Trunki suitcase

Why you need to test products for yourself (even on corporate blogs).

Trunki suitcase

We’ve made it part of our strategy at work to try, whenever possible, to test products out ourselves before running competitions with external parties. Granted, it may not always be doable, but it makes a huge difference to the way your blog post comes across if you really can vouch for whatever you’re offering your readers. Plus, as a blogger, it’s much easier to write when you’re talking from experience rather than simply regurgitating a press release.

That’s why we’ve been out in the back garden making the most of the September sunshine and testing some stuff for Trunki. A few weeks back there was a chance to win a Trunki suitcase on the Thomson blog. This week there’s a giveaway running to win a PaddlePak swim bag, this time for First Choice. My little boy has pulled, prodded and poked both products to oblivion, which is the only reason I can highly recommend them both. And any PR worth their salt will appreciate that, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Churros

Food, glorious food.

ChurrosI love food.

So when we got tickets to spend the day eating our way around The Big Feastival – Jamie Oliver and Alex James’ festival – I was there with bells (and loose-fitting trousers) on.

We tried Japanese curry, Sicilian arancini, Spanish churros… you name it. Here’s the post I wrote for the Thomson blog – 5 Standout Street Foods From The Big Feastival – if you want to see exactly what we filled our faces with.

27 Things I Learn At Mumsnet BlogFest

27 things I learnt at Mumsnet BlogFest.

27 Things I Learn At Mumsnet BlogFestI’ve been attempting to clean up my inbox and came across this list I sent myself after Mumsnet BlogFest back in November. I went along to the blogging conference for work and really enjoyed it – the majority of the sessions were excellent (bar an ill-advised and unnecessary debate on feminism and mummy blogging), and so were the goody bags.

I’m going to write myself a list like this after every conference or training session – it’s the only way I can actually retain anything.

Here goes…

1. Social media is the technology and practices people use to share stuff.

2. Sprout Social is a great tool for blogs. Keeps track of customers, is used by Virgin Media.

3. Take a look at Canva.com for simple graphic design.

4. Retweetlab.com – tells you the best day, time to tweet.

5. Use the phrase Please ReTweet (not RT) to get better click-throughs.

6. Use 1-2 hashtags max.

7. Choose a custom URL in G+ at the top of the page.

8. Profile of G+ users: 45% have kids, they’re mostly in the south of UK, there are more male than female users, 1:5 = HH4 (household of 4), 63% = BC1, 40% earn 50k+

9. ‘Facebook is for people you know. G+ is for people you want to know.’

10. Google helpouts are expert hangouts where you pay an expert to help you per minute.

11. Strategy = what is our reason for being, and what are our tactics for doing it better?

12. Google ‘social media cheat sheet’ to find out best sizes for pix on social media.

13. Go self-hosted or you can’t officially run sponsored posts, affiliate marketing.

14. Comment on other blogs – it’s a conversation.

15. Look into using the Yoast plugin.

16. Use Domain Monster for buying domain names.

17. Don’t host with GoDaddy.

18. Choose a host that does daily backups for you, expect to pay around £3 or £4 pm.

19. Subscribe to your own blog and you’ll get a copy of each post in your inbox = instant backup.

20. Author rank is the future of blogging.

21. Learn to code at code.org (codecademy.com).

22. Don’t bother with META tags.

23. Look up ‘nofollow links’.

24. Use if this, then that. It’s pure genius.

25. Zone is an agency that finds bloggers for brands.

26. The blogger should be able to dictate what they post about, not the brand.

27. All blogs should include a PR and disclosure statement.