Tuesday, December 31, 2019

19 cool things that happened in 2019!

What a year 2019 was eh?  I feel like it went by so quickly with each month flying by faster than the month before and while I'm going to end the year on a positive note and chat about the highs, please know that there were plenty of lows too!  I'll save those for another day!  I love doing these posts every year and this will be the fifth year I've done them, so in no particular order, here are 19 cool things that happened in 2019!

1. I came 2nd in Image Business of Beauty Awards!

This was mad because I was up against some whopper competition and I genuinely wasn't expecting to place at all as I'm the absolute geriatric of the blogging world.  The Image BOB awards is always one of my favourite nights out because it's great craic, so many of my pals go and I get to play dress up!  I bought this dress on Simply Be and loved how floaty and comfy it was and I only had to tan from the shoulders down.  RESULT!

2. I did a talk for Fuschia on social media bits!

Back in October, I did a talk for some Fuschia stockists on how to utilise social media for sales and brand awareness and this was so far outside of my comfort zone, but is something I'm so passionate about and could talk about for ages.  I only got to chat for 40 minutes and tried my best to give as much value to everyone as possible, but we barely touched on what I wanted to get across, so I'll need to do more of them in 2020 and pass on my knowledge!

3. I made some new friends and had gas time with older pals!

I often wonder if I wasn't doing something like this, would it be hard to make friends.  I'm jammy enough to get to go to events and meet new people online and then offline, and the shenanigans of 2019 helped me meet new pals and solidify friendships.  I met one of my good pals Lisa McGowan (you might know her better as Lisa's Lust List) through Instagram and we chat almost every day, and I've been friends with Carly Colgan-Bates (from Live Lavishly) for ages now!  A few months ago when I was going through a bad patch and wasn't sure if I was going to be able to continue blogging, both of these gals gave me whopper advice which was like turning a lightbulb on for me and I don't think they'll ever know how grateful I am to them.  It's gals like those two who make the internet a deadly place for me.  I've so many other friends that have brought loads of joy into my life this year that we could be here for the day!

4. I was a guest on some whopper podcasts

I think 2019 was the year I discovered the world of podcasts and got stuck into them so much.  I learned loads from ones on working for yourself, on working in the beauty industry and in social media.  Not for a second did I think I'd actually be on any, but in 2019, the Irish podcast industry really stepped up a gear and I was a guest on two episodes of Aisling's podcast, Private Education.  I don't talk about my private life or sex online, so this was a huge step for me.  I was completely out of my comfort zone doing them, but I tried something new, and how else am I going to get better at something?  I chatted with Esther O'Moore Donohue about life after leaving my job and going freelance and waffled about all things beauty with Vicki and Valerie on Stellar Magazine's Podcast The Glow Up.  And my final podcast of the year was a big long chat with one of my good pals Orla McConnon on her recently launched Adulting With Friends. Keep up the deadly work gals!

5. I did an Image event with McCauley Pharmacy!

Now while public speaking still gives me pains in my stomach with the fear and anxiety, this is the first one I did that I had no fear, no anxiety, no pains, nada and that's because I was doing it with my pal Aisling Keenan!  She played a blinder as the MC and we had the absolute chats about all things beauty in McCauley Pharmacy in Carlow and it was one of my favourite jobs ever!  More of those please!

6. I abseiled down the side of Croke Park!

This was so much craic!  My lovely friend Vivi from L'Occitane asked if I wanted to do the abseil in aid of Sight Savers and it was always going to be a yes.  It was for an amazing cause and it turns out, I'm not afraid of heights!  And typing this out just reminded me I have Go-Pro footage of the day that I need to find and watch and I know 95% of it will be of Catherine's face as I kept going to her "is the Go Pro on?"

7. I went backstage at Christmas FM!

In the office, we listen to Christmas FM every day in December and when they asked if I wanted to come in and see where it all happens, it was the quickest YES ever!  I brought my festive loving pal Kim with me too as I knew she'd be just as excited as me and we had a ball!  That's also for an amazing cause and this year they teamed up with Barretstown and I can't wait to see how much they raised this year.

