Continuing on my post from last week where I wrote about how Instagram is changing the way we communicate, this week I decided to tell you a bit more about reaching out to fellow influencers. Be it to collaborate, travel or just meet for coffee, there is so much we could learn from one another. Being part of a creative community and being able to reach out and talk to anyone is one of my favourite things about social media.

I didn’t think this would be a topic of interest until a few people (mostly friends) reached out to me to ask how would they go about collaborating with another blogger/influencer or even simply getting in touch to ask a question. The prospect of contacting a complete stranger on Instagram can be a bit nerve wracking at first. But with the right attitude and a positive approach, you would be surprised with the result!

If you watched our live with Phoebe last week, you already know that we met on Instagram in November last year and went on spontaneous trip to Italy together in December. It was one of the best travel experiences I ever had and would honestly do it over and over again without a single doubt. The biggest question probably troubling you right now is how do you know if you can trust a stranger enough to go travelling with them. First of all, I wouldn’t do it with anyone! I always make sure I have a connection with that person and also trust my gut feeling as it rarely lies to me. As soon as I started talking to Phoebe, we clicked straight away and had so much in common. I knew meeting her would be a positive experience.

“Too cool” to reach out

I spoke to Phoebe after our live session to ask her for some thoughts on the topics we discussed. She said to me the biggest challenge for a lot of people on Instagram is that they feel “too cool” to reach out or complement on others. The truth is, Instagram is a platform where everyone can be cool in their own way and that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I actually think that reaching out to people is way cooler than just existing in your own bubble. There’s nothing wrong in saying “Hey, I really like your Instagram feed and think your aesthetic is really cool.” You would be amazed at the amount of positive vibes that will come back your way.

Don’t get discouraged

Of course, just like in real life, people can be the opposite too. Don’t expect every single person to be as open, because people are different. Sometimes you reach out to a stranger in the coffee shop and tell them something funny. Some people will start a conversation, while others are simply not interested and look away. The good thing about Instagram is you’re not looking at the person directly, so the chances of feeling awkward are much lower. Don’t get discouraged if people don’t reciprocate the love. Chances are 8 out of 10 people will and you’ll feel amazing after. Both for being brave and for receiving some feedback on your work.

Ask for feedback

Actually, asking for feedback can be a great conversation starter! If you want to do that, I’d suggest using a DM rather than commenting on the person’s picture. The first one is a lot more personal and doesn’t feel like you’re just asking that person for a favour without even knowing them. I’m more likely to engage in a conversation with someone who messages me directly and I usually try to do my best to reply. Sometimes those turn into long conversations which later turn into a coffee meet up.

Join a Facebook group for bloggers and creatives

If you’re shy to reach out to people directly, here is another great idea. Join a Facebook group or a community where bloggers and creatives share their experience, discuss topics of interest and exchange ideas. An example of this could be Creative Gal Gang. Girls in the group would often say “Is anyone free for coffee and pics this Saturday” and if you are then perfect – you just got yourself an Instagram date! If not you can always ask for the person’s IG and arrange for a meet up in the future because you already know they’re open to that.

Help each other grow

At the end of the day, Instagram is not a competition and nobody loses by helping the other person grow. I love how this platform is cultivating a culture of sharing and discussing ideas with your peers and encouraging others to pursue their interests and passion. To interact and engage is at the core of social media platforms and not utilising this opportunity would be a real shame. Whatever your question or idea is, there is someone out there who would be more than happy to discuss it with you. All you have to do it reach out.

Michelle x

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I’ve not written a post on my blog for a while and I was preparing for an Instagram live session yesterday when I realised how much I missed writing and how much I enjoy sharing my insights and being part of a discussion. Instagram is a great place to establish your aesthetic and connect with people but a blog adds a completely different dimension. If Instagram was the picture, then the blog would be a nice frame to put it in.

