Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Vlogging: What I've Learnt

For the last few weeks I have been running a Your Youtube vlogging chat on Sunday evenings on twitter, where each week I set a topic, ask a few questions and a few of us get together and have a natter. It's a fun, friendly hour, some weeks are quieter than others, but there's a nice group of us who choose to learn from each other and support one another. So today I wanted to put together a bit of a round-up from the last few chats and what I've picked up from them so far.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pro Blogger Interview: Katy Pullinger

Welcome back to my fortnightly blogger series, where I interview today's top bloggers and ask those burning questions you would love to know the answer to. Hopefully these bloggers can help unlock some insights that will help us all grow our blogs and develop to a place we would all love to be. 

Today I am interviewing the lovely Katy Pullinger - one half of the vlogging team, Hey Mummy. Katy is a presenter on QVC and also creates videos for the UK YouTube community site Channel Mum, one of which was recently streamed live from Dream Toys featuring the top toys for Christmas this year.

You have a background in TV presenting, how did that first come about?

It was really a natural progression, I had always done drama, acting, singing and also worked as an intern in TV Production and it just made sense as all my interests could kind of come together. I went and did a short course in presenting, one where you walked away with a ready to go show reel and I was ready to send it out to people. I had heard that the shopping channel Bid TV were auditioning and so I sent my reel to them. I auditioned and got the job, 3 hours of live TV a day 5 days a week, exhausting but an amazing training ground for any aspiring presenter.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Your Youtube #48

Welcome back to Your Youtube, the linky to share your latest videos! A little announcement from me - I am thrilled to have been asked to be the new Britmums videos editor and will be sharing all my favourite videos every month.

Thanks to everyone who joined in last week, this week's video of the week is from Nadine at Juggle Mum who shared footage from the Segway Tour her and her family undertook whilst in the Costa Brava - it looks like a great way to see please whilst abroad!

Huge thanks to everyone who joined in with the YY chat last Sunday. It's lovely to talk about vlogging and share hints and tips. The chat is 8pm every Sunday so be sure to follow the hashtag #YourYoutube to join us this week!

Over to the linky - please link up no more than two videos. Ensure you watch and comment on the host video and the video before your own so that way we all get some likes and comments.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Preview of #HogwartsInTheSnow at the Harry Potter Studio Tour

I am so excited to write this post and I'm not going to beat about the bush - this place was fantastic! Probably one of the best trips of it's type I've been on in quite some time and well worth the three hour journey to get down there. It is of course the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Warner Brothers Studios in London.

When I first heard about this place at Britmums Live three years ago I really wanted to go - it sounded so great and whilst I wouldn't describe myself as a 'huge' Harry Potter fan, I've read all the books (first, of course) and seen all the films more than once. The story is such a classic, timeless tale and there is such magic about it all (no pun intended). Needless to say, when I visited for my first time last week I wasn't disappointed.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Top Toys For Christmas With Give As You Live

Yep, it's that time of year where we are officially allowed to say the C word - Christmas! Whilst I am definitely a summer girl, Christmas is my favourite time of year. I've always found it such a magical time, and I adore passing that magic onto my two. Not to mention Miss H's birthday is only a week before Christmas, making it that little bit more special to us.

I've recently discovered the Give As You Live site, which is quite special for a couple of reasons - it is an online price comparison site, helping you find the best price for your gifts, but it also donates 2.5% of your spendings to charity of your choice, or it's chosen charity of the month. So whilst you embrace in the Christmas spirit, others less fortunate can also benefit.

Recently all the 'top' toys for Christmas have been released and there's no doubt that they will be flying off the shelves already. So I've pulled together some things from the top list you can find from Give As You Live and give back whilst you shop.

So when you are shopping this Christmas, go through Give As You Live and make a difference whilst you shop.

*This post is brought to you in association with Give As You Live. Please support this fantastic store.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Modern Brush Calligraphy Workshop With Artsynibs

I have 'tried' my hand at calligraphy a couple of times recently, and by tried I mean I've copied some lettering from Pinterest using a Biro. With all these lovely fonts all over the web, I've been wanting to give them a try for quite some time, but my inexperience doesn't exactly add up to anything that remotely looks usable. So when I saw local Calligrapher, Joyce at Artsynibs was hosting a workshop in Manchester I asked her if I could come along.

Modern Brush Calligraphy Workshop

Monday, November 9, 2015

Giveaway with My Little Pony

Miss H has been a fan of the new My Little Pony's for quite a while, ever since we received the first DVD. I was keen to introduce her to a show I grew up with and it's lovely to watch her with her ponies just like I did as a child. Since the updated series was released years ago, it has seen a whole new popularity and more series' have come about since then, as well as toys and merchandise.

