A Lifestyle, Grooming And Technology Blog

(AD - GIFTED) - This is a sponsored post. The Red Lion were kind enough to gift the meal, however all opinions shared within this post are my own.

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend the press night for the re-opening of The Red Lion, located in Stoke Green just a stones throw from Slough. It re-opened on Saturday 9th Feb with a stunning revamped dining and bar area.

When we arrived we were greeted by the team and taken over to the bar area, where we were invited to create our own gin cocktails. Not a bad start to the evening! We got to choose from all kinds of toppings and ingredients and it was super interesting getting tips from the bar staff on creating the perfect drink.

Once we picked up our drinks, we had a quick mooch around the newly refurbished restaurant before heading into the main dining area to take our seats. There were so many cosy nooks and air chairs located all around in front of roaring fires. It was super stylish but also comfortable enough to bring the family for a Sunday roast. 

Where do I start with the food? The menu was incredibly vast, I was worried that the huge selection would lead to a reduction in quality. You know those places that do a few dishes but really well? It was hard to imagine how they could deliver so much and do it all well. But I was thrilled to be proven wrong when the food made it's way out! There was even an extensive Vegan menu, which we didn't sample but was once again filled with delicious sounding starters and mains.

For my main course I went with the roasted Lamb, served with aubergine, roasted sweet peppers, potato dauphinoise, and red wine Jus (£21.95). Check out the pic below. I had to hurry because I couldn't wait to get stuck into it..

I ordered the meat medium rare and it was prepared to absolute perfection; the meat was served on the bone and was perfectly tender and was complimented beautifully with a hint of mint, which gave the dish that traditional Sunday roast taste.

My girlfriend went with the Salmon fillet on Chorizo mash, tenderstem broccoli and Bouillabaisse sauce (£15.50). I was reliably informed that it was just as delicious as it looks! 

Despite being incredibly full already, we managed to find some room (as always) for a quick peek at the desserts menu. Again, I couldn't believe how vast the menu was. There were so many choices it was almost impossible to choose between them! I went for the Mango, Berry and Coconut Meringue Mess and it was super sweet but delicious. It was their take on the classic Eton mess with a twist and really worked. 

Honestly I really couldn't fault the service at The Red Lion. Not a single mistake was made. The staff were extremely attentive, but not overbearing. We had a fantastic waitress who was able to explain the menu to us and answer any questions we had. The food came out really quickly and we ended up being extremely jealous of what other guests had chosen as it all looked so tasty.

Are you in the Berkshire area and looking for a great date night spot or Sunday roast? Why not try the newly refurbished Red Lion. You won't regret it, I know i'll certainly be taking a trip back there very soon.

Looking for more local restaurants to visit? Check out my review of The Warren, Wokingham here

This time of year is always HUGE for new video game releases! With Christmas fast approaching, game publishers are always keen to get their latest and greatest in the hands of gamers around the world as soon as possible, with a lot of us having a Christmas wishlist full of the latest releases.

I've picked up a couple of new games over the past few weeks, one of which is surely a no brainer for Game Of The Year. Even if you're not a huge video game addict like myself, you've surely heard of this one. So here's a quick look at what I've been playing recently...

Red Dead Redemption 2

I could probably write an entire post about my admiration for this game. I took a day off work to play it when it came out a few weeks ago and literally played it non stop for the first weekend I had it. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the original Red Dead that came out almost 10 years ago now for the Xbox 360, and oh man have Rockstar Games been working their magic during that time to make this game a true masterpiece.

You can spend the first chapter marveling at the snow effects and drawing rude pictures by walking about but at some point you have to hit the story which involves riding on horse a bit (you have to hold a button to follow while they give you the story) , shoot a bit and then go back to camp. Repeat this a few times and you're on to chapter 2 where the game opens up into. Well more of the same, just less snow.

Now there are issues, just look at the endless YouTube rants and discussion to see that! Too slow paced, clunky controls, the character is slow, not as good as the first. Some of these comments are true but only to a point! Yes, it is a first slow but that’s story and character building. Anyone used to the current crop of twitch shooters and the hand holding and your character possessing the superhuman abilities of the Assassin’s Creed games will find Arthur lumbering. Controls can be fiddly but patience and a little time in the controls will help. But the key thing here is Arthur feels, well, real! He’s heavy and human and feels like flesh and bone and he fits his world perfectly.

