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    The Wong Shop

    Top 10 fun ways to celebrate your Birthday

    Last month was my Birthday, so I wanted to share ten fun ways to celebrate your next one. If you have a friend who’s struggling for celebratory ideas, send them this post!

    As a child, I celebrated on the giant slide at the Jungle Gym, then congratulated my own bravery with a Thomas the Tank themed kid’s meal at Little Chef. Sadly today, I’d probably be chucked out if I tried to replicate my childhood tradition, so let’s go for alternatives which are close, yet appropriate.

    If you’re bored of celebratory meals and boogies, then I’ve written this for you. This post is in celebration with the fun squad at Swingers who provide: fresh cocktails, popular street food and (some) healthy competition with your friends.

    1. Crazy Golf (which I did this year)

    Swingers have every celebration covered. It gets busy but there are two nine-hole crazy golf courses at each venue. Everyone can order cocktails at the bar and on the golf pitch – the service is amazing. There’s the option of having your drink of choice served to you whilst you play! You don’t need to fuss over any dietary requirements because there’s a good range of street-food vendors at the venue. I recommend booking a table slot in advance so you and your mates can celebrate your best-golfing efforts and feast together. With a 3D photo podium, golfing buggy and flower arch there’s plenty of Insta-ready photo opportunities so you can treasure all of your Birthday memories.

    2. Karaoke

    You don’t have to be blessed with X-Factor worthy vocal cords to enjoy Karaoke! Popular in Asia, assemble all of your drinking buddies, pick your best fancy dress prop and sing like seals with your loved ones in a private room. A lot of venues now have swishy music technology with specialist drinks service, pizza & bar snacks and photobooths!

    3. Axe Throwing 

    This one looks and sounds dangerous but all coaches are fully trained and qualified to ensure you have a fun but safe experience. If you’re stressed (perhaps from turning a year older) then why not organise a healthy competition to sling your axes against your friends or colleagues. I like this one because there’s plenty of time to socialise between throws. It’s also great for bringing friends who may not know each other, together.

    4. Escape Rooms 

    I recommend this option for your geeky bunch of mates. If you were the kid who watched Crystal Maze and screamed at the TV: “I could do that!”, well, now you can! Gather your mates and go on a real-life adventure where you solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues and to complete the tasks. It’s a lot harder than it looks as there’s a set time limit to unveil.

    5. Dart Club 

    I know what you’re thinking, ‘why has she added this one?’ Honestly, it’s not an older gents sport anymore. Darts is becoming more popular with all ages and they’re opening a lot more branches in the UK. This one is for your therapeutic bunch. A lot of the venues provide delicious sharing food too.

    6. Bowling

    I have so many fond bowing memories as a kid. If you haven’t gone for ages then relive your childhood because it’s the best feeling ever. Bowling alleys are known to be filled with sticky carpets and warm beer, but now there are lots of boutique ones which have really good food, fine cocktails,
    craft beer and excellent service.

    7. Trampolining or Climbing

    If you’re a sporty person and you have lots of active mates then you guys will have so much fun Trampolining or Climbing. It’s healthy, awesome fun. Some venues have resident DJs, planned parties and special events so check out what’s jumping around at your local one.

    8. Go-Karting

    This one is for the adrenaline chasers. Trying to overtake your mates is the fun part. I love driving so being able to crash is satisfying. A lot of venues have great hospitality facilities so celebrate your success after the race in the bar afterwards!

    9. Clay Pigeon Shooting / Archery 

    Gather your squad to take a trip to the serene countryside to master weaponry skills. With clay pigeon shooting, all will be given training on how to use a shotgun. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at archery then the coach will teach how to aim your judgement. My idea would be to get everyone to the pub later to celebrate your victories!

    10. Secret Cinema/Garden/Foodie Club 

    If getting your mates anywhere out of the city is too much of a hassle then get everyone to buy tickets for Secret Cinema, festival or a Foodie club. It’s a great way to bring everyone together for a fun evening and lots of laughs.

    If your friend’s Birthday is coming up and they’re struggling for ideas then send them this blog post and have a wonderful time.

    Have I missed any activities that you’re burning to add to this list? Let me know! It’ll be great to share with each other the best ones.

    Location: Swingers, The City

    Snake Print Skirt |Black Blouse|Black Boots

    ConcealerLips | Eyeshadow Palette | Eyeliner |Mascara

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    Black Friday & Cyber Week 2018

    It’s that time of year my friends.

