almost

Hi Cheryl,
It was very nice to see your smiling, welcoming self yesterday!
I am offering a special promotion right now that when businesses sign up for a year of ads (6 issues), starting with the June/July issue, they can pay what they want for one of the months.
I am extending an extra extra promotion to the groups that I belong to where they can pay what they want for 2 of the 6 issues.
Can we/I extend this to the members of Sidney Meet Up.
Have a great weekend!
Elissa Bergman, Publisher
Vancouver Island Almost Free (Expanded from Victoria Almost Free Magazine)
~Vancouver Island’s Only FREE Affordable Lifestyle & Coupon Magazine
250.419.2579
elissa.vaf@gmail.com
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Glamping is coming to Canada

adrienne DMeet our special guest at our Spring Fling Women in Avaiation/Introduction to Glamping

Adrienne Dyer will be at our Spring Fling with her Glamper and youcan take a tour of it and chat with Adrienne about glamping and everything you would like to know

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Also there will be Nancy’s Sew Creative with some items that you will want to have to decorate your glamper.  Finally Camping is becoming sexy for the woman who wants the outdoors , but doesn’t want to give up the comforts of home.

50 Tips for a Great Glamping Getaway

With tough economic times, many people are choosing to stay closer to home for their vacations this year.  The popularity of camping is on the rise, as is the emerging trend of luxury or glamorous camping, also known as “glamping.”  Glamping options vary from high-end resorts offering accommodations in luxurious five star tented accommodations, to State Parks offering rustic yurts and camping cabins.  Even your typical car camping trip can be glamorous with the right accessories and destination.  Here are 50 Tips and Tricks to put some glam into your next camping trip:

1. Start planning early.  Some campgrounds and resorts sell out months in advance, particularly over holiday weekends.

2. Do your research! It is important to know what is supplied at your destination and what you will be required to bring. Do they have running water? Toilets? Electrical plug-ins? Cooking supplies and utensils? Better to ask in advance the show up unprepared.

3. Rent a tent.  If you are planning a camping trip but don’t have a tent or any supplies, many outfitters and camping stores offer gear for rent.

4. Invite your friends and family.  Your trip can be easily organized as an event on Facebook, using an Evite or on a social travel site like Tripwiser. Glamping Girl recommends that you limit the size of your group to no more than six people to minimize your impact on the environment.

5. Try a tipi.  These traditional dwellings can accommodate up to eighteen people and offer an alternative to tent camping.  In Alberta, Canada, you can stay in traditional Blackfoot Indian Tipis at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  In North Dakota, you can sleep in authentic tipi on the shores of Lake Sakakawea.

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6. A yurt can’t hurt.  These traditional Mongolian circular structures are popping up all around the world.   In the US, many states including Oregon, Washington, New Jersey and Missouri offer yurts for rent in their State Parks.

7. Hit it up safari style.  Kenya offers hundreds of safari camps with options for every budget.  Fall asleep listening to the roar of the lion and the wind whispering through the tall grasses, while you are safe and cozy in your safari tent.  For this experience closer to home, many nature preserves, like Shambala in Califorina or the Fossil Rim Foothills Safari Camp in Texas, both offer safari camping experiences.

8. Glamping Girl prefers to be as close to the beach as possible.  There is no shortage of beach-front glamping accommodations in North America.  At Malaekahana State Park on the island of Oahu, they offer five furnished camping yurts with electricity right on the beach.  At Treebones Resort in California, some of the yurts have an oceanfront deck and they even offer a human sized nest.

9. Get out to the mountains.  The Sequoia High Sierra Camp offers five star luxury in the heart of Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, with gourmet meals, deluxe tents and hike-in access. Choose from an easy one-mile stroll or a twelve-mile trek.  Either way, they will shuttle in your luggage for you.

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10. A mobile form of glamping consists of overnight adventures in covered wagons.  Available in Wyoming and Ontario, you can pioneer a family adventure on the trail and spend the night in a covered wagon.

