{Blogging} Women’s Day Giveaways: Lauren tries out ContestFriend

Today’s post was written by Lauren Kinghorn, who blogs at Inspiring Mompreneurs and Happy Human Pacifier.  Here she shares what happened when she tried to put together some Women’s Day Giveaways. 

 

Hi Moms

Did you do anything special on Women’s Day?  For you, or for your blog?

I’ve discovered that as a Mom blogger, our special holidays, Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, take on a whole new meaning.  My focus has shifted from what I’ll be getting and what I’ll be doing to what I’ll be giving my readers.  

I can no longer relax and put my feet up… well I can, as long as my smartphone is at hand. 

My husband spoiled me as always. He brought me coffee in bed and make me a sumptuous breakfast. He also took me out for sushi at Paddocks where my son could play.  But my mind was not on my Women’s Day delights, I was distracted by everything I still had to accomplish by close of day.

The challenge is I’m still a relatively new blogger so I don’t have the year mapped out beautifully with timeous reminders in place.  Yet.  And it doesn’t help that World Breastfeeding Week  is the week before Women’s Day. I wasn’t prepared for that either.

 

I’m kind of a haphazard, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants blogger. Maybe that will change in time. Maybe I’ll find my groove and become super organized one day. Or maybe it’s just who I am. Who knows?

At this stage, anyway, I’m reactive rather than proactive. 

Which is why my Women’s Day landed up being super busy.

The end result?  I created my first giveaway on both my blogs, Inspiring Mompreneurs and Happy Human Pacifier.

The Giveway on each site is 2 Tickets to a really cool event in Cape Town on 26th August called The Missing Piece in Your Puzzle.   Very briefly, it’s about how DNA Testing and Functional Medicine can help you achieve optimal health.  Find out more in my interview with Dr. Yael Joffe.  Yael Joffe is the one of the speakers at the event.  As is Kathie Swift, best-selling author of The Swift Diet.

women's day giveawaysIf you’d like to enter, here’s the link.

Setting up my Giveaway

RAFFLECOPTER

I initially set up my Contest  on the free version of Rafflecopter which was fun and easy to use,  but once it was done I decided it didn’t have the look and functionality I wanted.  Here’s why:

You have to upgrade to their Basic Plan which costs $13 a month if you want to:

  • Add an image to the contest
  • Add the option of sharing on Pinterest

You have to upgrade to their Grow Plan at a whopping $ 43 a month if you want:

  • Integration with your email list, e.g. Mailchimp, AWeber, GetRepsonse, MadMimi

CONTESTFRIEND

So I went with a FREE WordPress plug-in called ContestFriend.  I was really happy to find Contestfriend had no upsells built into their free plan.

Design

With Contest Friend you’re able to:

  • Add a contest headline, description and image
  • Add a Disclaimer and Rules either as a popups or links
  • Design your contest (e.g. change headline, background and border colours)

Social Sharing for the Win

With Contestfriend, your contestants can share your giveaway on 5 social media channels:

  1. Pinterest
  2. Google Plus
  3. Twitter
  4. Facebook
  5. Linked In

You can set up tweets or messages for each specific channel AND add images.

In testing out my social shares now that the contest is live, I think only the image for my Pinterest pin works.

Email Autoresponder

One of my favourite features was their email autoresponder.

You can set up an email to send to your contestants the moment they’ve entered.

Email List Integration

You can save participants to the Database Only, i.e. in the Contestfriend Dashboard in WordPress, or:

Other Settings:

You can also choose:

  • Number of winners
  • Automatically select winners
  • Start date and time (don’t forget to set time zone to UTC+2)

Once published you get a WordPress Shortcode to add to a page on your site, or on your sidebar using the Contestfriend widget.  I’ve added both to Happy Human Pacifier just so you can see what the side widget looks like.

The Snag

The tricky part about this Giveaway was that the prize was LOCATION based.  Ideal Giveaways are Prizes that you can award to anyone, anywhere in the world.  Especially if your blog serves a global market. 

Giveaways and Contests on your site are touted as a fantastic way of bringing to traffic to your site but I couldn’t be sure that this Giveaway would do the same for mine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m VERY grateful to Dr. Yael Joffe and CTG Centre for sponsoring my first Giveaway.  