    Avoid fights with strangers, slip into your PJ’s and shop like a pro with my Black Friday roundup.

    I’m going to include everything all in one place so come and back visit, I’ll be updating this page with new codes throughout Cyber Week.

    In the spirit of my outfit, *roar* here are my best Black Friday Deals 2018

    The big all-rounders

    Selfridges 20% off code: SELFCCE

    Amazon Black Friday Deals

    eBay Daily Hot Deals: 8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm

    Very up to 50% off

    House of Fraser Up to 60% off

    Debenhams Half price Boots and 40% off Knitwear & Watches

    John Lewis Price Match

    Argos Technology deals

    Currys Black Tag event

    Fashion

    Mango Use code BLACK18% for 30% off

    H&M Up to 50% off

    Net A Porter You have to sign up to get their private sale

    ASOS up to 60% off sale

    Topshop up to 50% off

    Nike 30% off edit changing daily with code Clear30

    MyTheresa Extra 30% off Sale category

    Luisa Via Roma UK & EU 30% off £300/€300+ spend with code RS1130 (full-price items only)

    French Connection up to 50% off

    Karen Millen 25% off everything

    Urban Outfitters Sale

    L.K.Bennett 25% off everything with code FRIDAY25

    Reiss 15% off full price

    Sweaty Betty UK Offering 25% off with the code ‘cheers

    Missguided 20% sitewide Code: DROPPIN

    Boohoo 50% off sitewide

    Office 20% off with code GLITTER (Includes UGG boots, Nike, Timberlands, etc!)

    Shein UK 30% Off Everything with BLACKALL

    Pandora spend £125 or more and receive a limited edition sterling silver bangle

    Monica Vinader 30% off everything

    Beauty

    Charlotte Tilbury Up to 50% off selected lines with new promotions every day

    Cult Beauty up to 40% off

    Feel Unique up to 30% off

    Look Fantastic use code hurry for 15% off

    MAC 20% off and a free lipstick when you spend £45 with code BLACKFRIDAY20

    Bobbi Brown 20% off and full size smokey eye mascara when you spend £65 or more with code SHOPANDGLOW

    Space NK Receive a free full size beauty gift of your choice when you spend £50+

    Travel, Home & Experience Days

    Heals up to 30% off

    Homebase (there’s a cheap hot tub!)

    Etsy (I got a great chunky yarn from here last year, various independent sellers have their sales on)

    Oliver Bonas Enjoy 25% off selected fashion, accessories, homeware and gifts

    Paperchase (30% off everything!)

    Aspinal of London
    Exclusive 15% off gifts using code GIFT15

    WHSmith (£5 off when you spend £20 use code black18)

    Groupon – Daily Deals

    TUI Holidays (use code BF100 for short haul and BF150 for long haul)

    Thomas Cook (use code WINTER)

    I know you’re desperate to run away from all this Black Friday madness, check flights in the RyanAir Cyber Sale

    If you’ve got any deals to share or have any requests, please comment below!

    Location: The Land of Black Friday

    Leopard Print Skirt | Black Heels

     

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    The ultimate Wonga guide to saving money

    “Hello? Bank of mum or dad… hello?” *other line hangs up*.

    The subject of money is touchy. Most of us, associate a lot of our self-worth to how much we earn. Growing up, I wasn’t surrounded by peers who discussed bank accounts, interest rates and tax with me so I’m excited to share my money-saving tips with you. Whether you’re saving up for a house, dream holiday, or you’re just trying to keep up with your Boujee lifestyle, let’s make it rain, together!

    Transfer on payday

    I can’t recommend this enough. I swear by it. You need to trick your brain into thinking you have less money than you do. Weird, but it works. Open a completely separate bank account (savings account if you’re genuinely committed) and transfer a realistic amount, every month. You will not spend what you think you have unless you have to.

    Write it down

    Awareness is powerful. Get organised: log into your online banking or grab your bank statements. Find your favourite notebook (my favourite is from Paperchase). Work out your monthly spend: rent/mortgage, utilities, transport, food, shopping & leisure. Calculate income minus outgoings to find out how much you can set aside per month. Why not open a spreadsheet and be super savvy by calculating the percentage of say, your food spending. Surprise yourself; I was horrified by how much I spent on eating out!

    Set up bank accounts to get maximum interest rates

    Okay this is complicated, but I learnt this by research, hear me out; I’ve been doing this for years. Open a current account that pays you 5% interest in transferring £X amount (refer to the bank) every month. While you’re at it, make sure it rewards you with cash back – like this one. Then, open a savings account that also pays you 3% interest on monthly transfers – this one is popular. Set up direct debits so that you move the amounts required from your paycheck to your current account and savings account so that you get the maximum interest.

