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Starting A Blog: What I’ve Learnt

8 May

When I started my blog almost two years ago, I had no idea what to expect. Cheryl from Invest In Your Chest gave me some helpful tips and encouragement, and her help and advice over the past few years has earned her the title of ‘Fairy blogmother’, and a place in my heart. But aside from that, I pretty much went it alone.

As I have said on here and in countless interviews, the reason for starting my blog was simple: I wanted to show women how clothing and underwear looked on a larger frame and bust, and give my opinion and views at the same time. No photoshopping, no professional hair and make up and photographer, just me, in my living room, running back and forth with my camera on timer! Over the past few years my blog has evolved somewhat, and as well as writing my reviews I also host guest posts from Mums, smaller busted women, corset experts and so much more. I write opinion pieces on things like the word ‘fat’, cup size and back size misconceptions, celebrity bra sizes and everything inbetween. But above all, I try to stay true to my blog – true to why I wrote it and who I write it for.
And so I thought I would write this post to share with you what I have learnt along the way. My blog is not perfect, my methods may not be recommended, but it’s worked for me, and I hope it can help work for those of you out there who are thinking of starting a blog. My advice comes from writing a fashion and lingerie blog, and so a lot of my commentary will be applicable to those areas of blogging.

When I first had the idea of starting my blog I was aware of only a few other blogs. Pocket Rocket Fashion, Sophia Jenner, Undercover Lingerista, Thin&Curvy, Diamonds’n’Pearls and Invest In Your Chest. I must say that Thin&Curvy’s blog was pretty much the inspiration for my own, as I knew then that my blog would consist of clothing and underwear reviews like hers, and a description of my figure would be the best way to let people know what the blog was about. My fuller figure and bust…wait, what a great name for a blog!
So far I’ve had no regrets with regards to my name. Yes it’s a bit of a mouthful to say, but I wouldn’t have named my blog anything else. My only issue is with those who come across my Facebook page of the same name and assume it’s a page dedicated to women with a larger body and bust, and they become quite irate when I post other things…

Before committing to a name for your blog, make sure you are happy with it. Make sure that it still looks good when it becomes one word, as that will be how your URL will make it look (Pen Island anyone?) and google it to check that you are not unwittingly copying anyone else. If you are stuck, why not just use your name, or an alliteration of your name? Do not make a hasty decision!

When I first started blogging I had no ‘About Me’ and no way for people to contact me. I just assumed that I would write my blog and that would be that. Cheryl forced me to get Twitter a few months after starting the blog, and she set up an email address for me at the same time. I started the Facebook page a few months later, and recently added a descriptive ‘About Me’, along with contact details. I know how important it is to have all of the above now, not least because my day job requires me to read many many blogs and contact the bloggers, whilst assessing their social media fan amounts. So make sure you do have an email address clearly displayed on your blog, and use and abuse social media to your advantage!

You will need to decide early on whether or not you want to be anonymous, or show your face or body in your blog. These days there are entire press events created for bloggers, specifically fashion bloggers, and being anonymous could mean missing out on that.
As for showing parts of your body that you are not happy with – think very very carefully. The internet never forgets ANYTHING, and so if you post one bra clad photo and change your mind a minute later, it will be too late! I don’t mean to scare you, I just want to make you aware of how things could affect your future.

My number one rule of blogging is – stay true to why you started. It can be easy to get swept up with offers of sponsored posts and random reviews, but your audience and reasons for writing should be at the forefront of your mind when you set about writing a new post. Your readers come to you because they know what they are getting – don’t make them go elsewhere.

You should also be honest. If you are reviewing freebies and you really don’t like them then say so. People may make purchases based on your recommendations, and if you aren’t being truthful about a product then it may ruin things for them. There are ways of saying that something isn’t to your taste without being rude or upsetting the brand, and everyone appreciates honesty.

Speaking of freebies – don’t expect it to happen over night, or maybe at all! I get tens of comments from women who see that I review gifted items and say ‘cor, I had better start a blog so I can get freebies!’ – that’s not quite how it works. Yes, some bloggers get sent items to reviews – companies aren’t stupid, and they know that a bloggers with x amount of readers being send a dress that costs them £20 to make may make them £200 back. However, it takes a while for those companies to notice and want to interact with bloggers, and that often doesn’t happen when bloggers go ahead and ask for products! So if you are writing a blog to get freebies, good luck! A lot of hard work and dedication has to go into making a blog work, and for that you really need a true passion. Stick at it, and it will pay off, but your reason for writing should not be because of ‘freebies’.

