You’d have be living in a Tibetan cave not to have heard of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations). The interweb is chockfull of ominous GDPR warnings (reminiscent of the millenium bug scares) for website operators and owners to get their house in order. So what is GDPR, how does it relate to me as a blog owner and editor and how (if at all) does it affect YOU, the followers/readers of Absolutely Prabulous?
Basically, GDPR is a European Union Law that has been created to safeguard people’s data in the wake of serious data breaches by large companies (who have been abusing yours and my private data to sell ads and produce human behavioral statistics for the use of governments and other large corps). GDPR impacts anyone who collects and stores personal data within the EU Zone; so as a blog utilising a subscribe function, that includes absolutelyprabulous.com (even if I’m a drop in the ocean compared to a large multi billion pound corporation!).
If you are reading this as an Absolutely Prabulous follower:
I want to assure you that Absolutely Prabulous will only ever use your name and email address to send you new blog posts (if you have subscribed). Your details will never be passed on to third parties without your permission (i.e. if you win a competition in which case you will be asked for your details so that the prize provider can send you your winnings). You can unsubscribe from emails at any time from Absolutely Prabulous using the unsubscribe function at the bottom of my emails.
The EU is not out to get [us bloggers]! They’re doing this to protect user’s data and restore people’s trust in online businesses. As the world goes digital, we need these standards. With the recent it’s important that these standards are adapted globally.
To read detailed information regarding this website’s approach to security and data protection:
What a January and February so far! It’s not so much what has been happening in my life as 2018 started. More like what’s not been happening.
The Laptop Wasn’t Working.
Yep my MacBook finally died early Jan. It was a long time coming to be honest and I should have just replaced the battery ages ago during my scheduled summer blog break instead of trying to avoid the expenditure, letting the problem drag on and consequently causing myself a lot of inconvenience. (It was almost as frustrating as missing out on my Dermalogica products because I took too long to hit the Beautyflash sale.)
The result: a very much unscheduled unwanted long blog break when I had loads of content to produce for Valentine’s, my BIG birthday (sssshh) and Mother’s Day!
What. A. Numpty.
The Body’s Not Working.
My back’s gone. I would express surprise because, apart from a lower back that seems to dislike certain yoga/Pilates moves, I think I’ve always had quite a strong back. But in truth, (much like the Mac) the deterioration of my upper half was also inevitable!
After all, 1) I was told years ago I’d need a hip replacement by the time I’m 50 due to misaligned legs (!), 2) I’ve been a hunched-over-the-sofa/kitchen-counter/cafe-table type of blogger since launching AbPrab instead of a use-a-proper-desk-and-chair type of blogger 3) I erm…injured myself four years ago in the erm…bedroom, an antic that required several sessions of acupuncture, and haven’t been right since (what? I was changing the pillowcases), 4) I don’t do myself any favours with my all-or-nothing, on-off approach to exercise and 5) it’s my BIG (aka !@#$%&th) birthday in March so I guess I’m officially at that stage in life where the back starts playing up.
So no, I can’t exactly claim surprise. #AskingForIt
I Got a Bad Haircut..and Became a Recluse
Ok, hands up, I admit that’s just in here for comic effect cos I reckoned I owed you after boring you about my computer and stupid back. (But it IS a twattish haircut and I spent most of January wanting to go back and strangle the stupid clot who cut it and talking myself out of actually doing that every day.) #80sMullet
I Just Didn’t Love Blogging Anymore. In fact I downright disliked it.
Frankly, f you read me regularly (well that’s an oxymoron because the last few months, I’ve not been posting regularly but you get me), you’ll already know I’ve written about my feelings about blogging a LOT! Even my final post of 2017 covered my bloggy wobble and lost mojo.
There are a lot of layers to it and I know from talking to other bloggers I’m not the only one feeling like this but I probably am more prone to letting it get to me than most!
The obstacle (or should that be bloggstacle) course known as Facebast*rd reach, Instasham algorithms, linkies, the SEO maze, kickass Pinterest content/images,figuring out my niche (oh God the dreaded niche!) and aaallllll the rest of it just did my head and blog soul in.
So it was time to take a step back…
I feel like I’ve been more present for my kids (hopefully they’re happy about that ha ha).
I’ve had time to actually clean my house. Does it look any cleaner? I have three kids. What do you think? Of course it bloody doesn’t!
I’ve been figuring out how to tell Harvey Spectre I want his babies. Sorry, I mean I’ve been getting into Suits #ThankYouNetflix
And oh HAPPY days (imagine me actually singing this next bit) we’re finally sorting out the comedy of errors known as our lounge: adding necessary furniture, painting it and – wait for it – creating a blogging workspace for Yours Truly so she no longer needs to be that hunched-over-the-sofa/kitchen-counter/cafe-table blogger.
Excuse me while I do a little jig. #LongTimeComing
On the Bloggy Task List is the Creation of a New Look Blog!
Er…probably NOT happy days as the effort of choosing a new theme and all the work required to migrate my current site will damn hear kill me.
Seriously though, I’ve had the same theme since early 2014 and honestly it drives me nuts looking at it. So much needs revamping (I think). So the process of figuring out what I’m doing, what I want, how I want to present myself going forward etc etc starts. It’ll be a relief to see it all completed.
There will probably be a post or two going up before the new look site is up as there are a few things I need to write about sooner rather than later.
So Don’t Give Up On Absolutely Prabulous
Hang tight. Watch this space, Don’t forget about me etc etc
Because I’ll be back!
Now, if you’ll just be a love and lend me your laptop…
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Although mainly a humorous synopsis (written by a Prabs who was concerned with the shoes she left in All Bar One more than anything else!), this IG post I guess nevertheless pointed out a couple of serious truths about the BML 17 event (as I saw them).
So I thought I’d write up an actual post that highlights what for me was the good and the not so good about BML17.
This is MY perception/experience/analysis of BML 17. Whilst I know these opinions weren’t unique to me, after chatting to other attendees, I nevertheless can’t speak on behalf of others and I’m sure there are plenty of other BML summaries around.
FYI BritMums have sent out an event survey welcoming attendees’ feedback so that is a good thing.
Also, one of the things you can’t put a price on is the opportunity to meet up with one’s blogging friends and meet new people, which simply would not happen if it weren’t for events like the annual BML ones. It was a real shame that many of the bloggers I saw last year didn’t make it this year such as Muma on the Edge, Island Living 365, Pink Pear Bear and Maflingo to name a few.
[Image courtesy of Motherhood the Real Deal]
Before I go into this bit, I just want to emphasise I KNOW event management ain’t easy! Anyone who’s worked in this arena will tell you it’s challenging and exhausting.
I know this first hand as I used to be a conference producer, researching my assigned subject, devising the structure and content, recruiting speakers, managing those relationships and all on-the-day logistics.
I knew the stress of finalising a brilliant programme only to have last minute speaker cancellations leaving me scrambling round trying to replace them or having to restructure the agenda so it still fitted with the other sessions and didn’t let down the registered attendees. I can still remember breaking into a nervous sweat due to the embarrassment of a speaker not actually delivering the fantastic information-packed session in the dynamic manner they had promised or the venue messing up lunches etc!
For meand where I am with my blogging, from looking at the BML 17 event agenda beforehand, I thought the planned sessions this year were much better as their topics seemed more specific with more tangible/applicable themes. Then on the actual day, the delivered content felt more substantial (for the most part)* than last year’s. The ones I attended were: YouTube Deep Dive, How to be a Great Influencer, Who’s Making Money Now, The Not So Secret Life of YouTube Mums and Pinterest: Creative Content That Drives Traffic.
I personally probably got the most out of the YouTube and Pinterest sessions as I’m rubbish in those arenas and felt there was a fair bit of meaty content I could get my teeth into and apply. I won’t go into the actual content in this post as it will get too long so I may do a round up of my notes in a separate post.
The Not So Good
As I said, I know from experience how hard it is to write conference programmes. I also think that:
Depending on how long you’ve been blogging and what your objectives are, the fact is sessions are going to be too advanced, not advanced enough or just right!
an agenda with a one size fits all approach, that assumes each session can meet the needs of every blogger in the room, just doesn’t work. I think BML – and its attendees! – could probably benefit from the effective multi stream approach with individual streams for beginner, intermediate and advanced bloggers. We were in fact asked about our stage of blogging in the email bumpf sent shortly before the event. Maybe the organisers just needed this info for admin reasons but perhaps this it could be constructively used to steer bloggers towards certain sessions in the future.
A BIG issue for myself and several others was missing out – it would seem unnecessarily – on sessions we wanted to attend. I desperately wanted to attend the Facebook for Bloggers: Business Savvy Strategies for Visibility & Making Money and amazeballs Harriet’sInstagram and IG Stories: How to Maximise, What to Avoid & Top-Notch Storytelling talks but had to miss them to attend other sessions.The frustrating thing is that there was no need because there was a whopping hour and fifty minutes to spare between the end of lunch and the start of the afternoon sessions! The morning’s Facebook and IG sessions were a total of 80 minutes; even leaving a ten minute buffer, this means there was ample time to place these sessions one after the other after lunch meaning nobody had to miss them. Instead, there were presentations by brands none of whom were relevant to my blog and an unusually long coffee break barely an hour after lunch had finished, leaving many of us waiting around waiting for the next session.
At over £100 a ticket, not to mention the cost of travel to get there, nobody should have to be missing sessions.
The location of the venue felt more accessible this year as it was near Waterloo. Moreover, with it being right next to the river with an amazing view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and just a stone’s throw from the London Eye, it was a far nicer place to be than the business like financial district where the previous venue Brewery, lovely as it is, was located.
Lunch (yes I have to mention the food!) was significantly better this year. The ‘take away’ card boxes last year were cute but left many of us hungry not to mention struggling to eat out of them. The buffet food (dished out by servers) this year was in my opinion much tastier and the bento/tali trays easier to eat out of for those unable to find seating. The County Hall suites tea and coffee was also more upscale (very important!).
Badges that went around the neck were a better touch this year as you didn’t have to stick a pin your nice clothing and more importantly, one didn’t have to stare at someone’s boobs to read their blog name. (I’m so short people were instead staring at a different body part on me given where the badge was level with but hey ho.)
The Not so Good
The actual entrance to the venue was not exactly obvious and the wait for the lifts at the bottom rather long, long enough that this was a problem for those of us arriving later than desired. Once up at the top, there was a fair walk from the cloakroom to the actual location of the day’s events (unlike the Brewery where access to the event is quicker and easier to figure out). I don’t know whether it was my past life as an events manager that made me so aware of ithis or my tight fitting boots!
BML 17 could have done with some helpful signage. Perhaps signs were not allowed at the entrance to the building by the site’s management but had it not been for some other bloggers arriving at the same time, I’d never have known if I was at the right place. Even my blog wife Motherhood the Real Deal spent ages wandering around the block trying to get in. The only sign indicating the event (as far as I could tell) was actually once you got out of the lifts at the top, walked away from the cloakroom all the way down the corridor and turned left and were by this stage, just metres away from the event’s location.
Although attendees were given a lovely map showing the location of the rooms, it actually wasn’t the most user-friendly system. Standard individual metal stands with the name of the room are more obvious and avoid the issue of people wandering around trying to find the room they are meant to be in, poking their heads into rooms only to find they are in the wrong one etc.
The brand experiences were not my cup of tea at all as none of them lit my fire but I’m sure there are many bloggers who were happy with them so again, this is subjective.
Sadly there was one aspect about BML 17 that I felt was just bad
I feel the need to mention this as several people were as taken aback by this as I was. At the end of the day, a handful of bloggers read out their post that won the keynote vote. This year these were (in order) a comedy post from Life, Love and Dirty Dishesabout DIY, deeply emotional ones from Mummy Trieson autism and Little Ladies Big World on Baby Loss, rounding off with hilarious posts by Rhyming With Wine about pregnancy and Man vs Baby aboutbaby’s first holiday
All were brilliant examples of good writing that grab the audience’s attention from the start.However I’ve been trying to understand how the running order of the posts was decided. Maybe the idea was to start and end with comedy and put sad emotional ones in the middle? Unfortunately the end result lacked thought and empathy for the speakers (and in fact the audience). Featuring Laura’s utterly devastating account of baby loss directly before Dawn’s hilarious post about pregnancy was insensitive and as hard on the audience – who were in absolute bits wiping away tears of sympathy and sadness one minute before being expected to laugh out loud the next – as it was on the writers of those incredible posts who were placed in this really difficult position.
I’ll be honest, this will stay with me for a while.
All in all, just through the fact of attending sessions, talking to other bloggers and being immersed in that environment…
I came away from BML 17 feeling a bit more energised about blogging (after the lost mojo following the long Summer break).
Coupled with my ‘free mini masterclass’ over brunch the following day with my blog wife Talya, it wasn’t a bad way to spend the weekend.
Later this week I’m getting off the rock (hoorah!) to attend my second blogging conference,BMLl17
(#BML16 being my first and a blast it was too). Having done five UK trips already in the last 15 months, I’ll admit I wouldn’t be going to the effort etc of attending a blog event if I didn’t need to come over for the Brilliance in Blogging awards anyway. But as I’m over for that, it makes sense to attend BML17, one of the UK’s biggest annual blogging conferences, the same day.
And there is something I need to get off my chest [everybody ducked]…
There is an interesting trend I’ve noticed in the past in the run up to the annual #BML event: The “What I Will Be Wearing to BML” post by some attendees.
To be honest, I don’t know if it’s a huge thing this year as I’m a bit out of the loop with reading other blogs after the summer break. Suffice to say however, I won’t be doing a post on what I’m wearing to BML. Different strokes for different folks and all that but are any other industries where conference delegates showcase their wardrobe choice? As somebody who used to produce conferences for various sectors, methinks not.
Maybe I’m making an issue out of something that isn’t one but…
at a time when the role/existence of mummy bloggers is being SO questioned, trivialised and quite honestly dragged through the mud every other week by the Daily Fail and social media trolls, surely posts describing what we’re going to wear to a blog event diminish our own wish to be taken seriously for what we do, no?
Anyway, mini rant over. So now, totally tongue in cheek and just for fun…
Let me tell you about What I Absolutely Will NOT Be Wearing to #BML17!
This. Or any other jumpsuit for that matter. I’m crying into my coffee here because I SO badly wanted to wear one. But it ain’t gonna happen.
Why?Where do I start?!
I’m what’s called a late adopter. It takes me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get into a trend that the rest of the world jumped on two years before. So when I first saw someone wearing a jumpsuit on a night out circa 2014, I thought Why have we gone back to 80’s fashion when it was bad enough the first time? At the time they just reminded me of Anneka Rice jumping out of helicopters on TV. Anyway, given my lack of height, I just assumed this was not a look I could pull off.
Fast forward to this summer where a good friend of mine looked amazing at a dinner party in her newly purchased jumpsuit – with a stunning pattern similar to the one adorning this David Nieper lounge suit – and that was that:
…I wanted one.
There then followed a loooonnnng hunt involving me traipsing around the shops in the intense kill-me Maltese 35 degree summer heat. I tried this on in FOUR different sizes, bought it at a ridiculously high price because I actually felt amazing in it, went home and showed it to the fam:
Musical M said I looked like a petrol pump attendant (yes we still have those here…God I love how retro Malta is sometimes!).
Hubster reckoned it looked like something you’d wear to go to the supermarket (who IS this guy and where the hell does he go grocery shopping…MARS?!).
One of my sisters thought it looked like a fancy dress outfit.
And I thought I looked like a cross between a Formula 1 Driver and a spaceship commander. Just look at those shoulder thingies and try telling me I shouldn’t have my own Sci-Fi series.
But most irksome of all, the sleeves (if one can call those odd frilly contraptions sleeves) kept falling down showing my upper ‘bits’. Now, I am the first person to laugh at myself but even I think attending BML17 with my upper bits on show is a bit much.
I then spent two weeks scouring I’ve no idea how many online stores becoming intimately acquainted with one starting with A and ending S (not not Argos!). I ordered THREE jumpsuits over two different deliveries and none of them fit properly. One just fell off me for crying out loud.
Yes dear reader, my jumpsuit dreams ended almost as soon as they’d begun. And I will not be wearing one to BML17.
Wanna know what else I will not be wearing?
Those skin tight oh-my-word-how-do-I-breathe-in-these-actually-how-do-I-move-my-legs-in-these white jeans that have had many a mention on this blog.
Right, I’m off to see if any dad bloggers have written a post about what they’re wearing to BML17.
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Once upon a time, a mummy blogger (who nearly punched herself in the face typing that stupid phrase because she’s pretty sure nobody says ‘mummy graphic designer’ or ‘mummy pharmacist’) sat down to write the obligatory back to school 2017 post.
She was several days late (because truth be told, she was a bit of a rubbish mummy blogger).
Anyway, throughout the blogdom, she’d seen post after post from ‘mummy bloggers’ (aaarrrggh) revealing their desperation at having to endure six long weeks of school holidays with their kids.
And judging by the number of witty back to school 2017 memes bandied about on social media, she had the nagging feeling she should be instagramming suitably hilarious photos of herself cracking open bubbles, practically crying with relief, just metres away from the school gates on the first day of school. You know, photos peppered with hashtags such as #TFFT #YayISurvived #StillSmiling #WheresTheVodka for maximum effect.
In fact, as this snarky woman originally launched her blog to confess hernumerous failingsas a mother, SURELY it was her duty to write something about feeling sheer glee at them going back to school after their own 10 weeks off?
