Growing our trees at the August #JoziMeetup

South African mom bloggers

Laura (Harassed Mom), Karen (MomAgain@40) and Melissa (Mel’s Postbox)

You might think that is a pretty strange title for a blogger meetup about moving your blog to a business. But I found the common thread between all the speakers on that day. What use is having a business if your roots of self esteem are not in place (Jodene)? And if we can’t utilise the strengths and weaknesses of our unique personality (Tall Trees)?  And if all our hard work to grow that tree is not seen at all (SEO tips from Imka)? 

 

 

 

South African mom bloggers

Melissa (Mel’s Postbox), Cherralle (My Daily Cake), Haneefa (StyLishi Mama), Puveshree (Life’s a Treat)

Surrounding all of us was the tranquil foilage, muted blue decor and serene fountain of  our venue, the Placecol Spa. I have to thank manager Heleen for accommodating us so well, and spoiling us with delicious eats. It was so nice to catch up and meet new bloggers with  in this environment, where I will certainly be returning to spend that voucher she gave us, because they really do live up to their slogan “Where body and soul find rest”. 

Jodene Shaer is the author of “The Holistic Entrepreneur: How to succeed by focusing on self-worth, intuition and happiness.”  She was there to tell us the story of how she turned her blog into a book, but more than that, she was there to share the importance of connecting your heart with your head and to work with authenticity with the message you want to project.

Jodene (Chat Factory) signing a copy of her book for Wenchy (The Nocturnal Wenchy)

She wasn’t always like that of course. And I am busy reading her book about how it all happened. Suffice to say though, that a fire in her home that burnt down her beauty business  was a huge wake up call to do what she loved, instead of what was familar. 

Jodene started working towards what she is today. She says she is not a blogger or influencer. She sees herself as a writer and speaker. We should all look beyond the blog because in her experience, she hasn’t make money from the blog but the blog has provided her with incredible opportunities she otherwise wouldn’t have had. 

 

 

 

Being authentic to your message means not saying yes to everything. Find out what it is you want to say and stick to that. Jodene has said no to press drops full of sugar. Because that isn’t what she is about. She found that personalising the message was the way for people to buy into it and other bloggers in the room aggreed that it was the personal parenting posts that obtained the best responses. 

Jodene used an online publisher for her book. She then publicised it through her own  extensive network.  You can find out more about her on her site.

Jodene described how, like the roots of a tree, we need to have our self worth in place. This is so that when the winds of our emotions blow us about, we can stand firm.

Annatjie from Tall Trees

Of course our next speaker has taken the tree analogy to a whole other level. Tall Trees. Leadership is the art of knowing when to bow, when to stand tall and when to dance with others.

Annatjie van Zyl encouraged us to find our parenting profile so that we can work out what builds us up (fertiliser) and what drains us (frostbite). 

I’ve completed the profile and it turns out that I am a Boxwood tree. I want to do everything right and mistakes drain me. So true. 

Perhaps you are a Palm tree? You are full of fun, energy and humour and the mundane stuff drains you.

A Rosebush mom likes control. They plan for every situation. They like conflict and don’t have a lot of patience with small kids. 

On the other hand you have a Pine Tree who is very calm and patient but rather likes to smother their kids. Their drain is a busy lifestyle and conflict.

What was interesting about the report was that is gave combinations of different personalities for different aspects of parenting. I am a Box Rose for discipline, a Pine Rose for mentoring and Boxwood for nurturing. There are lists dotted within of my fields of greatness, forest fires, frostbite, fertiliser and my forces within. Lots of things to think about. 

What’s also useful is that kids can work out their profiles too. I think there is a lot to be gained by these personality groupings. Another one I really like and has helped me understand people in my life is the Enneagram, which divides people into eight. I am the 4 – tragic romantic, and my husband is 8 – the boss. It helped me to understand his conflict style and I suspect that he is a a Rosebush in this scenario. 

 

So now that you have your self esteem in place and you’ve figured out your personality, and you’re producing great content on your blog… what now?  How are people going to find your tree (read blog) on the internet?

Imka Webb giving us SEO tips

Imka comes to our rescue with some helpful SEO tips. 

One of the first things she mentioned, which is super helpful, is to fix your permalinks. No good to have a long url with a date in the middle, which is unhelpful to Google. 