The latest DVD is Friendship Games, where the ponies compete in a long-standing competition of exciting events but in which magic is forbidden. Who will triumph? I am excited to offer one lucky reader a copy of this latest DVD, so follow the Gleam below if you would like to be in with a chance of winning.

My Little Pony DVD
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Pro Blogger Interviews: Ghostwriter Mummy

Welcome back to my fortnightly blogger series, where I interview today's top bloggers and ask those burning questions you would love to know the answer to. Hopefully these bloggers can help unlock some insights that will help us all grow our blogs and develop to a place we would all love to be.

Today's interview is with with Susanne from Ghostwriter Mummy. Susanne has been writing her parenting blog for five years and in that time has shared her very personal stories of birth trauma, Hyperemesis Gravidarum and IUGR. Susanne also supports a number of charities including the Lullaby Trust and the Maternity Matters Academy and has raised thousands for these causes close to her heart. By sharing her story, Susanne has helped numerous others in their own journeys and was this year nominated for Outstanding Contribution in the Mum and Dad Blogger Awards.

Your blog really seems to have taken off in the last year or so, what do you attribute this to?

When I started writing about my pregnancy with Elsie, I realised that I hadn't been writing much of what really mattered to me. I found writing about the HG, IUGR and hopes for her birth so cathartic, and without realising it I was going back to basics. So I think the only thing I did was write from the heart (I know that sounds corny) and I stopped worrying about stats etc. I wrote for me and it was nice to remember what that felt like.

You run your own business as well as blogging, how do you find the time to fit it in?

Haha. I get up early, and I actually work a lot from my phone whilst feeding Elsie. I type onto the pages app on my phone which syncs to my Mac, then I edit it when I get chance and add photos etc. I always proof read and probably leave it a day before I publish as there's always something I can change at the last minute. I'm not as prolific as other bloggers, but I do take my time over each post. I have no set schedule so they go up when I have a window of time.

What is your best advice for managing your time as a blogger?

Close all the tabs while you're working. I close Facebook, Twitter and my emails so that I can concentrate on one thing at a time. I set a timer on my phone too - so if I decide to spend thirty minutes on my blog, I spend only thirty minutes. It can always wait.

You support lots of different charities, how do you choose who to support when your time is so precious?

I support charities that support me, and charities that are close to my heart. Namely The Lullaby Trust, the Birth Trauma Association and MAMA Academy. All charities who have helped myself and others over the years, and I feel an affinity to them all. You cannot support every charity, no matter how much you would like to.

If you were to give advice to bloggers who are wanting to work with charities themselves but not sure in what way they can help, what would you say?

Approach them and ask if they would consider working with you on their next campaign. Write about them and their work and tag them in tweets. Support them and be vocal about it. They will appreciate the support and they will probably bite your hand off to work with you!

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Your Youtube #46

I really cannot believe we're up to week 46 on the linky! That's so close to a year it's crazy. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported it and continues to do so, we love to watch your videos!

A little bit of a congratulations to my YY partner, Sian, who is now the videos editor over at Tots 100 - a fantastic achievement and we look forward to seeing how it all develops!

For this week's video of the week it had to be from Lucy at Dear Beautiful who has shared a little birth video with us. Such an incredible and special moment to capture on camera, it's a beautiful video.

Over to the linky - as always please link up no more than two videos and make sure you watch, like and comment on the host video and AT LEAST one other. And don't forget to join in our YY chat on Sunday at 8pm!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Win With Ocean Florida

I'm really excited to be offering you a lovely giveaway from Ocean Florida, who are a fantastic company focusing on holidays to Florida in the USA. Not only do they cover Orlando and Disney, but various other cities in Florida including Miami, Fort Myers and the Gulf Coast.

To win simply watch the video below and follow the instructions. Good luck!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Twelve Low Energy Play Ideas

12 low energy play idesas

In the last year I have posted quite a few play ideas on my blog for putting together fun things for your children that don't take all your time and energy. We all see perfect play set-ups, using the messiest of products and items that take up tons of storage space. However not all of us have the energy to either set up these ideas or clear them away at the end of it all. So here is a round up of some of the play ideas I've put together, as well as a few from my beloved Pinterest that have worked for me.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Simple Daily Habits To Ignite Your Passion For Blogging

I have been blogging for getting on for five years now, and in that time my frequency has been pretty hit and miss. From blogging daily around a year ago, I now blog two or three times a week. I have had periods of no blogging and there are often times I sit down to write and the words just do not come.

So today I thought I would put together a few ideas if you are in the same boat as me and not always feeling your blogging mojo. If nothing else I can refer back to these myself when I'm having an off day!

Print from Charm & Gumption

Friday, October 30, 2015

Being A Mum With Chronic Fatigue

When you say you have chronic fatigue a lot of people don't really understand what that means. Also referred to as M.E., chronic fatigue, or CFS, is a long-term condition that causes severe physical and mental tiredness, and often chronic pain, to a degree that it restricts everyday life. It affects around 250, 000 in the UK and 17 million worldwide.

What the new NHS staffing agreement means for you as a social worker

If you are a social worker, or considering it as a career, there are some new staffing agreements that you need to be aware of. As of 19th October, the NHS and public sector organisations will have one access point to temporary health workers including doctors, nurses, healthcare science services staff and health professionals. As a social worker, you'll be governed by the new rules, which demand all agency staff employed by NHS trusts in England must be hired through an NHS-approved national framework.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Pro Blogger Interivews: Coombe Mill

Welcome back to my fortnightly blogger series, where I interview today's top bloggers and ask those burning questions you would love to know the answer to. Hopefully these bloggers can help unlock some insights that will help us all grow our blogs and develop to a place we would all love to be.

Today interview is with with Fiona from Coombe Mill. Fiona and her husband Farmer Nick run fantastic self catering farm holidays and alongside this Fiona runs their blog where she shares activities from the farm as well as the weekly linky, Country Kids. Fiona has won four awards for her blog as well as countless nominations and is widely recognised as both a fantastic blogger and brand.

How do you think your experience as blogging from a brand perspective differs from personal bloggers?

In many ways not very much and I think this is actually the secret of my success. I really like to know and understand and connect with bloggers as fellow parents and not just see them as potential customers. I chat just like any other parent on social media and try to remember significant events in others live. On the blog I am mindful not to alienate followers so my posts are not ranty, shouty or sweary and few posts are controversial. The odd post that has involved a little controversial debate created great interest but on balance I decided it was best to steer away from such subjects. Generally my posts cover the happy events on the farm, things in our personal lives which are well received though interestingly they are often nothing to with the business. I believe it is good to have a mix of posts, those which are designed to entice you for a visit and those that are purely an insight into our lives away from working. I am keen not to be a pushy brand but rather a friendly blogger. I join linkys, host my own and comment widely and am always striving to improve my blog.   

Do you get many requests from people looking for freebies? How do you feel about them?

I do receive a fair few requests for freebie holidays; they are generally nicely worded and opportunistic. I don’t mind at all, after all I think it is quite common with the bigger companies and ambassador programmes. However in reality we are only a small family business and apart from an occasional competition, like the one I’m running now on my blog to Win Christmas with us, I don’t offer freebies. Not that I wouldn’t like to, simply that I can’t afford to and for all the popular times we are fully booked anyway. I think I have been extremely lucky to have appealed to the parent blogging community and now have a full Pinterest board of holiday reviews for Coombe Mill from paid for visits. https://www.pinterest.com/coombemill/holiday-reviews-for-coombe-mill/

If you could advise someone on the best way to pitch to brands, what would it be?

My advice on pitching to brands would be to be clear what you can offer them. They may not understand the blogging community and social media as well as you do as a blogger so spell out the obvious and don’t feel shy to shout about your commitment and achievements and what that will give them in social media presence, but be realistic and honest to them and yourself about the time you have and what they can expect to see from your efforts. Find out the person you need to speak to and address them by name then email, tweet or phone, sound confident and friendly, the worst they can say is no, this is why I never mind if someone approaches me. Despite being a brand I still pitch to brands myself, like my linky sponsorship of ‘Country Kids’ with Muddy Puddles and ‘Trash 2 Treasure’ with Duck Tape Colours.  

You obviously run your own business as well as your blog -  how you find time to fit it all in?

Do you schedule posts or is it more when you have time you write a load at once? Running a business, a blog and bringing up 6 children is a juggling act. I work late into the night 7 days a week and thrive on just 5 or 6 hours sleep every night. This said I will also take an hour out in the day to go for a run or a bike ride and my children are now growing up and do help with the business. I have days when I have my “writing head” on and will draft up 3 or 4 posts, coming back to them during the week to edit and add photos. I usually work a week ahead in draft as I hate being up against deadlines and always worry about the unexpected with the children or the business so I like to be prepared. 

What is your best advice on running a linky and how to make it successful?

My advice on running a linky is to choose a topic you are really interest in and know you can create a host post for easily. For me outdoor fun was a no brainer with the freedom of our 30 acre holiday farm. Make your theme wide enough to encompass a range of posts but with clear boundaries and try to be original, no one likes to be copied. Having done this, tell the world about it, make reference on your other posts and share on twitter but be careful not to spam people with it. Be a good host and comment and share all who link with you. Never take those who link up for granted, it takes time and effort to join in and it is important they know you appreciate this, but be warned, it takes me about 10 hours a week commenting and sharing and inviting back on Country Kids, so give it some serious thought before you jump in to run one. I think linkys work best run weekly or monthly, personally I find bi-weekly really annoying as I forget which week it is and I’m sure I’m not the only one; I run Country Kids weekly and Trash 2 Treasure monthly.

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