to find your own favourite.  There's a list of their commercially produced beers here if you fancy finding out more.

It was dark when we arrived, but the brewery is situated right on the canal - ideal for a stop off between the beautiful pubs along this stretch of the Grand Union. Follow their twitter to find out when they are open for tasting events.

I was a bit sad that we arrive slightly too late to see the first act, Harry Phillips, but we caught Hope and her beautiful voice just before Sweetcornbread took to the stage.

Don't they look fab in front of the brewing equipment? I love the fact that they look like giant drums - such a good background for the band. They are even set up on a raised concrete platform, making it ideal for showcasing local artists. I really couldn't believe how much of an excellent venue the brewery made - especially as from the outside it's a pretty generic looking low blue industrial unit.

Their set rocked - as usual. I especially liked Come Back Kid which I can't find a sample of online yet, but I'll hook this post up when I do! For now, give their session with BBC Introducing a listen here.

Then the bell for last orders came, we finished our beers, got some for the road in a giant take-home 4 pint flagon and went home to begin brewing our hangovers.

I'll be keeping an eye out for their next music event in association with Muzik Meet, as well as all the other great stuff they have lined up for summer. You can check out their list of upcoming events here.

Katy x

Friday, 1 April 2016

Hogsozzle 2015 - Looking Forward To 2016!

Last year I posted a write-up on my little blog here of the festivals I got to tag along to with The Turner Brothers. You can see all of those posts from 2015 by clicking here.

So, it's the start of Spring and I'm basically chomping at the bit to cast aside the jogging bottoms that I've worn pretty much every single day of winter and get back to rolling around a muddy field with my favourite band.

Last year the first festival we went to was Hogsozzle - and it's the first up this summer too! I didn't write about our experience last year for some reason, I have a feeling there's a draft post knocking about on my computer that never saw the light of day. This year I'm going to be documenting my weekends in much the same way, I'm hoping to discover and work with a bunch of new bands too - if I can get the courage up to actually hand out my business cards.

As I write this, the counter on the Hogsozzle website says it's 63 days, 8 hours and 2 minutes until the start of the weekend. I thought about putting a fancy countdown clock here, by the way, to indicate the actual countdown to the event, but I chickened out. Just FYI.

We arrived on the Saturday after some of the group had already been camping for a day. They had pitched a sweet spot directly under a floodlight at the entrance to the main camping area. The festival is set in three adjacent fields, one of the things making it a great festival site is the huge purpose built wooden bar overlooking the action - I really wish I'd taken a photo of it to share here, I will make sure I do this year. There were a number of other structures dotted around the site too - a wooden platform in the woods later became an impromptu venue for a dawn magic show - another real highlight of the weekend for me.

The Turner Brothers were playing at sunset on the Saturday night almost as soon as we arrived and unloaded, so I sneaked my way into the VIP area and set about introducing myself to all the extra band members that had started arriving, as well as bands that were on before and after. I wish I could remember who it was exactly that I chatted to, there was a well dressed band with Northern accents and some guys with clown costumes but their names escape me, maybe I'll get to see them again this year...

Here is one of my favourite photos of the summer...

Yes, I did wear a white fur coat to a muddy-field based event. That was probably a mistake in retrospect although it just about survived. The fancy dress theme last year was Out Of The Toybox and Into The Wild. I didn't have a huge amount of time to come up with a costume - I only found out that I had a ticket the day that we set off. I made do with a burgundy velvet playsuit (which I haven't managed to find another opportunity to wear yet - that's definitely coming out again this year) and a leopard print bra. This year, however, things are going to be different.

The fancy dress theme is Childhood Dreams and I'm pretty certain I know what I am going to go for. I've roped in a bunch of the girls that are coming along for the weekend to dress up as well - I haven't managed to convince any of the band yet but I'm working on it - and I'm going to document the process of choosing, creating and testing our fancy dress outfits here on my little blog. I'm hoping to show some DIY's that could be relevant for any number of festivals over the summer - I'm especially interested in making a feather headdress, a fancy flower crown and some fabulous, light-up wings :)

The Turner Brothers absolutely rocked their performance, in fact, hearing Sun Goes Down just as the sun set over the fields and the festival-goers was one of my highlights of the summer. You can see a video of their 2014 performance on the Hogsozzle pages here 

The whole group had a fantastic time over the weekend, from the great music, hot and intense dance tent, yummy hog roast, crazy paint fight and amazing people and atmosphere. I'm so excited for those 63 days to pass and get us all back to Sozzling the weekend away! Here are a few blurry shots of the night time shenanigans...

