Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Book List #19

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
year: 1999 | pages: 302 | rating: 5/5

In 1820, the whaleship Essex set sail from Nantucket for routine whaling work. Several oversights made before setting sail meant when an eighty-ton bull sperm whale repeatedly rammed and sunk the ship in the far reaches of the South Pacific, the twenty-man crew were left in a desperate situation. Boarding three small boats and fearing cannibals on the islands to the west, the crew began a 3,000 mile journey to the coast of South America in hopes of rescue. They spent ninety days at sea, enduring horrendous conditions, and eventually succumbed to hunger, thirst, disease, and what they initially feared, cannibalism. In the Heart of the Sea is written so powerfully with such extraordinary detail; the combination of factual evidence woven into a seemingly fictional narrative, makes this book such a page-turner. No facts are spared and while similar tragedies and relevant historical events are discussed in detail, this information is provided in such a way the reading experience is only enhanced and not dulled by overbearing enthusiasm. Philbrick's writing is exceptional and a book that could so easily be overladen with pointless trivia becomes one of the most amazing true life stories ever told.

Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee - The Dark History of the Food Cheats by Bee Wilson
year: | pages: | rating: 1/5

I found Swindled to be far less exciting than I expected. Wilson pays particular attention to nineteenth- and twentieth-century America and England and personally, I would have found a more in-depth analysis of how that era impacted our current generation. Wilson reveals how food swindlers have cheapened, falsified, and poisoned our food throughout history. Swindled details how people and corporations have placed profits above the health of its consumers by tampering with their food and drink in horrifyingly grotesque ways. Wilson encourages the reader to become more vigilant consumers, arguing industrialization, slack politics, globalization, and professional "food swindlers" have caused not only the quality of our food to suffer but our expectations. Despite not enjoying this book as much as I expected to, I can't deny that cover, it's to die for.

Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod
year: 2009 | pages: 159 | rating: 4/5

Do you know that feeling you get when you hear something that rings incredibly true and you nod your head emphatically and say "YES" constantly? That is how I felt when I read this book. The entire time I was nodding along, agreeing with every word Huge MacLeod wrote. "Put the hours in; You are responsible for your own experience; Keep your day job; Never compare yourself; Sing in your own voice; Don't worry about finding inspiration; Write from the heart; The best way to get approval is not to need it; Beware of turning hobbies into jobs; None of this is rocket science." None of what is written inside Ignore Everybody is groundbreaking or even new, but the way MacLeod writes is encouraging and enthusiastic; MacLeod is passionate, sincere, and friendly. He offers up good advice in a way that would be hard for anyone to ignore.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
year: 2013 | pages: 250 | rating: 4/5

I have been telling everyone to read this book; Tina Fey must be one of the most charming and funny writers I have ever encountered. Bossypants is a brief account of Tina Fey's life so far including childhood memories, failed relationships, social faux pas, her successful career, and dilemmas only mothers would know. The entire book is entertaining, hilarious, and heart felt; quick, snappy, and full of empowering sentiments - read this book.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
year: 2013 | pages: 200 | rating: 2/5

Berger combines new research with powerful marketing stories to reveal the secrets of word-of-mouth and social transmission. Six basic principles are provided as to why certain things become "contagious" and others do not. Berger explores the power of consumer products, workplace rumors, YouTube videos, and viral advertisements. Contagious was an incredibly interesting read, however, lacked the ability to spark enthusiasm due to its rather monotone writing style. While Berger provides insight into the marketing industry and the power of organic reach, and despite incorporating a lot of modern research studies, Contagious doesn't cover any ground I was not already familiar with.

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
year: 2012 | pages: 279 | rating: 2/5

Jonah Lehrer attempts to shatter the myths of creativity; creativity, Lenhrer argues, is not a rare gift the lucky few possess, it is something that can be learned through distinct processes. Lehrer argues by encouraging creativity we can improve our neighbourhood and our workforce; we can make schools more effective and companies more productive. Imagine proved a little too dry for me and took paths down routes I did not find interesting (Bob Dylan's writing habits and the drug addictions of poets) to "prove" vague concepts of creativity. There are, in my opinion, much better books tackling the slippery subject of what is means to be creative.

Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy by Martin Lindstrom
year: 2011 | pages: 256 | rating: 4/5

The social science of advertising is a genre I can't get enough of so it's no surprise that I found Brandwashed to be an exceptionally good read. Martin Lindstrom explores the psychological tricks and traps set up by companies to fool consumers. Lindstrom has spent over twenty years working in the industry, which provides a new angle and fresh material. Brandwashed explores marketing to children, fear mongering, the beauty industry, addictive products, the use of sex in advertising, subconscious peer pressure, celebrity endorsed products, the selling of hope, and a whole lot more. While I have read many books on advertising and am rarely shocked by advertising tactics, Lindstrom writes in a fluid, engaging manner that managed to keep me interested throughout.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Stop Wasting Time

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

- plan ahead
- write lists
- set goals
- schedule tasks
- stop procrastinating
- take things seriously
- tackle the urgent tasks first
- deal with one thing at a time
- focus
- set deadlines
- say "no"
- ignore minor tasks
- get away from distractions
- stop trying to multi-task
- prepare for tomorrow
- get it done

Monday, 25 August 2014

Signature Scent

Monday, 25 August 2014

For the longest time ever I wore only one perfume - Christian Dior J'Adore - and while I am still madly in love with the scent, a perfume stops being quite so special when you wear it every day. I now reserve this distinct perfume for rare occasions when I know it will be noticed and appreciated.

Perfumes can be worn as an accessory to an outfit and so I have come to appreciate the importance of owning a selection that reflects the occasion and time of day they are to be worn in. I have started to build upon my signature scent profile by paying closer attention to a perfume's main accords than relying on one bottle alone.

I am naturally drawn to true floral scents such as Paul Smith Rose and woodsy perfumes like Jo Malone Amber and Patchouli. J'Adore sits neatly between the two with a sharp floral fragrance; fresh mandarin, jasmine, plum, orchid and rose complimented with amaranth, musk and blackberry. Paul Smith Rose features Turkish rose and magnolia with violet and green tea giving a soft, delicate, true rose fragrance. Jo Malone Amber and Patchouli is the richest of all perfumes I own; a beautifully sophisticated scent with amber, patchouli and guaiac wood.

Having a "wardrobe of scents" to match my attire adds that little something extra and the delicate final touch to any outfit.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A PR Guide For Approaching Small Businesses

Saturday, 23 August 2014

As a business owner and blogger, I get to see both sides of the industry. Not only do I work with PR companies as a blogger, I also experience what it is like to be approached for PR requests as a business. I receive emails on a regular basis and after two years I have discovered there is a definite right and wrong way of going about it.

Nothing irritates a small business more than someone getting their name wrong. If it's an independent company chances are there is only one person running the show. Their name will be plastered over everything, making it easy for you to find it and giving you no excuse not to use it. Personally, if you email my shop and say "Hello OMCH" I will already be wrinkling my nose up.

Use a company's 'About' page to your advantage; personalise your email by acknowledging the company's history and the person behind it, this can have an impact on how well your email is received. It's worth checking the website for PR information before emailing. A lot of businesses do not include this information but if their website clearly states it doesn't work with bloggers, you're going to be in their bad books as soon as that email hits their inbox.

It's surprising how many people forget to include the most important information. If you forget, you'll most likely get ignored. Provide all the obvious information straight away: name, link(s), statistics, and the intention of your email. Statistics are one of the most important pieces of information that is almost always left out of emails. Include your reader/subscriber total, daily unique visitors/views, and your audience demographic.

If you're fishing for freebies just ask. Be honest and upfront; ask us if we offer PR samples to bloggers and what our requirements are for giving those out. Don't put off asking us outright because if you do it's unlikely you will get a second chance. However, never request specific products to review unless asked.

If your email is packed full of compliments it will only make you look smarmy, trust me. A lot of the emails I receive read like little love letters, which sounds lovely until you realise it's just a way of trying to gain favor by flattery. One or two compliments is fine, we want to know you like our products, but if you love our shop that much you'd buy something and feature it anyway, right? Introduce yourself, mention how our shop caught your attention and why, and then move on to business.

Don't presume that just because a business is small it's not doing well for itself, you need to clearly state how being featured on your blog will benefit the brand. State exactly how you will feature the product(s), whether that includes additional promotion elsewhere and how often, and back it all up with statistics. If you say you will write a blog post state how many people that is expected to reach, same goes for YouTube videos, tweets, and Instagram promotion.