The world itself is vast, being substantially larger than the original (even though it features the top half of the first game, anyway). It varies from alligator-invested swamps to open plains, from an industrialised city to farming commutnies, from mountain peaks to snow-carpeted wilderness; in terms of location, this game simply has it all. And the story takes you to a large amount of the map in an organic way, which is not only relevant to the story, but also gives you a chance to explore different areas out of your own leisure. The light effects are beautiful, especially when the dying light of sundown dapples through the arms of trees. The sound effects add to the immersive world too, with crisp sound quality that makes it again seem more than a video game. Rockstar’s attention to detail is the greatest achievement in video game history as of so far. Even rockstar themselves may not be able to surpass what they have achieved with this game. I play on an Xbox one X and on a 4K TV, and in Native 4K, this game is beyond stunning. Many times (more than I dare to admit), I was staring out into the game’s world in awe. I was simply left with pure wonder at how a game could look, feel and sound so real.

NPCs will carry on with whatever they’re doing or saying whether you’re there to witness it or not. Encounters happen frequently, meaning long horse journeys to and from locations are not mundane or lacking excitement. Rival gangs will ambush you or be up to no good within your proximity. Citizens will ask for your help or try to rob you. So much can happen that you almost can never predict when something will; that’s what keeps it fresh after countless hours of play.

You can pick up Red Dead Redemption 2 on Amazon here 

Overwatch - Game of The Year Edition

Overwatch has now been out for well over a year but I recently decided to pick up the Game of The Year Edition as it came with some cool extras including free loot boxes and an exclusive character skin. This is online only, so you will need an Xbox Live subscription to play. If you don't know what Overwatch is about it is basically a Team vs Team of various game types, and is usually more fun with friends. If you love competitive gameplay you'll enjoy this. It often does start to bore me after awhile due to its repetition, so I will often end up after 2-3hrs sticking in a RPG or something. You will find that you will get better as you play more, and you will start to learn what chararcters suit you most {I personally prefer Soldier, Tracer, Sombra, Hanzo and Widowmaker}, but for a casual gamer you will die, rage and sigh but cheer and feel a great accomplishment when you get your first kill, then your ten and so forth. Obviously not all players play fair, some games will test your patience.

There's a huge amount of variety on offer when it comes to heroes and the unique abilities that they bring to game play. You'll certainly find your favourites but all of them have some cool abilities that can counter those of other heroes. It's super competitive but if you're a casual gamer just looking for something that you can pick up and play then no fear as there's plenty of unranked modes that enable you to hone your skills before taking on some seriously high level players in the ranked match making. If you are up for a challenge then the leveling system on offer here is super rewarding, and offers periodic cosmetic items that can help you show off your level, but importantly never impacts the core gameplay by giving you overpowered weapons or characters. Everything on offer is purely cosmetic. 

Podcasts have certainly made a massive comeback over the past couple of years, with tens of thousands of them now available across a wide variety of platforms. Hosted by everyone these days from your favourite bloggers  to politicians and footballers, there's so much choice and you're bound to find a podcast to suit you. I can completely understand the fascination with them nowadays thanks to Apple creating a standalone Podcasts app in 2014 as part of iOS 8, which really put this rather stale platform right back under the noses of millions of users around the world.

I thought I'd share a couple of the podcasts I'm addicted to right now..

Wrestle Me

If you're a fan of WWE or wrestling in general then this weekly podcast really is a must listen. It's hosted by two guys, Pete and Mark, but only one of them has been a life long fan of WWE and really understands the sport whereas the other host is brand new to it. The weekly shows are basically reviews of each Wrestlemania event since the early 1980s and filled with hilarious comments and trivia about the history of the "Showcase of the immortals". A fascinating look into the world of pro wrestling whilst hearing a perspective of someone who has previously been on the outside looking in.  A really enjoyable show with well researched background info on some of the biggest names in WWE, as wells some of it's little known jobbers. Check it out here

Stephen Fry's Great Leap Years

Now this is a brand new podcast that only actually launched a week or so ago but you need to download it RIGHT NOW. Hosted by the wonderful Stephen Fry, these incredible hour long episodes dive into some of the inventions that have changed the world over the past 400 years or so. I won't ruin too much but the first episode delves into the dawn of language and written text. The depth and detail of the research that Fry and the team have clearly conducted is breathtaking. You're sure to learn a lot here. It's a really insightful listen and the perfect way to spend a morning commute.

