A Lifestyle, Grooming And Technology Blog

Wednesday 31 May 2017

Let's Play | May 2017

It hasn't been the busiest month for video game releases so I thought I'd go back and play through a couple of my favourites from the year so far. Two massive sequels to highly respective titles - let's see if they matched up to the hype..

Gears of War 4 

The Gears of War series is a massive deal for Microsoft. The launch exclusive for the XBOX 360 way back in 2006 has now reached its 4th iteration but continues to innovate the shooter genre more than we ever thought it could have done. The series was always a big reason to own the Microsoft console, and luckily it still is.

The real struggle any returning player is going to find is in relation to the new characters. The original Gears Of War crew stood out because of how ridiculous they were. Here, our new cast are a little too generic to compare. They develop before all is said and done but none are as memorable as Delta Squad.

Ultimately, not much has changed, but that’s exactly why it’s so good. It’s been over three years since Gears Of War: Judgment, so jumping back in is like reacquainting yourself with an old friend. There are new modes – such as Dodgeball where you kill members of the opposition to revive deceased members of your own squad – but the real joy comes in how unique it still feels.

You can pick up Gears of War 4 on Amazon here.

Halo Wars 2 

As I said It's been a month of playing sequels and this is no exception. Halo Wars 2 is yet another example of a shining beacon from selection the Microsoft exclusives available for Xbox One. The Halo series has always ben at the cornerstone of what Microsoft stands for when it comes to top quality multiplayer shooters, but this RTS (real time strategy) approach to the series will be a welcome change for many.

If there’s one thing Halo Wars 2 gets emphatically right it’s the Halo content. You can feel it in the music and the front-end menus, the lengthy cut-scenes and the near-constant referencing of background bloodshed. If you’re looking for the sense that you’re fighting climactic battles straight from the Halo playbook, only from the perspective of a commander controlling units from the sky, it has you covered.

There’s some smart thinking going on behind the basics, too. As you play you can build up a range of Leader abilities, enabling you to heal or repair units or call down missile strikes, mines, turrets and ODST troopers. Upgrading skills makes them even more powerful, and using them wisely can be a game-changer, turning the tide of battle when you need it most.

Halo Wars 2 suffers a little from its console limitations, but it’s a solid RTS with a strong campaign and a good overall feel for the Halo universe.

You can pick up Halo Wars 2 on Amazon here. 


Monday 29 May 2017

Growing Your Blog Organically | A Guide To Self-Promotion

So you've created your very own blog (congratulations!) and have started frequently posting new content that you're super passionate about. Good start. The eternal struggle I had when I first started blogging just less than a year ago now was how to grow my audience and maintain that growth as the weeks go by without having to rely on things like paying for advertising space on blogs that were a similar niche to mine but had a much larger following. Organic growth is always best.

There's tons of guides online that'll tell you they can show you how to make $1,000 in your first month of blogging or get to 1m Instagram followers in less than a week.. but seriously it's just not possible, well not legally anyway. I thought I'd pull together my top tips on growing your blog organically and how to get away from hiding behind your laptop and actually actively promote your blog - scary i know! 

I've written a couple of blogging advice posts already which you can check out below so give them a read and let me know if there's any other tips that would be helpful, although maybe yano finish reading this one first? 

#1 | Reach out & engage with the community

Bloggers don't bite! There's no better way to organically grow your blog than simply engaging with other bloggers and content creators and getting their thoughts, feedback and criticism on your content. There are Twitter chats every day of the week to get involved in and start sharing your latest posts. This will help gain not only visitors to your blog but hopefully lifelong readers and subscribers too. 

Blogger events can also be a fantastic face to face alternative to virtual chats, and usually end up being much more productive. Most of them centre around London but ask around and see if there are any taking place on your area, or if not why not create one yourself? They are the perfect way to meet local content creators and come up with new collaborations.

#2 | Think about post titles - SEO is key

I am absolutely no expert when it comes to SEO, but I do know that the choice of title really helps. Posts with titles such as '5 things/ways/......' are always good. They're more likely to come up on search engines. I mean, I definitely don't stick to this all the time, because you've gotta keep it personal too! It sounds obvious but always try and make your title clear to the reader what they might be about to click through to on your blog. 

For example, if I was writing a post about the technology I use everyday, I wouldn't want to just say "Never leave the house without your iPhone". This certainly sounds interesting, which might get you a few clicks, but doesn't actually explain the post of the post. Something like "The tech I use everyday" is much shorter and to the point, but also does a better job of explaining the subject of the content your readers are about to see. 

