30 October 2013

Jindie Nails Fall Chic Collection, Swatches and Review

Hi everyone! I have another great collection from Jindie Nails for you. As I've come to expect from the brand, these all have beautiful colours and glitters, with perfect application, and clever names. I also love that they are not what you would typically expect from a fall collection - there's not a vampy red or brown in sight!

Jindie Nails Fall Chic Collection for 2013

29 October 2013

Beginning Blogger's Bootcamp: Week Four: Taking Nail Photos

The Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp is a series of posts published once a week on Monday evenings. It is designed for new bloggers, those thinking of starting a blog, or seasoned bloggers wanting a refresher, and covers everything from starting a blog to photographing your nails to using social media. Check out past posts in this series.

Hi bloggers! After blog design, good, clear photographs are essential to creating a strong first impression for new visitors to your site. Because photographs are so important, I've actually split the topic into two posts - today I'm going to cover what goes into taking a good photograph, and next week I'll cover editing.



27 October 2013

31 Day Challenge: Day Twenty-Eight, Inspired by a Flag: The Franco-Ontarian Flag

Hi everyone! Out of all the prompts in the 31 Day Challenge, the "Inspired by a Flag" prompt is by far the most uninspiring of all of them. I realize that flags serve an important purpose as symbols of nations, regions or groups, and I find it interesting to see what flags different countries and regions adopt. But on an aesthetic level, flags are pretty boring and unappealing. Like, someone please, take a brush and paint some pretty flowers on that thing! But it's a challenge, and in my research I ended up finding a flag that was interesting on a more personal level.

Franco-Ontarian flag nail art

25 October 2013

31 Day Challenge: Day Twenty-Seven, Inspired by Artwork: Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1960

Hi everyone! Having studied fine art for many years - first I was a studio major specializing in painting, now I study art history - I knew that the "Inspired by Artwork" challenge would be, well, challenging. Not because of a lack of ideas, but rather because of how hard it would be to settle on one idea, and one artwork. But you must admit, this challenge is right up my alley, I love doing nail art inspired by art.

Abstract nail art (inspired by Lee Bontecou)

24 October 2013

Jindie Nails Halloween 2013 Collection, Swatches and Review

Hi everyone! I hope you aren't tired of Halloween collections because I have another one for you today. If you follow Jindie Nails you may have already seen the new Halloween collection for this year. If not, you are in for a treat! And this collection is soon to be discontinued, so if you want to get your mitts on them, you need to act fast...more on that at the end of my post. :)

Jindie Nails Halloween 2013 Collection

22 October 2013

Jindie Nails Harlow Can You Go, Swatches and Review!

Hi everyone! This is a short post to tell you about a new polish from Jindie Nails available at Harlow & Co. Click on the page jump to see more photos and swatches!

Jindie Nails Harlow Can You Go

Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp: Week Three: Blog Design

The Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp is a series of posts published once a week on Monday evenings. It is designed for new bloggers, those thinking of starting a blog, or seasoned bloggers wanting a refresher, and covers everything from starting a blog to photographing your nails to using social media. Check out past posts in this series.

Hi bloggers! Blog design was something I had not originally planned to deal with in this series. Yet, last week when I was writing about blogging platforms, it became clear to me that it was something that needed to be addressed. New bloggers often feel letdown by a lack of visitors to their blog. They concern themselves with the quality of their photographs or needing to show the latest polishes. But one thing that is often overlooked is blog design.



21 October 2013

Valentino-Inspired Nail Art Tutorial

Hi everyone! A few days ago I posted my fashion-inspired nails for the 31 Day Challenge. The inspiration was a gorgeous grey, black and cream-coloured dress with metallic silver embroidery from Valentino, done for the Fall 2013 Couture collection. Technique-wise there is nothing ground-breaking about this design, however, sometimes it's nice to break a design down into different steps. Also I'm trying to push myself to do more tutorials because I know that they are helpful to many of you.



20 October 2013

A Special Announcement: I've Joined The Digit-al Dozen!

Hi everyone! I'm very excited to announce that I'm now an official member of The Digit-al Dozen! Not only that but I'm joining at the same time as my nail art partner-in-crime Lindsey from Wondrously Polished. I could have simply posted a quick announcement on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, but I decided to take this opportunity to tell you about The Digit-al Dozen, and what this change means for the blog.



What is The Digit-al Dozen?

Despite the name, The Digit-al Dozen is a group of 24 awesome nail polish bloggers, mostly from North America, but some from Europe and the UK. They do a nail art challenge once a month, running for five days in a row (Monday-Friday). Each month has a different theme, and they'll interpret that theme with five different nail art designs.

Recently they've expanded and have started a blog, along with a Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They've done some interesting posts including "What Camera Do You Use?": a roundup of the types of cameras used by various members;  and "A Dozen Nail Art Tools": where they talk about the nail art supplies they can't live without. In the near future they'll be posting nail art tutorials, as well as posts on favourite nail polishes, nail care, and related topics.

The blog aims to be a go-to site for nail art and nail polish, and what I think is awesome is that it draws on the knowledge of 24 bloggers. And of course it couldn't happen without the feedback of readers. So any suggestions for future posts and what you'd like to see would be very welcome.


