Monday, 15 April 2019


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Have you ever looked at someone's Instagram story, scratched your head and thought... How exactly did they do that? I certainly have, but after a few Insta-experiments, I think I've cracked most of the tricks that you see on the 'gram.

In fact, it became a low-key obsession which resulted in the creation of a whole Skillshare class on the topic, and now this blog post! So get your phone at the ready, let's get creative with Instagram Stories...

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1. Peek-a-Boo Effect

A fun way to drive traffic from your Instagram Stories to your main feed, is by teasing your latest post in your Story. That's where the peek-a-boo effect comes in handy. Here's how it looks in practice:

It's super simple to do! Pick up your phone, open Instagram, and have a go using the steps below!

The steps:

1. Open your most recent post in the Instagram Story composer.

2. Tap the pen tool or highlighter tool. Use the pen tool if you'd like the fill to be a solid colour (like the orange image on the left) or use the highligher if you'd like the fill colour to be at a lower opacity, so you can see some of the image peeking through.

3. Choose whichever colour you'd like. You can do this by swiping through the colours that come up along the bottom, or you can use the eye-dropper tool to select a colour from your image. BONUS TIP: Press and hold a colour on the bottom of the screen to unlock a rainbow of additional colours!

4. Once you've chosen the colour, press and hold over your photo to fill the image with that colour.

5. Now, select the eraser tool. Erase part of the image so that the photo below peeps-through. To get the polka-dot effect, choose the largest eraser size and tap the screen where you want the dots to appear. To get a zig-zag, swirl, or any shape, simply draw it with your finger using the eraser tool.

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2. Title Highlight Effect

I'm sure you know how to highlight your text on Instagram Stories, but have you figured out how to extend the text highlight like the images below? It's not quite as simple as tapping the space bar after the first or last word, because this doesn't actually extend the highlight colour, it just adds a load of blank space. There's a simple work-around to get this effect, you've just got to be in the know...

Below, I've explained how to make the highlight extend at the end of the text, but you can also do it for the front of the text, or both!

The steps:

1. Open the image you'd like to post in the Instagram Story composer.

2. Choose the text tool and a font, but avoid 'modern' and 'neon' as there is no highlight option for these.

3. Type your text.

4. Select the highlight option at the top left-hand corner (it's the icon with the letter 'A' and two small stars). This will add the text highlight. You can change the colour of this in the same way that you would change the colour of the text.

5. Once you've chosen your highlight and text colour combination, add a random extra letter at the end of the word. Don't worry you'll delete this later.

6. Move the cursor so it's between the last character of your text, and the random letter. Tap the space bar multiple times to extend the highlight.

7. Once you've extended the highlight to the desired length, move the cursor behind the random letter and delete it. You'll see that the random letter has been removed (obviously) but the rest of your extended highlight is still intact. Result!

8. Finally, drag the text and place it where you'd like it. You can place it so that it looks like it's coming out from the side of the screen.

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3. Drop Shadow Effect

Finally, there's the drop shadow effect. This is the easiest to try, you can probably figure out how it's done simply by looking at it! That said, I think it's worth sharing as I see so few people do it, and it can really make the text pop!

The steps:

1. Open the image you'd like to post in the Instagram Story composer.

2. Choose the text tool and a font, this effect works best with the 'strong' or 'classic' fonts.

3. Type your text. It's best to use capital letters. Choose the colour, this will be your drop shadow colour.

4. Tap the text icon again and type the exact same text as before, in the same font but with a different colour.

5. Move the new text over the drop-shadow text and voilà!

6. Repeat if you'd like multiple drop-shadow colours! NOTE: The text that you last touched will be brought to the front.

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There you go, three Instagram Story secrets to try out for yourself! I'd love to see how you've applied these tips! Feel free to tag my Instagram or DM me on @byclairep.

Want more tips and tricks? Luckily for you I've released a whole Skillshare class on the subject! To get access to How to Create Beautiful Instagram Stories: Up Your IG Story Game and the to the full Skillshare library, sign up here for two months free. [Please note, this is an affiliate link.]

Monday, 14 January 2019


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I'm not living in Seville anymore, but I found this post in my drafts and thought it deserved to see the light of day! Enjoy...

Working in coffee shops isn't really a thing in Seville. As far as I can tell, Spaniards prefer to keep their work life and social life completely separate, so the cafes there are more about socialising. However, I couldn't spend three months in a city without scoping out the work-friendly spots. There aren't a lot of them, in fact there are only three that I really love, so here they are...

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Calle Mata, 20

Wifi? Yes

This quirky coffee shop, with its mismatched furniture and fairy lights, is a great place to grab a slice of red velvet, and even a chocolate caliente if you're feeling particularly indulgent. They have wifi - surprisingly hard to find in Seville coffee shops - and plenty of space, so choose your spot and get to work!

