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Mandy Lutman

Why Automated Comments Are a Horrible Instagram Trend
Blogging Advice

Why Automated Comments Are a Horrible Instagram Trend

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s automated Instagram comments. I’m really not sure why people think it boosts engagement – I suppose it can when they’re done right, but half of the time, I roll my eyes and call out about 90% of automated comments I get on Instagram. Don’t do it. Seriously, just don’t do it. Outsource it to someone else or spend an hour of your day organically commenting on other people’s content.

Please. Please. Just don’t use automated Instagram comments. Invest your time, invest your money, and you’ll see results.

If you invest in fake automated stuff, you’ll receive fake automated stuff back.

The supposed benefits of automated Instagram comments:

  • It saves you time.

That’s it. That’s the only “benefit” comments like that would give you. They’re not worth it and if you’re using them wrong they’re devaluing your business and branding you the wrong way.

I found some of my favorite automated comments (and some of my replies), just to show you how horrible this trend is.

Here are a few examples of what not to do:

  

How it looks like on someone’s feed? (none of these were organic)

It’s not working. It’s really not. I’d love to hear from someone who’s actually getting any benefits from posting automated comments because it just looks like you’re being completely fake and just want followers in exchange.

My favorite automated Instagram comment I ever got (that actually worked because it was niche-specific):

 

Here’s a thought – why not actually engage with people on Instagram? Why not give them something of value and establish a long-term relationship if you really want conversion for your business? The number of followers means nothing if they don’t engage – create relationships instead. Send DMs, comment authentic things, encourage people, and be consistently present on their timeline.

Need some help? I’m a freelance Content and Social Media Manager, working with small businesses and startups on their content and social media strategy.

Let’s talk and help you create real Instagram engagement!

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram – let’s build REAL Instagram relationships!

Blogging Advice

I Tried First 5 ‘Work From Home’ Ads I Saw On Facebook

My Facebook feed is full of bloggers, entrepreneurs, and pretty much everyone offering their courses. The wording is usually the same. They want to show how to start a side hustle, how to work from home, how to make XY 6+ figures amount of money per month doing work online, how to travel full-time, yadda yadda yadda. You know the drill. Each day, there are about 10 new bloggers, social media and marketing experts, doing exactly the same thing on my newsfeed. So I thought I’d give them a try and see if it’s really worth purchasing their products and what you actually get in those FREE checklists and courses they advertise.

I’ll probably get in trouble for this but let’s do it!

Disclaimer: I’m not an affiliate or BFFs with any of these people – I’m just fascinated by the fact this is now common practice and wonder about the legitimacy of these courses that claim they can offer you so much. I didn’t edit this much, sorry if I sound too harsh 😉 

I Tried First 5 Ads I Saw On Facebook

  1. FREE Workshop: How To Start A Wildly Successful Side Hustle by Susie Moore

    I Tried First 5 Ads I Saw On Facebook

Alright, so this one claims it’s fluff-free and jam-packed with valuable and actionable content. Her work’s apparently been featured on Forbes (article not working when clicked on Google), Business Insider (always features the same writers, so I’m guessing there’s some sort of PR partnership going on), etc. etc. Her Huffington Post author bio claims that her corporate career paid her $500,000 in her final year at age of 30, which is pretty much the skillset foundation for her online business, so I really want to see what she has to say about starting a business even if you lack confidence etc. etc.

Things I liked: She mentions having a passion for what you do more than she mentions money. The first video gives an important lesson on how to find your passion without going into monetization first. Also, huge thumbs up for having video transcripts.

What I didn’t like: Apparently you don’t receive the workshop all in one day – wasn’t mentioned before. I understand it’s a side hustle thing and it helps people not feel overwhelmed, but at the same time, it’s misleading – I’d rather see a Facebook AD that says 10-day Side Hustle Workshop for transparency. I’d love to have a checklist alongside the video that would help me work my way through the steps Susie mentions would help me find my passion.