Why I'm Excited to Join The Digit-al Dozen 
...and What It Means For This Blog

I remember earlier this year when I first heard about The Digit-al Dozen, I thought to myself "What a cool group, I'd love to be part of that someday!" So imagine my surprise when I was approached and asked to join. Unfortunately it's a closed group and they're not accepting new members, but it does go to show that if you work hard you can achieve your blogging goals.

I'm also excited because I really like the new Digit-al Dozen blog. I think it's clear from my Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp that I enjoy thinking about blogging, and how to make blogs stronger. So I really am looking forward to this new direction in the group.

So what that means for this blog is that once a month for a week I'll be posting nail art designs around a specific theme. I've come to realize that I need challenges like this in order to continue doing nail art - it's easy to get into the habit of always posting swatches, and the challenges push me to break that habit.

So if you enjoy tuning in for my nail art, you should like this new direction in this blog! Our next challenge is in November, so make sure to check it out!

In the meantime, you can keep up with The Digit-al Dozen in the following ways:


And I also want to thank all of you for continuing to support this blog! These developments wouldn't be possible without you. :)

19 October 2013

31 Day Challenge: Day Twenty-Six, Inspired By A Pattern: Paisley...Yes Again!

Hi everyone! I think the title of this post says it all. If one thing is clear at the end of this challenge, it will be my love of paisley patterns for nail art. Or at least my desire to do this type of design well. You may recall that I also did paisley for Day 8 (Metallic Nails), and Day 15 (Delicate Print). Both times I was not quite happy with my designs, so I took the opportunity with today's prompt to try one more time.  And I'm happy that I did, this is my favourite paisley design to date. :)

Paisley nail art

About this design: In my fourth (yes, fourth!) attempt at paisley, I made a number of changes that I think makes this successful. First, I stuck to black lines. Although it's tempting to use different colours for the lines, black has that graphic quality and is the obvious choice for line work. Second, I did a subtle gradient that lends some interest without overwhelming the design.

Paisley nail art

Third, I didn't try to crowd my design with too many elements. I love really crowded, busy paisley patterns, but this time around I decided to do something less busy (by my standards ;)). And fourth, I used a limited amount of colours to make it interesting but still cohesive.

Paisley nail art

Paisley nail art

My favourite paisley design ever is this simple design by Hana4. If you are not following her - she's a nail artist from Japan - you are really missing out! I borrowed from her the simple way she does her paisley teardrop, however I wasn't trying to copy her design exactly. I just wanted to share this cute design with you, because I love it so much! :)

Paisley nail art

Paisley nail art

To get this look: I started with a gradient using OPI My Vampire is Buff and China Glaze Sea Spray - nails were painted with MViB before doing the gradient. The black lines were done with a thin liner brush and Orly Liquid Vinyl. Then I used Essie Sexy Divide, Trophy Wife, and Penny Divide for the dots and to fill in the lines.

What do you think of this paisley design? Do you like it better than my previous attempts?

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18 October 2013

WingDust Collections: Lilacs in June, Plum Outta Ideas, and Summer Storm

Hi everyone! I have some gorgeous polishes from WingDust Collections today. If you haven't tried this indie brand yet, you must seriously do so. I would say it's probably one of my favourite indie brands, I feel like every polish is a work of art in a bottle. And I'm not just saying that because it's a Canadian brand, although I do love my Canadian indies! ;)

I haven't shown some WingDust polishes in awhile, but it's mainly because reviews and challenge manis seem to take up much of my time these days. However, when I was editing these photos, it made me want to pull out my untrieds from this brand and swatch them all.

WingDust Collections Summer Storm, Lilacs in June and Plum Outta Ideas

The formula on these were the same. I was able to get full coverage in three coats, and each polish has an excellent formula. They go on very smooth and evenly, with just the perfect amount of glitter - not too little that you can't see it, not too much that the polish is lumpy. Stephanie (the maker) has really perfected her formula for glitter polishes in a creme/shimmer base. I am never disappointed and these are no exception.

Lilacs in June is a dusty pink with a very subtle blue shimmer, as well as a glitter mixture of lime green, periwinkle, lavender,  and some purple hexes in various sizes. Some of the glitter is also holographic and iridescent. I love how feminine and delicate this is. This was 3 coats.

WingDust Collections Lilacs in June

WingDust Collections Lilacs in June

Plum Outta Ideas is an amazing burgundy jelly with fine gold shimmer, and small pink, purple and gold glitter. This is such a perfect colour for any time of year, but especially the fall when I want to be wearing darker colours. 3 coats.

WingDust Collections Plum Outta Ideas

WingDust Collections Plum Outta Ideas

WingDust Collections Plum Outta Ideas

Summer Storm is grey with a purple shimmer, and a beautiful mixture of glitter - silver, pink, fuchsia, purple, and lavender hexes and circles in different sizes. It's a fun play on neutral colours, and I've always loved grey-purple colour combinations, so this was perfect for me.