But only about 35 to 40% of my audience is in South Africa, of that I’d estimate maybe 20% are Cape Town based. 

So I had to get really creative in the marketing of my contest. 

THANK YOU, Heather for helping me with this dilemma by featuring my Guest Post on SA Mom Blogs!

Getting the Word Out

Here are some of the other things I did before Women’s Day.

  • I started following all the South African Moms and Mom Bloggers I could find on Twitter.
  • Just before my Contest went live, I published my Instagram posts for Inspiring Mompreneurs.
  • In the morning, drinking my coffee in bed, I sent WhatsApp messages to my Mom’s groups.

 

The Results of DAY 1

I was ecstatic with my first day’s results:

  • 36 Unique Visitors
  • 6 Contestants
  • 1 New Subscriber to my Email Newsletter
  • 1 New Starter Member in Wealthy Affiliate

If you’re a newcomer to blogging like I am, I hope this post inspires you to run your first contest.

I’d love to hear from you.   Was this helpful? Do you run Contests and Giveaways on your site? Which plugin or software works best for you?  Please leave a comment below.

 

Lauren Kinghorn aka Mom Blogger in the Mother City, is a wife and mother who likes to Shine the Spotlight on Breastfeeding Moms, Mom Entrepreneurs, Mom Inventors and Mom Bloggers. You can find her blogging on Inspiring Mompreneurs and Happy Human Pacifier.  She’s also just started teaching how to blog at Lauren Kinghorn.

Lauren recently participated in a project to normalize breastfeeding in public spaces.  The project is ongoing and is the brainchild of Cape Town photographer, Leah Hawker. Leah blogs at The Softer Sex.

Leah is documenting an extensive series of candid portraits showing women confidently feeding their babies in public areas.  If you live in Cape Town or surrounds and would like to participate,  send an SMS or WhatsApp message to Leah on +27 83 340 7872. 

Follow Lauren on: Instagram   Pinterest   Google Plus   Twitter   Flipboard   Stumbleupon

 

Creating a professional media kit

creating a media kit, influencer kit

This post is written by Dominique Harmse, a Managing Partner at HelloConversations

 

After attending the SA Mom Blogs event in May this year, there were a few questions about Influencer Kits  (or Media Kits) from the guests. Heather has kindly agreed to share my thoughts on this in the hope that it will assist you in creating an impactful kit.

 

Why is an Influencer Kit so important? Because it helps influencer relations agencies to ‘sell’ you to a client for campaigns and allows us to make sure we are selecting the right people to work with. At HelloConversations we select influencers based on their values and match them to our client’s brand values. Influencer Kits are a very useful tool in determining if a person is a good brand match.

 

What is an Influencer Kit? It is a pack of documents and images, a toolkit that tells us all we need to know about you, your platforms and how we can work with you. It should always contain the following information:

  1. About You
  2. Your Stats
  3. Your Audience
  4. Your Rates

 

About You                                     

  • Include all the relevant, up to date info about yourself – who you are, why you started blogging, info about your kiddies, your (and their) favourite things, what your platform focuses on i.e. beauty and fashion, parenting, lifestyle, food etc. Keep it short and to-the-point.
  • Contact number and email address as well as where you are based. This assists us greatly when preparing guest lists for events.
  • Any key things to note about working with you i.e. charging for giveaways, your availability during the week or to attend events etc.
  • Something that we are always happy to receive is a features list or hints about what you are working on in the next few months.
  • High res images of yourself and past work that we can include in our proposals and feature on our platforms

 

Your Stats

  • Blog link as well as average monthly visitors/unique monthly views to your site
  • All your social media platforms handles/links as well as number of followers/fans. The most important stat is your engagement rate. Please share this with your social media profile links.
  • Including case studies with images and results always excite client.

 

 

Your Audience

Tell us about you and your readers, fans and followers.

Paint the picture of your targets: are they male or female? Where do they live? What do they comment on? What do they want to see on your blog? What was your most-read article/post with the highest engagement?

This helps us to suggest brand content that resonates with your audience.

