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Why Bloggers should say “yes” more often!

I read a lot of stuff online where new bloggers are told the many reasons why they should turn down opportunities that are considered to be beneath them or not giving enough return for their work, but I very rarely see anything where bloggers are encouraged to say YES more often. In this post I’ll explore some of the reasons why it might pay to swim against the tide and answer in the affirmative…

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Scenario : You are offered a low value product to review
Why you might say no : The time it would take you to photograph it and write the post isn’t worth the value of the product
Why you should say YES : If the product is new or unusual it might generate a lot of interest and traffic to your blog. Perhaps the product fits particularly well with the kind of things you write about or want to align yourself with. The product might look beautiful and if you write a photography lead blog, it might provide you with the inspiration and opportunity to take some great photos and of course most importantly, this might be a brand that you are keen to work with again. Often PRs will test the water with a low value product to see how much effort you put in before they offer you a role in a bigger campaign.

Scenario : You are asked to write a post for a website for free
Why you might say no : What a cheek! This company has money, why aren’t they paying me?
Why you should say YES : The opportunity may help increase your blogs visibility. You can get a good idea about this by checking the websites own domain authority and Google Page Rank. Alternatively it might help increase your own visibility. It’s incredibly important to get your face and name out there as much as possible. PRs need to find their bloggers somewhere and the more your name and face is splashed around, the higher the chance that they will find you. Finally one free bit of work might lead to other opportunities. Last year I wrote one free 500 word article for a website which has since lead to regular monthly work and several hundreds of pounds of income.

Scenario : Helping another Blogger
Why you might say no : If I help them and give them my secrets their blog might do better than mine!
Why you should say YES : I seriously didn’t realise not helping other bloggers was a thing until someone shared the horror stories of rudeness and lack of co-operation she had experienced in her early days of blogging. The positive side to that is it does make it so much easier to be remembered if you are kind and helpful. There is a Dale Carnegie quote which sums this up rather well. “The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage.”  I remember all the bloggers who have helped me along the way and I try wherever possible to return the kindness in triplicate.

Scenario : Blogger competitions
Why you might say no : I’m just going to write a post that publicises the brand when I might not get anything in return
Why you should say YES : I love blogging competitions and I love the challenge of putting together a really great and creative post that tests my skills and maybe just maybe might win me something. Don’t bother if you are going to make a half-hearted effort or if you can’t see a way of making your entry stand out from the crowd, but people can and do win. I am typing this post whilst sitting on a lovely leather office chair I won in a blogging competition and I nearly fell off that very chair last year when I won a £500 Amazon voucher for this post! If you are struggling for ideas for a winning entry, Tots 100 has this really great post about how to write competition posts.

Scenario : Affiliate advertising
Why you might say no : Most people say they don’t earn a lot from them
Why you should say YES : I don’t see affiliate relationships as solely about money. By linking with brands in the past I have secured invitations to press events and sponsored posts and I am able to visually align my blog with the kind of brands I want to work with attract more of. I also believe that by having adverts in place on a blog it can make that blog appear bigger and more professional. There are many websites you can source your ads from, but I use and recommend Affiliate Window

Scenario : Doing a PR a favour
Why you might say no : Bloody PRs they are always taking the p***, why’s there never a budget?
Why you should say YES : Seriously, have we forgotten that PRs are actually people trying to do a job? I get lots of requests to help a PR with something like a short survey or a quote to endorse them and if I have time I always try and help, if not I reply promptly and let them no I can’t (which is often helpful in itself.) If you are friendly and chatty and you help PRs out when they are desperately trying to work to a tight deadline, you will be remembered. Building a good relationship with the people you work with is an extremely effective way of ensuring you continue to gain commissions.

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Why I’m going pro in 2015…

Why I’m going pro in 2015…

by Clare Mansell

In March I will have been blogging for 9 years. For most of that time I have refused to regard it as anything other than a nice hobby. When I left mainstream media in 2012, I decided I needed new skills to take back to the workplace one day, so I committed 20 hours a week (and a not insignificant student loan) to studying graphic design and I completely ignored the skills I was acquiring through blogging.

Even when an income and creative opportunities started coming in from this blog, I still thought it was an indulgence to invest my time in it and I ploughed on with studying.

And then I had an epiphany.

I told someone recently that this year I was going to “go pro” with my blogging and they asked what that meant. To me it means I will treat it like a business. I can see some of you shuddering at the thought of this, but I sincerely believe this change will be for the better.

Going pro is going to mean many things, but mostly it will mean better quality content, better planned posts and collaborations that benefit everyone. It will mean I can spend time doing the creative stuff I love without feeling it is an extravagance. It will not mean this blog becomes a dumping ground for impersonal content and advertising. I would hate that as much as you.

My sister Jane has agreed to work with me on some projects. She’s already collaborated on a couple of posts and is a great stylist and photographer (she took the photo of me in this post)

So here is some of what I plan to do this year…

* In the next few days I will be moving to a redesigned self-hosted WordPress blog. If you are reading this version of the post, it has already happened.
* I will be producing more video content.
* There will  be more food and craft tutorials, some video based, some photographic
* I will be writing a business plan and setting targets
* I will introduce an editorial calendar to allow me to plan posts
* I will read, comment on and promote other blogs
* Each month I will concentrate on one social media channel or aspect of blogging and dedicate time to learning about it and sharing that information with you, for January this will be Facebook.
* I will share my progress ‘Going Pro’ with you in a monthly summary on this blog and more regularly over on Facebook and on a dedicated Pinterest board. Please join me there.

Are you intrigued? I hope you are. There will be stuff to be learned for all of us this year and I promise to share it.

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Vlog : Hillary’s Craft Event in Brighton

Vlog : Hillary’s Craft Event in Brighton

by Clare Mansell

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On Saturday I went to the Hillary’s Craft Event in Brighton. It’s been six months since my last blogging get together and during that time I’ve learned a huge amount about the importance of meeting people face to face. So after missing out on Blogfest last month (should have bought a ticket!) I was thrilled to have the chance to spend the afternoon in Brighton doing crafty stuff and putting real faces to profile images.

It was also a brilliant excuse to play around with some of my video kit and produce some content for my new YouTube channel (more of that in a sec)

The event was overseen by Kirsty of Make Do & Trend who talked us through making no-sew bunting (which looks great by the way) and fabric Christmas baubles with a pattern based around the Cathedral Windows quilt square. Even though I didn’t finish my bauble (I was too busy eating cake!) it was great to see how the pattern comes together, as it’s something I’ve always been rather terrified of doing with quilts.

If you want to see what the afternoon was like (and how amazingly lovely Brighton looked on a sunny day in November) check out the video below and please subscribe to my channel. I think 2015 is going to be a very exciting year for vlogging, so I’ve jumped on the bandwagon.

I’m aiming to produce a couple of vlogs a month, so don’t worry, you won’t be swamped if you subscribe…

Linking with Em for Point & Shoot…

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Blogtacular 2014

Blogtacular 2014

by Clare Mansell

Tomorrow I am packing my bags and heading off to London for my first blogging conference, the brilliant (cause I know it will be) Blogtacular at the the Royal Institution Of Great Britain.

I’m really excited about getting the chance to hear words of wisdom from some of best creative bloggers in the business, as well as taking part in a photowalk with Xanthe Berkeley whose photography I have admired ever since I discovered her blog last year.

I am also looking forward to meeting the other attendees, some of whom, like Emma from Love Your Pics, I am have connected with online, others I have been cyber-stalking for months. In particular Lucy of Capture By Lucy whose food photography is inspirational, Emily Beale whose Living Arrows portraits I admire every week, Steph at Curlew Country who I only found through the Blogtacular facebook page, but who has a fab countryside orientated blog, Laura from Circle Of Pine Trees who I swapped blog badges with many moons ago and Kat Goldin (below with co-organiser Kat Molesworth) of Slugs On The Refrigerator who is one of the organisers and whose blog I have been reading for so long I can’t remember when I first started.

My weekend in London comes not a moment too soon. It’s been a long day today, stuck inside our one room (our living space for the past two months) with the rain pouring down outside, two bored dogs, a small boy who asks “why” 50 times an hour, no TV signal (the aerial needs rewiring as a result of the building works) a bespoke front door that doesn’t fit, a grumpy builder and a firm of joiners who are trying to dodge responsibility. Urrrgh…

So London, here I come…

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In which a friendly blogger does a kindly deed…
If you read my blog post or any of my Twitter rants last Monday, you will be aware that my attendance at my first ever blogger’s conference was scuppered by the St Jude storm. I had been planning to go to the Next Bloggers Network workshop in London, but my local train operator had no services running till late afternoon and so I ended up stuck at home tormenting myself by reading all the #nbnworkshop tweets and photos.
But the story doesn’t just end there. After the gloom of Monday had passed,  I was tweeted by fellow south-coast blogger Carina (who blogs at Multi Layer Mummy) who in a unexpected show of blogging camaraderie had liberated an extra goodie bag from the workshop and brought it home for me
My exciting parcel arrived on Saturday and inside was a bounty of goodies including a NBN Workshop cookie, a very posh scented candle, slipper socks, a notebook, pen and picture frame…
After the build up and the let down of Monday I can’t begin to tell you how much this small thoughtful show of inclusiveness was appreciated. If my first no-show bloggers conference is anything to go by, it looks like I’ll be in for a real treat when I actually get to meet real live bloggers in flesh at Blogtacular in May!

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