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What to buy a blogger for christmas and birthdays.

So, I’ve written quite a lot about gift guides on here- so I thought it was only fair I did a gift guide for bloggers and freelancers too. Looking for gifts to improve your blog, your productivity or your home office? Then check out my ‘what to buy a blogger for Christmas and birthdays’- thanks to all the bloggers (from our amazing Pitching and Motivation for UK Bloggers facebook group) who gave me their suggestions too!

1.The Perfect Mug

For when you need a bit of a kick to get your work done, look no further than this ‘Today I Will Get Stuff Done’ mug from MS Mugs. You can also have the handle personalised too!

2-3 Blogging Books

Everyone loves a book in their Christmas stocking- so here are a few of my favourites for bloggers.

Blogging Your Way to Riches is written by two British bloggers (If you’re not a member of their Facebook group ‘Blogging Your Way to Riches’ facebook group and is a practical guide to earning an income from blogging.

The Million Dollar Blog is another great read- it features interviews with super-successful bloggers-both in the US and the UK. It focuses on different ways to make money- such as e-courses, affiliate links and brand ambassadors

 

The EPIC BLOG planner is great if you really want to set yourself some blog goals in 2018- and want to monitor your progress and growth along the way! There’s also monthly space to plan content.

4. Travel Vouchers

I spend a lot of time travelling to London for meetings and events; so I know some gift vouchers or discount vouchers for travel would come in very handy. You can buy gift vouchers for sites like hotels.com or booking.com; which the blogger could then use for overnight stays (I’m always invited to evening events so this would save me getting the very last train home!)

5. Leather Personalised Diary

Thanks to the lovely Bethan from A Pretty Place to Play for this recommendation! This gorgeous leather diary (which you can also have personalised) comes with notepad slots, sticker sheets, to do lists and more!

6. OHH DEER Papergang Subscription Box

I am a massive fan of subscription boxes- so ordered this one for the first time this month and I loved it. Each month you receive stationary from independent designers-it’s quirky finds that you’d never find in stores. I’m converted and can’t wait to see what January’s box brings.

7. Happiness Planner Subscription Box

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Happiness planner- but did you know they did subscription boxes too? Each box is themed around a quality- be it confidence or self-awareness. In each box, you receive notebooks, guided prompts, stickers and a pen. All very instagrammable!

8.The perfect Instagram backdrop

Sarah from A Mundane Life recommended these and I’m hooked. For years, bloggers have been using tile samples but now they can purchase proper backgrounds for their photos. How gorgeous does this background look?

9. A Blogging Course

Blogging courses can be pricey- so asking for one as a Christmas present makes sense. I’ve already blogged about my favourite course Turn Your Dreams Into Money but Rachel from The Daisy Pages recommended Me&Orla’s Bloom and Grow course

Once a year, the hills around here turn to a sea of purple as the heather comes into bloom. It looks sort of impossibly beautiful – a big thanks to @hannahargyle who snapped this picture of me when we met on the moors to shoot it. . & to anyone thinking, like a previous commenter, that I look "cold, uncomfortable and miserable" – THAT IS MY PHOTO FACE! 😂🙈 How very dare you. I think you'll find I look moody and whimsicle like a Bronte-esque heroine 🙊😉. . But seriously though. It's not easy being a woman and putting your face out there in a world that hates everything short of perfection. Let's stop assuming we know everything about people's lives based on on the tiny fragments they share on Instagram, hey? Peace, love and purple heather x

A post shared by Sara Tasker (@me_and_orla) on

Orla creates the most beautiful Instagram photos and her latest course ‘Bloom and Grow’ is designed to help you cultivate your Instagram following with beautiful pictures and boost engagement (god knows we all need that!)

10. A stylish camera bag

I’m always lugging my camera bag around so thanks Adele from Nest and Dressed for suggesting this super stylish bag from The Tog Bag.

Those are just a few of my favourites for Christmas- but let me know what’s on your list below!

Looking to write your own gift guides? Read my blog post on how to get started and brands who are looking for bloggers!

Disclaimer: may contain affiliate links.

 

My top tips for staying productive when working from home

When it comes to blogging, it’s safe to say that you’re always going to want to be able to do a good job. With more of us blogging and freelancing from our home officers (Aka: our sofas!)we tend to find ourselves dealing with a lack of motivation and lots of distractions. So to make sure that you can become your most productive self, my top productivity tips should help…

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The lies I’ve told as a blogger (and why it needs to stop)

Today is one of those blog posts that came to me when I least expected it to! So, let me tell you a little story. Ages ago, I saw an Instagram ad campaign for ‘The Bold Type’ on Amazon Prime (this is not in anyway an advertisement for it, I promise!)  At the time, I thought ‘wow, it’s a bit weird that Amazon Prime need Instagram ads.’ and promptly forgot all about it. Yet today, a month or so later, I  was bored; watched one episode and I’m now hooked! So I guess influencer marketing really does work folks!

