Blogging

  • Five essential freelance and blogging reads this week

    This week’s been an interesting one for news. Facebook have finally got their butts in gear with scheduled posts for pages (although as Hootsuite has offered this for a while along with multiple accounts, I’m not entirely sure they haven’t left it too late). They’ve also added multiple levels of admin permissions, which could be handy if you want to give others the ability to see your stats or admin notifications but don’t want others to post.

    Editorial Calendar planning

    There’s a great post over on Savvy Sexy Social all about editorial calendar planning to make sure you’re posting regularly. Check out Amy’s long list of blog post suggestion too, which is great if you need a little inspiration.

    Google+ goes local

    Great news if you’re a local business. Google has launched Google+ Local, for users to find local businesses easily. Google+ Local takes it’s info from a range of other Google products like Maps, Places and Plus, so it’s even more reason to get your business on those pages and maximise your traffic.

    What should your day rate be?

    Judy alerted me to this great post on freelance day rates and what the right price generally is. It’s not easy to find decent guides for how much you should charge, and this gives a fairly realistic idea.

    Save 2% when you get paid: Don’t end up in the workhouse when you retire

    If you’re freelance, it’s easy to forget about pensions. Especially as you don’t have a boss paying into it. But Rosie from One Man Band Bookkeeping makes the valid point that you should put 2% of your income away to make sure you’re ok for the future.

    What have you been reading this week?

  • My favourite freelancing reads

    There are certain books that always sit on my desk. Some are very work-based, while others are for inspiration (or just for picking what I’m going to do for lunch). Sometimes I just prefer to read an actual book with pages rather than scroll, scroll, scroll (although I do have a rising collection of ebooks – but that’s another blog post)

    Starting from the bottom:

    Blogging for Dummies

    C’mon, we all have a ‘…for Dummies’ book tucked away somewhere don’t we? This is great for checking a few things or brushing up on blogging skills. Also, it makes a great laptop stand…

    BUST DIY Guide to life

    A recent addition, but one I’ve had my eye on for ages. It’s got DIY guides for pretty much everything – from putting up shelves to sorting your finances. As I write for a number of different clients, it’s handy having a general guide to hand if I need some inspiration.

    Domestic Sluttery

    Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of the blog Domestic Sluttery. It’s ‘The home and lifestyle blog for women who have better things to do’, and the book follows the same theme. I tend to dip into this for recipes and general advice (there are some great cheat sheets in the back for size conversions and washing instructions, which is handy for when I write about fashion).

    My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘Me’?) 

    This is my go-to grammar book, and I’ve got a dozen post it notes poking out the top for bits that I regularly come back to. Very readable too, considering the topic.

    Eats, Shoots & Leaves

    I occasionally flick through Eats, Shoots & Leaves for grammar advice too, as it seems to be the industry standard for anyone that writes for a living.

    The Wonderful Weekend Book

    LOVE this book. I tend to dive into it for inspiration when I have a rare day off and want to do something (I have an inability to laze around since going freelance, feels like a waste of time). It’s all about reclaiming your weekends and doing something interesting, rather than spending hours in the supermarket or watching SATC reruns.

    The Thrift Book

    Freelancing is a feast or famine business. So for times when money is a bit tight, I turn to India Knight’s The Thrift Book. India outlines everything from how to make your own cheese to what make up you must splurge on. I’ve folded the corners of half the pages. This is why I’m not allowed to rent from the library anymore.

    Thesaurus

    Well, there’s only so many times you can call a bag gorgeous, cute or pretty before you lose the will to live.

    What books do you always keep on your desk? 

  • Issuu: How to publish your own magazine

    Ever fancied being the next Anna Wintour? Launch your very own magazine? Or just want to embed documents on your blog in an attractive way? That shouldn’t be an Issuu

    Thanks to the internet, it’s easy to launch your own online magazine these days (well, as easy as writing an entire magazine can be…) Issuu is an interesting site that offers a publishing and embedding service for wannabe magazine editors. It’s as simple as creating an account, uploading your magazine doc (Word, Excel or PDF) and hitting publish!

    You can then leave it in their library for readers to read online (through their sleek flippable technology that lets you read it in a similar way to how you would on an iPad), or grab the embed code to add into your blog or website.

    You don’t just have to use it for magazines. Embed your ebooks, documents and photos in an attractive way on your site!

    As it’s public, it’s also a great opportunity to get your content out there – and you can check out the stats to see how many people have read it.

    From the reader side of things, it’s a great way to find and read new content and magazines using the online library. You can also subscribe and be notified of new issues. I’ve found some amazing cooking magazines and lifestyle magazines which are too specialist for the news agents. You can download them to your iPad too – hello lunchtime reading.

