June 28, 2016

Things Every Good Blog Should Have

I've been doing this blogging thing for a little over three years now, crazy huh? And while I've taken my fair share of blogging breaks and hiatuses, I've learned a thing or two in the process. But less as a blogger and more as a blog reader. Even on my most extended breaks, I've always continuously and regularly read my favorite blogs, and still scrolled through Pinterest and Facebook clicking on new posts that caught my eye.

But so many times I find even some of my favorite blogs commit these blogging faux-pas, and I've been noticing the same mistakes being "committed" over and over again, by newbies and professionals alike! So I rounded up a list of ten mistakes that I've seen being made and then wrote this post of things that every blog should have (and most definitely needs!).

must-haves for every blog!

// an about me section: this one should go without saying, but most readers are trying to get to know you as a blogger when they visit your blog, so failing to have a section or page basically prevents that from happening. A lot of times, I'll find a new blog that I love, but can't find out this blogger's name for the life of me.. or their age.. or basically anything.

// a search bar: OMG THIS ONE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT!!! I cannot tell you HOW MANY bloggers don't have a search bar! I'm the worst at saving links I want to go back to, and so many times I just remember the blog I read the post on.. so I think, how easy.. I'll go to the blog and just search the gist of the post until I find it. But nope, no search bar. It's the most frustrating thing because I'm certainly not going to scroll through 52 pages of archives trying to find one post.

// links to your social media channels: this one is also super important because when you love a blog, you're going to want to follow them in any way possible. For me, if it's a lifestyle blogger, it'll be Twitter so I can see their posts and get their witty comments in 140 characters too.. if it's a fashion blogger, I'll follow them on Instagram.. but finding a blog you like and then having to manually search social media for them just makes it ten times harder and the likelihood of doing that decreases. I keep my links both on the sidebar and in my post signature so readers can always find it!

// categories: I tend to blog about many different topics.. and most bloggers do that! Categorizing your content makes it easier for your readers to find similar posts, and it increases the likelihood of them staying and clicking around on your site. I have over a dozen different categories, though I only show a handful on the sidebar on the right (but once I update the blog, I'll fix that..)

// a photo of you: this should definitely be included in your about page, but I encourage even having one on your homepage or in your sidebars.. What does this do? Honestly, it just puts a face to the name! When I'm reading a post, I like to visualize who the blogger is, and sometimes I can't for the life imagine who this person is, and I become less interested in the post. I keep mine with a little blurb about me, and actually link it to the about page so if anyone wants to learn more, they can!

// contact information: this is important not only for your readers, but for potential advertisers. Imagine someone visits your page, loves your work and wants to reach out to you for advice, to leave a nice comment or to potentially work with you.. but they cannot find an email anywhere. While it's important to practice internet safety, you need to have a way for readers/anyone interested to contact you (and if you're concerned about safety, there are comment forms you can install!)

// consistency throughout the blog: with this, I'm mostly referring to your social media channels and keeping the usernames consistent. No one is going to remember that you're thecarodiaries on twitter, but you're the_caro_diaries on Instagram! Try to find a username that's available on every platform so you can remain consistent and readers/fans can more easily remember you!

// large, high-quality photos: so many times, I see blogs with photos set to size "medium" or "large", but are still so much smaller than the page width. I used to do this too (look back at one of my first posts), but I've learned that it's definitely important to re-size photos properly. Even if you aren't using a professional camera, resizing photos taken on your iPhone can still do wonders for your blog (but ditch the blurry photos!)

// content that is share-able: when people like your post, they're going to want to share it on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, so it's our job as bloggers to make the content share-able. No, I'm not talking about creating "viral" posts.. I'm talking about pulling out all the stops that ensures readers can share the post if they enjoyed it. For me, that means adding social media share buttons at the bottom of every post, so they can share it in any way, shape or form they'd like. I also swear by having a pin-it hover button over all my images.. Pinterest truly is the gift that keeps on giving!