If you didn’t get a chance to catch our live (we were having technical issues with the connection so you didn’t miss much) Phoebe and I were discussing how Instagram is changing the way we communicate and interact with each other. Thinking about it now, I’ve met more people through Instagram in the last 6 months than I did for my 3 years at university. Has our generation become comfortable with meeting people through this platform? Did we move away from meeting people the traditional way?

I did a poll on Instagram asking people if they met someone on the platform and became really good friends after and the majority of votes (58%) were for ABSOLUTELY. I always thought that Instagram is one of the best things that happened to our generation because there’s no more boundaries and you could meet people halfway across the world and become friends. It removes distances between cities, countries and continents and all of a sudden we’re all part of the same community regardless of where we are in the world.

Another great thing about Instagram is finding people with similar interests and a similar vision to yours. You can tell right away by looking at someone’s feed if they’re “your type” of person. Which leads me to another topic I wanted to discuss at the live yesterday but thanks to technology and bad connection we didn’t get this far. The Social Media Factor – How big a part does Instagram play in shaping your opinion about others? Do you get a certain vibe about people just by reading their captions and looking at the images they post?

I can certainly say I do. And my opinion has been right most of the time with a few exceptions here and there. In that case, can we say that Instagram has become an extension of our individuality? Is it too bad that we would overlook someone’s skills and knowledge just because they don’t “market themselves” correctly on Instagram? Because let’s be honest here, there must have been a time when you met a person, exchanged Instagrams and you were disappointed to see their feed wasn’t that great and the last time they posted something was Christmas. Or the joy of having to request to follow someone because their profile is on private *eye roll*

And the last thing I wanted to mention and I feel like this is probably the most important. How do we make ourselves stand out on Instagram? I’ve been reading so much about copying others on social media lately and Sophie Milner wrote a great post on Instagram’s copycat culture. You can read it here.

Taking inspiration from someone is one thing but trying to copy their content is on a completely different level. I had a very interesting conversation with a lady from an Influencer Marketing agency last week and when she asked me what my favourite influencers were, I gave her a few names. She then said “What is it that you like about all these people?” And then it struck me. What all these people have in common is the same thing that makes them stand out. It’s called PERSONALITY. Being you is something nobody can replicate and if you have to make sure you inject your personality into your content as much as you can. Because at the end of the day, this is what people will relate to, and this is what’s going to keep them coming back again and again.

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First of all let me start with a little disclaimer. I’m by no means an Instagram caption EXPERT, so if you’re here for the professional stuff, I just wanted to tell you earlier on that this post is meant to be a little humorous rather than your  tidy little guide. Also, any resemblance to reality in this post is purely coincidental. Or maybe not.

Below you will find some of the phases a modern Instagrammer goes through in an attempt to think of the perfect caption and some situations they have to face in order  to catch people’s  attention. Because let’s be honest here, without a caption that gives your Instagram feed life, it’s like you’re only posting half a picture.

So let’s start, shall we?

There are various types of captions in a bloggers life. As I was going through some Instagram posts, I managed to distinguish three main groups.

– The funny spontaneous caption

– The inspiring quote caption

– The ‘what day of the week is it and how far is the weekend’ caption

Of course there is so many other groups of captions that can be identified throughout an Instagram feed. However, it’s best to keep things simple and focus on the most important ones.

The funny spontaneous caption

Example:

“If looks could kill, you’d all be dead by now. I wish I could explain the look on my face but there isn’t anything I could possibly say that will make me look like less of a serial killer right now.”

The funny spontaneous caption is usually a result of the person writing it being in a silly mood and seeing something in the photo they’re about to post that makes their brain click. After the click, everything pretty much falls into place. It takes less than a minute for the caption to be put together and there’s no Google search involved.

The inspiring quote caption

Example:

“I’m only looking back to see how far I have come and I’m slowly learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things that were not meant for me.”