How I Built This

Now this is my current podcast obsession. The How I Built This series has actually been running for a couple of years now but I only recently discovered it and have listened to literally hundreds of episodes already. It's basically a series of interviews with the creators of some of the worlds most recognisable and respected brands. Inspirational listening for anyone running a small business or dreams of making it big. Some of my favourite episodes include the fascinating stories behind Dyson, Toms, Instagram and AirBnB. It's incredible listening to the entrepreneurs behind some of the world's biggest businesses, who often started out broke in their college dorm rooms, describe their journey to making hugely successful brands. Give it a listen you really won't regret it, and if anything you'll probably arrive at work feeling inspired!

What are some of your favourite podcasts?

It's been a little while since I did a post about my most recent vinyl purchases, so here we go! I normally pick up my records on Depop just because it's usually quite a bit cheaper than amazon. You can pick up vintage ones too, which for some reason just sound even better. Here's what I've picked up over the past few weeks...

Baby Driver

This is one of the best films I've seen over the past few months so I thought why not pick up the vinyl of the soundtrack, which was incredible. As a "soundtrack" it's great. Many songs and instrumentals you hear, you can easily have the scene running through your head. That's the sign of a great and memeroble soundtrack & film. But as an "album", playing in your living room or car, the tracklisting is all over the place and doesn't flow well at all. Going from the Damned's "Neat, Neat, Neat" to a slow, soul ballad doesn't sound good at all. What would've been better would be to collect all the tracks used in the film and rearranged their sequence, just to flow better instead of putting them in order of the movie. You can buy it here.

Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' 

Dylan's second album from 1963 has hardly dated at all, and contains some of his most famous and most remarkable songs. Any album that contains the originals of "Blowin' in the Wind", "Girl From the North Country", "Masters of War", "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice" has to be essential listening. Each of these songs remains as relevant today as when written. The album also features one of his most beautiful love songs (Girl From the North Country) as well as the first of many brilliant and caustic put-downs (Don't Think Twice). This album really is a classic and your collection shouldn't be without it. You can pick it up here.

Gavin James - Bitter Pill

Gavin James is an incredible British artist with some amazing (if very depressing) songs. His debut 2016 album Bitter Pill is a great example of this. Previously known for supporting Ed Sheehan at various performance, here Gavin gets the chance to shine on his own and he really does! m so glad that he is getting the recognition he deserves, proof that talent and hard graft can win out. I've never seen him live but would love to oneday. For now, I'll satisfy myself with listening to his haunting melancholic voice and beautifully structured songs.

What are some of your favourite new releases? Any recommendations for what i should pick up next?

Check out my other Vinyl Arrivals posts below:

Vinyl Arrivals #1
Vinyl Arrivals #2

It still hasn’t quite sunk in that it’s now 2018. Seriously, where has the time gone?! For the first time in forever I don’t feel anxious and uneasy about the new year starting, it just feels like another day, which I love! It’s that time of year again, time to look ahead to the next twelve months and do some goal setting!

1. Travel to at least 3 new places

I don’t think a list of goals would be complete without striving for some more travelling. Over the last year I have become a real homebody so hopefully this year I can get out of my comfort zone and explore new places. Topping my list is Prague, Bath and Canada.

2. Be more content 

This is my number one goal for 2018. To be more content. To spend less time contemplating what other people think of me, how I should be spending my time, who I should be spending time with. Basically I want to feel happier and more secure in my own skin and to feel totally content with the decisions I’m making.

Instagram is not real life. Yet I compare myself to others on there on a daily basis! I honestly didn’t realize I was even doing it at first. I would spend hours looking at other bloggers perfectly curated stories & IG feeds and would think thoughts like “Wow, they’re so much more successful than I am”. This year I need to put my focus into my OWN content and stay in my lane. I no longer want to compare myself to other people’s highlight reels on social media.

3. Plan blog content & post consistently 

This year I want to create and stick to a content calendar. Planning out blog post content so I can share posts on a consistent basis is a main goal for 2018. It always helps when I create a very organized calendar, so that’s what I need to do!