After all, wasn’t this the mummy blogger (screaming inside my own brain now) who liked to share humorous anecdotes about the challenges of parenthood and essential coping mechanisms such as these wines specifically for parents?
Surely, she should admit she couldn’t take One. More. Day. of their bloody bickering?
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Surely she was totally over reminding them to clear their frickin’ plates away after e-v-e-r-y snack and meal?
Surely her brain was fried at them constantly forgetting the few Summer holiday chores they had been set?
Surely she was fed up to the back teeth of their requests to watch yet another film followed swiftly by their total inability to then agree on something to watch?
Surely she was beyond irritation at finding the iPad battery was down to 2% because some little bugger hadn’t charged it after watching the damned film they’d had finally agreed on (and by ‘they’ I mean two out of the three kids)?
Surely her eyes hurt from rolling over how someone always managed to empty half a bottle of sun cream onto just one arm, leaving the rest of their body (and leaving the rest of us without enough sun cream).
Surely they had run out of beaches to visit and had had enough chlorine and seasalt in their hair to last a lifetime?
Surely she was ready to explode if she had to spend one. More. Day. with a teen who would rather draw her last breath getting the last word in?
And surely maybe, maybe surely, she had spat out venomously one too many times how she couldn’t wait for them to go back to school? (Shocker.)
However, dear reader, when it came down to writing a deliriously happy back to school post, this mummy blogger discovered something profound.
She. Could. Not. Do. it. She couldn’t bring herself to say she was thrilled about them being back at school.
Was it because she had — HOLD THE FRONT PAGE – actually enjoyed the company of her three musketeers?
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Ha! If THOSE were the reasons she couldn’t write a ‘thank God they’ve gone back to school’ post, then that would make this ‘mummy blogger’ (seriously just punch me) actually sound like a calm earth mother!
That would never do.
She’d be a sham of an ‘honest tell it like it is’ mum blogger! Her followers may feel let down. They’d demand their money back (ok overstretching the metaphors here but you get me).
No the actual reason she was not cracking open the champagne by the gates or writing a joyous back to school confessional was because she knew what was to come.
I mean, who in their right minds would look forward to this?!
Trying to think of lunchbox options that don’t contain pasta or sandwiches every flipping day. Lunches they actually eat.
The calm dulcet tones of her husband in the morning [sarcasm] barking orders and frog-marching everyone out of the house (including her)
Stomach-churn nervousness over whether her kids would be in the same class as their chosen friends or stuck in perpetual hell with their class tormentor
Having to sign the pointless code of conduct form for an 11th year in a row.
Spending the first month at school at countless meetings, meet the teacher, meet the directors, parent café, social events X 3 (you know that feeling where you think maybe you had too many kids?)
Weeping at paying out for ballsports, swim classes, gymnastics etc, so her kids supposedly develop Olympian hand-eye coordination, aquatic skills and agililty……but really so they don’t panic when someone throws them keys or drown in a puddle or do their back in bending down aged 30 to pick up a bunch of keys (that land on the floor when they dodge them because they can’t catch because they never did a ballsport…see!)
Figuring out how to actually make these activities all happen when there are three kids in different places at overlapping times, one of me, seven days in a week and one car (yes I know that stupid orange-faced manchild doesn’t believe in climate change but I do)
Homework. Homework. Homework.
Leaving her wallet permanently open for the entire month of September, October, November for back to school stationery, birthday parties, activities signups, mid term play, two of her own kids’ birthdays. (You know that feeling where you think maybe you had too many kids?)
And then there’s Christmas.
Making sure the house is clean and tidy, keeping the kitchen fully stocked and trying to relocate her cooking mojo, tending to the mounting household projects, taking care of her own attempts to exercise regularly and…
To cap it all…she couldn’t put it off any longer…
It was time to go back to the blog.
Because, rather inconveniently, it wouldn’t run itself.
And she had NO idea how she was going to manage the kids, the house, the blog (the writing, the social media, the income side) and the everything. And she definitely had NO idea how others managed it.
So please bear with this mummy blogger (final groan) while she tries to relocate her blog brain.
It went on summer holiday without her permission and she doesn’t know where it’s gone. And she needs to work out which direction she wants to take her blog in too!
She sends you her sincere apology!
I really did enjoy my kids this Summer and genuinely had a heavy heart coming back home after the first morning drop-off. Opening the door to a quiet house without my three musketeers felt too lonely. Just don’t tell anyone I said that.
One of the loveliest blogging souls I have the pleasure of knowing, Jaki Jelz, made my month recently by naming me as one of her three Bloody Brilliant Bloggers. I was tempted to break out the champers before 11am.
There are some wonderful series out there now aimed at supporting other bloggeres and spreading the bloggy love:
The talented Claire of Life Love and Dirty Dishes does a monthly Blog Love feature
The clever ladies Lucy at Home and Naptime Natter run the feel good #BlogCrush Linky,
Just when you thought every blog love idea had been covered, the fab Jane of Maflingo recently started Blogging Good Reads Oh and some woman called Prabs launched #BlogStars in 2016 to showcase posts that have particularly caught her attention, ahem.
Bloody Brilliant Bloggers reflects the same ‘pay it forward’ spirit, boosting other bloggers and just reminding each other that the hard work is all worth it!
How Does #BloodyBrilliantBloggers Work?
Here are the rules that explain it all:
Write a post to proudly show you’re a bloody brilliant blogger.
Include the introduction (copy and paste as below) in your post, along with this set of rules and don’t forget to thank the blogger who nominated you: The Bloody Brilliant Blogger Tag – Run by Beckyand Kimberly the tag is all about showing recognition to the amazing blogs the internet has to offer. Giving their owners a virtual slap on the back and celebrating some flippin’ fantastic posts.
Nominate three bloggers who you think are bloody brilliant and tell us a bit about why!
Don’t forget to stick this gorgeous bloody brilliant bloggers badge somewhere on your post
THIS IS THE BADGE CODE: <div align=”center”><a href=”http://mommyandrory.com/” rel=”nofollow” title=”MommyandRory “><img src=”http://mommyandrory.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/IMG_1903-800×800.png” alt=”MommyandRory ” style=”border: none; height: auto; width: 300px;” /></a></div>
Please share your post on Twitter tagging your bloody brilliant nominees along with myself (@mommyandrory1) and Kimberly (@oddhogg) – make sure to tag us to be in with a chance of winning the #BloodyBrilliantBloggers crown.
So WHO did I pick as MY Three Bloody Brilliant Bloggers?!
Heavens above, the effort of narrowing it down to three! I’m a typical Pisces who can’t make a decision at the best of times so you can imagine how hard I found it choosing just three bloggers from the immense sea of talent. Mucho difficult! There were numerous bloggers I went back and forth over but I kept coming back to these three:
Oh my days, how I love this girl! From the moment I first read Lindsey, it was blog love (which was a relief as I actually met her at an event before discovering her site and frankly it would have been très awks if I didn’t like her blog after getting on so well with her in person!). If you haven’t read Muma on the Edge yet, she’s often feisty without coming across as angsty or confrontational (which is not an easy thing to pull off), hilarious even when she isn’t trying to be (which just makes her even more endearing) and switched on. An utter breath of fresh air. I’ve been at this blogging lark for a good while now and it’s easy to feel jaded thinking you’ve read e-v-e-r-y blog topic ever thought of. Not sure how Lindsey does it but she can take a topical news subject (that everyone and their aunt has written about) and somehow comes up with another perspective that is captivating and makes you forget you already read a whole heap on that subject. Damn her cleverness.
Where do I start? Go-getting. Confident yet humble. Articulate. Empowering. Kind-hearted. I could go on and on about Ursula. I first saw this inspirational human being across the floor at #BML16 (did I mention she’s also annoyingly beautiful and hard to miss?). I wondered who this utter goddess was as I didn’t know her blog at the time. Upon returning to Malta, I found myself in a Twitter chat with her where I learned she however knew my blog and had in fact cheered me on at the awards. Clearly this made me like her instantly and a mutual appreciation was born. Seriously, Ursula is possibly the best example I’ve come across of how you can use your blog for good. Through her blog and related social media, this powerhouse is striving to revive women’s confidence and self belief, equipping them with the tools to remember their worth and go out and achieve their dreams. What a great purpose, what a great woman.
Ah the inimitable Min! What a tonic. A blogger who doesn’t shy away from issues. She’s intelligent. She’s got cajones (gotta love a woman with cajones) and tells it like it is. And she tells it with incredible eloquence. I don’t know how many times I’ve almost salivated over a sentence Min has conjured up. She’s also funny. What’s not to like?! Min’s parenting journey is an interesting one. A single parent with a slightly more unusual back story than ‘most’ I’ve come across, this woman can write about pretty much anything. I think she’s been blogging as long as I have and her blog is one of those I will always go back to when I want a sure fire good read that won’t let me down. Single mum speaks? Yes she does and does it brilliantly!
Voilà. Three bloody brilliant bloggers I’ve fallen in love with and I hope you do too.
I can’t believe it’s taken me more than two months after Jaki nominated me to write this post. But good things are always worth waiting for. Bloody brilliant things even more so.
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THIS WEEK I ALMOST FELL OVER UPON FINDING OUT I’M A FINALIST IN THE 2017 BRILLIANCE IN BLOGGING AWARDS
To say that I’m astounded to be on the BiBs2017 shortlist in the Reader’s Choice category no less (‘eek’ is not sufficient!) alongside bloggers such as Whinge Whinge Wine, Slouching Towards Thatcham, The Mum Project and a ‘certain other blogger’ is an understatement. It’s just amazing to have got through, given the thousands of blogs that are nominated and I don’t really understand the mechanics of it (I didn’t get one single ‘I’ve nominated you’ notification from fellow bloggers…ok I literally got one single one and can only assume my mother got all our relatives to nominate me) but I shall try not to understand it and just enjoy it! I know I sound cheesy considering words like astonished, gobsmacked etc are used a LOT during ‘finalists week’. I’m fully aware this may sound like fake modesty and you’re probably raising a sceptical eyebrow given last year’s outcome but this really is the post I was not expecting to write this year. In fact, I was SO sure I wasn’t getting within 10 miles of the shortlist that I only realised it had been announced when I received a hilarious one word message from my friend and fellow finalist (yay!) Claire of Life Love and Dirty Dishes, that certain other blogger.
This is the bit where I have to say a huge thank you to YOU my dear readers because without you, there would be no point in me blogging. I don’t think I ever truly realised how much I love writing until I launched this blogette. The outlet it’s given me for expressing myself, the opportunity it’s given me to do something beyond being a mum, the feeling I get when somebody ‘gets’ what I’m saying in a post, it’s amazing (and the path back to financial independence is not bad either). Whether it’s a new visitor messaging me to say they binge read 10 posts upon discovering my blog, comment love from a fellow blogger who’s a loyal reader or my FB followers who interact regularly with funny remarks, my heart sings every single time and I suppose one could say that this kind of engagement is all the reward one needs and awards are irrelevant. In fact…
I MUST ADMIT I HUMMED AND HAWED ABOUT WRITING THIS ‘I’M A BIBS2017 FINALISTSQUEAL!POST’.
Blog nominations season this year has been…erm…different…and the day the BiBs2017 shortlist was announced was certainly interesting. Yes celebratory drinks were indeed poured by Hubster when he got home (after I dropped a hint…man he’s so fired) but…
A post shared by Absolutely Prabulous (@absolutelyprabulous) on
…I can’t deny that I went to bed that night questioning if I should be celebrating at all, given some of the reaction I saw that day and in general. Chatter about the selection process, the voting system, the lack of dad bloggers and indeed the whole point of blog awards has been put under the microscope this year in a way I didn’t witness previously (maybe I was oblivious before?).
As I myself said in my article about the notable absence of a writer category this year, I’m fully aware that blog awards are not the be all and the end all. They don’t define what blogging is. They most certainly do not determine what/who makes a successful blogger and nobody goes into blogging (or indeed anything) to win awards.
NEVERTHELESS, I’M THRILLED TO BE A FINALIST AND MUST SAY A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO NOMINATED ME AND HELPED ME GET HERE!
If this is indeed as far as I go, then I’m honoured to have done so. However, it goes without saying that winning a blog award would be extra wonderful validation for all the hours spent formulating ideas, writing, promoting on social media, spending far too much time on photoshop (and crying/swearing at the computer over tech glitches). Plus I get to fly over to London for a party. On a boat. On the Thames. I get to wear a dress and and everything!
SO HERE IT COMES…!
IF YOU THINK I DESERVE TO WIN THE #BIBS2017 READER’S CHOICE AWARD, I WOULD BE SO GRATEFUL FOR YOUR VOTE. IT TAKES SECONDS!
JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK TO THE VOTING PAGE, fill in boxes 1, 2, tick Absolutely Prabulous in box 13 and you’re done. Easy! Voting closes July 2nd.
Thank you again to my amazing readers for continually reminding me of why I blog.
You make it fun.
Firstly, let me thank you for your email addressing me as ‘Dear Absolutely’.
Now, before I cut to the chase, I must point out that I have had the privilege of working with some absolutely lovely brands whose PRs/CEOs were an absolute pleasure to deal with. There are plenty of good people out there to whom most of the following doesn’t even apply.
That said, a few months ago I wrote 25 Things That Annoy Bloggers which featured contributions from several people. Let’s just say it was eye-opening how often working with brands came up as a source of annoyance. I have to say, having been at this blogging malarkey for a few years, I have received too many emails and wasted inordinate amounts of time embroiled in conversations with PRs that defy belief. And the previously mentioned post got me thinking…
So I thought it might help everyone if I put together a list of tips for you to bear in mind when working with bloggers.
Now we both know you are in the business of strengthening and growing your brand and you have recognised the benefit of working with bloggers to get your product/service offering in front of relevant audiences. That’s fantastic. However, there are a few things you need to understand with regards to how to manage blogger brand collaborations without making a mess of things.
1). Please do not think that we exist merely to blog at your whim.
I really do feel this needs explaining (although it shouldn’t) as I actually receive emails assuming that I will just publish a press release on my site, write an entire promo article or feature guest content without ANY discussion of why I would do so. I can’t speak for everyone but I didn’t launch my blog so that I could merely produce bland articles promoting everything from a door knob to a cheese slicer on behalf of brands who believe my blog’s very existence is to serve them and them only.
I will not compromise on quality or relevance to my readership so please don’t ask me to write something that has no connection whatsoever to a family and lifestyle blog and then behave like you are doing me a favour by asking.
2). Please Visit a Blogger’s Site Before Contacting Them
I know how things work. I know you generally send auto-generated emails to hundreds of bloggers for the same project and it’s actually not time efficient for you read every blog. But here’s the thing:
– not getting my name right is not a good way to go. I cannot tell you how positive it makes me feel about considering working with you. (I cannot tell you this because it doesn’t make me feel positive. FYI my name can be found on my sidebar on every page of my site.)
– you shoot yourself in the foot with generic lines in an approach email that clearly show, as surely as night follows day, that you have never even been in the same room as my website. At least look at the home page, check the about page or get someone else to! As Whinge Whinge Wine said in 25 Things That Annoy Bloggers“If PRs actually read blogs rather than just telling you they had, they would know whether someone was a ‘good fit’ and whether they were someone they wanted to work with before they emailed you and wasted everyone’s time”. – repeatedly sending me the same auto-generated email after we’ve already chatted doesn’t instil confidence.
3) For Goodness Sake Please RESPOND to a Blogger Who Has Taken The Time And Had The Courtesy to Reply to YOUR Original Email.
You wouldn’t ignore somebody standing in front of you answering a question you’ve just asked them (well I hope not) would you? There you go then.
4). Please Remember It Is Not Respectful to Assume a Tone of Expectation That We Produce a Promotional Article for You Within an Unrealistic Timeframe.
This follows on from the ‘at your whim’ theme. Some/many of us work to a schedule and whilst willing to be flexible where possible in the name of professionalism but we tend to bristle at being told to have something ready by your deadline rather than being politely asked where in our schedule we can accommodate you.
5). Please do Not Make the Mistake of Thinking That a £10 Water Beaker Is Fair Compensation For All The Work That Goes Into Promoting Your Brand.
I admit this may not apply to newer bloggers who are happy to be considered at all; I definitely fell into that camp when I first started reviewing products because I felt I was ‘just getting my foot on the ladder’. Then I realised that regardless of how long I’d been blogging (because actually you could have been blogging for six months and have more site traffic and engagement than someone who’s been at it for six years depending on how much time you put into it), I was still putting in a lot of dedication into promoting on your behalf. The thing is, most of us don’t just stick a picture of your product up on our site with a lack lustre one liner saying ‘Go and buy this, it’s good’. Personally, I produce a comprehensive review with quality photos that took time to set up, writing that I carefully crafted, imaging with your logo and perhaps a stock image etc. I then promote said article on social media. The £10 tshirt really isn’t going to cut it.
This is not a ‘I won’t get out of bed for anything less than’ mentality; it’s called being remunerated for the work one has done and the benefit your brand will receive as a result. So please, next time you’re thinking of fobbing someone of with one of your low value items in exchange for feedback and exposure, think twice about the long term goal.
6). Please do Not Make a Sponsored Post Offer So Low it Makes a Fool of Both of Us.
I totally understand the blogosphere is enormous and people will have different situations, expectations and charges based on blogging experience, engagement, following and exposure. I totally appreciate you have your budget; I’m sure you understand likewise I have mine. Of course it would be bad business for you to offer more than you could in fact ‘get away with paying’. However, like many others, my blog is my source of income and whilst I have learned the importance of compromise and the art of negotiation, you and I both know when you are ‘just trying it on’.