    Here’s a little video to show you how it works.

    The only thing I wish they did now was an iPad app…

    Tempted to launch your own magazine?

  • Five ways to annoy other bloggers


    In general, the world of blogging is a fairly friendly one (depending on your sector – certain sectors have a reputation for being quite…shall we say ‘passionate’?)

    But there are a few things some bloggers do that can upset or annoy other bloggers.

    Copy content

    Possibly one of the worst things you can do in the blogging world. There’s nothing more annoying than working hard over a blog post…only to find out someone else has just copied and pasted your content into their own blog.

    Oh, and it annoys Google too – so you’ll get penalised for your lack of originality.

    On a similar note, @missnatwilliams raised the point on Twitter that some bloggers (often the new or naive) use images without a) linking back or b) crediting the original photographer. If you’re unsure whether you can use an image, it might be worth sticking to your own images, or using sites like morguefile.com, where you don’t have to credit.

    PR Request everything

    Ever looked at the #PRRequest Twitter hashtag? While it’s been used in the past for PRs to keep tabs of what journalists are looking for for upcoming features, it’s used increasingly for people to grab a freebie. I’ve even seen one blogger (with a very small following) requesting a free buggy.

    I’m not averse to free sample or review products, when suitable. If it’s relevant to your blog or a feature piece, great! But if all your content comes from PRRequests, it suggests you’re not doing any research yourself. And reliance on free products means your blog will be exactly the same as thousands of others.

    Overdoing the self-promotion

    When I tweeted to get people’s views on bad blogger habits, a lot of people cited too much self-promotion – especially on Twitter.

    Here’s what a few of them had to say:

    @nuttycow “continue self promotion on twitter. A pet peeve. Link once, maybe twice. Not every hour for 5 days.”

    @Hannahjlees “only talking about follower numbers?! Like when they leave comments saying ‘follow me and i’ll follow back’…”

    @amylane “…RTing every entry to their competitions, jumping on the bandwagon for the sake of it!”

    @sianysianysiany “Promoting the same blog post four times in a day for their ‘international fans’. Whatever love, you’re from Bolton.”

    It’s fine to promote your blog. Essential even. But one or two well-timed tweets a day will do it, rather than one every single hour. If it’s a good enough post, you’ll get RTs and they’ll do the promotion for you anyway.

    Also, don’t forget to be nice to everyone – no matter how big your blog gets. Most of the successful bloggers I’ve met are wonderful and grounded. But a few get to the point where they demand cars for press days.

    Bad content

    At Cybher last weekend, one of the most interesting bits was when Jess Markwood from Aigua Media explained that not everyone can blog. It’s a common myth that anyone can blog. But the reality is, most successful bloggers write engaging and original content and keep an eye on their spelling and grammar. My grammar and spelling is by no means perfect, but that’s what proof reading and spellchecker is for…

    Pinterest and Instagram posts

    This might be more of a case of things that annoy me rather than bloggers in general, but the rise in Pinterest and Instagram round up posts is a little odd. They’re pretty, yes. But would you be interested if someone did a weekly blog summary of their tweets? You’d probably just follow them on Twitter instead if you wanted to see that, right?

    Are there any bad practices you’ve seen in the blogging world that I haven’t mentioned?

  • Ten signs you’re addicted to blogging

    Think you might be an itsy bitsy teeny little bit addicted to blogging? Let’s see how you fare on this checklist..

    1 ) Every time you go out, you take photos as “it’ll be great for your blog.” Even if it’s just a trip to ASDA. You don’t even notice your family rolling their eyes any more.

    2 ) In fact, you rarely go out unless it’s blog fodder

    3 ) You work from home but plan your outfits meticulously, take a snap for WIWT…then change back into your PJs.

    4 ) Your dinner is often cold as your spend so long Instagramming it.

    5 ) When a friend wants to catch up, you direct her to your latest blog posts.

    6 ) You refer to your blog followers as your fans. Without a hint of irony.

    7 ) You no longer buy things. You put out PR requests for them. Even your groceries

    8 ) You allow an extra half an hour when applying make up, so you can snap your look step-by-step for your blog.

    9 ) You check your blog stats three times a day  once an hour  every five minutes.

    10 )  When you meet people who don’t blog/Tweet/Instagram/Pin/Stumble, you wonder what they must do in their spare time. Or on the bus. Or in super-important-but-dull meetings. Or on the loo.

    How many are you guilty of?

  • Gumtree moves into the daily deals market

    Image representing Gumtree as depicted in Crun...

