Five Things I learnt from my Google Workshop

I recently ran a campaign with Google, it was super cool and an amazing brand to work with. We were invited to a workshop at their offices on Monday, as a way to say thank you for taking part in the campaign.

Apart from them having the most incredible offices (that can accommodate both dogs and children and have food everywhere), the workshop was really informative and helped me to connect a lot of things and understand how SEO works a bit more as well as adwords.Google|SA Mom Blogs

There was a lot of information, so I am just going to share five of the things that stood out to me.

  1. SEO is not as complicated as I thought it was. Obviously we didn’t really go into it very deeply but I am not sure, as bloggers we need to be super focused on it to be honest. One thing that was mentioned and I saw it mentioned somewhere else as well was page speed. Apparently google favours sites that load quicker, so perhaps that is something to look at if your posts are image heavy, try reduce the size of the images AND also check the mobile responsiveness.
  2. We had a very heated discussion in one of our groups about duplicate content recently and so I asked about this. Basically if you copy and paste a post and share it somewhere else and that site is reputable and credits you saying “Laura wrote this, with a link back to your site”, google doesn’t penalise you. So it could be a nice way to repurpose old content BUT you need to make sure the site you are sharing it on is reputable and has a good ranking.
  3. The more specific your keywords are the more likely you are to appear closer to the top of the page. So instead of trying to make “children’s parties” your keyword try make it something more specific like “how to plan a rainbow birthday party”. Yoast was mentioned, so if you are a WordPress blogger and don’t have it already I highly recommend you add the plugin. Also you don’t need to load your page with your keywords, space them out and focus on the content being high quality rather than repeating the words over and over.Google|SA Mom Blogs
  4. Google AdWords, in my opinion, are not ideal for bloggers who do not have a product they are selling in conjunction with their blog but if you have a business then I can really see the value in it, if you run your campaigns cleverly and focus them well. 
  5. Google SA have amazing offices and they really do seem to be very focused on employee wellness and look after their staff really well.

There was so much more that I learnt but I don’t just want to randomly share it without thinking it through first.

{Momentrepreneur} Meet Batya: Providing Monthly Feminine Essentials and Making a Difference to Girls in Schools

batyaMeet Batya, who provides feminine essential products such as tampons and razors as well as helping keep girls in schools at those particular times of the month. Let’s read more about her.

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

My name is Batya. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 6 years now and we are blessed with a beautiful 1-year-old girl, Tsofia. I am passionate about design and creating profitable businesses that encourages social change.

Being a busy working mom I realised that I need to find ways of automating the hassle aspects of my life, freeing up time and headspace to focus on my family, friends, career and all that is important to me. I managed to do this for many aspects of my life, but I soon realized that there is a gap in the market when it comes to catering for some fundamental female needs. This is how my online subscription service Every28 was born.

Every28, www.every28.co.za, is an online subscription service for all our monthly feminine essentials. It’s really simple: You go onto the website and add items such as tampons, pads, shower gel toothpaste and more to your cart. We then deliver your essentials list to you every month. You are in control and can change your order, or cancel at any time.

We are busy women with better things to do. Every28 takes the hassle out of your monthly essentials shop in a convenient and discrete way.

  1. What were you doing before you started this business?

I was Director of Education and Outreach at the Museum of African Design where I headed up creative workshops for the public and facilitated skill development activities. I have also worked in Boutique Design Agencies as an Art Director and Concept Developer.

  1. batya2What prompted you to start your business?

I saw a gap in the market that allowed me to come up with Every28. What prompted me to actually begin the Every28 journey was my desire to start my own for profit business that was able to support a not-for-profit that does real good within our community.

28Reasons is the charity side of Every28 and it focuses on Keeping Girls in School. We have a huge problem in South Africa where more than 6 million girls are currently missing school for 3 to 5 days per month due to menstruation. These girls don’t have access to sanitary pads and hygiene education is limited. We are actively working within the communities to educate girls and equip them with the products they need.   

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

My business is full time. As it is still very new (think of it as the infancy stage where I am doing the round-the-clock feeds) I am micro managing every aspect. I hope that as it grows I will be able to automate a lot of the backend work so that I can solely focus on marketing and educating the public on the benefits and convenience of my product offering.

 

  1. batya3How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

The beauty of running an online business is that the office is wherever you need it to be. This allows me to be available for my child and household while still maintaining a fulltime job. I do work at night if need be.