8. I went to London Fashion Week!

I.  Went.  To.  London.  Fashion.  Week.  ME?  I went with CND and got to go backstage at two shows to see what the nail trends were and lads, I absolutely loved it!  It was mayhem, I was completely 100% not cool enough to be there and yet I was in my element!

9. I went back to Provence!

Joanne and I brought Mam to Provence in July as her birthday/Mother's Day present and her bestie Geraldine came too.  We used Aix en Provence as our base and then each day we headed out on a day trip to a village and lavender fields.  I just love that part of France so much and somehow I need to make it happen that I go again this year, even if it's by myself.  I went the previous year with Catherine and fell in love with it, knowing I'd be back at some point.  And it was while I was wandering through the gardens of the L'Occitane Hotel while Mam and Geraldine were getting their facials that I had one of those pinch me moments.  How lucky was I to go to France twice, to be in the peaceful countryside.  I'll be back France!

10. I went on some whopper press trips

I turned down a few press trips that weren't a right fit for me, but got to go on some truly gorgeous ones this year.  I went to Finn Lough with ELF Cosmetics and shared a bubble dome with my pal Jen Morris, one of the funniest people on the planet.

I galavanted across the country to the Ice House Hotel in Mayo who had become a Yon-Ka spa and had much needed laughs and down time there.  I was in the middle of a bout of really intense anxiety around that time, so spent the drive down doing breathing exercises which helped loads.

To celebrate the launch of the reformulated Ormedic range from Image skincare, we headed down to Monart Spa and again, had laughs and a gorgeous treatment with some of my Image favourites.

I also went to London and then Bath with L'Occitane to learn all about the Plastic Odyssey initiative which was just incredible and I know when I'm in London next, I'll be visiting the Regent Street branch and probably moving in.

11.  I had a lovely Christmas with the family!

Usually it's just me, Mam and Joanne for Christmas, but this year we had Claire, Stephen and Matthew over which was so much fun!  Seeing Christmas through Matthew's eyes was lovely and we got to play with him loads and have all the chats.  We never got our photo in front of the Christmas tree, but that's next year's job!

12. I hit 50k on Instagram & got verified!
Pure vanity metrics, but a nice milestone to reach and also, I don't know what the benefits are of being verified, other than being called a little blue tick.

13. I did some whopper collabs!

I loved each and every collaboration I did this year and poured my guts into them.  I was so aware that the last few months were quite spon con heavy, but it's just the way this industry works, it's all busy and then quiet for months.  I turned down the ones that weren't a good fit for me and got to be super creative.  And hopefully that will continue into 2020 gals.

14. I rearranged my office!

I took a notion to move things around in the office as it was getting a bit claustrophobic, and while it's grand, I'll be giving it a full makeover in 2020.  And gals, I'm saying it now, my main resolution for the new year is to keep the office tidy for more than 24 hours at a time ok?!  I've been pinning ideas on my Pinterest board with things I want to do to it next year, but I'm happy I changed it up!

15. I invested in a new camera!

This was badly needed for me and I love nothing more than investing in new equipment.  I still love my Olympus Pen, but wanted something that was crisper and clearer for filming, so bought the Canon 80D body and next year I'll be investing in new lenses.  And a new tripod.

16. I realised stuff!

I won't go into this loads, but in the words of Kylie Jenner, 2019 was the year of just realising stuff.  For me personally, professionally, with friendships, with my career, I learned so much about what I want and what I don't want.  I made it a goal of 2019 to be offline a bit more because it was taking over everything, and in doing that, I got the mental clarity I needed.  So now I just have to put all of those realisations into action in 2020!

17. I hit 9 years of blogging!

I don't know how I'm still doing it, but 9 years later, and Lovely Girlie Bits is still going strong!  I feel like the blog needs to make a comeback, I need to up my Instagram game, I need to get cracking on YouTube and there are like 5 other things I want to do that still involve everything that Lovely Girlie Bits is about.  Thank you so much for the support gals, you've no idea how much I appreciate each and every one of you!

18. I did some deadly flatlay shoots!

I got to live my dream a few times this year and was a director/stylist (not even sure if they're the right words) for a few flatlay shoots for brands we look after in The Publicity Loft.  I loved every step from the planning, the mood board, the prop lists, the shopping, the preparation, the shoot, seeing the photos afterwards and I want to do more of them in 2020.  I like to think I've a good eye and know what makes a photo work and with my new tripod, I want to do them for myself too!