    A couple of months ago, the PR team behind Gumtree got in touch about their new daily deals site. Here’s my (very overdue) review of their daily deals, and how they compare against the likes of other daily deal sites like Groupon, Living Social and Wahanda.

    Can you believe that just a few years ago, we’d never heard of daily deals? They’re now so ingrained in our lives that most of us tend to search thesel sites before we book a spa day, meal out or gift. While Groupon, Living Social and Wahanda used to be the main players, we’re now seeing daily deal sites pop up from eBay, Qype and now Gumtree.

    So, how does Gumtree stand out from the crowd? Rather than going for experiences, Gumtree tends to focus on products. There are the odd service-based deals (currently they’ve got a restaurant deal along with the iPhone charging units and USB keys) but it’s mainly product-based. The great thing about this, is that it opens it up to those of us who don’t live or commute to London every day (where, inevitably, the best deals tend to be).

    I was offered the chance to try out one of the deals. I plumped for an offer for a pair of shoes. Like most of the other sites, it’s fairly straightforward to buy – just buy the deal then the voucher is emailed to you once the daily deal is finished. I had a couple of minor issues with my voucher number not working, but this was cleared up quickly.

    My order arrived a few days later, although the box was pretty bashed up when it arrived. I’ve passed that feedback onto the PR, so hopefully they can let the business know about the questionable courier service. The shoes are lovely though, great quality for the deal price.

    Overall, it’s a good daily deal site if you prefer a gadget to yet another teeth whitening deal. Like Buyapowa, Gumtree turns to its community to find out what they’d like to see as part of their daily deals (see their Facebook page for more info).

    I do think the biggest issue daily deal sites face is maintaining a high quality of products and services. When a small business sells a large number of deals, quality can give way to quantity. A bit of education for the small businesses, and some high standards when it comes to choosing who Daily Deal sites work with, can go a long way to repairing the reputation of this type of shopping. Hopefully Gumtrees community-based deal sourcing will go some way to help with this.

  • Flipboard finally arrives on the iPhone

    This morning, I woke up, checked my emails and then opened the Flipboard app on my iPad to catch up on my favourite online spots. If you’re not familiar with Flipboard, it’s an app that brings together all the updates from your Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Tumblr, Instagram, Google Reader and from all your chosen websites and RSS feeds. Aside from being really useful, saving time and giving me a quick overview of everything at once, it’s also beautiful to view and use. As the name would suggest, you can ‘flip’ through pages, making it perfect for the iPad’s large screen. From within the app you can share content on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or various other accounts, email it to a friend, save it to read later and comment on a blog post or status without leaving the app. You can even post a status from within the app to your favourite sites. Additionally, viewing your Instagram feed is a joy in this app.

    Flipboard comes to the iPhone

    Have I sold you on it yet? Excellent, then you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s finally launched on the iPhone too. It’s been reworked for the small screen, so you ‘flip’ downwards rather than across. Most of the same features are there though – sharing, commenting and reading. The only think I can’t seem to do now is send a standalone tweet through it, but I tend to use Hootsuite for that anyway. This app syncs with the iPad version if you have it too, so you won’t find yourself re-reading old content.

    If you struggle to keep up with your Google Reader, I’d urge you to download this app as it makes it so much cleaner and easier – especially in terms of commenting (particularly with truncated feeds).

    I’ve put together a little gallery below of how various parts of it look, but it’s worth downloading it from the iTunes store (it’s free!) to try it first-hand.

    Are you a Flipboard fan?

    p.s Don’t forget you’ve still got a chance to win a gift from the Fairy Hobmother!

  • The Bag Lady and the Aigua Media revamps

    Just a quick post today with some news about Aigua Media. As you may know, I’ve been writing for several of the Aigua Media fashion and lifestyle blogs for a couple of years now. Titles in the network include Catwalk Queen (the UK’s leading fashion blog), Shoewawa, The Bag Lady, Kiss and Make Up, Crafty Crafty, Star Trip, Dollymix, Nollie (one for the active types), Trashionista (for the bookaholics), OSOYOU (fashion shopping) and OSOGLAM (beauty shopping).

    This week, they went live with the revamps for the sites, and they’ve really done a great job. The sites now have easy-to-view galleries, featured videos, a regularly updated set of leading stories at the top and lots of posts.

    You can find links to all the Aigua Media blogs here.

    In other good news, I’m now editor of The Bag Lady. So if you’re a fan of accessories, you might want to come visit the site. I promise not to entirely fill it with glittery things. And if you’re a PR dealing with bags, tech cases, scarves, jewellery and hats, please do drop me an email.