Some of The Turner Brothers with a person dressed as a giant inflatable penis. Out Of The Toybox and Into The Wild for sure ;-)

Follow my blog with your RSS reader, over the next few months I'll be posting the usual social media and online tips as well as starting to build up to the festival season with a series of DIY and inspirations posts as we create costumes for Hogsozzle's Childhood Dreams theme. I'll also be sharing more information about where you can see The Turner Brothers this summer, which festivals I'll be going to, as well as highlights from last year.

Katy x

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Instagram Are Changing Your Home Feed

Instagram are changing the order that you see posts. Up until today your home feed was strictly chronological, with some search options giving you the choice of Top Posts or Recent Posts.

Now Instagram have announced that they are going the route that Facebook and Twitter have gone recently. Instead of seeing images that have just been posted at the top of your feed you will see the posts that Instagram's algorithm thinks you want to see first.

This hasn't been rolled out in full yet so now is the time to start making adjustments to your posts to take maximum advantage of these changes. There's a risk for the little guy - with a lack of likes and interaction, the average user's images are going to fall to the bottom of the pile.

Here are four tips you can start implementing NOW to prepare for the changes.

1. Use Popular Tags

It sounds like a really basic suggestion, but you'd be surprised the amount of people that I work with who aren't getting any 'likes' and can't understand why - yet when I look at their account the only hashtag they have used is #omgiwasreallycoldinthispic - nobody is searching for that and nobody ever will.

Do your research and create a list of ten hashtags, perfectly formatted, in a notepad file on your phone, ready to copy and paste into every image you share. I like this website for it's up to date information on popular hashtags, but a quick Google search should give you all you need.

Supplement your copy and paste hashtags with relevant event or product tags aswell. Most events have their own hashtags and you'll find these are great for pulling in the hearts - especially ongoing events like festivals and competitions. Keep an eye out for opportunities to use popular hashtags.

2. Start A Mutual Liking Club

Enlist everyone you know in real life on Instagram to like everything you put up. I 'like' the photos of every single one of my clients whenever I see them, of the bands I work with and my real life friends. When I'm logged into a client account, I go back and like everything again with that too. This interaction between your personal network is essential to gaining Instagram followers and increasing the popularity of your posts. If you know you are getting five hearts from your real-life friends whenever you put an image up, you are automatically ahead of the person who hasn't got that behind them.

Be an excessive liker. You'll find that people who are most interactive will also be gaining lots of followers and likes themselves. People notice you when you are active on a social network - how can they notice you otherwise? Take it one step further by setting yourself a challenge to comment on three, or five, or ten pictures a day. Comments draw people to your profile to see what you are all about.

3. Post Decent Pictures

 Clear, interesting, regularly updated content is the key to success across all the social networks you can think of. Keep an eye out for interesting photos to take - take as many as you can. Buy a bigger SD card for your phone so that you never have to worry about running out of memory. Take photos everywhere you go and especially when they are relevant to your personal brand, product or image. Don't miss an opportunity! Collect images wherever you go and then look over them later. A collection of content ready to rock at your fingertips will see you through dull days and keep your account fresh and interesting. People lose interest very quickly - keep them interested by sharing a flow of content that's relevant to your style.

The start of managing your online community is all about learning what your audience want. If you get 20 hearts for a picture of your neighbour's dog and 2 for a photo of your breakfast, it's obvious what your audience wants. You can then look for opportunities to show the dog again...or eat more interesting breakfasts.

4. Be Real

I often find when talking to someone about Instagram that I'm going into specific detail about what to post and when. I always like to reiterate that there's no point in trying to be anyone other than who you are. It's much more relatable to the vast majority of Instagram's audience (150 million+) if you show who you really are. It's easier, and it means content will naturally be available to you. You can't have an instagram feed of beautiful views if you never climb any buildings. I am a strong believer that the most interesting content on Instagram offers achievable aspirations, so make your life look as interesting as you can, but make sure it's actually your life. It's way too easy to see through overly posed shots, forced revelry and cleverly angled, over-filtered selfies.