I’ll tell you exactly how to fix this. Go to Settings. Click on Permalinks. You can click on “post name” which is a better option but the way I do it (which I picked up from an ebook by Tommy McLaughan) is the bottom one which says “Custom Structure” so that we can have the category first and then the post name. So by that one you put in the following:  /%category%/%postname%.html

 

Next she encourages Keyword Research. Target your audience and find out what they are interested in. Use Google keywords. Longer keywords are good here. But they all must be relevant to content. 

Now as an aside here I was listening to a webinar last week by Jon Morrow who blogs at Smart Blogger. He was saying the old way of doing things is to just write down whatever you are thinking and they new way is to research what your market wants. He uses a tool called Buzzsumo to figure out what content most people are interested in. He actually goes and looks at competitor’s sites and looks at their most shared posts and then tries to write something on the same topic,

Heather (SA Mom Blogs), Victoire (Victoire) and Puveshree (Life’s A Treat)

The sweet spot is obviously to try and write something that you feel passionately about as well as what people are actually interested in reading. 

Where do you put these keywords? In the title, meta description, url, alt text for your images, headings, content and your anchor text. I find the Yoast plugin quite useful to remind me of all these things but Imka is way beyond me as she does not even use it. She also says it’s not completely reliable as a post that was “red” on Yoast is doing very well on searches. So there you have it. Don’t be tied down by Yoast. 

South African mom bloggers

Laetitia (Poppet Patch), Funso (Hopes and Triumphs through my Lens), Laura (Harassed Mom)

I like what Imka said about content. “Only the most useful, most complete, most astounding, most well researched, most valuable and most emotionally engaging content will make readers come to your blog.” 

Imka also encourages us to optimise our images. This you can do by using Alt text and making sure they are small so that your site loads quickly. 

Links are something you can also use – both internal to refer to something else on your site and external (a good reference in that category). Incoming links from trusted sources are also good. 

Find Imka on her site here. 

 

After digesting all that information it was for some physical sustenance with tea and eats and chats with our fellow bloggers. And then one by one they grabbed their goody bag and went.

The goody bag was another super one and I have to highlight a few special ones.

Placecol Spa gave us a voucher, some bath salts and keyring. (Plus, an awesome host!)

Tall Trees gave us a voucher.

Fountain Medical, who represent Philips Avent and Happy Tot, were unable to make the proceedings but gave us dummies and food pouches. Thank you!

Oh So Heavenly spoilt us with a lovely new “Mom and Cherub” Farm Fresh baby range of bath milk, cream,  skin refresher and wash and shampoo. That bath milk is so soothing and has bubbles too!

Hasbro gave us all My LIttle Pony to celebrate their upcoming friendship tour. They will be in Gateway Durban 24 Aug- 7 Sept, V&A Cape Town 19-25 September, Sandton City, Jhb, 2-14 October. 

Wellness Warehouse gave us a number of little items to pamper ourselves. There was soap, lip balm mint fresh Himalaya Herbal toothpaste and footcream. There was also a face balm and coco baci and an issue of their magazine.

Siso Toys gave us Disney wipes and a number of different Slime and Gelli substances you can add to water for a lot of fun. (Bloggers who would like to review these in exchange for product please email me heather@samomblogs.co.za)

Femagene gave us some feminine hygiene products. 

All Gold gave us a tin of tomoatos. 

We used Gumtree’s file and paper to take notes.

MatsiMela, our previous sponsor, gave us lovely fizz bath balls. 

All in all a good haul and a big thank you to all our sponsors. 

 

Thank you bloggers for attending and we hope to see you at the next one!

Thank you to the bloggers for your pictures too! Especially Funso!

 

 

From Blog to Business at our August #JoziMeetup

If you’re wanting to take your blog to the next level, then our next #JoziMeetup will give you just the boost you need. This time we’re focusing on two ways you can give your blog a serious edge: SEO and turning your blog into a book.

 

Imka Webb will be speaking on SEO.

Imka is  a social media and Search Engine Optimisation expert and the owner of www.imkawebb.com. She was a copywriter in marketing and PR Account Manager at NetFlorist. Currently, she is the digital/online editor at Food & Home Entertaining Magazine. But as it turns out, her real passion lies in blogging and helping bloggers become successful after experiences in Beauty blogging. 

After years in the digital marketing industry, spending my days knee deep in SEO stats, keyword research, SERPS results and copy (glamorous, right?), I decided that I needed a side-hustle to keep me sane. And that’s when Glamorous Glitter was born!