    Shop smart

    If you have friends who send you pictures with the caption ‘should I buy this?’, I have a neat tip for you. Ask your mate to calculate their cost per wear/use of that item.

    E.g. if a coat costs £100 and they plan on wearing it three times, that’s £33.33 per use which isn’t worth it, but, if they’re planning to wear it 30 times, that’s £3.33 per use.

    Apply this formula to everything you buy, and you will only buy things you need. Shop using a discount just if you were going to buy it anyway – look out for my yearly Black Friday roundups for the latest.

    Generate secondary income

    If you want that house, car, dream holiday, as Britney says, you better werk b*tch. Here are my recommendations:

    1. eBay – I learnt to eBay when I was young, it’s my second most profitable online secondary income (after blogging). Grab all the items that you no longer use or wear. Put some tunes on, take your phone / fancy camera out and prepare a mega snapping session. Get your selling cap on as you’ll need to write enticing descriptions for your products when you upload the pics.

    2. Bar & Waitressing / Nightclub – if you like going to festivals, football matches or racing events, there are lots of temp agencies in hospitality which give you the option to work when you’re available, and you get to go to the events for free! Or, if you much prefer being a night owl, why not try a local club? I worked in a nightclub as a hostess for a while – I was super knackered because I already had a fulltime job, but I was super determined to reach a certain level of savings. It was a big sacrifice, but it paid off.

    3. Cashback – I wish I knew about this sooner, it’s a doddle! Sign up here, and click on the links to the brands you’re about to shop. Cashback works in that the advertiser wants to pay you to buy with them over their competitors. It’s that simple.

    4. Mystery Shopper / Dining – soo, being a lady of mystery (ha) I’m not going to say whether I have this role or not ;). If you like food or shopping, then this is for you. The way it works is that you shop or eat like a typical regular customer, but you report back on the customer service, atmosphere, cleanliness and quality of food/product. The mystery shopping company uses your data to create better customer service.

    5. Focus groups / Surveys – get your thinking caps on and earn by telling research companies what you think. I haven’t done this so I Googled a few and here’s what I found: “www.valuedopinions.co.uk pays from 50p for taking part in a text poll and up to £5 for taking part in an online survey. Rewards are credited to your online account within 28 days and paid when your account balance reaches £10. Yougov.com pays you £1 when you register and then tops up your account intermittently. When you hit £50, you will receive a cheque in the post” – source The Telegraph.

    There are also other things you look into like Bitcoin, Match Betting and Index Investments funds – do your research!

    Discover the art of minimalism

    Having a clear room = organised mind. I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying‘. You know when you’re cleaning your room and you find stuff that you lost ages ago, and you go ‘ooh I didn’t realise I had this!’. The Japanese concept of minimalism suggests that we should only have material things that are in our ‘present’ focus. I love this philosophy because it’s eco-friendly.

    Join me in my passionate plea

    I want to use my platform to raise awareness that we have awful lack of financial education in schools. If we can teach children algebra, then we can show them how to use money in the real world. We have a severe debt issue, in the UK, according to the BBC 8.3 million people in the UK are unable to pay off debts or household bills. This post contains money saving tips for the everyday saver, but if you’re in serious debt, please get help here.

    I discovered how to become frugal at three critical stages of my life:

    Adulting sucks, but budgeting is for your future. A year from now, you’ll wish you started today. Make my tips a habit, and it’ll be easy.

    Itching to share your best saving tip? I would love to hear it! Please leave it in the comment section below. I know it will mean a lot to anyone that is looking to save up.

    Location: God’s Own Junkyard, London

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    Meeting my idol(!) & the power of makeup

      
    Who is your role model? Perhaps it’s a celebrity, family member, or friend who overcame adversity. It could even be yourself, or you may not believe in idols.

    I think it’s wonderful to see strengths in people; to strive for better choices to become your own version of a strong, confident & positive self.

    I have always admired and idolised businesswomen. One of those is Charlotte Tilbury, who built a triumphant beauty expire. I’m so pleased to announce that I MET HER (pinch me) and she’s lovely in person. She said ‘hello’ to me as soon as I came through the door (I’m unknown, like who am I?!) and without realising, she has taught me the power of communication in business.

    Every day, women are gaining empowerment from the beauty market, whether it’s applying lipstick for that inch of confidence or carving a beauty career (science, tech, marketing, operations, finance, law). It’s a £14 billion pound industry.