 

Your Rates

  • Blog posts (how many words?)
  • Social media posts – cost per platform and package deals if we use all your platforms
  • YouTube/video creation (cost per video, including editing)

 

A good influencer relations agency will connect with you first before presenting any content or collaboration ideas to their clients. Depending on the campaign and budget available, there will be a mixture of paid and ‘editorial’ opportunities. So don’t just send a rate card as this doesn’t form the basis of a successful collaboration.

 

With an increasing number of influencers in the industry, the creation of a detailed Influencer Kit will set you apart from the competition and improve your chances of working with great brands to create relevant and exciting content.  

 

Dominique Harmse is a Managing Partner at HelloConversations, an Influencer Relations agency based in Johannesburg. For more information, please email dom@helloconversations.co.za or follow @HelloConvo

 

{Guest Post} 20 Days to 1000 Followers on Instagram with no Automation

Today’s  guest post is written by Lauren Kinghorn from Inspiring Mompreneurs. She shares with us how she grew her Instagram following from zero to 1000 in twenty days.

My social media strategy is anything but typical.  I’m a Mom blogger who’s not on Facebook or Twitter.  Say what?!?   You won’t be the first to call me crazy, but I have my reasons.

Pinterest was my first love on the social media front.  Curious to know why?  I read a number of articles on social media strategy and summarized them in this article.  I think this is why it took me such a long time to buy into the idea of joining Instagram. I was so sold on Pinterest (still am) and they sounded so similar to Instagram on paper, I just couldn’t see the value in joining Instagram as well.   

I kept coming across articles on Pinterest about Instagram and I would just file them away in my board: Marketing your Online Business to read another day.  Friends and Mom Entrepreneurs I interviewed advised me to join Instagram.  I didn’t budge… until my hubby joined to keep in closer contact with his daughter (my wonderful bonus daughter) who moved with her mother to a small town 180kms away from us.

Initially I joined just as myself just to check it out and keep in touch with family.  I looked at few Instagram pages of influencers in my niche and some of them were gorgeous!  The penny dropped and I decided to go for it. 

For inspiration and some guidance, I had a quick read of this article by Chrystie at Living for Naptime:  How I got 1000 Real, Fun & Awesome Instagram Followers in 30 Days .

On 3rd February, I joined Instagram as Inspiring Mompreneurs and Happy Human Pacifier.

These were the steps I took on Day 1 on Instagram:

Step 1:  I took Chrystie’s advice and posted my first few pictures.

Step 2:  I searched for people in my niche (Mom Entrepreneurs and Breastfeeding Advocates) and started following them.  

Step 3: Whenever I found someone who appeared to be an influencer in my niche, I looked at who they were following and followed them too.

Step 4: Whenever I found a profile I thought was particularly helpful or pretty or well crafted, I liked a heap of their posts and/or posted some comments.

Step 5: I followed all the Moms who followed me.

Loads of likes, follows and comments later and…

Wow!  I was amazed! 

In 24 hours I had 165 followers on Inspiring Mompreneurs (I was following a whopping 613).

I also had 92 followers on Happy Human Pacifier (following 542).

My competitive spirit kicked in big time! 

Growing at this rate I could reach 1000 followers in a week! Easy!

Well, not so easy really.  It took time and work – a mad amount of work to grow at that pace. 

I started plotting my daily growth right away.   Here’s the spreadsheet (today is day 27):

  Inspiring Mompreneurs   Happy Human Pacifier
  Followers Following   Followers Following
Day 1 165 613   92 542
Day 2 247 946   136 739
Day 3 330 1158   173 886
Day 4 362 1192   183 889
Day 5 370 1200   200 940
Day 6 370 1221   209 1030
Day 7 373 1231   226 1078
Day 8 402 1370   240 1093
Day 10 607 2632   265 1318
Day 11 712 2802   306 1560
Day 12 745 2893   329 1665
Day 14 860 3393   352 1761
Day 15 899 3486   362 1810
Day 19 968 3709   485 2816
Day 20 1006 3822   500 2811
Day 27 1104 4033   554 2806

 

You’ll notice that some days I got a lot done, other days not so much.  Life happens.

Here are the Further Steps I took to reach 1000 Followers in 20 Days

Step 6:   Each day, if time allowed I posted some Instagram pics. 

I use the free version of Canva to create all my official pins and posts.  On my personal page, I simply upload photos, as is, from my phone camera.  Super quick and easy! 

Within these first 20 days my style has emerged. 

I usually post 3 pictures for each article up on my site.

The two on each side look similar, the one in the middle has a different design and is meant to be the one that stands out the most (although I usually seem to get the most likes on the picture on the left hand side – possibly because it’s the one I post latest in the day)?   

Step 7:  When I load up the Instagram pictures for an article I add hashtags relating to that article and look for other posts using those hashtags. 

e.g. When I uploaded my posts about this interview with Mom Inventor, Julia Christie – I looked for other posts on #mominventors #muminventors  #mominvented etc. 

Step 8:  I then go to the hashtags most relevant to the article and like, follow or comment on as many posts that show up under that hashtag as I can (time permitting). 

I figure these people will most likely be my target market for this article.

Step 9:  On 17th February (Day 14), I started adding some of the hashtags I found on these articles by Sarah at Venus Trapped in Mars:

INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS FOR BLOGGERS THAT WILL TRIPLE LIKES

30 MORE INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS FOR BLOGGERS THAT WILL TRIPLE LIKES

I think it has increased likes, but I can’t in all honesty say it’s tripled my likes, as I also get lots of likes on posts that don’t include these hashtags.

It has however, made me aware of the impact of hashtags.  When I look for the correct hashtag to use for an article I take notice of how many people have used these hashtags.   The more people using them, the more Insta traffic you could receive if you use them.

It’s also prompted me to start thinking of my own original hashtags, one’s that no-one has come up with before – as these will then be tracked back to me.

e.g. I’ve been thinking of doing a series on our favourite Toddler Play Spots in Cape Town for ages.  So I’ve created #bestplayareascapetown and kicked off my series with our visit to Warwick Wine Estate this week.

Here are my most loved posts so far:

1000 instagram followers in 20 days

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

186 likes – 11 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 117 Likes, 8 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

118 Likes, 10 Comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

114 Likes, 5 Comments

Step 10:   Step 10 has a few steps. 

You’ll notice that Instagram does not link directly to your website as Pinterest does. Nor, do you have the option of adding a clickable link to each image you post.   The only place where you can add a clickable link is in your Profile.

Of course there are ways to get around this irritation, but they cost money.  e.g. Later’s Linkinbio costs a minimum of $19 a month.

I devised my own way to get around this and it doesn’t cost me a cent.

Firstly, I realised that the titles of my articles were way too long for anyone to type in and they had all those pesky hyphens between each word.  

  1. So I uploaded the Pretty Link Plugin to both my sites (I’m using WordPress and the Pretty Link Plugin is free).
  2. Just before I load a new article on Instagram (post 3 new images), I create a Pretty Link for the article.
  3. I look for one word, if possible, that encapsulates what the article is about and will be really easy for someone to type in.

 e.g. This link:  https://inspiringmompreneurs.com/mum-invents-pacifier-for-weaning-a-toddler-and-its-selling-like-hot-cakes-on-amazon

Became this Pretty Link: https://inspiringmompreneurs.com/ditchthedummy

  1. Then I go to my Instagram profile and change the existing link to this new link.

Step 11:  At some point in my first 20 days I went back and re-read the Living for Naptime article properly and considered automating. 

I loaded the Crowdfire App and tried the free version for a day, but it didn’t make sense to me. 

The free version didn’t have the functionality Chrystie mentioned in her article and was asking me to post Instagram posts belonging to huge influencers (but not any of the one’s I follow). 

Now on Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Flipboard I happily post other people’s articles all day long as curating is an essential part of the strategy on Pinterest, StumbleUpon and FlipBoard.  But I just couldn’t see how posting other people’s posts would fit into my Instagram posting strategy.

So I deleted the Crowdfire App off my phone and continued with my usual steps.

On Day 20, a friend and fellow blogger, Lynne Huysamen, offered me a trial of Mass Planner. Lynne has training on Mass Planner on her site Small Online Business Opportunity.

We tried it out for a couple of days for Happy Human Pacifier, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with the loss of control.  While Mass Planner is switched on, I’m not able to follow any new people.  I wasn’t mad about “unfollowing” people either.

So for me, for now, automation is out.  It doesn’t fit into my philosophy of connecting personally with other Moms (see Golden Tip 2).

Step 12:

Once I reached 1000 Followers, I was able to join Webfluential and get an idea of what I could charge for sponsored blog posts ($150) and Instagram posts ($30 per post).  This was my end-goal.

Here are some Golden Tips you can keep in mind if you’re also keen on a speedy rise on Instagram:

Golden Tip 1:

When you’re developing your own posting strategy, remember: if you’re looking at 3 pictures in a row on Instagram, the picture you post first is going to be the one that lands up on the right hand side. 

Bear in mind that most people read from left to right, so if you’re telling a story in 3 posts, you actually start by posting the end of the story.  Make sense? 

In my mind this is a design flaw in Instagram, unless you’re used to reading Hebrew or Arabic. 😉

Golden Tip 2:

Connect, connect , connect… especially with influencers and Moms doing what you’re doing…

I went through the list of collaborators on my Pinterest board, Mompreneurs Unite and searched for them on Instagram.  These are all Mom Entrepreneurs I’ve already connected with on Pinterest. Why not build the relationship with them on Instagram where we can engage more?

I went through the SA Mom Blogs blog roll and followed everyone who had provided their Instagram details.  Yes, I’m following all of YOU.  And yes, I’m reaching out to you in this article to follow me back.  Pretty please?

Golden Tip 3:

So far I’ve taken no heed of the “don’t follow more people than follow you” rule. 

I might have to look at that at a later stage, if it becomes a “thing” but my process is working for me at the moment.  Plus I hand-picked each and every one of the people I’m following so I’m not going to let them go that easily.

Golden Tip 4:

A great way to ensure that your organic website traffic also joins you on social media is to install the Milotree Pop Up.  I’m using the free version and it’s working perfectly for me.

Golden Tip 5:

Another little trick I learnt that helps me on Instagram is how to re-order posts.  If you’re using wordpress and would like to highlight a particular post that you posted ages ago, simply install the Post Types Order Plug-in.  With this plug-in you can very simply re-order your posts so that the one you’re highlighting appears first on your home page.

Would love to hear from you – were these steps and tips useful to you?  What’s your social media strategy?  Do you think I’m crazy not including Facebook and Twitter in mine?  Share your views in the comments below.

Lauren Kinghorn – Mom Blogger in the Mother City

Lauren is a wife, mother, writer living in beautiful Cape Town.  She is mom to a lively toddler son and has a gorgeous bonus daughter who’s a teen.  Lauren is passionate about Shining the Spotlight on Mom Entrepreneurs and Breastfeeding Moms. 

Connect with Lauren on Pinterest  Instagram  Google Plus  Linked In  Flipboard  Stumbleupon

Visit her blogs:  Inspiring Mompreneurs and Happy Human Pacifier.

Facebook groups to share your parenting post to

One of the most important things you can do after you spent a lot of time and effort in writing your post, is to share it across all your social media. When sharing on Facebook, there are a couple of groups where you can gain publicity for your post. 

I’m hoping this post is a work in progress and that other bloggers can contribute to it, and that the groups themselves can also chime in.  I’m sure there are a lot of groups you post to, and also you may be able to contribute where rules may have changed.

 

  1. Groups you can post anytime to:

Mommy’s Me Time (set up by myself, Laura and Cindy and basically to showcase blogger posts)

SA mommy bloggers

Mom to mom Gauteng

The life of a mom (Update, this group has changed from Secret to Closed so not much use)

SA Competitions (if your post is a competition)

Media moms in SA

 

2. Groups you can post on certain days

Mommy Share (Wed only)

Mamahood groups  (Monday only)  Mamahood Gauteng, Mamahood Free State,  Mamahood Natal, Mamahood Eastern Cape,  Mamahood Cape Town, Mamahood Mpumalanga, Mamahood Garden Route.

But note that you can put up your competition by submitting it on their site and then sharing it from there. Go here to post it and then afterwards go here to find it. You have to register first. Also note I do share the what’s on post because I do use their events page in my posts at times and I asked if I could. If you write for them there are further rules and concessions.

**Update from Luchae on Mamahood** You can post on any day (for now) but just not a product or competition. (I’m assuming the competition follows the same format as above). 

 

 

3. Groups you can post under dates (threads of the day)

SA mom blogs (that’s us of course)

South African bloggers

Gauteng bloggers

Blog Squad

4. Topic Specific groups:

Montessori Moms (for educational posts)

Mommy Bloggers Share USA (for when you need USA readers or if your post is applicable internationally)

Moms first and Moms first ads (use the ads when your post is more about a product)

Fertility Friends (when trying to conceive)

I’m sure I’m scratching the surface here – where else do you post and get good results?

Also, do you share from your blog post or your Facebook page? We share from our Facebook page. 

 

The real cost of blogging

The Real Cost of BloggingRecently I was part of a discussion around the move from bloggers to doing more and more sponsored content and giveaways. Sharon mentioned that blogging is not free, so I thought I would share the real costs of blogging, for those non-bloggers or those who are considering blogging because the thing is, blogging is not free and sometimes there can be more costs involved than you realise. So what is the real cost of blogging? 

Domain and hosting. So if you want to move over to self-hosting (which is recommended) then you have to purchase a domain name and pay for monthly hosting. These costs aren’t astronomical and you buy your domain name once and then renew annually. You can also pay hosting annually (or 3 years at a time) or monthly depending on your hosts and the package you chose.

Design work. Branding is more important than you think, especially if you want to grow your blog because your branding represents who you are. I saw a huge difference when I had HarassedMom’s branding done by a professional. (On that note – I can recommend Andrea, just wait for her to have her baby). You can do it yourself, there are loads of programmes you can use but honestly I would invest in proper branding and get a professional to help you out.

Data. You can’t blog without data, whether it is wifi at home or through your phone. That costs money. Yes, most of us have wifi at home but the fact is, if you don’t you need it. This costs money.

Time. Do not underestimate your time. Many bloggers do not take this into consideration at all and it is the biggest mistake. Blogging takes time, it is irrelevant that you love it, it still takes TIME. You need to think of a topic, write, edit, take pics, edit those pics – all takes TIME!

I am also going to add in a little bit about attending blogging events because people see us attending these and think “WOW that’s so cool” and it is, really it is SO awesome. But they are not for free, we don’t get petrol to go to the events, again it requires time out your day (or sometimes more than a day) and there isn’t always free wifi so any sharing you do is done using your data.

I have blogged about the fact that there is no such thing as a free lunch, blogging comes with costs and while they are totally worth it, the fact is you need to be aware that to start a blog doesn’t just take time, it costs money and it you have to weigh that up before you really start putting yourself out there.

Disclaimer: I LOVE blogging and I LOVE attending events and am not complaining or whinging about the costs involved but I think it is important to be aware that blogging is not done for free.

If you found this post interesting please share it with your friends and remember to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram and join our awesome group called Mommy’s Me Time.

South African Mom Blogs

5 Tools every blogger needs to be using.

5 tools every blogger should be using|SA Mom BlogsThere are so many super useful tools and apps out there. Every day I am discovering more and more, I am trying not to get sucked in to having all the apps (and spending money on all the apps). There are a few though that I think every blogger should should be using and the ones I am featuring are all free, some do have a paid for version but do work fine if you use them as the free ones.

Hootsuite – I know some people prefer Buffer but this one for me works the best. It is simple to use and you can post to Facebook and Twitter at the same time. The free option allows you to add three accounts which is perfect if you are just using it for your blog.

Evernote – I have tried Evernote in the past but never got the hang of it but I tried it again recently and I am loving it. You can save links, PDFs and more. It is a great way to collect links you want to post to Pinterest or that you want to link back to in articles. You can sync it up to the app on your phone so you can add links when you are on your phone.

Mailchimp – I was bouncing between Mailchimp and Mailpoet on this one. We use mailpoet here but I use Mailchimp on Harassedmom. Mailpoet does allow you to do a little bit more for free but I like the options I get in Mailchimp and it just works a bit better for me but both work well and both have plugins you can add to your blog, so this one is a matter of personal choice. u Whichever one you decide on, you do need one if you have (or want) a newsletter. I am actually interested to hear your thoughts on this? 

Revive Old Posts – This is a plugin that automatically shares old posts to Twitter and Facebook. It is a pretty cool plugin, you can chose categories you want it to share from as well as the time period. Just be careful if you are using this that the posts you are sharing are relevant and weren’t time specific to a certain period. 

Calendar – Another WordPress plugin that really helps to schedule your posts. It basically shows you a calendar and you can add post ideas with links and notes which makes writing the posts a lot easier. It also helps to keep track on when you have spots  giveaways and sponsored posts.

What are some of your favourite tools?

PS – I just discovered TailWind and BoardBoost – both for Pinterest and unfortunately both paid for but both are SO stunning. You get 100 free pins on both so check it out and tell me if you think its not the coolest thing!

If you enjoyed this post, we would love it if you shared it with your friends! Don’t forget you can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

It’s #jozimeetup time again! Have you booked your spot?

jozimeetup august

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our second blogger meetup for the year is happening on 6 August and we are excited to bring you two excellent blogger speakers in a fantastic venue.

roxy city girl searchingThe first speaker is City Girl Searching who will be talking about how to make your blog look more beautiful. Roxy is a lady who actually teaches English in South Korea with her husband and along the way blogs about her travels and other beautiful distractions.  She has a lot to teach us about blogging and there are some resources on her site that are useful as well. I’m excited to hear her as someone who has also been to Rhodes and has also done Teaching English as a Foreign Language overseas.

Salome yellow lab

 

 

Our second speaker is Salome Nourse, the photographer from Yellow Lab, and she will be sharing tips with us on how to take better photos of your kids. As mom bloggers who constantly do this, I am looking forward to hearing her tips. Salome was very much part of our previous meetup as the resident photographer who took headshots of all us bloggers. I am still using the photo that she took then on a lot of my social media profiles. I see she has added pet photography to her many talents as well.

zingzing2The venue is Cafe Zing. I have to give a big shout out to both Cassie (Life with a Ladybug) and Mike Said (Daddy Blogger) for putting us in touch with this amazing place. If you look at their website you’ll see how they like to present healthy nutritious food in a delicious, fresh “to help you live an amaZING! life”. 

This time we are using a booking system to make the process that much quicker and easier, though Quicket. TIckets are R250. https://www.quicket.co.za/events/18978-jozimeetup/

Not in Joburg?

ctmeetupIf you are in Cape Town we have the #CTMeetup happening on the same day. For more info you can see Cindy’s post here. She has photographer Abigail K lined up to teach you all about how to make your blog more appealing with layout and photography.

ecmeetupIf you are in Port Elizabeth there is a meetup happening in September run by Eleanor from Just Ella Bella and Luchae from My Spreadsheet Brain. The meetup will focus on photography/images/Instagram.  They will be showcasing contemporary digital art from Colors Of You SA, who will also be speaking. 

If you are a brand or PR wanting to get involved, please email heather@samomblogs.co.za and/or laura@samomblogs.co.za and we will send you the information.

So what are you waiting for? Click over and book your spot because places are filling up fast. 

Tips to increase your engagement

Increase Blog Engagement|SA Mom BlogsThe shift has started, the focus is no longer purely on numbers and how many page views and followers you have. More and more, as bloggers (and influencers) we are being asked to provide engagement stats. Brands want to know how many people are actually reacting to you and your information.

So what now? A while ago it was all about numbers, numbers, numbers, so we all furiously worked on that, now we are being told that is still important but not as important as engaging.

I have always, even when it wasn’t cool, maintained that building a connection with your readers is so much more important that having the highest page views. For me, those emails where a reader identifies with what I have said or where they ask my advice, those are more important to me.

Brands had to get to the point where they want something back from working with you. They want people to actually buy their product or use their service and if your post is only getting 2 likes but you have 12 000 followers – is that happening?

Back to the point, how do you increase your engagement?

You need to know where your audience hangs out. Where are the people that you want to read your blog posts? Are they reading your posts through a reader like Bloglovin? Or maybe they are in Facebook groups? Or does Twitter drive your traffic. You need to do a little investigation and find out where they are. I know I have a few readers who are extremely loyal to my blog, they read it regardless of whether I post to Twitter, Facebok, Instagram or nowhere at all. But for me, the rest of my audience is on Facebook primarily and secondly Twitter, so I focus on those two platforms.

Then obviously you need to be sharing the content they want. Both this point and the first one, require you to have a very good understanding of your niche market. You may be putting out really great content but if it is not what your audience want they are not going to engage with you.

Be consistent. If you post daily, post daily. If you want to post once a week, do that. It doesn’t matter when you post but it is more important that you are consistent. I have a reader who reads HarassedMom during her lunch break. On the days I don’t get a post up by then I miss her comments and she misses my post for that day. This applies to where you share your posts as well. If you post to groups and other social media accounts be consistent about it.

Reply to comments! This is a great way, particularly on your Social Media Accounts to boost engagement. If someone leaves a comment reply, engage with them. This is a great way to create discussions on your Facebook and Twitter accounts and potentially could lead to further blog post ideas. It is a great way to get to know your audience, find out who they are and what they want.

Post engagement style posts to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Ask questions and advice, interact with the people who have liked your page or who are following you. This shows that you are interested in their lives as well and that you want to hear what they have to say.

Comment on other bloggers posts and share their content. The thinking that in sharing another bloggers posts means you could potentially lose readers is nonsense. Readers are capable of reading more than one blog and perhaps another blogger deals with an issue that you can’t or have no experience with.

Be present and authentic. It does mean a little more time and effort but be online to post and interact over and above just dropping links and posting pics of blog drops and awesome things you are doing. Be real about your life, posting only the good is great but we all have bad days where things don’t go as planned, share a little bit of that as well. It helps to make your audience relate to you a little bit more.

Images and videos, especially personal ones work really well when trying to increase your engagement. People can relate to them and whenever I share videos of my kids they always get a lot more views and likes that just the images and definitely more than just text.

Thinese are just a few of the ways you can build engagement but the biggest thing to remember is that it takes time. You can probably build a following pretty quickly but to increase engagement takes time and effort.

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.

 

 

I am a mommy blogger and I am proud of it!

 

Mommy Blogger|SA Mom Blogs

The words mommy blogger, for most people (including mommy blogger) is often seen as some sort of swear word of sorts.

For so many years I have watched moms fight against this label. They don’t want to be mommy bloggers. When they get asked about what they blog about, they put such a spin on parenting that the poor person who asked the question is left dazed and confused, questioning if there even is such a thing as a mom.

WHY? Why do mom bloggers do this?

Well there are a few arguments – “we don’t want to be labeled” or “we blog about more about being a mom”.

But there is a flaw in both of those. When blog awards come around, we are the first to moan about the fact that parenting/mommy bloggers are not included and guys lets face it, sometimes in life there needs to be a category and a label. You don’t see beauty bloggers freaking out about being labeled a beauty blogger! Not all labels are bad or negative.

If you have make the statement “I am more than a mom” then I am not sure you, your audience or potential clients know what a mom actually is. Every mother is MORE than a justMOM even a stay at home mom who home schools. She is more than a mom! We are all more than moms and we ALL blog about more than mom stuff.

In my opinion I would rather be a mom blogger than a beauty blogger. Think about it for a moment. If you blog  about beauty and then bust out a post about your sleepless night because your baby vomited all over you all night. Your audience are probably going to be WTAF?

BUT I can blog about that and then blog about a cool beauty product I found or even (not me but someone else) a post on how to do your eyebrows. A mommy blogger audience is more receptive to a variety of content because we all know we are more than just moms!

I have done posts for insurance sites, back in the day when I was a single mom I wrote for a dating site, I have worked with beauty brands, pet food brands alongside nappies and bottles because being a mom blogger is as restrictive as you make it

The biggest reason many shy away from it is because there a perception that no one takes us, as mommy bloggers, seriously and for the most part in South Africa they don’t but we aren’t going to change that by not standing proud and saying “I am a mommy blogger”.

If you are a mother, you are a mother, you can not change that. If your blog is about being a parent, then you are a mommy blogger. Own it, be proud of it. Don’t make a travel post about your  annual holiday and update your profile to “travel blogger” or a post about having a pedicure and change everything to “beauty blogger”.

Be a mommy blogger and be proud!! Write your posts about poop and how hard parenting is and recipes and whisky and homeschooling and adoption and maintenance and whatever the hell you feel like because you are a mommy blogger and you can write about anything because moms are about more than their children!!

If you are a mommy blogger, be a proud mommy blogger because if you take yourself seriously so will everyone else!

Image credit.