Category Archives: Blogging

BlogOnX – Who is HodgePodgeDays?

BlogOnX is taking place during the first weekend in May and I’m super excited to be going. I’ve been going to BlogOn for years and it’s always a weekend which inspires me and fires me up. The last one in September lit a fire under me and changed the way I blog and I’m hoping BlogOnX will have a similar positive impact.

Before each BlogOn there is a get to know you linky, so here are my answers, feel free to ask questions and if you’re going, please come and say hello if you spot me!

Share a recent photo of yourself

Here is my face…

HodgePodgeDays

What’s your favourite pizza topping?

I’m picky. I like a thin crust cheese and tomato pizza topped with black olives, fresh rocket and Parmesan shavings.

You can have dinner with any three guests dead or alive, who do you choose and why?

I need a really good laugh, so it would be Les Dawson, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. And my Dad, because I miss him and he’d love that dinner party! I know that’s four and I’m not even sorry.

Up to now what would you consider being your biggest life achievement?

Being a mum. I never really wanted a family and didn’t think I could get pregnant, but when I did it tipped my world upside down and every day I am delighted to have produced my gorgeous, funny, kind, loving boy.

If you woke up tomorrow as a character from any Disney film or book who would you be and why?

I’ve never been a Disney fan. I’ve never really watched Disney films, so Disney is a mystery to me really. Star Wars is Disney isn’t it? I’ll go with Rey then, because she’s so strong. Though I’ve been told I’m more of a Princess Leia because I’m all about the snark.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Take pain killers and hug my son.

If you won the lottery what would be the very first thing you would buy and why?

A holiday. A holiday somewhere really nice. Somewhere warm but not too hot. Somewhere private but not isolated.

What is your favourite quote from a movie?

Less of a quote, more of a whole scene, but it’s beautiful.

If you were a superhero what would your super power be?

Invisibility. I just think it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall and see what people are really like and what they are saying and doing behind closed doors.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Trust your own instincts and follow your gut. It applies to almost every aspect of my life equally well, from being a parent, or a blogger, or one of the million other roles I have in life.

Which emoji do you use the most?

This one.

heart eyes emoji blogonx

I guess I must look at a lot of pretty things on Twitter.

If you could go back in time and tell yourself anything what would it be?

You’ll be a great mum, you can get pregnant, maybe start earlier and have more than one.

Also, eat fewer biscuits.

What do you currently have set as the wallpaper on your phone?

It’s an old picture of my son sat in a pub watching TV taken when were on holiday three years ago. It just makes me smile.

If you could do anything in the world as a legitimate job what would you do?

Spy. I’d be an International Woman of Mystery. I don’t want a real job, I like the one I’ve got.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Boringly I’m going to say Manchester. I was born and raised here. It’s the best place on earth, I can’t imagine being anywhere else for more than a fortnight.

That’s it! Any questions at the back?

To find out more about other people who are going to BlogOnX, visit the linky here.

Blogger Q&A: Who is HodgePodgeDays?

Colette from We’re Going On An Adventure has tagged me in a Blogger Q&A. I thought it might be nice to share some random information about me with you all – especially if you’re a newer reader!

HodgePodgeDays

When was the last time you cried?
I cry all the time over almost anything. I think the last time I cried was when my son won a prize at school. Which was on Thursday. It’s some kind of miracle I’ve not cried for three whole days!

If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?
I think so. I think I can be pretty good company. I’m a good listener and pragmatic with the advice I give. I’m a bit of an introvert though, if I want to hide in my cocoon I will do, which might leave you wondering where I’ve disappeared to.

Do you use sarcasm a lot?
Yes. I’m incredibly sarcastic and most people don’t get my sense of humour which has been described as “as dry as a bone, actually, even drier than that”.

What’s the first thing you notice about people?
Their eyes. Then how they treat other people. I’m pretty big on kindness and respect and if you aren’t kind or respectful to me or other people then I won’t have much time for you.

Scary movie or happy endings?
A happy ending please. I don’t like being scared, if I did do I’d just look at my bank statements.

Favourite smells?
I’m weird. I like solvents. My Dad worked with chemicals so there are certain chemical smells which remind me of him and remind me of my childhood. There’s a printing chemical which is used to wash printing presses called “blanket wash” which for me is the nicest smell in the world.

On the flipside I also like herbal smells, particularly rosemary. It’s just a very calming smell.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
America when I was 13. I feel very wedded to Manchester and have no great desire to be far from home for too long. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to go away on holiday, but a fortnight is about my limit.

20 questions Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

Do you have any special talents?
Not really. I asked a few friends and they told me I can write pretty well and also when I make my eyes go big I look like a Snapchat filter. Only one of these facts will make it onto my CV.

Where were you born?
Didsbury in South Manchester. Apart from my three years at uni, I’ve lived here all my life.

What are your hobbies?
I’ve recently joined the WI and I like crafting and baking, I blog about both of those quite a lot. I also like going to the pub but I’m not sure that’s technically a hobby.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up I wanted to be a writer. I went to uni and studied journalism, then left and wrote for a local paper for a while. I ended up getting a series of admin and managerial jobs to pay the bills, but when I started blogging in 2013 I felt like I’d gone back to doing what I always wanted to do.

How many countries have you been to?
Hmm let me see (it’s not a massive number)…
Spain, Germany, America, Holland, Cyprus, Ireland, Sweden and Norway.

What was your favourite/worst subject in School?
I pretty much hated school and don’t look back on those years with any kind of fondness. At school I hated maths and I think the subjects I tolerated most were drama or English. I was pretty badly bullied at school so those years have very few redeeming features.

What is your Favourite drink?
Lager, gin, lime and soda or a nice cup of tea or coffee. Depends on my mood and where I’m drinking. I’ve currently got a weak orange squash on the go. Exciting yes?

What would you (or have you) named your children?
My son is called Ben, had he been a girl he would have been Scarlett Eleanor, or Red Nell for short. I had different ideas back then.

Fractional Mesotherapy

Who are some of your favourite YouTubers?
I don’t really watch much on YouTube. I realise this marks me out as some kind of dinosaur. There are two very different channels I subscribe to but always catch up on when I can are Colette from We’re Going On An Adventure and JaackMaate.

How many Boyfriends have you had?
Very few. I met my husband when I was 16 and we got together two years later.

Favourite memory from childhood?
On Thursday nights, my Dad who was a magician used to have his friends come round to hone their magic tricks. We used to sneak downstairs in our PJs and his friends would show us their tricks. It was always the highlight of our week.

How would you describe your fashion sense?
Scruffy casual. I live in jeggings and plain tops. I like to be comfortable and working from home I hardly see anyone, so there’s no need to dress to impress.

Tell us one of your bad habits!
I bite my nails and I check Twitter every 8.4 seconds. These two facts are unrelated!

I’m tagging some other bloggers who I’d love to do this Blogger Q&A – over to Rebecca, Helen, Latoya and Emma

More about me: 18 Things for 2018

If you’re a keen reader of parenting blogs, you may have seen lots of bloggers writing 18 things for 2018 blog posts. It’s taken me this long to jump on the bandwagon, so please indulge me on this one.

I was tagged by Cassie from Lily’s Little Learners to come up with 18 things for 2018 and I’m tagging Karen from That Lancashire Lass and Liz from Expression and Confession. I wonder what their goals and plans are for 2018?

The 18 things for 2018 thing is a goal setting / wish list kind of thing. I’m not really a goal setter, nor am I much of a creator of wish lists, but here are 18 things I’d like to do/see/achieve/eat/drink/remember forever from this coming year.

More about me: 18 Things for 2018

18 things for 2018

One. 
Let’s start off with my blog shall we? I hereby promise to try to write more interesting content. In 2018 I hope you will read and enjoy more recipes, more craft blog posts, more travel, more interesting days out and more things to do kind of blog posts.

There will be a few reviews, some sponsored posts (they keep the bank happy) and hopefully some surprises for you and for me along the way. But definitely more food and more crafts, because I like writing about them and if this blog isn’t at least keeping me happy, then it’s no use nor ornament to anyone else.

Two.
Spend more time with Ben. He’s 7 now, he’s still happy to hang out with me, so this year I’m going to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of spending time with him. We have a few Mother and Son trips booked and plans to bake, craft and build lots of LEGO together. He’s ace and full of love for life, who wouldn’t want to hang out with that?

Three.
Walk the dog more. We got the dog to keep me company and encourage me out of my office and down by the river throwing balls. But she grew and grew and grew much bigger and stronger than she was meant to and I struggled to walk this big strong dog. But I love being out with her, she doesn’t so much run, but she bounces and prances along and she has me in stitches. This year I plan to walk her more often, weather and my pain levels permitting.

Four.
This year my work/life balance needs to be significantly improved. I want to take an afternoon off a week and do something nice with a friend. I want to not be hunched over the laptop or glued to my iPad working all the time. It can be miserable and I don’t want to be miserable. I want to drink coffee with another adult and laugh about something, anything.

Five.
I want to lose a bit of weight. I say this every year but no significant progress is made. Each year I maybe drop a couple of pounds and keep them off across the year, which is the right kind of direction, but not a big enough change for my liking. I’ll never be skinny, but if I could be a bit more comfortable in my skin that would suit me.

Six.
Following on from five, I’d like to start doing some regular exercise again. I’m not sure what, swimming or Pilates would be my preference, but we shall see.

Seven.
I’d like to be healthier this year. 2017 was a pretty poorly year for me. I spent most of it snuffling into tissues, battling chest infections and sore throats. It was mostly the kind of low-level stuff which makes you miserable but isn’t bad enough to warrant taking to your bed for a few days. Let coughs, colds and nasty bugs be gone, more health and vitality please!

Eight.
One thing I’m very keen on looking at is how we can reduce our plastic usage in the home. We’ve always been keen recyclers, but our local council are very limited on the kinds of plastic they can recycle and honestly I’d rather use less of the stuff across the board to begin with. This is going to take some thought and planning, so leave it with me and lets see how I do.

Nine.
This year I want to be a better friend. Last year I was under the weather and antisocial. I was also grieving hard about my Dad. The only way I could deal with all of that was to hide myself away. My social life really suffered and I said no or made excuses for so many things. This year I want to say yes a bit more and be there for my friends.

Ten.
In 2016 we had our first foreign holiday as a family. We went to Majorca for a week and we had a lovely, lovely holiday. Although we have a few UK breaks lined up, I’d like to jet off somewhere warm with the boys for a week. I’m not sure when or where, but I think we deserve a sunshine break this year.

20 questions Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

Eleven.
This year I’d like to properly get the hang of Pinterest. I love it, I’d spend an hour a day looking at pretty things on there if I could, but I want to figure out how I can use it to properly promote my blog.

Twelve.
Be tidier and more organised. I’m fed up of working in a slightly chaotic office space, with boxes and press releases everywhere and a stack of filing waiting for me. I want to be on it and organised this year. Or I need a PA to do it for me. CV’s to the usual address please, can pay in biscuits.

Thirteen.
I’d like to learn a new craft this year. I’m especially interested in something like screen printing, lino print, string art or something like that. I’d like to do a bit more sewing (current sewing level: sewing buttons back on cardigans) and maybe learn how to use a sewing machine, even at a basic level. I have three machines in the house, so some idea of how to use them might be helpful!

Fourteen.
Ah photography. I keep flirting with it and then running away scared. I’ve got a bit of an idea about what I’m doing, but not enough for me to effectively put it into practice. I need to bite the bullet and just do it properly.

Fifteen.
It might be nice to spend some time with my husband. We never go on date nights or spend much time together as a couple. Two self employed people with a child and a dog is a recipe for being too busy. It’s time he took me out for a slap up meal dammit!

Sixteen.
Read more. I used to read and read and read. These days I’ve more or less stopped reading. It’s purely down to time really, but if I’m on holiday or on a break, I’d like to try and read a book or two this year. How hard can that be?

Seventeen.
Declutter. Like my office, my house has a tendency to fill with clutter. It’s time to put a stop to that and it’s time to have a sort out, a chuck out and a good clear down. Will 2018 be the year I stop shouting about all the stuff dumped on the stairs? (I doubt it).

Eighteen.
Stop. I’d like to just stop working so hard and running around like a mad thing trying to keep on top of life and just enjoy it a bit more. Enjoy the people I love and spend time with them doing things which will make memories. I’d like to stop, just for a bit each day or week and just be. That would be nice.

How do you think I’ll get on with my 18 things for 2018? I have high hopes for some and more realistic (low) expectations for others. We’ll see…

How to keep track of your Social Media Followers

Last year I made it my New Year Resolution to keep track of my social media followers. This was so I could (hopefully) see how my numbers have grown over the year. The tracking was really helpful. I used a spreadsheet which I shared on my blog for people to download and use too. I know lots of people found it helpful, so I’ve decided to re-work it and share it again.

How to keep track of your Social Media Followers

In 2017, across all of my social media accounts I’ve managed to grow my following by a total of 5000. To me this is a really good number and I’m delighted. If I can do the same in 2018 I will be thrilled. Growing your numbers can be really hard work, keeping them engaged is probably harder though, but that’s a whole other blog post. We all already know that the key to social media success is the SOCIAL bit. But the best way to grow your numbers on social media is to always to engage and be engaging with your followers. It’s as simple and as hard work as that.

It would be easy to just change the date on my old spreadsheet and just re-share it, but as the year has gone on I’ve added a few elements and made it more fit for purpose. It’s still quite simple to use and I’ve included all the social media channels I use and can think of. If there’s one on there you don’t use, you can either delete that row or just put a zero in that box and it will ignore it. If I’ve missed any, please message me or leave a comment and I’ll update the spreadsheet.

I’ve set the spreadsheet up so that it will add up your numbers and give you a total number of followers. This will also appear in the chart below. I like seeing my numbers rising on a chart. I’m a very visual person, so a rising graph always pleases me.

Download my Social Media Tracking spreadsheet HERE.

How to keep track of your Social Media Followers

One of the features I’ve added is a “To Go” column. This is entirely optional. This will show you how many more followers you need for each social network each month against your yearly target. You will need to change the code each month to make sure the sum is correct. If you’re not confident doing this then you can leave it out.

If you look at the spreadsheet you’ll see I’ve added an example number and target. The code =SUM(N4-B4) in the To Go column does the maths and tells us that with 50 followers and a target of 100 followers, you have 50 more followers to go. In February you’ll need to change the code in that box to =SUM(N4-C4) and so on each month. I added that column because I found it useful to see where I needed to have a bit of a social push in order to meet my target for the year.

I have also added an extra section underneath, which helps me keep track of the three things I was most interested in keeping a note of in 2017. For me these were my Domain Authority (DA), my total YouTube views and my Tots100 chart position. Obviously you can either delete that section or rename the rows so you can monitor whatever metrics you’re most interested in.

You might like to set yourself a target for the year. See how many followers you’ve got on New Years Day and then give yourself a target to work for. It could be an across the board total figure you’re working towards, or maybe you want to get to 10k followers on YouTube in 2018. Whatever your social media followers target for 2018, tracking your progress is the first step to success.

Let me know how you get on! Happy tracking!

How to keep track of your Social Media Followers

What to do when your ipad home button is broken

My iPad very rarely leaves my side. I use it from the moment I wake up; to the moment I turn the light off to go to sleep. It’s my work, my social life and my lifeline. But when my ipad Home button broke and I had several days to wait until it went off to repair, how could I keep using it without this essential function? The answer is pretty simple, not to mention ingenious.

What to do when your ipad home button is broken?

Well first off, find yourself an Apple certified iPad repair place and get your iPad booked in. While you wait for your repair slot, you can still use your iPad without ever needing to touch your Home button again, or at least very minimally. Here’s how to do it…

Go to Settings and select General. Go to Accessibility and then scroll down until you see Assistive Touch and select On.

What to do when your ipad home button is broken

A smallish square with a circle in it will appear somewhere on your screen. This is your new Home button. You can move it around the screen to put it wherever you prefer. I preferred it next to my broken Home button as my brain seemed more likely to remember it was there and accept it than anywhere else.

When you tap the button the menu (pictured below) pops up offering a number of touch screen options including your Home button. Using the touch screen Home button does require an extra tap than your usual Home button, but it’s easy to get used to, especially if it’s only temporary.

What to do when your ipad home button is broken

To wake your iPad up, press the Sleep/Wake button, or the On button as I call it. Press that and tap the touch screen Home button, enter your passcode and you’re in. Easy yes?

I’ve been using my iPad like this for a few days now. It’s not a perfect fix, but it will do until my iPad can be properly repaired. There are lots of handy little tricks and fixes in the Accessibility menu, which is worth a look and a play with if you have some time on your hands.

Hope you get your iPad fixed soon. Good luck with your new touch screen Home button!

What to do when your ipad home button is broken

The #BlogOnXmas Jumper Linky – Who am I?

This weekend I’ll be going to the BlogOn Xmas Conference in Manchester. It’s not my first time at the BlogOn rodeo, but I thought I’d formally introduce myself anyway. So who am I?

We’ve all been given 15 questions to answer…

Please share your favourite photo of you.

The BlogOn Xmas Jumper Linky - Who am I?

This is my current favourite. Taken about a week ago when I was getting ready for a night out. I’m actually wearing make up (rare) and I particularly love my son sneaking over my shoulder.

If you could choose a band to play in your garden for your birthday, who would you pick?

Dunno. Which band are the best at cutting the grass and pruning shrubs? I’d probably choose Shed Seven. They’re really great live and a decent bunch of lads.

What do you take with you for long visits to the toilet?

My iPad. I’m usually watching TV or YouTube videos on it. It comes everywhere with me.

What word can’t you spell?

Most of them. My typing is so bad these days, because always becomes becasue. If I was writing it with a pen I’d be ok. 

I guess I have to be careful with bolognese and lasagne.

What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever had?

I’ve had so many jobs. Rubbish Saturday jobs and stuff when I was a student. My proper jobs when I left uni were all boring desk jobs, shuffling paper, some of which I’m not at liberty to discuss any further. So I’ll leave that there.

Blogging is the most unusual and varied job I’ve ever had. Non-bloggers have no idea what I really do or how hard I work and think I just get free stuff and isn’t it brilliant. No two days are the same, and yet every day I’m sat at my laptop misspelling because and wondering if there’s enough bread in the house to have some toast. 

I’ve said yes to some completely bonkers and brilliant experiences I’d otherwise have said no to, most of which have brought huge amounts or joy, silliness and fantastic memories into our lives. Love blogging, it’s weird innit.

Knitting, sewing or crotchet?

Ugh. Despite me doing and trying more crafts these days I cannot knit or crochet. I can sew, a bit. I’m better at cross-stitch. When I gave up smoking in 2004 I took up cross-stitch and spend six months or so lovingly sewing huge pieces which I gave as gifts. I really wish I have the motivation and time to take it up again.

Without looking it up, what is a jerkinhead? 

I think it’s a kind of roof. In my head a jerkin is a kind of leather waistcoat but I don’t think it’s that. Or it could be an insult from Elf, you jerkinheaded ninnymuggins. What is it? 

If you could have as much of one food as you wanted forever, what would it be?

Summer rolls. They’re the finest food known to humanity and I need them. I need them now.

What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

I don’t know. Take my son into hospital for an operation maybe. Saying goodbye to people I know I’ll never see again.

Life, it’s all scary and full of jeopardy.

If you needed a getaway driver, who would you choose? 

My husband. He’s the best driver I know and I reckon with some skidpan experience he’d be perfect for the job.

Would you rather live in Narnia or at Hogwarts? 

Hogwarts. Little known fact but I’m actually half-wizard so I really should have been sent there instead of Parrs Wood High School. I guess my owl invitation must have gone missing.

What snack food says ‘Christmas’ to you?

Cheese and biscuits. We always have them in the house, but at Christmas every night the cheese board comes out and we tuck in. I always have nice chutneys and accompaniments at Christmas too. 

Is there life on Mars? 

Probably. But not as we know it Jim.

Which Christmas movie would you be a character in, and who would play you?

Elf and I’d be Elf. Because Elf is brilliant.

What are you proudest of?

My son. He is the best thing in my world. He makes me proud to be his mum every single day. Word.

Find out who else is going to BlogOn Xmas this weekend by clicking on the Xmas jumper!

Blog ON Conference

WordPress: How to stop Linkis scraping your content

I’ve been blogging for almost four years now. One of the things that bother me the most are services which scrape my content and publish it on their site. It’s a very grey area, but for me it sets a copyright infringement alarm bell ringing in my head. Whether it’s legit or not, they are scraping my content and keeping the traffic, clicks and stats for themselves. There are a number of services which do this, but today I want to talk about Linkis.

At first glance Linkis appears to be a URL shortening service. Their links will look a bit like this – inkis.com or ln.is. However when you click on the link it takes you to the Linkis website. They will have scraped your content and put their frame over it. So whoever is looking at your content isn’t actually looking at your website.

Additionally if you’re using Twitter with an app such as on a tablet or phone, then Linkis will ask you to sign it which authorises the app. Once authorised every link you share will be a Linkis link until you disable the app (which you can do by going to settings / apps / revoke access). Annoying much?

As a blogger I spend a lot of time writing blog posts, taking pictures, doing bloggy things. For me it’s a full time job and to have someone like Linkis take my content and my click is infuriating. I’ve had to do all the hard work and someone else gets the glory. Sort of. 

I love compers, some of my loveliest and most chatty Twitter followers are compers. So I’m not criticising them in any way. I run giveaways on my blog and I’ve noticed that some compers use Linkis. They share my giveaway posts via Linkis. Which would be fine, but Linkis steals my traffic and my click and it also invalidates some of their entry options (see below for details). No fair right?

I did a bit of digging and found a WordPress plug-in called Frame Buster which I’ve installed and it seems to work well. Their blurb is below. I’ve had it installed for two weeks now and I haven’t seen a single Linkis share.

“You have spent a lot of time and effort building your website, creating your own calls-to-action, and strategizing your goals. The thought of someone throwing their own CTAs over top of your content without you knowing about it is probably both scary and infuriating.

This type of unsolicited activity can be accomplished by using apps such as:

  • Sniply
  • Linkis
  • Start A Fire

The Frame Buster by Warfare Plugins will detect any instance of your website being shown inside of a frame or a rerouted URL version of your content and redirect visitors to the original content (without the unsolicited calls-to-action). This ensures that content pirates cannot redirect traffic, leads and conversions to their own calls-to-action.”

There’s a very good article about Linkis and how to stop it scraping your content, including emailing them and asking for your site to be blacklisted by them. However I’ve found that since I’ve installed the Frame Buster plugin that Linkis has stopped allowing my links to be shared. If you do click on a Linkis link to my blog it now forces a redirect from the Linkis frame straight onto my blog post. 

I’ve discussed this issue with some of my blogging friends. Some were aware of it, some were horrified. It does just look like a standard URL shortening service, but it’s a bit more sinister than that.

I spoke to Jenny from The Brick Castle and she said “I’d add Bloglovin to that list – they are still not handing over all traffic, but that’s something for another day.” Jenny goes on to add that for competitions and giveaways she has a warning about Linkis on her site, as “the redirect url (going to your site via theirs) messes with the retweet url and you can’t find it via your Gleam or Rafflecopter form or by looking at ‘retweets’. So it won’t count and they can’t win.”

I have included Jenny’s warning below for info. 

NOTE TO USERS OF Twitter – Linkis changes the url of your tweet and it can’t be counted! To remove third party apps – ‘Profile And Settings’, ‘Settings’, ‘Apps’. 

Interesting points to consider for both bloggers and compers. 

For me, Frame Buster seems to be working a treat and I’d recommend installing it on WordPress. It dealt perfectly with my Linkis problem and I’m very happy with the plugin.

I’d like to hear what people think of Linkis and if you’re unhappy how did you solve the problem?

WordPress: How to stop Linkis scraping your content

For more blogging tips and tutorials click here.

Blogging: Five ways to spring clean your blog

Being a blogger is a very public affair. I know I write about all aspects of my life and the things we do as a family. It’s all out there for all to see. But what people don’t see are the behind the scenes things a blogger has to do to keep things ship-shape. Is it time to spring clean your blog?

Blog admin and maintenance are rarely anyone’s favourite things to do and I’m often guilty of letting things pile up a bit before tackling them. I tend to keep a snag list of things to do and look at when I’ve got a bit of time. Once I’m in the zone I usually barrel through my list and wonder why I left things so long.

I have a five point checklist of general admin and maintenance I do every so often to try and keep on top of things. If I were sensible I would do this every month, but I’m not very sensible really. 

Blogging: Five ways to spring clean your blog

Five ways to spring clean your blog

Run a broken link checker
Broken links are bad news. Firstly, they can be annoying for anyone reading your blog and clicking through to a dead link. Having broken links on your blog can mean that Google ranks your blog lower than it would do otherwise. 

I use a free broken link checker about once a month (or when I can be bothered). It scans through my blog looking for dead links and lists them for me. They’re usually pretty easy to fix, the checker gives me both the broken url and allows me to click through to the blog post with the broken link.

Most of my broken links are from bloggers who aren’t blogging any more, or from companies no longer trading. For most of these I just delete the link but keep the content, but you could update the link with a new relevant one too. This is a good way of finding older content which you might want to refresh and update later, I add anything I want to look at again to a snag list.

Edit and SEO old posts / refresh old content

Looking through your stats page at what people are landing on, or finding a broken link in an old blog post can highlight some old content which is ready to be refreshed. I add these to my snag list and when I have some time I look back and see what I can do.

When I first started blogging nearly four years ago my posts were painfully short, had no SEO and the images were all over the place. I look back and cringe. It would be easy to just delete these old posts. But when I read them, for the most part the actual content is good, they just need a tidy up.

You should edit and tidy up your old blog posts so they meet your current standards. If you smarten up your SEO – so you get the green light from Yoast. When people land on your ancient blog post from a Google search (other search engines are available) they won’t be horrified and bounce straight off it. They will hopefully stick around and read more. That’s the goal right?

(Never, ever delete an old post by the way, redirect it instead if it’s not salvageable).

Tidy up side bars and buttons
Bloggers like a button and I’m as guilty as the next blogger about this. They are in some ways a necessary evil. Blogging networks like bloggers to host buttons and badges. If you’re an ambassador for a brand then they often provide one. It can be a quick way for you to show off your key brand relationships and achievements to your readers and to people who may want to work with you.

It’s worth casting your eye over your side bars and buttons every so often. Things might not be relevant anymore, or may need updating or moving around a bit. Sometimes just moving things about a bit can make your blog feel a bit fresher, if only to you.

If you host adverts on your blog, like Google Adsense, you might want to try moving these to a different position. This will help you test if you can get a better income from your advert if it’s positioned elsewhere.

Update your About Page
This is a fairly neglected page on my blog. Part of me tells me I’ve done it and don’t need to ever look at it again. But things change, I change, the things I blog about change, so it’s important to check your About Page every so often. Is it still relevant, has anything changed? Maybe update any photographs on there. Does it make you seem like an interesting and attractive proposition to your readers and for potential brand collaborations? 

Categories and tags
When I first started blogging I had no idea how categories and tags worked, what they were or how to use them. Nearly four years down the line I have a better idea of what I’m doing. I’ve looked back at my older blog posts and the categories and tags are all over the place. 

Last week I had an afternoon to myself and I made sure I wouldn’t be disturbed. I looked at my categories and decided that I was going to change a couple of them. This is fairly easy to do. BUT you do need to go back and redirect the old urls to your new ones. This is REALLY important, you don’t want to lose the links and link juice those old urls had already built up. You can read this blog post about how to redirect old urls to new ones if you need some help.

It’s well worth doing as it tidies up your blog and makes things easier to find for your readers. You will need  a quiet afternoon and some methodical working. You can do it!

Blogging: Five ways to spring clean your blog

There are lots of things you can do to spring clean your blog. But here are just five you could do to make a start and make a real difference to your SEO and the look of your blog. 

What are your suggestions to spring clean your blog?

Blogging Basics: Keeping track of your Social Media followers

A few months ago I set myself the challenge of reaching 20k social media followers across the board by 2017. I was around 4k short by that point and I knew the only way to effectively track my numbers was on an Excel spreadsheet. I created a very basic spreadsheet and on the 1st of each month I update it with my numbers.

We all know that the essence of social media is the SOCIAL bit. I’m not going to give you any wise words about how to magically increase your social media followers overnight. But the best way to grow your numbers on social media is to always to engage and be engaging with your followers. It’s as simple and as hard work as that. 

My spreadsheet which you can download HERE is really basic and therefore very simple to use. I’ve included all the social media channels I use and can think of. If there’s one on there you don’t use, just put a zero in that box and it will ignore it. If I’ve missed any, please message me or leave a comment and I’ll update the spreadsheet.

I’ve set the spreadsheet up so that it will add up your numbers and give you a total number of followers. This will also appear in the chart below. I like seeing my numbers rising on a chart. I’m a very visual person so a rising graph always pleases me.

You might like to set yourself a target for the year. See how many followers you’ve got on New Years Day and then give yourself a target to work for. It could be an across the board total figure you’re working towards, or maybe you want to get to 10k followers on Instagram in 2017. Whatever your social media followers target for 2017, tracking your progress is the first step to success.

Blogging: Keeping track of your Social Media followers

Blogging bugbears: Would it kill you to be nice?

Three years ago I sat down with some vague ideas and set up a blog. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t innovative, but it was functional and it did the job. I had my own tiny corner of the Internet. About six months later, with more of a clue about what I was doing, I bought my own domain and went self hosted. My little corner of the world wide web suddenly felt a bit more permanent and felt a bit more like it was mine.

Like my house, I can do what I want with it, paint it purple, get orange scatter cushions, I can have breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast. My house, my rules. My blog, my rules.

There are some things I will do and some things I won’t do. Other bloggers I know would make the same choices as me, some would be altogether different. That’s fine. Their blog, their rules.

There are nearly 10k parent bloggers in the UK. The opportunities for these bloggers are finite and competition can be fierce. It’s not in my nature to be competitive, and sometimes friendly competition can turn a bit nasty. I feel like I’m seeing more and more snarky tweets and bitchy Facebook posts about “other bloggers” and the way they manage their own blog. This creates an atmosphere I feel really uncomfortable with. People going out of their way to be mean because maybe they feel bigger and cleverer for putting another individual, or a group of “lesser” individuals down. If this was in school there’s a name for people who do that.

I have a very simplistic world view. I tend to look at the world and wonder why we can’t all just get on. At our very heart we are all human beings with other human beings to love and care for. A mother is a mother in Southampton or Syria, Ipswich or Iraq, Amersham or America. I told you it was almost naively simplistic.

Why can’t we all just get on? Why do some people look at another blogger and go out of their way to do them down? They are just another individual trying to scratch out a living by blogging. By doing someone down you’re not slagging off a massive multinational business, but a mum or dad struggling to juggle kids, a home, maybe a job and blogging. And we all know that blogging can be full time and full on.

It’s not up to me or you to say that one way is the right way and everything else is wrong, wrong, wrong. I bought and paid for my little corner of the internet, it’s mine and if I want to paint my walls purple then I will. If I want to run giveaways, do reviews, sponsored posts, endless blog posts about my bad back, silly things my son said to me, or if I want to use my own personal blog to just be a nice person then I will. No one is forcing anyone to read, follow or interact with me or any other blogger. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Simple.

Vive la difference!

blogging bugbears