11. Spend the night in a cave.  Kokpelli’s Cave Bed & Breakfast in New Mexico is far from primitive. The cave house is built into the 65-million year old vertical cliffs of Ojo Alamo Sandstone, 300’ above the valley.  The 1650 sq. ft. cave has a bedroom, kitchen, dining room and bathroom with waterfall shower and Jacuzzi tub.

12. Enjoy a spa treatment.  The Talking Trees Campground and Spa in Hodgen, OK offers campers hydrotherapy, massages, catered meals and more.  The Halcyon Hot Spring and Spa in Nakusp, BC offers a campground with therapeutic healing hot springs and a full service spa and restaurant.

13. Crave adventure?  Try a white water rafting trip.   Many rafting outfitters offer accommodations that range from primitive campground to luxury tent resorts.

14. Take the kids glamping Disney-style.  Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort in the heart of Disney World Resort and offers basic to premium campsites, cabins and villas.   Far from rustic, they also offer shopping, entertainment, meals and WiFi.

15. Waterfront accommodations are always glamorous.  Safari tents on stilts?  That’s glamping!  9 Beaches Bermuda Resort offers tents built on stilts over the turquoise waters.  They even have a window in the floor to view your neighbours, the tropical fish swimming below.

16. Skip the all-inclusive for your next vacation and go green.  The La Leona Ecolodge in Costa Rica is a vacation destination for nature lovers.

17. Go glamping in the desert.  The all-inclusive Longitude 131 Resort in the Outback desert of Central Australia offers 15 luxury tents, a pool, and your own private view of Uluru (Ayer’s Rock).

18. Spend the night in a tree.  The Out ‘N’ About Treehouse Treesort in Takilma, Oregon offers over ten types of treehouse accommodations, zip lines and more, open year-round.

19. Go high end and take a glamping vacation in a five star resort.  The Clayoquot Wilderness Resort off the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada is a celebrity favourite (Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds got married there).  Even the most discerning traveller will be impressed.

20. Retro is the way to go.  Vintage Airstream trailers offer a kitschy Americana appeal.  You can rent them in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in France or at Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona.

21. Consider carpooling to reduce the environmental impact of your trip.

22. Pack smart.   Don’t forget any necessities.  Print out essential glamping checklists and triple check everything before you leave.

23. Glamping isn’t about hotdogs and burgers.  Gourmet food can be cooked at your campsite.  Think steaks, salmon, grilled vegetables and more. Glamping Girl recommends the cookbook Campfire Cuisine: Gourmet Recipes for the Great Outdoors by Robin Donovan.

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24. There is a wide range of deluxe camp stoves, propane powered ovens and even a microwave oven that you can plug into your car lighter.  Put it together in your all-in-one camp kitchen, even Martha would be impressed.

25. Instead of buying plastic or Styrofoam cups, plates and cutlery, consider a green alternative. Many organic and health food stores carry vegetable based tableware that is 100% biodegradable.

26. There’s nothing glam about doing dishes, but, if you must, don’t forget to bring a wash tub, a drying rack, dish towels and biodegradable soap.

27. Don’t forget you are in the outdoors.  Don’t store any food in your tent, ever.  Avoid wild animals by putting your cooler in the trunk of your car or stringing your food high up in a tree, away from your tent.

28. No more instant coffee!  Enjoy delicious coffee brewed with a camping coffee maker or try a stove-top espresso maker.  Consider using a French Press, it is portable and self-contained and can be used to brew tea as well.

29. There’s no reason you can’t enjoy a civilized glass of wine while you are glamping.  We recommend using a wine picnic kit, an all in one solution for carrying the bottle, glasses, corkscrew and everything else you need.  If you don’t want to take the bottle, Kleen Kanteen offers a stainless steel wine carafe that holds a full bottle of wine.

30. For a true glamping trip we recommend a portable bar that includes a cocktail shaker, stainless steel martini glasses, a corkscrew, and a bottle opener.

31. Get a good folding chair. There are so manystyles to choose from, in every colour of the rainbow.  Options include recliners, built in footrests, double chairs, and chairs with built in tables and coolers.

