[BLOGGING] What does the UK and EU Cookie Legislation mean for my Blog?

DISCLAIMER: I am no legal expert and the information below is solely that which I have gleaned from a rather quick online search. This post is merely a starting point to head you in the right direction. I hope it provides a little help.

Last weekend new laws came into effect in the UK which oblige website owners to gain consent from visitors to their site for the use of cookies. There seems to be much confusion surrounding what this actually means, not least because the Information Commissioner’s Office who are enforcing the new law seemed to change their mind just two days prior to the law coming into force over whether or not explicit or implicit consent was necessary. Which means that the onus now shifts from the owner of a site to the user of a site to decide how to proceed.

The first thing that most people – including me – are probably asking is, what are cookies? The BBC has a fairly easy-to-understand guide. For bloggers, they are most usually used by statistical and analytical programmes to track the number of people coming to your site each day, week, month, etc. Google Analytics relies on cookies for this very purpose and for bloggers – as well as for owners of most websites – this is an essential tool, particularly if you already do – or plan to – monetise your site. Third-party cookies will be a feature on your blog if you have already monetised your blog and carry adverts.

This legislation has its origins in the EU and the directive was in fact implemented just over a year ago, however the ICO gave UK sites a year to put their changes into place. No one really seems to have taken much notice though, until the very last minute.

I have searched high and low for information on how blogs will – or could – be penalised and what level of consent and the only thing I have managed to find if this post over at Brit Mums. However, I have managed to find this rather useful site and which also includes coding and widgets for use on your blog straight away.

UPDATE: Oh, and this post, too, by Jude Wharton – very well written and comprehensive.

If you have any further information – or know where I can find more information – please get in touch. Either leave a comment below or email me.

Image source

[TECH TUESDAY] My not-quite-so-definitive list of the best apps and programmes for fashion bloggers

Sometimes, as a blogger it can feel like there is a new app or social media platform popping up every week. That we’re being told that if we want more readers, or greater community engagement, or whatever it is we seek as bloggers, then we should be right onto this app or that programme.

So I figured I’d put together a not-quite-so-definitive list of the fashion apps and programmes I use – and explain why I have chosen these in particular:

  1. WordPress – previously Blogger. It might seem odd that I should include my actual blogging platform in this list but it is one that I use and it is probably the most important programme I use. I have seen my number double and triple, since moving platforms at the latter end of last year. Yes, it might have been a bit of a drag at the beginning but once I sorted out all of the niggles and got up and running, I am happy to attest to the fact that WordPress is definitely the platform for me.
  2. Tumblr. Sure, there are some bloggers who use tumblr for their main blog but whilst many are on WordPress or Blogger, or even Typepad, many of these also use Tumblr to compliment their main blog. As do I. At first I wasn’t sure quite how to optimise my Tumblr site to its full potential, so I eventually decided to use it as a more tangible way in which to display my Instagram images, as not everyone has access to the app and Tumblr can be viewed from any device.
  3. Twitter. An absolute must for any blogger is twitter. From fellow bloggers, to brands and readers, it is the ideal way to connect with everyone.
  4. Hootsuite. I have discussed my affinity for Hootsuite before, which allows you to easily monitor numerous social media platforms on one dashboard. I can’t rave about this enough and the simplicity which it affords users.
  5. Facebook. Sure there are a few people who are not on Facebook but if you think of your friends, it’ll be a handful. Nearly everyone you know is on Facebook, which makes it the ideal platform for connecting and sharing your blog.
  6. Instagram. The fastest growing of the social media platforms and probably the simplest to use – hence its popularity. Fashion blogging is a very visual and instant medium which suits the Instagram interface. Definitely my favourite of all of the apps I use.
  7. Style.com. Essential for any fashion blogger wishing to stay on top of all of the current trends at Fashion Weeks across the globe.
  8. Pinterest. Like, Instagram, Pinterest is taking the fashion blogging world by storm as the virtual version of your office pinboard or scrapbook. I’ve always enjoyed ripping articles and pictures out of magazines and collating them into scrapbooks for inspiration – and so this is one of my most-used platforms.
  9. Bloglovin’. For Android, for Apple and on your PC or laptop. Bloglovin’ is the perfect way to stay right up-to-date with all of your favourite blogs. I particularly like to use this when I’m on the move.
  10. Polyvore. Maybe not the most obvious programme to talk about but one that can prove most useful when producing shopping posts and/or wish lists. The additional components of polyvore are a little below par, so I often make a collage out of the images and then save it and email it to myself. I then save the image and edit it in my favourite photo editing suite for ease.

Have I missed any apps or programmes that you find essential for your blogging? I always love to hear about new ones, so please let me know.

[TECH TUESDAY] Instagram for Android

For months now Android users have been lamenting the fact that iPhone users could use the immensely popular Instagram app whilst they had no choice but to watch on. Well all that has now changed.

My review for the Samsung Galaxy SII last year lamented the fact that the Android app store was not as well stocked as the Apple store, particularly I had in mind for fashion bloggers, the absence of Instagram.

With the same filters as the iPhone app, it has been translated almost identically. It does look slight different asthetically – which you will have noticed if you’ve used the app on an Apple product before. As an Apple and Android user – I have an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy phone – I admit that the camera on my Samsung phone is a lot better and I often found myself snapping on my Samsung phone and sending the photos across to my iPad to post to Instagram – now I can do it all right on my Samsung phone.

Are you an Instagram-addict too? Check out my monthly Instagram updates here.