When creating, and uploading a blog post, keywords should always be in the forefront of your mind. Without your vital keywords in your content, search engines won’t be able to see what your post is about and then can’t show it in their search results. If you take anything away from this incredibly long blog post it has to be about the importance of keywords.

Before I start a blog post, I always do a little keyword analysis. It doesn’t have to take forever, and it doesn’t have to be long winded. I think about the post that I am going to write, and I start using search engines to look for certain words or phrases to see what results come up and if it is a keyword that I want to implement into my post. Then I will write my post. I won’t think about keywords for the time being, I will just write my post as I want it to read so that I know it has a good flow to it.

Then when it is in the proofing stage I will go through and implement keywords where I think it needs them. You do have to be careful though not to put too many keywords into your post. If your content doesn’t flow and it is choppy due to the overuse of keywords this can go against you in regard to SEO. Everything in moderation is key and make sure that it reads nice and smoothly when you are finished.

#3 | Create eye-catching content

I don't know about you, but the first thing that entices me into reading a blog post, is the photography. I think its good to keep the photography clean, and simple. Well, this is if you're photographing products of course. A busy background can often distract the eye from the product you're talking about, so keeping it simple(ish) is always a good idea!

I often visit sites such as Unsplash to get stock photography that's free to use. This way even if you're not a dab hand and taking photos you can still create super engaging content that will be more likely to get people clicking on, whether that be through Bloglovin, Instagram, Twitter or others. 

#4 | Don't be afraid of social media

My next point on this guide is based around the myth of too much self-promotion. When you first start out it can often be daunting to keep tweeting about your latest post and flooding instagram with all your fancy new flat lays, but the truth is you just have to keep at it if you want to get a serious following. Determination is the most important thing when it comes to starting out. For the first few weeks or even months you won't get any followers and barely and readers. But that's just it, you shouldn't be writing your blog for sole purpose of quitting your job and making big bucks blogging all day because let's face it it's just not going to happen that way. Blog for yourself first - always be selfish when it comes to the content you create.

I've gone off track slightly...but you get the point. There's so much social media has to offer when it comes to promoting your blog. Heres just a couple of pointers:

  • Comment on at least 5 blog posts per day with  a link back to your site.
  • Use hashtags that fit your blog's niche like #BBLOGGERS or #LBLOGGERS. 
  • Post regularly on Instagram and engage with the users that like or comment.
  • Link back to your blog in the bios of all your social media - make it ridiculously easy for people to find your blog.
So that's my short and sweet guide to growing your blog organically. There are various ways to to pay for more traffic and more followers, which I can cover in another post but really the best route to a successful blog is creating content that you enjoy and sharing it with others that feel the same.

#5 | Invest time on your header & logo

When somebody clicks onto your blog, the first thing that their eyes see most of the time is your header or logo. What you need to do with that header is make sure that it is good enough to entice people in and want to stay on your page. It needs to clearly show what your website or blog is about and be easy to understand. Anything that is too intense and crowded can often turn people away. 

When people click onto your site and then go straight back off this is classed as a bounce, when your website hits a certain percentage of bounces Google will start to think of your website as spam and will try to refrain from showing it on their search results. A normal percentage bounce rate is around 40%, any more than that and you are in the red zone of what is acceptable. When designing your header, you just need to have in the forefront of your mind, does this represent my blog? Does this represent who I am as a person and a blogger? And, is this easy to understand and does it get my message across?

#6 | Consistency is key

To hold your audience and keep them interested and wanting to come back you need to be consistent on your blog. If they like what they read but you don’t post for months at a time they aren’t going to spend their time keep coming back to see if you have finally uploaded, they will just go elsewhere to see what somebody else has to say and you have lost yourself a reader. Make sure that you think of a schedule in your mind and try to stick to it. It doesn’t have to be set in stone but just a rough guide to keep you on the right track. 

I write and upload a blog post every alternate day or at a push, every third day, this is manageable for me and I find it really easy to do. This way, I can upload on time every day without too much pressure and my readers know where they stand because majority of the time there will always be something new for them to take a look at. 

Also, when you upload on a regular basis it also helps to boost your site up the search engine rankings. Platforms will notice that you are consistent, and they will link that to being a source of reliability so they are more likely to show you on their search results. You don’t have to upload all of the time but just be consistent in your uploads and try and stick to a noticeable plan.

