Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Five Lessons To Learn From 13 Reasons Why

Since it's launch 13 Reasons Why has been talked about across the globe for good and bad reasons but love it or hate it, the show got some things right and what it didn't nail on the head we can learn from.

I read the book 13 Reasons Why back in 2014 when I was in 4th year of secondary school and not exactly having the best look on life. The book didn't change my life or bring me to some great epiphany. Instead it motivated me to cut my hair so I can feel like a new person. Unlike Hannah it wasn't a cry for help, I was preparing for battle BUT if it one noticed.

The main lesson I took from reading the book was to pay attention to my actions because you never know how it may affect another person.  I was so excited when I saw that it was actually going to go from screen to book. It is by far one of the best book-to-screen adaptations I've seen this year. It stays so true to the book and is even more hard hitting than reading it was. I binge watched it in one day.

Despite the headache and eye strain I got from back to back episodes, I am grateful for the things the show got right and have picked up some new lessons in what it didn't and that's what I am going to share with you guys. Let's begin with the good bits.

What It Got Right

1) The Show Added To The World Wide Conversation of Suicide

I'm not going to say 13 Reasons Why has sparked a much needed conversation about suicide because it hasn't. The semicolon tattoo on my right wrist is proof enough. It's added it's own two pence to the conversation and helped keep the topic of suicide in the limelight so people can't escape from it. This is my number one reason for loving the book and show, you really can't escape from the topic of suicide, it is the whole plot!

2) Gave An Unapologetic, Raw Insider View Into Rape & Sexual Assault

Unless you've been raped and had your very being violated against your will, it is hard to imagine what that feels like. Watching the rape scenes in 13 Reasons Why, physically I felt ill, emotionally I felt ill and mentally I felt ill. The irony in the backlash the show received for its graphic scenes was laughable at best. No one wants to see rape happening but guess what, a person of rape didn't want that to happen either. How will we deal with the issue of rape if we as a society don't want to see it? 13 Reasons Why challenges the out of sight, out of mind attitude that undeniably taints the topic of rape and sexual assault.

The show did not shy away from the feelings of shame and fear and sense of loss people of rape can be afflicted with. The fear of telling loved ones. Shame at how peers will judge you and a loss of confidence in one's self. Rape can break your very soul as Hannah Baker herself said and 13 Reasons Why took a fair shot at portraying that. It hard to turn away watch but oh so very necessary.

What It Got Wrong

3) Hannah Baker killed Hannah Baker

To some degree I think 13 Reasons Why glorifies suicide and I am not up for that. By committing suicide and leaving behind the tapes, Hannah is seen to have taken her revenge on the people that hurt her most and in turn had the last laugh. She wants those on the tape to feel as hurt and betrayed as she felt, and most of all she wants them to take responsibility for her death and suffer the guilt that comes with it.

This is a terrible message to send to young people. Reading the book the one thing that never sat right with me was the fact that so many people were blamed for killing Hannah Baker. "We all killed Hannah " is a sentence Tony says quite a lot in the book and show.

As the spiritual guide, yogi, wise old man of the show it made me sad to hear him say that because it just isn't true. No one put a gun to Hannah's head and told her to slit her wrists and bleed to death. Not Clay, not Jessica not even Bryce ( although what he did would be enough to test anyone's resolve) Hannah Baker killed Hannah Baker and that is just the truth of it.

4) Hannah Baker Was Depressed

Oh look, another issue that society find hard to discuss, Depression. D.E.P.R.E.S.S.I.O.N. 10 letters, three vowels, 5 consonants and yet so much to be said about it. Or in the case of 13 Reasons Why, so much not to be said.

In her letter to Zach, Hannah talks about the loneliness and sadness she feels that can only be made better by the "silly" compliments she receives in her brown paper compliments bag. She is so obviously depressed and reaching out for help in many ways, cutting her hair, the poem in the school magazine, the anonymous letter in her class.

All these facts are somewhat left to the reader/viewer to come to realise themselves. I think it would've been so much more striking to bring attention to how her mental health affected her perceptions which in turn affected the way she felt. Something that could mean nothing to someone could be so offensive to another and that is regardless of whether or not you deal with Depression.