And the £25 you just offered for me thinking up an angle, structuring and writing a post, devising strong SEO, sourcing and creating images and promoting your post is definitely you trying it on.
7). Bloggers Who Work with Brands Treat Their blog as a Business, Not a Public Service.
Although point 1 sort of covers this, I feel the need to amplify. Why? Because amongst the many things that have been said to me is this absolute cracker (incidentally, don’t ever follow in this PR’s footsteps):
“If you just write a short post mentioning us, that’s actually at no cost to you. Can you also mention it a few times on social media and tag us each time?”
Er no. Let me explain:
The brand you represent sells a product/service for which it expects its users to pay the set price. It’s the same for bloggers: ie if you wish to use my product (in this case my website and exposure to my audience) to advertise your brand, there is a naturally a cost for this. If your brand is mentioned anywhere on a blog via a banner advert/article, this is called advertising. Advertising is not usually free. Furthermore, just as you expect to receive your salary for the outreach/PR work you do each month, it’s the same for me: I expect to be remunerated for all the work required. Would you tolerate it if your employer decided not to give you your payslip? There you go.
By the way…on that note, how would you feel about your employer not paying you on the agreed date? Yeah…about that…bloggers like to be paid on time too… Just saying.
8) Don’t Just Follow Follower Numbers and Don’t Be Seduced by Stats…Get Wise
A couple of things: if someone has thousands of followers but only gets about 50 likes on their posts, those are most likely ghost followers. Another thing: low stats/high engagement; high stats/low engagement. You’ve got two bloggers, one in each camp and you’re only looking to work with one. Who would you choose? What’s my point? Look beyond numbers and check out actual interaction (although be aware just how hard the social networks have made it for bloggers to get engagement from the followers who really exist). Do you really want to promote your brand on a site with an apparently massive reach which is in fact made up of mostly empty views? Do you?
And I’ll throw this ninth one in for free…
Remember Bloggers Know Each Other and We Talk.
I’ll just let you figure that one out…
Yours ever so sincerely,
I’M A FINALIST (EEK!) IN THE READER’S CHOICE CATEGORY OF THE BRILLIANCE IN BLOGGING AWARDS.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO VOTE FOR ME TO WIN, I’D BE SO GRATEFUL AND HONOURED! Just click on this THIS LINK and fill in boxes 1, 2 and 13. Super quick and easy!
I’M WRITING THIS FULL OF THE NASTIEST COLD I’VE HAD IN YEARS.
The headache is messing with my brain, i can’t stop sneezing all over the ruddy keyboard (yuk) and my preoccupation with my aching throat is robbing me of my comedic juices.
It’s a right chuffing nuisance as I was going to heavily rely on those comedic juices to endear myself to you. You know…
..BEFORE I DO THAT THING FOR WHICH I OWE YOU MY SINCERE APOLOGY.
Anyway, it’s been over a year since I:
joked about wanting a podium moment, mentioned how I had this fab dress I wanted to wear and got all misty-eyed over how the only things I’d ever won in my life were a packet of four felt tip pens at the age of 9 and a an oversized phallic gold trophy for an 8 mile race at the age of 45 (seriously).
And now it’s that time of year again! That time of year where I need to use every trick in the book (sympathy, comedy, outright begging) to get you to do that thing for which I owe you an apology. Instead, I’m staring at the floor, shuffling nervously and can hear myself talking in a small embarrassed voice. Yep…
AWARDS SEASON IS HERE AND NOMINATIONS FOR THE BRILLIANCE IN BLOGGING AWARDS ARE NOW OPEN. SO I’M ASKING FOR A 30 SECOND FAVOUR FROM YOU!!
Ok, yes it’s a bit cringy and embarrassing but 1) if I don’t ask, who will on my behalf? and 2) if you don’t ask you don’t get.
To have a hope of overcoming that first hurdle…you have to show up at the starting line first.
So even though I know there is a lot of conflicting chatter at the moment about blog awards – and I myself recently wrote about theabsence of a writer awardthis year – I AM showing up the starting line and putting my best foot forward.
Enough with the dreadful metaphors.
Now, the problem is, as I’m a sick bunny, I’m lacking in the ‘every trick in the book’ creative department and don’t have the energy required to come up with a load of clever, witty or compelling reasons for you to vote for me. (Think of it this way, it certainly keeps the post short.)
URL of favourite post: any of the ones I mentioned above or one of your choice
Reason for choosing this blogger: Your choice!
(Or these lovely words by Debs might help: “Prabs is the queen of provoking emotion. I can’t read her without laughing out loud, filling up or nodding along!”)
YEP, THAT’S IT FOLKS: MY FEEBLE BUT HOPEFULLY SUCCESSFUL ATTEMPT TO GET YOU TO VOTE FOR ME!
Seriously, I teach my kids they have to try at things in life so I need to embody that philosophy myself.
I THOUGHT OF SEVERAL REASONS WHY I SHOULDN’T WRITE ABOUT THE BIBS17 AWARDS OR AT LEAST THIS TOPIC.
people just skim through it, missing crucial points and get the wrong message?
I come across as disrespectful towards blog awards organisers?*
people think I’m wilfully setting the cat among the pigeons in an attempt to get massive views?**
a clear explanation has already been published somewhere and I’ve managed to miss it (likely as I generally live in my own clueless hole)?
even worse, nobody gives a crap because blog awards are by no means the focal point of blogging?!***
worst of all, please God no, people think I’m being churlish due to last year’s awards!
*This post is not a tirade against the BiBs17 awards organisers. I’m not that foolish or rude (bloomng hope not anyway!)
*Given the sheer saturation of parent blogs out there, I’ve got more chance of scoring a date with Chris Hemsworth than getting crazy stats on this post. ***I totally appreciate nobody starts blogging to win awards (and many people question their existence anyway). So maybe none of this is a big deal and it could all just read like a mountain-out-of-a-molehill whinge-fest!
However, at the time of writing I honestly don’t know the answer to the question in the title and frankly I can’t not write about something that is on my mind just because it may go down the wrong way with people…what’s the point of blogging then? Here’s the thing:
THE OTHER DAY, I WAS DOING MY LINKY READING, COMMENTING AND SHARING AND ALL THAT JAZZ.
One of the posts I read was by the poetic genius Rhyming with Wine: her absolutely brilliant poem about blog stats that describes the utter head wrecking preoccupation with views/rankings/SEO/social media 24/7 activity /yada yada that ends up eating away at many a blogger’s energy and self confidence like some awful disease. There is also another brilliant post on a similar topic – which you will not regret reading it is SO ridiculously funny – by a Life Just Ordinary.
As another good blog friend of mine – whom I won’t name without her approval which I can’t get right now as she has FAR better things to do on her Saturday night than write blog posts about blogging – put it (better than I ever could):
Everyone is so busy thinking that they have to stumble, link, pin, tweet, YouTube and Instagram that they forget why they started blogging in the first place – to connect with others and share stories.
I’m one of those people!!
Ok I know the phrase ‘why they started blogging in the first place’ is highly subjective and I’ll address that shortly.
Anyway, I loved Dawn’s stats post so much – and just as strongly disagreed with her claim that she still hasn’t ‘found her voice’ – that I commented I was voting for her in the writer category of the BiBs17 awards. It’s never an easy decision when they are so many über talented wordsmiths out there but I’d decided this about a month ago based on loving her work for some time. Cue much expression of love and thanks from Dawn. Later in the evening, I popped onto the BiBs site so that I could start casting my votes for everyone I had in mind. I stared at the screen confused, thinking I must be mistaken.
THERE WAS NO WRITER CATEGORY IN THIS YEAR’S BRILLIANCE IN BLOGGING AWARDS! YES AN EVENT THAT CELEBRATES AND HONOURS BLOGGERS’ WORK HAD LEFT OUT AN AWARDTHAT CELEBRATES AND HONOURS THE VERY WRITING OF BLOGS!
I was totally surprised, felt bad for Dawn and frankly felt like a plonker for my public promise to her earlier on. I couldn’t help ponder over what I see as the puzzling removal of the writer award from this year’s BiBs17 categories.
OBVIOUSLY THE ORGANISERS KNOW THEIR REASON FOR REMOVING THIS CATEGORY AND SEE IT AS A JUSTIFIABLE ONE.
Perhaps it was felt the Readers’ Choice somehow covers it? I’m not sure I see how to be honest as surely that is an overall all-encompassing category. Surely removing a specific category that honours the actual writing on blogs is counterintuitive? Perhaps it’s nothing other than logistical/budgetary reasons? Only x amount of money for prizes or whatever. I don’t know.
Anyway, without ANY disrespect intended towards the BiBs17 Awards organisers – I have several questions.
IS THE ABSENCE OF A CATEGORY THAT RECOGNISES THE WORDS ON THE SCREEN, A REFLECTION OF WHAT BLOGGING HAS BECOME?
As many people said in relation to 25 Things That Annoy The Hell out Bloggers, there are massive blogs out there with eye watering daily visitor numbers and a social media reach beyond even most brands’ wildest dreams…that are poorly written. Some of us will see those sites as the very embodiment of successful blogs. Others will see the formulaic content and linguistic errors as hardly an example of a successful blog.
The bloggers with the biggest following and the most influence [are] the ones who are good at all the other stuff that goes along with blogging – social media, networking, branding and self-promotion.
Now, this post is in no way trying to belittle such blogs. If you have the resources to hire people or are switched on enough, social media savvy enough, hard working enough and whatever else enough to build a mahoosive blog, well bloody done. I can’t do it as I just don’t have the energy level or ability to drag myself away from Mad Men Netflix binges for long enough (yes I do know about laws of attraction and that famous Henry Ford quote about self belief so if I tell myself I can’t build a massive blog, well…then I probably never will).
Ok, now remember the line about going back to the reason we started blogging in the first place?
OBVIOUSLY, THERE ARE A MYRIAD OF DIFFERENT REASONS WHY PEOPLE BLOG ANDNOBODY SHOULD BE PUNISHED OR JUDGED FOR THEIR REASONS.
My reason for blogging will be different from your reason which might be different to that of Janet over there etc
Many bloggers have the goal of monetisation from the start. High traffic and social media follower numbers will be king to them. Nothing wrong with that. We all need to put food on the table.
There are those who do it for the love of the written word and the reaction their writing receives. They would trade 1000 empty views for just one comment like: “I was meant to write two blog posts this morning but instead I spent three hours binge reading you. Can’t get enough of your blog.”
There are bloggers who get a buzz out of having a positive impact on others, be it through their words or photography. As I’ve said before, if I stopped blogging tomorrow my ‘marriage post‘ is the one I’ll hang my hat on. The immense effect it had will stay with me forever. To Musical M on Your 12th Birthdaywhich I thought would bring me vitriol instead brought me confessions from parents who felt less shit as a result (or at least just as shitty but in good company!) A BLOGGER’S WORDS CAN HELP PEOPLE.
Some of us want to simply document our family/individual memories. A blog provides a structured and logical platform for this, rather than regularly emailing everyone we know or clogging up Facebook.
Of course, there are those bloggers who want share their knowhow: recipe sites, craft blogs, budget advice, IT tips and son on.
Your blog, your prerogative. However, whatever reasons people have for blogging…
…HAS IT NOW BEEN DECIDED WE DON’T NEED TO RECOGNISE THE WRITING PART OF WRITTEN BLOGS?
No blog can exist without words. Are the words on the screen no longer important? And what about the blogs that aren’t heavy on photography or video etc? The ones that are just about the writing? Surely, they’ve been sidelined?
I admit I’m a linguaphile. I studied French and English at uni and when I launched my blog, friends and family said ‘words are your thing Prabs’ (judging by the average length of my posts, they’re a little too much my thing). I even launched #BlogStars (no that’s not a shameless plug…ok a little bit) because I needed to share my excitement at other bloggers’ great wordsmithery. Words DO something to me. Ok, words aren’t everyone’s thing. I get that. My husband doesn’t think language is that important. He’s not the least bit bothered by a poorly written email or a text message filled with errors. For him, it’s more about just getting the message across – and getting it across quickly. (Seriously, how we’re even together is a miracle.) Me? Sloppy incorrect English makes me break out in a rash. Fair enough, not everybody gets hung up on the language of every blog they read, but surely it has to count for something?
DOES IT MAKE THE WRITER AWARD GIVEN TO PREVIOUS WINNERS MEANINGLESS?
No it’s not a Pulitzer or the Victoria Cross for incredible bravery in battle. No I’m not making this about me (my piece of glass isn’t shown off to every Tom, Dick and Harry who comes round but in fact sits discretely in my bedroom) but honestly, I can’t help wonder.
WON’T MINIMISING THE IMPORTANCE OF WRITING, BY GETTING RID OF THE WRITER AWARD, JUST MAKE THE AFOREMENTIONED BLOG DESPAIR WORSE?
I see countless mentions, including when I was compiling that aforementioned Annoying Things post, that for many (most even) bloggers, the writing is the ONLY part of blogging that they enjoy amidst the sheer weight of blogligation, as Dawn brilliantly calls it. No you don’t need an award to make you carry on enjoying writing – that would be slightly bonkers with thousands of bloggers out there but only one writer award – but what message does it send those of us who love the writing aspect? Do you get me?
WHAT DOES THAT ACTION SAY ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF LANGUAGE TODAY AND THE FUTURE OF BLOGGING?
Society, as we already know is on a downward ‘dumber and dumber’ spiral. Maybe I’m old and cliched and simply repeating what our parents said and their parents before them but surely the Kardashianised culture, a super power leadera super power leader who can barely string an intelligent sentence together, the narrow minded vile comments on chat threads that erupt on social media are just some of the many symptoms of this dumbing down of intelligence.
It may sound like a tenuous connection but I actually genuinely wonder if eliminating the writer category in a blog awards list is symptomatic of this dumbing down.
OF COURSE THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY THAT IT IS NONE OF THE ABOVE!
Maybe this year there is no writer award because after last year’s #Jeangate incident, they now associate that category with calamitous wardrobe fails and didn’t want to risk it. Rumour has it some saddo squeezed herself into tight white jeans (can’t remember her name). Nobody needs to see that again.
I’M A FINALIST (EEK!) IN THE READER’S CHOICE CATEGORY OF THE BRILLIANCE IN BLOGGING AWARDS. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO VOTE FOR ME TO WIN, I’D BE SO GRATEFUL AND HONOURED! Just click on this THIS LINK and fill in boxes 1, 2 and 13. Super quick and easy! (Voting closes July 2nd.)
AFTER A WEE PAUSE #BLOGGERSCAFE SEASON 1 IS BACK FOLKS!
Alright, it was more than a wee pause, ahem. Sick kids, a poorly website (seriously DON’T talk to me about web hosting or ‘users’ on my site right now), a bereavement and then a trip back to the UK over Easter for my brother’s big fat Indian wedding (phew!) all conspired to put Season 1 on hold.
But as Tom Cruise said in one of my all time favourite films, Jerry Maguire, “We are so very back”.
Helen and I are delighted at the support you’ve shown the series, you lovely people! Now here we are at episode 4 talking about running a dual blog, which I am particularly excited about as:
THIS EDITION BRINGS YOU THE WONDERFUL SARAH AND LOUISE
from Mums The Word. If you haven’t read their blog yet, you are in for such a comic treat. We were so delighted to meet these two and find out about their reasons for/experience of setting up a dual blog together. They were soooo much fun!
IF YOU MISSED ANY OF THE SERIES SO FAR, CLICK HERETO CATCH UP.
NB. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE OUR BLOGGERS’ CAFE POSTS/VLOGS ON SOCIAL MEDIA (I MEAN WHY WOULDN’T YOU?!), PLEASE USE THE HASHTAG #BloggersCafe
(and tag us if you don’t mind pretty please)
#BlogStars is my happy place. I get such a kick out of running this series. Sorry if I sound cheesy but I love compiling each edition for the feel good factor it brings both myself and the featured bloggers. Despite how much I enjoy running the series though and the reception it’s had, it’s been on pause as I took a step back from linkies for a while and then had a blog break due to a major family wedding. So I do apologise to the regular readers among you for but I’m back with Blog Stars 4 and ready to bring you some corkers!
If you’re new to Blog Stars, it is where I round up a bunch of posts I have truly enjoyed reading, that have had a profound effect on me and which, in my opinion, deserve an extra shout out. FYI I don’t just feature posts from the month of the #BlogStars edition (especially as this is not always a monthly feature). This would mean excluding brilliant content purely on the grounds of date of publication, which is a pity if I’ve only discovered it months after it was published.
There’s a flavour to suit hopefully every taste. You’ve got thought-provoking ones, you’ve got useful content, you’ve got the ‘make sure you’ve got kleenex on standby’ tear-jerkers and…of course, it ain’t Blog Stars if there ain’t no laughs.
A FEW iMPORTANT THINGS INCLUDING TWO NEW FEATURES!!
1) If you want to share this post (or any of the individual posts from it) on social media (course you do) Please Use the Hashtag #BlogStars.
2) This edition of #BlogStars has been divided up into the previously mentioned themes.
3) For future editions of #BlogStars I’d like to include a few posts chosen by YOU my readers. So if there is a post that has stayed with you and that you’d like to see featured, let me know!
WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, HERE ARE MY 20 #BLOGSTARS
Featured Blog Stars, don’t forget to Grab Your Badge! Feel free to stick this on your featured post and/or your blog sidebar or both!