WingDust Collections Summer Storm

WingDust Collections Summer Storm

Again, all polishes were perfect, really no issues in application. Although the shimmers are subtle in some cases, they are all noticeable on the nail. Out of the three, I feel it's hard to select my favourites but I think it's a toss up between Summer Storm and Plum Outta Ideas.

What do you think of these? Have you tried WingDust Collections yet?

WingDust Collections is available through their Etsy store and Llarowe. Follow WingDust on Facebook and Instagram (@Wingdust) for updates and news.

*Lilacs in June and Plum Outta Ideas were purchased by me. Summer Storm was a gift, all opinions are my own. See my disclosure policy for more details.*

16 October 2013

31 Day Challenge: Day Thirty-Four, Inspired by Fashion: Valentino Fall 2013 Couture

Hi everyone! Today's challenge is another one I stressed over. While I have nothing against fashion, it's not something that I follow avidly. Following the latest fashions would only do damage to my wallet - in addition to the damage done by my nail polish and makeup addictions. So when preparing for today's challenge, I wasn't even sure where to find images.

About this design: I stumbled upon the Fall 2013 couture collection for Valentino, many of the outfits are perfect for nail art designs. I really love the idea behind the collection (the wunderkammer or cabinet of curiosities), and the imagery incorporated into many of the looks. The dress I chose is a beautiful mixture of embroidery, tweed and what looks like velvet -

Valentino Fall 2013 Couture Collection: Source

Valentino-inspired nail art

As you can see I took a rather literal approach to the design. I started with blocks of black, grey and cream, and then added some line-work to mimic the embroidery. The silver foil that I used for the flower details doesn't really allow for precise lines, so it's hard to tell what's going on. I'm not sure if I like that or not.

Valentino-inspired nail art

I won't go into details about the process, because I actually planned to post a tutorial of this later this week sometime. But if you are impatient these are the polishes used:


Essie Cashmere Bathrobe
Orly Liquid Vinyl
Essie Sand Tropez
OPI My Vampire is Buff
OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls
China Glaze Gossip Over Gimlets


Valentino-inspired nail art


Valentino-inspired nail art

Valentino-inspired nail art

I feel like this is one of those designs that must be seen in person to appreciate. It is difficult in these photos to tell what is going on. Perhaps posting the tutorial so you can see the process would help. As much as I'm happy with how this turned out, I want to do other designs based on this fashion collection and play with the imagery more. I feel like there some rich ideas for nail art in those photos. Or even go back to the drawing table with this design and see if I can make it better. It's one of those instances where I wish I had more time to do nail art.

What do you think of this? Would you have done this design differently, or do you like it as is?

---

15 October 2013

Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp: Week Two: Blogging Platforms

Follow my blog with Bloglovin The Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp is a series of posts published once a week on Monday evenings. It is designed for new bloggers, those thinking of starting a blog, or seasoned bloggers wanting a refresher, and covers everything from starting a blog to photographing your nails to using social media. Check out past posts in this series.

Hi bloggers! Welcome to the second post of the Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp! I remember when I was contemplating starting a blog and trying to decide what blogging platform to use. It can be a stressful decision because switching platforms is not very easy. If you haven't yet started your blog you may be in the same boat. And if you have started your blog, you may find some food for thought in this post if you are considering a change.



But first I thought I'd start off with my own experience with different blogging platforms. Several years ago I decided to start a blog about baking. I guess I wanted to be the next Rose Levy Beranbaum. When I set up that blog I went with Wordpress.com because I was attracted to the clean and contemporary look of the site. That blog didn't last long for reasons that have little to do with the platform - I simply couldn't keep up with the amount of work that it took, and I felt down about the lack of followers and interaction.

Later when I got into nail polish blogging, I wanted to avoid the mistakes I made with food blogging so I decided to go with Tumblr. As a "microblogging" platform Tumblr appealed to me because I thought that it would not take up too much of my time. Ironically, after three months of posting on Tumblr I realized I wanted to put more time into blogging. Hence my decision to move over to Blogger. Why did I go with Blogger? I noticed that many of the blogs I followed used Blogger, and with things like Google Friend Connect (GFC) I thought it would be easier to get followers (yes and no - but that's another blog post!).

So the purpose of this post is to go over the major blogging platforms and the pros and cons of each. I'll also talk about micro-blogging as an alternative to having a "real" blog. One thing I won't do is go over the ins and outs of setting up a blog, but there are plenty of other sources that do that.


Blogging Platforms

When it comes to blogging platforms you have two major types - hosted and self-hosted options. Hosted blogs are where the blog company keeps your blog and all its information on their own servers. These include Blogger and Wordpress.com, and they are usually free. A self-hosted blog is one where you install the blogging software on your own server - so you must also get your own hosting package and server before you set up your blog.

There are many options when it comes to blogging platforms but I'm only going to go over the main ones that nail polish bloggers use - Blogger, Wordpress.com, and Wordpress.org. Other options include Typepad, Moveable Type, and Live Journal, but since these are not as popular in this niche, I'll leave you to research these on your own.

