I’m still seeing it constantly – small business owners, struggling to know the basics of Facebook. So here are the things that you MUST know to get started. From here, just take it steady and slow – you can’t learn it all in 5 minutes, just do it bit by bit.
Your profile is your PERSONAL page.
Facebook doesn’t like you having a fake one for your business, as that is a way around it’s rules. You can create a new profile that is more business orientated, but why bother honestly? If you’ve been ‘misbehaving’ on Facebook, stop, because it will affect your business. Nothing on social media is secret! You can change the privacy of each post, but I don’t have time for that.
Some people don’t like to show anything about their business to their friends. Why? Friends aren’t as supportive sometimes as you might like them to be. But if they have a choice of using another company or you, wouldn’t it be better if they use you?
I’m shocked how many business owners haven’t posted anything on their timeline about their business.
But, be discerning – don’t over do it either, otherwise people will get bored and tune out or unfollow you.
Be careful to set your privacy settings. I only share my information with friends, but my profile is public. See the picture below for the location of the privacy settings.
This is your business page. It is where you post stuff about your business and go live. Then you share it to your profile or group if relevant.
You can invite friends to like your page – I do this about once every 6 months.
You can create events on your page – this is helpful if you run courses or do workshops.
Create a pinned post at the top of your page, with your key piece of information or event. For example when I’m running a free course, the information will be pinned there, so that people don’t get confused when seeing lots of other posts about it without the join up info.
Fill in the about information – check contact details, location and description. Include everything you do – otherwise they may never find out.
A group is a community, where you can interact with your clients more. This may or may not be relevant to your business to create. For instance, it might not be useful for a clothes shop, but would be for a coach.
Create a post with the ‘rules’ for how your group will run and pin it, so that it is always displayed at the top of the group. E.g. can other people post about their business?
Add a description about yourself and the group, so that people who join know what it is about – so many people don’t do this and lose community members because of it.
Set the privacy settings – normally to ‘closed’ – so that no one outside can see what is written in there.
Link it to your page.
Do NOT add people into your group without asking them – this really upsets them.
Do NOT tag everyone in the group overtime you post – this really upsets them!
Some people choose particular days or times of the day to interact in their groups and reply to comments, as otherwise it can be overwhelming to reply straight away to loads of comments through out the day.
Read the description. Read the pinned post. Follow the rules.
Interact with others and be helpful before you post your stuff.
Don’t put an ‘F’ or ‘.’ as a comment, so that you can see other peoples comments. Instead click on the 3 dots in the top right hand corner and ‘Turn on notifications for the post’ (see photo above).
Please check the files for information that has been created especially for you – if you are in a group for information, the most likely thing is that FAQ’s have been written up.
When asking a question go to the [search] function first and see if it has already been asked. How much effort do you think someone will put into asking your about the latest lash product for instance, if someone else asked the same 3hrs earlier?
Be polite – say please and thank you.
Don’t read it if you don’t want to.
STEP AWAY – you are being judged on your behaviour in a group, there is no need to argue or convince other people that you are right.
Nothing is ever completely private or safe – don’t post if there would be a problem if someone copied your post and shared it elsewhere. There are nasty people on Facebook who will do that. Don’t be one of those people!
As I’m running a business I’m careful on Facebook. If someone is annoying I ‘unfollow’ them. I hardly ever unfriend or block. I only unfriend when I find people have been basically watching me for a year, but never interacted.
Your timeline is your personal updates on what is going on in facebook land. First come your memories from before, then the page updates from any pages that you set notifications to ‘first’. Then there will be updates from friends. NOT all friends – just the ones you’ve been interacting with recently.
It is possible to get people to like your page and set notifications to first so they always see your posts. But generally other wise you will only reach a certain number of people with your page.
Inevitably you will need to do an advert. The easiest thing is to ‘Boost’ your post. But eventually you will find better results from the ‘Ads Manager’ (see below, and get proper advice on how to do this).
The most important thing is to remember, that just because it’s online doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at creating relationships. Think of your posts on social media as a conversation – are you being boring? Are you only posting about what you want (more clients), or are you also sharing information, being interesting and being helpful with no agenda?
If you are selling a network marketing product, please don’t use the technique of being vague about what you do and not mentioning the company. It is unwise, only attracts people who don’t know what you are doing (so are a bit daft), and makes you look bad. The rest of us do know what you are trying to do!
Hacks & Viruses
It’s unwise to get involved in chain messages or chain Facebook posts – they just fill up timelines with repetition and are like a virus because they take up space.
It’s unlikely the message saying ‘THIS IS TRUE’, or asking you to share and copy to your timeline to warn everyone about something catastrophic is real. Check Snopes.com for updates on hoaxes.
Don’t click on links from people you don’t know.
Don’t add a Facebook friend again when you are already friends with them – it’s likely not them.
The cute girl/soldier who just added you, who has no mutual friends to you, is likely not a real person.
To Learn More
Things change constantly in Facebook land and always will. We never like their updates, and it can be a pain to keep up, but they like to keep improving. They are a business, it is not bad that they need to make money.
I recommend Inge Deksne – she has a great membership program where you pay monthly. She supports you to get onto social media more, especially Facebook, and runs online ‘cafe’s’ where you can ask questions. She can do all the research for you and keep up to date – there is a lot to it, and she will save you time, effort and tears.
I think that bloggers are the perfect match for small to medium sized businesses to help them get their names out into the world. The big brands are already using us. But there is a lot to be said for focussing on smaller, niche or local businesses instead. So here are my tips on how to go about it if you are a business:
1) What’s the point?
Have you heard that someone needs to hear about your product/service 27 times before they sign up? That’s a lot of times!