32. Bring a hammock to kick back between the trees.

33. Get a good tent!  If you are going to be sleeping in a tent, consider the best option.  There is a tent for every budget and every family size.   Choose from multi-room condo-style tents that sleep up to 12 or a self-contained solo tent, for the independent traveller.  Tents even come in designer colours and patterns, so you are sure to stand out in the woods.

34. Put together a tent kit.  It’s going to be your home away from home so bring a doormat, a hand broom and dustpan and a tent light.  There are even collapsible shelving and storage units to keep you organized inside.

35. Get a silk sleeping bag liner.  They come in every colour, protect the lining of your sleeping bag and are luxurious against your skin.

36. If sleeping on the cold hard ground isn’t your thing, consider an air mattress.  For extra luxury and comfort, buy one with a memory foam topper, or, add your own.  Don’t forget a pillow!  Some sleeping bags come with little portable pillows but Glamping Girl recommends bringing your own full sized pillow for maximum comfort.

37. Can’t get away from the office?   Take the office with you. There are plenty of solar powered laptop chargers in case you need to stay connected on your trip.

38. Glamping is not about off-key chords on an acoustic guitar around the campfire or rounds of Kumbaya, don’t forget your iPod and some portable speakers.  Make sure you put together a crowd-pleasing glamping playlist or two.

39. Stay clean!  Use biodegradable soaps and shampoos.   Get a portable shower and shower tent.  Don’t forget toilet paper, toilet seat covers, wet wipes and hand sanitizer.  If there are no toilets ladies, there are plenty of gadgets to assist you with bathroom functions in the woods.

40. Don’t forget your insect repellent, portable bug zapper and citronella candles!  There is nothing glamorous about big itchy, red welts.

41. Bring sunblock.  If you are going to be going swimming, make sure it’s waterproof!

42. Bring your pet!   They have their own tents, backpacks/saddlebags, collapsible dishes, life jackets and much more.  Appropriately named, the Paws Up Resort in Montana is pet-friendly and offers ultra luxury in a tent for all breeds of guests.

43. When you’re not at the spa or cooking up a gourmet meal over the fire, you need to keep busy!  Bring a good book, some board games and don’t forget a deck of cards.

44. Consider bringing an outdoor area rug.  Not only will it spruce up the surroundings, it will reduce the amount of dirt you track into the tent.

45. Lighting is key to a positive glamping experience.  Don’t fumble around in the dark or trip over exposed tree roots.   Make sure you bring a couple of good flashlights and a lantern.  Glamping Girl recommends a lantern with a tripod to illuminate the campsite and solar powered garden lights to mark pathways.

46. Bring a lightweight, non-breakable mirror to fix yourself up.

47. Don’t forget a toothbrush and toothpaste.  For an extra level of cleanliness, consider a portable UV toothbrush sanitizer.

48. Get a cooler on wheels.  It’s like carry-on luggage for your food and drinks!  No more lugging a heavy old cooler around.

49. Be green.  Pack out what you brought in with you and reduce the amount of waste you produce as much as possible.

50. Above all, have fun! Glamping isn’t meant to be taken seriously and the more laid back you are, the more fun and relaxing your vacation will be.

 

13 Simple Ways Women In Business Can Make A Difference In 2014

13 Simple Ways Women In Business Can Make A Difference In 2014

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Women must take a special interest in supporting other women in order to help make gender equality in business a reality. Here are a few easy things to try in 2014 to not only support other women, but to support and better yourself as well. What would you add?

1. Invest. Ideally, invest in a female-led startup. Even if you start out with just $1,000.00, begin exploring how you can really support and get involved with ensuring that women are more successful as business leaders and entrepreneurs in 2014. Dave McClure of 500 startups wrote a great piece on this a few years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. He was the spark for me to begin angel investing myself.

 

2. Mentor. Remember what it was like to be 22, fresh out of college, and perhaps in a little bit of shock about what it was like at the bottom rung of your career ladder? For me, it was intimidating, sometimes confusing and definitely frustrating. I found it hard to see how I was going to climb that ladder. Strong, supportive and sincere female mentors helped me to see the path, follow it and learn from their experiences. Mentors are important – and strong, female mentors who give of their time and resources are crucial.