Blogger
www.blogger.com

Blogger is one of the most popular blogging platforms, and markets itself as being easy to use. It is a hosted blogging platform so it is free. Your domain name will have blogspot in it (ex. yourblogname.blogspot.com), or you have the option of purchasing your own domain name (ex. yourblogname.com)

The Blogger Dashboard - also functions as a blog reader for other blogs you follow

Pros
  • It is very easy to set up and use - in order to start blogging you just need to set up an account and choose a template, then you're ready to start blogging!
  • There's the ability to follow other bloggers through Google Friend Connect (GFC).
  • Many nail polish bloggers use Blogger so it can be easy to follow other blogs through Google Friend Connect.
  • You can customize your blog fairly easily by adding widgets and rearranging the template.
  • There's a template wizard so you can customize your design without having to know any HTML
  • It's free!
Cons
  • The homepage is not very interesting and could use some updating (in my opinion).
  • There seems to be little support from Google (who owns Blogger) in terms of upgrades - for example when Google Reader was shut down earlier this year, many have speculated that GFC will also be cut.
  • If you want to switch from a domain name with blogspot in it, to a custom domain name (ex. yourblogname.com), you have to go through a third party site - a web hosting company. It's not too difficult but if you don't have much tech skills you may have to contact tech support to get everything set up properly (that was my experience).
  • Although you can customize your look with the template wizard, if you want something more unique, this requires knowing HTML and other coding - or hiring someone to do design work for you.

Wordpress
www.wordpress.com

Wordpress.com is the other popular option when it comes to hosted blogging platforms. It's free to use, but there is also the option to upgrade to the premium service if you want more space for photos and videos.

The Wordpress Dashboard - has more components than the Blogger dashboard. Functions as a reader for Wordpress blogs that you follow, also allows you to search blogs by tags, and Wordpress suggests new blogs to follow. The Freshly Pressed page shows interesting posts on Wordpress blogs on a wide variety of topics.

Pros
  • It is very easy to set up an account and to write posts. Like Blogger typing up a post is no different than typing up a word document. And side note, I like that Wordpress actually gives you a word count for your blog posts, it helps to tell you if your posts are getting too long and wordy.
  • Has a new "quick post form" from the Wordpress homepage. Basically it is a very quick way to put up content on your blog, and is very similar to a micro-blogging platform.
  • The homepage is very clean and contemporary looking. It easily allows you to find new blogs and Wordpress suggests other blogs to follow.
  • Switching your domain name from "yourblogname.wordpress.com" to "yourblogname.com" is very easy and is done within Wordpress. No need to go through a web hosting company!
  • Your choice of almost 300 themes, and the ability to customize it without the need to learn coding. (Wordpress has a "custom design" upgrade for $30/year which gives you advanced design options - if you think you might pay for a premium template, or design work, this may be a viable option)
  • Easily allows you to share posts via social media - when you publish a post there's an option to "publicize" it on Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, and Twitter. With Blogger you would have to use a third-party site like NetworkedBlogs.
Cons
  • With any hosted blog platform, you are at the mercy of the company if something goes wrong or if they do an update that you don't like.
  • When getting your own domain name, since you buy the domain from Wordpress, you don't get to shop around for a better deal. However, you could probably buy your own from a web hosting company if you really wanted to (it's just more work)
  • The amount of webspace they give you with the free option (3,072MB) might not be enough space especially if you include a lot of photos and videos and you've been blogging for awhile.

Wordpress.org (self-hosted)
www.wordpress.org

When it comes to having a self-hosted blog, it requires a lot more work in terms of set up. However, once it's done it's done! Also there's more costs associated with having a self-hosted blog including the costs for the domain name, web hosting, and if you need to hire someone to set up your blog or do design work for you. However, if you are serious about blogging, and know you are in it for the long haul, Wordpress.org can be a great option.

Pros
  • Wordpress.org is considered by many bloggers (and books on blogging) to be the best option for professional blogs. 
  • It is fully customizable. You can set it up the way you want it.
  • There are many free themes available, and you can get a premium theme for very little (approx. $30-50 - cheaper than hiring a designer)
  • You can build your website to be as big or small as you want it. In fact Wordpress.org can also be used to build websites, so if you want a blog as part of a larger website, Wordpress.org might be the best option.
Cons
  • It is more complicated to set up, although the Wordpress.org website seems to have lots of great instructions and support. Also many web hosting companies offer easy installation options for a Wordpress blog.
  • If stuff goes wrong with the web hosting company it could mean your blog is down for the afternoon, also you will be responsible for dealing with the company to fix it.

If you are thinking about going this route, I suggest getting a book on Wordpress, luckily there are many on the topic.


Microblogging

If the idea of setting up, and maintaining, a blog feels daunting to you, you should check out microblogging. A microblog is different from a regular blog in that the files are shorter and smaller (in terms of data). Some of the most popular include Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Microblogging is perfect if you are just interested in posting pictures of your nails, but have no interest in the other aspects of blogging - setting up a website, publicizing your blog, and posting descriptions about yourself and your blog. Some platforms allow for comments, others don't. Take time to check out each site to see what feels like a fit for you. Or you might already feel comfortable with something, like Instagram, so starting a "nails-only" IG account might feel very natural to you.