Bloggers can help with PR (Public Relations e.g. reviews), SEO (Search Engine Optimisation i.e. being found), Marketing (getting the word out there) and Social Media (twitter, Facebook etc). Some can even write sales copy for you. Plus they can be a very inexpensive and direct way of being seen by your customers versus adverts which are more of a splatter gun approach.
I have a ‘spiritual’ perspective on marketing. It’s less about selling or pushing your business and more about making sure that the people who want to, can find you. If you don’t put your hands up in the air and say ‘here I am‘, then they can’t find you!
2) Some technical points
There are rules about how we can help (some people will break the rules for enough money):
1) We have to disclose that we got money or a freebie in return for our post – it’s illegal not to. (I would not recommend working with someone willing to break this rule for moral reasons, but I’m not fussy about how it is disclosed, officially it should use the word ‘sponsored’).
2) Google doesn’t like people paying for ‘follow’ links because they have adverts for that! A follow link is where google reads the blog post, sees a link and follows it to where it goes to, thereby marking the link as showing an important site. Bloggers who take paid for follow links will want extra money because google can strip them (and you) of their page rank (how findable they are on google). It’s not illegal though. But I wouldn’t advise it. The alternative is a no-follow link.
3) Money, money, money
Remember, if we work for you, we are taking time out from doing other to do’s or being with our kids. But we do understand that budgets can be limited, especially if you are a small business or charity (we are less forgiving for a big company paying a PR team to contact us!).
There are three reasons we will help:
1) We need the money – for this one you will have to pay for our time and expenses fairly.
2) For treats for the kids we couldn’t afford otherwise – it’s lovely in this day and age to be able to do this (holiday offers always welcome *grin*).
3) For something we are passionate about – mine is festivals, being outside, books and music.
How much would we expect?
I charge £100 for a post with a link. £50 for a competition because the admin is tiresome, despite the fact that I get to give something away. I might charge for a review if it is a very cheap product. However, nowadays I do hardly any of these kinds of posts because I don’t enjoy them. I also do free posts, but I limit how many purely because of time constraints.
If I’m busy, but like your stuff I’ll ask you to send me a tweet and I’ll RT it for you (please don’t email it to me; use twitter). I do this for free, for things I like. Other people charge £5 per time.
Some bloggers will do follow links (see technical points) for £200. There are also bloggers would will write you a quick post for £20.
4) SEO – being found
Because of the follow/no-follow rule, a blogger might not be able to help you out too much with follow links which helps you be found on Google (unless they end up loving you so much that they write something for free), but they can write a good post, with great keywords that points to you.
They can also help with the practicalities like setting up your facebook page. For some businesses twitter is also great as many of your customers would expect to be able to use it to get hold of you. Google+ might not be a very active place right now, apart from for bloggers; but being there will help with ‘being found’.
If your business is visual, pretty or product based, then they can help you get started on Instagram or Pinterest.
They will also know tips for you to start up your own blog (posts of once or twice a month are probably sufficient) and the key words (found using google analytics) that will help drive people to your site. A blog is a great way to put a personality behind your business – just a great product isn’t enough when you need to create loyalty.
Some bloggers run consultancies where they help companies like yours by running their social media and blogging for them. It’s a great option.
It’s a great idea to get a blogger to review your service/product as it can be much more indepth than on Amazon or something like that.
But remember, they will be HONEST! So make sure they are a good match and your product is good.
If your product is cheap and you can’t afford to pay anything additional, you might suggest that the blogger include it in a post with other products e.g. if you are selling candles, they could be included in a post about ‘presents for mothering sunday’.
If you would like them to come and visit your location, then they may need expenses too. In the early days there were many times that a blogging event cost me a LOT more in time and money than I received from it. I don’t charge for travel to a festival, but I would to review a film in London (plus ask for the DVD – been there on that expense 6 months later!).
Make sure that you keep a record of the reviews. You can tweet them out every now and again for your customers to read and add them to your website.
As well as reviewing your product (or instead of), you could give them one to give away in a competition. Competitions are particularly useful in increasing your followers on twitter and facebook, as you can have following as an additional entry option to the competition.
Please note however that competitions and writing a post do take time and administration, so unless it is a product that will really increase the bloggers views, they will probably want to charge you an admin fee.
Be thoughtful about how you want the competition advertised. There are sites that we can put the competition on in order to increase the hits. But this means that ‘professional compers’ are likely to enter, who might not be interested in your product at all.
7) How to find them
You can contact companies that provide an intermediary service e.g. Tots100, Britmums and Best British Bloggers. I do not know what the charges are. You can also look through the Tots100 and Ebuzzing lists, but bear in mind that not everyone places themselves in the lists. The Britmums roundups will give you blogs with specific interests.
Or you can do some research using key words that help: e.g. mummy blogger St Albans, Top uk mummy bloggers, mummy blogger weight loss, mummy blogger crafting, mummy blogger style
Or you can go into twitter and search on key words e.g. St Albans, vintage, candles, festivals etc
Once you have one blogger, they might be able to get you a list of other bloggers for you to check out. This can be a BIG hassle though (bloggers can be difficult to organise) – I’ve done it before and probably wouldn’t do it for free again, apart from for someone I loved a LOT! I now tend to offer to put your email address in a specific facebook group instead, and let you deal with the impending chaos ;o)
8) How to make contact
Bloggers tend to love twitter (about 99%). So find your blogs, follow them on twitter, and add them to a specific column or list so that their updates don’t disappear into a huge pile of updates.