3. Share. Social media has made it easier than ever to share what you know. Being a resource to others is easy – share a great article you read with your take on it; write about a challenging experience you’ve had in business and how you overcame it; or simply share some words of wisdom every now and then.

4. Learn. There’s nothing that quite chaps me like someone who acts like they know it all. Superiority is not an attractive quality. Being smart enough to know that learning is a neverending process is, quite simply, brilliant. Recognize that you, like everyone, will always have a lot to learn. If you’re a manager, open your ears to that junior executive who you’ve been ignoring. Encourage everyone to bring a new idea to one meeting a month. Listen before judging. Open your mind to new experiences and new people. There are always unchartered lessons out there.

5. Jump. This year, try to push your own boundaries. If you’re not a phone person, try making more calls than emails. If you struggle with writing, commit to doing it more. Try something new. Go somewhere you’ve never gone. The only way you can get better at something is to do it. So make the leap – try something new. And then do #3 to tell us about how this experience helped you accomplish #4. Seriously though, staying in your comfort zone makes you stagnant. Life is too short for complacency. New adventures keep us living and growing, not just alive.

6. Ask. I have taken this tip to task in the last year. I have pushed myself to ask people for things when I was sure they’d say “no.” 99% of the time, they have said yes. Ask for what you want. Communicate clearly. Believe in what you deserve.

7. Give. I should state that #6 is much easier if you are already a giving person who has supported others when you didn’t need something. Remember to give of yourself, your time, your advice and your support to those who ask you – or, even those who don’t ask, but who you know could use it. This could be as simple as “liking” the new profile photo of a friend you know is going through a rough divorce, sharing the URL and giving a shout out for a new female entrepreneur’s venture, or organizing a simple Meet Up to raise money for a friend in need.

8. Donate. It could be your time, canned goods, old clothes. Or, volunteer. It’s easy to do and if, like me, you believe in karma, then you understand that giving is receiving. My goal this year is to find something charitable to do – donating my time or money or other resources – with my family once per quarter. Maybe we’ll run a race that raises money and awareness for a cause. Maybe we’ll volunteer at a shelter. Maybe we’ll just take a day to clean out closets and our unused toys, coats, etc., to Rosie’s Place. Whatever it is, it is the least we can do to help others.

 

9. Join. Find local entities that support women in business and tech specifically, and join them. Women need to support each other and give of their time and experiences. As Sheryl Sandberg so eloquently outlined in her book Lean In, our challenges and opportunities continue to be unique to our gender, and although any organization can be great for you, a female-specific one can give you the opportunity to really learn and better navigate your way as a woman in business – hopefully to better days when it won’t matter what our gender is (i.e., equal pay would be a good start).

10. Compliment. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But women need to do this – especially to each other – more. It’s amazing the reaction I get on the street or in a shop when I compliment a stranger on something they’re wearing, or share a tip on a great book to read. Don’t give faux compliments, but try to train your brain to think of something positive to say when you meet someone new, train a new employee or even connect on a social network. Take the two seconds to tell someone why you are interested in them – it can make a world of difference and help you to stand out as well.

11. Read. Turn off BravoTV and the “Real Housewives of Wherever” once in a while and pick up a great book (or download one), grab Harvard Business Review or a Sunday paper. Don’t just scan an article – really read them. We’re such a go-go-go society that I swear sometimes nobody actually reads from top to bottom anymore (and bad reality TV is breeding laziness and stupidity, but that’s another topic). Reading can inspire you, get your brain working and excite you to accomplish your own good deeds or career milestones. Someone just shared this great list with me and I’ve already downloaded the ones I hadn’t read yet. Maybe you’ll find them interesting as well.

12. Believe. Start with yourself. Believe in your capabilities and worth. We like to think this isn’t still an issue for women but often the reason female colleagues are so nasty to each other is because deep inside, they’re totally insecure and intimidated. I think again, Sheryl Sandberg shocked some people in her book when she talked about how women just assume they can’t get something (without asking), or won’t be able to be Mothers and successful career women. Believe, dream and write down your goals. If Malala Yousafzai can face down the Taliban by believing in – and standing up for – what she knew was her given right, you can certainly do so. And believe in other women, too – show them this through kindness, support and camaraderie.

