Just Charlie G

Hi all,

Just a quick, non-beauty related post today, mostly to say that if you currently follow me and read my blog via Bloglovin, I’m about to ask them to take my blog down and deactivate my account, so please please try and find another blog reader to use! I have today stopped following ALL of the blogs I read via Bloglovin and moved them all over to Feedly. It’s early days for me using this as a blog reader, but so far I’m happy. It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as Bloglovin unfortunately, but unless something changes in the next 24/48 hours (when I plan to remove my blog from Bloglovin) then this move is necessary.

If you read and support blogs and bloggers, or if you are indeed a blogger yourself, I would urge you to do the same thing. Bloglovin have recently made changes that mean that you don’t have to leave their site in order to read posts. They’ve even included commenting as a feature. The problem with this, in basic terms, is that your favourite bloggers no longer get your traffic. By proxy this means their blog receives less views, and even worse, for bloggers who make a living from their blog, Bloglovin are potentially affecting their income.

And there are other issues as well, such as bloggers potentially being penalised by Google for duplicate content, or the moral issue of all our content being used without permission on another site. It’s complicated, but the general feeling is, its not okay.

As time passes you are likely to find several blogs you follow disappearing from Bloglovin, and I urge you to keep following us elsewhere and not to support such a sneaky move by Bloglovin.

It’s not okay, I won’t support it, many bloggers also won’t support it and I urge you do stop using it either for blog reading, or for your blog.

I’m going to leave it 24/48 hours to give you all a chance to read this post, and then I will be requesting my feed be removed from their site and deactivating my account. Unless by some miracle they remove this feature.

I do hope you choose to keep reading, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and as I say, you can add me to other blog reading sites. Please do!

Much love,

Charlie

rock confused

I don’t normally do this kind of post, but I think it’s really important to get this out there.  I know very little about this subject and am still very much learning myself so I’m going to keep it brief.

So by now I think the vast majority of us know that when you write a blog post, a sponsored blog post in particular, it’s important to use nofollow Links. To quote the internet a nofollow link is:

“A nofollow link is a way for publishers (read bloggers in this case) to tell search engines not to count some of their links to other pages as “votes” in favour of that content”.

Essentially, if you use a nofollow link, no PR (Page Rank) juice is passed on. It will help keep your Google rank healthy, and protect those who you are linking too. Using nofollow links is not the law by any stretch of the imagination, it’s entirely up to you, but if you don’t use them, there can be quite severe consequences…i.e Google can remove you completely from their search engine… you won’t be look up-able on google, that’d be pretty disastrous for many of us I feel.

When to use a nofollow Link

Basically every single time you review something that you have been sent free of charge for review purposes, and of course sponsored posts. Read more here.

How to use a no follow Link

Simply place the rel=”nofollow” attribute into the <a> tag

Without nofollow: <a href=”http://www.example.com”>my link here</a>

With nofollow: <a href=”http://www.example.com” rel=”nofollow”>my link here</a>

Now I know I’ve probably missed out loads of stuff, and I clearly am not that knowledgeable so please Google to get more info or answers to more specific questions. But essentially and in short, if you are reviewing a product that was sent to you free of charge, or you are doing a sponsored posts, to protect yourself, make sure your links are nofollow, or risk disappearing from Google completely.

And just to add, I’ve literally only just found this out myself so I’ve not been doing it and now need to find out how to change the links through all my post history. Eek.

Just thought this was worth sharing, for anyone as surprised as I was!

03. 06. 2013

I just wanted to do a little post to let you all know that I’m going to change the blog a little bit. It’s still going to mostly be beauty because thats my passion but I’m going to start adding in other things which I hope you’ll either enjoy, or won’t mind skipping past if you don’t.

I’m talking about things like the odd book review, or stuff relating to my children, or even politics which is my overriding passion at the moment. As I say, I envisage Lady of the Lane will remain first and foremost a beauty reviews site, but with a few other posts here and there which will tell you a bit about more about me and my life and likes outside beauty!