19. I survived another year of being self employed!

Barely!  2019 aged me so much with the stress and worry of when I'd be paid for work.  Being a freelancer might sound cushy, and it has its benefits, but chasing up on invoices had my heart broke.  I learned so much again, and in February, that will mark 2 years being self employed!  I have so many plans and ideas I want to make happen over the next 12 months, so I need to get cracking now.

Thank you to everyone who interacts with my posts, who sends emails, DMs, leaves lovely comments.  Your interaction and support is why I'm able to do this and why I had a deadly year.  I hope you all have a happy new year and lets get stuck into 2020 shall we?!


Monday, November 18, 2019

Image Skincare & Yon-Ka Christmas gift sets

In the words of Joey Tribbiani, Christmas is a time for giving and receiving as well as having and sharing.  Now he wasn't talking about skincare, but the sentiment still stands, am I right?

Skincare sets are always a good idea when it comes to Christmas for a few reasons.

1. You can get away with treating yourself to a whole set at once, and it seems a bit more justifiable to do it that way as opposed to buying each product separately.  Is that just me?  Like you're technically only buying one item... Am I reaching here?!

2. Sets are usually much better value compared to buying the separate products.

3. If you're new to a skincare brand, this is a way of trialling out a few new products at once.

4. 'Tis the season to treat your face, fa la la la la, la la la laaaaaaa.

5. You'll always be a winner buying skincare for someone for Christmas, especially if they wouldn't usually treat themselves.

Image Skincare and Yon-Ka have some gorgeous sets out this year and kindly gave me one each to show you.  And with the exception of one product, I've used the rest of the bits and love them.

The Image Skincare Renewing Ritual Collection has three full sized products in it and two minis.  Inside the fierce luxurious box (which I'm already thinking about how to repurpose), there's the Max Stem Cell Facial Cleanser (I've not tried this yet but am a massive fan of the Max Stem Cell Creme, so have high hopes for it), along with an Image Skincare Ageless Total Pure Hyaluronic Filler which plumps and hydrates the skin and a Vital C Hydrating Facial Cream, one of my favourites from Image.  So there's your cleanser, serum and moisturiser, and you get a mini I Mask Firming Transformation Mask and an Iluma Intense Brightening Serum.  The set is €139 and you save €58.50 buying the products like this in the set.

Image Skincare have a range of sets available this year and they've launched two new ones last week, so keep an eye on their social media for more information.  Image skincare, sure you can't go wrong with it.

Next up we have Yon-Ka Hydration Gift Set.  Their Hydra range is one of my all time favourites and I regularly reach for the Hydra No1 mask and cream during the colder months as they're like a hug for my face.  The Hydration Set retails at €57.50 and inside you get a full sized Hydra No1 Creme which is €51 itself.  It's a lightweight yet powerful cream for those of us who have dehydrated, dry or sensitive skin.  Along with that, you get a 15ml of the Hydra No1 Masque, which is essentially a drink of water for the skin and I love layering this on at night before bed and let it work its magic.  There's also a 30ml Lait Nettoyant, one of the most gorgeously scented cleansers you'll ever try and can be used on the eyes, lips and face.  And all of these are housed in a white vanity case.  I'm telling you, I'll be hard pressed to keep this from Mam as she's a big fan of wash bags, vanity cases, makeup bags, you name it!

Again, Yon-Ka have outdone themselves this year with the Christmas gifting which can be bought online or in your local Yon-Ka salon.  And don't even get me started on the candles.  They are incredible and are such a luxurious treat and no matter how much you try to ration them, you're going to want to burn them!

Will you be treating yourself this Christmas?


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

7 face masks that are not just for Halloween!

Those of a certain vintage will remember dressing up for Halloween back in the day.  And when I say dressing up, I mean wearing a black sack as your outfit and one of those plastic face masks that made your face sweat loads and you always had to stick your tongue through the small opening for a laugh, only to cut yourself.  Ah good times.  While I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween, I'm fond of wearing a face mask all year long and these ones are not just for the spooky season!  I've picked out just some of my favourite masks that I reach for when my skin needs a little extra somethin' somethin', so let's get cracking shall we!