This popped up in one of those Facebook groups and the title made me literally snort. And click. It’s quite possibly the funniest and best post e-v-e-r about this bizarre, fabulous, endlessly frustrating, really gratifying, lonely, friend-making insanity that is blogging and is utterly hilarious from start to finish. By the time I got down to the Twitter ‘tips’ and the line:
you could also achieve similar levels of success by shouting your blog posts out in full whilst walking down the street
I literally hurt from laughing. (Actually, he should take his own advice and walk down the street shouting this very post out as it’s so good.) Dale Carnegie, please give me a sign that you’re laughing from your grave at the clever appropriation of your famous book title! Although, as I’ve already said to James, I am quite frankly bitterly disappointed and may well do my Miss Piggy hissy hair flick at him over the fact that he did not actually have the answer to how to increase one’s site traffic by 127,000% in just 4 days. #MustTryHarder [Stomps off in a hissy fit.]
Emma and her mother! (There’s a book title right there.) Heaven help me, every time her mum is mentioned, I know I’m in a for a laugh (and if the price is right, I’ll even tell you what Emma said about her mum just before we all stayed in a London hotel for the BiBs). The Daily Mail…the way her mum refers to it/Emma’s Dad. The bra doodles and the ‘vandalised property. And the aubergine. The aubergine! If you’re not intrigued by now…how on earth not?
Picking a post by the uber-talented Claire of LLDD for an edition of #BlogStars is as difficult as trying to use a paper umbrella in the rain. It doesn’t work. Not in a bad way! She is such a gifted and funny writer that it’s an almost impossible task trying to settle on one. (Not that I think of particular bloggers I want to feature and then go and choose a post. It’s very much the other way around: #BlogStars is led by the content rather than the blogger.) I knew I’d read a great ‘cheating’ post but when I went to Claire’s site to get the url, found myself distracted by all the other great posts. This one is in a league of its own though. Notice how I’m skirting around describing what the post is about? No way I’m spoiling that one…go read. Soooo good and let me know if you guessed the big reveal before the end.
I love clever bloggers, the ones that write something that makes you think “Damn, wish I’d thought of that”. This ‘alternative’ self-help guide for those of you with cantankerous belligerent toddlers (is there any other kind?) is just what you need! Frankly, I’m way past that stage as mine are much older but I’m kind of thinking I’ve come full circle and could do with this guide for my about to be teens too! The ‘accepting help’, ‘being open to other options’, ‘admitting when you’re wrong’, just the whole things. So funny from start to finish and I just love the dry tone in which it’s been written.
I have to say this post needs to come with some sort of health and safety warning (or at least a sick bag). The girls need a medal for being brave enough to publish this one but mercy me, it is damned funny! To be honest, for me Sarah and Louise are much like This Mums Life in that I’d happily read their grocery shopping list because even that would be funny. Choice bits in this one? How about:
Do I just hang myself on the emergency cord above the toilet so I never have to face the humiliation and embarrassment?
or the cream leather seats of the father in law’s car (!) and the pièce de resistance…[cue famous Psycho ‘screech’ music]…the HOSPITAL GOWN [Guffaws.]
You see a lot of the same issues covered the more you blog and there will always be the regulars that crop up but of course, everyone’s experience is unique to them. In this post by Helen, she talks about having one of those days in parenting; you know the one! The one where nothing goes right and your child just doesn’t comply and you just wish you could manipulate time to bring bedtime forward and end the day. This is one of the better posts I’ve read on this. I don’t want to call this sad or heartbreaking as Helen ends it on a positive beautiful note with the maturity to recognise parenting isn’t a walk in the park and you just have those days and it’s ok. I did feel for her when she walking out of the shopping centre feeling tearful 🙁
The one and only Fi. If/when I finally meet her, I shall squish her muchly with hugs; consider yourself forewarned Fi! We all have our demons – yep even the most outwardly confident amongst us – but most of us aren’t good at revealing them. Fi puts it out there, warts and all on her blog. She’s one fine writer (who was actually featured in the second blog stars with a hilarious swipe at parenting experts) but for me, this is the one…the one I’ll remember a year from now when I’ll have read a further trillion posts, many of which will have faded from the memory because my brain just can’t hold that much in it. Such a raw, brutally honest, relatable and yet somehow funny post…how the heck did she pull that off?! If blog posts were edible, I’d have at least two helpings of this.
Well I think it’s safe to say that it’s nigh on impossible to read a post by Laura without requiring an entire box of tissues or a stiff whiskey (preferably both) at the ready. You won’t regret reading this stunning post because it’s a masterpiece. But you will regret not having those tissues or drink ready. This woman breaks me almost every time I read her. I try not to skim read blog posts; I’m generally not a skim reader by nature anyway but in the interests of time management, what with All. The. Blogging. I am ashamed to admit I do sometimes have to do it out of necessity. I don’t skim read Laura.
Helen is one of my go to/won’t let me down bloggers. If I’m having a bad day, I know I can visit her blog and my spirits will be lifted by her words. She’s just so good at what she does, whether it’s making us laugh at ourselves growing older or blooming CRY at our kids getting older!I I’ll admit, I actually groaned at myself over including her in yet another edition of #BlogStars because I’m sure regular readers will think it’s cronyism with certain bloggers cropping up in more than one edition! But how do I leave out something I loved reading? How do I skip a post that totally deserves a place in a roundup of amazing posts?! It would be almost dishonest to do so, just because it’s by a good friend every cell of whom I love dearly. Do yourself a favour and read this. Just remember… #NotWithoutKleenex
I don’t know how to describe this post. I read it a few months ago not long after it was published and just stared at the screen almost numb with disbelief and relief in equal measure. It is no discredit at all to Sam’s brilliant writing (so good it turns out I’ve in fact previously featured her in this series) to say that I still don’t know how to describe it, such was its raw visceral effect on me. Things could have turned out SO differently for her and her kids on the day this happened and thank goodness she lived to tuck her kids (and herself) into bed that night. Huge cyber hugs to Sam.
Alison writes with a sensitivity and beauty that just gets me every single time. She’s also bloody funny at times too. This post about having one of those rare occasions where you actually just have the chance to get time with one kid (I guess you have to have more than one child to really appreciate this or have grown up with several siblings) is a beaut. “It feels as if I snatch at parenting them….” Sigh. Such a clever writer. In fact such a clever writer that I simply had to share another of hers:
I almost winced when I saw the title of this because I was fairly sure I knew where Alison was going with this. It’s a very well written and frankly scary prognosis of the sexually-obsessed culture our kids are now growing up in and the enormous burden of worry and uncertainty this places upon us as parents. As the mother of a boy and two girls, the eldest of whom is 12 at the time of writing (and who has come home telling me the most hair-raising things about what her friends know/talk about/watch), I totally related to this post. The info about the porn industry’s core target almost gave me heart failure.
Although happily married I am not a woman who regards my husband as my best friend and am always somewhat surprised and intrigued by those women that do.
Hear hear! I nodded all the way through this eloquently written post by the rather fabulous Jo. It’s a rather beautiful appraisal of friendships that come and go throughout our lives and the role that her husband plays in her life and how it all fits together. I’ve watched Jo handle ‘that birthday’ with aplomb throughout her blog and social media posts and she’s rather an inspiration to me in so many ways. And boy does she know how to write.
Where do I start regarding this standout post by Debs? The term ‘thought provoking’ feels fluffy and almost dismissive as a description. I had never heard of the term birth rape before reading this. At the risk of incurring wrath or falling foul of my readers – and not wishing to belittle anybody’s birth experience – I do agree with many of the points raised by Deb in this article and respect how thoroughly she has covered it trying to see the topic from all sides. It is an emotive issue, one that I can see polarising people. All I can say is go read and let me/Deb know what you think!
Ah can there be a mother out there who wouldn’t relate to some or all of this? Louise has a way of writing as though she’s just chatting to you and I actually felt like this post was a chat over a cup of coffee (you know while one of her kids tugged at her to go while Louise thought of three things she needed to do!)
I feel like I’m juggling sand…like I’m on one of those airport moving runways and thoughts are whizzing past me as I try and grab them
A well-written post that perfectly encapsulates what it is like for most women raising families, working and just trying to keep their s**t together.
This is not a new one at all (and I’m thrilled that since writing it, things seem to have improved for Tori) but it had such an effect on me when I read it that I filed it away in my mind for future revisiting. I found this post about the breakdown of a marriage (almost as soon as the couple were in fact wed) absolutely heart-wrenching. It comes across as though every word was carefully chosen yet never feels contrived or geared towards attracting sympathy. It’s just a very honest and even beautiful account of a mother’s hurt, fierce determination to protect her son above all else and calm ability to make the right decision. I believe good things finally come to those who deserve it. Tori and her gorgeous son deserve some good luck and judging from her recent posts, things are starting to fall into place.
Remember the fab 90’s tune by Dimitiri: “The Last to Know”? No, of course you don’t; you’re too ruddy young. Ugh. Anyway, that’s me. Always the last to find out the big news, the last to adopt the latest trend etc, a lifelong Little Miss ‘oblivious to what’s going on at school/uni/workplace/school playground’. So you can ALL go ahead and have a jolly good laugh at how I only discovered Toby and Roo a couple of months ago (universal gasps). I pootled around her site and stumbled across this. No I’m not going to talk about sex with you baby…I’m going to let Harriet do that as she’s far braver and better than me on that front. PS Fave bit? The ‘Chinese take out drive’. She’s a bit good that Harriet.
I’m still not decided how I feel about some of the issues raised in this. I’m a bit of a dinosaur. I cannot for the life of me understand how so many parents give their kids devices (even if it’s ‘just’ letting their kids play on their phones whilst in the car/in a doctor’s waiting room/at a restuarant) or phones from an early age. I don’t understand how children under the legal age for Facebook account ownerhship are allowed to have a FB account when under that legal age etc. I’m a traditionalist who’s had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this ‘kids need devices’ era we now live in; shall I describe the ‘joy’ I felt when Hubster decided to let our then 11 year old have a phone, without discussing it with me first? However I can’t deny Kirsty makes a good point regarding getting wise about technology and she really has made me reconsider my reluctance to show my kids’ faces here on the blog and my AbPrab social media. It’s a thought-provoking post and any post that provokes thought is worth sharing.
50K? It’s enough to make you spit your coffee out isn’t it? All the blogging, all the Twatter, all the Faceberk aggro, all the pinning (God give me strength I haven’t yet mustered up the energy for the great big Pinterest overhaul of my blog) and then…then…Instasham. Seriously, I love blogging but the whole follower number thing makes me break out into a cold sweat. Sound familiar? Fear not, Harriet is here again! This time, she’s on form with a series of these-will-do-nicely-thank-you tips to help you get your Instagram on…and who better to advise you…because since writing it…she’s now got 75k IG followers!! Plus it’s a guest post for my blog bestie Laura so she gets a nod too.
Well as I invariably end up saying if that isn’t a ‘does what it says on the tin’ title for a blog post, then I don’t know what is! Talya’s one of my mentors, is always there for me with no nonsense advice and is seriously switched on as i’ve said in my post about reaching for the sky. What can I say apart from go read it to find out how my blog wife Talya made £2000 from her blog recently.
Excellent one from Aby here. Obviously with all the blog tips she’s known for I could choose any number of posts but this straight talking super informative one caught my eye a while ago and has stuck in the brain ever since. It’s not a long list that ends up leaving you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of which bits of advice to implement; just a solid few points that make SO much sense….and how much did I love the ’80/20 rule’ which caused a proper blog epiphany with yours truly?!
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No, it’s actually because ages ago, I was involved in a conversation about Twitter
following this post by Debs’ Random Writings. Everyone on the chat said they find auto DM’s (like the ones by Crowdfire) just irritating. A couple of them who are very good blogging friends of mine, urged me to write about this when I made the mistake of admitting I hated this aspect of Twitter too. #MeAndMyBigTwitterMouth. So I sat down initially to write about DM’s…but then…
I got thinking of All. The. Other. things that irritate me about the Twitterverse! Voilà, a post about what people need to stop doing on Twitter was born.
Now first things first. I LOVE TWITTER, let’s be clear!
I never thought I’d say that as I just didn’t get it at first, loathed the messy format and took great affront at the 140 limit. Seriously, I am prone to using ten words when five would do the job. So, asking me to communicate in 140 character morsel-ettes felt more painful than my three c-sections put together. Twitter had to be kidding me. So I didn’t bother with it.
Fast forward and I can’t even recall what got me to take another stab at it. But take another stab I did. And got hooked, as you can see from point 3 of my Confessions of a Guilty Blogger post. I’ve been told I’m ‘good at Twitter’ and called ‘Queen of the Hashtag’ by Mum Revised and Life with Baby Kicks (thank you ladies…cheque’s in the post). Alright, I can’t build relationships with every single follower but I love what I do get out of Twitter: the camaraderie, the laughs!, content sharing, discovering amazing tweeps with interesting opinions and of course brands.
I don’t have a massive following, (4600 at the time of writing), because I just don’t put any effort into that side but it hums away nicely at a pace I’m happy with, growing daily, and one that I can manage. It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers game and become obsessed with wanting as huge a following as possible. However, for me Twitter is about:
building mutually beneficial working relationships
enjoying content that I can relate to or learn from
and growing my following in an organic genuine way.
Would I love a following of literally thousands? Well I wouldn’t complain! I’m only human so the blogger ego would be nicely fed. But actually how beneficial is that x-thousand strong following when it is impossible to have meaningful interaction with that many people?No. Forget it.
Anyway, even though I’m a big fan of Twitter, I’m afraid I do need to moan about the five things I wish people would stop doing on Twitter!
1) FOLLOWING ME, THEN UNFOLLOWING ME AS SOON AS I FOLLOW BACK
No surprises here or explanation required. It’s easily the thing most Tweeps hate about the platform. Utterly rude. End of.
2) UNFOLLOWING ME BARELY TWO DAYS AFTER I FOLLOWED BACK, JUST BECAUSE I HAVEN’T YET FOLLOWED BACK!
Oh please, must we really do this? Newsflash: some people are busy with work, kids, home life, studying, maybe even having leisure time (the sheer audacity!). Learn some Twittiquette and give people a frickin chance to follow you back would you?! I don’t mean YOU you, dear reader, I mean them…you know what I mean. This image just sums it up for me…it’s like ‘follow me or I’ll just walk off in a huff!’
3) FOLLOWING ME AND ASKING ME TO FOLLOW BACK
Amazingly, people generally do this after they’ve barely exchanged two words with me and equally amazing: they do it after RT’ing something off mine, as if merely sharing my content to get my attention and reel me in. Don’t get me wrong: I’m very grateful if a tweep retweets me. However:
I didn’t know RT’ing had become the new ransom: ‘I retweeted you, now follow me back or else’.
Heavens above. Do they really have to behave like a five year old at a birthday who can’t stop asking for their party bag? Grow up.
4) TWEETING ME EACH TIME THEY PUBLISH A POST
Yes, I do send out tweets for #BloggersCafe the blogger chat show series I host with Helen of Just Saying Mum, the #OopsFiles my ’embarrassing stories’ series featuring brave shameless bloggers (!) and #CandidCuddles, the linky I run with Becky called #CandidCuddles. It’s generally accepted as part of hosting/publicising a series. But every post I publish? Do I tweet my entire catalogue of posts to the same poor soul? Er. No.
I get it, we all want to be read. I can’t remember where I saw it (and if I did I would credit the source) but someone said
Twitter is like standing in the middle of a 5-lane motorway at rush hour shouting into the loudest megaphone, only for nobody to listen.
It can be hard to get the views on a post you’ve put hours of love and work into and there are only so many ways to promote your content and get it seen. I honestly don’t mind being tweeted the link to a post by someone with whom I’ve interacted regularly and people with whom I have a blog relationship. I see the logic in being informed of the latest post in a guest series I myself have participated in or being told of a new linky.
After all, this is a social media channel so let’s be social and use this media method to publicise ourselves, so far so understandable. But there has to be a level of ‘measuredness’ and finesse and sensitivity. Frankly, being bombarded out of the blue by a blogger I barely know, with whom I’ve had the minimum of interaction, each time they bring out a post leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I am not as irritated by this as I am by the above but still…!
5) THE WORST HUMDINGER OF THEM ALL…THE ONE THAT MAKES MY TEETH HURT! AUTOMATED THANK YOU DM’S
I was going to apologise in advance to anyone reading this who uses auto DM’s. But frankly, if they are relying on a piece of software to thank people, it’s highly unlikely they’ve ever made it to my blog and won’t see this anyway.
Why does it irk me so much? Where do I start?
Firstly, isn’t the whole essence of thanking someone about the sincerity of that thanks? Alright, it’s a sweeping generalisation to imply that all tweeps who use auto DM’s are an insincere bunch. But really what is the thought process, signing up to an app that thanks people on their behalf?? How is that supposed to encourage me to even bother interacting with them?
Secondly, receiving a “Hey thanks for following” and the even more annoying “Check out my Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Google+/website/granny’s local bridge club/whatever else I can harangue you into following…” message and sometimes the special added bonus of ‘Dear Absolutely’ I could silently scream. That is single-handedly the most effective way to make sure I don’t look at any of their stuff. (Which is a shame as I obviously had looked at their Twitter timeline before deciding to follow them only to be met with that dumbass DM.) I guess it works for people who are into the numbers game, and not the genuine relationships and engagement I mentioned earlier…
I love love Twitter. But sometimes…
It turns me into a grumpy woman with a leaning towards sarcasm and ranting.
And sometimes…I think the name should be changed to Twatter.