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

One of the biggest holdbacks of launching an online store is that one can get trapped in the mindset of ‘everything needs to be perfect before I can launch’ which is almost impossible. So yes I do have a business plan, actually I have a few. The first was geared at launching, making sure everything was perfect enough to launch, while the second plan is a long-term plan – which is my constant marker and guide moving forward.

An important lesson I have learned that applies to all businesses, but I find extremely relevant for online, is that you need to stay flexible and adaptable. If I would have drawn up a business plan and stuck to it without space to change, I would never have launched and the business would never have been successful. The key is to have a business plan act as a compass, not the restricted route. I needed to allow for flexibility to make sure that I am servicing the customer correctly and not producing a service that I ‘think’ the customer needs.

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

I have found that word of mouth has been the strongest marketing tool for Every28, as women trust their friend’s recommendations when it comes to female related products and services. Paid for advertising is also effective as this is a new service and people need to be informed about it.

  1. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

My biggest challenge is educating the South African public about this service and the benefits of online shopping. Every28 is a very new concept for South Africa and the difficulty is convincing people to try out online shopping when they haven’t in the past.    

  1. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

I have launched Every28 with no financial backer, which means it had to be a VERY lean startup. I researched and learned what I needed to be able to build the website on my own.

America and Europe are very advanced when it comes to online shopping, there is so much available to the public that helps them build customised subscription services in a few days. It took me 3 months to figure out how to make this work for South Africa. I was in constant communication with the banks and payment gateways to figure it all out, and we did it!

  1. batya4What makes Every28 unique from other brands?

Every28 is the first of its kind in South Africa. It is not a pre-packaged subscription where the shop stipulates what you will get in your box every month, but rather it is a fully customised cart with the exact products a person needs every month. It is also very different from regular online shopping as with online shopping from any other store, the customer needs to log on EVERY MONTH and reselect and purchase the products. Every28 is a subscription service, which means that the products chosen are then automatically delivered to one’s door every month. Products and quantities can be changed from month to month if need be, but there is the benefit of absolute convenience that once your cart is set it is off the ‘To Do List’ every month.

  1. Share with us your social media links and website.

Website: www.every28.co.za

Blog: www.every28.co.za/blog

Facebook: Every28sa

Instagram: Every28sa

Twitter: @every28sa

Email: Batya@every28.co.za

Sign up to our mailing list on the website. We will keep you up to date on new products and how to get involved in 28Reasons.

Party Picks for May

PicMonkey Collage

1. Neon 80s themed 30th party.

2. Stunning Lorax party. Love the colours and attention to detail of this party.

3. For a bridal shower with a difference, this Mad Hatter themed party is stunning.

4. This Vintage Toy themed party is simply gorgeous!

Which one is your favourite?

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What’s On For Families This Weekend in Gauteng (28-29 May)

Lots on this weekend!

  1. South-Africa-Bike-Festival-LogoBannerSouth African Bike Festival

Three days of fun, live music, adventure and all things to do with engines, petrol and motorcycles.

Days and times: Friday: 11am -9pm, Saturday: 10am -9pm, Sunday: 9am-5pm.

Where: Kylami Grand Prix Circuit

Cost:R190, children under 12 are free. Families of 2 adults and 2 kids R600, and if you want to sit in the VIP pit roof village that is R950. 

For more info see their website on the link above.

shrek_banner2. Shrek at Gold Reef City

The lovable green ogre is back in musical form. If you don’t remember the story, Shrek the ogre is evicted from his swamp and meets a lovable donkey on his travels. He falls in love with Princess Fiona, who actually becomes an ogre herself at night due to a spell. You’ll have to watch it all to find out how it ends, but true love exists even for ogres!

This show has been in Durban in 2015, and according to this article, garnered a lot of awards including for sound, lighting, director, supporting actor, lead actress and actor as well as musical theatre production. It has also been staged on the West End and Broadway.

Show dates: 24 June – 17 July 2016
Show times: 14h30 (matinees) – Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and 19h30 (evening performances) – Friday and Saturday
Venue: The Lyric @ Gold Reef City Casino  (Get Directions)
Tickets: From R 150 to R 290.
Tickets are available online, or at Gold Reef City Box Office on +27 11 248 5000, Computicket outlets or Shoprites and Checkers.

3. Panda Pen Annual Fete

Panda Pen Nursery school is having a fete. There will be games, stalls, raffles, cake, food and an art auction from 9am. 

Contact them on 0117924557.

cellar rats4. Cellar Rats Autumn Wine Festival

While adults sample alcoholic beverages children can play on jumping castles, enjoy crab catching and other supervised entertainment. 

