Blogs are extremely powerful, or at least they can be. Whether you started your blog as part of your business or as a hobby that has now grown into so much more than that, it’s important to understand how much potential your blog actually has. The fact is that today blogging is big business. While just a few short years ago it was nothing more than a hobby, blogging has made a huge impact in the past few years and has the potential to be extremely powerful.

If you run a blog, then you most probably want to ensure that it is reaching its full potential. After all, blogs can be great tools for success, but only when utilised effectively, of course, which is why it’s so important that you know what it takes to ensure your blog reaches its full potential. The question is, what can you do to do that – how can you ensure that your blog is as successful as it could be?

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Below are some useful tips and advice for ensuring that your blog is being run in the most effective way possible.

Create a blog schedule and stick to it

If you want to build a solid blog following, it’s crucial that you create a schedule for blogging and stick to it. Your followers will only come back to your blog if they know when to expect new blog posts to go live, which is why establishing a posting schedule is so important. It’s better to set a schedule of only posting once a week and meeting that schedule than setting a more unrealistic schedule and letting your followers down.

Ensure quality content

One of the most important factors when it comes to blogging success is quality. Blogging is highly competitive, which is why you need to be able to create high-quality content for your readers, to ensure that you are able to build a strong following. Your content should be interesting, informative, unique, and highly personal – if it’s the same as everyone else’s you’re going to limit your chances of success. It’s also vital that your content is optimised properly and is not stuffed full of keywords – an SEO checker can be a good way to check that your content is properly optimised.

Market your blog

Think of your blog as a mini business; if you want it to succeed it needs to be well marketed. You can’t expect to build a blog if you aren’t taking the time to market your content to people, as otherwise, you will most probably have very few readers. So take advantage of social media and effectively market your blog. Post regularly sharing content. Communicate and build connections with other bloggers. Join virtual networking events and get to know other bloggers.

If you want to give your blog the very best chance of success, you need to treat it like a mini business from the get-go. It might purely be a hobby right now, but taking a professional approach to it can have a huge impact on how successful your blog becomes.

 

Confessions of a New Mummy

Cuddle Fairy

Setting up a new fashion brand is something so many of us would love to do. Emma Stewart is different as she actually went ahead and made her dreams come true, setting up Allta, which launched in July. I am delighted to share an interview with her which shows the calibre of an amazing woman.

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years

I have always been tall for my peer group. When I was three years old my family moved to Sweden for a couple of years and there is a picture of me with some friends from kindergarten and I am head and shoulders above the others. I was always self-conscious because of my height. I am fairly shy and always felt awkward and clumsy. Both my brother and I are tall (he is now 6’5” and I am 6’) and were often thought to be older than our years because of our stature. I had a pretty average childhood, growing up in Basingstoke in Hampshire, doing well at school and attaining a place at university. I decided to take a year off before heading to Hull (where I had a place to read American Studies), and went to Germany for a year as an au pair. I subsequently switched degree courses to study German, which was a good choice and helped me get some of my first jobs.

What was your first career?

I worked in publishing selling foreign rights to German, Dutch and Scandinavian publishers. Basically, as the publisher, we would put the concept of the book together (this was illustrated non-fiction of the ‘coffee table book’ variety) and would then sell this concept to US and European publishers who would publish the books in their countries while we published the books in the UK. I used my German and travelled to Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia on a fairly regular basis as well as visiting book fairs in the UK and in Frankfurt. After a few years of this, I decided I wanted a change and went to West Herts College in Watford to study for a post-graduate diploma in copywriting, journalism and radio and from there got a job at Bloomberg in London as a journalist on their radio team.

What led to you setting up your business? 