On that note, the fluff-free adjective she mentions in the Facebook AD gets lost to me with this sentence in the email: “In Video 2, you’re going to learn the ONLY five things you need to start making money from your Side Hustle.” – and I bet they’re ‘determination’, ‘persistence’, ‘long-term plan,’ etc. etc. aka fluff aka not a real answer.

Will I continue with the workshop: Nah, sorry 🙁

  1. Social Media Rules Have Changed by John and Nadya

    I Tried First 5 Ads I Saw On Facebook

John and Nadya are home business experts and 7-figure earners according to their Facebook bio. Their AD claims that they will share social media tips that helped scale their business to six-figures a year to six-figures a month. Their taxes must be insane. After Googling them, they appear on a few podcasts, but as far as producing their own content goes, they aren’t really showing up. I do love their FB page, which is fairly active (although 40k followers wouldn’t be enough to make 6 figures per month).

Things I didn’t like: The first email is basically an opt-in to join their group and doesn’t really reveal anything – you don’t receive anything until you’re approved. Second email contains the phrase “It’s official .. you’re a genius!” which immediately put me off as I felt like things were going to get dumbed down for me. Waiting too long to be accepted into the group, the novelty of your FB AD already started to wear off. 

Things I liked: Friendly language. They have blog posts but those weren’t even mentioned in the email! I’d love a section like ‘while you wait, have a read of some of our popular blog posts’.

Will I continue with this? No, it gives away absolutely nothing with the first 3 opt-ins and it honestly looks like it’s a waste of time. In their own words, I’m ‘fired up’ and ready to go, but nothing is happening. On that note, I have a feeling this is pretty much affiliate marketing and sponsorship done through the group. I didn’t even notice they had blog posts until I went on their Instagram – I’ll definitely browse through those.

Update: Their emails they send after you sign up are completely irrelevant to what you’ve signed up for. They also don’t really offer value and are just promotional emails for the group.

  1. This Free Book Paid For My Tesla by Dean Graziosi

    I Tried First 5 Ads I Saw On Facebook

I’m a huge fan of video Facebook ADs and this guy is really grabbing the attention. I’ve heard of Dean Graziosi before, so I kind of know what to expect. It might be a good warning that if you Google Dean Graziosi, the second link you see is people asking how big of a scam he is.

Here’s the best part: after you put in your name and email, it asks you to pay for $20 shipping fees. He argues that ‘the book is free, I’m just asking for shipping costs’. Sure, smart marketing, but it doesn’t help the fact that you’re connected to the word ‘scam’ on the first page of Google. While I personally don’t think that’s the case, it definitely doesn’t portray him in a good light. 

I have watched Millionaire Success Habits on YouTube, which is probably more insightful than this so-called ‘free book’.  It’s extremely powerful and shares a lot about his habits that I’ll actually start implementing. The dude knows his stuff but his AD is a complete miss – I’ll stick to free content that’s available from podcasts, thank you.

  1. How to Retire in 100 Days as a ClickFunnels Super Affiliate by Russell Brunson

I Tried First 5 Ads I Saw On Facebook

I’ve also heard of Russell Brunson before and his ad has been in my face for a while before I decided to write this. If you Google him, you get some Forbes articles, his own website, an Amazon book, yadda yadda, the usual stuff. I don’t particularly want to retire and I’m definitely not interested in ClickFunnels (why is this on my feed), but let’s give this a try.

Things I liked: Immediate access. Yes please. No separate days with emails, immediate access. All 100 days in front of you in a form of educational YouTube clips. There are resources, everything you need from basically Day 1. Emails are almost unnecessary.

Things I didn’t like: His drawing is terrible. You’ll probably not retire after 100 days of doing this, let’s be honest.

Will I continue with the workshop: Not interested in ClickFunnels at all, but I’ll keep this on the backburner.