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Calle José Gestoso, 8

Wifi? Yes

Caótica is popular for its handy location, selection of teas, and free wifi. But the best thing about this coffee shop is the rows and rows of books that a free to browse, perfect for when you're in need of a break. Of course, they are mostly in Spanish, so you'll be brushing up on your Español too!

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Torch Coffee Roasters

Ave. Paseo de las Delicias, 3

Wifi? No

Let me introduce you to the only place to get a decent matcha latte in Seville... A bold statement, I know, but it's the only independent coffee shop that I've come across here that do them, and they're pretty damn delicious here. Anyway, if you're not matcha-mad like me, you can also get coffee or fruit juices in this spot that feels more Northern American than Sevillian. There's no wifi here, but there is a big communal table where you'll find international students and local workaholics on their laptops.

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To finish this post I was browsing through my phone photos from when I was living in Seville, and it's made me seriously nostalgic... I must travel back soon!

Let me know what kind of content you'd like to read here, is it travel or self-help (like my last post) or something else entirely? If you've any thoughts, I would love if you could send me a DM on Instagram, @byclairep.

Monday, 31 December 2018


Photos by Éireann. Outfit details below the full-length photos.

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It's that time of year again, that time when we all take a notion to write down our goals and resolutions, only to abandon them before February flies in. Whatever your goal — whether it's to meditate, lose weight, or even find your soul mate — it's all too easy to write down what you want to achieve, and even easier to forget all about it two weeks into January. Each year we declare "this time it'll be different"! Each year it's the same. But it doesn't have to be that way.

With one day left until the New Year, you probably already know your resolutions by heart, and that's great. 2019 can be the year you finally achieve them. To increase your chances of sticking to your goals this year, grab a pen, a notebook, and a cup of tea (optional, but very much recommended)! Jot down your resolutions or New Year goals, and for each one, write down your answers to these three questions...

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1. Why is this goal important to me?

One of the most powerful ways to achieve your goals, is to get clear on your why. Why is it that you want to achieve this goal? How will you feel when you achieve it? How will your life be different with success in this area? Reflecting on these questions will help you understand why your goal is important to you. And with a greater understanding of why you're bothering to pursue a goal, comes greater motivation to actually put in the hard work and excel at the task at hand. When the 'why' comes first, the 'how' naturally falls into place.

Your 'why' should be crystal clear to you, you'll need to review it throughout the year to remind yourself when times get tough and you feel like giving up. If at some point your 'why' no longer speaks to you, you'll need to revise it. This is something I realise now, with one of my reoccurring goals being consistent blogging. Considering my last post was in June(!), it's something I'm still working on. At the beginning of the year, I actually posted about why I bother blogging, and for a while, it helped me make blogging a part of my routine. I realised that even though my readership is small, I do it because it's a way for me to practice marketing, design, and writing, and acts as a portfolio of work to show prospective employers. Identifying this 'why' lead to a couple of months of consistent blog posts. But, as time would tell, my motivation trailed off in the second half of the year. So what happened? Well, my 'why' was powerful at first, but I got less motivated when the reason behind my goal became less meaningful to me. Guess what? June was the month that I started my full-time job, a marketing role where I get to write and design. Now that I was practicing these skills at work — the same skills I'd wanted to learn through blogging — working on my blog didn't seem all that necessary any more. So I stopped. But now, with a new 'why' for blogging (which is more about documenting my life and having something to look back on) I have a renewed motivation to put the hours into creating content here.

As you can see, I've a lot to say on the importance of why, and I've actually written even more about this topic, so there's some further reading for you personal development nerds (like me) out there!

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Top: New Look | Skirt: Depop | Shoes: Office | Necklace: Topshop

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2. What does success look like?

Now that you've a clear idea understanding of your 'why', it's time to clarify what success looks like to you, if you were to achieve this goal. This is especially important with New Year's resolutions because they are often so vague. Take a common New Year's resolution: to eat healthier. Well, great, but how will you know if you've achieved your goal? Is it cutting out meat from your diet on weekdays, or is it more about eating your greens? It's time to get specific with your goal.

As you write down what success looks like to you in this area of your life, you'll find that some points actually help reinforce your 'why' ("I'll know I've been successful in eating healthier when I feel less sluggish") and other points will help you with your 'how' ("a healthier me eats five portions of fruit and veg every day"). These 'whys' and 'hows' build up to paint a picture of what you're looking to achieve, and offer a road map to get there.

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3. What is the one thing you can do to achieve this goal?