4. Grow my socials

I've had some pretty good growth across my socials over 2017 but would really like to take it to the next level this year! I'm hoping goal 3 can help massively with this - posting content consistently is kew for growing an engaged audience so that's the plan. My goals are 2k on Twitter and 20k on IG. You can follow me on most platforms @MattMaidment

5. Minimise 

I'm by no means an expert in minimalist living but i did have a good go at it earlier in 2017. I wrote a blog post about my experience here. I'd love to get back into this in the early part of this year and really make an effort to de-clutter and minimise unnecessary purchases. No-spend January here i come!

Do you believe in making goals and resolutions? Have you made any for 2018? I’d love to hear about them!

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.
For some reason towards the end of last year I started feeling really sluggish and unmotivated to blog and create new content. The start of 2017 had me feeling those "new year new me" feels and so I wanted to start posting much more regularly - ideally 2-3 times per week was the aim. And let's be honest, I've not exactly succeeded with that so far. There's nothing worse than putting an entire Saturday afternoon and evening aside to get blogging and then find you have absolutely no idea what to write about. 

Although I've not done the most amazing job I thought I'd share some of the ways I try and break through bloggers block to create and share content that feels relevant and honest. 

One of the best things I did recently was re-writing my about me page. Not only is it the window into your content for prospective new readers to find out more about you and the reasons you create the content you do, but also the easiest way for brands to consider whether you might be right for a collaboration with them.

I admit I had a bit of a wobble a couple of months ago and started questioning what this little corner of the internet i call my blog was even about, and why anyone would want to subscribe! I went back a read one of the first posts I ever wrote (but never actually posted!) about why i wanted to start blogging in the first place and what experiences and opinions I wanted to share with the world. This soon got me inspired and the posts just started flowing after that!

My next tip is to stop comparing yourself to others. I went through a phase (and still often do) of reading some of my favourite blogs then becoming really uninspired to write anything myself. "Why would people want to read my blog after seeing amazing content like this?!". They key here is to take inspiration from other people's fantastic content then get commenting and involve yourself in blogger chats to understand how you can collaborate with others to create great new ideas.

Whatever you love writing about - just do it. A bit of a cliche phrase I know but hey Nike can make it work so why can't I? This is all about not being tempted to write about specific topics or products just to get noticed. It's so much easier to write about things that make you happy. Never create content purely with the intention of getting paid or getting more followers. Never be disheartened by the fact that a post you've put hours and hours into doesn't get 10,000 views the first week you publish it for the world to see! The right readers might just be round the corner.

 Anyway, this has been a bit of ramble. But that's a good thing I think from time to time. What keeps you motivated to keep on blogging?

Do you often feel uninspired and unmotivated to write a new blog post? Is your blog looking tired and in need of a refresh? Same! I thought I'd pull together a few quick ideas on how you can up your blogging game.. right now! No long term project or expensive hacks.. just quick and easy steps to a better blog and a more motivated you!

1. Update an old post

This seems like it could be a waste of time but seriously.. re read your 5 most popular blog posts and update them with fresh experiences. Have your views and opinions changed on the subject? Let your readers know! They must have been popular posts for a reason so it makes sense to keep them fresh right? Maybe add some new or better quality images as well to really freshen up your content.

2. Don't forget self-promotion

Got a load of new content but nobody reading it? Don't forget to shout about your latest posts across social media and share on Bloglovin'. That's where I get over 75% of my page views from so it makes sense so share your content with as many people as possible using popular hashtags. Self-promotion can be a daunting thing when you're just starting out but it's the best way to get eyes on your blog. Tools such as buffer or Tailwind are great ways of automating and scheduling your content across social media. 

3. Get a new template

Now I tend to do this every 3 months or so just because I get bored easily of the layout of my blog, but it makes sense to refresh your template a couple of times a year just to wow your existing readers when they come back to look at your content, and of course entice new visitors into your blog! I always use Pipdig for my templates, which don't come cheap but are amazing quality and come with all the instructions you need to create an amazing new layout. 

4. Cross-link to new content

Be sure to add cross-links from older blog posts to newer ones with a similar theme to make sure your readers are finding your newer content. This will also help to stop losing visitors after reading only a single post on your site. This is also a great way of encouraging new followers and comments when people discover new content that they enjoy!

