Category Archives: Blogging Tips

I’ve made it to Snapchat!

Found here

Found here

I’m sorry, Snapwhat?

I know. I feel for you. I had no idea what Snapchat was until I was away in Greece last week with Lydia, the GURU of Snapchat, who showed me the ropes… and now I’m hooked.  And what more proof do you need than me lip syncing to camera?

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– Blogging Tips –
Irista: A better photo storage solution

Pic from petapixel.com

Pic from petapixel.com

Organising my photographs and storing them safely is one of the most important things I  need to do as a blogger. Although, even if you are not a blogger, I bet you have hundreds (possibly thousands) of photos on your phone, your Whatsapp, your emails and other sneaky online corners you may or may not have have forgotten about…

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Twitter Chats: a schedule
(and an explanation)

1950s housewife on the phone

Old skool chatting… (Pic from bretzke.blogspot.com)

If you are new to Twitter, or even if you’ve been there a while, you may have heard the term ‘Twitter Chat’ being banded about a bit… and if you haven’t been feeling brave enough to ask “WHAT IS THIS TWITTER CHAT THING I KEEP HEARING ABOUT?” Then let me defug it for you right now. (Is defug a word? You know what I mean.)

First things first, you are going to need to know what a hashtag is. (Mum, stop hiding behind the Telegraph – I promise it’s not scary.)

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BLOGGING TOOLS:
CALENDAR HOOKS & EVENTS
April 2014

honey oat bread

Honey Oat Bread for National Bread Day

Getting inspiration for new blog posts can be tricky – we’ve all been there… staring at the wall… gazing glumly into a mug of tea

I find having a hook in the calendar, to anchor my writing can be extremely helpful –  if you’ve never tried it, may I recommend it. It’s good. (Not as good as Gingernuts in tea, but still good.) (Nothing is as good as Gingernuts in tea.)

Here are my UK calendar hooks for April, for you to grab onto, be inspired by and enjoy writing about… please feel free to comment with any others you know of and I’ll add them on.

Oh, and while I have you here,  I have recently started my own calendar here on my blog. If you have any events you’d like to add, (classes, gigs, workshops etc) then please do so here. It’s free, you know.

Pip pip.

NEW SIGNATURE

 

APRIL

JAZZ APPRECIATION MONTH

April 2014

NATIONAL STATIONERY WEEK

31st March – 6th April

INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY

2nd April

LONDON COFFEE FESTIVAL

3rd – 6th April

LONDON CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL

11th – 13th April

LEARN TO PLAY MUSIC DAY

12th April

NATIONAL GARDENING WEEK

14th – 20th April

INTERNATIONAL DANCE DAY

19th April

NATIONAL BREAD WEEK

16th-22nd April

RECORD STORE DAY

19th April

INTERNATIONAL JAZZ DAY

30th April

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Blogging tools:
calendar hooks & events
March 2014

Getting inspiration for new blog posts can be tricky – we’ve all been there… staring at the wall… gazing glumly into a mug of tea…

I find having a hook in the calendar, to anchor my writing can be extremely helpful –  if you’ve never tried it, may I recommend it. It’s good. (Not as good as Gingernuts in tea, but still good.) (Nothing is as good as Gingernuts in tea.)

Here are my UK calendar hooks for March, for you to grab onto, be inspired by and enjoy writing about. I promise to be be earlier for April – I got a bit waylaid this month, what with The Big Blogging Rebrand and all… please feel free to comment with any others you know of and I’ll add them on.

Oh, and while I have you here,  I have recently started my own calendar here on my blog. If you have any events you’d like to add, (classes, gigs, workshops etc) then please do so here. It’s free, you know.

Pip pip.