We've all had someone be our friend one day and then forget us the next, we get sad, we move on. There were so many people in that school how could she have not made any other friends? I mean I would've been her friend, the girl had a wit to die for! ( no pun intended). When you suffer from depression you could be in a school with billions of students and still feel so alone.

So some rumours went around about her that would hardly have stopped her from finding friends. I'm not sure about you but there have been many times where I've had to defend myself against a guy who gave my backside more attention than I would like. A slap for a slap. Yes Hannah and I are different people but she was a strong confident girl, the way she got Justin's number alone shows this so why is it so hard to believe she couldn't stand up for herself? My only theory is that, she was depressed. The thing with depression is when bad things happen to you, sometimes you feel as though you deserved it because you did something wrong.

But we'll never know what Hannah was thinking or how her mental health truly effected her perceptions because it's never discussed. Tut tut.

5) Forced People To Think About Their Actions

There is both good and bad ends to this point, that's why it's the last one. 

13 Reasons Why sends the valid message that we should think before we act. With the likes of revenge porn and nude pics circulating amongst WhatsApp groups a message like this is so important and necessary to send. But I also worry about the little actions that may be affected negatively.

 I'd hate to think anything I ever say or do would hurt someone but of course I have done just that before, many times. For example, my sense of humor is quite dry to say the least. You either get it or you don't. Its sarcastic, rude and dark. My friends and I would be very much into slagging each other as a form of affection and to new people who don't quite know us, our sense of humour could come across as insulting.

For that reason I like to be really comfortable with someone before I can start slagging them but sometimes you meet people and you just click with them and before you know it you're exchanged every yo mama joke in your arsenal with them!

 I fear for the day where the world is so PC that no one can say or do anything freely. One where posting a funny meme about gingers can be seen as 'cyber bullying and adding to emotional damage'. I asked my ginger friends about this. They did not care. I love people who can take a light-hearted insult and give one back.

But the thing is not everyone is like this but that is my personality and I don't want to change that. There's nothing better than coming up with that perfect burn comeback and knowing you've got your opponent with this one. There are so many other areas in life, not just types of humour, that people just don't see eye to eye on. You could spend you whole life watching what you say around people and still offend someone. 

You should one hundred percent pause and think about what you're doing before you send that nude pic you just received from the girl you've been seeing with to your mates. Don't be a creepy peeping Tom or record the intimate moments of your relationship. These should really be no brainers but don't stop being yourself for fear of hurting someone. If you're showing respect to others, taking accountability for your choices and actions and minding your own business, you'll be grraaand sure.

If you're falling the down the 13 Reasons Why blackhole and are up for a light-hearted fun read about, check out this post by The Tab which will definitely make you smile, maybe even chuckle.

What did you learn from 13 Reasons Why?

Till next time my pretties xxx

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

30 Day Challenge: April Review & May Announcement

So this month of April my goal was to work on my self -discipline so that I can finish the things I start in good time. I wanted to work harder at contacting people for Faking Adulthood Now podcast, doing background research, working on my business plan and creating quality blog content that I'd be happy to put my name on. In other words I just wanted to up my whole game.

It started off slow and slippery but I've gotten there in the end. The last few blog posts I've written were a much higher standard than the usual rushed and written the night before or day off ones I usually throw out. I gave myself time to write out ideas and structure posts so that I wasn't going off on unnecessary tangents. I gave myself ample time to take images and edit them so that I could have everything scheduled a day or two before the post was due. For example I'm writing the first draft of this post on Wednesday 14:30pm and it's not published till Sunday! A perfect reason why you should join the Albatroz & Co weekly newsletter that's sent out every Friday so that you never miss out on the things that happen behind the blog( see what I did there? )

I'm really happy with how this challenge went although the perfectionist in me still thinks I could've done better. For May's challenge I'm actually going to keep going with this one. I'm changing jobs in two weeks and that means adjusting to a new routine so I am going to need to kick myself up the bum and adapt. 

This is a really short post I know,surprisingly for once, I don't really have much to say so I suppose this is more of a quick catch up and to impart some little changes I made to help up my game that some of you may find useful. See you all again Wednesday evening!