// reply-blogger set up: this is more for when you're interacting with other bloggers (which is definitely the key to doing blogging right, might I add!) but so so so many bloggers are no-reply bloggers, meaning that when you comment on a post, the blogger can't respond to you through email because your email isn't linked with your account that replied. I wrote a whole post about fixing the issue (in only five steps!) because I see it happen so often.. last week, out of 15 comments, 13 were no-reply bloggers, making it difficult for me to interact with them or create relationships with them as readers or co-bloggers. Seriously, go double check if you're an offender.. you probably are if you don't even know!

There are plenty more that every blogger must-have for their blog: a simple, easy-to-maneuver blog design, links that are differentiated from regular text, widgets for social media channels, among many others.. but those go without saying :)

What do you think? Did I miss any "must-haves" for a successful blog? 
Image Map

June 22, 2016

San Juan Sun


A few months ago, my best friends and I escaped for a fun-filled Spring Break trip to Puerto Rico. If you've been around for a while, you'll already know that going on a "real" Spring Break trip was on my 101 in 1001 list, so I was so excited that we got to cross it off.


While we were there, we got to explore the entire country, because my best friend Kasie actually spent part of her childhood growing up in Puerto Rico, so she knew where to go and what to see. We really tried to avoid the "tourist" spots, partying with the locals - including me having an impromptu performance of "Don't Stop Believin'" in front of an entire bar.. the motto was YOSBO (you only Spring Break once).

We actually didn't stay in San Juan like most people do, but we stayed on the West coast in Rincón, a very beachy-surfer town, and it was the CUTEST! We did, however, venture into San Juan for two days of our trip: one, to explore Old San Juan, and the other to visit Al Junque and to stay in a resort before our flight the next morning.


This was March, so remember Connecticut was freezing when we left, so I embraced every second of the San Juan sun while we were there, using it as an excuse to break out my summer wardrobe.


As you know, I live in Trinidad and Tobago, so "summer" for me doesn't exist, because like Puerto Rico, it's summer year-round. So I knew for this trip, and to accommodate for the heat we were about to face, I would need to pack thin layers, linens, fundamentals and tons of hats and sunglasses to protect my face from the bright sunshine. 


That meant picking up a floppy beach hat before my trip, and because I had little to no summer clothing packed with me in Connecticut, I needed to go shopping. But once again, I was ballin' on a budget, and I knew that the likelihood of me losing this hat on this trip was incredibly high (I'm a mess, guys!), I hit my go-to budget-friendly store, Forever 21 to pick one up. 

 

For Old San Juan, I knew I was facing the beautiful cobblestone streets and tons of walking, so I made sure to pick my comfiest (and favorite) sandals, my Jacks! And with the colorful buildings and walls I was gonna be finding, I opted for a more neutral look: navy and white stripes, because you can never go wrong with stripes!


Add a pop of color with my crossbody, and tons of laughs with my best friends and it was hands down my favorite trip! I'll definitely be sharing more photos with you soon, of all the cool places we went to! Let's just say I want to go back! 


-- 

SHOP THIS POST:
striped tank: Banana Republic (old); similar | shorts: Banana Republic (old); similar
sandals: Jack Rogers 'Hampton' sandal in Platinum | crossbody: Tory Burch (old); similar
sunglasses: Ray-Ban (currently on MAJOR sale at Amuze!) | hat: Forever 21

Image Map

June 10, 2016

10 Makeup Mistakes You're Probably Making

Until recently, I hated makeup. I didn't hate makeup per se, but I hated doing my makeup. Plain and simple: I sucked. I couldn't match my foundation color to my skin and my everyday routine consisted of putting a too-dry, too-thick BB cream on my face and going my way.

When I was in NYC in October, I got offered by an employee in Bloomingdale's to match my foundation. I normally ignore the offers while I walk through the beauty floor, but I needed a new foundation so I sat at the NARS counter as she did my makeup, taught me and basically sold me the entire collection. One small fortune and a ton of compliments later, I was inspired to actually learn how to do my own makeup. Over the last few months, I've become obsessed with makeup. I save every article I come across with different products I want to try: both high-end and drugstore, I pin makeup tips and looks constantly, and I scroll through Sephora on the reg.