I spent months trying to perfect my beauty blog, researching and trying everything from design to photography to marketing. I have tried-and-tested it all. I know what worked and what didn’t. I got rid of everything that sucked and tried to perfect what I had and what I knew.

Glamorous Glitter was more than just a blog about makeup. It was a 7-year research project where I learnt everything I know about blogging and growing blogs and online businesses. My passion for SEO and strategies grew even more and soon I found myself spending more time helping other bloggers and creatives with their blogs and side-hustles. A new obsession started…

Jodene Shaer will be talking about turning your blog into a book. 

Jodene has a blog and she also is a partner in a social media agency, Chat Factory.  She also has a passion for people development and you can read more on her website about that here: Lifeology. She is also her own social media influencer with over 50 000 Twitter followers. 

Her book is called “The Holistic Entrepreneur”

 

Entrepreneurs often struggle with the traditional roles and expectations in industry; don’t you have to be tough and ruthless? In The Holistic Entrepreneur, the author lays out an alternative vision for independent business in the 21st century; a blueprint for growth that considers your own emotional and/or spiritual well-being as the foundation of your success. Following Jodene’s proven plan, you’ll quickly discover that the world has been fooling us all along; nice guys do win, and more often than you think.

Jodene will be sharing with us how she turned her words into a book and I’m not only looking forward to hearing about the process of that, but more from this very interesting person with her own philosophy of success. 

Also at the event will be Fountain Medical, who are the distributors for Philips Avent , Clevamama , Happy Baby and Bibi. They will be showcasing Philips Avent and Happy Baby in particular.

Philips Avent is a leader in parenting and baby products. The Philips Avent product range includes breastfeeding, bottle feeding and toddler feeding.

Happy Family  wants the best for our kids, just like you do. That’s why they strive to provide the absolute best nutrition in their range of baby food and snacks . They can’t help it — it’s what they love to do.

So will Tall Trees: Personality & Leadership Profiles and Workshops to Grow Your Life.

 All people can be leaders provided they make their unique contribution at the right time and in the right place, and allow others to do the same. Leadership is the art of knowing when to bow, when to stand tall and when to dance with others.

 

Event details:

Date: 26 August 2017

Time: 10am – 1pm

Venue:  Placecol Spa

77 Malibongwe Drive
Randburg
Johannesburg

Cost: R250

 

Also: #KZNMeetup on the same day. See their Facebook page here. 

#CTMeetup on 2 September. Their Facebook page is here. 

 

Book tickets for the #JoziMeetup on Quicket here.

Or you can even use the widget below. 

 

Any brands/PR wanting to get involved email heather@samomblogs.co.za or laura@samomblogs.co.za. 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying the Cars 3 movie with #EmiratesA380

EmiratesA380I don’t think we have anticipated a movie more than we have Cars 3. There’s been quite a build up. So when Emirates invited us to watch the movie in celebration of their A380 airplane, it was a resounding yes. 

Last year we attended a similar event after Emirates won an award (for the 12th straight year) for its inflight entertainment. This time the latest award was from Trip Advisor – Best Airline in the World.  My family was quite happy to come with – although this time Nicky did not want to change into the pilot outfit. He was quite happy to suck on a lollipop though.  I like the Emirates headdress.  For those moments I fancy myself as a air hostess. Lol. 

It was also good to see some other bloggers in attendance like Zoe (from Born Geek ) and Laura (from this blog and Harassed Mom), Thando from Modern Zulu Mom and Tanya from Rattle and Mum.  Also from You, Baby and I we had Shaney’s hubby in attendance with Kitana. They were more successful than me with the dressing up! 

Someone else who was not there but missed was Cassie, who now lives in Australia. You can read her comprehensive review of Emirates here. 

Check out Nicola’s post also here of more info on Emirates and the event.  Sorry if I have missed anyone else! Please let me know in the comments. 

Thando from Modern Zulu Mom

AntPrints Photography 083 775 6837 Peanut Gallery 24/7 Nicola

Laura’s Jack and Emma enjoying the movies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

emirates recycled blanketThe other thing I really liked about Emirates was their commitment to the environment. In the movie they gave us the softest blanket which is recycled from 28 bottles. Nicky enjoyed cuddling it in the movies and when it fell on the floor I snatched it up. So soft I really felt like falling asleep.