I had been working in an organisation providing facilitation to production companies wanting to make film and TV productions in the English regions (i.e.: we would help them find locations, crew and studios and liaise with the relevant local authorities to enable roads to be closed, etc.), but some people in my organisation were being made redundant – including my line manager, with whom I got on particularly well – and morale was at a very low ebb. I had been toying with the idea of a tall clothing brand for many years, but it was only when I met a bunch of my husband’s friends, who were all self-employed (as is my husband), that I really started to look into it in any detail. Running your own business sounded challenging but enjoyable and I liked the idea of being my own boss. I then sold a property that I co-owned and so had some cash behind me and it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Who gave you information and advice to help you set up your business?

My husband had been running his own business for around 10 years when I decided to set up Allta, so he was very experienced in all aspects of being an entrepreneur. He became my business partner and took on all the boring but important aspects such as insurance, the bank account, accounting and anything involving a spreadsheet, leaving me free to focus on the more creative elements of design and marketing. The London College of Fashion was also an invaluable source of help and information. I have now completed four of their short courses: Essential Guide to the Fashion Industry, Starting Your Own Fashion Label, Introduction to Fashion Design, Adobe Illustrator for Fashion. The information and contacts made through these courses have been extremely helpful and I have found out about all the various trade bodies and trade shows to attend.

What is your biggest life challenge to date?

Shortly after deciding to pursue this new business venture and just seven weeks after getting married, I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury after a cycling accident, where I fell off my bike, fractured my skull and suffered some bleeding and blood clots on the brain. Emergency surgery, 10 days in intensive care and a further 8 weeks in hospital followed and it was a full six months after the accident that I was able to return to work part-time. All plans for starting my own business were put firmly on the back boiler.I have now managed a full recovery, although have been left with epilepsy, which I understand is a fairly common side effect when the brain reacts to the scar tissue caused by brain surgery.

Who supported you at this difficult time?

My husband and entire family and network of friends were amazing during this time. My husband of course, bore the brunt of both the emotional impact of the accident and the practical aspects of visiting me in hospital (every day for over 2 months; not easy when you have your own company to run) and helping to ease me back into the pattern of everyday life when I was back home. My friends and family were also superb. The accident happened when we were down in Studland for a weekend of camping and I was initially admitted to Southampton Hospital. My husband and I live in Oxfordshire but some close friends living in Winchester, who were on holiday at the time, allowed my husband, parents (who live in Somerset) and another good friend to stay in their house for a couple of weeks to allow them all easier access to me in hospital. My sister-in-law is a senior nurse and was superb and cutting through any red tape we encountered in the hospital and just keeping everyone positive and well informed.

My friends rallied round, visiting me in hospital and back at home afterwards, but the big plus was that after months of negotiations, which had always ended in a firm ‘no’, my husband finally agreed to us getting a dog, so my fur-baby, Wilf the cockerpoo, came into our lives.

Tell us about your products and why you think they are special?

As a tall woman, I struggle to find ‘regular’ fit clothes on the high street to fit my proportions. It is not impossible, but it is pot luck. When you do find something that fits, you almost feel compelled to buy it just because it is such a rare find. Long Tall Sally is the only tall fit brand that most people have heard of (there are others, but I had never heard of them until I started to research this niche. The Tall Fashion Adventures blog has a good, international list (http://tallfashionadventures.com/shopping-lists/), which means that tall women have a fairly limited selection of clothing to choose from if they want something that is guaranteed to fit properly.I am also keen to use natural fibres as so much clothing is made from polyester, which isn’t breathable for your skin and is bad for the environment. So, we are about producing good quality garments that will last and are made out of natural fibres that are less damaging to the environment. This is an area I want to research further and do what I can to support.

For me, shirts and jackets have always been the hardest to find. I have tended to buy jeans from Gap tall section and Levis and can cope with a 34” inside leg as, with a straight or skinny leg jeans style, I don’t think it matters if they are a teeny bit cropped looking. But shirts and jackets are very hard to find. That’s why I wanted to start with these staples. I love a good quality jacket and am often frustrated that the tall sections often just carry the safest colours of black and navy. That’s why I decided that as well as the trusty navy and grey options, we would also do a hot pink and turquoise jacket for our launch so that tall women can have a choice of some fun colours for a change.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to come and see the clothes for themselves, we are taking a stand at the Rare Brand Market Christmas Market at Goodwood Racecourse from 22-24th November

Why is it important for women to invest in themselves when it comes to fashion and style?