13. Say “Thank You.” Sometimes I think it’s a lost art form to simply say “Thanks.” Thank you for reading this far, and for keeping up with me here and on my social networks. I’m grateful for your time, camaraderie and support.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?”
― Ernest

Network Your Way to Reinvention

Network Your Way to Reinvention

Former Queen of Wall Street Sallie Krawcheck shares her three best networking tips

by Margy Rochlin
     
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Photograph: Tony Cenicola/New York Times/Redux

Once known as the Queen of Wall Street, Sallie Krawcheck became famous for rescuing financial institutions on the brink. She lost two jobs—and engineered big comebacks. But of all her jobs, the first is the only one she landed in a traditional way. “It’s essentially through my network that opportunities came to me,” says Krawcheck, 49, who recently reinvented as the owner of 85 Broads, a global women’s-networking organization. Here, her advice on making connections.

Just do it
“Somehow networking is seen as painful, nonessential and related to the word schmoozing. I have a different view. Research has identified networking as the number-one unwritten rule of success; it also shows that one’s next opportunity is more likely to come from one’s extended network than from friends.”

Be patient
“It can take years for relationships to pay off. You don’t plant a seed and try to immediately pull it out of the ground. You let it grow.”

It’s a two-way street
“Never do anything with an ulterior motive. At the same time [the people who helped me jump to 85 Broads] helped me, I was doing things for them

Sexual Assault, Can you protect yourself

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Click on this link for information about our Self Defence workshop.  https://www.facebook.com/events/683611261685284/

Sexual assault

Protecting yourself against rape

Of all the things that women have to protect themselves against, rape seems to top the list for almost every woman. Rape is not just a physical assault or even simply a sex crime as most people seem to think, but it is a heinous act of violence that often leaves emotional scars that are very difficult to get rid of. Most victims of rape find it difficult to have normal sexual relationships with others, and often find themselves unable to trust people.

According to statistics, a rape occurs every two minutes in the United States. A staggering 33% of women are likely to be raped at least once in their lives and what is the most shocking part is that in excess of 80% of these rapes will be committed by someone the woman knew. Thus, in such a bleak scenario as far as sexual assault and rape are concerned, every woman should know how to protect herself against this heinous crime. Here are some precautions you can take to ensure that you do not become another rape statistic.

Ways to protect yourself from rape

Be armed

Being armed does not imply that you must carry a gun or a pistol with you. Instead, other safety devices and products that can be as effective as but less deadly than a gun. Mace cans, pepper spray, or even a small folding knife can be extremely effective to deter a potential rapist. These safety products are much easier to procure than a weapon and can be equally handy.

In situations where you are under the threat of rape, you might find yourself in shock or without proper hand-eye coordination. In such situations, a can of pepper foam or mace may in fact be more useful than a regular gun.

In addition to being very effective, safety products are quite cheap too. They are designed in a manner (you can even get lipstick pepper sprays that look like a lipstick) so as to fit in even the smallest of purses: you can always have something handy with which to protect yourself. A great place to get the lipstick pepper spray, as well as numerous other products and devices for self-protection, is www.familyprotectiontech.com.

Be cautious when outdoors

When you are away from home, it is important to be aware of what is going on around you and to be alert. Here are some tactics to use when outdoors.

  • Rapists generally tend to attack women who appear to be walking along aimlessly or who do not seem very active. Thus, by being confident and walking erect and purposefully, you can deter a rapist.
  • If you are walking on the streets, make sure to stay away from narrow alleys or dark streets. Never ever take a shortcut through a rough neighborhood or through deserted paths and always stay on the main street.
  • Do not walk by yourself after dark. Take a cab home or ask a friend to pick you up. If you must walk, make sure you walk quickly and take a route that is not deserted. Keeping your can of mace or pepper spray in your hand is also a good idea.
  • Do not get into an elevator alone with someone you do not know. If you do find yourself alone with a stranger, stay near the exit doors of the elevator and within reach of the control panel.
  • Always know exactly where you are. In case you do find yourself in trouble and have to call for help, you need to know your exact location. A 911 dispatcher will also ask you your location first, so know which area and street you are on.
  • A large number of women get attacked when getting into their cars. Approach your vehicle with your keys in hand. This will save you from having to fumbling for the key. Get into your car as soon as you open it and drive away. As you approach your vehicle, check between parked cars and under your own vehicle; look through the window into your back seat. Assailants may sometimes take advantage of these hiding places before taking their victims completely by surprise. You may wish to attach a small flashlight to your keychain.
Safety at home

The number of women who are raped in their homes is shocking. Here is what you can do to safeguard yourself when at home.