Date: 29 May, 11am – 3pm.

Venue: Old Mill in Magaliesburg

Cost: R115 per adult and R10 for children 3 years and older. Designated drivers are free. Book through computicket.

 

aussie circus5. Aussie Circus

The show blends traditional acrobatic cirque performances in the air and on the ground, hilarious slapstick comedy, and modern, extreme stunts to ensure that there is something for all of the family to smile, clap, laugh, and gasp at.

Shows this weekend are at 10am, 2pm and 7pm at Carnival City Big Top Arena.

For more info go to Computicket.

dino6. Dino Expo at Eastgate Shopping Centre

See the robotic dinosaurs in action at 10am, 11:30, 1pm, 2:30, 4pm Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until  17 July. Prices range between R100 – 120.

Go to computicket for more info and bookings.

 

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Win One of Ten Packs of New Pampers Premium Care Nappies

win new pampers premium care nappiesEvery new mom has so much on her plate, it really helps to know that at least her baby’s bum is dry for as long as possible, in the best comfortable position, and with an indication of when it is wet again. This is where New Pampers Premium Care is there to assist.

I remember that Nicky felt so much better with a clean nappy and we were very happy customers of the Pampers brand.

Pampers has come up with a new Premium Care nappy that has three specific benefits to your baby.

  1. features new pampers premium3 Absorbent Channels: There is a division into three sections which distributes the wetness more evenly and comfortably, rather than all in  one large bump.
  2. Wetness indicator: There is a yellow strip which turns blue, letting you know when the nappy is wet.
  3. Silky Soft: The nappy is super soft and silky for baby’s sensitive skin.

Pampers sent me a kit to demonstrate these three facets of their new line and you can watch me demonstrating them on the video below.

 

Pampers also had a launch which Laura and other bloggers attended: you can spot them in the video too.

 

 

Anyway, on to the good news! SA Mom blogs is giving away ten packs of the #Newpamperspremiumcare and all you have to do is tell us what you appreciate most about the new range when you try it out on your baby, using the Rafflecopter promts.

This competition will run for a week and is open to SA residents only. Winners will be announced on our Facebook page and emailed.

 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Giveaway} Win a Set of Placemats from Handmade By Me

Placemats|SA Mom BlogsWe are struggling a little bit with getting Jack to help out. Setting the table is one of the chores/activities that we get the kids to do and probably the one Jack tolerates the most but we still do try make it as “fun” as we can. 
Big5_Placemats_All5

These Big Five placemats are a great way to make meal times in general a lot more fun. They are reusable and can be turned into fun face masks , pretty cool hey! They are also great to have at the table to start discussions about these animals as many of them are endangered in South Africa but there are also loads of interesting facts about each one that you can share.Handmade By Me|SA Mom Blogs

You can get these placemats from Handmade By Me or you could enter our competition and stand a chance to win a set.

Each set contains 1 of each of the 5 animal designs.
The design is printed onto 1 side only, both sides are laminated.
Sets are packaged together with a label and plastic packaging for extra protection.Handmade By Me|SA Mom Blogs

To enter, visit their Facebook page and tell me your favourite product (I am still trying to figure out which one is my favourite).

Competition is open to SA residents only and will end on the 1 June 2016.

The designs are also available on cushion covers and you can order online at the Handmade By Me Store

For more information on the awesome products that Handmade By Me offers, visit their Facebook Page, follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

Our Favourite Reads of the Month

sa mom blogsWhen our Kids Book Club pack arrives, the kids can’t wait to see what books have arrived for them. This month’s pack was particularly well received and they couldn’t wait to read them.

One of the books that has really got the attention of all of them is the Body Works book. Initially as Kiara was paging through it, she said “oh gosh this book is so gross”, which it is but it is also really interesting.

It is all about the Human Body and includes in detail pictures of things like the lungs, the brain, the guts and even a picture of some poop!

The images are pretty simple, fun and easy for little ones to understand. There are also a series of activities in each section where the kids can test out things like how their lungs work and it uses pizza to explain the different food groups.Favourite Reads|SA Mom Blogs

We love this book. Jack and Emma page through it and ask lots of questions about the things that they see and it has given Cameron a few ideas for a project he had to do.

(Also maybe my children are a little bit too preoccupied with poop).

Emma is all about learning and soaking up information at the moment. She is obsessed with names, numbers and colours at the moment. So the My Book of Words was her favourite. It doesn’t just have colours and numbers but also words of body parts and everyday things like blanket, swings etc. It is also a lovely book to use for young readers who are learning new words.