5. Submit your blog to search engines

Sites like Google Webmaster and Bing allow you to submit your website to ensure that it's always listed on their respective search engines. You can also learn handy SEO tips to get your blog listed as high up search result pages as possible to maximise traffic visiting your site.

6. Reach out to new brands

If you want new opportunities and sponsorship deals the easiest way to get them is to just get out there and communicate with brands that really match the content of your blog, and suit the interests of your readers. Brands are always more attracted to blogs that seem to fit the style and tone of their brand and products. So start chatting to them and who knows!

7. Clean out your side bar

If you use Google Analytics to track how visitors engage with the content on your blog then you should be able to identify widgets and areas of the sidebar that your readers simply aren't using? Are there any elements you could remove to allow you to focus on other things? Popular post widgets are often a waste if the content featured in them is out of date. Definitely worth a look.

8. Brainstorm future content

Does blogging inspiration always strike at the weirdest times or is that just me? The only time I can't think of a new post is when I actually sit down to write something so make sure you're constantly taking notes throughout the day if you get new ideas for content. You'll always forget later on! Try and pool your content ideas into categories then create and share new posts from each category over time. This will ensure readers are always enticed to return to your blog with the promise of fresh posts. 

9. Create a survey

If engagement with your most recent posts has taken a nose dive and you're not sure what's wrong then why not create a survey using a tool such as Survery Monkey to find out what's frustrating your readers. There's almost nothing worse than getting decent sums of traffic to your blog but very limited comments and feedback on your content. If you don't ask then you'll never know.

10. Buy your own domain

Having your very own fancy .co.uk or .com not only looks more professional and appealing to potential new readers but also gives you a whole host or new options when it comes to customising your site and adding new widgets and content. I always use GoDaddy for cheap and reliable domains and hosting, you also get a few business e-mail address too..fancy!

I hope these tips have helped inspire you to give your blog a 2017 refresh! Have you got any other ideas to share?

It feels as if winter is now in full swing, and that means a new coat is on the horizon for some over the next month or so. This week's wish list is one of my favourites so far featured a great value green puffer jacket from Topman, alongside the Photographer's Jacket from Oliver Spencer at a whopping £410. Another favourite is the dark green Jack Wills parka. All prices ranges covered here on The Guy On Trend! 

                                                                     Links : one // two // three // four // five

                                                                    Enjoy and let me know what your favourite is.

I'll be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect when I started watching Stranger Things. I'd heard great things about it but Sci Fi mysteries aren't normally my kind of thing. But I thought why not give it a go? I've watched loads of other Netflix originals like House of Cards and the like so it must worth a watch, right?

Stranger Things is set in a small town in Indiana, USA during the 1980's and follows the story of a boy that mysteriously disappears one night without a trace and a group of family and friends that try and find out what happened. The plot thickens when the town-folk accidentally stumble upon top secret government experiment but soon realise they might be dealing with something out of this world - no spoilers I promise!

Balancing style and substance is always challenging for a series like Stranger Things, but the show is perfectly calibrated. It feels like watching a show produced during the era in which it’s set, but with the craft of today’s prestige television.

By its end, after only eight episodes, Stranger Things becomes darker and more frightening than its opening suggests. It's also somewhat hopeful. It devotes many scenes to the characters that movies don't have time for: the mother, the local police chief (David Harbour), the hunky bully (Joe Keery), the older sister who's almost a woman (Natalia Dyer).

The casts of horror movies tend to shrink as the climax approaches, with a "final girl" or heroic dude left to face off against evil in the ending. Here, it's all the people we've come to care about, some paired up in surprising ways, some revealing themselves as more than we expected. In that, they're like the show they inhabit. Netflix has truly struck gold with this masterpiece of a mini-series. Here's hoping for a second season!

Instagram is easily one of my favourite social media platforms these days. However, everyone knows your feed is only as good as who you follow, so a strong set of accounts is paramount in getting the most out of IG. Whether you're after holiday or recipe inspiration, or just a bit of eye candy, Instagram is packed with incredible imagery from over 500 million users across the globe.

Here's just a selection of the accounts my feed couldn't live without:

Ultralinx is certainly one of the best lifestyle accounts I've come across over recent months. They post really inspirational set up shots for your home office and they also have an online store where you can purchase many of the items showcased on their feed. This always makes me want to create the most amazing office space in my flat.