Update: Still subscribed 😛

  1. 5x Your Traffic Using Pinterest by Jenna Kutcher

I didn’t manage to grab a snapshot on my newsfeed as this was a while ago, but I want to add Jenna Kutcher’s Pinterest course on here. Jenna does photography, podcasts, she’s an entrepreneur, yadda yadda, basically doing everything there is under the sun. I like her blog, but I’m also glad she’s not mentioning her income anywhere, because let’s be honest, photography alone can bring you significant revenue. 

Things I liked: I’m a sucker for long webinars because they’re always full of value etc. etc. Also, it was available immediately. There are workshop payment plans! Huzzah!

Things I didn’t like: Omg Jenna girl, you send way too many emails. See pic for an example. I had to unsubscribe. Also, the webinar didn’t teach me anything – the only super valuable lesson I got is that Pinterest is not social media, it’s a search engine and you should optimize it as such. Also, about 25 minutes in, it suddenly becomes an ad for her other course and that completely takes over for the duration of the webinar.

I also didn’t like the “You only get our never-before-shared 5 Day Pinterest Kickstarter of tried and tested Pinterest strategies for FREE when you enroll in The Pinterest Lab by midnight TONIGHT.” when you should already receive those strategies in The Pinterest Lab ANYWAYS. What’s the deal?

Will I continue with the workshop: Nope.

Conclusion

These marketers are more worried about retaining you as a customer to show off their success for retaining you than they are here to actually offer you something of value. While you do actually get some valuable information, you can easily get this for free. The ads are misleading and most of the time the copy just builds up the emotion and anticipation and then leaves you disappointed.

The Ugly Truth About Blogging Courses
Blogging Advice

Are Blogging Courses Worth It?

Disclaimer: I’m not advertising anything with this blog post or anyone’s course – I simply want to highlight that blogging is becoming a fabricated business and it’s easy to spend money on things that will never bring you value. If you’re a beginner blogger, you’re better off investing in your writing skill than learning about these ‘blogging secrets’ from questionable sources.

I’ll probably get yelled at for this but hey, if it offends you, you should probably doing this. A recent Facebook group mentioned this article that talks about blogging course scams. It’s a really good read and a warning to everyone who’s naive enough to fall for them. As a content manager, I’d like to share my own input and shady practices I’ve seen in this business. 

Everyone wants to become successful at blogging. But here’s an ugly truth about blogging courses. 

Don’t be fooled that people who are monetizing their site are 100% genuine and want to help you reach your blogging potential – most of them just want the money. I’ve seen hundreds of travel bloggers posting on Facebook groups how they ‘just started their blog and would like to monetize them.’ I’ve also received the advice that you can easily make a course as soon as you reach a certain amount of views per month, regardless if you can repeat the thing again next month. Unfortunately, it’s not how it should be.

As soon as blogging got a ‘money first’ mentality, it lost its value and hard work. People just want to get easy money and they don’t care whether or not they actually teaching valuable information. Sure, it’s a business, and part of me is writing this because I’m incredibly petty, but the other part of me worries about the industry that’s becoming so fabricated it’s losing that personal touch.

Blog posts are becoming just rewritten blog posts from the first five you see on Google. And the people who claim they made it big, only made it big that one time. And then they went on to teach about it, leaving blogging altogether. See? It sounds crazy! 

I’m not a pro at blogging, far from it, which is why I’ll never set up something that will teach you ‘how I get 1000 views per day’ or ‘how I managed to explode my traffic with Pinterest’. And to be honest, I don’t really want to.

When I became a freelance content manager and spent a lot of time writing for others (including blogging coaches), I learned the ugly truth about how some people make money by teaching you how to blog. (This also applies to other businesses) 

Here’s how a lot of blogging courses are actually made.

PLR (I won’t link to these sites because they don’t deserve your clicks)

Unless they’re very passionate about the subject, most of these short-term bloggers will never put in the work that’s actually required to make a course from scratch. PLR stands for Private Label Rights. They’re products that allow you to download the content and rebrand for your own business purposes. You can find anything from books, email templates, email campaigns, or even full on courses.