So what the bloody hell has that got to do with this blog post? Well, the show is all about those who work at a fictional magazine (and to be honest, a magazine that is probably not at all realistic) and the protagonist’s struggle to create pieces that really resonate with people instead of just social shares and traffic. It got me thinking about my purpose and my goals when it comes to blogging; and in honesty, some of the times I’m really not truthful about things.

I’m not talking about Instagram followers (those 4000 followers I’ve earnt over the last five years are all real dammit!) but the conversations I have on my blog…

I’m constantly writing about growing traffic and freelancing: giving the impression that I’ve got this shit all figured out. All of my blog posts create a narrative that you’re just one step away from tons of traffic via Pinterest-and when you do; it’ll be plain sailing and money-making from there out.

Not often do we talk honestly about blogging and what it means to us. We lie (or perhaps simply ‘present our best version of ourselves’)not only to our readers but also to ourselves. So today, I wanted to be really honest with you and make some confessions…

1. I’m sorry, but I do get unhealthily obsessed with my numbers.

I think it’s healthy to know your stats. But, to be honest, I can view my stats as a form of validation rather than a success in their own right. If they’ve dropped: I’m not interesting, I’ve got no voice and nobody cares. If they’re up? I’m an amazing success. Yet, It’s often not relative: I had so much lovely feedback from my Youtuber channel-even though I don’t have many subscribers yet.

I also recently blogged about increasing my traffic from 20,000 to 30,000 monthly views; and whilst that has led me to apply for Mediavine-it hasn’t seen any more opportunities come my way than previously. In fact, I have had more work on my blog some months, when my traffic was 1/2 the size I get now! So, I’m sorry if I present traffic as a ‘magic key’ to unlock opportunities: I do think it’s vital but after you reach a certain point, you might not find it as important as you’d think.

2.Pinterest really isn’t the be end all.

I know I’ve blogged about Pinterest a few times and I’ve had loads of people get in touch asking me to help them with it. Pinterest is great but it does have its flaws too: it’s a search engine and that means the people that find my posts are likely to click on and click off- a loyal reader they do not make. Although I am pleased that some of my pins have done amazing through Pinterest, I’m also envious of those who gain traffic through loyal, superfan readers too.

3. I compare myself a lot.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had a few moments recently when I’ve seen bloggers get campaigns I’m perfect for me (in my own head at least) and I compare myself. Am I getting as much work as them? Am I as popular? Note that actually, my worries about not receiving a campaign is not even a money thing necessarily- it’s a validation that I’m succeeding and people are interested in me.

4.I get quite bored of taking photos

Don’t get me wrong-I like taking photos but I’m not brilliant at it. Instagram natural I am not! So, I’d love to say I relish the opportunity, but most the time I want to eat or my husband is telling me to put my phone away. I seem to always attract shadows, inadvertently drop my own hair in the food, shoo the dogs away who try (and sometimes succeed) to eat the food and by the time I’ve taken it, It’s cold and I’m no longer hungry.

5.I’m really glad I don’t have an ‘Instagram husband’

What is it with all these bloggers recently sharing that they know their boyfriend is the one because they are just so invested in their Instagram feeds and celebrate their milestones?. I’d like to share the following conversation I literally just had with my husband:

Me: I’m writing a blog post, so for research purposes how many followers do you think I have on Instagram?

Him: I don’t know.

Me: Guess

Him: About 500?

Me: No!

Him: 10,000 then

Me: Err also no!

Him: I don’t even know what’s supposed to be a good number!

So, there you have it. But oh my goodness guys- it’s a bloody photo sharing app; it’s not rocket science. I understand you taking an interest in your partner’s work but it’s also very helpful to have someone to tell you to turn your phone off and not to take it so seriously;because ‘yeah, it’s Instagram!’

6. I don’t just ‘blog for me’, I blog for traffic

I think blogging for yourself is a really nice sentiment and one that I followed for many, many years. I think once you take that transition into blogging as a job (whether it’s for money or simply putting yourself out there as professional) and delve into all the stats that come with it (What’s your twitter impressions? your average comments per Instagram post? your bounce rate?)  it’s very hard to detach and blog purely for yourself. There’s some type of content I know is more relevant to my audience each time I write it, and sometimes there are occasions when I know something won’t get lots of traffic, but I’ll write it anyway.

