Friday, April 18, 2014

Mexican Dave's Nachos

One back of Mexican Dave's Tortilla Chips
400g Beef Mince
500g Home Pride Cook in Sauce
200g Cheese
Sour Cream
I could have very easily have eaten this packet of Mexican Dave's Nachos that came in my March Degustabox on their own, they are lovely and have a wonderful salty, cheesy flavour.

But by the time I had discovered how yummy they actually were, Christine had already been to the shop to buy the ingredients to make Chilli natchos.

The method is easy peasy. Even I could do it. Actually, I kind of started to burn it so Christine had to take over. But any normal human will be able to manage it, no problem. I am a super hero in many ways, but when it comes to cooking, I've got the skills of a monkey with no thumbs. True story, bro.

Here's how to make it:
  1. Brown the mince in a pan with oil.
  2. When the juices run clear, add the chilli sauce.
  3. Simmer in the sauce using the guidelines on the jar to find your time (ours was around 20 mins).
  4. Put the tortilla chips in a baking tray.
  5. Pour the chilli over the top.
  6. Grade cheese all over.
  7. Place in oven on 180C until cheese is melted.

To get your own box for £12.99 including shipping from the Degustabox Website. The box is delivered between the 25th and 30th if each month.

I have a discount code also for £3 off: ZJX6W

How do you like to enjoy your nachos?

Thanks for all the lovely comments and retweets on yesterdays post, please read it and share it so more bloggers won't be afraid to ask to be paid for their work and more companies realise the that should be wiling to.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why you should get paid for your blog posts.


There are many out there who believe that being paid to write posts or getting free products will result in your opinion being swayed by the money or the gift in question. Or that your blog will lose it's personal touch and become more of an online magazine.

Let's be honest here for a minute - everyone likes getting paid and everyone likes getting free things. It does not have to mean that your content suffers. 

I have seen time and time again, across multiple blogs, on Twitter and on other platforms, bloggers declaring that they would never accept payment for a post, or ask for free things as they want to keep their blog a hobby and do not want their content to suffer or be diluted by adverts masked as blog posts. This opinion is fine is perfectly fine as everyone has different reasons for blogging. 

Of course, as soon as you start to exchange money or products - there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes along with it:
  • You need to be professional while communicating with PRs and brands. 
  • You need to keep to timescales. 
  • You need to keep them updated on the delivery/post progress. 
  • You need to follow through. 
Some people simply do not want that kind of responsibility, and it can be stressful trying to plan when you are going to post certain things. 

Just because you have been given something, either money or an item, does not mean you have to post a positive review. Throughout my blog, you can see examples of when I have:
  • Given a great review for free, because I loved the website or brand and wanted to share it. Example.
  • Given great reviews of a product I've been given for free, because I found the items worked well. Example.
  • Reviewed a product I liked, just because. Example
  • Given bad reviews to products I've been given as I don't recommend them. Example.
  • Given a mixed reviews of my experience with a website after getting free items. Example.
  • Joined in collaborative posts with no payment or incentive, because I thought it was good content for my blog. Example.

The question is:

Should you get paid when you are asked to write a post about a product or website?

I've recently been approached by some PRs, either through answering #PRrequest tags on Twitter, or them e-mailing me and have been asked to write a post about a new collection or write about a certain theme as part of a project that a website is doing. When I e-mailed back asking their budget, the reply is the same.

We do not have any budget for blog advertising. We have never had to pay any charges for bloggers to feature our news stories in the past.

I've noticed that it is often sold to bloggers as a great opportunity for us to feature their products on our blogs, but just think about it: It is us that do the research, us that spend time writing the posts, us that take the photos, edit the photos and do the finishing touches to then publish it to an audience that we have worked so hard in building, to then use our influence and the trust we have built to drive traffic and potential sales to their websites. For free.

How do you feel now?

Manipulated? Taken advantage of?  Used? 

I find most companies that are not willing to pay or gift bloggers physical items to review are those bigger brands. Blogger opportunities are often masked as a competition where you have to make a wish list or post a certain theme and then will be entered into a prize draw to win something, or be judged. These are not blogger opportunities. These are competitions. These are a way to get you to entice your readers to buy products. I have no issue with companies doing these types of competitions, the thing I have an issue with us companies masking them as a unique blogger opportunity! 