I mentioned earlier that I was very self-conscious when I was young because of my height and I think this is a trait that is shared by lots of tall women. As children and teens we all seek to blend in and be part of the gang and often anything that makes you stand out is something you want to hide and change. This can be anything but speaking from my experience, height is one thing you can’t change or even hide. The answer is to wear it with confidence and dressing well and feeling good about yourself in your clothes is one way of doing this.

I don’t think this means making sure you are up to date with the latest fashions and trends, but by wearing clothes that fit you and suit your height, shape and colouring, you can feel good about yourself and have the confidence to perform at your best, be that in your personal or professional lives. This is not just a tip for tall women, but all women should feel they deserve to look their best to give them confidence in themselves.

If you could recommend ONE book to women, what would it be and why?

Testament of Youth is a book that affected me very deeply. It has become a classic so is probably already well known to many but it is the story of one woman’s experience of growing up in early twentieth century England and the restrictive Edwardian environment she longed to rebel against. She then endured the loss of her brother, fiancé and friends in the First World War and did what she could to support the British war effort, becoming a firm pacifist in the process. It is a moving and inspirational story of courage, learning, love and loss. It puts our present day comfortable lives into perspective.

If you could recommend ONE website to women what would it be and why?

I would recommend noiclub.org. This is a fantastic resource for female entrepreneurs, sharing tips and events. It also has a really useful Facebook page where women can interact and ask for help and advice. The founders are very supportive as is the community they have established.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

It is never too late to start working on a passion project like starting up your own business. I sometimes think I should have started Allta when I was younger, living in London and had more energy, but now as I approach my 50th birthday, I have more money than when I was younger, I have a supportive husband, who didn’t come into my life until I hit my 40s, I have learned a fair bit about myself and my strengths and weaknesses, and I am not afraid to ask for help, which I may have shied away from doing when I was younger. If there is something you want to do but are waiting for the right time, it may never come along. Just do it, is my advice!.

www.allta.co.uk

DreamTeam Linky

 

JakiJellz

I have organised a number of training events and sizeable conferences over the years. I have also contributed as a speaker and trainer in events run by other people in the charity and public sectors. I am going to share what I think makes an effective breakout session.

What is a breakout session?

It involves splitting the audience or participants into smaller groups. Often this happens after a number of speakers have delivered presentations. They can be used simply for networking or ideally to enhance learning and develop action points to take forward after the event.

Breakout sessions need to have a purpose

Although people may want to just chat, I believe breakout sessions should have a purpose otherwise they become mere talking shops often with people talking over one another. Having a clear purpose and desired outcomes from the session helps energize the group. As an organiser you can impose these or be creative and ask the group to formulate them at the start of the breakout session.

Logistics

All too often I have seen attendees not able to find a breakout area at all or turning up late because clear directions were not given to a breakout space. Visit your venue in advance to check on practical things like acoustics, stewarding and heating. Furniture is another thing to consider as it can set a tone for the session. Would desks and  office chairs work or are you looking for the opportunity for attendees to slouch more?

Facilitators

Select your facilitators carefully. You can find people who will do it for free but they may not be the best choices so if you have budget use it. Also ensure that learning from the group is captured by a note-taker so that key points can be shared with other event attendees and online if appropriate.

Creativity

There is not just one way to run a breakout session. Could you have a quiz or a speed dating type session? How could you harness social media during the session? What team-building activity could you incorporate? Don’t force fun but allow it to happen. People tend to remember information gained whilst enjoying themselves. Consider London office furniture that meets your type of session if you are meeting in the capital.

Finally, always make efforts to learn from the event itself by asking participants for feedback either at the event or shortly thereafter whilst memories are fresh.