There really is a lot to talk about in this book and the illustrations are bright and colourful.“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.” (14)

Mister Kinds Incredible Journey Activity Book is ideal if you are homeschooling little ones and dealing with the sea/ocean or if you are heading to the coast for a holiday. It is an activity book that encourages children to draw shapes, numbers and letters by following the lines. There are colouring pages and stickers for kids to add onto the corresponding shapes as well as interesting facts about the sea animals. We are a little bias towards books with stickers though, in fact it is a bit of a fight to see who can get to the sticker first.Favourite Reads|SA Mom Blogs

If you enjoyed this post, we would love it if you could share it or pin it. If these books look like something your kids would enjoy then why not join KidsBookClub.

Meet the Blogger: Meet Meal Planning Mom Adrienne

Have you ever wanted to organise your life, spend less money and have all your meals lined up? Well then you need to meet South African blogger Adrienne, who not only blogs but also runs workshops on meal and menu planning.
meal planning mom
1) What do you normally get up to on an average day? (Give us a brief description about yourself)

I have 3 jobs! I work for an orthopedic surgeon, I am blogging and building my own business in meal planning and I have 4 teenagers.

2) How do you feel about motherhood – what are your struggles and joys?
Motherhood for me is a struggle, I am not mother material, I didn’t really play with the kids, I don’t really like hugs and kisses or dirty hands. I am quite a carefree mom, I am happy for the kids to play in the mud, and climb the jungle, eat the dogs food, and as babies, I really didn’t follow much of the advice in the books.

3) Tell us about your kid(s)
I have 4 amazing kids, My son is 20 this year, he is an IVF baby and the least difficult child, every mom should be blessed with a child like him.
My oldest daughter is 17 and an extremely talented make up artist and an amazing artist. She is a kind and caring person.
My middle daughter is 14, she is a miracle as we were told to terminate the pregnancy early on, she had hydrocephalus. She had a shunt inserted at 3 weeks and has never had a problem with in, in fact it has broken off and is lying dormant in her abdomen, where it will stay unless it begins to cause problems.
My youngest daughter is 12, the sweetest little girl, all her siblings adore her. She is helpful around the house and is an animal lover, despite being bitten on the face when she was 5.

5) Share with us a valuable blogging tip you’ve learnt. (or more)
Your blog evolves as you do, you may set out with one goal in mind and find that you have ended up with something very different.

6) If you make money from your blog, give us a breakdown on how you do it. Give us some of your methods on how to get started on this, or any tips or advice.
It is not my actual blog that makes money, but the workshops that have come from it. I mostly blog on meal and menu planning and now give workshops on this topic.

adrienneYou can find Adrienne on her blog, on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

Five Lessons Learnt from Bitter Ex Mommy Blogger Josi Denise

josi deniseI think every mom blogger has been a bit taken aback by Josi Denise’s post “Dear Mommy Blogger“, which attacks the genre in no uncertain and ruthless terms.

The aim of this post is not to be another attack on her, but rather to draw some uncomfortable lessons learnt from this whole exercise, as well as draw on what other bloggers are saying. I think there are a couple of things I’d like to point out.

  1. You don’t have to turn against a community you were a part of and even helped create. 

I think this is the saddest part of the whole post. She admits that she ran an “American Mama Media” connecting brands and bloggers. She attended conferences. She was part of Facebook groups. And yet she chose to alienate the friendships she had built up through all these avenues.

According to a comment on this post (oh, her post has comments closed, I guess she didn’t want the feedback), Josie was part of a private blogger Facebook group. She did not take kindly to the idea that her post was hurtful and decided to copy confidential information to support how bloggers were being mean to her.

Moral of the story? Support each other. Do not pull each other down. Josie had some valid points. She chose to share them in a way that alienated people.

mommy blogger2. Don’t be a fake blogger.

Ok, going back to the idea that some of her points were valid. 

I think the main issue she really raised is that there are a lot of bloggers out there putting out inauthentic content, never sharing the negative stuff, and sharing stats that are either not true or bought.

The bloggers I enjoy reading are not like that. They share their good times and their hard times. (You can read all about my latest tantrum episode here). Yes, the brand reviews are more often positive, but we do know that bloggers also choose not to write about products or experiences they weren’t happy with. They choose to highlight the good stuff too. Nothing wrong with that.