Bang & Olufsen
Certainly one of the more familiar brand names on this list, Bang & Olufsen create some of the most incredible home cinema and personal audio experiences on the planet. Another one for the home & office lust list for sure. The set up images they post are just incredible.

Cau Restaurants 
If you've never been to Cau then you really are missing out! They do some of the best Argentinian steak around and love to post it all day long on their IG account. They frequently launch new dishes and menu items on there too so it's a great way of finding out when to book your next meal! 

The Projekt Store
The Project Store is an independent menswear retailer based in Sutton. They stock all kinds of great menswear brands including Ralph Lauren, Farah and Lacoste to name a few. They are always posting outfit ideas and some of their best deals so this is a great place to keep track of what's trending in British menswear. They also have a great website, which is relaunching very shortly.

Voyage Prive
Looking for ideas for an amazing holiday? Look no further than the Voyage Prive IG feed! They post pics of some of the most incredible holiday destinations and hotels from around the world, and the best part is you can actually stay there! They have some great offers on their website on various luxury travel experiences so check them out here

And that's just a few of the latest accounts I've been following. Who are you following on IG?

Don't forget you can follow me on Instagram right here

1. Tom Ford Noir (100ml) - £64.95

First on the list is one of my all time luxury scents by Tom Ford. This is a sophisticated and intense fragrance for the professional guy and lasts all day long. It’s also presented in this amazing black glass bottle. Featuring notes of vanilla, patchouli and oud wood this truly is an opulent experience and a great gift for guys this Christmas.

Available from allbeauty.com

2. Acqua Di Parma Colonia Essenza (180ml) - £123.00

This is the most expensive and exclusive cologne on my list. Certainly a real treat if you feel like splashing out this festive season! Colonia Essenza features notes of citrus and becomes even more pronounced with the addition of grapefruit, mandarin, and petitgrain. There are also woody notes, which creates this extremely masculine fragrance. Selfridges will also gift wrap the item for free which means you can put your feet up.

Available from selfridges.com 

3. Tom Ford Black Orchid (30ml) - £53.00

Another fragrance from Tom Ford for the list. Black Orchird is very pricey at over £50 for only a 30ml bottle but what a scent! This is one of the best bottles I’ve ever seen for a mens cologne and luckily it has the scent to match. Featuring notes of black truffle and ylang mingled with fresh bergamot and black currant, this fruity fragrance feels extra masculine and lasts all day to boot. A fantastic gift for the guy who’s tried everything.

Available from harverynichols.com   

4. Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme (125ml) - £65.00

Finally a bottle that’s not black! This classic fragrance from Dolce & Gabbana is aimed at projecting the “irresistible sex appeal and tenderness of the Italian man” - sounds gross I know (unless you’re into that in which case this is perfect) but honestly this smells amazing! At the heart of the scent, lavender provides a soul of pure, dry freshness, like a Mediterranean breeze, while cedarwood lends it its masculine structure. The perfect gift for a classic gent  this year.

Available from harverynichols.com 

5. Comme Des Garcons Wonderwood (100ml) - £80.00

Finally, here’s a pick you might not have come across before. Wonder wood by Comme Des Garcons is a woody scent with notes of oud, cedar wood and sandalwood. Hence the name! It’s one I hadn’t tried before until I was unexpectedly sprayed with it as I wondered through Liberty a couple of weeks ago and just had to have it. It’s got a very strong scent so doesn’t need much to last all day but the results are great. A strong woody fragrance for the guy that’s looking for something a little different this Christmas.

Available from harverynichols.com 
If you're unsure what fragrance to get the guy in your life this Christmas then look no further. I've complied a list of my top 5 scents to get him this festive season. And don't worry you won't even have to spend a fortune - today I'm looking at gifts that are all £50 and under!

1. Mont Blanc Legend (50ml) - £39.00 at Boots.com

This is a classic fragrance for men. First launched in 2011, this is designed for a grown man looking for a classy yet rugged scent. It's very reasonably priced and comes in this great black bottle with silver finish. There's no doubt that Mont Blanc Legend smells exactly like the classic Abercrombie & Fitch scent so if you're looking for a much cheaper alternative then this is the fragrance for you.