[HOW TO] Tweet For Money Without Getting Into Trouble

twitter rules

As London 2012 quickly approaches, so British athletes competing in the games have been warned by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to ensure they disclose tweets about sponsors or gifted products. This past week I got to thinking about what we, bloggers, can learn from these warnings.

In the US, the Federal Trade Commission insists that any Twitter endorsements must contain the words “ad” or “spon” to show the reference has been paid for. As yet there are no firm requirements from the OFT for celebrities or bloggers to follow, however these recent developments indicate that they may not be too far off. Indeed the US has been one step ahead of the UK in regards to social media and the monitoring of advertising, in whatever form it might take online: In 2009, IFB reported the US Government’s Federal Trade Commission’s Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials, which dictates that:

“The post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

A year ago, the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency stepped in with its New Online Remit which now monitors social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook for misleading advertising. However this did not require anyone to make any declarations regarding payment for any comments, only that comments be honest. However six months prior to this new remit, the OFT took steps to receive undertakings from Handpicked Media requiring them to clearly identify when promotional comments have been paid for on Twitter and it would seem that guidance on the issue of paid-for advertising on social media platforms may not be too far off.

Given the immediacy of Twitter and its inevitable reach, via followers and re-tweets, etc, as bloggers we need to know how best to use our influence and to do so in the most ethical and honest way possible. There is much debate over the authenticity of writing sponsored posts and of reviewing gifted products and the need to declare such payment, in cash or otherwise. But how often has the same been discussed about Twitter?

  • Obviously if you have been directly contracted or paid to tweet about a certain product or event, then, in my opinion – and according to the OFT, it is essential that you declare that this is the case. Indeed, the OFT has confirmed that tweets that do not disclose they include paid-for promotions are deceptive under fair trading laws. I would suggest that #ad or #spon – as required in the US – is adequate.
  • It is ethical to either explicitly declare a “sponsored post” or to include in a post that we have been “kindly gifted” a certain product but when you then tweet about how much you like your new shoes (for example!) should you also be explicit in 140 characters?

I don’t have the answer to this but I feel like this is a subject that needs to be discussed in order for clarity and some sort of uniformity. What are your thoughts on Twitter endorsements? Have you been paid yourself to tweet? Or have you found yourself tweeting about a gift without thinking about it? Should it even matter?

*Check out the full OFT recommendations here. And add your thoughts and views below.

[HOW TO] write a fashion blog / be a better fashion blogger (part 1)

I wrote a post a few months ago entitled “how to Blog: commenting”, I had intended to write a mini series of posts but holidays and life got in the way and a second post, let alone a third or fourth, failed to materialise. Now though, I feel it might be time to revisit the idea. This post should really be the first in the series, I suppose, as it is more of an introductory post, both to the series and as a guide for new bloggers.

how to write a fashion blog

There are many different styles that a fashion blog might take and this post is by no means exhaustive – far from it. But this post does serve as a starting point for anyone out there who is hoping to start a fashion blog. Continue reading

How to Blog: Commenting


This was going to be just one post but it seems that I got a little carried away and think I’ll have to extend it into a mini series which will attempt to tell you a little of how to blog. Hope you enjoy it – and find it useful.

A big part of being a blogger, for me, is visiting and reading other blogs and participating in the blogging community which, by virtue, means that commenting is an integral part of this process:

Last Autumn Amy of Wolf Whistle set herself the target of leaving 500 comments a month. At IFB Ashe Mischief took up the challenge too and called other bloggers to do the same. I decided to follow Grechen’s lead and took the happy medium option and challenged myself to leave 10 comments a day.

I wrote about the subject of comments in a recent Friend Friday post, in which I referenced Chelsea’s (of Dear Winnie) great post on the same topic in which she laid out her own 4-step plan to writing the perfect comment.

When taking up this challenge I was conscious that my 10 comments a day would not be two-word, “great post” comments that were effectively meaningless. It seemed I was not alone, Amy told Ashe:

“I promised myself when I started this that I wouldn’t leave comments such as  ‘Nice blog!!!’ as I generally feel that these type of comments are a bit of a let down.”

While Ashe concluded that she would:

leave 250 meaningful, thoughtful, useful comments.”

Earlier this year, Ashe revisited the comment challenge at IFB and asked:

How did it go?  Was it more challenging than you expected?

Did you find many new blogs to visit? Build up any new friendships, find a lot of duds, or something in between?

Did you sustain the momentum and keep going? Have you built up new blogging habits from doing the comment challenge?  Are you more or less active at commenting now?

In response, I didn’t find it challenging so much as time consuming – when I have a quiet week, it is easy to leave more than the target of 10 a day but when I have a busy week or two, it get difficult to leave even 10 comments a week.

I found straightaway that in order to leave enough comments I have had to go on the hunt for new blogs to read. It’s been good to have a purpose to find good blogs that compel me to leave meaningful comments.

Like Ashe, I didn’t do this to increase traffic, or to get more comments on my blog but that has been a rather pleasant side effect. However, despite it not being my principle reason for undertaking the challenge, if I have visited a blog and I have commented on posts for a month or two and not heard anything back from the blogger (a reply to a comment, a comment on my blog, or a tweet) I do still think twice about returning to said blog.

I’m not so strict as I was about 10 comments a day but I do still comment as much as possible and visit those blogs that I have discovered over the past six months.

Did you take up the comment challenge? How did you find it? If not, do you have any sort of a strategy for commenting on other blogs?

If you have any questions about blogging that you would like to see answered in this series, please let me know in the comments, or by email.