Why you should get paid for your blog posts:

  • You are spending your time promoting something. How valuable is your time?
  • Do not underestimate the time it takes to research, write, edit and proofread a post.
  • You are sending your traffic to a website or promoting a product.
  • You are using the trust you have built up with your audience to influence their decisions.
  • Most of these companies will spend a lot on magazine, TV, newspapers and other advertising, why should blogs be any different.
  • The person you are communicating with is probably getting paid to get you to promote something, why shouldn't you?

When you should consider not being paid for your blog posts:

  • If you are new to blogging, or do not have much experience in working with companies. Accepting posts like this for no payment is a way to build up both contacts and build a portfolio for you to show your experience in the future.
  • If you are struggling to find content for your blog, but want to be more active.
  • If it is a product or brand you truly love and endorse, or find the pitch enjoyable and just a bit of fun.
  • If it is something that will be of benefit to your readers.
  • If it is something that will help promote a charity or good cause.
  • If you are getting an item to review for free.
  • If you you get other benefits, such as your post featured on the companies website that would bring you traffic.
  • A new brand that you feel could benefit from or want to promote.
  • A new small or local brand/site you feel you want to promote.

How to bring up the money question:

There are several ways in which I've asked for payment, it can seem awkward and you might often feel uncomfortable about asking for payment. The key is to get the conversation out of the way from the start. I often get e-mails telling me all about a product or website attaching images and giving me a full history of the thing they want me to promote. Some of the ways I have brought this up have been saying things like:
  • Can I ask what your budget is for this?
  • I usually charge x amount for this type of post. 
  • Can I ask what the incentive is for me or my readers if I was to promote this on my website?

What to charge:

If you are asked what you charge, you will probably be pretty clueless regarding what this amount will be. You can either start small and then up your price with future projects, or start high but state you are willing to negotiate. My first sponsored post, I charged $10 and I had around 600 followers on Google Friend Connect and 400 on blogging. I know of bloggers that would think $10 be too low, but go with what feels right for you as you can always adjust this in the future.

The Bottom Line:

Do not be afraid to ask, everyone I have asked for payment, but been told that there is no budget, have always still wanted to go ahead and work with me if I was willing to. So if cutting ties is a fear - don't let it be. Your time is worth something, you have every right to ask to be compensated for your time and effort. There are circumstances where you may want to promote something for free, but in general, it should be a collaboration which is beneficial to both parties.

Other blogging tips that may help you:


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

10 Facts About Me

For the past month of so, I've been lucky in that I've had the opportunity to review lots of lovely things for some companies and brands. While I love doing this as it gives me something great build content around, as well as allowing me to build up a portfolio of reviews for when I want to make a career change, I've been a little concerned about losing the personal touch to my blog! So, I wanted to do a more personal post by sharing 10 things about myself to let you all get to know me a little better and see the girl behind the blog! Let's go let's go:

10 Facts About Me:
  • I was a complete accident. My mum had three boys before me and fell pregnant with me when she was 40, nine years after her last son was born. She was terrified I was going to be a boy because she always wanted a girl, but had been cursed blessed with three boys. Who were quite frankly, little shits.  
  • The story of my name is not that interesting. Corinne is the French form of 'Corinna' and it means 'maiden'. My mother did not know what to call me and didn't pick out a name before I was born. She read it in a book of names and liked it. I always hated it growing up as nobody had every heard of it before so when I made new friends or met new people, they would always look at me funny and never be able to say it properly. People always spelt it and pronounced it wrong, or called me something completely different. I used to make up 'normal' names when I went on holiday and met other children. 
  • In 2007, I lived in France for a year teaching English in a French school while I was doing my French degree. I never would have thought that I could move to a different country on my own. It was very very scary, but after doing that, I know 1) I can do anything and 2) I have no patience to work with children.
  • Everybody at work thinks I'm a lesbian and often make jokes that I have a penis. I have no idea what draws them to this conclusion. Maybe it's the long hair. Or the skirts I wear every day. Shrug. When I went to a concert a few months ago, I got asked of I was going to a lesbian convention to do a talk about life post-op. 
  • Before I started this blog in December 2012, I spent most of my free time on the xBox. Call of Duty, Skyrim, Assassins Creed, Bioshock were all favourites. I rarely play now as I'm too busy with the blog. Maybe this is where the previous fact about me comes from. 
  • I would make a terrible beauty blogger. I never wear make-up, only mascara, eyeshadow and eyeliner. I am trying to get brave with lipstick and wear BB cream on a really special occasion. I also own no Mac products. 
  • I hate my voice SO much. If could change anything about myself, it would be my stupid voice. I sound like an 8 year old boy. Sometimes my work phone does that thing were your voice echos back to you and I cannot bare to listen to it. This is why I quit doing YouTube videos and moved to blogging because I would rather stab myself in the face than edit my stupid voice.
  • I take pictures of everything. I have over 7000 photos on my phone and most them are what I have sent by text or twitter while having a conversation with people. Why write it when you can just photo it? 
  • I don't have any pets, I can barely look after myself, never mind another living thing. When I was a teenager I had a dog called Ollie. She was the cutest little thing in the world, but I was not a good pet mum. She was more my Dad's dog than mine in the end, he would take her on really long walks and she loved him the most. Weh. One Thursday evening I was waiting for my Mum to finish on the phone so I could use the internet (dial-up, ew) and I was laying on the floor of the living room. I decided to call Ollie so I could play with her, when my Mum stopped talking, looked at me and said 'Corinne, are you being serious?' and I was like 'What'. And she said 'We gave Ollie away on Sunday, have you not noticed? We thought you were just not talking to us about it'. When I complained and stropped about them giving my dog away, she said I didn't pay enough attention to her. I decided this would be an argument I would never win and waited quietly for the internet.
  • My blog is a secret to everyone apart from my housemates and 3 friends. 
Tell me a fact about you.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

August MS425 - Bluetooth Speaker Review

As you all know, I'm going to Florida in less than 5 weeks. Now is the time to start planing the things I need to take with me. I'm a huge music fan, so when I got offered the chance to review an August MS425 portable speaker, I thought it would be a great opportunity to test this out and maybe take it with me!
I've not owned any portable speakers in a long time, the last ones I got were not very loud, so I was not sure how great the quality of these would be. I hate the light, tinny sound that most phones, laptops and speakers have so was hoping this would not have a similar sound.

When I first opened the box I pulled the speaker out and noticed it does look and feel well made. I opted for pink, but there other colours you prefer something else. There's a black, silver, blue, red and green one. 
The speaker comes with two cables, a USB charger, as it has a rechargeable battery and an audio jacket so you can connect it to devices that do not have bluetooth.
It's really easy to connect, all you do is press a button on the bottom of the speaker and a blue light will flash on and off, this means it is searchable, then you search for bluetooth devices on your phone and connect to it.

You can also change the track and adjust the volume on the speaker, it also has a microphone to enable you to use it as a hands free kit.
Once it's connected, you can select any music and play it.

I've recorded two videos below, one with just my iPhone speakers on full, and the other with the August bluetooth speaker on full so you can hear for yourself.

Cheeky bit of Brimful of Asha! As you can see, the sound is much louder than the normal iPhone speakers, when I first tried it, it was so loud that the speaker was actually moving from the sound vibrations! I love the look of this little speaker, it's great quality for the price and it is 100% coming on holiday with me so Christine and I can rock out in our hotel room before going out. 

By rocking out, I mean listening to songs form the Little Mermaid and Frozen. 
Did the sound quality of these impress you? If so, click the affiliate link below and grab your own funky speaker for your jollies!

You can even get a 25% discount if you enter the following discount code at the checkout: EASTEREG 
I'd love you to tell me what colour you would pick, and if you are going on holiday this summer!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

#socialbloggers 11 - networking with other bloggers


Hello, internet friends!

I hereby present to you, the oh so mighty eleventh weekly #socialbloggers chat. Where we talk about all things to do with blogs and those of us that have involvement in them.

Saturday's topic was around the friendships and relationships you make through blogging.

I'm sure most of you would agree, that when you started your blog, you hoped to attracted some loyal readers who would come back and read about your life again and again. Something you probably would not have expected, is to meet somebody that you would talk to regularly outside of your blog. Somebody you would get to know, understand, listen to and connect with. And how easy is it to tell somebody who lives far from you, has no connections to your friends or family, those little things that you would not want to be public knowledge? It's easy. And scary. And liberating. And brilliant. And scary. 

I like to think of it like this: You live in a town. You grow up in your town. You go to the school down the road and make friends. You connect with some people better than others and they become friends. You go to high school and outgrow some friends, keep some and make a whole new bunch. This happens throughout college, university, your work life etc. 