Add a photo of the person walking away but looking back over their shoulder so the quote makes even more sense. There you have it! The action of writing an inspiring quote caption typically involves a Pinterest quote search because Pinterest has the best ones. The person writing the caption usually has a board with witty and inspiring quotes to choose from. In case he/she doesn’t find anything in there, they would look to expand their collection and find new additions to the aforementioned board. Also, to create an outstanding caption, they might merge two quotes together to create their own version that they can then claim credit for, instead of giving credit to someone with a fancy name like Aristotle.

The ‘what day of the week is it and how far is the weekend’ caption

Example:

“Now that Monday is out of the way is it okay to focus on the weekend again?! And since I can’t deal with countdowns and stuff, every day will be called Friday.”

There is so many variations of that caption and quite frankly they all mean the same thing. But Instagrammers like to change the wording so it looks like a different caption every time. Some common examples include, but are not limited to:  “is it the weekend yet” and “where did the weekend go” but those are just way too simple for us bloggers to use, so we like to quirk it up a bit, if that makes any sense.

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If you came here expecting to see a list of perfumes, shoes, designer handbags and jewellery, I’m sorry to disappoint you. As the title suggest, this won’t be your typical gift guide. If you read my previous post, you already know I’m the kind of person who pays attention to gifting and the present itself. However, with stocking fillers, you can be a little more cheesy. As I was browsing for Stocking Filler Ideas the other day, I came across this and I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to purchase one of each item, so there’s one for each and every person who is present in my life right now. And you didn’t hear this from me but most of the items are 50% off at the moment.

Another great stocking filler idea are these Roxanne Campbell nail polish sets here. I had the pleasure of trying the colours from her winter collection and I was pleasantly surprised by the quick dry time and longevity of the products. The colours you get in the set are this deep burgundy/wine colour, a classic red and a grey. Perfect for the holiday season and one thing is for sure, they won’t sit in the cabinet. Also how cute are their names – Stormy Weather, Wine and Dine and Expensive Taste.

For the scent lover

If you want to buy a gift for someone who is a fragrance fanatic but already owns the entire fragrance universe and all the latest perfumes on the market, there is so many other options. My favourite one has to be a scented candle. People who are fascinated with fragrance, are just as obsessed with how their home smells, as they are with their own scent. This Byredo Candle is certainly going to steal the show. The scent is inspired by an old library with leather hardback and dusty floors. I don’t know about you but I absolutely love the smell of an old library. Complement the gift with this Glass Dome and you definitely have a winner there.

For the boss girl

I gave this book to myself as a present when I literally had no money in my bank account. And let me tell you something. It felt GOOD! London-born and LA based Phoebe Lovatt, founder of the Working Women’s Club, provides the ultimate guide to career satisfaction. This read is filled with practical advice on developing and driving a working life you love. Add this pearl embellished Stradivarius notebook in Dusty Rose and complete with a stylish pen from M&S. Because who needs a notebook, if they don’t have a pen. Oh wait, I do. I only buy notebooks to use in flatlays. Sorry, not sorry. Or if you want to be a little extra, you can totally get them this Dior pen from Vestiare Collective. The difference in price is only about a £100.

 

For the photography enthusiast

If the person is an enthusiast then surely they have some sort of camera already. Let’s say they don’t and they want that Olympus PEN EPL-8 to start with but you don’t have over £500 to spend on them. Because let’s face it, you have to think about treating yourself to something too. Then I can suggest a gift card with money to put towards the camera. Another great option is to get them a lens. I use the Olympus PEN and this 45mm lens is a dream to own, so if I find it wrapped up in a box under the Christmas tree, I’ll be the happiest person ever. Research the camera they have and look for compatible lenses. You can get brand new boxed ones on Ebay for half the price, so you better start looking because time is ticking.

Accessories for their camera like straps, pouches or camera bags are always welcome. Those are the things that us camera people don’t really want to invest in, so we wait until others give it to us as a gift. And last but not least, a mini Polaroid camera is literally the best thing you can get someone for Christmas. We consume so many photographs on a daily basis because of social media, so it’s nice to actually have the best memories captured and printed instantly on paper, so they never get lost and forgotten.