You will still get those who will post whatever a brand or PR company will give them, but the real authentic  reviews are those that relate to real life, and that is what we will always strive to do. Brands actually prefer real content. People respond better to it.

As far as inflating stats or buying followers are concerned: unfortunately there will always be people that do this. These fake followers will not stick around long, in any event. South Africa is not immune to this. Just remember that people who are really interested in your story will stick around and be a true follower. And that’s what you really want.

Talking of which, don’t be a slave to the numbers on your social media, says Cindy, who just cut 100 followers from her Instagram and feels suitably liberated. (On Cutting Down and Letting Go)

Sharon asks: why do mommy bloggers have this bad reputation? The answer is that there will always be the fakers. We just have to rise above them and prove that we are not like that.

3. Don’t post when you are angry or unstable

Sharon reminded us of this at the #JoziMeetup and it was Laura’s first point on the Facebook thread. I think a good night’s sleep (or at least a few hours during which you wash the dishes) provides a great barrier of thought to what you want to say.

Apparently Josi is not in a good place at the moment. Here’s another comment quoted on this post

Josi’s got some issues going on in her personal life right now and instead of blogging about them, she lashes out, trying so hard to hurt others. I don’t know if it’s just depression, or a mix of a few things, but either way it’s time to move on from someone who is unstable.

I have a gut feeling there is a whole lot more going on here that we don’t know about. Something happened that clouded mommy blogging for her. Something went wrong. And she lashed out at all of us.

4. We don’t need another blogging battle/ war/ mommy war

Which brings me to the next point. This shouldn’t be about tearing her down. The above commentator made an assumption about Josi’s mental health which she denies in a follow up post.

I thankfully do not struggle with depression, nor have I ever written about it. Spreading lies about someone’s mental health on the internet, including an entire blog post dedicated to me, because you can’t accept that they have a differing opinion or they don’t like the same things and people as you? How much lower can you go?

However she is a bigger hypocrite here because she was the one that shared private Facebook posts to create more drama in her follow up post.

5. Mommy Bloggers DO make a difference and you can be proud of what you are doing.

Laura has written a post here about this.

Trisha Cornelius had this encouraging thing to say on the Facebook thread: “Once upon a time my life was saved by a mom blogger”.

I know that in some of my toughest parenting moments (eg those late night newborn feeds) it helped to know that there was someone on the other side of the computer who was going through the same thing.  

Keep telling your story because you never know who you may encourage and to whom can make a difference in their lives.

And don’t let yourself be taken down by a bitter ex mommy blogger.

 

 

What’s on for Families This Weekend (21 -22 May)

It’s the weekend folks! Looking for something to do in Gauteng? We have some events you can attend. For a comprehensive list, go to Cassie’s post here.

 

  1. DIJ Schulbasar:

SCHULBASAR- (1)

 

 

This annual event caters to the whole family with a wide assortment of games and activities for children, beer tents, live music and food.

Time: 10am -10pm

Venue: Deutsche Internationale Schule, 11 Sans Souci Rd, Parktown. Entry ranges from R70- 100. 

Bookings: Webtickets.

field and study market2. Field and Study Market

Here you can enjoy stalls and food while the kids play on the playground, activities, pony rides and a scavanger hunt.

9am – 2pm, Louise St, Parkmore

Amy, from The Dummy Mommy and also from The Grace Factory, has been writing a series of posts of people who have stalls at this market.

Wilber – making objects out of wood and beads 

Tuku – handmade baby and toddler clothes

3. Other markets open this weekend are: Bryanston Organic (that’s where I had fun making candles and doing sand art with Nicky), Fresh Family Market at the Cedar Square Shopping Centre, Hazel Food Market (Pretoria, Menlo Park) Jozi Real Food Market (Greenside), Neighbourhoods Market (Braamfontein)

4. Open days at schools: If you are looking for a school for your child you may want to attend some this weekend:

21 May Hartebeesport Academy: Grade RRR-9 (10 in 2017) and boarding for 5-10.

10am. 

630 Kubla Khan Drive, Xandu Eco Park, Hartebeespoort.

21 May Mellow Oaks Academy

10am-12pm. 

8 van Stadens Ed, aanwins, Roodepoort.

5. Puppet Show at Kinder Theatre

May 21: The Pirate & the Mermaid-Not all pirates are bad, this one comes to the rescue of little Mermaid who gets captured on a fishing boat

Greenhill Rd 39 A, Emmarentia Johannesburg, time: 10am, R55 per person, from 3 years and up.

There’s a lot else to do so add your events in the comments!