DO NOT send them a twitter message saying ‘Hi, I’m local, please tweet out my page’ – you are a stranger to them, it would be like walking up to someone you don’t know in the street and asking them to hand your business card out. Basically you would look like a weirdo (I unfollow people who do this immediately).
Relationships online take time – use some discernment. Don’t follow people just because they are popular. Follow people because you are actually interested in them and give the relationship some time to brew.
Then when they say something that is interesting, reply to it. If they write a good blog post retweet it for them (subscribing to their blog would be a good idea). Start to chat regularly. Then when it feels right you can mention that you have a product/service and would they like to chat about working with you. It’s quite possible that if you are up their street, they will mention it before you even get there – I have done for festivals I fancied. Try not to be sycophantic or to jump to offer your services without first establishing a need.
Alternatively, once you have a list of bloggers, then you can send them an email. Always approach them using their name in the ‘hello’ of your email – I don’t reply to anything without my name in it. I would recommend sending a separate email to each blogger with a sentence or two that shows you have read some of their blog. If you send a blanket mail, use BCC (blind copy) for the email addresses, but I warn you, it’s less likely to be popular.
Remember, however wonderful you are or your product is, these bloggers are busy mums and may get several PR pitches a day. They don’t read their email every day. They need time to plan things. They can’t do 100 reviews all at once. They are less available during holidays and the week before and after them. They also talk, so if you send out a second round of invites due to little interest in the first round, they are likely to know they were your second choice!
9) Picking Bloggers
Make sure that you read their about page and check the ages of their kids and their suitability. Is it likely that their readership would suit your business? For example, I do NOT blog about parenting, just about being a mum. So I don’t want posts about baby food or pushchairs on my site and my kids are too old any way.
You could pick LOTS of less popular blogs and get a bigger coverage. Or pick a handful of blogs that are more popular.
Make sure that you have spent time reading the reviews that they have already done. Do they just whack them out, or do they put an interesting spin on it? Do they use photo’s, maybe even videos?
Have they reviewed similar things? That might be good or bad news, depending on your subject! For example, loads of positive reviews on push chairs, might not make them sound reliable. But lots of interesting reviews about holidays or adventurous things to do as a family might make them be considered a bit of an expert on the subject.
This takes time, but otherwise you are wasting your money and resources.
10) What to expect
Ask them how long the post is likely to be, and how they will ‘pimp’ it out for you. You are looking for 500 words or more with photos. Videos are great for reviews, especially by kids.
I tweet 3 times at different times of the day over a couple of days. I send to my facebook profile, page and google once. But for some posts they will be marked with tags e.g. summer or festivals, which means that I will probably reuse them during quiet periods. Also some of my posts are listed on pages too. Probably not product reviews, but a couple of the holidays have been so good that I included them in my ‘Adventure’ page.
Some bloggers ‘hide’ their reviews somewhere other than the home page – make sure that they aren’t doing that for you. They can also ‘hide’ them by publishing them over a weekend if that is their quiet time. Watch out for this.
Ask how many reviews or competitions they will be running. Unless that is what the site is all about, you don’t want to be hidden away under a huge pile of them.
Afterwards you can ask for how many ‘hits’ the post received. If it is a good post, it should also get hits/reads all throughout the year and beyond. Your webstats will be able to show you when someone comes to your site via the blog (of course, this misses people who come to your site because of the blog, rather than via it).
Stats don’t mean everything, for example, they don’t show you how trusted a blogger is; but they can be helpful.
I would ask for
followers on their online communities e.g. twitter, Facebook etc
monthly unique views (i.e. how many people, not how many pages they view)
awards or inclusion in Britmums roundups or Tots100 faves
rankings in lists
page rank (how important google thinks they are – probably from 0-5)
If they have youtube – what are their visitor stats
Keep working with a small number of bloggers where possible – stop flitting from one to another. It might add breadth, but no loyalty and as you are likely to have less budget, what you want to create is loyalty.
We don’t need guest posts written by your PR people. We are bloggers. We write. We probably have loads of draft posts that we haven’t managed to write yet! So don’t get fooled into offering us ‘free content’ as though we should be glad to get it.
Mummy bloggers are flakey. We over promise. Our kids get sick. We get sick. So you probably want a few more than you would think for your campaign, and expect to have a couple fall by the wayside.
We aren’t interested in press releases. We might be interested in your newsletter with news about what is going on though.
I think that by far the most successful use of bloggers I have seen is in long term relationships with a campaign.
You will need a proper project plan for the campaign for this, which means that you can then fit it in around important dates in your diary as well. Create a hashtag for the campaign e.g. #WeLoveForests #DoSomethingYummy so that everyone involved can keep track of related posts and RT them.
Be careful and check what other campaigns are running at the same time, especially if you are a charity. There can be ‘charity overload’ especially at the beginning of the year.
If you have a number of bloggers involved, you will need to create a calendar and plan ahead when everyone does their posts. Personally I prefer them all spread out than all at once.
Nickie from ‘I am Typecast’ ran a campaign for Clic for a month and was brilliantly orchestrated. It had a huge sense of community and really got them noticed.
I’m an ambassador for the Forestry Commission. I thought I was just writing a blog post reviewing the local forest in review for a membership card. But it has been a lot more than that and I’ve actually really enjoyed it. We have a hash tag, facebook group to create a community amongst the bloggers, and pinterest board. I may not have made lots of money from this campaign, but it has actually helped increase my own interest in forests and I now have a big passion for the whole thing.
In comparison I’ve reviewed some clothes for Joe Browns which I love. But they don’t connect the bloggers they work with, so there is no way that we could create a community and RT other posts. They are just going for more of a scattergun approach with reviews on lots of blogs.