Why it’s terrible: A lot of the content is actually extremely outdated, meaning the practices are no longer valuable. This is important, especially when it comes to blogging and social media. The algorithms and SEO policies change once every few months, but those books never get updated. This also means you can easily receive only 20% of useful information. Of course, you’re also copying the content – there are thousands of other bloggers out there doing exactly the same. These pre-made courses cost less than $5 and some people out there charge as much as $500 for the course. Also, someone spent a lot of time writing these courses and they’re also making money by offering you a template that has no proven results. 

Depending on whether or not the blogger is actually passionate about the subject, they might rewrite the content – but there are so many of bloggers out there that will use these course and email templates without changing a single thing. And they’ll still make money.

Can it be good: Yes – if you use it as a template and an inspiration and actually rewrite other content. Purchase at your own risk.

Btw, this is not entrepreneurship. Unless you can elevate that content and really change it into something current and personalized to your own business, this is a scam.

People who are really making money, make more money making money than they do telling people how they make money.

Not all blogging courses are bad.

Of course, there are a few of them with relevant and decent information. But that information could easily be obtained for free.

I’ve seen at least a dozen of ‘bloggers’ offering courses that made me raise my eyebrows. Here’s what they all had in common:

  • No payment plan (money upfront? in this economy? no thank you!)
  • No 30-day money back guarantee (most Teachable courses offer this – as it should be). 
  • They actually stopped blogging altogether and just focus on their course (‘those who can’t do, teach’ – there’s some truth to this saying). 
  • You can trace back zero of their content (search their name, see what comes up). 
  • Their social media presence is not that amazing (this is important, especially if they’re advertising certain Pinterest courses and whatnot)
  • They don’t offer any of their advice for free (come on!!!!)

And most of them were the ones that Facebook groups mentioned they were actually a scam. They take your money, they give you a basic course, and when you’re unhappy, they disappear. Or, they bait you in until you invest a certain sum and eventually disappear. Sounds kind of like scientology actually (sorry, still watching Leah Remini’s documentary). 

Don’t get scammed by blogging courses

Do your research on the blogger! Do you really feel like you’re getting something valuable or have you just fallen for the course because of it’s shiny Pinterest picture? 

Check their blogging history – how long have they had a blog? Let’s be honest, nothing good happens within 2 years of blogging for most people (and it usually takes a few months for SEO to even catch your keywords).

Check their content – you can use plagiarism checker to check their blog posts that talk about their course. If you see any similarities in wording, there’s a good chance it’s PLR. Stay away.

Only invest in the best

There are people out there like Neil Patel, Gary Vaynerchuk, and others who give content and business advice for free. Everything you need to learn, whether it’s about WordPress, monetization, social media, etc. all is available for free – save your coins.  

There really is no short secret to blogging success – you need to have a good content strategy, know SEO (which you can do through the official Moz website), and just work hard and post valuable content. Your readers will come. And you can do all this without wasting money on blogging courses.

Don’t get scammed.

How I Became A Top-Rated Freelancer on Upwork
Upwork

How I Became a Top-Rated Freelancer on Upwork

Upwork has recently changed their policy and it seemed like they’re accepting more jobs than they are freelancers at the moment and it’s getting on everyone’s nerves. It’s incredibly frustrating for those who are looking to get a job on Upwork or as a freelancer in general. Here’s how I got to top rated in a year! 

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My life on Santorini
Santorini

5 Memorable Things to Do On Santorini

I might not be living on Santorini anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the island isn’t constantly on my mind. Following my dream and moving there has been one of the greatest experiences of 2017 and quite frankly, nothing will ever be able to top it. Saying that, I was able to experience a lot of memorable things on the island a lot of people miss. I believe Santorini is more than just a weekend getaway – it can really bring out some of the most memorable experiences of your life ever if done correctly.