I’m also reinstating Beauty Bloggers Best Things which was my really successful weekly slot where I asked other beauty bloggers what their favourite products are. It was always a great read and not only that but a great introduction to new blogs. So if you are a beauty blogger and you fancy taking part please do email me at charlie@ladyofthelane.com. I’m still working on a new set of questions so give me a day or two to get back to you while I finalise the questionnaire!

Much love and thank you to all who read, new readers and those who’ve been with me since the beginning! It’s so appreciated!

09. 01. 2013

I recently had an experience which as a blogger wasn’t great and I wanted to share it with you so that other bloggers can try to avoid the same situation.

I was recently approached by a social media agency and asked if I’d like to try out a product. Now this happens to me all the time, most things I feature on this blog come to me as a press sample and I always feel really lucky. I am selective though and there are many things I turn down as they are unsuitable for my blog, or I don’t think I will like them, or for whatever reason. However on this occasion I really liked the sound of the product so I said yes please, I’d love to try this. This is standard stuff, I do this several times a week. Would you  like to try our product? Yes Please or No Thanks. Product comes. I use it for a period of time, then I blog about it when I’m ready.

However. After I’d said yes please and provided my address, the following day I received an email from the social media agency saying that it had been posted out to me and they were looking forward to hearing my thoughts. Other bloggers should be nodding along at this point, it’s all standard stuff. Only thing is In this email sent confirming the dispatch, was a note giving me an extremely short deadline…at this point, a more experienced and knowledgeable blogger would have said…er no! But I didn’t, I replied saying it was very short notice but I’d do my best.

Lesson One: blogging should be on your terms, unless you are being paid.

They agreed it was short notice but hoped I’d be able to mange it anyway. Now see at this point they had me in their claws, because I like to think I’m an honourable blogger, once I’ve received a product, I feel I have to blog about it… after all, I’ve been sent something lovely for nothing, that’s how I feel. Very rarely I won’t blog about something, usually if I am completely indifferent to it, and I just can’t think of anything to say, but mostly, if I’m sent a product, I review it. I don’t feel happy taking something for nothing, so I view taking the product as a sort of payment. Which in all honesty is fine with your standard blog posts, but when people start giving you instructions then  it becomes less about blogging about lovely stuff, and more like unpaid work….

And that’s when I was provided with the list of keywords I had to insert into my blog post. My blog post which I was given just a few days notice to write. Despite my backlog of things here to write about. Again, the more experienced and knowledgeable would have said, oh no, you can stuff it. In fact that is exactly what I was advised to do by more experienced blogger friends. But oh no, I had product on its way to me, which meant I personally felt honour bound to write the post.

Lesson Two: blogging should be on your terms, unless you are being paid.

And as it happened, the item turned up one day before the deadline. Hardly enough time to try out and review anything much if you want to maintain integrity. But again, stupidly, I felt honour bound to do as I was asked. What I should have said was, no, there’s no way I am doing this, the time scale is too short and I never agreed to use any key words.

But I didn’t because I’m clueless about this kind of thing. But perhaps my experiences might help someone else. The problem from my point of view was the agency didn’t disclose fully what they expected from me in the first instance. If they had have contacted me saying would you like to review xxx product, and could you include these key words, and also we have a very short deadline, do you think it would be possible? I would have probably declined. But I feel this was sneakily done. I accepted the product, it was dispatched and then the various terms were mentioned. And not in one go either.

So bloggers, don’t be a fool like me, if you don’t want to do something or if you feel something is unreasonable, say so, don’t do it, or ask what is in it for you? As a friend said to me recently on this subject…

“bottom line is that
you don’t jump through hoops – they want something from you, not the other way
round. Unless it is a million dollar ***, don’t bother.”

Stick up for yourself and don’t let yourself be taken advantage of and ask when approached by social media agencies in particular, if they have any terms you need to be aware of before accepting the item for review. I did review this product by the way, because I don’t think I’ll ever shake this thing of feeling I need to blog about something if I’ve been sent it, but I won’t be making this mistake again!

Hope this helps someone!

EDIT: just to add, this is by no means entirely the fault of the agency, certainly I have to learn to be more assertive and confident, it’s always been an issue for me sadly!

So some of you may have  seen my panicked tweets a few days ago. Some of you even helped me out for which I’m extremely grateful for. It’s been quite stressful but I’ve learned a lesson and it’s one that applies to blogging so I thought I’d share it here too.