I also found it interesting that since last year they dry wash their aircraft which saves on water. 

So what is so special about the A380 that they are bringing back to SA? First class and Business class can enjoy an on-board lounge while the First Class may also make use of a shower.  (If, like me, you’ve been driving past their billboards you would have seen the lounge and shower pictured on the corner of Malibongwe and Republic.)

AntPrints Photography 083 775 6837

But of course we are most interested in the way they care for the families and once again we were spoilt with “Fly with Me” travel buddy and carry buddy. You’ll see in my post from last year the super soft blanket is inside the carry buddy. Last year we had an eagle and this time we had a hedgehog. Both very cute.   

Nicky utterly enjoyed the Cars 3 movie. The movie is about how Lightning has to find his place within a new generation of cars. He is completely lost until he works with his trainer, Cruz Ramirez, and finds a way to win through the recognition and promotion of her talents. A great moral to be able to step back and celebrate the strengths of others. 

My son spends a lot of his TV time watching toy cars. Many of them are part of the Cars ensemble. He knew the names of the Cars 3 characters way before we did. Nicky also was celebrating his birthday in the same week, which made for a few really cool Cars presents.

The movie takes place in different locations. After his crash, Lightning practices in Radiator Springs, and this is still when he is wearing his grey primer. This cute Lego set has him going up a ramp with a police car tracking his speed. You can see Nicky put some prestick on the police car. Not sure what he wanted to do there, but it’s part of his playful nature. 

When Lightning starts training with Cruz, one of the places where they race together is on the beach. This Lightning toy is a great one for the bath because it sucks up water when you pull it backwards and gives a light spray.  

Right at the end of the movie they are having fun at a place called Willy’s Brutte. This toy track has a loop and when you press the foot pedal it shoots the car around.  

cars 3 willys brutteThe kids had lots of fun with this setup at Nicky’s party and another cool thing is that you can move it around and join it in different places, making the loop both horizontal and vertical. 

lightning and mater in space puzzleNicky also got a puzzle of Lightning and Mater travelling through space – appropriate since he had a space party. 

There’s no doubt my boy will be watching more Cars videos and playing with his Cars toys because he is such a fan of these characters. 

Thank you Emirates for keeping us entertained. It sounds like, with all these channels, comforts and perks, the hardest part will really be getting them off the plane. 

The next #JoziMeetup on 13 May is about Building Relationships with Brands

#JoziMeetupIt’s that #JoziMeetup time again! Time to meetup with your blogging buddies and listen to some inspiring speakers assisting us to blog better. We have an awesome lineup of speakers and brands taking part in this event, so you can sit back and enjoy!

The theme of the event is “Building a relationship with brands” and we’ll hear from both the blogger and the PR side about what works and doesn’t work when establishing a productive affiliation with brands.

The speakers are:

 

  1. Mike Said: Daddy Blogger: “Around South Africa on 80 brands”

Mike will be talking about how he utilised brands to sponsor his trip around our country. How he proceeded from idea to implementation, and from blogger to traveller. He will be sharing the power of leveraging social media in the new economy.

Mike blogs at Daddy Blogger.

2. Nicole Sparrow:  Autograph PR: “Please remember to iron your sheets”

You’ll remember Nicole from our last meetup chatting about some make up items from Dischem. Nicole runs a PR agency with quite a few cosmetics that she represents. 

Nicole often giggles at bloggers and vloggers who do stunning makeup tutorials but all she focuses on is the creased sheet they’ve hung as a backdrop!  So she will be dealing with little details like that as well as how PR agencies work, the importance of having a rate card and media kit and what they look for in bloggers they want to work with.

You can find Nicole’s PR website here. 

Two brands will be also be at the meetup to showcase their products:

  1. Prima Baby will be at the event to showcase some of their products to keep your little ones captivated and having fun. You can find them on Facebook here.

 

2. Prima Toys will be showcasing the latest toys and educational products for preschoolers. They will also talk about the latest trends in toys and games.  Find them on Facebook.

3. MatsiMela will be there to show off their body care and skin care products, as well as give some pampering to the bloggers.  You can find them on Facebook. 

Details of the event:

Date: 13 May 2017

Time: 10am

Venue:  Cafe Zing, The Regent Hotel, 21 West Rd South, Morningside, Sandton

Cost: R250 plus R5 for Quicket = R255 

Bookings: through Quicket: Click here.