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Vitamin Coffee Review: Coffee with Nutrients?
Review, Writing

Vitamin Coffee Review: Coffee with Nutrients?

Please note that this is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own (I just really love coffee, don’t judge me :)).  

Ever since I’ve been back in London I’ve noticed more and more small businesses with brand new products that I desperately wanted to try. One of such is Vitamin Coffee!

As a coffee-holic, I’m always on the lookout for new flavors and brews, but I am obviously very much aware that coffee can cause a huge boost to anyone’s anxiety.

But it turns out, there are far more benefits to regular coffee! Dr Josh Axe argues that coffee can improve heart health, protect you from cancer, fight depression, increase energy (of course), create better physical performance, improve asthma control, and more. (Although some of these might be very questionable and I don’t really buy it, Dr Axe)

Although you would receive nutrients like Riboflavin, Magnesium, Niacin and more, regular coffee fails when it comes to vitamins. Booo.

This is where Vitamin Coffee comes in.

Vitamin Coffee Review: Coffee with Nutrients?

I was a bit skeptical when I first tried it, but as it turned out, this coffee tastes no different than any regular roast. As an added bonus, it comes with tons of nutrients, including Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, Iron, Zinc and others.

If you’re vegan, you know B12 is hard to get. But if you’re also a coffee drinker, this could be the answer instead of getting the annual shots or taking supplements!

How Vitamin Coffee Works

Vitamin Coffee Review: Coffee with Nutrients?

The 210g packet lasts for 14 days, which is absolutely perfect. The website is simple to use and it lets you create a custom dose of vitamins – you can choose from ‘complete,’ ‘defence,’ and ‘energy.’

They also let you choose your roast type and you can create a weekly subscription if you’re a true coffee addict.

Easy to use, easy to deliver, and omg, it’s honestly so good!

Taste Test

I received my 210g of fresh ground coffee the next day after placing an order and immediately tried it in my beloved coffee maker. (pro tip, if you want to wake up early, have a coffee maker in our room, put it on auto timer – the smell of freshly made coffee is my favorite way to wake up).

Vitamin Coffee Review: Coffee with Nutrients?

I have to say, I’m very impressed with the taste. My ex coffee snob coworker used to think I’m crazy when I’d put honey and cinnamon in my instant coffee and swear it was good, but I think even he’d think the taste of Vitamin Coffee is okay (Markus, I’m sending you some!!).

It’s too early to tell whether or not the nutrients are having a positive effect on me yet, but I have to say I feel more energized than I would be if I was drinking my regular coffee.

Overall, I definitely support anything that’s here to bring more health into our everyday life. And this is just a memo that I’m definitely not quitting coffee anytime soon – I just ordered my monthly subscription! 😉

My rating: Five out of five tablespoons of awesome 🙂

My Monthly Favorites [August 2017]
Favorites

My Monthly Favorites [August 2017]

I want to bring back more personality (*cough* and content) to this blog and I thought doing monthly favorites again would be the perfect way to do it. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know all of my content got erased last year and with it, all of my monthly faves went away as well. So let’s start this again – here are my monthly favorites for August 2017!

Please note that ‘5 Random Items I’m Raving About’ and ‘Beauty Products I love’ do have an Amazon affiliate link, however, giving it a click would only support the existence of my blog.

5 Random Items I’m Raving About

Coffee with nutrition, say what? As someone who has coffee running through her veins, I appreciate innovative ways people are trying to make coffee just a little big healthier. I knew it was meant to be when the owner of this company actually knows the people in my apartment building and has worked with my beloved Fresh Fitness Food. This coffee gets infused with multivitamins and it’s absolutely delicious – one pack lasts you for about 2 weeks!

Check out my complete review here!