This is one of Image Skincare's new launches from earlier this year and is said to help the skin's ability to resist stress.  Well when I tell you with the amount of stress I've had recently, I've been lashing it on like a good thing in the hopes it will help said stress!  While helping with the stressy bits, it also helps brighten the skin and increases skin's firmness and tone - something I'm conscious of as I hurtle towards my next birthday.  It's blue, it helps tighten my skin and it's deadly!

I love this mask for a few reasons, the one being that it's the absolute craic using it! You can watch it in action on my Instagram where I filmed using it for the first time while simultaneously ruining an Ariana Grande Song.  It has an iron based formula along with ingredients including carrot seed oil, vitamins E, C and Argan oil and when it dries, the magnetic spatula is used to remove it which is so satisfying!  It leaves a light film on the skin which I love as masks like this can tend to dry out the skin.  Not so with this.  So.  Much.  Fun!

PS... Naturals Overnight Sleep Mask - €2.50

This is part of Primark Beauty/Penneys' Vegan Society accredited Naturals range and was the first product of the bunch that I tried out.  I love an overnight mask and this one contains organic coconut water and Kakadu plums.  I like to apply a thin layer all over the skin, let it absorb and then hit the hay.  While this leaves my skin feeling super smooth, it's a bit too heavily scented for me, but you might like it.  I think with the resealable top, it makes for a great mask to bring away if you're travelling!

Again, this is a handy one for travelling, especially if you've been on a plane and need to give your skin a moisture boost.  And it contains Vitamin B3, otherwise known as Niacinamide which helps both brighten and hydrate the skin.   I find it so hard to peel back the lids of these tubs and end up having to slice my way in, making a grand mess.  I'd love if the tubs were resealable because for me and my mush, there was a bit too much product in it for one use, and if I wanted to multi mask, I'd be left with way too much.  But this is great at giving my skin some much needed hydration station across the nation.

This is another one of Image's new launches this year and is a mask I reach for when my skin feels like it needs a good clear out.  You know when you've been wearing loads of makeup and your skin feels congested and scaldy?  A layer of this helps to clear out my pores, helps even out my skin texture and balances the flora in the skin too.  You have to be looking out for your flora don't ya know!

I have been known to overload my skin with product, only to have it screaming out for some TLC and that's where the Soothing Mask from L'Occitane comes in.  I always sound like Louis Walsh when describing this because it looks like a yogurt, it smells like a yogurt and it's fun Simon, it's fun!  I digress, but this legit looks, feels and smells like you're applying a berry yogurt to the face and that's thanks to the fact that it contains blackcurrants.  This instantly cools down, calms and soothes my skin when it's angry and I have to fight with myself not to eat it... I haven't.. Yet..  This is a gorgeous mask if you've been mean to your skin and it needs some loving.

When I want to feel like I'm in a spa, when in fact I'm sitting at home in my fleece, the Yon-Ka Masque 105 is the one I reach for.  It smells incredible and it contains three kinds of clay that help purify the skin, tighten pores and brighten the skin too.  I love that despite feeling that it really does tighten my massive pores on either side of my nose, it doesn't leave my skin feeling stripped or tight. If Yon-Ka brought out a perfume with this scent, I'd be all over that!

And thus ends today's post where I waffle about some of my favourite face masks!  Thanks for reading!


Monday, October 7, 2019

PS... Beauty My Perfect Colour shade extension, review, before & after photos

I've had a few hit and miss experiences when it comes to PS... Beauty, or Primark Beauty, or Penneys Beauty, but let me say that their foundations are among the best I've tried (and I've tried a lot, both budget and high end).

They've relaunched the My Perfect Colour range recently and along with adding extra shades, they've  a grand total of 180 products in the collection now, including the new addition, the PS... My Perfect Colour Ultra Longwear Concealer.

I went to the relaunch event recently, got colour matched and have been getting stuck into some of the products since.  Paula Callan did my makeup on the day and after chatting about my skin type and what kind of finish I prefer, we decided to try the PS... My Perfect Colour Matte Foundation and gals, I'm in proper love.  I'll talk to you about the oil-free formula and the matte finish that this gives in a second, but can we take a moment for the fact that this is €4.  I'm not missing another number from that price.  It's four quid.  And it's far outperforming some of my higher end bases.