1) The Five-Minute Rule

I heard of this rule when I was in sixth year. It's purpose is to help you start an unappealing task. Basically, if there is something you need to do, such as studying your least favourite subject, you set a timer for five minutes and after then if you aren't making any headway, you move on to something else. More often than not, after five minutes you'll be so stuck into the task you're doing that you don't even notice.

2) Pareto Law a.k.a 80/20 rule

This law basically says that 80% of your results comes from 20% of the work you put into it. This was also another piece of advice we got whilst sitting our Leaving Certificate Exams. I think some teachers might've been worried or somewhat scared by their sleep deprived teenage students who displayed signs of mental instability and cried themselves to sleep every single night. This advice might have been their way of telling us to tóg a bog é ( Anyone not currently studying higher level Irish read: Take It Easy). 

I basically used this law to stop myself from wasting too much time on any one task. Usually setting a time limit, an hour, day or week did it for me. If needed I schedule in some extra time for a task if I am not sure how time consuming it will prove to be.

3) Prioritize with Stones and Sand in a Jar

This should come as a no brainer but have you ever heard of the stones and sand in a jar story? There are many different versions out there but they all basically come down to one formula. The stones are the most important things in life such as family, friends, and work and the sand is some of the less important stuff like buying a 2017 car because your 2015 is old, right down to catching up on all the Game of Thrones episodes before the new season launches. If you fill the jar with the sand, there will be little space for the big stones but if you put the stones in first, the sand just falls into place. 

The same theory applies to the tasks you have to accomplish. Start with the big things first and if those big things don't appeal to you, go back to point number 1.

4) Make Plans And Follow Through

Make plans, even if they don't happen, make them. If there's a friend you haven't seen in a while, ask them to lunch. Take your s/o on a date. Go byob bowling with our friends and eat McDonald's at 1am in the morning because you are an adult who can do whatever the heck they want. Make use of your time. Chances are if you are making that effort to put plans in place you will make it happen, you might have to reschedule once or twice but you will have that burrito date with Susan!

By making plans you also give yourself something to look forward to, and plans build up to achieving goals if done wisely.

5) Me Days Are Golden Days

I have a friend who to me is the Queen of me days. If she has a day off work she would rather have the day to herself and not see a soul and be completely happy. We should really be following her example because she's doing it right. 

If you don't get many days to yourself or like me can't spend a day doing nothing, plan a Me night. Paint your nails, do a face  mask, watch Mr. Wright or Clueless, or John Tucker Must Die or whatever movie makes you feel like building a fort and eating endless bowls of popcorn and maltesers.

A big part of the challenge to up my game was knowing that game. Me nights/days were where I journaled and tried to gather my thoughts, see where I was at with my various projects and plan my next moves for world domination. You can't move forward and up your game if you don't know what position you're playing. Take time for yourself, turn off your phone, tune out the world and be hella selfish!

That's really all I did for this months challenge and it's added up to a lot so I'm hoping it will help be readjust when I change work and routines in two week's time. For those of you reading this thinking 'I need to get my shit together before I can think about upping my game' I read a post a while ago that I think you may find useful.

For the month of February I set myself the challenge to get my shit together and after completely that challenge I came across a blog pot from Laura of 'How To Get Your Shit Together' blog ( it's quite literally in the name people). The list of tips and advice she gives is pretty straight forward and worth the read. You can check that out here. In the mean time, I am going to go eat some nachos and watch Mr. Wright because you guessed's my me night!

Till next time my pretties xxx

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pretending To Be An Adult Being: How To Be A Successful College Dropout

Two weeks ago I went to college with my friends for the day. Why? Because I dropped out of college October 2016 at the start of the yea.  Now the said school year is coming to an end and come August the next academic year will resume and I will be returning for a fresh start. Since January when I signed up for CAO ( the Irish equivalent of the sorting hat from Harry Potter ) I've been thinking about what course I'd like to do come August. In this time I've grown more grateful for the time I've spent out of university, the skills and experiences I've had in that time. The last few months I've taken out have been so worthwhile in so many different ways that I cannot help but find myself advocating for the gap year option.