Tumblr
www.tumblr.com

Tumblr allows you to post photos, texts, and videos. You can post multiple photos, but there are limitations in how you can format them. You can follow other Tumblr blogs and other bloggers can follow you, but in order to interact with a blogger on Tumblr (i.e. to like a post) you must have a Tumblr account. People will like your posts and/or reblog them, meaning they post your post to their blog. There are Tumblr blogs devoted to sharing nail art and nail polish posts, and if your post gets picked up by these blogs then a lot more people will see your work and potentially follow you!

The Tumblr Dashboard - shows recent posts by Tumblr blogs you follow, and options for publishing a new post

Tumblr also has this great thing called the nail art tag. There are nail art editors appointed by Tumblr (Alice of One Nails to Rule Them All is one) and they find good nail art on Tumblr and tag it with this special nail art tag. Then your work can be seen in the nail art section, which is like a gallery of great nail art from other Tumblr blogs. If your work gets tagged by the nail art editors, it will be seen by a lot of people (and I mean A LOT!)

Tumblr blogs are very easy to maintain. The posts are generally very short, and while you might get some questions in your mailbox, you don't really have comments to respond to like you would on a regular blog. That can be great if you don't have a lot of time to respond to people, but it can also feel isolating.

Facebook
www.facebook.com

Facebook is something that is very familiar to people since many of us have an account that we use to keep up with friends and family. Facebook can be used as a microblogging platform with its "status updates" that allow you to post pictures and short text. Facebook can be a great way to promote your blog and to keep up with other blogs, but if you plan to use it as your microblogging platform, I advise you to approach with caution.

Think of how you find bloggers - for me, it's either because someone has shared their work or because I was doing a search and found their blog. On Facebook it is very difficult to find new pages, I usually only find new pages when a page I follow shares their post. The Facebook search feature is very limited. If you want to find people who do nail art tutorials, and you do a search for "nail art tutorials" you will only find pages called "Nail Art Tutorials" (or a variation of that), but you won't find pages that post nail art tutorials but have a different name. Make sense?

In short, if you really enjoy using Facebook and want to use it to post your nail art or nail polish pictures, do so with caution. Work hard to share your posts with other pages, but only if it's relevant. For example if you do a nice nail art design using OPI polishes, you can post it to the OPI page and hopefully others will see it. If you find you aren't getting a lot of followers on Facebook, consider changing platforms.

Instagram
www.instagram.com

Instagram (IG for short) has become very popular for nail artist and swatchers. For me it is my social media outlet of choice because it's easy to use and it's a great way to get instant feedback on your photos. There are many Instagrammers who use IG exclusively and do not have a separate blog.

Instagram is very simple to use. You take a photo with your phone or upload one from your computer. Then you post it and add a simple caption. Some instagrammers will add longer captions, for example when posting a tutorial. People can like or comment on your photos - you can make your profile public or private depending your preferences. Adding hashtags can make it easy for people to find your posts. If you use simple hastags like #nailpolish, #indiepolish, #nailart, etc. people searching those terms will see your photos (but only if your profile is public).

Instagram has made it easy for people to find your account and for you to find other accounts. People find new accounts three ways: by searching common hashtags, by seeing whose photos their friends have liked, and if your photo is shared by a popular nail art account. Regarding the latter, there are nail art accounts devoted to sharing good nail art and crediting the original poster (you!). If you have clear photos and good technique, it is likely that you can get your photos shared by a bigger account.

Twitter
www.twitter.com

Twitter is the one I'm least familiar with, but out of the four it is the most micro of the microblogging platforms. That is because you are limited to 140 characters when you post something. However, you can also upload photos, videos and links. So you could upload a photo of a nail art design with a short explanation: "My freehand Halloween nail art using all OPI polishes!" You can connect with other nail artists and bloggers on Twitter and share or "retweet" things that others have posted.

My initial impression of Twitter is that a lot of bloggers use it as a social media platform, but I don't know how many nail artists and swatchers are using it as a microblogging platform on its own. It seems very easy to use and to search for other nail artists and bloggers. Whether people will share/retweet your content is something I don't know the answer to. If Twitter is something that you already feel comfortable with, starting a nails only account might be a good option for you.


Final Thoughts

This post is a very long one, but I wanted to be thorough about each platform. If you are not sure what blogging platform to use, you can always test drive a few before choosing whatever feels best for you. Also remember that it is possible to switch later if you really feel you made the wrong choice. I moved over to Blogger very easily. Also many blogging platforms have an import option to move your old blog over to the new site.

If you are still having a hard time deciding, go back and think about your reasons for wanting to blog. How important is blog design to you? Do you want to post photos without the "other" stuff getting in the way? What kind of technical skills do you have? How much time do you want to spend on blog set up and design?


Let's Hear Your Thoughts!

If you haven't yet started a blog, what platform are you thinking of using? And if you are already blogging, what platform do you use and why?

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See also:
Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp: Week One: Starting Your Blog
Introducing the Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp: Kickstart Your Nail Polish Blog!