 

NEW SIGNATURE

MARCH 2014

PANCAKE DAY

4th March

BRITISH PIE WEEK

4th-10th March

NATIONAL BUTCHER’S WEEK

4th-10th March

SLEEP AWARENESS WEEK

4th-10th March”

WORLD BOOK DAY

7th March

NATIONAL DOODLE DAY

7th March

NATIONAL GENEALOGY DAY

8th March

NATIONAL NAPPING DAY

10th March

NO SMOKING DAY

12th March

BAGPIPE DAY

15th March

NATIONAL PUPPY DAY

23rd March

MOTHER’S DAY

March 30th

NATIONAL STATIONERY WEEK

31st March – 6th April

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Pinterest launches in the UK

Pic from www.beeinourbonnet.com

Ever since I was small, I have loved looking at other people’s photographs and pictures. Pouring over old dusty photo albums, or gazing for hours at the photos on my grandparents’ mantelpiece were regular pastimes… I would see stories, feel feelings, hear music and laughter or sense a sadness.. I’d be moved, reminded… inspired.

A picture really can tell a thousand words. 

I LOVE pictures and if you haven’t noticed, there are millions of them all over tinternet. Over the years I have copied and pasted, clicked and saved, created hundreds of (incredibly disorganised) folders on my computer, (on my desktop, shhh) with names such as ‘Cakes I Like’ ‘Really Amazing Cakes’ ‘Pink Cakes (I like cake) ‘CAKE FOREVER’, in an effort to catalogue and keep all the amazing pictures I was seeing every day.

It wasn’t a great system.. but it turns out I wasn’t the only one. 

So, when I discovered Pinterest (a little while ago now) I whooped, (out loud) with happiness.

If you don’t know what Pinterest is, let me enlighten you so you too can whoop (out loud). Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organising pictures of the things you love. You can ‘pin’  things from all over the wonderful web onto mood boards you have created, on any topic you like.

I have created boards on all kinds of things I love, (cake features heavily) including fashion, food, design and even cafes I have visited.. here’s a peek at my board, ‘Move Over Cupcake’



I love the seasons and so have created a board just for Spring, which includes all kinds of things which inspire me – new blooms, pretty dresses, pastel shades, um, cake.. (can’t help it, sorry.) You can see this board here and here is one of my favourite pics from it..

The thing that’s so clever about Pinterest, is that each picture links back directly to the original source. So, if you click on a picture of a delicious looking cookie, you can be linked straight over to the recipe. 

Or perhaps you like the look of a pretty dress? You can be whisked over to the web page where you can buy it, or maybe even get the pattern to make it yourself.. *snorts into cup of tea* 
*Resolves to dig out sewing machine from cupboard* 
*Apologises mentally to her amazing grandma. Several times*

The main reason I am writing this post today is because Pinterest has recently launched in the UK (Hurruh!) so, if you are in the UK and already a merry ‘Pinner’, you can follow me here. Or, if you haven’t already got the pinning bug, click here and get Pinvolved! 

Looking forward to seeing you there…

p.s. Hello! Here I am! I’ve been away for a few days on holibubs and it’s ever so nice to be back. There will be stories and pics to follow.. and if you aren’t already connected to me on Instagram, you can catch a sneaky preview here xx

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Socially challenged (and win a social media course!)

Facebook Toast – matome.naver.jp

Pinterest,  StumbleUpon, HootSuite, YouTube, Instagram, Linked In (BREATHE) Bebo, Blogger, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler.. Is this the kind of language you hear that makes you break out in a sweat and want to run for the mountains and get back to basics and make fire with twigs?

I understand. Don’t worry. You are normal and everything is fine.

Social Media is a phrase that everyone has heard, but not everyone necessarily has a grip on. I have been asked by countless bloggers, marketers and other industry professionals, HOW do you do it? WHY bother doing it and (this is the most common) I haven’t got TIME to do it.

I am in no way a guru when it comes to Social Media. (I am more of a guru when it comes to cake. Eating, not making. This is how I know I am not a guru in Social Media.) But I do have some kind of a grip… but I wanted to know more.

pic from designfloat.com

I spoke to Elizabth Floyd, who is head of Business Training Made Simple and decided to attend a couple of their courses.

The Made Simple Group run business courses in pretty much everything you can imagine, with a huge emphasis on social media. There are full day courses specifically for Twitter or Facebook, courses in blogging and Google Adwords..etc. You can see a full range of their courses here.

I did two full day courses – Social Media level 1 (an introduction) and Social Media level 2 – where we delved more into strategy and implementation.

Now, you will read an awful lot about lots of different social media courses, but these were absolutely BRILLIANT. 