I initially bought Skyroam as an Internet backup for my Santorini adventures and was very impressed with the result – I just used it again on my trip to Brussels (and when my apartment building’s wifi goes down) and I still love it! The internet is your typical 3G internet and it’s a bit flimsy at times, but it saved my life on multiple occassions. I’m not affiliated with this company at all, but they just came out with Skyroam Solis, which offers a 4G function along with a power bank and will be purchasing this for my freelance life (god knows coffee shop wifi and outlets suck).

I have a Lush secret to share but it’ll have to wait until next month. Here’s what you get for now – I finally purchased Lush’s bag for life this year and I’m totally in love with it. It’s actually so big it easily fits my larger-than-life laptop (because I still haven’t bought a Mac and carry this huge thing around me when I work from cafes) and this bag is saving my life.

I spend so much time behind my laptop people are worried about my drug problem (no, I don’t do drugs). This has been saving my life. You just freeze it for a couple of hours, put it on for 20 mins, and voila, your eyes will feel refreshed! I got into the habit of using this during my meditation and it’s wonderful.

I’m a huge Leah Remini fan, but wasn’t able to read this book until now. And when I have, I dived into the subject of scientology (no spellcheck, I won’t capitalize it) even more. This is one of those books you’ll read in one sitting and it’ll make your jaw drop. Props to anyone who was able to realize that a real church shouldn’t behave this way. I also recommend this long AF Joe Rogan podcast, but totally worth it.

Beauty Products I Love

I’m a sucker for anything lavender from Lush (in love with Twilight shower gel), so the Sleepy lotion is right up my street. It does actually help me sleep, makes my sheets smell fantastic AND it’s perfect for my eczema.

Saying that, this replaced my Sleepy Lotion obsession (sorry, bae </3). Affordable, smells amazing, and it’s incredibly hydrating for my terribly dry skin. In love.

While this product is originally meant for natural hair, I find it works perfect for my hair type too. My hair is fine, but it comes with uncontrollable curls that are very hard to be tamed. I use this after I put on my conditioner, and then again after I dry my hair – works wonders. A++ from me, thank you aunt Jackie <3

Blog Posts That Made Me Think

Obviously, as an advocate for you-don’t-need-a-SO-to-complete-you, this stood out to me. I wouldn’t necessarily go for ‘the happiest’ as the term, but it’s definitely important to be able to function in solitude and realize you are complete on your own.

Truth. That’s all I have to say.

Zen Habits is one of the very few email newsletters I actually open (sorry), but I will devour everything they write. There’s a lot of harsh thruths in this article that have made me think about how to tackle my own destructive behaviors.

What I’ve Listened to in August 2017

  • Fifth Harmony

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m a huge Harmonizer. The new Fifth Harmony album took me back to the days of Danity Kane and Destiny’s child. Deliver, Lonely Night and Make You Mad exceeded my expectations and I’m totally in love with the new era. Danity Kane wishes.

  • Kesha

Kesha, you’re doing amazing, sweetie. I can’t even formulate a response to the emotions I felt when listening to Rainbow. Love, love, love.

  • Taylor Swift

Look What You Made Me Do is my chorus-hating guilty pleasure and I can’t shake it off (get it, get it??.. Okay,, I’ll stop). ….Ready For It is a complete marketing genius and I’m ready for TS6 to come slay my life away.

  • Julia Michaels

I’m completely obsessed with Julia Michaels’ sound. She’s different and lyrically, her songs are really speaking to me. Officially a stan.

What have you raved about in August 2017? Let me know or leave a link to your blog post! 🙂

5 Cafes for Freelancers in London
London

5 Cafes for Freelancers in London

Being a freelancer in London is pretty easy – there are tons of cafes that are absolutely perfect for you to chill and write in. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve found that those cafes have either limited wifi, or they don’t have enough outlets. And in this economy, my laptop battery life doesn’t live for longer than an hour. If you’re anything like me, you know the struggle of finding a good outlet, so here are 5 cafes for freelancers where an outlet and decent wifi is guaranteed!

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