Further reading:
Blogging For Dummies, 4th edition, by Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley (goes through the steps of setting up a blog on Blogger, Wordpress and Tumblr)
ProBlogger, 3rd edition, by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett (explains how to set up a self-hosted Wordpress blog)

11 October 2013

Pink Raindrops Delicate Leopard Print

Hi everyone! Last night I sat down to paint my nails because I'll be going to a conference tomorrow and I didn't want to wear my five-day-old manicure. I initially set out to do a plain one-colour mani, however, after not having done any nail art for a week, it soon morphed into more than a simple paint job.

Delicate leopard print nail art

To get this look: I started out with two coats of Illamasqua Pink Raindrops. I really love the colour and sheen of this polish along with the tiny flakies, but it is slightly difficult to work with. The consistency is thicker than I prefer, and it doesn't spread out evenly, so just make sure to apply carefully and wait between coats. It is well worth it - despite the difficulties, I have no regrets with this purchase.

Delicate leopard print nail art

The delicate leopard print was done with Orly Luxe and Illamasqua Facet. I was disappointed at first that Facet was lighter than expected, but I rather like how it doesn't contrast too much with the gold and pink background - just enough that the design stands out. The glitter is Nicole by OPI Inner Sparkle (Selena Gomez collection), and the studs are from The Nailasaurus Emporium.

Delicate leopard print nail art

I really love the feminine look to this, and the fact that it is slightly conservative. I don't mind wearing this to a more professional setting as it doesn't stand out as much as some other nail art designs.

Delicate leopard print nail art

What do you think of this? Do you ever find yourself needing to do some nail art?

09 October 2013

September Goals Recap

Hi everyone! Things are going to be quieter around here this week. You may have noticed that it's been a few days since I've posted a mani for the 31 Day Challenge. Lindsey and I have decided to take a short break - we'll resume our challenge next week. Also I have some work stuff going on that is commanding my attention.

31 Day Challenge: Day Nineteen

So I thought I'd take this time to recap my goals from September. I'm not setting any new blogging goals for October, because with the 31 Day Challenge and the Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp, I feel now is the time to carry out my goals, not add more work by setting new goals.

If you are new to this blog, I like to set blogging goals each month, although lately it's been somewhat sporadic and irregular. But I find that setting goals helps keep me motivated and focused on what is most important. The trick is to make sure the goals are manageable, reasonable, and that you're not pushing yourself too much.

Different Dimension Good Evening Clarice (Halloween 2013)

Curious to see how I did with my September goals? Read on...

September Recap

Goal #1: Complete two tutorials, either video or photo. Fail! I did one tutorial, but in my defence it was  very time consuming! I did my Ethereal Dreamcatcher nails at the end of September.

Goal #2: Begin a new series of posts - tentatively titled "Beginner Blogger's Boot Camp." Check! I procrastinated a lot and was very nervous about starting this series, so I left it until the last minute. But I published the introductory post at the end of September, and I'm very glad I took the plunge. I've been overwhelmed by the response and I really enjoy putting together the posts for this series.

Goal #3: Continue to post 6 days a week. Pass. I was able to do this most weeks, but there was one week (maybe two) where I only posted five days a week. I'm not too disappointed that I didn't complete this goal. 

31 Day Challenge: Day Seventeen

My Most Popular Posts - As Determined By You!

These are my posts with the highest pageviews:
Ethereal Dreamcatcher Nails (and a tutorial)

Stats, Stats, Stats

So how did this blog do over the month of September? Since I didn't jot down the numbers at the very beginning of the month, I'm making an estimate. I'm sure my Enchanted Polish giveaway at the beginning of September had something to do with the numbers, but I'm happy to see that people are sticking around after the giveaway. Or maybe you're just waiting around for my one year blogiversary giveaway! ;)

31 Day Challenge: Day Twenty-Two

As of the beginning of the month we had approximately 700 GFC followers, 740 on Bloglovin', 1340 on Facebook, 7700 on Instagram, and 3000 on Tumblr! Pageviews were slightly down with 27K views in the month of September. Check out last month's recap to compare the numbers. :)

I'm very excited by all of this. Pretty soon my day job is going to get busier and it's the little things - the feedback I get from you, new followers, a popular nail art design - that keeps me motivated. 

I'd like to hear from you. Did you set any blogging goals? If so, how did you do?

07 October 2013

Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp: Week One: Starting Your Blog

Hi bloggers! Welcome to the first week of the Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp! Are you as excited as I am?! ;) If you missed the introductory post for this series, make sure to check that out.



Perhaps the most logical starting point for a new blog is to ask yourself two things:

Why do I want to blog?
What is my blogging niche?

I'm assuming because you are here, you are either thinking about starting a nail polish related blog, or have recently started a nail polish related blog. So by blogging niche, I mean your focus within nail polish blogging. With so many polish blogs, knowing why you want to blog and what your focus will be, will help set your blog apart from the many other polish blogs out there.

Now maybe you're having a hard time determining your specific focus, or even why you're blogging in the first place (besides wanting to post your nails on the internet). That doesn't mean you stop blogging, or delay starting a blog until you figure things out. It just means that you keep these questions in mind and think about them seriously.