Now, imagine if you were not confined to just those people in your town, school, or university. Imagine you had a way connect to people on a bigger scale. In their hundreds or even thousands. People who share the same interests and views of you. But you never would have had the chance to talk to them before as you would probably never have even known they existed.

This is what makes the internet so magical. If you can make a life long friend that matches and compliments you so well just in your town, imagine how many other people there are in the whole world who would just click with you if they had the chance to meet you.

Now you have that chance. Through blogging, through twitter, through hashtags. We are able to connect with people who love the same things we do, we can read about them, follow them and reach out to them.

This is what blogging is about. 

This is what the internet is about.

So let's explore another one of the wonderful positive aspects of blogging: Friendship. 

Q1: Have you made any friendships that go deeper than just followers?

Q2: Have you ever worked with other bloggers or would you like to? 

Q3: In what ways have you worked with other bloggers, what was your experience? Pros and cons?

Miss the last 10 #socialbloggers chat? Click here for the roundups. 

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Naked 3 from Cohorted


Whooooo. I finally got my hands on a Naked 3 palette. 
I was going to make a post with some swatches and some different looks using the Naked 3, but then I realised that there are a million other blog posts and YouTube videos on that, and I am sure you have seen the arms and eyes of 1000's of other bloggers modelling the Naked 3's beautiful rose, gold and brown shades. So let's not waste our time here and get to the thing you really want to know. Which is how I managed to bag a Naked 3 palatte for £18.50. See, now you're interested, right?
I got a Naked 2 palette in January 2013 and have used it around 5 times a week ever since. There is still a lot of of use left in it so I've been holding off getting the Naked 3 as I've not seen it anywhere any cheaper than £37. It's around £32 in the US so I was going to wait until May when I go on Floriday. 

I have a friend, see. Her name is India and she is the community manager for a brand new online shop called Cohorted. Launched late March, Cohorted has a very clever but simple concept. 
Say, for example, there is this dude called Edwardo (named after Anna Saconne's new baby, congrats). Well, Edwardo has 20 Naked 3 palettes and he wants to sell them. He puts them online but they don't really sell because they are the same price as everybody else's so it's hard to get noticed amongst the big shops. 

Edwardo decides that he would be willing to sell them at a cheaper price if he was to sell them in bulk. So, if he can sell 20 all at once, he would sell them at a discount. 

This is where Cohorted comes in. Edwardo sells his 20 Naked 3 palettes and is willing to drop the price 5% per sale, until the palette gets to 50% off, then it caps at this price. The control is his, he can decide to cap it at whatever percentage he likes. The more people who buy it, cheaper the price. 
Corinne comes along and sees the Naked 3 palette on Cohorted. She sees that it may get to 50% off IF the required amount is sold. It's had a few sales and is currently 20% off, so Corinne joins the Cohort, checks out and waits. If more people buy, the percentage will drop. Corinne will get the Naked 3 palette for the lowest price it sells. So, if it gets to 50%, that's what Corinne will pay, even though she checked out when it was 20%. The payment sits as pending in your paypal account, and when the Cohort closes (either when all items are sold, or when the time runs out) the final payment, which everybody pays, no matter what price the product was when they joined, will then be deducted form the account. 

The delivery time is excellent also. I've order 4 things from Cohorted and they have arrived within 2 days of the Cohort closing.

Let's see what is currently being offered:
Here you can see a little more how it works. It tells you what the current price is, what the RRP or starting price is, how much discount has been applied so far and what the maximum discount the seller is willing to sell it for. You can also share the products on social network sites to encourage others to buy it.

Christine is addicted to this too, she managed to bag the Mac Lipstick for £10.50. I lucked out and got some Clinique Clarifying Lotion at a massive discount of 61%! 
I also got the following lipstick at 20% off, unfortunately not enough people checked out so it didn't reach the full discount of 50%. That's why it's important to check out after you click 'join cohort!' 8 people joined and said they wanted it, if they had all checked out, we could have all gotten it for £2.50!

Check out Cohorted for yourself, and see what bargains you can grab. 
This is now a website I check daily to see what bargains I can get!

And if you were wondering, this was not a sponsored post, I just want you all to buy the items so I can benefit from the amazing discount also ;)

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