Right, excuse me, I’m off to thank some people and follow them back.
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So I’m back from freezing cold London where I went a week ago to film the remaining episodes of Bloggers’ Cafe Season 1. I actually can’t believe how willing people have been to travel in and meet Helen and myself not to mention how excited they’ve been to take part. Thank you SO much for all the love and support you’ve shown the series so far, you lovely people! And now here we are at Bloggers’ Cafe S1 Ep3.
IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE. BLOGGERS’ CAFE EPISODE 1 IS HEEEEERE!!
I’m ridonkulously excited to announce we’ve FINALLY launched Season 1 of Bloggers’ Cafe! This is quite possiblythemost excited I’ve been about anything in a very long time! As some of you know, last December I flew back to the UK to start filming a brand new vlogging venture with the incredible Helen of Just Saying Mum. I can’t begin to describe how much fun it was or how many times we felt utterly lucky to have gained as much interest and participation as we did from willing bloggers. (You can read this separate post about the weekend itself, hilarious moments and a background on how Bloggers’ Cafe came about.)
I ALSO CAN’T BEGIN TO DESCRIBE HOW CHALLENGING IT WAS ON CERTAIN FRONTS!
Helen’s right when she says we had this ridiculous idea that two vloggers who live in two different countries could make this work. But we did and we are! We didn’t have a location til the eleventh hour, the mic on the fab camera that Helen got for filming wouldn’t cooperate, we ended up using our phones and having a fair few storage issues…and don’t talk to me about editing! Suffice to say, I need a hair appointment as I’ve got grey hairs from fighting with Adobe software etc and I ended up hiring someone from Fiverr.com (no this is not a sponsored post for them!) to work their magic.
WE MAY NOT BE TOTAL VLOG VIRGINS BUT IT WAS STILL A LEARNING CURVE!
This is our first attempt at something like this so Season 1 of Bloggers Cafe may look a bit rough around the edges (well I am from Wembley and Helen’s from Essex so what do you expect? Joke) but I hope you enjoy it and bear with us while we figure out tweeks here and there.
I for one thing certainly learned that:
it doesn’t matter how BIG the ‘please do not disturb…filming in progress’ sign is, people WILL disturb and actually move the sign aside while they come up to see what’s being filmed!
in fact, they’ll then stand there and watch you for a good few minutes
a grown man won’t spot three women on a sofa in front of a camera and he will play a game of pool whilst those three women are filming (even my best Punjabi glare didn’t get his attention)
sometimes it’s easier to get a coffee at Pret a Manger than in a hotel
there will always be some eventuality you couldn’t predict such as ‘overestimating December’: it went dark where we were filming and no lights came on!
or underestimating one’s iPhone brightness (this vlog is rather ‘well lit’)
Malta, my adoptive home, doesn’t have the monopoly on noisy construction 24/7 and it is possible to sit in a swanky hotel talking loudly above clanging lift repairs
we need lapel mic’s to cut out background noise for Season 2
bloggers are the best!
Helen is even bestest and I’m super lucky to be working with such a pro.
THAT’S ENOUGH PREAMBLE FROM ME. LET’S GET ON WITH THE SHOW!
This has been written in response to increasing confusion amongst bloggers about what Linkis actually is and does. The purpose of this article is to highlight that a vast number of Linkis ‘users’ are in fact using Linkis without realising they are doing so or understanding what they have signed up to. You will find instructions on how to delete linkis towards the end of the post if you choose to.
DO YOU RUN A WEBSITE/BLOG ON WHICH YOU SPEND YOUR VALUABLE TIME WORKING TO CURATE/WRITE CONTENT?
A site that is your baby, your brain child, your own corner of the internet? If the answer is yes, then let me ask you this.
ARE YOU SURE YOUR OWN URL IS SHOWING WHEN YOUR POSTS ARE TWEETED? OR IS A THIRD PARTY APP REPLACING YOUR URL’S WITH THEIR OWN?
A third party app that in fact then obliges people to activate an account BEFORE THEY ARE ALLOWED TO READ YOUR POST and then only lets them read your post within that app’s own screen WITHOUT ANY MENTION OF YOUR OWN SITE IN THE BROWSER WINDOW:
What am I talking about?
CHECK YOUR TWITTER TIMELINE
Do your tweets (for your content) show YOUR url or a Linkis In.is/com url?
Do your tweets (sharing other people’s posts) show THEIR url or the In.is/com url?
If the answer to either or both of these is yes, then you may want to do something about it! Why do I say this? Blogger Life of Tont tweeted me to ask:
Do you know that Linkis.com have taken over your Twitter account?
I didn’t know what he meant. Upon closer inspection, I noticed this:
ALL MY POSTS WERE GOING OUT ON TWITTER WITH IN.IS/COM/…INSTEAD OF MY OWN URL’S
I was horrified. It turned out I had unintentionally activated a linkis.com account.
I THEN REALISED MANY BLOGGERS HAVE AUTHORISED LINKIS AND EACH TIME THEY SHARED MY CONTENT, THE SAME PROBLEM WAS HAPPENING!
Upon realising that this was in fact a linkis customised tweet, Jane was dismayed as, like so many others, she had not even realised what was happening to her tweets. She has since revoked Linkis access to her tweets…see below on how to remove Linkis prefixes from your tweets.
HERE’S THE KICKER
If you were to click on the link in that tweet (on Twitter I mean, not here) you would be greeted with this:
That’s right. Same problem as on the tweet itself.
Can you see how my site is hidden underneath? You have to click on that authorise button to get to my site. (It’s even more galling when you’re trying to click on your OWN content and have to authorise an app to view your own site.)
However, upon doing that, you would be viewing my site from within the linkis frame to which they then add a further bar showing the details of the linkis user (who tweeted the post). Hang on. Where does my site feature in all this?
WHY IS IT PROBLEMATIC WHEN TWEETS FEATURE THE LINKIS URL? SURELY IT’S JUST A URL SHORTENING SERVICE LIKE BIT.LY, OW.LY ETC?
Linkis.com describe themselves as a link customization service. Unlike URL shorteners, Linkis allows its users (who in most cases don’t even realise they are Linkis users!) to add their own information, image, bio, social accounts etc to their tweet. Linkis also adds a further top bar above the content (ie your post) that its users share. This is marketed as a benefit. Perhaps there are bloggers out there who see it as a benefit to share someone else’s content (but change their link while doing so) whilst also adding their own ‘promotional extras’. I must clarify that this does not apply to Jane’s tweet obviously.
But think of it this way.
WHAT IF YOU’RE WORKING WITH A BRAND FOR WHOM YOU’VE WRITTEN AN ARTICLE…AND THEN SOMEONE ELSE (A LINKIS USER) TWEETS THAT ARTICLE, ADDING DUBIOUS UNWANTED TEXT ETC IN THEIR TWEET?
You have no control over this! All your hard work can go down the drain just like that. Whilst doing my research for this post, it wasn’t clear if linkis cover themselves in their T&C’s about the user being responsible for using the linkis service.
RE: COPYRIGHT, WHEN DID YOU GIVE YOUR PERMISSION FOR THOSE OTHER PEOPLE TO SHARE YOUR CONTENT VIA LINKIS?
If like me, you have copyright notices on your blog, then those people using linkis to share your content are committing copyright infringement. Yet they don’t realise as they’re not doing it deliberately or maliciously.
IT’S ALSO REALLY DAMAGING FOR YOUR SITE TRAFFIC/SOCIAL MEDIA GROWTH
John Doe see’s Jane’s tweet about my Annoying Things About Blogging post. He thinks “Wow this looks worth reading” (he’s a smart fella…it is quite good, if I say so myself 🙂 ).
He reads it, staying within that linkis screen and doesn’t register he’s on absolutelyprabulous.com because that bar on the screen shows Jane’s avatar and social media buttons, not mine.
Worse, he’s so put off by the authorise button, he clicks away without reading it at all. Reader and potential follower lost.
IT ALSO SEEMS THAT LINKIS HAS A SINISTER ALMOST MALWARE-LIKE ASPECT TO IT.
Firstly, look at this survey Tony carried out on Twitter.
Incidentally, according to Tony, the ‘No I love them’ 1% response came from…. Linkis.com!
Now consider this:
John Doe see’s Jane’s tweet about my Annoying Things About Blogging post. He thinks “Wow this looks worth a read”.
He clicks on the tweet, then hits that authorise button.
BOOM he’s now a linkis user meaning that EVERYTHING he tweets from now on will be replaced with In.is/com/etc
He loves the post so much (thank you John), he retweets it
John’s friend Joe Bloggs sees his RT. Joe thinks “Wow, this looks good” and clicks and reads
BOOM he’s now a linkis user… See what’s happening here?
History repeats itself and like a contagion, the linkis usage spreads uncontrollably and apparently with very few people realising they’re infected and that they’re infecting others.
The final straw for me is when I looked at my daily stats and noticed that one of my ‘referrers’ was linkis. Hang on. Someone has shared my content (thank you to them) but linkis assumed ownership of the post url and is then referring my traffic back to me?! Er no thank you!
I set about solving the problem and restoring ‘ownership’ of my tweets.
THE PROBLEM IS THAT WHILE YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT HOW YOUR OWN TWEETS ARE GOING OUT, YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT OTHER LINKIS USERS’ TWEETS THAT SHARE YOUR CONTENT.
The only way to extinguish this Twitter wildfire problem is for bloggers to be aware of this negative side of Linkis and SPREAD THE WORD. Hopefully, if enough people catch on – PlLEASE SHARE THIS IF YOU FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT THIS ISSUE – that will spread as effectively as the linkis issue. (In the spirit of transparency, there is a caveat at the end of this post explaining Linkis’s side of it.) However, f you are not convinced of the ‘positive’ side that Linkis promotes in the articles mentioned in the caveat, then do the following:
TO REMOVE LINKIS IN.IS/COM/… FROM YOUR TWEETS AND REINSTALL YOUR OWN URL’S TO YOUR TWEETS DO THIS:
Go to your Twitter settings
scroll down to apps and locate linkis amongst authorised apps
click on revoke access.
You can’t see linkis in this particular screenshot because I removed mine but if you’ve authorised Linkis, they should show up in this tab. If not, see option 2.
DID THIS WORK? IF YOU CAN’T SEE LINKIS AMONG YOUR AUTHORISED APPS BUT YOUR TWEET URL’S ARE DEFINITELY REPLACED BY LINKIS THEN TRY OPTION 2:
Go to linkis.com. (Don’t worry, you won’t be accidentally authorising them to do anything on your behalf by signing in!) You sign in via Twitter.
Turn off ‘auto-branding’.
That’s it! Your linkis is deactivated and you are linkis-free!
This post might be seen as controversial but that is not the intention. I came up with ten annoying things about blogging myself and then thought I’d ask some others to contribute. It turned into a much longer list! Fact is, I’ve written this after countless conversations with/comments from bloggers; much as most of us love what we do, this was a post that was begging to be written! So I admit it may seem as if there is a LOT to dislike about blogging…to the point where you may wonder why we bloggers don’t just stop blogging and become window cleaners instead.
Problem is, I’ve never been good at cleaning windows…
I LOVE BLOGGING FOR MANY REASONS
I’ve been at it for three years at the time of writing and can’t quite remember how I existed before it to be honest. So far so warm and fuzzy.
I also hate it at times.
GASP! Uh oh, she’s throwing her toys out the pramt! No not really. Well, a bit. As with any job or hobby, there are aspects of blogging that aren’t great. They don’t exactly make me want to hide away in a dark room and suck my thumb but I can’t deny they do get on my wick. So I thought I’d cover some of those downsides. Surely, however, when there is real crap going on in the world – war, famine, terror, rape, unparalleled refugee crisis, Trump – pondering over the annoying things about blogging is some bourgeois luxury? And it’s not like it’s the first time I’ve wrung my hands about this job/passion/addiction. No, that’s a tad simplistic and we wouldn’t do, speak or write anything about anything if I always assumed that position. So without any further preamble, here is a list (along with some hashtag snarkiness) of things that annoy bloggers.
1. TIME! The bane of all blogger’s lives. Unlike with a lot of ‘regular’ jobs that one leaves behind at the office, you can blog 24/7. The very freedom it gives you can also create a prison because you’re always aware you can blog anywhere anytime.The writing and the promotion and the brand collabs and the reading other blogs and the linkies and the social media and the e-v-e-r-t-h-i-n-g. And apparently I’m meant to drink at least two litres of water a day and remember to breathe. When? WHEN?! Basically, there just aren’t enough hours in the week life for it all. #PleaseSendVodkaAndChocolateButMainlyVodka
For me it’s all the behind the scenes tinkering that goes into your website. I installed a plugin that messed up a load of posts so I had to fix all of that but the tech side is totally invisible to the reader. So you can stay up til 1am crying over a bit of code that may as well be Latin but to the outside world it just looks like you’ve not posted for a week. Because there’s no sodding time! Sam
2 ALL. THE. SOCIAL. MEDIA. Probably one of THE most annoying things about blogging and perfectly summed up by Sam and John. Actually I think Sam’s suggestion should be the law:
Time blocking social media doesn’t work; it’s a total fallacy. If you’re not on it 24/7 you feel like you’re missing out which is a horrendous blight to the work/life balance! I wish the whole blogging world could take Sundays off. Sam
“If there’s one thing I dislike, it’s having to remain constantly active on social media. I use Twitter, IG, FB, YouTube, Google + etc. and while I love the interaction, discussion and debate, keeping on top of all channels is time consuming and it can be difficult to switch off.” John
ALGORITHMS & RANKINGS NOBODY UNDERSTANDS AND MIND GAMES
3. INSTAGRAM FOLLOW UNFOLLOW FOLLOW UNFOLLOW Seeing your Instagram followers go up and down like a yoyo, thanks to Instagrammers with too much ego and too little sense playing that ridiculous game of ‘follow to unfollow’. What a disheartening and frankly mannerless waste of everyone’s time to wake up to notifications about a bunch of new followers only to find your overall follower number is in fact lower than or the same as it was the day before. I love the feelgood factor of this platfrom but the unfollower thing? Instasham! The school playground was a long time ago. #JustGrowUp
murdering post reach so you’re forced to spend money to boost posts if you want anyone other than your granny and her pussy – excuse me – to read your content. Clearly your followers would rather see adverts for self-improvement courses and chakra jewellery than your latest post… #ImNotNiceWhenImAngry
And the never-ending mystery and frustration (or maybe I’m just doing something wrong?) of no longer being able to like or comment on bloggers’ posts (on their page) as your own page id. I don’t publish my name anywhere on my blog or Facebook page for privacy reasons and can’t understand why Facebook expects me to show my full name when commenting on a person’s page. What benefit is that to the blogger or me? (Sadly, in order to join Facebook groups, I’ve had to reveal my name which I’m unhappy about beyond all measure.)
5. KLOUT DISCONNECTING LINKED NETWORKS WITHOUT WARNING OR EXPLANATION You put a tonne of work into growing your IG regularly only to notice your Klout has dropped several places! Upon closer inspection, it turns out Instagram was disconnected. No idea why, no idea when. And it keeps happening. #MakeItStop
6. RANKINGS Cue silence. From me that is. I’m far too chicken to say anything on this topic. Luckily, the inimitable Fran isn’t.
Blogger ranking schemes take into account everything but the quality of the writing; some brilliant blogs get overlooked just because the bloggers behind them can’t be arsed to play the instagram game. Fran
7. LOSING OUT TO BLOGGERS WITH FAKE HUGE FOLLOWER NUMBERS (THAT PEOPLE BELIEVE) Okay, I couldn’t stay silent. Seriously the shortsightedness here would be funny if it weren’t so damned frustrating. How do people not see what’s going on? It doesn’t take a social media expert or statistician to work out that if someone has several hundred thousand followers, is only following a few hundred themselves and gets about 40 likes on their posts – those are ghost followers. Ain’t no engagement, ain’t no real person. #GetWithTheProgramme
I simply can’t be bothered and am frankly too busy to:
spend [my] evenings following and unfollowing on twitter and the like. Fran
WORKING WITH BRANDS!
This is an enormous topic that I could (and should) write about separately. Grab yourself a drink (actually can you get me one too?) and let’s do this! #InhaleExhale
8. BEING EXPECTED TO PROSTITUTE YOUR INTEGRITY AND TIME FOR FREE
The expectation that you will write about anything and everything just because somebody has pitched it to you like you are there to blog at the whim of everyone else and their agendas…NO, just NO! (You can pay me for that…and then maybe). Talya
I get annoyed by people wanting to work with you and then flinging the follow link bulls**t in after you’ve done the work. Sarah
9. WHILST HAVING TO TOLERATE RIDICULOUS SUGGESTIONS AND COMMENTS
“If you just write a short post mentioning us, share it on social media with our name and maybe mention us elsewhere on your site, that’s really no cost to you.” Er…so you mean you want me to work my bits off for nothing, give you a follow link AND give you free advertising? Wish I could unsee that email out of all the daft emails. #DidIJustRemoveMyOwnBrainWithoutRealising
“Your metrics are not good enough to justify the payment you’re asking for” Guess what? This was said by the same PR as above to a couple of my blog friends whose stats are to die for. Short of having an orgy with the heads of Google and Facebook to raise their rankings even further, I don’t know how their metrics could be any better. #BeCarefulBloggersDoTalk
10. THE GAP BETWEEN THE TIME AND EFFORT YOU LAY OUT AND WHAT YOU RECEIVE Hands up if you’ve put in several hours writing a comprehensive review with quality photos that took time to set up, in exchange for an item that is so low value that actually your labour and effot cost more than the item itself.