But like 2013 Caroline thought, makeup is a lot harder than it looks. Pinning something to your board isn't enough and it's 100% trial and error, but watching YouTube videos, reading articles online and having ideas of what you wanna create definitely helps. What I've noticed is that people tend to make the same mistakes (myself included) when it comes to makeup, and hopefully this helps you figure out why you don't look like you rolled off your Pinterest board.


// you don't moisturize: applying makeup on skin that's too dry is just a no-no.. and the main reason is because doing this may shorten the life of your look. You killed your winged eyeliner and your contour is on fleek, as they say, but failing to moisturize can cause the makeup to crack, come off easily or look heavier than it may be. Moisturizing is as important of a part of your makeup routine as applying your foundation or throwing on mascara.

// you wear the wrong shade: we've all done this at least once in our life.. we're at the drugstore and don't have time to differentiate between light 3 and medium 1, and honestly they kinda look the same, so you just pick it up and go. Right? Wrong! Next time you're picking out a foundation or tinted cream, spend that extra time color matching, because we all know that clear line that appears when your color is just one shade too dark or light.. Are you able to try out the foundation before you buy it? Swatch it on your neck, NOT your arm! It'll give you a closer match to your true shade!

(image via Buzzfeed)

// you aren't using primer or finishing spray: this one is just common sense.. why would you beat that face and create a remarkable piece of artwork without putting some finishing spray after, or priming it before? Using one or both of these products extends your makeup, prevents it from smudging, rubbing off or sweating off, and keeps you looking fresh all throughout the day.

// you skip blush: i used to do this one alllll the time because I never knew how to properly apply blush. Unfortunately we all need a little bit of color, especially after putting foundation and concealer on our faces, and skipping blush gets you one step closer to looking like you just saw a ghost! (especially for my fellow pale girls!) Do some research, find the best place to apply blush for your face shape, and never go back!


// you're using the wrong brushes: you do NOT need to use a brush for the purpose written on the packaging, BUT there are certain brushes that work better for certain products or features than others. Have a brush and don't know what to use it for? Google it! There's guaranteed to be at least 4 YouTube videos using the same (or similar) brush to give you an idea of what to use it for!

// you think you need to spend a lot of money to look good: while you may think that the only way you can do your makeup well is by shelling out hundreds on high-end and designer makeup brands, that's not the case! Especially in 2016, more and more drugstore brands are rolling out products that actually beat out high end products in color, consistency and wearability. Watch any YouTube makeup artist and they will name at least five products you can pick up at your local Walgreens, Target or even Walmart, and most of them are under $10 or $15. (I'll definitely be sharing my favorite makeup products under $15 soon!)


// you're using old products (especially mascara): my eldest sister is the best example I have for this one.. I was doing her makeup one day and she brought out all of her makeup, and I'm talking some of the best of the best makeup products. I took one look at everything and had to let her know that having Chanel makeup is great and all, but products tend to expire.. so dishing out hundreds of dollars on makeup is great if you're into makeup, but if it's gonna sit in your drawer for three years, your makeup looks aren't going to come out the way you want. Yes, it's true.. makeup products expire.. one makeup artist even told me she switches out mascara every month (although I replace mine every two to three months.. whoops!)

// you waste too much product: use your fingers to blot concealer rather than a brush or sponge.. it saves you SO much product and money in the long run! I read about this method online and always had it stuck in the back of my mind, until one day I actually tried it. Not only did I use half the amount of product that I normally used, but I also covered the area more evenly. Don't believe me? Watch Wayne Goss the makeup artist who swears by this routine.. the tap tap tap concealer method.