#7 | The speed of your blog

We all know how annoying it is when you click onto a website and it takes forever and a day to load up. It literally does my head in and if I click onto a website and it isn’t fast responsive I will click back off because realistically who has the time to watch a website load for what seems like forever? Always check that your website can handle what you are uploading. For example, if you are uploading a post which is very heavy in images make sure that they aren’t too large. Yes, we want the images to be high quality, but you can keep the quality and have a reduced file size. It just allows people's computers, phones and tablets to be able to handle the amount of data that you are trying to show on their screen. 

If your site does take a long time or it even gets to the point where the screen times out because it takes that long, it can be really negative for your all-important quality score. The little Google-bots that scan your site will notice how long it takes to completely load and this will impact your position on the search rankings because Google don’t want to show anything that will look negative on them. At the end of the day by Google having us high on the search rankings it is basically them promoting us for free, so they need to make sure that what they are pushing is good stuff.

Sunday 28 May 2017

Vinyl Arrivals #2

It's been a busy old month for new music releases so I thought I'd share with you the vinyls I've picked up lately. My last vinyls post was one of the most popular I've ever done so I hopped onto Amazon and ordered some more!

John Mayer - The Search For Everything

The latest release from John Mayer is easily his best work since the incredible blue-athon that was Continuum. The Search For Everything combines many of his best sounds and spans many genres into a single record including some acoustic tear jerkers as well as the more recent blues-filled sound you'd find on Paradise Valley. A true masterpiece from start to finish. Available here.

Paramore - After Laughter

I wasn't quite sure what to expect for this upcoming album but i'm so happy with what we got. A lot of bands change their style over the course of their career and Paramore is no exception. After Laughter is a mixture of old and new. Its a new place for paramore, but its what they excel at. The album has the standard tone, themes and pacing of a regular paramore, in an 80s style. The old paramore style may be dead, but the new one thrives in this mixture of songs that show the real feelings behind the past 4 years that paramore have been away for.  Available here.

Harry Styles - Harry Styles

If somebody would have told me a year or two ago that I would one day buy an album from somebody in one direction I would have never believed them. But here I am with the first solo effort from Harry Styles in my possession and wow, i'm blown away by the 70s pop-rock vibe.  It will be interesting to see how many one direction fans turn away from this new style that Harry is going down, but it will be equally interesting to see how many new fans are picked up along the way. 

It is an album that deserves to be heard, and this guy should be applauded for taking such a huge risk and proving what a truly talented singer-songwriter he is. Don't turn your nose up just because he was in a boy band, Give him the chance and the credit he deserves for crafting such a brilliant first solo album. Available here. 

So those are my new vinyl additions for the past month, what do you think are their any more new releases I need to consider? You can check out my first vinyl arrivals post here. 


Monday 8 May 2017

Growing Your Domain Authority

If you've not come across the term Domain Authority (DA) before, then simply put it's a measure of between 1-100 of the quality of your website in terms of SEO. This is SO IMPORTANT for the blogging community because your score will go along way to determine the ranking of your content in search engines such as Google. Allowing users to organically find your blog content via search is the holy grail when it comes to our community because it means focusing less on broadcasting your latest and greatest post all over your social media, and more time writing the next post!

Generally speaking, a DA of 25 is a good benchmark for a quality website that contains SEO friendly content. Brands often request a DA of at least this standard before working with potential influencers to ensure that the blog on which their product/service will be promoted will be beneficial for them in terms of additional traffic to their own site.

How to increase DA

The first question you're probably asking yourself is "Well what's the domain authority for my blog?". Well I'm glad you asked! Head over to Moz Open Site Explorer and enter the URL of your site to find out just that. There's a couple of key stats to take note of here:

DA Score - Authority of the entirety of your site (www.theguyontrend.co.uk)
PA Score - Authority of a specific page of your site (www.theguyontrend.co.uk/p/advertising) 

The easiest way to increase your domain authority is gaining quality external links to your blog. The best way to do this is simply by commenting on blog posts you enjoy and making sure to include a link back to your website. If the blog you commented on has a high DA and you get a decent number of clicks back to your website from that page then it will benefit your own authority score. Simple right? Just remember, increasing your DA is no quick process mainly due to that fact that in can take some time to get relevant clicks back to your content once you start leaving lots of comments and secondly sites like Moz only update their stats around once a month - so keep checking back regularly to see how your score is improving over time. 