11. OUTREACH REPS/CONTENT WRITERS WHO CAN’T GET YOUR NAME RIGHT…
I’ve received so many emails starting with “Hey Absolutely” my eyes want to bleed. Come on, I know Indian names aren’t the easiest but seriously? My first name is not Absolutely and my last name is not Prabulous, #TotalFlippingTwonk
12…AND HAVEN’T THE FAINTEST IDEA WHAT YOUR BLOG IS ABOUT What’s more, does this sound familiar?: “Hey your site is awesome, especially your articles about fashion.” Thanks, my site is awesome (inside my tiny delusional brain) but as I’ve never written about fashion, it’s more obvious than 90% of Barry Manilow’s face now being plastic that you’ve never read a single thing I’ve written. #NowPleaseNaffOffAndDoYourResearch (Especially)
13. PR’S WHO DON’T RESPOND ONCE YOU’VE REPLIED ETC Rude!
If certain PRs weren’t so lazy and actually read blogs rather than just telling you they had, they would know whether someone was a ‘good fit’ and whether they were someone they wanted to work with before they emailed you and wasted everyone’s time. Fran
THE BLOG COMMUNITY, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
14. FOLLOW LINKS OR NO FOLLOW LINKS?! I’ve had so many conversations and read so much about this, I just want to go into a dark room on my own and suck my thumb for a while. There is a LOT of conflicting opinion on this from bloggers, digital marketers, reputable SEO experts and so on. I happen to be married to someone who’s specialised in online marketing for 15 years. I listen to him! And this lady…I listen to her succinct appraisal!:
I hate how people get hysterical about the right or wrong way to do it (e.g. accept or don’t accept follow links). BM
15. SOME ‘MEGA’ BLOGS ARE ACTUALLY NOT VERY GOOD Eeek! #WhatSheSaid
where the quality of the written English is terrible compared to other little blogs with brilliant writing. BM
I hadn’t thought of any of the following points in this section until Tony responded so this is all him:
16. THE NUMBER OF BLOGGING GROUPS
In 2016 I was added to 24 blogging groups that all did essentially the same thing. Many of the same people asking the same questions in multiple groups. The notifications did my head right in. Tony.
17. BLOGGERS BEHAVING BADLY
Rather than work hard to improve their brand, a minority seem inclined to just want to bring others down rather than build themselves up. I’ve met more nice people than mean, but that minority sometimes ruin the experience. Tony
18. THE VASTNESS OF THE BLOGGING COMMUNITY
One of the beautiful things about blogging is that anyone can do it, but because anyone can do it, everyone does it. Fighting for a larger slice of the pie has become so competitive and PR and brands exploit it. Tony
TECHNOLOGY (GOD HELP US ALL)
19. THE NEVER-ENDING LABYRINTH
I can’t even. I’ll just start weeping as I’ve still got PTSD from a hosting issue a few months ago. So I’ll let Tony take this last one too!
Technical stuff, coding, resolving design issues, head sections, analytics all confound and confuse me. I wish I had the time and patience to learn this craft better. Tony
20. LINKIS SOFTWARE Feeling more violated at your tweets being taken over by that linkis third party software (replacing your own URL’s with the in.is ‘prefix’) than if your house was burgled. No joke, we were burgled just six days after moving into our house and I honestly was less affected by that than this problem that I only knew about thanks to Tony again. If you are seeing this in your Tweet links: In.is/com/, I’ve written this post on how to delete them and restore your own links.
21. BLOG/SOCIAL MEDIA IMAGE SIZES Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube…headers, featured images, thumbnails, landscape, portrait, rectangular, square… I know I sound childish but whyyyyyy can’t there be one standard size? #MyHeadHurts
AAAAND THE REST!
The fact that there is always some d***head who takes it the wrong way, and goes out the their way to tell you that you’re an awful parent. It can be difficult not to dwell on that one person even when the other reactions were brilliant. Fran
23. HOW BLOG AWARDS WORK I wasn’t sure whether to mention this as I’ve won one and I don’t agree with one of the main opinions! General consensus is that winning a blog award is about the numbers game (which I used to think): ie the more followers you have, the more votes you’re going to get. Actually my IG, FB & Twitter numbers are even tinier than my boobs and yet I was still shortlisted despite all the other finalists having bigger followings. Basically I don’t think anyone knows the mechanics of it!! But I know from talking to bloggers and reading posts like this one by Frenchie Mummy that this is the general view:
Awards are often about your social media following rather than quality. [There are blogs that are] not very well written but have legions of followers and some beautiful writers miss out. Sarah
24. LINKIES AND RULES
This might throw a spanner in the works but for many, certain rules which oblige the linker to comment on specific posts just because of their place in the link up – regardless of whether it’s the sort of thing they want to read – make it unenjoyable.
The fact that if you join linkies you end up having to comment on posts reviewing a random product or day out at a castle in Derbyshire. Sam
25. BEING ASKED “SO YOU JUST GET FREE STUFF AND WRITE A FEW PARAGRAPHS?
This may well be in a lot of bloggers’ top five most annoying things about blogging. Yes. Basically that is ALL we do. Oh and this. Because we’re fundamentally lazy.
SO WHY ON EARTH DO WE CARRY ON BLOGGING?!
Because while many feel these frustrations, it’s strangely addictive and rewarding.
Because while it can make you want to stick pins in your eyes, it’s also gratifying when people get what you write (or read it at all).
Because the support and camaraderie is wonderful.
Because many of us (particularly mothers) ‘find ourselves again’ through blogging.
IT GETS IN YOUR BLOOD
I can no longer just watch a film/TV show without playing Name That Font in my head for every credit or subtitle I see. (I now I need help.) I get more excited over noticing a blogger’s new website theme than if they told me they were having a baby. And if you think I’m just plain sad, check out How to Tell if You’re Officially a Blog Geek and see how many points you relate to!
IT CAN GIVE YOU OPPORTUNITIES YOU NEVER EXPECTED
“I love blogging. Although it wasn’t my intention, I kickstarted a career as a blogger and writer, one that I am able to fit around my family commitments, this is vital for me as a stay at home father. John
YOU SEE HILARIOUS STUFF LIKE THIS
Yes, you so need to be a blogger to find this funny.
I have some exciting news that I really want to share with you!
So I’m typing this late at night even though I’m dog tired from only hour’s sleep after a hectic few days and a hideously early start to catch my flight back to Malta. I got back today from London where I spent five days shopping for Christmas presents and sorting outfits for all six events my brother’s wedding (yes six and I’m all sorted!). This was my third trip to the UK this year, the most amount of trips I’ve done back to Blighty since moving to Malta eleven years ago.
But no, that’s not my exciting news.
Of course, there were the usual ‘interesting incidents and setbacks’ that I always seem to experience when I return to the UK, such as:
realising I’d only booked 15kg instead of 20kg baggage allowance and was 4kg over…I never book 15kg!
ransacking the house trying to find my MAC lipliner (basic survival item), finally sending le Hubster to buy a new one after he’d finished an evening work meeting, discovering the old one in my handbag the next day as we were leaving for the airport (quietly closing my hand around the offending item praying he hadn’t noticed)
almost leaving my phone behind in Malta and rushing back to the house to fetch it
wanting to chunder in the Costa Coffee queue at Malta International when the chap in front of me erm ‘evacuated’ some pungent air
enduring a multi-change train journey to get to my parents’ house (you know how I love to play that traditional game of ‘Musical Platforms’ aka ‘Don’t They Have Lifts in England?” which is best played with at least one heavy case) which prompted my dad to wonder if I’d in fact flown back to Malta and my brother to point out that there is in fact a much easier route from the aiport to ma and pa’s
discovering I’d come to the UK without my bank card but with my husband’s tootbrush
But no, none of those is my exciting news either.
My exciting news is that I’m launching a brand new vlog ‘chat show’ called Bloggers’ Cafe (#BloggersCafe) with Just Saying Mum and it’s coming to a screen near you in January 2017. Eeks.
I’ve been dying to say that bit ever since we first had the idea! Our new YouTube venture will bring you bloggers opening up about their experiences, tips, funny stories, opinions on blog ‘myths’ and hot topics. We’ve just spent two days filming it all in London (because that’s what I like to call the placing of an iPhone on a tripod and pressing record), thanks to the wonderful bloggers who came along to chat to us and of course the Hyatt Andaz Hotel for offering us a space in which to do it.
If I’m honest, I’m looking at those words in awe because now I’m back on my sofa in Malta, I actually can’t quite believe we pulled it off. It’s a miracle we didn’t suddenly chicken out, upon realising the daring ambitiousness of our last minute idea, given that we were attempting to carry it out in the midst of the annual Christmas run up when people are so busy.
How two bloggers in two different countries pulled Bloggers’ Cafe together from the original nugget of an idea to the actual realisation in just three weeks and in the middle of December, I just don’t know!
One thing I’ve learned is that Helen is much like me; when she’s got an idea, she’s like a dog with a bone. Neither of us was going to let the timing, location, different countries or parental constraints thing get in the way. Oh and did I mention we only had two filming days in the whole month to offer our guests as were tied to my existing flight dates?
A quick run down of what was involved:
1) well it started with a fair amount of excited squeals and a very long video call between Helen and myself.
2) properly conceptualising the idea, format, objectives etc because let’s face it, after the initial excitement and novelty of ‘we’re good blog friends and we want to do something together’, we needed to really think about the series’ benefits and why anyone would watch!
3) putting the call out for participants (which may have mentioned a cryptic reference to Helen’s and my failed attempt to share a bed at #BML16 but I can’t confirm or deny that).
4) putting explanatory info together for interested bloggers (I actually want to frame the email that went out because I’m a bit proud of it…I know, I need to get help).
5) securing participants (no mean feat in December given that people use their Saturdays to shop and there was also the parent blogger issue: #Childcare).
6) scheduling time slots for seven people (which despite its challenges was considerably easier than doing lunch boxes for three children).
7) coming up with the name, logo ideas etc (frankly I’d have cried if our participants refused to use that sign in the image above – all will be revealed next month as to how they use it – given the time it took farting around with stock photo libraries, photoshop and font sites because you know me…as mentioned above, when I have an idea, I have to see it through and I don’t make my life easy getting there.
8) a lot of Facetime, video calls, whatsapping, Facebooking, wifi problems and diary clashes while Helen and I tried to liaise with each other on the details.
9) the small matter of finding a venue, a matter which I had to dump on poor Helen as I couldn’t do much on that front from Malta. Let’s just say it went down to the wire and it’s the first time I’ve ever heard Helen say she felt stressed! We can’t thank the London Hyatt Andaz Hotel enough for their generosity.
10) actually filming it over the course of Saturday and Monday.
I honestly love love LOVED the whole experience and can’t actually believe that just three short months ago, I said no to the thought of vlogging…
…and yet here I am not only doing my own individual vlogs but working with other bloggers in front of the camera.Motherhood the Real Deal you are so right: vlogging is addictive! Of course, we had a few hiccups such as totally unexpected noisy lift repairs delaying the filming of our last session (you were so right Dad Blog UK about those lapel mics which I’ll definitely have to order for Season 2!), someone playing snooker even though he could see we were filming, people just moving the ‘filming progress’ sign to come and stare at us and of course the inevitable cancellations because it is not only the season of good will but also of bad colds and bugs.
But we did it!
My Vlog Partner Is Fab…Just Saying.
I can’t possibly end this post without a warm gushing soppy shout out to my friend and vlogging partner Helen whose refreshing blog I started following around March and whom I only met in person for the first time in June. The second time was…yep when we filmed Bloggers’ Cafe! There are those people in life with whom it’s just effortless and you feel like you’ve know them for ages. Helen is that person and we make a great team, if I say so myself and I just wish I could do all my vlogs with her.
I sincerely hope that Season 1 (I’m loving using words like ‘airing’ and ‘season’ as this is the only time in my life I’ve got a legitimate excuse!) is just the beginning of something wonderful. It has the potential to be, especially given the reactions to our various social media posts last weekend, not to mention those by the participating bloggers. You could sense the buzz and support. But you know what?
No matter what the future holds in store for #BloggersCafe, I think you just have to try in life. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that.
It isn’t always about crossing the finishing line; it’s just as much about making it to the starting point too.
So there you go, that was my exciting news.
Huge thanks to everyone who gave up their time to come and talk to us.
And to end…a vlog of course! Here’s a wee totally raw unedited vid we shot after we finished the first season.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR BLOGGERS’ CAFE, EPISODE 1 COMING TO A PHONE/LAPTOP SCREEN NEAR YOU IN JANUARY 2017!
#BlogStars is Finally BACK After a Crazy Long Break With 20 Amazing Posts!
Frankly, the word break is almost embarrassing. It’s been months since the last time I put one of these together and I’ve missed doing this post. It really is one of my blog babies as it’s such a great feeling promoting other people’s content, not just my own all the time and an honour feature good writing. If I say so myself, this edition of my amazing posts round-up is ‘a bit good’ people. Tis a veritable gallery of amaze balls talent and content. There are belly laughs galore, total heartbreakers, useful blog tips and thought provoking posts.. If I had a cheeky sense of humour and no filter, I’d crack a joke about having had multiple bloggasms reading the incredible posts listed below, but you know I’d never do that. Ever. Not cheeky. At. All. And my filter is well adjusted.
So, a couple of bits before we get on with the #BlogStars show:
1) Featured Blog Stars, Grab Your Badge!
Do feel free to stick this on your featured post and/or your blog sidebar or both!
2) If you enjoy this post and want to share it anywhere on social media – blogger or non blogger – can I ask you to use the hashtag #BlogStars? Cheers Big Ears!
Amy Treasure was one of the first people to lend me a helping hand when I was bumbling through the initial stages of taking my blog to the next level. Next time I see her, I’ll be giving her an enormous hug. Why? Because with this tremendous account of her battle to conceive again, one of the UK’s most successful bloggers has written one of the best posts I’ve read in almost 3 years of blogging. (And I don’t say things like that often because I’m a self-confessed language Nazi.) I stared at the screen with awe and emotion after reading this. Every word is perfection, the flow and structure superb, the story utterly gripping and the end…oh my… Ulltimately it’s a personal insight. It may be slightly graphic in parts but we’re talking making babies, not origami and frankly, this is REAL LIFE people! Not a puff piece about what handbag this Hollywood actress is currently ‘wearing’ or which latest human barbie doll that famous singer is screwing. Instead, what you have here is a profound article about the human condition, utter bloody will and sheer resilience. So if you enjoy reading engaging stuff that gets to your heart, I urge you to read this. Amongst the best two minutes you could spend.
Twitter: @AmyTreasureblog Facebook: AmyTreasureBlog
Heavens above, how clever and hilarious is this post? You know when you read a post and think er…hello?…why the heck has this not gone viral? Its style, tone, ingenuity and amusement level puts it right up there as one of the funniest I’ve read during this blogging lark. If you want short, sharp and entertaining, then click on that link and treat yourself. Idontgiveashitandjuststarvethen.com Ba ha HA!
Follow on Twitter @Another10Things Facebook And another ten things
Where to start?! What a wonderful bitter sweet uplifting saddening inspiring (I guess Sarah will hate that remark but it is) breath taking and oh so many other adjectives post. I am almost having to sit on my own hands to stop myself typing the complimentary comments Sarah doesn’t like people making because of course when I read bits such as the fact that she runs…well…I can’t even finish my sentence because I’m in such awe. I get it. When life deals us the cruellest of blows, we have two choices: either curl up in that ball and stay angry and defeated for the rest of our life or pick ourselves up and just get the heck on with the business of living and parenting. Clearly this blogger/mother/wife/woman made the right decision. Awesome.
Twitter: @blindintuition Facebook: blindintuition
This post put the wind back in my blog sails, excuse the dreadful pun. It’s not a long post at all and doesn’t need to be. Annette says what she needs to say (so instinctively as usual) with beautiful concise simplicity and I really do think she nails the description of blogging “From new little dinghies to established battle ships…” Pure magic!
Twitter: @3_littlebuttons Facebook: 3 little buttons
Oh Lizzie Lizzie…whilst I am jealous you went to Lego Land when I’ve still not managed to get there despite scoring free tickets last year (ugh)…I am not jealous you went to Lego Land. What are you on about Ms Prabulous? This: “face mask” and “coco pops”. Eff me I laughed. To be fair, this post is about only one part of the First Tooth family stay that wasn’t so great but the rest of the visit went well. I’m very happy for Lizzie and all that but frankly, it’s all about the face mask and the coco pops for me. Priceless.
Twitter: @firsttooth Facebook: firsttooth
Irish Baby Fairy
Sorry…couldn’t decide on one post from this wonderful blogger (I’m a Pisces…decisiveness is not my forté).
This is brilliant. From start to finish, it’s just brilliant. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed because I honestly don’t know. I do love how the ironic belly laughs give way to beautiful useful tips (alright they’re a bit funny too) at the end; a wonderful, unexpected touch. And the quotes from the dads are just genius. I won’t spoil it for you but the ‘silent movie…Exorcist’ line had me howling. PS praise your partner as much as possible.
[Hides behind sofa] Don’t hate me but there are certain topics I tend to scoot past when they crop up in my social media feed/linky circuit. Breastfeeding is one of them. Been there, done that, got the milk-stained tshirt. With a 12, 10 and 7 year old, my baby years are behind me and I’m in a very different stage of parenthood from many of my blogging peers. Translation: I’m ancient. BUT when I noticed this post by the Irish Baby Fairy I suspected I might be in for a treat. And I wasn’t wrong. This is one of those ‘is it bad that I laughed?’ posts because it describes an experience that was clearly not much fun for the person writing it. However, Lisa is just wonderfully funny and yes I did really chuckle in places (and wince in places too as the sheer pain of breastfeeding suddenly came back to me).