AND THERE WAS CAKE. I’ll come back to this crucial point later.

pic from zinc shop.com.au
The first course was run by Michelle Carvill, founder of Carvill Creative. Michelle is one of those people who makes you feel instantly relaxed and at ease, even though she has enough credentials to sink a dingy. 


She was full of energy (ZING!) she was dynamic, encouraging, clear in her explanations and jam packed full of amazing information you never knew you needed but now know you clearly cannot live without it. 

The course covered Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and YouTube, from the absolute basics through to using these tools efficiently and with confidence. And when I say basics, I mean setting up accounts and answering questions like ‘What does Tweet mean?’

So even though I was aware of most of the things discussed in this session, it was still incredibly valuable for me to do. When you work independently, whether you blog or have your own business, you don’t often get anyone saying to you “Well done” or “You are doing this right.” So for me, this was a huge confidence boost, just knowing I was on the right track.

The second day was Social Media level 2 and delved a bit deeper into planning and strategy development. This course was run by David Taylor, again bursting with energy, laden with credentials and MD of 2010Media. I learnt a great deal in this session and went home with a lovely long list of new tools and ideas I was looking forward to implementing into my own blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

The courses were held in Farringdon, London. Each day was a full day, from 9 – 5.30pm, but the hours flew by.  The groups were fairly small (around 12-15 people) so you had the opportunity to talk to everyone – there was such a wide range of ages and careers that this was hugely interesting as well!

pic from designfloat.com

A delicious Pret a Manger lunch was provided and tea and coffee was on tap throughout the day. There were regular coffee breaks, where we were surprised with fresh fruit, cakes, sweet treats and scones with jam and clotted cream! Honestly, were it not for the actual course, I would have thought I was at some kind of amazing hotel. 

I cannot recommend these courses enough. If you are someone who has no clue where to begin, or if you are someone that has been working away relatively confidently, but would like to understand the nuts and bolts a bit more and develop a strategy for yourself, then these courses are for you. You leave with a sense of real accomplishment, a real life certificate (!) print outs from the day and oodles of online resources at your fingertips.


To top it off I have a £20 discount voucher for you to use against any of their courses! Just enter POPPY20 at checkout.

And just to go back to the ‘why do I need to do social media?’ question; With 70% of online purchases  coming from an online or peer recommendation and with 40% of the UK population being on Facebook.. can you afford not to?

I’m just going to tweet this post now… from my HootSuite… yep. I totally know what I’m doing.



Win a SOCIAL MEDIA LEVEL 1 COURSE at Business Made Simple, worth £239.
If you would like to win this wonderful prize then just enter my giveaway below. (Click on the Rafflecopter link if it doesn’t pop up.)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How do I get more blog followers?
– Top Tips –

Since I started blogging, I have been asked countless times how to get more followers. How, how, HOW DO I GET MORE FOLLOWERS, POPPY? 

So, I thought I would write a little post with some useful tips I’ve picked up along the way – most of which may sound like common sense to many of you and possibly these are things you’ve been doing for a long while already… But for those of you who are just starting out in the blogosphere, I hope you find this useful and please shout with any questions. If I know the answer, I’ll shout right back.

1. Followers are real people. Real people with real brains and real personalities. So don’t forget that your content needs to be engaging and fresh so that your real-people-followers will read it and then want to share it. So before you start to worry about how you are going to promote your blog, make sure your content is top notch.. and this may take some work, but that’s fine! You’re not here for a quick shortcut fix, now are you?

2. Create your brand. If you hadn’t realised it already, You Are A Brand. Yip. You you you important little you. The language you choose, the font you use, your tone of voice and your style of photography all represent you and your brand across all the corners of the sparkly tinternet. It means your followers can recognise you and your style instantly.. and consistency is key… no Jeckyll and Hydey stuff pleasey – you’ll lose your readers at ‘hello’.