Some companies create blogging competitions, where we have to write a blog post in order to potentially win the competition. Personally I hate these, but I can see that they are worth it if the prize is good enough.
It might be worthwhile to look into advertising on a blog if what you are looking for is a regular reminder of your shop or product. But it can be an expensive option, so it really depends on your product/service, budget and who is available.
There would be times when it would be useful for the readers to have a link to your site e.g. an advert for your kitchen utensil business on a local bloggers side bar, or for a kids craft boxes business on a craft blog.
An advert costs about £10 per page rank, per month. You are most likely looking at a blog of Page Rank 3, so that is £30pm. You will need to pay 3 months in advance, but you could get a discount for a long term blog. It’s not bad value when you look at an advert in a magazine etc. Definitely better value than a facebook advert, but you could still do with a Google Ad for your key words.
I’m not really convinced by affiliate programs. I think that it only works if they have also done a review and there is a clear match with their blog, especially as it puts the bloggers opinion slightly under question as it could be influenced by earning money.
Also they probably need to be getting a mammoth amount of hits per day for it to be worth it for the blogger. This would be ideal for a craft blogger – one of the big ones gets thousands of views a day. I was once an affiliate for a membership site, where I got 50% of the join up fee – this worked really well for me and the client (it was before my blog), I think that the lesson there is to be generous with your affiliate %.
At the end of the day
Remember to use discernment. Don’t jump on a band wagon on how to behave if it doesn’t suit you or your company or feels dodgy.
There are no quick options, but bloggers make a great long term option for any business that has ‘people’ as it’s customers, and I think that they can be much more useful to you than adverts.
I went to chat with the deliciously ditzy Sophie Sulehria on the last bank holiday at BBC3 Counties Radio about how I got into blogging.
Have a listen to her, I really hope that BBC3CR give her a permanent slot soon, as she has a great warm air about her that just makes you smile. Plus at the moment their schedule is ALL MEN (tut tut BBC3CR!!):
I am REALLY passionate about blogging, because it can be:
2) A great support community
3) Fab diary of your children’s younger years
4) A way to learn new skills
5) Gets you to read interesting, educational and funny blogs
6) Possibly even a way to earn money or get treats for the family
I think that it can be magic for people, as long as they don’t go into it with pre-concieved ideas of what they are going to get from it. You don’t have to do it the way I have, where it has taken over my life, it can just be a once a week/month quick post. Just start writing about whatever is going on with you and then change as your interests change.
Remember blogs posts are:
1) Short and pithy.
2) Pictures are great.
3) Have lots of white space.
4) Always have a WHITE background, not black with white writing.
5) You don’t have to be a writer or have any qualifications to do it
I didn’t realise I could write, or would enjoy it. There are hints right from my child hood that it is ‘what I’m meant to be doing’, but it took a while for me to notice – doh! I’ve been a geek, and a tree-hugger, but now due to my blog I’m an ‘author‘ too. Loads of people I’ve met have found a new career through blogging, not necessarily to become a writer, but maybe a new interest or a career in PR, social media or even radio!
It’s free to start, just go to blogger or wordpress.com (my fave). Pick a name, but first make sure no one else has got the same blog name (i.e. google for the ” blog”). Your blog can be totally honest, partially (my choice) or completely anonymous if you prefer.
There can be some downsides of course!
1) It is highly addictive (unplug frequently)
2) The technical/social media stuff can be overwhelming (just take it one step at a time)
3) Blogging can be competitive and bitchy (ignore, ignore, ignore!)
4) One sign of success is getting trolls (doesn’t happen until you are really successful normally).
St Albans is the blogging capital of the UK and there are loads of bloggers in Herts, Beds and Bucks, so if you are local you will find lots of people to help you out – just come and make contact with us on twitter and start reading our blogs and commenting and we will reciprocate. It’s like normal relationship, you don’t become best friends straight away, but you do get closer as time goes by; I have some fab friends online now a days, many of whom I have met face to face (I’ve been blogging for 4 years).
3) Check out the schedule and have an idea of what I want to achieve:
Tick, I aim to stalk Kirstie Allsopp as I adore her, can’t wait to hear Katie Piper.
I’m not that worried about connecting with brands, but like the look of the story telling den and anything about photo’s or blogs.
4) Sort out the family, travel and accommodation:
Luckily Siblu are helping with this as Little Dimples still needs me at night, so the family will be in town too and seeing a few sights. I’ll be at the Holiday Inn if anyone else is?. Britmums have tips on their site for getting sponsorship; check them out, it never hurts to offer a company the opportunity to help out and get some great PR.
5) Panic about being Billy No Mates:
This is where you come in: WHO WANTS TO MEET UP? Go on, someone say you fancy having a mate there? (BTW they had ‘butterflies’ last year who helped you if you were scared).
Little Dimples and Curly Headed Boy are very unimpressed that Mummy is in a posh newspaper, but I’m chuffed and rather surprised that Mumsnet suggested me (thank you!).
However, newspapers being what they are, The Times obviously only added the one sentence that worked for their story, so I thought I’d finish the story.
How much is it possible to earn from being a Mummy Blogger?
In the article I say that I do 1 in 4 sponsored posts and earn £100 for them (I charge £50 for administering a competition). The actual truth is that I limit myself to 1 in 4, because I have long term plans for my blog.
So for me that is about 1/2 sponsored posts a month, but someone else could easily do 4 a month/week (if they were available).
Problem is that not everyone offers £100, some are offering just £20. But if you do a real quicky and need the money then lots of £20’s can add up (I’m not getting into the ethics of wether you should do blogs for such a small sum here).