Twitter: @IrishBabyFairy Facebook: The Irish Baby Fairy
If it was possible to eat a blog post, this would be it (which is possibly a bit ironic given the subject matter). Simply one of the most beautiful blog posts I’ve read to the point where I struggled to think of how to describe it because I’m not sure I can do it justice. It is part of the clever and thought-provoking guest post series that the fab Charlie of Mess and Merlot is running about body image issues called She Loves Herself. Every post I’ve read so far has been engaging and touching and this one…awww…it just radiates dignity and positivity and gorgeousness. Frankly if you’re not in love with Dawn of Rhyming with Wine by the end of it [mimics audible gasp of disbelief]. The pledge to use actual makeup remover to take off makeup rather than her pillowcase (I howled!) and the mantra at the end blew me away (I’ve actually vlogged about that by the way).
Twitter: @MessandMerlot@rhymingwithwine Facebook: rhyminwithwine
Well if that isn’t a do what it says on the tin title, I don’t know what is! It really doesn’t matter how long I blog or how much I think I may already know, I never ever get tired of seeing Bloggy Tips posts and recently wrote one myself (it’s not shameless plugging when it’s on one’s own blog, ahem!). I’m sure there are those who get jaded as they’ve been around on the blog scene for a while but despite going for three years now, I’m still a blog advice junkie. And this post by Kellie fed my habit nicely. I can’t believe I’ve only just looked at her site when I’ve known of this award-winning blogger for a while but hey ho, life. Anyway I thoroughly recommend you read this, especially if you’ve not been blogging for long as I’m sure you will come across something you didn’t know or knew but had forgotten/not got round to putting into practice. Let’s face it; there is just so ruddy much to remember on the blog. Mental note to self: send Kellie a thank you card for the line about StumbleUpon. What she said!
Twitter: @MyLittleBabog Facebook: mylittlebabog
This is the blog post that broke me. A post that will stay with me long after others have faded. I’ve actually just welled up again typing that. Written by one of my most supportive blog mates Alan, (he reads almost everything I write, never hesitates to share my posts and knows flattery works on me…I adore him!), it just made my heart ache. And ache. It’s an account of him finally meeting his birth mother again many years after she walked out of his life as well as the effect that her departure has had on him throughout his life and on his own parenting. I pretty much read it with my heart barely daring to beat. You may feel like avoiding it if you’ve run out of kleenex. To which I say, just go get the toilet paper instead…because deeply sad as this is, it is well WELL worth a read.
Twitter: @omgitsagirl Facebook: OMG It”s a Girl
A quality offering from Claire. Again. Mind you that’s almost as pointless as saying the roads in central London get busy. Claire doesn’t know how to not do quality. So who better than Claire to talk about Push presents (no I’d never heard of them until Claire’s post but that’s not saying much because I’m always the last to know anything!). Honestly, she already had me with her description of that classy fella Kanye *sarcasm* and the bit: ‘may be a bit much before lunch’. The part that really made me laugh, however, was her mini rant explaining in no uncertain terms why pregnancy and birth are not a joint effort.
Twitter: @lifeloveanddd Facebook: Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Motherhood the Real Deal
The second time in this edition of #BlogStars where I struggled over which post to choose. There are two by my blogging bestie Talya that have stood out for me recently which show why she is just so flipping good at what she does because they are totally different:
I read this partly laughing my head off, partly going “Oh my God what? Parents actually do that?!!” (and I’m a parent myself ha ha) and partly thanking my lucky stars I don’t endure many of the points mentioned in this post. Talya just cracks me up; I can actually imagine her turning up at the gates, suddenly remembering an item that was due, being glared at by some self-righteous smart arse of a parent and just coolly pulling on her shades and hiding behind her oversized coffee and letting it wash over her! The bit about someone discovering the toddler alone and eating leaves. Ha ha!
Now I have to say, I’ve not read many posts by my blog wife that are as revealing and personal as this. I tend to see her list posts (such as the one I just mentioned before) that are hilarious or her blog tips or perspectives on parenting. This gorgeous heart wrenching post about her decision to have no more kids was an eye opener for me and in my opinion, a rare insight into the woman/mother herself. That last line…I won’t spoil it for you but it’s breathtaking. Do yourself a favour and read this.
Twitter: @motherhoodreal Facebook: Motherhood the Real Deal
Yes I admit, I clicked. This probably speaks volumes about my character and suggests I have a voyeuristic nature (to my surprise) but I’m sure Samantha is not unhappy that I clicked because we bloggers want to get read don’t we? What awaited me was a surprising, bitter sweet, gently funny (semi informative too!) but somewhat sad post about Samantha’s husband. It really is worth a read for all these qualities and the overriding message which I won’t reveal here. (She’s just lovely too.)
Twitter: @MouseMoo_MeToo Facebook: @Mouse, Moo and Me Too
“And the brave blogger award goes to…” Er, not me. Because I’m a total chicken and I put asterisks in ‘that’ word in the post title. I don’t type the F-bomb on my blog because despite having a truly hideous potty mouth in RL (and I mean hideous), I just can’t bring myself to do it on the blog. Terry-Ann swears a teeny bit on her blog. Not much actually. In fact, hardly at all. Seriously, go see for yourself. She’s ridiculously funny and hands down one of my top
three blog discoveries of the last few months Poor thing almost died in Primark by the way. Tis a tough life. You know…when you look nothing like Princess Kate, you have two spirited children and a lazy husband. That’s just made me want to swear…
Remember what I said earlier about generally sidestepping past breastfeeding posts? Not sure how to say this without digging an even deeper grave for myself but I almost didn’t click on this for the same reason. No disrespect to the talented fun Rach but when you’ve got kids as old as mine, most parenting topics have passed before your blogger eyes. That sounds so jaded doesn’t it? Anyway, the main thing is I did click on it and boy am I glad I did…because I ended up reading it three times. The bit about banking sleep made me chuckle and by the time I got to ‘naff off and worry about your own tits’ I was on the flipping floor. Even her ‘follow me’ Twitter thing on her blog is hilarious! She’s such good value this lass. Always.
Like a few others on here, I’ve featured this blogger before and there is just no way I can publish this edition of #BlogStars without featuring her standout parody/poem about the ‘man of the moment’ Donald Twunt. I’ve used the phrase ‘this is genius’ before and I don’t like over using phrases and diluting their meaning. But this blogger is just ridiculously clever (and I felt like writing a letter of complaint when she didn’t get through to the last five at the Brilliance in Blogging awards this year). So go read this. Then come tell me you don’t think this post/she is genius. I’m not a gambling woman but I’m willing to bet money you can’t. Hilarious and yet depressing at the same time, it is…genius.
I had the pleasure of meeting this young lady at #BML16 earlier this year. I think I may have stunned her with a hug if I recall. She happens to be one of my favourite bloggers. Her writing is just brilliant and I never fail to come away from reading her material nodding my head in agreement or thinking ‘wow how does she write like that?!’ She also happens to be a blogger who has quite openly pondered what blogging is all about and has talked about that dreaded blog demon: angst. And voilà, this post. Once again, she hits the ball out of the park and I can’t help find it ironic (sad?) that someone so talented with such a knack for the right turn of phrase at exactly the right moment, questions her blogging abilities. There again, blogging does that to us all! To be honest, the title of this post shows that Min is actually very savvy.
Ah Lucy Luuuuuuucy. If anyone can write a hilarious list of Do’s and Don’ts, it’s you! There again, I’d read anything by this blogger including her shopping list. This had me howling doing my linky reading on a Monday morning (you know while I was in my dry, fresh-smelling running gear…which I then got out of hours later without actually having run, ooooops). My faves were #1, #13 and #14 or more accurately #WhatAmISayingTheWholeThingIsFunny PS please consider publishing your grocery shopping list because it actually would be funny.
Twitter: @ThisMumsLife Facebook: @This Mum’s Life
Well I considered just leaving my commentary on this post at: Oh. Ma. Laad. That. Is. Well. Funny. But this is clearly a bit meagre compared to the write up everyone else gets. Thing is this post is so good – and let’s face it the title alone is enough to make you click and if it isn’t HUH???- that all I really need to say is: it’s a brilliant take on a topic I see written about a lot when it comes to motherhood and the blogger cleverly avoids using the obvious title she could have chosen. Someone please give this woman a medal because I can’t think of a better way to end this edition of the #BlogStars. Ballsy, well written and funny. What more do we need to end with?! Go stalk (her words) Laura forthwith with great haste etc on
Twitter: @TheUnsungMum Facebook: @the Unsung Mum
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Absolutely Prabulous, my Fourth Child is Three Years Old!
November is a mad month for me and my fam. Two nephews’ birthdays, parents’ anniversary, two of my kids have birthdays three days apart (hail my legendary family planning skills NOT) and the day after the second of those birthdays, my blog has its birthday (or blogiversary as it’s known). Now nature and biology are what they are; I couldn’t do an awful lot about my kids’ dates of birth once the baby-making deed was done. But quite why I chose to launch my blog the same week in which I am drowning in birthday organisation and my kitchen is covered in flour,sugar and eggs, I will never know. Excuse me while I sit down.
Anyway, I Thought I’d Write a Blogiversary Post…
Now I’ve never written one of these before as it didn’t dawn on me to do so and frankly I wouldn’t think I have much to say. However, I’ve noticed blogiversary posts here and there and it got me thinking that it would be a good idea to get a few thoughts down. I mean surely I’ve learned something right? So here you go, these are just fifteen of the many things I’ve learned in three years of blogging!
1) Almost Every Blogger Goes Through Blog Angst and Eventually Comes out the Other Side (one way or another)
Blog angst? I could write the book on it. Trying to do it all: write great content, build that Faceberk/Twatter/Instaglam following, read a dozen posts on just one linky and comment my bits off to support my fellow bloggers (and maybe pick up a new follower) get published on other sites in the hope of traffic and backlink benefit, work with brands offering nice-to-have products and ambassadeurship opportunities, writing sponsored posts that don’t make me feel like I’m selling my soul, earning an income SOMEHOW out of the whole damned gig. I could go on! I’ve written about the whole blog/family/life balance thing in Confessions of a Guilty Blogger and I Love Blogging but I’ve Made a Decision. What’s more, recently I read a cracking one by Squished Blueberries on this issue. I still go through phases (frequent phases ha ha) of wondering what I’m doing but I think I’m more at peace now than I ever have been with my blog (my close blogging friends will probably laugh reading that bit). I think more or less bloggers can be split into four categories:
Some bloggers lose themselves down a rabbit hole and give up altogether. Some make their peace upon recognising the enormity of effort required and settle for doing what they can when they can. Some decide what they want from blogging from the start and go after that.
Some have a laid back approach to the whole thing but end up being unexpectedly successful.
2) It’s okay to Write What People Want to Read but Don’t Forget to Write for Yourself Too
Now I know the super league élite will shake their heads at this. Obviously, if your game plan from the word go is to build a highly-monetised blog with incredible monthly stats, this doesn’t apply. That game plan involves writing specific content in a calculated stye. But I honestly believe it’s so important to write posts for you, posts that are straight from the heart whether they’re sensitive or controversial, content that says what you really feel rather than soulless words you’re typing just to be seen to have typed them, posts you simply have to share no matter if it’s only you and your mum reading them. As the Glorious Life said recently (in a post about blogging) the one thing that you have is you. Nobody can write what’s in your heart like you can, because it’s in your heart. Nuff said.
3) It’s Fab to Win a Blog Award but Life Doesn’t Change Much and You Still Have to do the Laundry
A tongue in cheek one here! Winning my BiBs award was the biggest highlight of this year. I still smile about it. It was also an interesting lesson…I went through a lot of doubt wondering if every post I wrote had to be amazing after that. I wouldn’t say I had any more brand approaches than those I was already receiving. And rather annoyingly I still need to do mum things. Pfft.
4) You Learn SO Much as a Blogger…but You’ll Never Know Everything
I often think I don’t know much about blogging, yet repeatedly there are examples of just how much I’ve learned in the last three years. From building my site to how to get Faceberk to stop pulling the wrong images to SEO best practice to cross-posting to duplicate content penalties to photoshop to THIS! (<p> </p>) to plugins to DA’s to putting the right person at the front of a tweet to getting grips with YouTube to hashtags to the correct social media images sizes…the list goes on. Yet despite knowing a crazy amount of stuff and being quite fluent in blog speak, it’s impossible to know everything. I can still spend hours trying to figure something technical out which once figured out, will then change some time later due to Google changing its rules or Faceberk messing around yet abloodygain with its algorithm or Instagram deciding it no longer allows this, that or the other.
5) Not Everybody Understands Reciprocity and at Some Point You Probably Will Experience a Bloggers Behaving Badly Incident
Yeah…I’ll let than one hang there in the air for a while and perhaps elaborate on that in the future. For the time being I’ll just say, be kind. Good karma is…well exactly that. Good. Sharing someone else’s post doesn’t take long and it makes them SO happy. Pay it forward. The blogosphere is big enough; there is room for all of us. And when another blogger does you a kind deed, be it sharing a post with a big write up or just a simple RT, thank you goes a long way. I know we all get busy doing life and sometimes the day/week gets away from us. But thank you takes seconds. Just saying.
6) Content Will Aways Win over Design but a Shiny Looking Blog Doesn’t Hurt!
Okay, we know it. You can have the sexiest best designed blog everrrr. But if you’re not writing engaging/useful/moving/informative/relateable (pick your adjective of choice depending on what you’re all about) content that people want to read, then it really doesn’t matter how nice your blog looks, that reader ain’t staying. However, just throwing in my AbPrab tuppence worth here, it doesn’t hurt to have a well designed blog that is easy on the eye. (Ignore the design of mine, it’s driving me nuts after three years and I need a change!) I’ll be honest, superficial as this may make me sound, I’ve immediately clicked away from blogs the layout/colour/fonts of which gave me a headache. If your site is easy to navigate and half decent, it MAY just be the difference between that person staying on your blog a wee bit longer to see what else you have to say and clicking away. Simples. Talking of content:
7) You Can Spend Days Labouring over a Post You Think is the Best Thing Ever and it Bombs, Then Bash one out in Minutes and it Goes Viral
Go figure. This is why I’m not sure scheduling posts actually works for me. I find they are the ones that are too thought out and almost a bit soulless. The ones I write after a whimsical idea work best. So I’ve decided not to put the same level of meticulousness into every post I write, as I used to. I’ve actually made myself let posts go out recently that are 90% ok instead of endlessly reworking them as I used to. Hubster once told me the saying:
Better an imperfect plan executed today than a perfect plan put off til tomorrow.
I kind of agree even though the perfectionist in me wanted to rip her own ears off when he first said it. He also said something else which has turned out be proven right time and time again. In fact, this very post has been one of those examples because I almost scrapped it thinking it would just come across as self-aggrandising rather than helpful (and am just adding this bit a week after original publication as so many people have described is a really useful tips post):
Don’t second guess whether you should publish a post because it’s ‘not good enough’. It’s not actually up to you to decide what people do and don’t want to read. It’s up to them. So just write the damned post!
In fact, this also ties in with something else he pointed out (number 8). Honestly, I might want to wring his neck sometimes but the man doth speak sense:
8) You Need to Learn What to Write for Human Eyes and What to Write for Google Eyes
Love it! Epiphanyyyyyyyy. (Can you hear me singing that?) Believe it or not, not every post needs to be a masterpiece. No I’m not at all encouraging churning out post after post at the expense of quality. However, it is in fact alright to write some posts with enormous attention to detail on all fronts while publishing others in which you have invested very little time, (purely to score brownie points off those Google bots who have a thing for regular posting).
9) Blogging Can Help You Find a Sense of Purpose
I love my kids but SAHM motherhood can make you lose yourself in a parenting wilderness of permanently sticky floors and endless birthday parties. Launching AbPrab helped me find a huge part of me again that had somehow got lost along the way with all the nappy changing, packed lunches and homework. It has also ignited in me a dream I never knew I actually had…to write for newspapers or magazines or I don’t know SOMETHING that I’d never ever have thought to do if it weren’t for AbPrab.
10) Your Blog Goals Can Change and That is Just Fine.
I can’t imagine there are many bloggers whose outlook hasn’t slightly shifted or indeed fully metamorphosed since they started out. I’m mulling over my own goals a fair bit at present and I may change my mind next week (I’m a Pisces after all) but I think I’m leaning away from heavy monetisation of my blogette. I’ll still carry on deriving some income from it but I think I may instead pursue paid content writing.
11) Getting on the HuffPost is Nice for Your Media Kit but…That’s About It.
I hesitated to include this as I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble. I see posts from ecstatic bloggers excitedly announcing they’ve got on to the Huff – and yes I did that too and I’ll be honest there is still something nice about seeing my name and bio under that hallowed Huff header – but sadly, it is well documented that it does nothing to drive traffic to one’s site. I guess the exception might be if they feature you on their front page as a pick of the day/week. Once I realised that was the case for me, I stopped contributing regularly and just picked the occasional post to send to them. I then decided to submit more often when I remembered I do get the benefit of the powerful Huff backlink which helps DA score.Except guess what? Rumour has it this is no longer the case because of changes made to the HuffPost platform and follow link policy. No more link juice baby.