  • The area outside your main entrance should be properly lit so there are no dark shadows in which a potential rapist can hide. You can also purchase a motion sensor that will turn on your outdoor light(s) when movement is detected within a certain distance of your home. These devices are often a good deterrent to thieves as well as rapists.
  • Ensure that your main door has a peephole to allow you to see callers before opening your door. If a stranger is at your door, enquire why he are there and open the door only if you are completely satisfied with his answer.
  • Keep your curtains drawn as far as possible so that people cannot look into your home, especially after nightfall.
  • If you are not expecting any deliveries or any utility service people, do not open the door to such people. If you must, ensure that the safety chain is in place. If unsure as to a caller’s purpose or identity (e.g., an enumerator, repairman, canvasser, technician, or meter reader), ask to see his employee identification card or badge. If you are still unsure, you can have him wait outside while you call his company and verify his identity.
  • Always keep your doors locked. Even if you live in an extremely safe neighborhood, you should never leave your gates unlocked even for a few minutes. Many women make the mistake of thinking that a rapist would never dare to enter their home because their area is so well guarded. That could turn out to be a costly mistake. Thus, keep your doors and windows bolted. This includes during short trips to the garage or to the communal mailbox, laundry room, or garbage room/chute.
At a party

There is an alarming increase in the number of date rapes and sexual assaults at social gatherings. To protect yourself when on a date, make sure you do not accept drinks from anyone you don’t know. Even if you do know the person, it is best to get your own drink or have the bartender or waiter serve you directly. If you have left your drink unattended for even half a minute, do not take a sip from that drink again.

Date rape drugs can be mixed into drinks in the blink of an eye and make you the target for date rape. Thus, by being alert to what’s happening around you and by being extremely cautious about what you eat and drink, you can avoid becoming a victim of date rape.

Even though these safety tips may not entirely protect you against rape, at least you will have greatly minimized your chances of becoming a rape victim. Taking some physical defense classes and always carrying safety products such as pepper foam, knives, or mace cans are the best ways of protect ing yourself from rape. After all, you have to take matters into your own hands. If you wait for someone to help you, it could turn out to be too late.

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How about after our Pinterest workshop we have one for instagram?

10 Ways to Get More Instagram Followers

If you haven’t joined Instagram just yet, you should consider giving it a shot. After all, aren’t you curious as to why the photo-sharing and video-sharing social networking service has accumulated 150 million users in just over three years? Does the fact that Instagram grew by 23% in 2013 sound appealing at all? Don’t you want one of your pictures to become one of the 16 billion images shared?

8649133454 42b5bba6fd z 10 Ways to Get More Instagram Followers

If you said yes to any of those questions, then it’s never too late to sign-up for a free Instagram account. But, what do you do after you’ve created an account? If you don’t have any followers who are liking or sharing your content, what’s the point of being on a social media network?

The good news is that acquiring more followers on Instagram isn’t too hard. It will take some time and little bit of effort. But if done correctly, you’ll have an increase in followers before you can say “cheese” as you snap your latest picture.

So, let’s get into. Here are the 10 best ways to get more followers on Instagram.

1. Share Images That People Can Connect and Relate To

If you check out the most popular instagram accounts, you’ll notice a common theme. All of their photos are something that we all can relate to and connect with. They’re personal, unique, and original. By sharing these types of photos you’re establishing a connection with your audience, which is the absolute best way to attract people to your account.

In short, make sure that your Instagram account is real and original. That’s how you’re going to connect and relate with others.