Finally, for each of your goal areas, choose one specific action you will do to work towards your goal. This can be one big step — say, taking a cooking course to learn how to make healthy home-cooked meals — or it could be a daily or weekly habit that you will incorporate into your life, like meal-prepping on Sunday nights.

This step is inspired by a book I recently discovered, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The authors suggest that to help you achieve your goals, you should ask yourself: What's the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? This allows you to focus your efforts on the one step that could lead to success. By choosing your one thing, you get to ignore the unhelpful and less effective tactics, and put all your energy into something that will make a difference and propel you towards achieving your goal.

Even if you have the same goal as someone else, your 'one thing' might be different to theirs. This question is all about reflecting on your life and your own personal motivations, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses, and ultimately coming up with one actionable commitment that works for you.

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There you have it, three simple questions to ask yourself to help you achieve all your 2019 resolutions. Thank you for reading and have a happy New Year and a successful (goal-getting) 2019. Hope it's the year you live your wildest dreams! xx

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Wednesday, 13 June 2018


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I first set up Depop in 2016, but I didn't make my first sale until 2018 after ditching the app for well over a year. On my second try at Depop, I scoured the internet for selling tips, but found nothing that helped for a complete newbie with no sales, no star ratings, and no hope. Now that I've figured it out the hard way, I wanted to write the post that I wish I could have read back in 2016: how to make your first Depop sale.

In this post I'm going to brush past two most obvious points: you need to take clear photos of the items and write truthful descriptions. I've found that good photos and descriptions alone won't guarantee sales, at least not at first. So, here are three additional tactics to kick off your Depop side hustle.

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All the clothes items shown in this post are for sale on my Depop, @clairepetersen. I had to get a cheeky plug in somewhere!

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Use a Loss Leader

I made a slight loss on my first sale. I won't lie, this was partly due to ignorance as I had seriously underestimated postage costs! However, it was also a tactical choice. You see, to make sales you need a star rating, ideally five stars. But as a newbie, you're stuck with a zero star rating. To get a rating, you'll need to either make a sale or purchase. Since I didn't have the funds to make any purchases at first, my only option was to throw in a few big bargains in my feed. It may seem counterproductive - you are trying to make money after all -- but think of it this way: you are buying yourself that all-important star rating.

You don't need to take it to the extreme and make an actual loss, but bear in mind your first sale is unlikely to be a €100+ debs dress. For people to trust you as a seller and purchase your more expensive items, you'll have to build up your reputation as a seller and get those 5 star ratings.

It should go without saying, when you make that sale on one of your cheaper items, make sure to provide an excellent service. Ship the same or next day and update the buyer once you've done so. When you've secured that all important 5-star rating, you can review your prices and up them if you think they're now too low.

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Unlike Instagram, no one really cares if you follow way more people than follow you

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Follow Like There's No Tomorrow

Depop might look a lot like Instagram, but it differs in one key way: no one cares if you're following hundreds (or thousands) more accounts than follow you. Use this to your advantage and go on huge following sprees so that more Depop-ers see you and your items. This may seem unbearably tedious, but think about how much dead time you have on a daily basis: sitting through TV adverts or mindlessly scrolling through Twitter or Instagram. Spend 5 minutes following on Depop instead, do this for a couple of days, and you'll soon have hundreds more profile views, and you'll be inching closer to that first sale.

Of course, who you follow is important. To find and follow users that actually make purchases on Depop, and who may be interested in your items, follow these steps:

1. Search for a keyword that describes at least some of your items. For example, I search for "vintage".
2. Click on the posts that pop up until you find one from a seller with a lot of reviews from buyers. You can find these by clicking the seller's star rating and tapping the sold tab.
3. Follow each of these buyers.
4. Repeat steps 1-4.

Try and do this whenever you have a spare moment and you'll soon find your items are getting more attention. Then it's just a matter of time until your first sale.

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Slide Into DMs

As you follow people and update your feed with new items, you'll eventually get a few likes on your posts. I've noticed that when I like a post, I'll often get a private message from the seller asking if I'm interested in buying it and even including a special offer. Try this tactic on an any item that gets a like. Not everyone who likes your post actually wants to buy it, but some will, and by DMing them you're reminding them and making them more likely to tap the buy button.

You're looking for one of your first sales, so use this to your advantage. You could say something like this: "Thanks so much for liking my item. I would love if you could be my first buyer on Depop! I'm offering a 10% discount as a thank you, so let me know if you are interested!"

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Bonus tip: You can use graphics - like the one on the right - to let people know about the deals on your Depop.

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Give these pointers a try, and you'll breeze past your first sale and be on your way to a lighter wardrobe and a heavier wallet.

Wishing all the Depop newbies out there good luck. Feel free to drop your username in the comments and I'll give you a follow. Find me on Depop with the username @clairepetersen.

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