12) Blogging Gives You a Legitimate Excuse to Make Friends Online Without Feeling like a Weirdo!
13) Blog Success is Subjective (and some of it is smoke and mirrors)
Crazy monthly traffic? Collabs with amazing brands? High engagement? Awards? High Klout/Tots scores? A DA above 40? We all see blog success differently. And sometimes all is not what it may seem. None of us really knows what is going on behind the scene screen with a blogger. I’ve been lucky (and totally bemused I might add) to be described in high terms by my fellow bloggers and often go to cafes/ladies’ nights out and meet total strangers who recognise me and talk effusively about the blog. I’m taken aback and think really? But I’m not earning large, I’m not working with a huge amount of brands, my DA is in the respectable bracket but not high high. Meanwhile other bloggers look at me (I”m told) in terms of the award and other finalist place or the not too shabby looking blog design or…or…whatever it is that makes them think I’m in some blog super league because honestly I’ve no idea what they’re looking at!! Ultimately I’m too close to it anyway but I’m convinced it’s all relative and what one perceives as a successful blog can just be a case of smoke and mirrors.
14) Do What Suits YOU First Because Nobody’s Paying as Much Attention to Your Blog as You Are.
I know. GASP! It’s truuuuuuue. (Well alright not if you’re a super uber mega league blogger whose every post people are hanging on for.) I’m not being unkind; I just mean when we are too close to something, we think everyone notices what we see. Fact is, unless you’re on an official deadline (linky hosting, guest posting or publishing a sponsored post) nobody will even notice if you don’t publish that post today, or tweet 30 times on Wednesday or Instagram the hell out of your whole week. And if they notice, they’re hardly going to hold it against you. Fair enough, I’ve been caught out by subscribers wondering if they missed an email from me (mental note to self, send out next email to my subscriber list). I freely admit, I need to take my own advice here as I get into the flow writing and stay up blogging when I should just go the hell to bed or shut the laptop and hug my kids on the sofa in front of a film already! But I’ve become aware of it and am working on it.
When all is said done, you just have to do what works for you, your family, your sanity… As Louise of Squished Blueberries put it so eloquently in her fab post Some Thoughts about Life and Blogging
I will never write a post because I feel like I should, because everyone else is writing those kind of posts, because I think it’s what other people want to read, because people might search for it on google, or because someone has given me a free pack of ham.
15) Fight Your Fear and Do Things You Didn’t Think You’d Ever Do
Vlogging is my big one. Seriously, if I can put my aversion to seeing and hearing myself to one side, then anyone can!
Oh…looky look..talking of vlogging…
I know I’ll remember ten more things tomorrow but I bashed this post out super fast as I’m trying not to over think all my posts to death! The other reason is that it’s now time for my linky with Becky to go live, I need to talk to another blogger regarding something and I still haven’t made dinner and my kids are starving. (And tonight’s delectation is baked beans on toast because Mum’s been too busy blogging…what was that about balance?)
I’M A FINALIST (EEK!) IN THE READER’S CHOICE CATEGORY OF THE BRILLIANCE IN BLOGGING AWARDS. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO VOTE FOR ME TO WIN, I’D BE SO GRATEFUL AND HONOURED! Just click on this THIS LINK and fill in boxes 1, 2 and 13. Super quick and easy! (Voting closes July 2nd.)
you are super uncomfortable being in front of a camera because you feel it screams “me me, look at me!”(as if blogging doesn’t do that enough already) ??
you feel like a fraud expecting anyone to watch you on film as you don’t feel you have anything useful to contribute ??
you struggle to even breathe without pulling four different facial expressions ??
you say ‘you know’ a ridiculous number of times ??
you think your accent makes you come across as ‘up yourself’ and oh my God is that a faint hint of Indian accent in there somewhere?!
What do you do? Anyone? You at the back… You start vlogging. Obviously!
Yes, it’s finally happened. I am following the herd wisening up about the benefits of YouTube for my blog (I think) and joining the millions of people who vlog.
Vlogging? I didn’t even know the term til a few months ago, being the ‘late adopter’ that I am. Seriously, Hubster mentioned a few years ago that I resist change and don’t take easily to new trends/technologies/tools. The little upstart had the cheek to point out that when I do try something new, I grumble and almost throw my toys out of the pram at e-v-e-r-y little hurdlethat I come up against (honestly that man…who does he think he is reading my character so well and making me aware of something I didn’t know about myself? Pfft #marriage).
I’m trying not to feel daft talking about my vlog efforts because I really do see myself as a writer (and to be honest felt like a fraud even calling myself that until the whole awards thing this year). I really don’t feel comfortable calling myself a vlogger. Ridiculoso.
But amazingly since uploading my first vid and literally mentioning it just once on Faceberk, it’s actually had views and I don’t simply mean from me and my husband.
So Why Vlog?
Believe it or not, after spending the last few days chewing my poor husband’s ears off spewing out negative energy in the form of:
I don’t ‘get vlogging
Why do people vlog?
What on earth should I vlog about?
Who would want to watch a fast-talking over-animated person like me?
I’ve no idea why I’m spending time on this…
…I had a sudden epiphany at around 9pm the day my first vlog went up!
Of course, if I’d just bothered to quit moaning for long enough to google the benefits of vlogging in the first place, I’d have found out that it’s apparently a good traffic-driver if done well (you’ll have to decide for yourself whether I did well when you watch the clip below) and that one third of all internet traffic goes through YouTube. I believe the phrase one uses here is no brainer.
No, being a lifelong lover of taking the short cut only to find that it leads to the long cut, I’m afraid the ear-chewing thing and zero googling took place. Then the following dawned on me: I was inputting the titles and tags for the videos on my YouTube Channel. As I inserted simple ‘does what it says on the tin’ titles, I realised that
Vlogs don’t have to be complicated masterpieces that take hours to put together, requiring perfect SEO (take that Yoast with your green light!), attention-grabbing titles and eye-catching images, like blog posts do.
I can make short snappy videos about certain things that I wouldn’t necessarily write about, either because I don’t have the time to write up every idea I have or because certain subjects don’t even lend themselves to the written form. The large waves we had in Malta last weekend are a perfect example of this or the rubbish vacuum cleaner I’m having problems with. Because you know what? Somebody somewhere will be on YouTube looking for videos of waves (yes really…it’s already had views and I haven’t mentioned it anywhere) or specific vacuum model issues.
People can be far more inclined to watch a brief video that they can just quickly digest in their lunch hour than read a War and Peace length tome of a blog post (she said doing a bad job of promoting her blog ha ha). People go to YouTube to look for something specific. If you’ve got a video on that specific thing and you’ve thought your tags through even on a minimal level, bingo…you’ll get views. Frankly, my very limited experience of it so far seems to be showing that:
So much less work is required getting people to see your YouTube content than your blog content.
I’ve already got ideas running through my brain about the many things I can vlog about that I would never ever bother to write about but which are actually really useful things to throw out there in video format. Reviews will definitely be on there…I’ll be using my channel, where possible, to review the products I’m sent by brands.
What Did I Talk About and How Did I Do on My First Vlog?
Er…you’ll have to watch it won’t you? Pah…you didn’t think you were getting away that lightly did you.
It’s really worth watching. Honestly it really is. There’s:
a rogue power cable (seriously how did I think just moving it to the left a bit would hide it? muppet).
inappropriate leg flashing (as I used my phone and had to walk to and from its location as there was only one okayish place light-wise/where it wouldn’t fall over)
me in that standard totally conventional vlogging position: on my knees (to be honest I didn’t think anything of this because I’m trying to change my general perfectionist/overthink everything to death behaviour so I just went with it)
Last but Not Least
I do think I need to do a bit of a shout out to some of my blogging crew Emma, Helen 1, Helen 2, Becky, Talya, Claire, Sarah and LauraThese poor ladies tirelessly listened to me moan and tried to advise me on tech stuff during my two-day near breakdown. No joke: I was fighting back tears of utter frustration at one point because I had so SO many blog duties from reviews to post writing to linkies to email list management to blah blah (you know how it goes) awaiting my attention. Yet again I could see my day being obliterated and my ‘comeback resolution’ – to only work in the mornings and down tools at 1pm to do lunch/dinner prep/housework before the afternoon school run/homework/activities schedule takes over – totally failing.
They also watched my painful first vlog attempt and some of them signed up immediately. Oh…that reminds me (what a coincidence):
If you want to subscribe to my YouTube channel, you can do so super quickly by clicking hereand hitting the red subscribe button far right.
I won’t stop you. I’m nice like that.
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I sat down to start catching up on the mountain of blog work that awaits me now that I’m back from my trip to London for the MADs and realised maybe I ought to write something about my trip to the UK!
You can read about my thoughts on going before I actually left for the UK here in this post which was just an excuse to be silly. Meanwhile, here’s what did happen at the MAD Blog Awards 2016 it went something like this:
Dropped kids at school in Malta (if you’re new to my blog, I don’t mean I went to Malta to drop my kids off at school, I mean I live there) and gave them wet sloppy goodbye kisses.
Usual delayed Ryanair flight which is one of the privileges you pay for when you book with them…I always look forward to that bit…TOTAL fun (especially the bit where people nevertheless stand for forty minutes plus in the queue at the gate despite the fact that the plane hasn’t even reached the airport yet never mind be in a position for them to board it or the fact that they’ve got allocated seats which nobody is going to take away from them whether they stand or sit).
Crazy turbulent flight in which I hung on to the iPad for dear life and got some blogging done, which was a minor miracle considering the guy next to me just would Not. Stop. Talking. (it’s my fault, I’ve got to stop smiling at strangers and frankly I do it so much I might get my British passport taken away from me *sarcasm*)
Arrival in London and a total oh-ma-Gawd-this-is-as-hot-as-Malta-I-LOVE-it moment as I realised I could leave my jeans in my case and just keep my thin dress on. Yes, I was wearing white cotton in London, in September! Oh the giddy excitement; I almost did a jig on the tarmac.
Inevitable fight with the e-passport machine inserting, reinserting and generally d*cking about with my new passport, being viewed like a total moron by the assistants (although to be fair, by now, even I don’t blame them) who are clearly wondering how someone who managed to dress themselves and get on an aeroplane can then find it so hard to put their damned passport in the right way without setting off the ruddy alarm. (I didn’t dare point out I somehow manage to raise three kids.) Having said that, the machine probably rejects my passport each time because it doesn’t like the photo of me looking about 300 years old and like a total reprobate who sells dodgy substances to minors…should have photoshopped the fricking photo before applying for the passport.
Further inevitable problems buying a Thameslink ticket to get me from Luton to my friends’ place because everything in the UK has gone so cash-averse that everything has to be done by card. What on earth one is supposed to do when one’s chip/back strip is knackered rendering machines unable to read the card properly, I just don’t know. The look the assistant gave me when I explained I had to – shock horror – use dare I say it cash, I mean actual paper money. I’m surprised she didn’t call a guard to escort me out of the building.
Thankfully, after the trauma of the train journey from Luton when I came in June, a smooth trouble-free connection (well let’s forget about the ridiculous business of trying to find a lift that worked to get me to the right platform) and train journey. I almost fist-pumped the air when I noticed I had the carriage to myself…before remembering that when I lived in London I would never have sat in a carriage by myself. Because crime.
Much photographing of cotton dress and bare legs due to one’s glee over the warm temperature, as well as comfortable train compartment conditions, for one’s instagram account (followed by realisation that one doesn’t have UK mobile account and cannot use 3G to upload)
Much sending of inane excited messages to one’s friends to say one was on the way.
Bit of an obstacle topping up my Oyster card because – you know it – the machine wouldn’t accept cash, followed by a breather over coffee and a croissant outside the station, having a bit of a London moment watching the world go by before making the final part of my journey.
Getting to my friends’ road and totally forgetting their street number, loitering outside several houses peering above bushes and looking into people’s windows trying to work out which was the correct house before finally plumping for one with devil maycare abandon and just knocking on the door, then retreating to the safe distance of the pavement in case I had the wrong house (I even hid my case around the hedge in case I had the wrong house and needed to do a runner). The look on my friend’s face when she answered the door was priceless. #TrueStory
Anyway, I had a lovely evening with my friends, had a not so lovely night’s sleep due to noisy neighbours (I thought I was back in Malta at one point) and the foolish alcohol consumption of the evening and woke up the next day with a heavy head. Yes. On the day of the MAD blog awards. Go Prabs, she who makes the wisest decisions and is a role model to everyone. N’t. I also woke up to a dramatic temperature drop in which we’d gone from Indian summer to Autumn, just like that, in typical British weather style (and to be honest it was a welcome relief as I knew I’d bake in my outfit for the evening if it was still hot).
As mentioned in myprevious MADs post, the one and only Talya was coming to the MADs to give me company
(such a sweet gesture as that was totally her idea) and after a close call where I almost caught the wrong train, met up with her as planned at Harvey Nichols so that we could pretend we are posh ladies who lunch (I don’t think the waiting staff quite bought that one however after our inept attempts to get a bloggers’ selfie). Inevitably, being bloggers, the conversation of course turned to blogging and I’m indebted to Talya for helping me out with a few issues I’ve been unclear on. I can’t deny, being women, there was also talk of makeup (don’t judge me) and yes I did go in search of a Bobbi Brown counter downstairs in an effort to find that magic wand thing that’s supposed to make under eye circles/bags invisible (if you look at this post’s featured image you’ll see I don’t just a wand, I need the fairy godmother that usually comes with one) what …only to discover Harvey Nicks don’t stock it. So a mad dash to Harrods was required (where three failed shades later I gave up) and then on we went to the awards venue.
But you know it wasn’t quite that simple don’t you? You know we had a mini drama trying to book an Uber cab right? You can feel it in your bones that we then considered a black cab only to realise Friday traffic would make it pointless, don’t you? You don’t need to be told that 1) Talya started getting off the train at South Ken while 2) I stood near the doors, insisting we needed to stay put and connect two stops later, only for 3) people to huff and puff as I was apparently blocking the doors (have you seen the size of me? I wasn’t blocking the doors for flip’s sake and my home towners so need to chill out) and then 4) I basically got carried off the train in spite of myself along with the sheer volume of passengers trying to disembark (yep I’ve lived in the Med for way too long if I’ve forgotten this happens) while 5) Talya looked totally bemused at the sight of me hugging my enormous handbag looking baffled and 6) I realised she was right about the stop, culminating in 7) us laughing at he realisation that when in each other’s company, we are in fact Patsy and Eddy. We then couldn’t agree who’s who, both of us refusing to be Eddy (sorry Jennifer) and finally decided we’re both Patsy. #TrueStory Meanwhile you’re sitting here in disbelief that people in their 40’s (not Talya, me) actually still behave like this. And given that NONE of this is made up and is as I say totally true – and I’ve actually missed bits out – I’m so with you on that.
We made it to the Royal Garden Hotel and I snuck off to get changed super speedy in the bathroom.
Then it was time for the long wait for hair and makeup (what…you thought I’d skip the chance to have my first makeover since my wedding?) in which there was time to talk to various lovelies like the wonderfully bubbly Laura of Milton Keynes Kids, oh so supportive Josie of The Whimsical Adventures of a Not So Supermum, the ever friendly Claire of Tin Box Traveller, my blog crush Polly of Right Royal Mother and the über stylish Anna of Zeit My Geist and Fran of Whinge Whinge Wine to name not even a handful. I can’t write this post without mentioning my Punjabi blogging twin Harps of Baby Brain Memoirs (she likes to refer to me as her older sister, I tend to prefer twin as it just makes me feel less like her aunt) whom I was so excited to finally meet and who WON BEST PRESCHOOL BLOG. Darned proud of her.
To round up and summarise the main bits of my MADs evening:
I was stone cold sober the whole night barely touching a drop, partly due to starting the day feeling rough and ending it feeling nervous! To be honest though, I don’t think people would have enjoyed the sight of me stumbling about in heels and legless (oxymoron).
Talya and I managed to have a total Patsy and Eddie Patsy moment and both video Harps accepting her award instead of tag teaming whereby one of us photographed, one of us videoed and hilarious words were exchanged afterwards (she calls me her blog wife, I think she’s my actual wife now and am making her sign a contract promising to stay in my life forever)
I didn’t stay to party after the awards as I panicked about travelling back alone (you’d never think I used to be a Londoner).
I didn’t win but on the bright side, the very person I predicted to pick up the award Storm in a Tit Cup did indeed do just that. Obviously, I’d have absolutely loved to have ‘done the double’ as the hilarious Lucy of This Mum’s Life calls it. Winning two writer awards in the same year would have been phenomenal on so many levels but was probably a bit of a greedy aspiration, (although I did nearly die each time someone pointed out how lucky our table was as we had so many winners and I just knew the lucky streak couldn’t continue by the time it got to my category!)
Finally, after declaring on social media and here on the blog, that I would not have another wardrobe disaster
after the infamous does-my-middle-aged-bum-look-illegal-in-these-white-jeans episode at the BiBs awards in June, what did I do? Yep, I forgot to pack appropriate undergarments (I’m Victorian and we say that) for the dress I was wearing and for the gazillionth time in my life, I ended up showing my bra to everyone. I also spent the entire evening sucking my stomach in and showing people this as my party trick. #mortified
So dear reader, given that it would have been difficult to approach the stage doing a side shuffle to conceal aforementioned bra oversight, and nigh on impossible to keep my stomach in without giving myself back ache, it’s a good job I didn’t win really.
Ah, there it is…
Massive congratulations to all the MAD Blog Awards 2016 winners!
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