Bear this in mind:
You will have monthly costs for running your blog, plus potentially childcare costs (2 mornings per week at a nursery would be £350pm for me).
For each blog post (lets say they take an hour), you will need to do the same amount of networking/blog post pimping so 1hr of blogging is 2hrs of work.
If like me you limit your sponsored posts, then rather than it looking like you are earning £100ph, you are actually earning £12.50ph.
BUT it’s addictive! You are likely to spend a lot more time on it than that and will therefore be earning below the minimum wage.
Plus it’s not reliable. Last year I had lots of interesting campaigns that would bring me in £3-400 per time. This year they have pretty much dried up. Even the sponsored post opportunities disappeared for a while.
What I did get though was lots of lovely things to review which gave my family treats; like a holiday in normandy, muddy festival, magical festival, trip to see Andy and Mike, and the lovely Guinness World Records. But treats come at a price, because each one needs a blog post, I try to make sure that each post is professional, there will be emails with the PR that take longer than a normal blog post, the normal pimping, and I also tend to check out other bloggers who have reviewed the same item.
Blogging is NOT something to do just to earn money or get freebies.
Why is it worth doing it then?
Because I LOVE writing.
Because it is cathartic for me.
Because I can reach more Mums with my writing than I can 1to1 with my coaching.
Go check it out, because it has a full description of the summary that I skipped over at the end of the panel with my Top Tips for dealing with these miserable people online:
1) Twitter terriers that won’t let go of an issue
2) Facebook furies who make a volcano out of a molehill
3) Blog bummers who will bring down anyone’s day:
I was really chuffed to be asked to be on the panel at a discussion den for Britmums Live 2012 on dealing with Online negativity, because it’s a worrying subject for Mums and bloggers, and I was teamed with a great panel.
My tips were about the daily shenanigans that goes on in twittersville, facebook world and on our blogs, rather than trolls or haters. They’ll work in real life too, although those miseries do tend to keep quiet face to face!
OMG I can’t believe I won the ‘Inspire’ category, partially because of what a lovely title it has and partially because of the amazing women I was up against. I was sure I had no chance, but a couple of my friends were convinced. However, when they read out the description of the winner, even my mate shook her head as if to say ‘Oh wel l, next time’.
“I loved reading this blog and it proved, if proof is needed, the key to a brilliant blog can be as simple as engaging, heartfelt and funny updates. Packed with personality, it is laugh-out-loud funny, which combined with great navigation and an enticing design, makes it a real winner”
Really, what me, ‘Laugh out loud funny’? That’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about my writing, second only to what my fellow finalist Kylie said here (check it out to see her list of the lovely blogs I was up against).
I have to admit I blubbed AGAIN – my only excuse being it was such a surprise and I was just soooooooooo shocked. So I’d like to do a ‘proper’ acceptance speech now if you don’t mind ….
Thank you so much for this award, it means so much for me to be in this category with such amazing blogs. I love writing, and I love my readers, because without them I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. The reason I write my blog is because I think that Mums are incredibly important in our world as we are where everything starts; so we deserve to enjoy ourselves and we deserve help to enjoy ourselves. Big thank you to the Britmums team for their amazing organisation as always, and to Kids One Stop Shop for sponsoring this category and Carla Buzasi for being the judge (must have been a really tough job).
What Was BritMums Live Like?
The thing about conferences like this is I come away with tonnes and also feeling like I missed out on tonnes.
It was a little tricky because I had Little Dimples with me, as she still breastfeeds at lunch and lots in the evening and I’m a rubbish expresser. Nanny Bets (the little old irish lady I found in Tescos) came to help, and thoroughly enjoyed her day wandering around the hub and holding babies in the quiet room.
From it I could have learnt stuff, met people, and connected to brands, and I’ve come away feeling like I could have done loads more of all three. To be honest I was distracted by being on the panel for a discussion den on online negativity, having Little Dimples there, and by being a little ‘rabbit in the headlights’ when faced by 500 bloggers, so I’m not sure my strategy to get the most out of it actually existed.
I got to put some faces to twitter ids, and even had a couple of ‘proper’ chats with a few bloggers; BUT there are so many I missed too *sad face*, and some people said they were too nervous to come up and say hi to me. So I’m telling you all now – ALWAYS come up and say hi to me!
I probably missed lots because I was coming in and out by train, so I didn’t see Ruby Wax, Sarah Brown or the Keynotes. But I enjoyed the awards ceremony, thought Katy Hill did a brilliant job, and loved Cherry Healy’s talk at the end of Saturday. Katy insisted that even celebs have cellulite; which makes her fabulous in my eyes! Cherry really underlined how important bloggers are to PR’s and Celebs now a days and I came away with a clearer understanding of how we fit into the bigger picture.
I think it’s a bit difficult to span all experience levels, so a couple of the workshop/panels left me a bit frustrated, but I really enjoyed the Youtube one with Christine Beardsell. I think that Mum/Parent blogs can be a bit dry, and was disappointed I didn’t get more from the ‘clever parent bloggers’ session on how to avoid this, but Christine’s session inspired me with ways that I could use Youtube as a funny extension of my blog (I already have a Mummy Whisperer channel); but I’m not giving away my ideas yet, as Cherry told us not to!
I loved being part of the discussion den on online negativity, my summary on ‘Twitter Terriors, Facebook Furies and Blog Bummers’ will be up on the Britmums blog any day now (I’d LOVE some feedback btw) and it meant meeting some big heroes of mine:
Claire from a Modern military mother (a fave blog and person of mine who has unfortunately been trolled a LOT)
Diane from In the powder room (which I adore and have a secret desire to write for, but never admitted that to her!)