The decision to take a gap year was never one that crossed my mind before starting University. The plan was always to go through the different levels of education, come out with the necessary papers to aid in finding a job that I would be stuck with for the rest of my life to provide a living. It's the somewhat generic plan for most people so I know I was not alone in that. However, having dropped out of college last October and spending the time since then working and undertaking creative projects I can't stand by without at least speaking of the alternate plans out there ( and there are many) but specifically the plan I have come to see.

And that plan is very simple, you do what you want. The generic plan I talk about above is the practical plan, but since the millennial generation I think it's safe to say there is more acceptance of a idealised plan. Whereas previous generations saw one route to success, education, education, education, ( which is still important ), we're becoming more accepting of other paths that lead to the same destination. You may ask a group of four year old what they want to be when the grow up and receive answers you would have expected years ago like doctors, bankers, pilots all the way to hairdressers, make-up artist, farmer. The spectrum is widening or perhaps perceptions ad opinions are becoming more accepting.

The thing dropping out has taught me is that time is invaluable but so are the skills you learn. My main reason for leaving my course was because the workload did not push or inspire me. I didn't feel as though I was working to achieve anything because I wasn't working at all. College quickly became a waste of time and I don't have time to waste so I left. I left with not much of a plan in mind and that's what I did wrong. That's the first lesson you need to learn if you want to be a successful college dropout. You need to have something to move onto.

1) Have Something To Move On To.

The stigmatisation of the college drop out comes from the idea that the college dropout leaves behind a perfectly good opportunity to establish a solid foundation built on invaluable education to do...well nothing. What is the point in that? You may not know what you want to do in college. With so many courses and universities, the choices are incredibly varied. 

You don't need to have your life figured out. Leaving my business course I wasn't entirely sure what was next. I'd stayed behind in Ireland while my family moved away so I could attend college here and now I'm not even going to college anymore. Do I stay in Ireland? Do I got to England? For a very long time I didn't think too much into it. I dove into work. I had been working part-time as a retail assistant so I found a second part-time job. For one week I had three jobs! I looked into internships for marketing and was offered a position for one but I pulled out. A part of me just couldn't do it, I was putting all my energy into work and refusing to think about anything, college family, life. I felt like a complete and utter failure. Why couldn't I have just stayed in college?

I'd have been miserable that's why and for me that was reason enough but I didn't know what I was doing next and that was scary. On the outside I dealt with it well enough to not look broken but on the inside was a can of worms waiting to pop open  and when it did, it wasn't good. Weeks and months of holding in insecurities and feeling at a loss boiled over and began to infect me in ways that were toxic, its forever stained some relationships and I don't know if I'll ever be able to remove. I can't help thinking that if I had put more thought into what I would do before quitting, perhaps things would've unravelled differently and maybe not, there were many different factors involved but the feeling of being a failure did not help.

Is there anything you'd really like to do? Travel? Work? Start A Business? Just do it. Neither of these are easy but once you're putting energy into making things happen, you'll soon realize what you are capable off.

2) Talk To Your Parents.

For some people making the decision to drop out is a lot harder when they see it as a failure in the eyes of their parents, also especially when there's fees and money involved. If you're an Irish third level student, it's too late right now to drop out and get the money back, however if you drop out before October 31st in any year you get your money back, drop out before the end of January ad you get half of it back, after that, nada, you walk away from it all.

And for some the idea of losing all that money, loans that your parents might've taken out to pay fees may seem incredibly daunting and selfish to say it's not what you want. If you've given the course your best shot, tried to transfer and still aren't getting anywhere, then there's no point being miserable. Your parents may find it hard to understand but they can't kill you, unless they like how prison orange looks on them.

When I told my mother I wanted to drop out of college she actually said 'I told you so'. She had urged me to go for a more academic driven course in a different college and I had ignored her. She wasn't wrong but she wasn't entirely right. I didn't leave because the course wasn't academic, it was. I left because the course was not challenging, something a more academic driven institution would have been able to give me. But even then, there is still a chance that I may not have enjoyed the course, I know now that I want to do something creative and not just academic. I need to be able to bring ideas to life and not just read texts from books and regurgitate them in exams.