// you aren't cleaning your brushes often enough: this one is so so so important, not just for the application of your makeup but for hygiene purposes. Putting off cleaning your makeup brushes is one way to clog your pores and end up with unwanted pimples. Plus, clean brushes apply makeup soooo much better and easier, and just feel so much better on your skin. And the best part is that you don't need to shell out tons of money on unnecessary makeup brush cleaners, you can totally clean your brushes using products you likely have at home already. I'll be sharing my DIY brush cleaner soon!

// you're simply wearing too much: the golden rule in makeup has always really been 'less is more'. Now, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with wearing a lot of makeup, but in the last year I've really learned to embrace my natural beauty. Now, instead of leaving the house with a face full of makeup, I may just use tinted moisturizer and some mascara, or BB cream and a swipe of gloss.. learning to love yourself without makeup is just as important as nailing the makeup looks you see on Instagram. But that doesn't mean I don't go all out when I want to either.. there's nothing wrong with either!


At the end of the day, makeup is all about expression and freedom and having fun.. so have your fun experimenting, whether you use Urban Decay, Dior or Maybelline, or if you're lucky enough to get your hands on Jaclyn Hill's Champagne Pop collection. (But seriously guys, I NEED ALL OF JACLYN'S PRODUCTS!!!)

Did I miss any mistakes people make? Agree with these? Sound off in the comments below!


Image Map

June 08, 2016

June Goals

I know many of you must be wondering where I disappeared to, especially since I made the commitment in my January/February goals to blog more consistently. This was my last semester of college (as you all know from Monday's post), and it was definitely a hectic one. Between a full course-load, working on-campus, being a full-time RA and participating in all of my student involvements, this semester was crazy. Add in a booming social life (#seniorsrule), my sister's wedding (including trips home and to New York for dress fittings), some more medical stuff, applying and interviewing for jobs and YET another round of laptop issues (honestly Apple, is it SO HARD to ask for a functioning laptop?!!), I was forced to put The Caro Diaries on the backburner. And I'm not upset about that: honestly, it's okay to put life first.

Now that I'm back home and funemployed for the summer, I have a few things I definitely want to achieve this month! I'm starting to share my goals every month as a way of keeping myself accountable!


// work towards getting a job: this includes fine-tuning my resume, working on my LinkedIn profile and applying to jobs at home. I don't really want to rush into working just yet, and my parents and I decided it would be a good idea for me to settle into life at home before I rushed into working. I originally didn't want to start working until September, but realistically I'm aiming to be employed by mid-July to August.

// save my money: although I'm not bringing in a full-time income because I haven't started working yet, I'm making a little money here and there through babysitting and the blog, and I want to save the very little I do make throughout the summer so I can treat myself in the future. My next purchases: a new laptop (I desperately need one - this baby is holding on by a thread at this point), more clothes obviously, a trip to visit my friends back in the U.S., and booking a carnival costume for carnival in February!

// get back into a workout routine at home: moving home has been tough because now I have to re-create a whole routine. Now that I'm home, I'm finding it harder to "find time" to workout because I'm not in a strict routine.. I simply have too much free time! (I know it makes no sense!) I started back working out this week with my cousin, and I'm comparing costs of several gyms in the area and deciding which one I want to get a membership to!

// launch The Caro Diaries at home: a big reason I didn't want to move home was because I felt like it would be the end of the blog I worked so hard to build over the last three years. I decided that I simply wouldn't let that happen, and I'm working to launch TCD at home by working with local companies, attending local events and eventually (hopefully) hosting events of my own!

// cut my hair: my hair has gotten so ridiculously long lately and feels so unhealthy.. the ends are brittle and weak and my hair just falls limp and stringy, and even when I blowdry it out or curl my hair, it never seems to last longer than a day (though I should note, Trinidad's humid weather probably has something to do with that). Anyways, I'm wayyy overdue for a trim and I really just want to chop it all off! Here's to trying something new!

I think that's enough goals for this month! Good luck with all your goals and plans for this month, guys! I'm sure you'll all kill it! I'll definitely update next month with my progress!

Image Map