You should also bear in mind that bloggers who do get sent items often choose those items. And so they will often be positive about the item, as they will have picked it for a reason. I have been sent one item that I did not want or like in my whole history of blogging, and that was the dreaded Ahh Bra. And as you can see I was less than kind about it…

People blog about all sorts of things. Tents, restaurants, clothes, dogs… Personally I believe that reviews should mostly be picture rich to help break up the text, and as descriptive as possible. The photos do not have to be of you, but it’s nice to have a reference for your readers if the post allows for it. Reviews should be honest, engaging and true to the subject matter.

I always try to share my reviews on my various social forums – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr etc. I try to make the companies mentioned in the review aware of it, and I sporadically share old review every so often so that new readers and followers can be informed of older posts. I use my posts to refer to things, to answer questions about how certain brands fit me, or how colours look on me. I always categorise my posts, so that people looking for bikini or shapewear reviews can do so easily.

My fellow bloggers are the reason for my success. Blogging is not a rivalry, it’s a sisterhood. I am always happy to retweet and share and mention posts that others have written, and the same is done for me. I want to provide my readers with a service, show them other options and other great resources. I learn a lot from reading other blogs, and I want to share those findings with others. I regularly share my thoughts and ideas and woes with some bloggers who have become close friends of mine, and I am so thrilled to be part of this community.

I personally receive a huge amount of emails and messages every week. They are from women asking for advice, help, a shoulder to cry on – and I always take the time to reply in the best way I can. I do the same with my Twitter and Facebook followers, and I do it because I want to help women feel beautiful or wear the correct size bra or find that perfect dress. Loyalty to my readers is what helps make my blog successful, and you should always look after those who look up to you and come to you for help.

I try to put out a new post weekly to keep my readers engaged. Some blogs update daily, some just a few times a month. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to blogging frequency, and you should never feel forced to post. If you can’t complete a post – come back to it, do something else. This very post has taken me MONTHS to write! I felt like I had so much information to get down, and it seemed incredibly daunting. However, I wrote a few extra lines every week or so, and although it will never be perfect, it’s finally taken shape and hopefully gives budding bloggers some good advice!

I hope my post has made sense and you have enjoyed reading it! As I said, these are tips and tricks that I have picked up and made up along the way and used to make my blog successful.

The Not So Perfect Bra

6 Sep

I have posted countless posts and videos and descriptions and examples of what to look for in an well fitting bra and what a poorly fitted bra looks like. But what about when you know your size, you know how to check if your bra fits and yet still your bras cause you trouble? Here are some common complaints that I hear and see frequently.

The Straps Dig In
Sometimes the bra can be a fabulous fit; the band snug, the cups perfect, the wires flat against the torso, and still the straps still dig into the shoulders. I know that personally my straps dig in because firstly I have fleshy shoulders and not much can be done about that. And secondly, the straps should take 20% of your breast weight and 20% of my breast weight is a hell of a lot! The best way to work out if your straps are doing too much work is to slide them off your shoulders and see if your bra still stays up. You may also want to check that they are tightened to a two finger tension, and if too tight just ease up a little. If they still dig in and cause no pain or discomfort then don’t worry too much.

Back FatWe all hate back fat! And sometimes it seems we can’t win – if the bra is too loose it rides up and pushes skin and fat down, it’s it’s too tight it digs in. The thing to remember, as hard as it is, is that you need the band to be firm to support your boobs. Real, fake, big, small, a firm band helps defy gravity for longer and causes less pain and discomfort. When the bra is on make sure to adjust the band into the right position, pull it flat and smooth it round as much as possible. If you are still left with back fat then try to find bras that have multiple hooks and eyes. Never ever be fooled into thinking that a looser band will lessen back fat as it won’t, and it will also give you even more problems!

Asymmetrical BoobsNo women has two identical boobs, and whilst some are lucky enough for it to be barely noticeable, many of us struggle slightly more to make our rack look even. A lot of bras from Ewa Michalak come with removable pads that can help fill out that slightly emptier bra cup. Even simple chicken fillets will work and make you feel happier when it comes to your bust. Don’t be put off by the fact that they are usually used to enhance a bust, I know many large breasted women that swear by them.

The Central Gore Doesn’t Lie Flat
The central gore refers to the two cup wires that meet in between the breasts. On a properly fitted bra the gore should lie flat. However, even when the cup size is spot on the gore can sometimes twist and not stay put in the middle of the chest. I find that a lot of Freya bras do this on me and I have come to the conclusion that I am simply not built for them. I often find that the gore is quite wide on the bras, and the material that covers the wires is rather thick which does not work well with my boobs which are pretty close set and full in the middle. Cheryl has the opposite boob shape to me – her breasts are fairly wide set and full on the bottom and Freya are her favourite brand and work very well for her shape. As with anything we sometimes have to search to find our perfect match.