7. I do blog for money

What is with the stigma of ‘if you’re starting a blog for money, you’re doing it wrong.’ Imagine if we said that to people studying a qualification or starting a new career. Now, when I first started out, I definitely didn’t consider blogging as an income-but my second blog (this one you’re reading), I do think about how to make it financially viable and have done since I set it up; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

This leads me on to the next part, I think it’s really exciting to be blogging as ‘a job’ but, you do start to think about your time constantly and how you use it-and if you’re time is compensated. It can be difficult to separate things like admin time and just enjoying blogging: I can sometimes think ‘is this work?’ ‘how is it benefiting me?’ However, The Bloglancer at the moment is largely sponsored-post free and I still really enjoy it. Yet you do feel a little guilty spending time on it; since any time is essentially ‘work-time.’

8. I do feel as if it’s all falling apart

There are quiet days, weeks, months sometimes. Days where you check your inbox isn’t broken and wonder why everyone around you is getting opportunities. I’m sure there’s people who read my blog and my freelance work and think ‘where is she getting all these opportunities from too.’ I’ll mope for a while; then grab my notebook and start sending emails out again. I’m pushy I suppose: I’ll follow up emails; I’ll pick up the phone and just get going again. We don’t often talk about the wall of email silence, campaigns falling through and weighing up how long to chase again but it happens!

I hope this blog post helped-and in the interest in honesty, I’d LOVE to hear your confessions!

10 Reasons No One Is Reading Your Blog

So, today I wanted to talk about one of the most common complaints I see bloggers talking about: why no-one is reading your blog. You might know that my latest venture is all about blogging outreach (I now run Chronic Illness Bloggers which helps connect bloggers who blog about life with an illness and brands and advertisers) as well as doing blog audits and helping bloggers with their sites. During this time, many of my conversations have been about stats and more specifically people asking: why is no one reading my blog?

Traffic is important. I know many bloggers will tell you it isn’t but most of the time we’re blogging for two reasons: a) we want people to read our words and feel inspired or informed and b) we want to be hopefully paid or compensated for our words (if that’s you, do go fill out my blogging money survey as I’m trying to keep track of how much bloggers charge- I’ll be sharing in a blog post soon!). So unless you are blogging purely for yourself, it’s ok to admit that you want people to read your blog!

After looking at a LOT of blogs this week- I wanted to share ten mistakes some bloggers are making…

1.It’s hard to navigate 

I think bloggers underestimate the attention span of an average reader at times. Often, on landing on a site it can be hard to navigate with unclear headings or no introduction to what the site is actually about. Make the purpose of your blog really clear as soon as the reader arrives on your site. One way to do this might be to have a landing page so you can send your different types of readers off in different directions.

2.You’re not offering value

One of the quickest ways to gain traffic is to offer something of value-whether it’s a free download or ten tips on something (just like I’m doing now!). If your blog is purely your own reflections an a journal for your life; that’s absolutely fine-but you might need to accept it might not be the traffic-building blog you’d like.

3.It doesn’t stand out

 

You don’t have to have a clear ‘niche’ but you do have to offer something different in my opinion. There are just so many blogs out there- why would anyone read yours over a thousand others?

4.It takes too long to load

Make a note of your google page insights to check your site speed

I’d recommend using google page speed insights to see how slow your site is to load- this can be really offputting; especially if people are scrolling on their phone.

5.You’re focussed on false engagement

Follow trains. Comment pods. Like for Like. Whatever you call them, they’re really bloody annoying. And all a bit fake. I might use one once in a blue moon-but only if I know the reader is likely to stick around afterwards.

For example, if I have an amazing post on The Bloglancer; I might use these to drive people to my site (since them being a blogger is the perfect audience) but make sure I have all the different ways to follow my blog so they’ll stick around.  I wouldn’t do this for my first blog, A Balanced Belly, however-since it’s unlikely I’d find people geniunely interested in my content.

You might spend thirty minutes of comment pods and follow trains to bring in one hundred readers one day; but it would be better spent working on Pinterest- to bring in potential one hundred readers every day.

Read it next: How I get 400 views a day from Pinterest.