For the frequent traveller

Well, that person you can buy pretty much anything. They never spend their money on anything else than travelling so whatever you get them will be a bonus! Another good thing is you know what their hobby is, so you can never get the gift wrong. A passport holder is always a winner! I love this one from Kate Spade. Plus, you can never have too many. It’s like a phone case basically. A kit with their travel essentials won’t do harm either. These Molton Brown ones have everything they may need. They come in this waterproof clear pouch which is perfect for when you’re in a rush and the products are still wet.

A travel water bottle! That’s probably the one people think of the least. But when you’re going through customs, you don’t want to be messing with bottles of mineral water. This one you can just empty and refill after you’ve gone through the whole process. And last but not least, a travel sized perfume! The bottle of this Armani one from their private collection is so sleek and it’s the perfect travel companion. Because who doesn’t want a cute mini version of their perfume to bring along when they’re setting off on a new adventure.

Is there anything I need to add to my list? What is your dream gift for Christmas this year?

Michelle x

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With Christmas well underway and gift shopping in full swing, I’m once again as confused as ever when it comes to making my loved ones happy. I’m not really the person to buy gifts. And it’s not because I don’t like giving. There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing the person across me excited as they rip that beautiful gift wrap that took me so long to do!  I love the idea of giving but I’m more about the non-material gifts such as experiences and memories. A box under the Christmas tree is great but will you remember what was inside in two weeks? Not really. Unless the person giving it to you has really put some thought into it and made it a little more memorable.

This year I came to a decision. Since my family loves Christmas a tiny bit more than I do (well a LOT more actually) I have to make the effort and create a truly personal experience. Each and every gift is carefully selected and has a special meaning to both me and them. And let’s be honest, that’s not an easy task! It’s much easier for me to do what everyone else does, get a jumper and some socks and get it done with. But people who do that are just doing Christmas the wrong way! To me the meaning of gift giving goes far beyond any ritual or tradition and it has more to do with who you are as a person and what the person receiving the gift means to you.

 

While looking for inspiration for my list of top meaningful things to give this Christmas, I came across a few quotes that really inspired me to be more creative with my gifts and go the extra mile this year. Here is what I discovered:

The beauty of Christmas is not in the presents but in the presence.

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.

Each day is a gift. Don’t send it back unopened.

The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. Because when you give your time, you’re giving a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.

And that last one really got me thinking. Is there a better gift than time? We’re all short on time. If you ask the person next to you if they have time to grab some coffee after work, chances are they don’t. They have to pick up the kids from school, or go to the gym, or do some shopping. The lack of time is something that we all experience. So when Henry London approached me to collaborate on this post, I knew right away, it was the perfect TIME!

As I said above, I want my presents to be meaningful. It’s not just about a watch in a box. What’s special about Henry is not only the watches arrive beautifully packaged but they also offer the opportunity to have your watch personalised through their exclusive engraving service. Personalised? Sign. Me. Up. There’s nothing better than having the option to make a gift that extra bit special by customising it with initials, a special date or a personal message. There is so much you can do with engraving and I decided to give you a few ideas and hopefully make it easier for you.

 

Dates:

The date that you met that person; Their birth date; The date you’re giving them the watch

Initials:

I wouldn’t go just for the first initials like M.N for example. If you want to make it special, either have their full first name and second initial or the other way round. In my case it would be Mihaela N. Anyone could have the initials M.N.

Quote:

I asked Henry Watches to engrave “All we have is now” on mine as I really thought this goes perfectly with the watch. If I was to give this as a present, I know it has a special meaning. It’s like saying to the other person, here’s a reminder that you shouldn’t waste your time on things that are not worthy. Also remember that yesterday is not coming back and tomorrow is not here yet, so focus on the present moment.

The engraving service is available on their complete watch collection but the length of the engraving depends on the case size of the watch. If you’re unsure, just get in touch with them and they will be more than happy to help.

Check out there amazing new collection here.

Michelle x

Photography by Olga Kim. Find her on Instagram @olgakimphotography

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