The Wires Dig In Under The Arms I hear a lot of women complain about how they hate wired bras – and when pressed as to why they often admit that the wires poke them in their armpits and cause irritation. I personally find that my Ewa Michalak bras are notorious for doing that to me, something that I fixed by bending the wires outwards very slightly. If you try this and you still experience problems then maybe, as before, you may want to try a different bra/brand. I know that Panache bras have quite long wires, whilst Eveden bra wires are shorter. Yes, it can be a pain to discover that your bra is not so perfect after a day of wear, but hopefully bending the wires out will suffice with most bras.

The Straps Fall DownEarlier I talked about the straps cutting in – but what about those straps that just won’t stay put? A lot of bras are only half adjustable which means that slimmer shouldered women can really struggle. Sometimes that straps are simply too far apart and just won’t stay up. I would recommend moving or shortening the straps in both cases which I know is a pain, especially after shelling out a lot of money on a bra. Click here for more on this topic.

Do you find that your seemingly perfect bras have that one little bugbear? Is it something I have mentioned in this post or something entirely different? Let me know in the comments.

One Year On – Most Frequently Asked Questions

9 May

So today is my one year anniversary! I can’t quite believe that it’s been a whole year since I cobbled this post together.   What a journey!  Sometimes I have felt disheartened by the cruel demeaning comments that infrequently pop up, sometimes I have had “blog block” and it seemed like I had nothing to say or no good photos and I just wanted to delete the whole thing and forget about it.  But thanks to you lovely lot I have picked myself up or snapped out of my funk and carried on writing. I have racked up almost 500,000 views, 200 posts and around 3000 social media fans and subscribers.  Those are the kind of figures that I like to perve over! I have been to amazing press events and shows, hosted glorious guest bloggers, been on and at brilliant photo shoots and have blogged and written for some great sites.
I wasn’t sure quite what to do for my year anniversary, my Big Blog Giveaway although amazing was quite exhausting and I’m not too sure how I could top that just yet. And so I took a less ordinary celebratory route – I’d like to post up some of my frequently asked questions and hopefully provide some great solutions.

Q: Where can I buy “x” bra?
I get women who write to me and email me and leave comments asking me about a multitude of sizes. I don’t know all the answers but I do know of a few fab sites.

Ewa Michalak make gorgeous bras from a 24-48, A-KK.  Some sizes are custom made only and non returnable, but Ewa and her team are very thorough with their measuring methods. There are a multitude of blogs out there, including my own that review the bras.  Curvy Wordy is the queen of the reviews, Thin And Curvy has reviewed custom made smaller backed bras, and some more reviews can be found on Invest In Your Chest and Sophia Jenner

I also love Brastop for their range of bras, their fabulous discounts and their easy to use site.  Keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming deals, competitions and brilliant fitting tips and videos. If you feel brave enough you can even partake in their Model Of The Month contest! They also have a fabulous blog where they post up helpful reviews, often showing the underwear on the reviewers in question which gives you a great idea of how it could look on you. They discuss relevant topics and news and recently hit one million views! My blog has got a lot of catching up to do!

Q: Where can I get a bra fitting?

I know a lot of you lovely ladies are based in places other than the UK and therefore struggle a little more than us to get a decent bra fitting and find bras that are suitable. I am in contact with many ladies and many great bra fitting companies and shops that offer “proper” fittings, so if you do want help the best thing to do is to post your question and location on my Facebook wall and hopefully there will be someone somewhere who knows of a location to get fitted for bras. The best and most instant advice I can give is that you use this bra fitting calculator as it has been the most successful one I have ever seen! Of course it is just a starting point and will not help you with all bras as all brands fit differently. However it can give you a ball park figure for your figure and if you are in a position to try on that bra then do it, you may be surprised.

If you are based in the UK then my first suggestion would be Bravissimo as they have taught me everything I know. They are helpful, friendly, make you feel at ease and often very busty themselves – you can see the magic of a well fitted bra at work! They never pressure you to make a sale, have an extensive selection of sizes, colours and styles.  And above all they explain how bras work! If you are unable to get into a store then they do also offer email and phone fittings.  If you think you are below a D cup then they can still fit you, although they may not have a bra to test out the size they estimate you being.

Leia Lingerie only have three stores but if you are close to them then check them out, I cannot say enough good things about them!

Another lady  that uses modern technology to her advantage is the wonderful Canadian based Claire Dumican of Butterfly Lingerie. She can host Skype fittings with ladies all over the world and is a complete and utter sweetie.