A blog is always a work in progress. When I first started blogging over a year ago, my reasons for blogging were simple: I liked reading polish blogs and wanted one of my own because I thought it would be a fun hobby. My focus was pretty general - to take swatch photos of the polishes in my collection, and to document my attempts at nail art. A little over a year later, my focus is still pretty broad - swatches, reviews, and nail art (with better pictures!). And my reasons for blogging are to provide honest and straightforward reviews of polishes with clear swatch photos, and to show nail art that inspires others. Ask me one year from now, and my responses may be different. I am still thinking of my own answers to the questions I posed above.

My very first blog post (link). Everyone starts somewhere!



Why Blog?

There are many different reasons for wanting to blog, here are just some. They are not all polish-specific:

  • As an outlet for a hobby or passion (this is the reason why many people start polish blogs)
  • To document a journey (i.e. training for an event, getting out of debt)
  • As part of a business
  • To make money (if this is your goal you may want to rethink starting a polish blog!)
  • To get free samples and polishes (also not a good reason to start a blog, I'll explain why in a future post)
  • To connect with like-minded people
  • To provide information


Defining Your Niche

Blogging about nail polish and nail art is already a very small niche within the larger niche of beauty blogs. Yet there are so many polish blogs out there. It's safe to say that polish blogging is an oversaturated niche. Does this mean you shouldn't start your blog? No, it just means you're going to have to work harder to set yourself apart from the other polish blogs out there.

One way to do that is to have a focus that will make you unique. Perhaps you have a very distinctive style of nail art. Or maybe you love indie polish and your goal is to seek out and discover new indie brands and feature them on your blog. Or perhaps you want to focus on the latest trends in nails and nail art. Or maybe you have training as a nail tech and want to write about nail care.

Many people start a polish blog with the general idea that they want to share their manis on the internet, and then they get disappointed because they don't have a lot of followers or visitors to their blog. Don't make that mistake. Think about what you can offer that will make your blog stand out from other nail polish blogs.

*Exercise #1: Imagine Your Dream Blog*
Take a few minutes to brainstorm and imagine what your dream blog looks like. Think about the following:
-How many followers will you have?
-How will you interact with your readers?
-What will be your focus?
-What will the design look like? The photos?
-How often will you post?
-Who will be your main audience?

*Exercise #2: What makes a blog unique?*
Write down your three favourite blogs, the ones that you visit again and again. What makes those blogs stand out for you? What do they offer that you don't get from other blogs? Why do you enjoy visiting them on a regular basis?

Advice: Now that you've envisioned your dream blog and looked at your blogging heros, you might be feeling a bit discouraged. Don't! Everyone starts somewhere. Just remember, it's okay to start small, don't let your dream blog stop you from starting a blog. Just take small steps, and build it up as you go along. Your blog doesn't have to be perfect when you launch it.
Some of my blogging and writing books

How Much Time Will It Take?

Now that we've looked at reasons for blogging, and how to set your blog apart from the other nail polish blogs out there, it's time to look at what kind of commitment it will take.

The general advice is that you should post on a regular basis (at least 2-3 times a week), at least while you are trying to build up a following. I'm sure we've all had the experience where we find a great blog. They seem to post regularly, then suddenly it stops. One, two, maybe three weeks or more goes by and we don't see a post from our new favourite blog. I don't know about you, but I tend to loose interest, and I'll look for other new blogs to follow.

Here's a general estimate based on a schedule of blogging three times a week:
  • Manicures: 3 x 1 hour each = 3 hours (allow more time if you do detailed nail art, or want to show swatches of several polishes in one blog post)
  • Editing photos: approx. 30 minutes for each manicure/post = 1.5 hours
  • Writing and editing posts: 30 minutes for each post = 1.5 hours
  • Updating social media sites, emails, responding to comments: 20 min x 3 posts = 1 hour
  • Total: 7 hours

Even with a very basic blog, you're still looking at around 7 hours, or almost a full day's work. But many bloggers spend much more than that. 

Here's a breakdown of how much time I spend blogging each week. Keep in mind that I built up to this. I didn't spend this much time when I first started.
  • Swatching: 10 hours (I'm slow, so this results in 10-14 polishes swatched)
  • Nail art (based on two challenge manis per week): 6 hours
  • Editing photos: average 1 hour per post, 5 posts per week = 5 hours
  • Writing and editing posts: 1 hour per post, 5 posts per week = 5 hours
  • Updating social media, responding to emails and comments = 30 min. x 6 days/week = 3 hours
  • Total: 29 hours

Of course this is an approximation - some weeks I spend more, some less. It really depends on what I have planned, my energy levels, and my other work.

So after reading this, you may decide that blogging takes up too much time. Don't worry, our next post will be on blogging formats, and I'll cover microblogging. ;)


Let's Hear Your Thoughts! 

Why do you want to blog? Do you think you have a focus that sets your blog apart from the others?

If you've already started blogging, how much time do you spend on your blog?

---
See also:
Introducing the Beginner Blogger's Bootcamp: Kickstart Your Nail Polish Blog!