The short version is WATERMARK YOUR PICTURES.

And here’s the long version for those interested.
I received a marketing email to my business email with a photo of my work at the bottom. At first I was  flattered as clearly they thought my use of their products was good enough for a mail out but then it occurred to me that I’d not been credited or asked permission so I emailed and the director called me.

He started the conversation saying that the girl who did the email and himself, believed that if I put an image on Facebook it was fair game. I said I thought that was untrue but even if it was true as a courtesy I felt they could have asked/credited. He agreed. I pointed out that if, as I now know to be fact, I was right and that the law was on my side, I would be entitled to invoice them the going rate for using my image for commercial purposes and that was my right, but before I finished he said “well if you’re going to be combative…” which I interrupted and said that I didn’t want to go the legal route I was just feeling a bit miffed and what I was going to say was that he was lucky I wasn’t going to do that! He agreed that I was right about asking permission and crediting and that in future his team would always ask permission from whoever they were wanting to use images from.  He then made a big fuss out of how good I am at what I do and that his firm like to nurture their talent and he asked if I had a salon he could help to promote or anything. I said I was mobile and so that dried up that avenue and he said well if I did ever open a salon then to go to him. He then said as a gesture of good will he would give me a discount on my next order.
I can’t explain why I just accepted that, but to keep the peace I agreed but little did I suspect that when I emailed him later that discount would turn out to be 10%. Which is of course, insulting. If he had just said let me send you a few bottles of xxxx, I’d have been thrilled!
“As a gesture of good will, I am happy to offer you a 10 per cent discount on your next open stock xxx order.
Let me know which colours you would like.
Best”
Now I don’t know about you but I was infuriated since actually it’s me being goodwilled by not suing them/charging them for using my image without permission.  All I’d like is a some xxxx or something, but to have to place an order and then only get 10% off is insulting… isn’t it? When he offered the discount I accepted and said thank you, but I never dreamt it would be a paltry 10% I was expecting 50%!
So I’d gone from being slightly miffed to feeling very cross indeed. Clearly this guy wasn’t going to accept that they had used my photo illegally.  When I raised this with him, he explained that the 10% offer was nothing to do with compensation, it was to thank me for blogging about the brand in the past, and that there would be no apology or compensation for the use of my image because they’d done nothing wrong. He claims that as my photo is on Facebook it’s in the “public domain” and is therefore fair game. Which is nonsense. You know that, I know that but there are many people out there who don’t know that.
So what can you do to prevent your images being taken?
I’m not sure there is much (well actually I think there are things but they are beyond my knowledge base), but from now on my images will be watermarked. It doesn’t make a jot of difference to anything other than making them less appealing potential image thieves.
You will see my next few posts feature pictures that aren’t watermarked, simply because I wrote and scheduled them prior to this event but in a week or two you should start to see the watermarked pictures filter in.
In my last email from this guy last night he said
“It was for this reason alone, that I suggested that in future, if we are to use images in the public domain – we will once again extend this customer service mantra by ‘going over and above’ to where possible, seek out the originator of the image and respectfully ask permission.

This will not be out of a legal obligation. It will be to uphold our customer service image”

Completely ignorant of his obligations to the end! I’ve heard nothing today so assume that will be the end of it.  You know what? If he’d have just said to me “sorry about this, have a couple of bottles of xxxx” I’d have been thrilled, I’m a small, minute, tiny business and it would have been a massive help to me. As it is, I’m switching brands and it’s taken all I’ve got to not name and shame this firm! There are people who are still advising I invoice the firm and tell them if they don’t pay up I’ll see them in court…but I don’t want to do that, but I’m mulling it over.

Watermark your photo’s people!

EDIT: I did reply to his email above with a few links to the copyright law and Public Domain… and received this back

“I once again assure you that there has been no infringement on copyright law. Having said that, I have instructed my team that to avoid potentially upsetting a customer, going forward we will endeavour where possible to ask permission.”

I’m interested to know readers, what would you do in my position? Because I’m finding the more this company refuses to accept they are wrong, the more I want to prove it…