Paul from Viapoint (a new hero who I was really looking forward to meeting because he’s learnt loads about the psychology behind online behaviour).
I made a contact in Google who will hopefully resolve my Google-Youtube problem, thus making the whole thing worth going to. But I must admit I didn’t put much effort into getting swag or making brand connections, which maybe I should have focussed on a bit.
However, I did still get loads of swag, and because of winning and being in a panel I have some duplicates, so see below for your opportunity to get some swag too!
My Feedback To The BritMums Live Team:
– I know you had a butterflies section, but it would be great to have a list of names of who is going, so that I could have been more organised about who I got to see (obviously some people might not want to be openly on the list, which is fine). OOOOH and make them add pictures you can actually recognise people from!
– It would be great if you could mark sessions as beginning, experienced or advanced to help us choose.
– Could we have a place marked as ‘I’d like to meet other bloggers’ area, for when we are too tired for brands or learning and fancy a chat?
– I know you gave us great maps and agendas, but I’m rubbish with them; could we have HUMUNGOUS signs please saying things like ‘Warner Bros’ (missed them until Sat afternoon!), ‘Meet bloggers here’, the room names, and marking the quiet baby room (a few bloggers with babies missed it).
– I loved the tea, cake, Prosecco, Saturday lunch, and half naked waiters! The little snacky things on Friday evening were a bit posh for me though. Your organisation is really slick, and I know that each year it’s going to get better and better.
For Me To Remember For The Next Thing I Go To
– TAKE MORE PHOTO’s!
– Read the map!
– Take more time to work out who is going & make a list of people I don’t want to miss
– Take tissues if there is any chance of me blubbing!
– Don’t share trifle with a 2yo – they eat it all!
How Did My OutFit Work Out?
A huge thank you again to Joe Browns who provided my clothes for the conference. Apart from the fact that I now have several outfits (mix and match you know!) to wear all the time now, it made a big difference to how confident I felt. (Check out my post beforehand on what to wear to a blogging conference, which explains how come I was lucky enough to get in contact with them).
Loads of people said they liked the clothes, and I felt comfortable, but still pretty. They also handled the freaky weather, which was cold one minute and hot the next.
Now you know how I said I didn’t focus much on getting swag? Well I still came away with a BIG pile: check out my pile just for attending on the left (and looking at the picture, it’s a shame I missed the session on photography!):
And the pile for the winning on the right (my dentist is going to love me, after all my excuses to not floss my teeth, and having been a hater of crocs I have to admit I’m a changed woman!):
But because I won and was a panelist I have some duplicates, so I thought I’d give all those people who didn’t attend a chance to WIN SOME SWAG?
There’s a lovely atlas from barefoot books, snow dogs DVD, Lego city box, little duple box, and a great game from bananagrams:
So as you are meant to do something in order to win a competition, and I thought I’d ask you to give me some feedback so that I can make my blog better and better for you:
What you’d like to see me write more about.
What you like best/least about my blog
Or What was your favourite post so far
The competition will end next Wednesday 4th July 2012 at midnight and is only open to the UK and Ireland (sorry postage costs!). You can get extra entries by following me on twitter and my Facebook page.
My outfit has been mainly given to me by the lovely Joe Browns. Why did they give me an outfit you might ask? Well because about a year ago I raved about a gorgeous coat they had and was seen by Best British bloggers who work with them. They kindly sent me the coat for a competition, plus a pretty blue top as a reward for me. This obviously got me shopping for myself for the coat! So I asked if they fancied sending me an outfit for BritMumsLive and they said ‘yes’ – yay! Obviously again this has inspired me to go on their site and do another shop. I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s all a sneaky plan to make me buy even more of their stuff!
I love the Joe Browns stuff because it’s pretty without being insipid, and slightly boho, thus appealing to my tree-hugging side. Most importantly they make lots of long tunics that cover my pear shaped bottom!
I’m not sure which order I’m going to wear things with, but I think it will be this outfit for tomorrow and the announcement of the awards:
Plus a burgundy cardigan from last year from Monsoon, one of my many scarves (I go nowhere without one), a bag from next, old gold pumps from Sainsburies, and sparkly high heals from Next from last year. (I actually bought the leggings and coat from Joe Browns myself, as they could only offer me £75 from their monthly budget to cover both outfits).
Then I think that I’ll wear this outfit on the Saturday:
Plus the same handbag from next, red pumps (or maybe red heals), tights if it’s cold, and not sure about a coat. (I bought the bracelet myself)
What do you think of the outfit? I’m aiming for comfy and pretty, whilst giving me a bit of confidence?
Hopefully those of you going now know my face and my outfit, so you’ll come and say ‘hello’ and not leave me like billy no mates in a corner?
I’m helping on the panel of the discussion den for ‘online secrets and lies’ on Saturday at 12.20 – hope to see you there to hear about how to deal with ‘Twitter Terriers, Facebook Furies and Blog Bummers’.
Big thank you to Nickie from Typecast for inspiring me to write this blog post and play with Picassa rather than do all my To Do’s this morning!
Thank you to Joe Browns for providing me with the majority of my outfit for the two days!
Well I was over at Nickie’s place on the fabulous IAmTypecast blog discussing my predictions for the UK Mummy Blogging Community for 2012. I didn’t post it here as I know many of my lovely readers are not bloggers. But you might want to take a look, as some of the lessons to be learnt by bloggers in this coming year also work for other groups of people.
I love the Mummy Blogging community, and I think it has great potential. But what I pointed out is that in order to grow and survive it will need to mature and change. I feel these changes coming on now, and hope that the bloggers embrace them with open arms. If they don’t then it could mean the stifling of a great movement, as I have seen in other communities before. Change always creates a bit of chaos, so there is bound to be upheaval, but it’ll settle down.