 

(If you are in PE you can join in the #ECMeetup on the same day. Read Luchae and Eleanor’s post for further information.) 

Any more brands who would like to get involved please email heather@samomblogs.co.za

Link for tickets again: Click here.

#JoziMeetup: An Elegant Affair

Everything about our latest #JoziMeetup  radiated class, beauty and elegance.  This was right from our informative speakers (who certainly had their own sense of style) to the contents of our lovely goody bags. We had a fabulous selection of both mom and lifestyle bloggers too; plus some great brands added into the mix.

cafe zing foodCreating an air of beauty and grace was no doubt elevated by our venue, Cafe Zing, housed in The Regent Hotel. Many thanks to Daddy Blogger Mike for unearthing this treasure. The food was delicious, the beverages warm, and Ansel was fantastic setting us all up for the presentations.

Our two speakers certainly had a lot to teach us about creating a beautiful blog (Roxy)and taking awesome pictures of your kids (Salome).
roxy2Roxy oozes her own style, and it is definitely many shades of pink. From the clothes she wears to her pastel shaded blog, her brand is very evident.

She advised us to brand our blogs across fonts (2-3), colours (3-5), logo and photographs. I did not even know that there is such a thing as a Style Guide, but apparently there is; a useful place to record all these things.

One of the ways you can put this brand all together is in your blog post graphics. The key is consistency across similar photos, fonts, and colours. It is useful to pop in your url and logo. It’s easy to create a template in a site such as Canva, which also gives you the relevant image sizes for where you want to post to.

yellow labSalome had a long list of very useful photographic tips that every blogger could use. After all, we all take pictures for our blogs, and she has certainly given us some ideas to put into practice.

Some really cool ones that I liked:

-Use catchlights: look for the light in the eyes because it brings the photo to life.

-Lighting: use window lighting: not the harsh direct one, but on the table near to the window, use open shade: use the shade outside – under a tree for instance. Use back lighting from behind. You can use a lightbox if working at night.

-Vantage points:  use different points. So often kids get sick of posing for photos. Rather come from another angle and get a less fake shot. Also get down to their level. I also liked that she said to get into the picture with your kids.

posingSalome had us all standing up doing poses of how to stand for a photo. Her trademark “forehead forward, chin down” used in our last meetup was put to use, plus the idea of standing sideways (which makes you look thinner) and putting your weight on your back leg.

-Probably her most unusual tip was to turn your phone upside down to get some better angles. She has even placed her phone this way in a glass to capture an underwater shot.

-Photographing objects was a hot topic among bloggers who receive press drops. Again, using natural light is a winner, and Roxy chimed in to suggest scrapbooking or even wrapping paper as a background. A useful input from Daddy Blogger Mike: brands already have photos on sites or flashsticks: what they want from you is the product in action.

 

We had some speakers representing brands at our meetup. 

Nicole showing us Dischem goodies

Nicole showing us Dischem goodies

One was the Entertainer App which gave us memberships and highlighted the benefits you may gain in all different categories for the “buy one get one free” concept.

The other was Nicole from Autograph PR who gave us some lovely make up items from Dischem. I think what was really useful about her input was the idea about how busy our lives have become and how the items can make our lives easier eg a mosaic eyeshadow that can also double as blush. I particularly like her eyeliners and the liquid one which go on very easily and give my eyes fantastic definition. 

Cherise and her prize from Room Service Co.

Cherise and her prize from Room Service Co.

We gave away a lovely ottoman / could be used as toybox from Room Service Co which promises to re-uphoster or change an item of furniture into something else. These ladies also gave us some very cute pink cupcakes.

Rain Africa also gave us some lovely hampers and also provided the bloggers with soap and hand lotion in a stunning little package. Print Wild gave us vouchers and so did Prominent Paints.

We were totally spoilt with our goody bags that I will leave in photographic record so you can see how awesome they were. Thank you to all the brands that supported us.


goody bag
But most of all I want to say thank you to the bloggers that attended: you are the lifeblood of our community and without which we would not be able to have any of these events. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

bloggers

Thanks also to those who posted about the event, you can read more here: Mel’s Postbox and MomAgain@40.

We also have a video from Victoire, thanks so much!

And also about the #CTMeetup here.

SA Mom Blogs: Heather and Lauraname tags of bloggers at #jozimeetup

selfie timefunso kidrinacafe zing room