Another great way to improve the DA score of your site is some simple SEO house keeping. Little tasks like remembering to include meta descriptions, title tags and cross-linking to other content on your site throughout your posts are quick wins when it comes to tackling your score. 

Always remember to go back and check your old blog posts for any broken images and especially broken links. Google will instantly spot these and punish you and your DA score. Linking to a product on ASOS that no longer exists? Change it. Linking to an old article that's since been moved? Find it and update the link. All of these little bits of blogging admin soon pile up but will ultimately improve the score of your website and allow you to confidently reach out to brands and improve your site's ranking on search engines. 

Lastly, remember that your DA will generally increase in line with the age of your website so these things can take a lot of time. I've only been blogging regularly for just over a year and have so far managed to keep my DA pretty stable at 12/100, which is still very much below average but I've noticed it improve significantly over the past few months as i've started to add new SEO-friendly content to the site on a regular basis.

I hope you've found these tips helpful, do you have any more advice on growing and maintaining a healthy DA for your blog?


Saturday 6 May 2017

Wishlist | Space.NK & Get £10 Off

Browsing the Space NK website is addictive. Every time I make an order there's instantly another 5-6 things added to my wishlist to remember for next time. They've got a great selection of products for men, which is still quite rare these days and also a selection of candles and diffusers. I thought I'd share with you the most recent additions to my ever-growing wishlist. Also look out for my referral link below that will nab you £10 off your first order - you're welcome!

1. Anthony Algae Facial Cleanser - £36 

Don't let the name put you off with this one! The Algae facial cleanser contains Azulene - a known ingredient in algae but also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties so it's perfect for reducing blemishes and softening the skin. There's also a heavy presence of lavender here so if you're a fan then this is definitely for you.

2. Aesop London Travel Kit - £50

This fantastic travel kit for Aesop contains loads of travel-sized skincare essentials - perfect for a long weekend somewhere. No need to bring a huge bag of lotions and potions. The London kit is all you need. There's shampoo, condition, bath oils and much more. It's also an affordable way to try out some of Aesop's best-known products before you go all in and purchase the full size versions.

3. Diptyque Mimosa Scented Candle - £24

There's no better way to burn your hard earned money than candles (sorry I couldn't help myself!). I've never been lucky enough to own one from Diptyyque but this Mimosa scented one sounds incredible! They'll burn for around 60 hours which makes them pretty pricey but from visiting several of their stores and testing out the scents it seems worth it to me!

4. Kiehls Daily Reviving Concentrate - £38

This one's a must buy! I've been using the equivalent night time concentrate for around 3 months now and it's fantastic. It takes some getting used to as it's extremely oily on the skin and certainly doesn't feel like it's going to do anything good to your skin. But when you wake up in the morning your skin instantly feels nourished and softer. So this is the versions for applying before the day ahead. Round the clock visibly healthier looking skin sounds like the dream to me!

5. Tom Ford Noir Eau de Toilette 50ml  - £54

Did I mention Space NK sell fragrances? They've got a wide selection and this is certainly one of the ones I'm so excited to add to my collection one day soon. Noir is made up of citrus and notes that create a fragrance that can be worn in the office or out to a formal event. It's also pretty reasonably priced for a Tom Ford scent at £54 - most of them are just under £100! 

6. Kiehls Ultra Facial Cream - £24.50 

Lastly, here's one of Kiehl's most popular products that I'm still yet to try out for myself. It's hyped up as a 24-hour moisturiser than you're supposed to combine with the aforementioned  day and night concentrate oils. It ensures your skins remains soft and healthy-looking throughout the day, which sounds perfect. No need to top up during the course of the day.

Get £10 off your first order at Space NK by using this link.

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Create Content You're Proud Of

When you're constantly comparing your blog to others it can often be difficult to be happy with the content you're creating and making sure it's truly unique. Does your latest post really fit with the other content your readers are enjoying or is it an excuse to gain additional views and followers? Never create content just for exposure. 