I have an oily t-zone and normal cheeks and this sits beautifully across my whole mush.  I've used my usual buffing brushes and makeup sponges to apply it and both ways gives a flawless yet natural looking finish to the skin.  I got matched to the shade Nude 05 and I'd say I could've gone a shade lighter, but once I bring it down my neck, it's all good.

It has a yellow undertone to it which I like in a foundation because it cancels out any redness, as you can see below and the big red nose on me in the before photo.  This foundation is absolutely beautiful on and it dries to a matte finish but still gives a subtle radiance too.  It does a stellar job of keeping oil production at bay thanks to the silica and I barely have to touch it up during the day.  It feels really lightweight, it doesn't look cakey and I'm fully into this gals.

On the day, Paula used a couple of other products on me that I'll go into at a later stage, but I wanted to show you the PS... My Perfect Colour Foundation Pressed Powder in the shade Chestnut.  It's a measly €2.50 and Paula used this as a bronzer on the day, so I wanted to show it to you as well because it's not something I'd have thought of picking up myself.  I'd have just picked it up in my regular shade and I probably will anyway to give it a go, but if you're on the hunt for a budget friendly bronzer/contour that can be used on the eyes too, look no further.

A little goes a long way with this shade so when applying it as a bronzer, make sure to use a nice big fluffy brush so that it doesn't deposit too much colour in one place.  And the same goes for when applying it to the eyes.  A fluffy brush can be used to both blend and pack the colour on and it works so well on both the face and eyes.

I was going to say if you're on a budget and want to try out some makeup, but stopped myself because even if you're not on a budget, you should definitely check these out.  They've got a whole range of foundations to suit different skin types, with different textures too and the most expensive product is €6.  As we all say, "Sure where would you be going?!"

The My Perfect Colour range is available in Penneys now, so you know what to do!

Check out my IGTV below to see some of the products in action and let me know if you pick any up!

View this post on Instagram

@primark.beauty have relaunched their My Perfect Colour range and they’ve only gone and added some new shades and some new products too, making a total of 180 products in the whole collection. I got colour matched at their event recently and fell in love with the products that @paula_callan_makeup used on my face that day, so I decided to try and recreate what she did. I tried Paula, I really did! See the foundation? That’s the PS… My Perfect Colour Matte Foundation and it’s only €4 but I love it over some of my higher end foundations. The finish is gorgeous and it stays put all day. And because I was feeling fancy with the video, I actually used concealer (I rarely do because I’m fierce lazy) but the Ultra Longwear Concealer is nice and lightweight and while it says it gives full coverage, I’d say it’s more on the medium side and it doesn’t dry out the under eye area thanks to the Hyaluronic Acid. I set the concealer with the Luminous Glow Light Reflecting Setting Powder which is really finely milled and a little stunner of a powder. And because I wanted to use all of the products given to me on the day of the event, I went in with a layer of the Loose Mineral Powder. I’m not usually a fan of loose mineral powders as foundations, but I’ll give this a go on its own and report back. But as far as a setting powder on a foundation that doesn’t actually need setting, it’s gorgeous and left me looking airbrushed. On the day of the event, Paula used the Foundation Pressed Powder in shade Chestnut to contour and that’s what I did today too and it makes for a great eyeshadow too. I wanted to complete the face so used this blush from @essence_ireland which is a lovely dusky pink that’s buildable and really wearable. As for the highlight, the formula is lovely but the shade just isn’t for me. It’s too cool toned and I prefer a less blue and more champagne highlight. But you might love it! Thanks for watching! #lovelygirliebits #lovelygirliebits1minutevideo #lovelygirliebitsigtv #budgetbeauty #primarkbeauty #myperfectcolour
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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

L'Oreal Bambi Eye False Lash Mascara review, before & after photos

L'Oreal, how do you keep doing it?  How are you able to keep bringing out deadly mascaras that tick all of my boxes and make me want to not bother trying anything new for ages.

I present to you the L’Oreal Bambi Eye False Lash mascara aka one of my favourite budget mascaras of 2019 so far.  With its plastic bristles that help coat every lash, the formula is perfect, not too dry and not too wet, it's juuuuuust right.