I described 5 potential directions for the current bloggers and there are some great comments from people discussing them.
Now obviously, some will move around from one to another, and there will be new bloggers coming along in future years. However, I do think that there are going to be distinct ‘attitudes’ that bloggers will adopt. Lets see, we’ll know in the next 6-12 months if I’m right!
I do actually have loads of tips for blogging or running your own small business. Do you guys want me to pop them on this blog? Let me know if you’re interested; otherwise I’ll just do more guest posts instead.
For the rest of the week I was supporting a blogging campaign which shows all the best of the innovative, far thinking and growth potential that I talked about in my guest post.
Here is the official blurb: Blog it for Babies hope to raise money for selected equipment for a delivery room in a healthcare clinic in Bangladesh. We would love for a campaign started by parents who are lucky enough to be able to take their babies and children to their GP’s when they are ill to be able to save the lives of little ones in Bangladesh who sadly do not have the same chance.
If you would like to donate a pound, all you have to do is text XVRL71 £1 to 70070
On Mammasaurus’s arrival in St Albans the whirlwind that is Actually Mummy had arranged a tent, with stalls from fab companies (apart from the 2 companies who refused to pay up at the end of the day despite the price being agreed, getting free links from great websites and blogs, and all the free tips available, let alone the chance to get involved in the activities – sorry had to be said!).
There was an hours lesson with ‘The Rock Choir‘, free blogging/SEO/Social Media tips from top UK mummy bloggers, and we finished with my son Curly Headed Boy teaching how to dance to Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby, Baby’, check out our moves here (the little one is Little Dimples):
Those crazy bloggers finished the day with naked ironing; they’ll do anything to raise money for charity!
Now you know why I love the Mummy Blogging Community! There are some amazing women in there and I’m proud to know them.
So loads of people have been commenting about whether bloggers in general are blaggers, or whether it’s just the new ones, just mummy bloggers or just a small group or large group of them.
Then there was a particular incident where a ‘Real Mum’ (how self-righteous is that title) decided to have a go at a Mum who had missed a problem her daughter had. Us bloggers tend to cover our embarrassment and shame with humour, and ‘Real Mum’ didn’t understand the psychology of it, so just decided to lay into the Mum. Of course what this does is create a scenario where loads of people come to rescue the ‘victim’ and it all escalates. Included in this conversation was an attack on the ‘new bloggers’, blah blah blah.
It’s a pretty typical Mummy Blogger rant about how some people are better than others etc etc.
Officially a blagger is basically a scrounger. The feeling is that they ask for too much for free, and they are a pain wasting people’s time. There is a sense that they are asking for too much and not giving in return and with no discernment. There is that feeling that they are asking for something that they probably don’t deserve or haven’t earn’t.
So let me set a few things straight.
We are ALL blaggers somewhere in our lives. If you aren’t blagging on your blog, you are doing it somewhere else, it just might be somewhere more socially acceptable or subtle.
It’s always wise to aim for a fair deal where anything is concerned, and in this case that the PR, company with a product, blogger and reader wins. It’salways going to catch up with people if they don’t follow this rule, and you don’t have to do anything in order to make sure of it.
It’s crazy in a recession to be self-righteous about earning money or being valued for your time as an entertainer/writer/blogger. It’s not bad to get something in return as well as the enjoyment of writing.
You don’t get much unless you ask. Just because you aren’t tweeting, doesn’t mean you aren’t asking. If you are on any kind of blogging list or using any kind of SEO you are basically putting yourself out there to be found.
So I’m going to confess. I’M A BLAGGER.
I’m not of the old school, my blog was started in 2009. So I’m also not of the new school of Mummy blogs. I have some street cred blogging wise, but there are people who get thousands more hits a month than me. But I’ve definitely blagged. There are also times in my life where I didn’t blag.
How can I say that everyone has blagged? Be open minded for a minute and look back over your life. Did you ever blag clothes, food, money or stuff from your parents? Did you ever blag to get a job? Did you ever blag to keep a job? Have you ever asked your kids to do something, go somewhere or get ready for bed/dinner/bathtime without really offering something in return? Have you ever pretended that you were in complete control of the situation with your kids, but weren’t really? Have you ever asked your husband to buy you something that was probably too expensive, but you ‘really needed those shoes/handbag’. Did you ever cover up a haircut? In the case of anonymous bloggers, isn’t there a sense of them pretending to be someone? In fact don’t all of us do that a bit, as most of us have rules about what we don’t blog about. Have you ever pestered someone to get something done, at work or at home? Rather than think that you have never done it, just look for where you did.
Here are some examples from me:
I failed at blagging when it comes to money, rent free living, car etc from my parents, whereas my brothers got all that stuff. But I did come out of it more independent and financially stable, so it worked for me long term.
I totally blagged my first job, it was a recession, I’d just graduated and I phoned up a company for a consultancy job I didn’t have the experience for. Someone told me a week ago that they heard me as a 20yr old saying ‘You’ve got to interview me, because otherwise you’ll miss out on a really hard worker’; what a cheek! I feel that my 13 yrs in IT was a blag. I might have become a ‘global technical specialist’, but it was actually because I did work hard, and not because I was a techie at heart.
As a blogger I blagged the most amazing competition prize from The Wagon company, and in return I got nearly 600 reads of my post, The Wagon company got more hits, more learning about social media and some great contacts, and one of the 126 people who applied for it got £180 worth of Red Radio Flyer. I count it as a blag as I hadn’t done a competition before, and suggested it to the company after they approached me to use a picture of my daughter in our wagon. Plus I was really lucky that I had a relationship with some family festivals who were happy to let me mention it on their walls, so I got lots of mentions.