2. Post at the Right Time

Prior to posting anything onto Instagram, consider what time zone the majority of your audience lives in and what time do they check their Instagram account.

Because of its mobility, there isn’t really a favorite time for Instagram users – engagement is high on Wednesdays between 5 – 6PM, while more people post on Thursdays. Regardless, a majority of Instagram users login when they have the extra time, such first thing in the morning, on their way home from work or school, or on Sundays.

Typically, a photo only has four hours before it gets lost within the news feed. To prevent this, try to post when you know that a majority of your followers have down time and have access to their accounts. For example, if your demographic are high school students, then you should post your photos in the afternoon when students are either on their lunch break or home for the day. If you have a strong following of professionals in Chicago, then you would want to post images during rush hour CST when people are on their way home from work and checking their account while on the “L”.

3. Use Popular and Relevant Hashtags

Either search Google or Webstagram to discover popular hashtags, which are used to organize photos. You can then use the trending hashtags that are relevant to you or your industry to gain more visibility for your photos, which should generate more interaction. For example, the top 10 hashtags are: #love, #instagood, #me; #like, #follow, #cute, #photooftheday, #tbt, #followme, and #tagsforlikes.

While hashtags are an important asset when attracting new followers, you don’t want to go overboard. Instead of posting an entire paragraph that is full of hashtags, try to select one to three hashtags per photo. Anything more than three will make people think that your photo is too spammy.

4. Follow Others

If you want to follow others, then you’re going to have to follow them. This is just a simple rule of reciprocation that is common on all social media formats. So, instead of just uploading photos and expecting people to come to you, you also have to put yourself out there. In other words, you have to be active.

Search for users and brands that share your interests and comment, like and share their photos. Follow Instagram stars and influencers and engage with them, or even ask for a shout-out. You could even just look for tags containing something like: #shoutout, #TagsForLikes, #ilovemyfollowers, and #follow.

It’s very simple. The more you engage, the more exposure you’ll receive.

5. Host Contests

One of the most effective ways to boost engagement and gain new followers is by hosting a contest. It’s a proven tactic on any social media network. However, since Instagram is so popular, it has become a favorite platform to run contests, which you can do through a tool like Statigram.

Contests are easy to create and get up and running. Take an amazing picture and add captions that inform people that there’s a contest underway, like a giveaway. Also, make sure that you also use #contest to make your contest easy to find. And, make sure to share your contest on other social media sites like Facebook.

6. Complete Your Bio

Your bio should be used to feature a call-to-action, branded hashtags, and Web links, which is kind of a big deal in the quest for new Instagram users. It’s this section where users will discover who you or your brand are and whether or not they will follow you.

Don’t, however,  plead, sound desperate or come across as spammy. For example, do not include “Follow People Who Follow Me!” in your bio. You want to let users know who you are and why they should follow you. Make sure this section is updated when needed. If you were running a contest, you could mention that piece of information in your Bio.

7. Ask Questions in Photo Captions

A simple and effective way to receive more likes on your photos is to simply ask a question in the photo’s caption. Not only will this increase your amount of likes, it can increase comments. And, as we’ve mentioned numerous times already, engagement is the best way to increase the amount of followers on Instagram.

8. Remember Why You Are on Instagram & Have a Call to Action

Before you get carried away and start posting all sorts of content onto Instagram, take a step back and remember why you joined in the first place. Why do you need more followers? Do you want to boost your ego? Are you looking to gain more exposure and feedback for your photography? Do you want to use Instagram as a promotional tool your business?

Understanding why you joined Instagram can help you attract new followers because you’ll know the audience you want to target. This means that you’ll be searching and interacting with people in your niche, as opposed to casting too wide of a net.

Another solid tactic is by creating a call to action. By having a clear CTA, such as “Double-Tab to Like! ” people are more likely to engage with your posts since they’ll be aware of what you want from them. Again, when you have more engagement, you get more exposure, which in turn, gives you the opportunity to get more Instagram followers.

9. Post Frequently, But Not Too Much

If you want to retain, or attract, new followers, how can you keep their interest? One of the easiest ways is to post relevant and attractive photos on consistent basis; usually a few photos per day is just fine. If you have hundreds of images to share, spread them throughout several days. If you flood followers’ feeds you will not only have people unfollow you, your account won’t be attractive to new followers.