Spending hours over not just the words in your post but also the photography and links is so important, why waste all of that work on something you're not actually proud to call your own? Now i'm not saying there's anything wrong with chatty life update posts.. in fact this is kind of turning into one of those now I think about it, but you always have to make sure you're being true to yourself and your content as you write. Here's my 5 sure fire ways to create content you can really be proud of...
Write posts you'd love to read yourself 
Kind of an obvious one I think, but re-read your post a few times after you think you've finished creating it and just make sure it's something you'd enjoy reading and that it meets the description of the title. I'm assuming you're creating content for followers that have the same interests and passions as you do? So just make sure it actually meets the brief if that makes sense. If you came across your post on another blog would the title alone make you want to read on? This also rings true when it comes to sponsored posts. Getting paid to blog seems like a dream come true for most content creators but never agree to a paid post if it doesn't match the theme of your blog - readers will be able to see straight through it!

Partner up 
Everyone hits a brick wall sometimes when it comes to blog ideas. You can read my post about it here. It's so frustrating scrolling through Bloglovin reading all kinds of different posts and wishing you had a killer idea that would both engage your readers and get them sharing it all over social media. The key to keeping your readers coming back is fresh new content posted regularly and sometimes the best way to achieve that is teaming up with a fellow blogger for a collaboration or guest post. I always find I'm much more creative and ideas come quicker when i'm writing something with another blogger and it's also a great way to get your name out there and reach new readers. 

Create a schedule that works for you 
Most bloggers these days are combined to force their love of writing with a full time job.. blergh. There's very few bloggers that  are able to quit their job altogether to focus on their blog, which I actually think is quite a good thing. I enjoy the fact that blogging is more of a hobby as it never seems like a chore and certainly not something I'm forced to reply on for income.  If you're busy 9-5 for most of the week like I am then creating a schedule for creating and posting content is essential if you want to put the most time into each post as possible, rather than cramming writing into a Sunday evening which is something I've found myself doing for too long now.  

There's loads of planners available on Easy or Amazon but I find the best way to plan your content out over a month is just a simple calendar template from either Evernote or Google Docs. That way you can plan your content on the go and create checklists to make sure you've done your links and image alt tags etc. for the best SEO. 

I always try and allow 30 minutes each evening after work just to brainstorm new ideas and write short descriptions of each post - that way when it comes to actually sitting down and writing them I've got some clear direction on what needs writing next.  

So that’s it there’s my advice on creating content you’re proud. I hope it helps! Do you have any more tips to share? 

Monday 1 May 2017

Gaining Confidence As A Blogger

Blogging can often be insanely addictive and rewarding, but also extremely intimidating especially when you're just starting out. The fact that you want to create content and share it with the world via your blog would suggest your confidence may be relatively high already, but often when you start to face criticism it's easy to be tempted to just throw in the towel and stop writing about the topics you're passionate about - just because others don't agree.

Here's a few pointers on how to avoid just that. Don't give up and be confident about the content you create. The key to diving into the blogging world is just that - dive in.

1. Join welcoming communities

Blogging is all about the community. Whether that be the relationship between you and your readers or with your fellow bloggers, it's key especially as a newbie to get as involved as you can in Twitter chats and Instagram pods that are all aimed at helping new and aspiring bloggers share their content and reach new readers. I've also recently been getting involved with Facebook groups that are focused on sharing and commenting on other people's content and getting new followers. I've seen some fantastic results in terms of traffic to my blog so go ahead and get involved.

2. Don't over complicate

It's so important, and yet often over looked, to focus your mind on exactly what your blog is all about. This is especially key when approaching brands for potential PR samples or product reviews. You need to be able to deliver that 2 minute elevator pitch on what your blog stands for and why brands would what to associate themselves with you. And the same goes for your readers. 

I only tend to read blogs regular that have consistent content, both in terms of regularity and subject matter. Nowadays it's so obvious when bloggers start writing about specific products that have nothing to do with anything else they've done or their readers interests. Stick to what you love and stick at it.

3.  See others as inspiration

Before I started The Guy on Trend I used to spend hours scrolling through some incredible blogs with fascinating content and impressive imagery and it always got me thinking "Well how hard can it be?" Turns out... very. Even once you've set yourself up with a catchy name and fancy looking blog template you've still got to actually fill your little corner of the internet with something interesting for your readers to consume. 

It's so easy to compare yourself and your blog to that of others. But just remember no matter how many followers you have or what your monthly page views stats look like it all comes down to how much you enjoy writing. It's inevitable that you'll start comparing your content and your stats to your fellow bloggers but try and see it as inspiration rather than competition. It sounds selfish but write for you and you alone. 

I hope these tips have helped. Do you have any ideas on boosting your confidence as a blogger?

//  Matt 

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