Q. How on earth can I be such a small band/large cup?!

Finding out your true size is a shock to most women. They often stubbornly refuse to believe that they can be a smaller back size or bigger cup size. I know of one woman who has a 24 inch waist and wears 36Ds. “I have a broad back” she says – erm, so do I but my back is not a foot wider than my waist…  Women often resent being told what to do when it comes to something personal like a bra, even when they have asked for advice.  I hope that these illustrations below will help bust a few myths.

FACT: Bra bands can be found in sizes as low as a 24.
FACT: D cup is not that big.

This woman is a natural D cup.

This woman wears a 24JJ/26J.

This woman is a natural 28J.

These women wear 30 backed F+ bras.

This woman is a natural 30HH.

This woman has just found out that she needs a 26H. She has fake breasts but they still need support and can still cause back pain.

As soon as women stop associating numbers and letters with false media ideas and images the sooner they can all stop complaining of back pain and hating their breasts.

Q1. Do your bras cause you pain and discomfort? Do you live for the end of the day when you can remove them?  Do your breasts bulge and spill out of the cups?  Do you have to re adjust your breasts into your bra several times a day?
Yes? – Go to Q2.
No? Congratulations! You sound like you are in a well fitted bra.

Q2. Do you fasten your bras straight onto the tightest hook or do they ride up during the day?
Yes? – You may need to try a smaller band size. Go to Q4.
No? Go to Q3.

Q3. Are your bra bands so tight that they are hard to get on and leave angry red marks on your skin that take a long time to disappear?
Yes? – Your band is too tight, try going for a larger size. It is great that you are wearing firm backed bras but try not to overdo it, very tight bands can be just as harmful as overly loose ones.
No? It sounds like your band is spot on. Go to Q4.

Q4. Do your breasts spill out the side, top or bottom of your bra cups, forcing the central gore away from your chest?
Yes? – Your cup size is too small and will put strain on your shoulders and may cause your breasts to be saggy and misshapen. Go to Q6.
No? – Go to Q5.

Q5. Once you have leaned forward and dropped your breasts into the bras cups do you still find you have space in the cup?
Yes? Your bra is too large in the cups. Try sizing down a cup or two.
No? It sounds like your bra cups are spot on. Go to Q6.

Q6. Do your shoulder straps dig in?
Yes? – If your band is too loose then that could be why as your shoulders are taking the strain of the weight of your breasts. If your band is spot on then your straps could be over tightened. Loosen them so you can fit two fingers underneath them comfortably.
No? Go to Q7.

Q7. Do your straps often fall down throughout the day?
Yes? Make sure you tighten the straps to a two finger tension. The bra band needs to take 80 percent of the weight but the straps are necessary too.
No? It sounds like your straps are doing their job just fine.

Q. How can I become a plus size model?
It is important to remember that I am not a model – I am a waitress.   I do not know the secret formula.  I have had a few shoots but I am not a professional, just a very fortunate girl. Not every woman can or should be a model, just like not everyone can or should be a doctor or a builder or a teacher or an air host. To be a model you generally have to be over 5’9, be very well proportioned, very well groomed, willing to travel, willing to go to jobs that may not want you, willing to wear anything. If you do find a company who wants you you should never have to pay a join up fee or for any photographs, they should be good enough to find you work or tell you “no thank you’. If you just fancy having a photo shoot done then it is something you may well have to pay for.

Q. Do you get freebies?

Yes I do. Quite often the freebies I receive are items that I have tried on or selected and then been sent and so they will already be to my taste and satisfaction. Sometimes they are surprises from companies who know me well or want to thank me for doing reviews. I am always honest and fair, often stating if it is not perfect or not an item I would usually go for. I think that there is often a huge stigma that surrounds bloggers who do receive and review freebies and I really dislike it. I choose to blog, I choose to write about and credit companies, I choose to do it for free, yes. But I can see my blog clicks, incoming and outgoing. I can tell when my readers rush off to an online store and have a look at a product I have reviewed. And if a few of you buy that product then that company is effectively making money having done no work. So I do appreciate it when companies reward me for my hard work. I do not expect it but I am grateful and I will do my best to submit a fair honest review of any products received. Likewise I am amused and sometimes a little irked by comments or messages that lament at the commenter’s lack of freebies and event invitations. Us blogging folk work extremely hard to build up and maintain our reputations. If you want the same pleasures then why not give blogging a go – it is a lot of hard work but you reap what you sow and I promise that you will have a blast.

I hope that those questions and answers have been useful and insightful.  Thank you for being a part of my amazing year and remember – all women are real, and pretty much all of them have curves ❤