When it comes to mascaras, because I've tried so many over the years, I can usually tell after the first use if I'm going to love it or not.  I get impatient if the formula is too wet and needs to dry out a bit over a couple of weeks, and thankfully that wasn't the case with Bambi Eye.  One coat is all I've been needing to use on days where I'm not wearing eyeshadow, because any more than that, and the thickness and oomph it gives can look a bit stark on me.

Behold the obligatory one eye with mascara and one eye without!  I love the thickness and volume that Bambi Eye gives along with the lift and curl and despite packing my lashes full of product, it doesn't weigh them down and I haven't had any issues with flaking or smudging either.

A freshly dipped wand can apply too much for my bottom lashes, especially if I've no shadow on, so I tend to go wild on the upper lashes and then whatever's left on the brush does onto the lower lashes for a softer look.  Now on days where I'm going all out with shadows and liners, I pack on a good two coats for maximum effect!

The before & after photo below shows just one coat and I'm obsessed!

The L'Oreal Bambi Eye False Lash Mascara is out now and at the time of this post going live, it's €14.99 on Boots and there's a special offer on L'Oreal makeup there too!


Monday, September 30, 2019

9 years of Lovely Girlie Bits!

This time 9 years ago, I bit the bullet and googled "how to start a blog", not knowing for a second that it would change my whole life!  And while the blog has taken a back seat thanks to Instagram and YouTube, I'll never stop blogging.  I might do it less frequently, but I love this little corner of the internet and it's so nice having a place where nearly 2000 posts sit and where I can see the evolution of my photography!

I'm by no means a blogging pro, or claim to know it all, but I do have a bit of insight for anyone thinking about starting a blog, or a social media account (even if you're doing that, get a blog, people can google that, they can't google Instagram).  So as has been my tradition for a few years now, but I've kept it to blogging, here are 9 things I've learned in 9 years of blogging/social media aka, 9 years of Lovely Girlie Bits!  PS please ignore the fact that I've posted all of these photos of my mush, pure notions after 9 years on the internet!

1.  Evolution is key.

There are so many accounts on Instagram now with so many doing the same thing, that it's important to try and stand out, or make it your own as Simon Cowell would say.  Don't be afraid to change it up a bit and experiment with stories, videos, IGTV, grid posts on Instagram and on the blog, try different types of posts to see what works and what doesn't.  I get bored posting the same things day in day out, and I get bored watching the same things day in day out too.  So try something new, see what happens and if you're not feeling it, that's ok, at least you tried.  I'm going to be trying something new in October, something that I started in October last year but never got around to finishing.  But I'm going to give it a go and see if there's a place for it here in Lovely Girlie Bits, so stay tuned for that.

2. Listen to your guts.

Much like your hips, your guts don't lie and if a brand approaches you for a collaboration and it doesn't feel right, as nice as the bit of cash would be, listen to your guts.  Your audience is smart and they can smell it a mile away if they think you've just taken the job for a few bob.  My gut (or guts, I like to say guts) is also a great warning sign for those who mightn't have the best agenda for me and I've rarely been wrong about people, so do yourself a favour, look after your guts, listen to your guts and love your guts because they have your best interests at heart.

3.  Mind your mind.

I think since becoming a freelancer last year, my mental health has taken a few hits, but as I've a long history with my mental health, I know the signs and I know what I have to do to look after myself.  I've had to take social media detoxes, I've had to take proper breaks away from everything and I've had to mute people on Instagram.  And the thing is, it's not about them, they're fab and they're doing their bits.  It's about me and how I feel after watching them and my mental health is more important than feeling like I need to watch them to appear supportive.  I always encourage people to watch those who make them feel good, who give them a laugh or who inspire or motivate them and while it seems like everyone and their granny has an Instagram account,  it's even more important to look after yourself because your phone doesn't lie these days, telling you how long you've been online, so make it a positive experience.

4. Say yes to things and say no to things.

This comes back to the guts thing again and I know I've made the right decision if I've said yes to something scary but fab because the nervous stomach starts.  If I've made a mistake and said yes to something that my guts don't agree with, I get that dread, that fear, that "How am I going to get out of this?" feeling, totally not the same as the nervous stomach!  Stepping outside of our comfort zone is where the magic happens, so say yes to things.  I've said yes to something you'll see happening next week and the nervous stomach is real gals, not able....