I hope some of these tips have been useful to you! It will be an interesting few weeks as the changes roll out to all users. I will be keeping a close eye on which posts the algorithm picks as most interesting to me - social media is a constant learning curve, everything can change from one day to the next, it's pretty fun to try and keep up :)


Sunday, 21 February 2016

3 LinkedIn Tips - For the LinkedIn Beginner

As I move further down the freelancing path, LinkedIn is becoming more and more valuable. I've always been on the site, but it's only the last few years that I have started to realise exactly how valuable the network that I've built can be.

How can you maximise the potential of your network of connections? There are so many answers to this question. I've compiled three of my favorite beginners tips here, but I would love to know your own tips for utilising the features of LinkedIn.

This is the very first tip I share with my recruitment clients. One of the best things about Linkedin is that it is a permanent, ever expanding contact list. For every job I've had, every email I've received from a business, every name that has crossed my path in a professional capacity, I've added them to my Linkedin network. This has three benefits. Firstly, it expands your network into different industries. It's easy to create a network of 100 people within the same industry that you work in. What's harder is expanding your reach into other industries. You never know when these contacts might become useful. You may need to put a call out for work some time in the future, you may find yourself selling a product or service that has a use outside of your own sector.

Some opportunities to add to your network:

  • Job interviews - it pays to look up who will be interviewing you anyway, to get a grasp of their standing in the company, their role and their background. Adding them to your network is a step up from this - it forges a permanent connection that could prove valuable later on down the line.
  • Customer service emails - I like to add supervisors and managers that I end up conversing with over email to my LinkedIn network as an 'in' to various industries. Dependent on the status of the persons LinkedIn account, you can't add 3rd degree or further connections without InMail. These names and contacts are valuable for expanding your reach into untapped sectors. Plus, they are quite often part of the recruitment process, and you may see them advertising jobs you otherwise wouldn't have known about.
  • Customers - whether you work for yourself or within a larger company, you will be having contact with clients in some capacity. Reach out to them on LinkedIn and you may be able to utilise them in a later role - be aware that some companies won't like this, but your LinkedIn account, so long as your company isn't paying for premium membership is your own and no company can make a claim on your contact list.

There are thousands of industry specific groups on LinkedIn. I take a few minutes each day to browse and join relevant groups. 

Don't limit yourself to groups just for your role. For example, I am a member of many Social Media groups, Marketing groups, Digital Marketing...but my client base is actually small business owners and job seeking individuals looking to create an online brand. For this reason I also look to join sole trader, start-up, job seeking and small business owner groups. 

I use these groups to advertise the posts that I make on LinkedIn Pulse - adding my links to two or three a day has increased the views on my articles three-fold. They are also a great place to browse and answer questions. Small business owners are always looking for answers to basic social media questions, I can answer these, it only takes a few seconds and I've highlighted my skill set to a potential client. This is 'the long game' as often it won't be immediate that you will see a benefit from this type of action. However making yourself as visible as possible to a relevant, engaged audience is obviously going to be beneficial in the future. Watch your profile views, connection requests and contact list rocket when you start engaging with the community in this way!

Linking your profile reminds people to look you up on LinkedIn, and there are loads of places you can do it that aren't intrusive. Here are eight places you should have your LinkedIn profile displayed...

  • Your resume - recruiters and employers can see your profile, endorsed skills and bio and may add you for later reference.
  • Bio on your website/blog
  • Facebook page
  • The end of articles or blogs
  • Instagram bio if you use it for business
  • Google+ account - you can also share your profile on this platform to a wider audience
  • Email signature - don't underestimate the power of this link!
  • Twitter bio

Easy right? You probably already have the link in many of these. Don't forget, to get the right link to share, go to your profile and you will find the sharing URL directly under your profile.

I hope this has given you the motivation to increase the power of your LinkedIn account. I plan on sharing more in-depth tips on how to utilise LinkedIn and it's features in the near future. In the mean time, feel free to add me as a connection - my profile is here.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Road To Success

When I was younger, this poster was hung in my house. It got taken down and probably thrown away when my parents moved, I spent a number of years trying to recall exactly what it said...

It's pretty intense, so many ways to end up in Failure River, only a few tiny stick figures reaching success. 

The poster was originally printed in 1913 for the National Cash Register company, one of the first examples of a 'motivational poster'. I definitely prefer this to a generic picture of some balancing rocks, a sunset or a snow-capped mountain - I hope you like it too.