10. Use Filters and Apps

Do you remember what made Instagram so unique and popular in the first place? Filters. It gave people the chance to personalize their images. And, the more original and captivating your photos are, there’s a better chance that people would be willing to share and follow your account. Since Instagram has 20 filters included in its app, there’s really no excuse for your photos to be filter-free.

On top of filters, you can also make the most out of the various photo-editing apps available to doctor-up your photos before sharing onto Instagram. Here are 12 apps that can provide you with the ultimate Instagram experience.

How many followers do you have on Instagram? What is the best tactic you have used to attract followers? 

Bragging on Social Media: Four Ways to Avoid Oversharing

Bragging on Social Media: Four Ways to Avoid Oversharing

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Can bragging on Facebook and other social platforms backfire? In an extreme example this week, a gang of thugs in Brooklyn used their Facebook pages to boast about committing murder and got arrested as a result. Verdict? Not smart! While most of us are bragging about much less criminal things (we hope!), touting your accomplishments through social media may still have a negative result.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story last month ago called “Are We All Braggarts Now?”, which examines whether social media has given people a platform — and permission — to constantly boast about their accomplishments, children, jobs and lives in general. In the piece, Elizabeth Bernstein writes that “we’ve become so accustomed to boasting that we don’t even realize what we’re doing. And it’s harmful to our relationships because it turns people off.” I believe this is a generalization and that, while select folks spend all their Tweets and Facebook posts talking about how their child is the world’s most talented and beautiful, there are ways to leverage social media to promote yourself and what you’re proud of in a smart and more subtle way.

In Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, the book I co-authored with fellow Forbes blogger Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, we dedicate an entire chapter, called “Toot Your Own Horn (but Not Too Loudly),” to teaching people how to be their own publicists without irritating those on the receiving end. There’s an art to self-promotion and part of it is building your reputation slowly and strategically so you don’t come across as too in-your-face. (Though I don’t see what’s so bad about posting “Got my first royalty check for my book,” as referenced in the article. As an author myself, I know what a huge deal it is to finally see some rewards from all the hard work you put in!). Nonetheless, here are a few tips on how to avoid being pegged as a braggart:

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Pat yourself on the back but pat others harder it’s okay to post something about an award you won, but make sure you’re also congratulating others when they’ve received accolades. Hit the “like” button on Facebook or re-tweet it when you see that people you know have posted about their personal milestones and they’ll likely do the same for you. A third-party endorsement often has more impact than if you tout your own accomplishments.

2. Offer a take-away. If you wrote a great blog post about how to avoid being a braggart, for example, linking to it might actually offer useful advice to the folks who click on it. Or if you say, “Our nanny is a rock star,” maybe you can tell people where you found her so they can find their own personal Mary Poppins or link to the great sample sale where you scored amazing Hermes piece, so others can benefit too.

 

3. Don’t make others feel bad. I haven’t had a real vacation in a while (that’s a whole other blog post!), so it’s natural to feel a wee bit jealous when I see friends post amazing beach shots of their tropical trips (though I’m mostly happy for them…really). That happiness would be dampened, though, if they posted or tweeted things like, “Ha, ha! I bet you wish you were here!” or “I feel like I died and went to paradise.” instead of “Great view from my hotel room in Costa Rica.” The upshot: Be cognizant that not everyone is as lucky as you are, watch your tone and try not to over-post. (You are on vacation, after all!)

4. Be aware — don’t overshare! You can always dial down who sees what posts on social media, if you fear that you are posting too many updates to your extended crowd. And, on the flip side, if you feel that some of your Facebook friends or those you follow on Twitter are getting out of hand with their self-promotion, simply filter out their posts or stop following them. That way, when you see them face-to-face next time, stories about their child landing first seat in the school orchestra or their latest major deal at work won’t irk you quite as much.

Jessica Kleiman is co-author of  Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work and ran PR at Hearst Magazines for the past decade.  You can follow her on her website, beyourownbestpublicist.com, Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist