Tuesday, 24 March 2015

I have finally taken my own advice

You know that saying about the shoemaker's children going barefoot? My professional website had very small updates since it was set up in 2008. It finally has a new look but there's more to do. I was bursting to share it, finished or not!

The template has some sort of responsive design, so you see more of Cambridge's King's College if the panel is shrunk. I did it old school, coding and all (I mean altering the coding/design of an existing template). Deep down I am 'digital masochist', I use CMS at work.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Blogging for fun, fundraising or profit

I gave this talk early this year and thought some of you would like to see the slides, especially since there is a link towards the end taking you to a free course on how to start a profitable blog. I blog for all these reasons.... I have six blogs to cater for all my interests. My fun blogs (this one, the home interest/DIY one, the crafting/recycling one and the pictorial one) don't make money but they generated paid opportunities in digital publications (such as family-friendly recipes for MadeforMums and product reviews). 

The only professional blog in my bunch is the SEO one, which generated some paid articles as guest blogger and still gives as I write SEO-friendly blogs for businesses. Then there's the non-profit one, which I update weekly for a community garden I have recently joined. The aims are to attract new volunteers and have a presence to fundraise more effectively.

The point of my talk was that you can blog for a variety of reasons (which could well be social and emotional ones) and still make some money indirectly and perhaps get a book deal or a new career out of your musings...

I hope you enjoy and it would be nice if you shared your own journey or offer any tips! Please leave a comment with your blog link. This blog reached over 4000 people last month, making it the more successful in terms of engagement of all my blogs.

If you can't be bothered with the presentation, here's the link to a free course from The Guardian on how to build a profitable blog.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Red Nose Day Story by Michela aged 7 3/4

The adventures of Snortel and Astrosnort: Astrosnort’s birthday party

By Michela, aged 7 3/4

Once upon a time, lived a world of red noses, but with only 9 noses. They were called Supernose, Nosebot, Stripey, Snotty Professor, Astrosnort, Snorbit, Snout Dracular, Snortel and Karate Konk!

When Astrosnort was on the moon, a day before  his birthday, the others on earth were planning a suprise birthday party. Snortel announced: “We shall decide what presents he will get!” Secretly that night, they made a moon cake, wrapped presents and decorated the house. It was very early so the noses made a yummy feast but Astrosnort was just stepping down the stairs! 

But it was super dark and the nose closest to the lights, Snortel, turned them on. Then 
everyone shouted, “Surprise!”

First Astrosnort opened his presents; he got a cape, an action figure, a robot, a spy notebook, an electric fan, a set of face fangs, a supecase and a ninja costume. Next they ate the feast and the moon cake! Lastly they had a disco and they had lots of fun!


Monday, 2 March 2015

A personalised gift for Mother's Day

Michela holding my personalised book
As soon as an occasion or celebration looms, I get emails from PRs asking me to review a variety of gift ideas. If I like what I read in the press release, I say yes. I don't get a fee for this, just the product, so I try to be as objective as possible. Truth is that I used to be a product reviewer for various publications and I kind of miss it.

This year, Mother's Day is on 15th March. As soon as Valentine's goods were taken off the shelves, shops have been promoting all sorts of 'motherly gifts'. I like the well-priced gift ideas from Aldi, which are perfect for children who are relying on their pocket money and are a bit classier than the plastic offerings from poundshops. I succumbed to the chocolate-covered cranberries, which I asked my partner to buy.

Introducing the Book of Everyone - Mum's version

But perhaps you want to give your Mum something a bit more personal and fun than a "I love you Mum" or "Best Mum" mug/oven glove/toiletry set, etc. Having tested a personalised book before - a Peppa Pig one when my daughter was younger - I decided to try out an adult version. 
You can create the book, save it and then purchase it later on. This is handy if you are short of time or want to consider the options carefully. It's a very simple process, some pages are editable, others are created according to your Mum's date of birth. There are interesting, weird and wonderful facts inside the book, from the bestselling record (vinyl, yes, I am that old) to discoveries and even Nobel Prizes. As I was born in 1966, I got some football glory as it was the only time England won the World Cup. I personalised the dedication page on behalf of my daughter and signed it with her first name and her current nickname, Penguina, no prizes for guessing she is collecting penguins at the moment.
I also chose to add a picture of us to a page, as you see in the photo above. Now for the feedback about the product. I would have liked to personalise it a bit more and perhaps add a few more photos. It would not be a huge change, maybe swap a page of facts for a page of photos? I can see a teenager might like to have different photos of their mum, maybe even sneak in a photo of her/his mum as a baby! Or perhaps you could have two price ranges, a higher one for those who want to do more personalisation.
The book looks trendy and arty. It is not twee and cutesy, which is not to my taste, it's more designer clever and witty. The photo I provided came up in really good resolution (don't go by the photo on this blog). Print and images in the book are very crisp.
You are probably wondering about prices now.... The digital version is £7.50, the softcover express is £19.50, hardcover is £29.50 and the deluxe edition is £49.50. Postal fees are included for mainland UK. There is also a giftwrapping service, which is optional. These are standard prices for quality personalised books. However the blog is something else... meet the pregnant dads here.