06 October 2013

Different Dimension Fall 2013 Collection, Swatches and Review!

Hi everyone! First off, an apology to you and Different Dimension, I meant to post this a few days ago, but behind the scenes things have been stressful here. I'm hoping it will ease up by next week. The Fall 2013 collection came out at the same time as the Halloween collection, and it consists of four great holos, two glitter toppers, and two crellies with glitter. Some of these are currently available, but if you are not able to get your hands on them, be patient. Different Dimension is good about keeping their Etsy store stocked, and these are also available at several distributors.

Different Dimension Chocolate, Cranfairy, Dueling Unicorns, and Lucid Dreams

Different Dimension Lucky, Mystified, Nessie's Revenge, and Scarlet & Grey Remix

There's a lot of photos to go through, mainly because these are so gorgeous that it was hard to limit myself. So I'll offer my thoughts at the very end. One thing to note is the bottle size - I received minis in my press kit, but judging from the Different Dimension Etsy store, I think these are only available as full size polishes.

Chocolate is a brown linear holo. The holo effect is not as strong as the others, but still very noticeable. The formula was great and I had no issues with this - it went on very smooth and evenly. 3 coats.

Different Dimension Chocolate

Different Dimension Chocolate

Different Dimension Chocolate

Cranfairy is a raspberry-coloured jelly with pink and magenta small square and hex glitter. While this looks gorgeous in the bottle, I found that it was difficult to apply. The consistency is a bit thick and lumpy, and as you can see from my photos it's hard to get a nice, smooth, even application. If you get this one, I recommend layering one coat over a matching polish, or adding thinner, which should make the application easier. This was 3 coats.

Different Dimension Cranfairy

Different Dimension Cranfairy

Dueling Unicorns is a vivid warm-toned purple linear holo. It has a strong holo effect and it's a gorgeous polish - I can see this being flattering on a lot of skin tones. Application wise, it was a bit streaky and patchy with first and second coat, but evened out with the third. 3 coats.

Different Dimension Dueling Unicorns

Different Dimension Dueling Unicorns

Different Dimension Dueling Unicorns

Lucid Dreams is an off-white crelly with small gold iridescent and holographic glitter in hexes and squares. I really love off-white polishes, and I love the gold glitter in this. Consistency was a bit lumpy, but slightly better than Cranfairy. I recommend layering one coat over a matching base polish and/or adding a few drops of thinner. Otherwise it has good coverage for an off-white polish. 3 coats.

Different Dimension Lucid Dreams

Different Dimension Lucid Dreams

Different Dimension Lucid Dreams

Lucky is a magenta linear holo. It has a strong holo effect and the colour is so gorgeous and sexy. The formula was good, although it wanted to pull away from tips - that seemed to fix itself on the third coat. 3 coats.

Different Dimension Lucky

Different Dimension Lucky

Different Dimension Lucky

Mystified is a clear-based glitter topper with pink matte circles and hexes, lavender hexes, and copper hexes. The application was great and I had no trouble getting enough glitter out. I love purple and brown colour combinations and this one is pretty. According to Missi, this would look good over neutrals or purples. This was 1 coat over Girly Bits Well Isn't That Special.

Different Dimension Mystified

Different Dimension Mystified

Nessie's Revenge is a grass-green linear holo. Like the others, this has a strong holo effect and is a gorgeous, flattering colour. The formula was excellent - perfect consistency, completely even and self-leveling, and no patchiness. This was 3 coats.

Different Dimension Nessie's Revenge

Different Dimension Nessie's Revenge

Different Dimension Nessie's Revenge

Scarlet & Grey Remix is a clear-based glitter topper with matte grey, matte white and metallic red glitter in small hexes, squares, and circles. Missi describes this as being for her (football?) team the Buckeyes, but I'm not a sports fan and can still appreciate the colours. The formula was excellent and I had no trouble getting enough glitter on the nail. This was 1 coat over Girly Bits D!ck In A Box.

Different Dimension Scarlet & Grey Remix

Different Dimension Scarlet & Grey Remix

Overall, I feel like this collection has a good variety, and I like that the names are often cute or witty. The holos are definitely the stand out of the collection, but I also think they are the least unique of the polishes. We've been seeing a lot of indies come out with holos lately - I'm guessing due to the demand for these polishes - and I feel like we've seen these colours before. That doesn't mean that they are not worth your money. The formula on these holos is excellent, and the holo effect on each one is strong. Also they are a good value - with full bottles running at $11, they are cheaper than many other holos on the market.

Of the holos my favourite is Dueling Unicorns, closely followed by Lucky. My favourite glitter topper is Mystified, and my favourite crelly is Lucid Dreams.

I'm curious, have you gotten any of the new polishes from Different Dimension? Which ones are your favourite?

Different Dimension is available on Etsy, and through Llarowe, Mei Mei's Signatures, Edgy Polish, and Ledoux Nuage. Follow Different Dimensions on Facebook and Instagram (@missibarry) to keep up with updates.

*Products provided for review, all opinions are my own. See my disclosure policy for more details.*
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