I don’t do many reviews, normally it’s of stuff I’ve bought already. Mainly because I do them on a whim and can’t be bothered for a few pounds. So I’m not just a blagger, but I’m an expensive disorganised blagger. I can’t really be self-righteous about the fact that I don’t accept many of the offers I get, or that I don’t take free stuff from events, because I’m just a choosey blagger, that’s all. Plus, if I was more organised, I’m sure that I could review products that I need and it would work out for everyone. It’s a bit like the fact that there are people who earn a living from competitions, and one of the reasons is that loads of us don’t enter competitions because we don’t think we will win. They don’t win all of them, but they enter so many that it works out to be viable.
I have just blagged an £89 gorgeous coat for my readers (watch this space, because it’s going to be in a competition in a couple of weeks). To be honest the lovely ‘Best British Bloggers‘ offered to connect me, after I cheekily tweeted that I loved Joe Brown’s stuff, and had lost weight and couldn’t afford to buy a new coat, so did anyone know how to contact them. This is still true, however in the rules of wiseness that I mentioned above I’ve now suggested to them that we might all gain more fairly if I do a competition (sob sob, shiver shiver). So they agreed, and have kindly thrown in a consolation prize of a top for me to review. It’s totally a blag according to the rules of the game, because I tweeted the company name and was there anyone who could get me a free coat. No I haven’t done many such tweets, part from a blog post about how much I love IKEA, which didn’t work. However, it was really cheeky considering the price of the coat, and although it will work with one of the themes of my blog, there are people out there with more hits that might work better for the company.
My blagging is going really well because of the MADs win. Someone with three times my readership asked me to write a guest post about being a successful blogger, and I agreed. I decided that if that’s the way people wanted to see it I wasn’t going to argue with them, even though it was really only down to a very beautiful glass ornament. In reality I blagged the glass ornament by asking my readers to vote for me, several times, and maybe a few more times, and did a silly video. Because of the blag that got me a MADS win, I’ve won a Netbook, which I’m seriously considering giving away as a competition prize to my readers because of the wiseness rule I mentioned above and because I’m about to ask for something else from my readers. You see; another blag.
Stop worrying about other people blagging, it’s a waste of energy. It’s a phase, people will grow out of it. Things will change. New ways of blagging/PR requesting/making relationships with companies will come and go. Yes, it puts us into disrepute, but the media will always find a new way to have a go at Mums or bloggers anyway. There will aways be blaggers. We will all blag free stuff somewhere in our lives. Blagging will continue. It has it’s uses. When misused it backfires.
What’s most important is that we are all MUMMY bloggers (i.e. Mums who blog, please don’t get all het up about the fact that you happen to be a Mum and a blogger and that I’m not distinguishing between them). So we are all MUMS. What this world needs is stronger MUMS. It needs MUMS who stand together despite their differences and say that we are a force to be reckoned with. Mums are where everything starts. It’s where the family starts and that’s where society grows from. We are REALLY important.
Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t have much clout out there in society. They don’t value us much, we don’t get the pick of the resources from the governments, and the media totally enjoys taking a hit at us. So what do we do. Do we give other Mums the benefit of the doubt, imagining that we might do the same if we were standing in their shoes? No, we slag each other off. No I don’t imagine that we can stop being judgemental, just maybe that we could stop being judgmental of Mums.
I’m not suggesting we stop disagreeing either. It’s just that there is disagreeing, and there is trying to make sure the other person knows you are right. There is discussion and there is bullying. There is open and interesting exchanging of views and there is ridiculous mud throwing. There is politeness and there is the use of inflammatory words that will piss people off and upset them. There will always be mistakes in communication. The key is to own up when we piss people off and not keep trying to defend out ‘rightness’ in making it look like we were criticising someone. It’s about being secure in the knowledge that we are all different and that is OK.
My final blag is that I’ve written a book. Some people think this is amazing to have been able to write a book. To be honest it feels like another blag to me as it is a Kindle book, and I love to write, infact I’ve got another 10 books sitting in my head. But I know that my intentions are true, even if it is a blag. This blag could help a pile of Mums who are overwhelmed to get less stressed and enjoy being a Mum more. It could bring back the sparkle to their lives. So it’s a blag worth doing. Oh and it’s a blag that will be out next week, and following that on other ebook readers, and then paper back. Oh and it’s a blag that will only cost 99p, so it’s a no brainer as far as far as I reckon it.
So I’m all sorts of things that make people cringe. I’m a Mummy. I’m a Mummy Blogger. I’m a Blagger. I’m judgemental, but I’m trying my hardest to stand in the shoes of other Mums and give them the benefit of the doubt. I make mistakes, but try to own up to them and not get defensive.
You are also all of those things, but are you aware of it? Or are you spending too much time in your neighbours business? Or are you interested in making a change, using your blaggness for good?
I’ve got a plan for 2012. It’s a HUGE blag. It’s to do with getting Mums together, and showing how powerful and important we are. It’s going to encourage Mums to proudly stand together in their differences (not against Dads, or none Mums, just together). I need some fellow blaggers …. let me know if you can blag enough to make a big enough difference. I need blaggers with influence, blaggers with something inspiring to say, and blaggers with connections. I’d like to connect to other blaggers also interested in the same issue too. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, more combine a pile of wheels into a juggernaut for change. I’m not going to explain how/why/what yet, it’s a secret for a little longer, but if you are interested let me know and we can start the ideas growing.