2. Armani Code (50ml) - £48.00 at Boots.com

This is one of my all time favourites and one that I've been wearing on and off for a good few years. This sophisticated and irresistibly attractive fragrance develops gradually, reacting differently with each man's skin to give a unique and personalised scent. Right at the top end of our £50 budget but for 50ml this isn't a bad price. I find this fragrance lasts all day but isn't to over powering. It's kind of a spicy oriental scent with some citrus in there as well. 

3. Joop! for Men (125ml) - £33.00 at Boots.com

Joop! Homme is a strong, masculine fragrance that features oriental notes to create a sensual and bold scent for young men. This includes various scents including Orange Blossom, Mandarin, Bergamot and Amalfi Lemon to create a zesty fragrance for all occasions

4. Bleu De Chanel (50ml) - £47.50 at Boots.com

This is one of the best fragrances I've ever owned. My girlfriend bought it for my birthday this year and I've worn it everyday since! It's a little on the pricey side for only 50ml but if you want to really treat him then this one's perfect. This aromatic-woody fragrance unites the invigorating freshness of citrus and the strength of an aromatic accord with the woody whisper of dry cedar notes. New Caledonian Sandalwood lends it a warm and sensual trail.

5. Hugo Boss - Boss Bottled (50ml) - £43.00 at Boots.com

Another classic for the professional man. Again this one is at the top end of the £50 budget but so worth it. The apple, cinnamon and vanilla leave quite a feminine fragrance that I found a little bit too subtle in comparison to others, however it certainly lasts all day and is the perfect treats for a special occasion. I also love the bottle design on this one - great to open on Christmas Day!

It feels like October has already been a great month for new music, and we're only 4 days in! Here's some of my favourite tracks that I've been listening to this week. 

There's something for everyone here from the incredible soul vibes of Leon Bridges to a more acoustic pop sound from Jamie Lawson's latest offering (pictured above). I also added a track from Ryan Keen as I went to see him live a couple of weeks back in Hoxton, London and he was incredible. 

'Trouble' is one of the best tracks on the album, check out this clip from the live performance...

A video posted by Matt Maidment (@mattmaidment) on

Here's my top tracks for the week:

What have you been listening to this weekend? 
It's that time again. My last Etsy favourites post has been one of the most popular I've done, so here's another list of what I'm adding to my Etsy wishlist this month. As always if you find anything you think I'd like then please get in touch. 

How awesome is this leather iPad case?! It's available here and comes in various different colours including red, black and this rather smart dark brown. Not only that but you can also select whether you're using and iPad Air or Mini and you'll receive a hand stitched case that fits any size device nice and snug. On the right you can carry all kinds of A5 notebooks but the seller recommends the large classic Moleskine. Also included is a handy slot for your debit card and a spot for your smartphone. Everything you need for a day at the office 

These geometric wood shelves are really cool - plus look at all the colour options! I prefer the walnut shown below but there's something here for everyone's taste. Mind you they don't come cheap, almost £300 for a set of 3 in walnut! However they are handmade from various kinds of reclaimed hardwood so you're definitely getting good quality for your money. 259 five star reviews can't be wrong!

I really love the idea of using a vintage trunk like this for a coffee table, what do you think?! It looks great and you can use the inside to store all those old magazines that might come in useful someday rather than an ugly magazine rack next to the sofa. It's got a really rustic feel to it as well, which I think looks really stylish. Great idea just don't go spilling anything on that leather!

Can decorative pillows ever be considered manly? Very unlikely but this geeky owl cushion is pretty cool. It's made from washable linen to so it's recommended for hand wash only. Another of it's masculine features... but I like it. A few of these would look great on a grey fabric sofa like this. Perfect for watching the footy...or PLL i guess.

Last but certainly not least, what do you think of these awesome custom Nike Roshe Run's in the style of Kanye's Adidas Yeezy 350 boost? They look great and each and every pair are actually hand painted by the shop owner. Can't justify the £350+ price tag for a pair of of Yeezy's? Then these are your best bet. 

If you're feeling super snazzy and want to splash the cash then the shop owner will also make you a completely custom pair of Rosche Run's with whatever colours and style you can imagine. All delivered within 2-3 weeks, not to shabby and in fact slightly speedier than the official Nike ID service.

That's it for my September favourites, what have you found on Etsy this month?

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