 

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Run Jump Scrap

My big reason to be cheerful this week is that I am letting myself off the hook. In fact, I am letting  myself off several hooks. I have always worked hard, striven for more in just about every area of life and too often for poor rewards. I have started to realise I am not on the planet to do every job, to have every skill or quality or to serve everyone on demand.

Here are some areas where I am slacking and I think it is doing me the power of good.

  1. It is the first anniversary of my brother’s death today. I actually thought it was tomorrow so was all geared up for that date. My other brother emailed me today and referenced the anniversary and then I checked my brother’s funeral order of service. He died today a year ago. I got the date wrong and that’s OK. In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter. I loved him and cherish so many memories of a very special character. I have now emailed his widower and will go to the bar to drink in his honour tonight.
  2. Home education has stayed in the children’s own hands for about a week with little input from me. I can beat myself up about this or I can get real and recognise that  most children are still on school holidays so we can have a relaxing time too. We can get back to learning any time we choose.
  3. My 17 year old is still not sure exactly what he wants to do but would like to work in theatre, film, gaming or politics. He also has a key hope for next year that he will work towards. I walk and talk with him. I am recognising that he really does need to work out his own future. I can advise and support but ultimately he must live his own life his way.
  4. I was just offered a bit of work to do today or tomorrow. I chose tomorrow which  is so unlike me. Normally I would do anything to meet the tightest deadline. It is not necessary to do so. There are more important matters to attend to today in terms of marking my brother’s passing.
  5. I am going to tread less carefully of other people’s feelings around my adoption. I want to trace my family tree and although I will try to be sensitive I am not going to run away from contacting people or asking questions. My adoption was not my fault so I refuse to suffer any more as a result of it.
  6. Finally I am letting myself off the hook of seeing myself negatively. Recently I have looked in the mirror for possibly the first time in my life and actually liked what I see. I am OK. I should have realised this a long time ago but now I have I am going to revel in the new and improved me.

Highlights

I have lived in a lot of houses and just about every type. Until very recently, I had never lived in one with a conservatory. I like to call ours the sun room but of course the winter months are just around the corner. I am considering how to warm up my conservatory when the sun is not putting in an appearance from painting UPVC doors to starting a cushion collection.

I like the conservatory partly because there are no screens in there of any kind. It is my view is that phones, computers and televisions are taking over our lives way too much to the detriment of making good family memories. So I definitely want to use the room all year round especially as it has beautiful views over the garden and forest. What are the options for making a sun room have a warmer feel when the freezing temperatures strike?

Window shutters

I have found out that so much heat is lost through our windows and of course we have lots of these in the sun room I am considering the benefits of window shutters both for keeping us warm and also because some look really good. They can be pricey though so I may not be buying them anytime soon.

Spray painting doors and windows

Why are so many sun rooms so white? Ours if basically glass or white everywhere which does not add a warm feel. I like the idea of restoring our sun room with some warmer colours by arranging for the spray painting of the doors and windows. If I used the services of The Restoration Group I would inject some comfort but also express our individuality more.

Lighting

The sunshine gives a lovely light in the summer but I plan for the conservatory to be a cosy hideaway in the coming months. I am going to look for some lovely lamps to give ambient light. My husband has also suggested us using candles and I guess these would give off a little extra heat too.

Floor

We have a white tiled floor in the conservatory so it will need the addition of warmer colours soon.  I like the floor in the warmer months so I don’t want to invest in carpet and underlay. However, I think some rugs in oranges and purples may be in order.

Cushions and throws

I am going to go on a shopping spree to invest in some seasonal cushions. I quite fancy some with deer on them for some reason. I will add in some vibrant colours including reds. Finally whether my husband likes it or not, there will be some fleecy throws in the mix. I will drape some over the wicker furniture which can look harsh in winter and also snuggle up with the children under some others.

Do you have any tips for using your conservatory in the colder months?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

div align=”center”>My Random Musings