    Charlotte Tilbury inspires women to use makeup as their power, to feel luscious and bold, just like her products. I’m excited to talk to you about her new products launching soon. CT is known for their lipsticks, so I’ll introduce you to my gorgeous matte shades.

    1. Matte Revolution Lipstick in The Queen is a rosy, crown-jewel pink shade adds brightness to your complexion. Creamy yet highly pigmented, this boss babe colour stayed on my lips all day!

    2. Matte Revolution Lipstick in Legendary Queen is a powerful wine colour. I feel like a vixen with this shade. It adds a splash of colour and brightens your face instantly. I do love a statement red lipstick, and this is my fave. Wear it for the occasion of the season.

    3. K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in The Duchess is a delicate tea-rose pink for the sophisticated. Sumptuous and moisturising; I like this shade because it’s not too bright and creates a soft look.

    All of these lovely shades also come as a trio and are sold separately (links above).

    Right so, some exciting news! Charlotte has created a new product called ‘Magic Away’. It’s magic wand (concealer) that glides on your skin to appear more radiant & flawless. I would have loved to of taken you with me to see her, so I’ve attached my videos so you can watch from the comfort of your own home instead. The bad news is that the product isn’t out yet, so sign up here for launch!

    Charlotte-Tilbury-Magic-Away Charlotte-Tilbury-Magic-Away

    I hope you enjoyed this post. Share with me your role models & favourite shade in the comments below. I love hearing from you.

    Location: Charlotte Tilbury, London

    Photographer: The lovely Yogi-Photographer: Linzi Markovits

    Trio | Matte Revolution Lipstick in The Queen | K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in The Duchess | Matte Revolution Lipstick in Legendary Queen

     

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    How to start a blog: my story

    I started blogging when I quit my job to travel the world; to share my adventures with friends, who thought about doing the same.

    The Wong Blog initially launched as a travel blog; advice on which tour company to use, what to eat & where to go. I never envisioned making a penny from it.

    I get lots of lovely messages asking for blogging advice, so I thought it would be useful to compile everything that I’ve learnt into one space.

    Disclaimer: I’m by no means an expert, and I’ve dedicated a lot of my time elsewhere in my digital consultancy & modelling, so I haven’t been able to release as many posts as I’d like, but I want to share with you my learnings, starting with the very basics.

    The Wong Name

    I changed my blog name five times. Once upon a time, it was ‘Small Girl Tall World’ (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either), then ‘Monica Wong’, ‘Monica Wong Blog’ & ‘ProjectM’. I don’t want you to go through the same experience because it’s a logistical nightmare to rebrand, especially with SEO. ‘The Wong Blog’ is a play on the fact that Wong is my surname, and I wanted to show a bit of my personality through my ‘wrong’ blog. Make yours, memorable and catchy: like a childhood nickname or favourite food. Once you’ve decided, head over to a domain site to make sure no one has nabbed it first. I use GoDaddy; I highly recommend them, they’ve got great customer service when I’ve called them at midnight, panicking [insert laughing emoji].

    Platform

    Once you’ve decided on a name, it’s time to go house hunting! There are two popular platforms: Blogger & WordPress. Someone asked me about Square Space and Wix, but in my opinion, they are better for websites. I started on Blogger then migrated onto self-hosted WordPress. Blogger is ideal for beginners & a lot easier to use, but WordPress allows for more customisable options for the HTML savvy. If you’re an online wiz, Self-hosted WordPress has great SEO & analytics capabilities which is ideal for client reporting, I use Site Ground.

    Aesthetic

    Now that you’ve acquired & named your plot of land, you need to spruce it up! There are lots of places where you can get designs. Blogger & WordPress has lots of free templates; otherwise, search for ‘blog designs’ from sites like Etsy or Pipdig. Your personality should shine through from your content so have fun with it!

    Snaps

    I wrote a whole blog post about this here. In a nutshell, build up your eye for detail: take lots of snaps. Go out & start taking pics with your phone and start noticing how smaller details can affect an image.

    Fashion / Lifestyle Bloggers

    Find a photography buddy to take snaps of you: I know how difficult it is if you don’t have photo-willing/taking friends, so why not make a blogging friend and take pics of each other? If you want professional photos, reach out to a photographer who you like the style of; you’ll be surprised to see that some have surprisingly affordable rates.

    Beauty, Food & Product Bloggers

    If you’re taking product/food shots, practice by putting things together on a table. Move it around; essential products first and smaller items in-between.