6.Your sponsored content sticks out

If you’re only blogging a few times a way and have regular sponsored content, it can definitely impact your blog. So your sponsored content needs to BE BETTER than your original content, not just stuff you’ve posted and hoped nobody would read. Treat every sponsored post not just as a way to make money, but a way to get traffic. Always ask if you can offer a giveaway item (which is a very easy way to boost traffic) and always share on social media, create pins AND make it interesting (too many bloggers just don’t do this)

7.You’re not keeping people on the page

Always do your very best to keep bloggers on the page once they’ve arrived. Try to have recommended posts at the bottom of the page and interspersed throughout (either through images or links). Make sure you click the ‘open in a new window’ tab, so you don’t lose the blogger!

8.You don’t know who you’re writing for

Yes, you may have the nice template and an Instagram-worthy feed; but who is your ideal reader? What are they likely to want to know that you can help them with. Quite a few bloggers have readers surveys and they can really help get to grips with what the reader is after. Another way is to look at your stats and see which style of post is consistently popular.

9.You’re not sharing enough

Make sure you are sharing your old content as well as your new stuff. I often go through my blog and see what type of evergreen content I can reshare ( I either do this manually or use the app ‘HiPlay’ which works with Buffer). It’s also worth making sure you are continually sharing old posts around key dates- so get your Easter posts scheduled!

10.You haven’t bought my book.

Sorry guys, this wasn’t intending to be self-promotion; but I already designed my pin for ’10 tips’ and I’m having a mental block around the last one- so I thought I’d give my new ebook about building traffic a mention. If you’re looking to build your traffic, it’s got lots of practical tips and I also offer blog audits if you’d like me to take a look at your blog specifically to see where you’re going wrong?

I hope this post helped and I’ll be back with a new PR interview in a couple of days!

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10 reasons no one is reading your blog

NEW EBOOK: Everything you need to grow your blog in 2018

Today I’m back! With my second ebook finally complete. After talking about the power of ebooks in my post on passive income projects, I set about creating my second-and it’s here! The Blog Growth Toolkit!

 

What is the blog growth toolkit?

The blog growth toolkit is an ebook which is full of practical tips on…

  • Planning content people want to read and share
  • Using social media to boost traffic
  • Getting all the views on Pinterest
  • Setting up and making the most of a mailing list.
  • How to grow your blog and take it to the next level in 2018

As well as plenty of printable pages to track your stats, growth and ideas to take your blog to the next step. All this for only £5.99!

Is it Right for Me?

  • Do you already have a blog and social channels? This is not a guide for those who haven’t yet started a blog. Instead, it’s for those who have already got the basics of the blog set up, and want to take it to the next level! However, if you’re already an established full-time blogger, this might not be the best purchase for you as you may already have nailed your blog growth and traffic.

 

  • Are you cautious about spending lots of money when you’re not making very little blog income? All my ebooks are set a very reasonable rate (of £5.99) as I strongly believe growing your blog shouldn’t have to cost the world!

 

  • Do you want a steady, realistic increase in growth and NOT millions of followers? If you want to grow your blog but aren’t daydreaming of millions of followers, then this is the blog for you. I don’t have millions of followers. I hate ebooks that promise this (because I’ve read them and I still don’t have a million followers. If I did, I’d be selling toothpaste ads on Instagram instead of blogging here. Instead, this is real, practical tips to grow your blog steadily month on month.

What if I need extra help?

For the first time ever I’m offering two options for my ebook. The first option is the ebook itself but the second choice is the ebook plus a personalised blog audit! This involves…

  • You filling in a questionnaire, outlining your key goals and focuses that you need support with.
  • Within seven days, you’ll receive a detailed blog critique from me (approximately 2 pages long) via email; full of suggestions on how to grow your blog targetted advice and areas of development.
  • You’ll then have an additional seven days to send unlimited follow up questions via email to ensure you know exactly how to grow your blog.
  • This service can include me looking at your media kit and pitching emails- if one of your targets is to make money from your blog. The price of this is £31.99

Testimonials on my previous ebook: Pitching Toolkit

Steph from Colitis to Ostomy: I found the Blog to Business: Your Pitching Toolkit to be really useful and easy to understand. It has enabled me to think about how I will approach brands and how to narrow down the brands that fit my blog.My blog is written with young people having ostomies and pregnant women/new moms with an ostomy.

Becky from The Owlet: Jenna you’re amazing! Just got my first EVER sponsored post thanks to yo. Also after our conversation on Twitter, it’s really helped me come up with blog content. Thank you so much!

Laura from Mum on A Mission

This ebook has given me the confidence to start pitching as well as ideas on who to target and how to find their contact details. Since I read it I’ve successfully pitched to several clients and have recommended this guide to other bloggers too.