You can have the largest readership in the world but if your target audience doesn't match up to a company's target audience, no amount of advertising will have an effect. So just because your blog doesn't have a ginormous readership that doesn't mean you should shy away from approaching brands.. however, statistics do matter. Unfortunately, the cold hard truth is, if your blog readership or social media follower count is smaller than the business you are approaching, chances are they will reject your request. My response when approached by bloggers with smaller readerships is like-for-like advertising - they feature my shop, I promote their content.

If you genuinely adore a small business, consider featuring them regardless. Show your support by helping them become more successful - I guarantee they won't forget you.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Bathroom Shelf

Friday, 22 August 2014

{ Honest Yuzu Candle | The Bathory Bask Bath Salts* | Natio Face Mask Purifier }

Our bathroom shelf is luxuriously large in an "everything-gets-dumped-there" kind of way. But there is one little area that I reserve for the most loved, most used little treats. While they switch around every so often, there are currently three products sharing the adored space.

This beautiful candle by Honest skincare has such a subtle scent, it's perfect for any room at any time, but I like to light it when I have the rare opportunity for a relaxing bath. The service The Bathery offers means you can pick bath salts blended specifically for you. I chose a Bask mix featuring Epsom, Himalayan Pink, and Dead Sea Salts, blended with chamomile, rosemary, and ylang-ylang. You need to use at least half if not the entire contents of the bottle to get the full effect of the essentials oil, making a very decadent bath indeed. Natio's Clay and Plant Purifier is currently top of my list of favourite skin care treatments. Its formula is gentle on the skin yet has immense cleansing properties; perfect for when my skin needs a little TLC.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Work Hard, Stay Positive

Thursday, 21 August 2014

"Work hard. Keep at it. Live simply and quietly. Remain humble. Stay positive."
- Hugh MacLeod

I've always said, "you should never put yourself down because it gives others the permission to do so" and so I stand by that and I'm confident when I say: I'm proud of what I create and the things I make. But when faced with people who are copying not only your aesthetic style, your blog, your content but also your business model and the things you make, it's a tough blow to take. It's hard not to become cynical and feel jaded by the experience and it can be a difficult situation to deal with.

Experiencing imitation firsthand but also witnessing fellow designer-makers suffering similar situations made me feel quite negative about being a creator; about blogging; about being an active participant online. For quite a while I felt contemptuous and distrustful, I felt angry and destructive. I put the things I made, the content I wrote, and the style I created online, for all to see; to enjoy, share, admire, criticise, and appreciate. Not to steal. When someone takes something you've spent years developing and copies it from the written content right down to the aesthetic style, the format, and the structure; when someone uses your business and tries to recreate a direct replica, it's heartbreaking.

For a little while I've felt quite jaded by the whole scenario, I felt negative and angry for quite a long time. I read a few books and they helped a lot but what really helped was when I went through my content and my photographs. I went right back to where it all began, how it all started, and I remembered the process and how long it all took to get here.

Instead of feeling defeated I feel triumphant; I do not feel challenged, I feel confident. If someone wants to attempt to replicate what I have done, let them try. Imitations always pale in comparison to their originals, their work will never be anything more than just a knockoff. If you are facing a similar situation, I encourage you to do the same: go through your work, be proud of what you do, be confident in yourself, keep working hard, and stay positive.

Deal with it
- get upset, get angry.. and then get over it
- pick your fights*
- know your legal rights*
- do not make disputes public
- stay professional
- be confident
- be prolific
- stay positive
- keep doing what you do

* As a blogger there isn't much you can do about idea thieves, it's not illegal to use an idea and produce content from it. For creators, direct theft of original designs, photography, written content, and intellectual property infringement you have the law on your side.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

18 Books For Creatives

Wednesday, 20 August 2014
books for creatives

Go read some books by people who know what they're talking about.

1. Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity By Hugh MacLeod
2. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
3. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
4. It's Not How Good You are, it's How Good You Want to be by Paul Arden
5. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
6. Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch
7. On Writing Stephen King
8. Bossypants by Tina Fey
9. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
10. The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White
11. Just Kids Patti Smith
12. Imagine by Jonah Lehrer
13. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential within Us All by Tom Kelly and David Kelly
14. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
15. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
16. Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei
17. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
18. The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

{ more reading suggestions }

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