Friday, 28 January 2011

Homeworking and how to build up a website on a budget

Helen from Business Plus Baby has kindly hosted my post on 'How I became a homeworker'. Click here to read my story. The blog has many more stories of homeworking mothers, which is really inspirational.

Thanks Helen!

PS. I have finally published my article on how to build a website on a budget, click here to find out how you can do it! 

PPS. Boost your SEO factor by using these three top tips by Alison Rothwell, online marketing expert and founder of the SEO Training Club

Alison is a great communicator and very generous with her expertise. I highly recommend her club!

3 Killer Tips to Improve Your Google Page Rank
Improving your Google PageRank will of course have a knock on effect to your position within the natural search results. But don't make the mistake of concentrating solely on PageRank. Improving PageRank should be a part of a well-organized SEO strategy. 

1. Create a Google site map
Google has a great number of free tools you can use. So if you don't already have one, head on over to and create a free account, then follow the instructions to create a sitemap, it's actually quite simple. While your there take a look at some of the other free tools they offer.

2. Getting good back links
It's common knowledge that the more links you have, the better it is for your PageRank. But while it's common knowledge, it's not entirely correct. It's not so much the quantity of links you have, but the quality. All links should be from relevant sites, preferably with a high PageRank themselves. A good way of getting quality back links is to post in relevant forums. Answer any questions that may have been posted and include a link back to your site offering more information. DO NOT spam these websites with links though, or you'll be banned.

3. Always check your spelling
Goggle, sorry Google, doesn't like spelling mistakes. So always make sure your content and titles are spelled correctly. It was once common practice to optimise sites with misspelled words for popular search terms to try and fool the engines. Those days are over, if your site has misspelled words on it, your PageRank will be penalized accordingly. 

To receive Alison's weekly online marketing ezine to help you get higher search engine rankings to increase your online sales, visit

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Exclusive Q&A with Emma Forbes

Emma Forbes, who has recently launched her very own lifestyle website Forbes Style (
I was looking for samples for a beauty feature I want to run on my blog, when I was offered the opportunity to feature a Q&A with celebrity mum-of-two Emma Forbes. I was allowed to pick the questions and as I've been following the recent controversy about weaning with great interest, I asked her opinions on this much-debated issue. Of course it was all a storm in a teacup as the study that sparked the controversy wasn't really advocating changes. As the NCT puts it: "The media furore surrounding the story was a surprise to the NCT. To start with, the article was not based on new research, but an opinion piece that raised questions and did not provide any new evidence, alter policy or recommendations."

Anyhow, here are Emma's replies to my request of a comment on the weaning controversy and/or to recall her own experiences, at a time when guidelines advocated earlier weaning. As this is a homeworking and parenting blog, I also asked if she had any recipes for time-strapped mums (and she should know since she has a lot of commitments!).

Emma on weaning "Weaning was very different then (14 years ago). I basically started Lily and Sam from three months onwards with a little rice put into the last feed at night... and then when it came to introducing solids, I used to make all my own purees! Their favourite was banana and avocado blended together (it may sound gross but it has the perfect consistency and is full of protein and filling, too). I loved experimenting with different mixes and used to freeze them in ice-cube trays to take out when needed.

Emma's quick recipes for busy mums
"My main time-saving method is one-pot cooking! This is perfect for time-strapped mothers as you shove it all in one pot and then bake in the oven. Here are a few recipes... 

Chicken casserole 
This is a foolproof, one-pot, crowd pleaser for any family! Serves 8

  • flour to season, salt and pepper
  • 8 chicken breasts and 8 thighs, skinned  
  • knob of butter
  • a couple tbsp of olive oil
  • one onion, finely chopped 
  • one clove of garlic, chopped
  • half a glass of white wine (optional)
  • 2 pints of stock (made from vegetable bouillon or chicken stock cubes)
  • 8 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • a few potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • one spring of rosemary
  • 3 handfuls of pearl barley
1 Preheat the oven to a low heat. Lightly sprinkle some flour in a bowl and place the chicken in it, seasoned with salt and pepper. Stir the pieces to coat them.
2 In a large casserole pan, melt the butter with the olive oil and add the chicken. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until the chicken is browned all over and the onion is just translucent.
3 If you have any leftover white wine, add it to the casserole and let it bubble. Add the stock, the carrots, potatoes and rosemary.
4 Bake in the oven for around two hours (keep checking to see how it's cooking and adjust the heat if necessary). In the last 30 minutes, add the pearl barley. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Tip: Don’t worry about using precise quantities, experimenting is part of the fun, especially when using leftovers or whatever is handy.

Easy but healthy recipes for older babies and toddlers
Stir-fries are great… stir-fry chopped vegetables and shredded chicken with a little oil, add a squidge of lemon and some soy sauce, voila! Serve with boiled egg noodles – not only is this really easy for small children to eat and digest, it’s good for them too.

I do three-minute guides on, including how to  bake brownies with children, which is a fab activity for a rainy Sunday afternoon! 

As Emma signs off, I visit her new website, which covers a wide range of topics. Aside food, there are articles and inspiration on homes, fashion, parenting, travel, health and wellbeing. And if you need to vent on an issue close to you, there is a space for that too! I will certainly try her casserole recipe, after all Emma was a finalist on Celebrity Masterchef.

UPDATE, February 2015: Emma's website is now offline. It might have changed its address or being taken down. Do let me know what happened to it!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Coming up... and what I have been up to

I have some exciting posts in the pipeline, including an exclusive Q&A with a celebrity parent, some interesting products to review and more...

In the meantime, you can read what I have been up to professionally here. It's a good insight in what it means being a parent, a charity volunteer, digital copywriter and journalist all rolled into one!

Some of you are awaiting my 'masterclass' on building a budget (but SEO friendly) website, which is also in the pipeline. My credentials in this realm is that my website appears on page 1 on Google (web and UK) if using keywords in the search that relate to what I write about. All will be revealed in an online feature.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Fairytale cottage far away...

I found the house of my dream... and it's tiny! I love it so much and am looking forward to do up my old furniture in this elegant but shabby finish. It reminds me of the Gustavian, more than the Victorian style as Victorians loved colours...

Click the pretty icon below to see it...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Homeworkers don't switch off

Yes, I confess, I worked during the Christmas holidays. In my defence, last year it was much more hectic as I had to write the copy for a huge website by January 4th.

This year, I wanted to sort out some admin, work on my blogs and do some indexing. I managed to do a good chunk of what I had planned by getting up early and relying on my partner for childcare, although my daughter kept popping in with requests that Dada couldn't satisfy. She is a cunning little girl and a clever clog.

I had some time off for Xmas and Boxing Day, plus hours off here and there for shopping and some walks in Cambridge, which was less busy than usual. Of course the crowds returned when the sales started after Xmas.

It was quite nice to connect with other freelancers working during the festive season, we had brief chats through various forums, which made me feel less 'isolated'. Of course now everybody is talking about catching up with work after the holidays, but at least I don't have this problem and can ease myself into the full swing of things without moaning too much.