And to go alongside that, say no to things that don't feed your soul, that you know you're going to regret and if you don't know it, your guts most definitely will.  I remember hearing this on a podcast earlier this year and it's stuck.  If you find it hard to say no to things, think of it as saying yes to something else.  So you might be saying no to going to an event, but you're saying yes to having a cosy night in that's exactly what you've been craving.  Saying no to meeting someone who wants to pick your brains means saying yes to getting some of your own work done.  Try it!

5. Downtime is vital.

I've learned this so many times over the years and yet I still have a couple of times each year where I burn out and have nothing in the tank.  Trying to create a work/life balance in this industry when you work for yourself is difficult, but it's one I'm determined to crack.  Because of Instagram, so many of us are accessible 24/7 and so boundaries need to be put in place.  It's OK if you don't reply to DMs as soon as they come in, or if you haven't quite finished a blog post because you can't get back in the flow.   I've learned how to take time away from the internet and not feel guilty about it but I tell ya, it's taken many years for that to happen!  This post should've gone live last week, but as I was having "annual leave", I was super strict and said to myself that it could wait.  I went through a phase of listening to Gary Vee last year and he was all about working every hour of every day and sleeping for 5 minutes and I got caught up in that.  I ended up being so exhausted that my productivity went downhill, my panic and guilt spiked because I wasn't getting "enough" done, and it was taking me ages to actually finish anything.  This is something I'm actively working on all the time, but I'm getting there.

6. Never stop learning.

Right now I'm learning how to work my camera settings properly (I don't think I'll ever fully get to grips with them!) because I want to learn new techniques.  I can take a mean product shot for Instagram, but I want to learn how to take photos of people and then I'll move on to landscapes.  I'm taking a couple of courses on Skillshare on how to edit photos and I'm working on a new project too, trying to learn how it all works.  I love playing with new apps to see how I can incorporate them into my content or the content for the social accounts I look after.  And that keeps things interesting for me.  If I was to do what I've always done, there'd be no Youtube channel, no one minute videos, no experimenting with photographs.  So stick on a podcast and try something new this weekend!

7. Invest in your craft and in yourself.

I'm not saying you need the fanciest equipment or need to spend a fortune on tech, but there's a lot to be said for a bit of a google.  Take advantage of all of the free knowledge that's already out there.  I wanted to learn a video technique a few months ago, and searched on YouTube for the answer, watching it, pausing it at the points where I needed to do it myself and I did it!  I download at least 10 apps a week to test out and then delete the ones I don't think I'll get any use out of before buying the ones I think are useful.  Get yourself some new props or backdrops for your blog photos, or get some lighting or a new tripod.  Invest in a new blog template or commission someone to create a new logo for you.  Right now, I've got a new camera lens on my wish list along with a different type of tripod that I think would make life easier for me.  I love getting new tech!

8. Surround yourself with those who push you and who inspire you.

Recently I helped my pal Jen out with a collaboration she was doing and we spent half the day experimenting with filming, taking photos, making our vision a reality and I absolutely loved it.  She said she needed me for an hour and a half and yet 4.5 hours later and we were still doing our bits, but it was deadly!  I love watching people on Instagram or Youtube who are being productive and getting their stuff done and it inspires me to get off my bum and get my own stuff done.  When I have my wobbles and bouts of self doubt, I have a gang of women who have my back, who see when I'm struggling (I'm a hoor at asking for help), and who know just the right things to say to me to help me feel better.  One of my favourite things is to sit down with a blogging pal and have a brainstorming session together.  We always come away feeling inspired and ready to try something new!

9. Enjoy it!

There are parts of freelancing I don't enjoy, but they're far outweighed by the positives.  It's so easy to take it all seriously and obsess about numbers and analytics, but that can take the craic out of it, and it's only blogging and in my niche, it's only makeup.  If you're not enjoying something, try something new, or head to Pinterest and find inspiration there.   Find people who share your passion, don't take it too seriously, stay away from those pages, you know the ones I mean, and enjoy building your little corner of the internet!

Thanks to everyone who's come along for the ride here at Lovely Girlie Bits!  You're the best!

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