Branding is something which confuses a lot of people, but don’t tangle yourself up in a knot, just remember that it is all about how you want people to feel about you and your blog.. And if you feel like you need a bit of help in this department, get in touch with these chaps. They’re good and love working with the little people. Like you and me. Blogging tips
3. Be social: Facebook. Set up a Facebook page for your blog and post your blog updates there. Don’t forget to make it nice and easy for your readers to link to it and ‘like’ it directly from your blog too. Gathering ‘likes’ is a great way to promote your blog as when someone likes your Facebook page it will usually show up in all of their Facebook friends’ news feeds… and if it sparks their interest they’ll nip over to your blog and maybe even become a loyal and regular reader. Hurruh! Here’s how to install the Facebook ‘like button’ for WordPress and Blogger.

Come and interact with me on Facebook and practise your new skills…

4. Be social: Twitter. This is an incredible tool for reaching out and interacting with others. There is an etiquette with Twitter, as no one likes spam or a constant stream of links – that is one sure way to lose followers. The trick with Twitter is being consistent, interacting, being personal and supporting other people you like – retweet (RT) posts you agree with and enjoy. It will be appreciated and often reciprocated, leading to more interaction and more followers. Ding! Again, make a link to your Twitter account super easy to find from your blog. No one wants to have to hunt for anything. (We’re busy people, you know).

Come and interact with me on Twitter and practise your new skills…

5. Be social: Pinterest. This is one of my favourite things in the world. A online pinboard on which you can pin everything you like, for everyone to see and share? And it’s free? Really? It is almost too good to be true. And again, you can link straight back to your Pinterest page from your blog – here’s how to install the ‘follow button’ for your pleasure. Every new pin can be posted in real time back to your Twitter and Facebook pages too… it’s powerful. Kaboom.

Come and interact with me on Pinterest and practise your new skills…

6. Comment on other blogs. And I don’t mean ‘Me-me-me-and-here’s-a-link-to-my-blog’ comments, I mean thoughtful, authentic and considered real comments. It will be appreciated. I always visit the blog of a reader who’s left me a lovely comment and usually reciprocate in kind… the blogging world is a great community, so jump right in and get involved!

7. Invite your readers to share your posts. Share, share, share. It’s all about sharing your content and reaching out to potential new lovely followers. Your job is to make this as easy peasy for them as possible and one way of doing this is by including a simple set of social media share buttons at the end of each of your posts. If you want more buttons than are offered by your blogging platform, then have a look at ‘add this‘ or ‘share this‘ for some more snazzy options.

8. Write a guest post. First you need to think about the kind of people that would want to read your blog and then hunt high and low for other blogs who attract a similar kind of Demographic. (Fancy word). Once you’ve found some, contact their owners and offer to write a guest post, or even better, feature on their blogs. Try to find blogs with a higher readership than yours and you should find you’re able to tempt some of their readers over to your own blog with your excellent writing skills.

9. Analyse and learn. Let’s talk about Google Analytics. (DON’T PANIC.) They are very easy to set up and once you have them in place, you will be doing crazy happy 80’s dancing, like they do in Footloose. You will be able to see who is looking at your blog, what country they’re from, how long they stayed on your blog, what they searched for in order to arrive at your blog and which posts are your most popular. This information is like gold dust to folk like you and me and it means we can learn and adapt accordingly. Google Analytics will become your best friend and you will love it forever and ever. When it comes to tools which help you learn about your readership and grow your blog to be the best blog it can be, Google Analytics is the mothership.

10. Take great photographs. “A picture tells a thousand words…” It’s TRUE. If your picture is a bit weak and ‘meh,’ you risk losing your reader before they’ve even read one word. Don’t forget that it’s your picture which will accompany your post’s link wherever you place it, so try to make sure your photos are strong, dynamic and that you love every pic you post. Don’t worry, you don’t need a fancy camera –  there are plenty of very cheap and clever photo apps around to make even the simplest of mobile phone snaps look like you’re David Bailey. I usually use Istagram, but Afterglow and VSCO are also favourites among many bloggers… so get snapping.

Come and interact with me on Instagram and practise your new skills…

I really hope this has been helpful – there are many other clever little tricks of the trade which will get your blog flying, but I think 10 tips is enough for now… (especially as you should really keep blog posts quite short as most people don’t want to wade through realms of information.. In fact, um, are you still here..?

p.s. Come and connect with me on Snapchat and also make sure your blog is live and kicking on BlogLovin’ – it’s a great way to pick up new readers and find other bloggers to inspire you… I’m there, are you?

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