    Content

    Write about topics that you would read yourself. I am passionate about discussing issues that are important, like female empowerment. Alongside this, I write about travel, food, style & beauty. Remember that there’s room for everyone, if postal stamps are your thing, there will be blogs about it.

    Social Media

    Social Media is going to be invaluable in promoting your blog. My most prominent channels are on Instagram and Twitter. However, some bloggers are killing it through YouTube or Pinterest. Why not sign up to them all? Make sure that all of your channels feature your latest post. Follow and interact with your favourite bloggers on Instagram, big and small. Join Facebook groups & participate in Twitter chats. I try to respond to every comment because I value each one.

    Best Apps for Social Media

    My favourite app for creating swish looking Blog Headers for your blog or Pinterest is Instasize. I use UNUM to plan my Instagram grid and Unfold for Instastories.

    Community

    Blogging can be scary & invasive as you’re letting people into your life. In my years of blogging, I’ve only encountered one rude blogger, but (luckily) not one rude reader! Little did she know that I’ve been a digital manager 5 years prior, and if I wanted, I could blacklist her (all marketers know each other). Due to its public nature, strangers & even your own friends can become nasty. I’ve spoken to some bloggers who have lost friends due to jealousy; In spite of this, I’ve found the community to be very supportive. Don’t see other blogs as competition. At the end of the day, it’s a great place to make lifelong friends and learn different perspectives. Everyone is different. You are unique and what you bring is valuable.

    How-to-start-a-blog

    The advanced stuff

    (don’t worry about the below too much if you’re just starting out, just come back when you’re ready)

    Learn HTML & SEO

    HTML is very handy for making your blog the shiniest without having to wait & pay for someone else to do it. Learn about SEO; Google creates its algorithm based on your content so knowing how to increase your DA is a useful skill to master.

    HTML (the codes I use the most)

    <p><p/> = Paragraph

    <center><center/> = Centre Text

    <b><b/> = Bold

    <u><u/> = Underline

    <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/thewongblog/?hl=en”>Instagram</a> = Links

    <img class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-1750″ src=”http://www.thewongblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/How-to-start-a-blog-5-1440×1920.jpg” alt=”” /> = Image

    SEO

    1. Feature your links on other sites, you can swap URL’s with other bloggers to improve your DA (domain authority)
    2. Make sure you always name your images with what a person would search on Google to find it, e.g. http://www.thewongblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/How-to-start-a-blog-5-1440×1920.jpg

    Know your audience

    You will get to know who your audience is. You’ll start to see who interacts with your content and in time you’ll analyse demographic data which shows gender, age & location. Then you’ll learn how about impressions, clicks & the average time that readers stay on your site. My audience is predominately young women, UK & China-based. As a result, I try & cater my content.

    Show me the money

    The most common question that everyone asks is ‘how do you make money from blogging?’. I will save it for a full-length post because it will be a detailed cracker, but in a nutshell, it’s brand-sponsorships, PR, affiliate marketing and display advertising. As you develop your following, you’ll be approached by brands & PR’s wanting to promote their products. Create a media pack, buy business cards and learn how to negotiate your rates. Remember that most brands want you to market their product to gain more sales, so be realistic with what you can provide a brand for a mutual partnership.

    Closing (read these, they’re important!)

    I spoke about internet security here. Never post in real time where you are. I’ve seen some bloggers take pictures of a PR package which had their home address on it, doh! Don’t mention private details like your full birth date, mother’s name, where you went to school/uni or work address.

    Unless it’s constructive & beneficial, never let anyone make fun of you for starting a blog: your writing, your style, or for taking pictures, they’re only showing their lack of confidence in their own abilities. Everyone has to start somewhere. Doing is always better than regretting. I wasn’t great at writing when I first started, but you don’t get better at anything unless you practice right?

    Do not start a blog with the aim of being successful because you won’t be passionate about what you write. You’ll end up putting too much pressure on yourself, and you’ll feel deflated.

    Blogging has changed my life unexpectedly. Seeing your comments make my day and I wake up doing what I love. Because of you,  I have a little scrapbook to look back on when I’m old.

    If you’re starting a blog, keep me posted. I will support you all the way.

    Location: Greece, Mykonos

    Hair by Live Tru London | White Stripe Strappy Dress | Trainers | Sunglasses | Bag | Nars Concealer | Naked 3 Palette using Ecotools Brushes | Clinique Waterproof Mascara |

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