It's taken me almost a year to try and figure out what I might enjoy doing and I still don't know if the reality will live up to my expectations in any way or if I'll even get the course I want. But here's the thing, If I don't get in, I know there is more than one way to get to my end goal. And your parents will support you even if they don't agree with you but if you happen to have hardcore parents who don't understand, you do what's best for you and make sure to prove them wrong with your happiness.

3) Get A Job

When most people leave college they get a job. Most of those people don't go back. Some stay in the same job for years, others move up the ranks, into other branches other companies and become big managers and supervisors. I worked with a girl who took a year out, worked as a sales assistant and is now the Store Manager of a leading women's retail brand in Dubai. She turned 21 this year. She's the exception not the rule. She worked incredibly hard and the job is something she loves doing. 

Now if you're like me and know that college is definitely something you'd like to go back to, getting a job is a great way to fill time and build character until you return to college. You can save up more and go on a big trip, take your driving lessons, buy a car, travel more, see friends ( which can be hard with their school timetables and your work timetable but not impossible.) 

With all that said, don't get comfortable. Remember what your end goal is and make sure you keep it at the forefront of your mind by taking on fun projects for yourself!

4) Experiment

Do things! Anything. Have fun. Is there something you've always wanted to do but never thought you'd have time for? Write a novel? Learn an instrument? Shoot a short movie? Well do it now. One of my New Year's Resolutions for 2017 was to be more creative. I wanted to work on my writing skills, up my blogging game, start a photography site, and go after ever realistic creative idea I get, even if it's just a little realistic because what have I to lose? I have the time and I sometimes have the money.

What you learn from experimenting is the kind of person you are and the things that excite and inspire you and from there you can begin to see what the future may hold for you, even if it is short-term. I started listening to podcasts and now I am starting a radio/podcast show with a local radio station, something I would never have done if I were still in my Business course! You can read more about that here. Use this year out to learn about the one person who could use the I know now more than ever that the kind of course that'll excite me most is one where I have the opportunity to bring the ideas in my head to life, a visual portrayal from mind to screen. As my house mates say, it'll be easier fro me to go from media to business than vice versa. Who knows what epiphanies, big or small you will learn from yourself?


If possible, travel as much as you are able to, even if it is just around Ireland or whatever country you live in. Try to meet new people from different backgrounds. I'm not saying become everyone's best friend but where there is an opportunity to learn from another person do it, good or bad, you will learn and knowledge is power.

5) Pretend To Be A Student

So I went to college for a day but you don't have to go in just for a day. Go to as many lectures as you can possibly sneak into. You have friends who probably go to a handful of different colleges, go in with them for a day or a week and see how it goes. If possible get the timetable of a course that interests you and show up to the lectures. 

If it's more information you need reach out to the college or students. If your friends aren't as connected as you'd like them to be, most courses have Facebook pages, find one and message them, arrange a tour with the school's faculty. There are so many ways to put out the fires of doubt and get the information you really want. Does the course involve a lot of written work? Is there huge pressure placed on students? Ho many are in each seminar class? Do you need a portfolio? Is the course fun? Any question big or small, you can find an answer to.

I attended no open days the first time and this time round I've been to a few, I didn't find them as useful as actually going into the college and seeing it for myself on an ordinary day when there aren't throngs of prospective students swimming around the place. At the end of the day dropping out of college shouldn't be that big a deal, it should be a chance to take a step back, perhaps breathe after the stress of your final exams and give yourself time to explore your many, many options.

6) It's not that big a deal so have fun.

Honestly dropping out of college I was scared that I would face the stigma that dropouts are supposedly faced with. 'A good for nothing stereotype' heading down the road to nowhere. So yes, the idea of dropping out was one I took a lot more seriously than I would've had I known that so many people JUST DON'T CARE.

And I mean why should they? It's none of their business. Most times when I tell people I dropped out they affirm my decision saying it was best to get out while I could instead of staying in a course I would not enjoy. 

So if dropping out of a course is something you think about, it's coming to the end of the academic year, that doesn't mean you can transfer to another course or even defer for the year, take out the year and who knows try your hand at something else when you get back. In the mean time, get a job, join the gym, travel, meet new people, experiment, write a book, and just have fun! 

So that's my two pence on being a successful college dropout, do everything and anything except nothing.

Is there anything I have missed? Let me know.

Till next time my pretties xxx

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

I'm A Blogger With An Influence Not An Influencer.

It seems to me that the line between bloggers and influencers if ever there was one is blurring or perhaps becoming defined. Much like the fact that all snails are slugs but not all slugs are snails...All bloggers are still being classed as Influencers buy not all Influencers are bloggers. The word Influencer is one that has blown up the last few months for many diefferent reasons, good and bad. Unless you've been living under a rock with Patrick Star, you have definitely heard of the word which in the early days was associated or substituted for its counterpart, the Blogger. 

There is a difference. I repeat,there is a difference and the harm that ensues from not recognising these differences is what is making people think that blogging as we know it is coming to an end. The rise of the Influencer is seen by some as the fall of the Bloggers. I've seen many comments of some Facebook groups  asking if blogging is really coming to an end and the best answer I've seen for this so far is that 'no, it's weeding out the fakes'. I won't say that the world of blogging is the same as it was maybe four years ago when I started blogging seriously, or event two years ago when I started Albatroz & Co. No it's changed, changing, evolving but it's change and growth has attracted swarms of people who with good intentions or not are making the blogging waters murky and at times downright dirty. For me, some these so called Influencers are just that. Some.

The term Influencer is something I have been aware of since the beginning of my blogging days. Companies about to launch apps or sites will reach out to you an 'Influencer' to invite you to be the first on their platform and then when it launched you would influence others to buy or download that app or use the site. That was my first introduction to the word 'Influencer'. These days Influencers are people with large followings on social media who endorse products or services to their followers so they buy and use them and in return they make some dough on the side. In other words, Influencers are walking advertisements and some believe in what they sell and others don't but that's their business. A business.

You can be an Influencer on Snapchat. You can be an Influencer on Vine, you can be an Influencer on YouTube, You can be an Influencer on Twitter, Musically and most famously, an Influencer on Instagram. Being an Instagram Famous , or Snapchat famous or any kind of famous according to what your social media numbers say is a great achievement and I am not going to tear that down but for the love of all things beautiful on this earth, I am a Blogger not an Influencer.

 I am a blogger with influence, influence on an audience built on trust and mutual understanding from months...years of blogging. They see me as human and I see them just the same. When people start blogging and expect to rise to the levels of top bloggers, the first thing they are told is that it takes time, because it does. Successful bloggers write for years and years before really seeing big results because as with everything it takes time to find your style and your audience. When I started blogging for the first time noone read my posts, so I stopped, I was about 12 and didn't really have much to say. But I always came back to blogging as a way to reach out to other people like me out there. 

I went through every 'Confessions Of A...' blog title under the sun ( although subject to availability) but my favorite was definitely Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen after the movie with Lindsay Lohan. I started blogging more seriously over four years ago, I had one reader and it wasn't my mum which was to me a great success and with time that grew and so did I, and I changed too. I started Albatroz & Co. two years ago when I felt I had reached a point where I could shed my teenage angst and turn a new leaf and by then I probably had about 100 constant readers and had made some nice friends in Google+ groups ( where all the fun happens) from just writing the past two years.

 It takes baby steps because blogging is more intimate than being an Influecer, like making new friends, it takes time. I've never walked into a crowded room and walked out with a room of new best friends, sometimes I don't speak to anyone at all ( surprising if you know me). And that's what bloggers do. We build that foundation of trust with people who are like us, can relate to us or simply like reading what we have to say and that is our only influence, trust. We are trusted. So when a blogger you trust recommends something, you are more likely to look into it because you trust their opinion. Like a friend telling you about the newest place they eat or what buggy ( Americans read: pram) they can't leave the house without.

I'm not saying you can't trust any Influencers, I'm just pointing out the obvious, as has been pointed out before that some Influencers are just in it for the money and these days so are some so called 'bloggers' who turn to blogging as a way to make a full-time living because they're fed up with their jobs and some make it,selling what they're learning to other bloggers who also hold to the same goals, 'how to make it big in as little time as possible' and pay for it. I don't remember money being such a huge factor of blogging a few years ago because it really wasn't, I mean you could make a few bucks from AdSense and then maybe an Amazon Affiliate program, put up ads and some reviews, honest reviews, when you maybe weren't sent free items by a company to review and thus didn't have to feel worried to write a bad review because it may hurt your chances of working with other brands. 

I can see how much harder it is for new bloggers these days to get out there, I mean if you start blogging in 2016, you're already a good few years behind other bloggers in the game, you have a lot more competition and social media runs the game. You want to catch up so you can start making the big bucks like everyone else. If you're reading this as a blogger tell, many bloggers do you know personally that make money primarily from their blog without guest writing, V.A work, copywriting, brand collaborations, things behind the scene? I'd say very few. That's because a blog is also a creative resume to be used to open doors to other opportunities. There is so much more to blogging that people just don't understand, but that's a story for another day.

The truth is being an Influencer or a Blogger is not easy. It's tough work. There's a lot that goes into creating quality content that makes you feel fulfilled and in turn adds value to the lives of those on the receiving end, even if it's just them enjoying your work. And being an Influencer you constantly need to keep no top of your numbers, you may spend a lot of time glued to your phone or you may have found some pretty neat tools to use to make life easier. There are a lot of programs for Bloggers and Influencers alike out there and you have to shift through a lot those worth your time. When it comes to social media, Influenecers have to be top dogs to get top results, I get it it is the nature of your business but it's affects on the blogging world is what I don't like.

The life of an Influencer is run by numbers and sponsored ads but that isn't always the world of a blogger. Yes we want people to read our blogs and love them and follow us on social media so we can be like besties and live happily ever after, though I can really only speak for myself. There is nothing wrong with wanting people to read what I have to say or follow me based on that. There is something wrong with following people and three days later hoping they won't notice that you've unfollowed them because they notice. And yes they notice it when you follow us again because we unfollowed your lying ass.

Read: Get Your Greedy Hands Off My Blog

As a blogger, social media, if you even had it was a way to connect more on a daily basis with your readers so that they wouldn't be waiting days or weeks for updates and have radio silence. Social media was a way to bridge that gap between posts. Now, social media is the only way to get our posts out there so people can see them. You leave links on Facebook groups, Google+, post to StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Flipboard, Reddit etc.

The idea of a comment thread, Instagram like/comment pod, YouTube thread is a direct result of the affect of Influencers in the blogging world. Some people join threads because they genuinely want people to read their posts. without it there is very little chance of it being read because there are just so many blogs and articles out there. Others just want the numbers. And yes, I completely see the sense of support that some people gain from threads like these. I have two Facebook groups that are filled with such genuine people, loooking to support each other without being fake. They're the kind of groups where you can ask for help and can be assured that you won't be bombarded with links instead of actual answers.

Everyday  we run a thread for links but the thread doesn't come with a thousand strings attached. You simply add your link and it's up to people to read what they like and I love this because there are some bloggers whose work I always read and I try to read a new piece of work every day but the thing is even with that, I sometimes don't manage to read all the posts that interest me, let alone to read the 10 posts above mine, comment on each of them, pin it, like it 1+it and then tell the people so they can do the same for me. Where's the choice in that? Where's the genuine audience. Yes you are supporting each other but for what? The stats and numbers?

In this media world overrun with, ordinary people, Influencers, businesses etc., bloggers have that extra little bit of work to get their work out there to be seen. Unknowingly and/or unwantingly we join the battle for exposure,  and the social media platforms are fighting back, algorithms are constantly changing. Instagram's shadowban is a much welcomed  method to control the amount of spammy accounts out there using bots and dirty tactics to grow their following.

It's important to remember, more now than ever why you started blogging and who you started it for, yourself and people like you. Taking your blog to the next level doesn't mean selling your soul. Find brands and groups that share your passion and motto, do what you love, stay true to yourself AND your audience and people will come, it'll take time but it will be so much more worthwhile. I'd love to generate money from my blog but I'm not big enough to work with most brands, aside from signing up to the Amazon Affiliate program and placing ads like the ones below this paragraph, I haven't done much else because I haven't put in the work to find avenues to earn money that remain true to me and what Albatroz & Co. stands for but if you can do that for your site, you'll build an audience who trusts you and you may make some money but there is a lot of work to do.

To conclude, blogging as we know it is not ending, it's still very much alive and there are still many genuine bloggers out there making a living without selling out on the trust people have in them. You want to start a blog, then start one but are you doing it for you or the free perks, the money, the fame,fortunes, lights, camera, action? Because one lasts longer than the other.

So that's all I have to say, I am a Blogger with an influence and not an Influencer so kindly feck off with your Influencer labels.

Where do you stand on the Blogger / Influencer topic? Do you think I'm talking out my arse? Let me know below ( I dare ya ;) )

Till next time my pretties xxx

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Aussie Winter Miracle Shampoo & Remedy Deep Conditioner Review

I shared my Winter Hair Essentials last December and now that it's no longer Winter, at least here in Ireland, it is time to see how the essentials held up. I bought my first Aussie Shampoo and Conditioners while they were on sale in Tesco on Black Friday last year. There had been a lot of ads around that time so I guess I was subconsciously conditioned to be drawn towards them when I saw they were on sale. However today I will be reviewing them and comparing them to how they've fared with my previous Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner.

Normally before I buy hair products, I read a tonne of reviews on them and how they work for natural African hair. This time, I didn't want the opinion of someone else to impact my opinion of the product. I chose the Winter Miracles because they were formulated to give extra moisture, something my hair generally needs, especially during winter.

1) The Shampoo

I cleanse my hair every two weeks and Co-Wash every second day. That would explain why I still have a half filled bottle of the Shampoo remaining and my Conditioner is all gone. Before, I would use a cheap shampoo to cleanse my hair and then a natural hair friendly shampoo to strip away the sulfates and bad chemicals that dry out hair left behind by the shampoo. With the Aussie shampoo I just used the one.

It was a good shampoo for striping away dirt and cleaning my hair and scalp. It didn't entirely make my hair feel leathery like some other shampoos, it did the job and a good one too. Compared to my Herbal Essences one that I used to use, the Aussie shampoo was the much better option albeit not all that different . Where the Herbal Essence left my hair dried out and feeling strawlike even after conditioning, the Aussie shampoo retained some moisture so my curls still maintained their elasticity even before I added conditioner which was the only notable difference quality wise.

The price points between the two however is....BIG. I could buy a 1L bottle of  Herbal Essence Hello Hydration shampoo from the pound store for €1.50 and paid €6.00 for a 300ml bottle on sale! So for that price, you would expect the Aussie product to be the far better quality one and in fairness, it is. If only you got more liquid  for your buck.

2) The Conditioner: Deep Remedy

Honestly I liked the Winter Remedy Deep Treatment conditioner just as much as any other conditioner, there was nothing truly spectacular about it. You may notice a certain change of tone from when I first wrote about the conditioner in my Winter Essentials post.  It was early days then and after using it for the last few months I think I was initially lost in the honeymoon phase of it. I was also probably influenced by the ads and talking it up to myself but after the last few months I can conclude that there's nothing really special about the conditioner other than the fact that it smells nice. 

It felt nice when I was in the shower and my hair hung in bouncy curls drenched in water but was a very different story once I rinsed it out. In fact, I often didn't rinse it out because once I rinsed it there was really not much moisture left in my hair at all and my hair would begin to feel brittle and shrink a lot faster which was not fun.

The Deep Remedy Treatment therefore on par with the Herbal Essence Hello Hydration conditioner in terms of quality. However when it comes to price, the Herbal Essence is the outright winner. Just like the shampoo I can buy a 1L bottle for only €1.50 in Dealz whereas I paid €6.00 for 300ml of the Aussie Winter Remedy Deep Treatment from Tesco. So my advice is to save yourself the money and go with the Herbal Essence if it's a choice between the two.

I am currently moving on from the Winter hair arsenal and looking forward to summer. I've got my eye on some hair products, a few of which I am trying out right now! This type 4C gal is going to conquer whatever the seasons throw at her. Are there any products you'd like me to look into ad review for you ahead of the summer? Let me know below in the comments.

Also what shampoos and conditioners are you currently in love with? I'd love to know!

Till next time my pretties xxx

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