Where can I buy?

Buy the ‘Blog Growth Toolkit’ here.

Buy the ‘Blog Growth Toolkit+audit here.

8 blogging email scams you NEED to know about.

So today I wanted to have a chat about your blogging inbox. Is it just me that seems to get all sorts of dodgy emails? I hope not. In fact, I feel like my bullshit detector (I don’t usually swear in blog posts but I feel a bit stupid doing the ** so it’s staying!) is pretty strong lately- and I seem to spend a chunk of time replying ‘it’s a scam’ to various posts on blogger forums. So, like anything I find myself commenting a lot about, I decided to turn it into a blog post instead. Here are 8 blogging email scams you need to be aware of- let me know how many you’ve encountered.

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Everything you know about gift guides (and 7 brands who want to work with you on them)

Gift guide season is now under way! If you are not sure what they are or how things work, then this blog is here to help! 

Gift guides have long been part of mainstream media but it’s only recently that bloggers have done them. They involve curating lists of ‘gift’ reccomendations, whether by age, gender or interests.

 

What’s the benefit for the blogger?

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Everything you need to grow your blog: themes, software, hosting and e-courses!

Yesterday, I made another purchase for my blog and thought I’d dedicate a blog post to it! Last year I signed up for The Genis Blogger’s Toolkit. It was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made (and in fact, other than Emma Drew’s course on making money from your blog, was the only real blog investment I’ve made).

For those of you who aren’t aware, the blogger toolkit is basically a huge list of resources for growing your blog. Last year I mainly focused on the e-book involved, but this year I decided to purchase it again and get involved properly! Why? Well, as I’m now working on 2 blogs, the products were more relevant than ever. I only purchased it yesterday but I have already delved in! Because the product is only on sale for a few days, I thought I’d blog about it now and share my experiences with it.

Here’s what I have already used…

  • FREE Isabelle Theme ($79.00). I needed a new blog theme anyway and since my last one cost over £50, I knew I’d be pretty much getting my money back even if I just used this one product. As you can see, I uploaded the theme this morning and I LOVE IT! I still have some tweaks to make, but it took less than an hour to get it all up and running!
  • FREE 10 Stock Photos Bundle ($69.00). I am obsessed with stock photos so I’ve already downloaded this bundle (and used one in the header of today’s post)
  • FREE Pinteresting Strategies: How I Went from 0-200K Page Views with Manual Pinning ($32.00) I read this last night and thought it was a really good read! I am already doing pretty well with my Pinterest but this went over the value of pinning manually, how to use rich pins (still need to get working on this) and how to maximise your efforts with group boards. There is also a separate resource in the bundle that provides a huge list of Pinterest group boards and how to join them! Group boards make a huge difference to my traffic so this excites me!

 

  • FREE Turn Your Dreams Into Money: How to Build a Six-Figure Blog and Live the Life You Want ($250.00) A bit of a cheat this one as I did this course months ago (you can read my review here) But seriously the current value of this course alone is £197, so the fact you can get the whole bundle for £75 is just madness! I would definitely recommend purchasing if you were interested in Emma’s course.

I also have many more resources downloaded and ready to read for my trip to London today! Including a guide to SEO, a guide to freelance writing and another on time management! There is also a 2-month free plan of social pilot- which promises to grow and schedule your social media, so I’ll be giving that a go too! You can see the rest of the tools here.

Isn’t It all just American resources?

One of my concerns when I first signed up was that it is an American led bundle. I don’t know why but us Brits are much less vocal about all things blogging. However, there are very few resources that can’t be used by the UK bloggers too! The only ones that aren’t relevant is an ebook an American taxes and a snack subscription box for US customers (dammit!). Other than that, the rest of the resources can be used by a UK audience and are just as relevant and useful And of course, our lovely Emma Drew is representing the UK by offering her course!

How much is it and is it worth the money?

The total cost of the course is $97 (I never understand why Americans price things weirdly!) which comes out at £75 approximately. Given that just a few things I have personally tried come to over £500 then I would say absolutely! It’s only avaliable for 8 days (well 7 now, because I am a day late with this post) and after that, won’t be available until next year. You can purchase the bundle here  and although you only have 7 days to do so, you have a whole year to use a lot of the resources (some of the add ons- like the theme- have a shorter download date)

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of the Ultimate Bundles after purchasing it myself last year. This means if you purchase through my referral link, I’ll simply be credited for referring you. I purchased both bundles out of my own money however, because I’m such a big fan!