Sorry, I’m not PR friendly anymore

I’ve never really liked that phrase, “PR friendly” anyway. It implies there are people who really hate people who work in PR, or are just pretty unfriendly generally. There probably are, actually. Anyway, I don’t hate people who work in PR. I did it once years ago and I found it hard, so I sincerely admire those who succeed in that profession. But I need to announce that my blog is no longer “PR friendly”.

When I first started this blog in July 2016, I was excited about the possibility of receiving products to review and being invited to cool events. And I’ve been very lucky to have had some modest success in that area. In the archives you can read about some cool products we’ve received, and some fantastic days out. I even got paid to write a couple of times. But it’s time to move on.

I’ve got a new job – a new career really. I don’t want to talk about it too much here, as I want to keep my professional life separate from the blog. It’s the sort of job in which collaborating with companies might lead to a conflict of interests for me. So that’s why I’m shutting that aspect of the blog down. But I didn’t want to kill the blog entirely.

This comes at a good time, actually, because I have been wanting to shift focus for a while. I’ve never had a sharp focus for this blog, just talking about life as a mum generally. But I’ve realised that what I like writing about best is how I keep myself vaguely healthy and sane in my crazy life, balancing kids and work and a host of other priorities.

So from now on, I hope to write more sharply focused posts that aim to help you think through the mental and physical health challenges in life, along with finding balance amongst all of your competing priorities. I do not write this from the perspective of someone who has all the answers. Quite the opposite. My blog posts are how I think these issues through for myself, and I hope that my ponderings might just help someone else who faces a similar situation.

You might notice I’ve changed the look of the blog to coincide with my shift in focus. I hope you like it. I can’t guarantee regular posts, as my new job comes with more hours and a LOT of new things to learn. I’m sure that’s going to lead to some new thoughts about how to survive this life of mine. I hope sharing it with you might make some small contribution to the crazy internets or at least offer you a few moments of light reading.

If anyone has ideas of things I should cover under my new theme, or wishes to do a guest post for me, please comment below or get in touch via the contact page.

Mission Mindfulness
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There’s nothing wrong with New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve noticed that New Year’s Resolutions are a bit out of style these days. Some say: don’t make them because you’re going to break them anyway. Years of people making unrealistic goals for themselves and then failing have led to people not bothering at all, even scoffing at the whole notion.

However, I think that taking stock of the past year, and allowing yourself a fresh start, is a good idea. It’s not “new year, new me”. I’m the same me, but I want to set some gentle intentions for things I’d like to do it the year ahead. I also want to let you know about some things that are going to change on this blog.

A year reviewed

As years go, 2017 has not been my favourite one. The worst part of it was saying goodbye to both of my grandparents, who played a major role in my upbringing. It’s the first time close members of my family have died. Learning to live with my grief while continuing to function in daily life was very difficult for me. I developed a full-on anxiety problem, with heart palpitations/panic attacks.

I eventually got mostly rid of it though, and found that exercise and mindfulness are key for me in keeping myself happy and avoiding anxiety. I developed new strategies to fit exercise into my busy lifestyle and have tried new types of exercise too. My big success was completing a 10k race in 1 hour and 16 minutes, having never run so far before in my life.

Another fantastic success of this year was that I got a new job. I had a long notice period to work for my old one, so I’m not starting my new job until later this month. The new job is a complete career change but it is for an amazing and exciting employer, doing important work. I’m going to have a lot to learn and it’s pretty scary, but overall I’m looking forward to it and think it can only be a good thing.

I have loved my current employer, but it had gotten to the stage when I had been there too long and just needed a change. I never thought I’d be able to move on so easily because of my flexible working requirements, so I am so happy I’ve found an amazing new employer who is happy to be flexible.

Back to the downsides, just at the beginning of December I suddenly found a large lump in my breast. I went to the doctor straight away and was referred to a breast clinic. I was expecting them to say it was just a cyst, but instead I ended up with a mammogram, ultrasound and core needle biopsy. I have not yet had my biopsy results. So that is scary. It’s taken me a few weeks to feel normal again after the biopsy, but I’m now determined to just carry on as normal and think positively while I wait for the results.

Intentions for myself

My biggest discovery this year was that exercise really, truly does make me happier. Of course, science supports this and other people told me that for years, but despite exercising on and off for many years, I never believed it made me happier until recently. Perhaps it is my age, but now I feel a noticeable difference in myself when I exercise compared to when I don’t. So my intention is to do as much exercise as I can in the new year.

I have created a little calendar for January with a planned activity for each day. But I am not going to beat myself up if I don’t actually manage to exercise every day…I just going to be happy each time I can cross off another day of my exercise calendar.

Another intention on the health front is simply to eat more vegetables and less sugar. I refuse to cut things out of my diet. I think that’s a recipe for disaster. But when I am not bothered about whether or not I have something unhealthy, I simply won’t have it. And I will not clean my plate unless I want to.

Finally, I am also going to try and think positively and live in the moment. I am a great worrier and explorer of “what-ifs”. But, as my husband repeatedly reminds me, “what-ifs” are rarely useful. I am going to cross bridges when I come to them, and try not to worry which rickety crossings might be miles ahead.

Intentions for this blog

Some of you may (or may not!) have noticed that I haven’t written much on this blog lately. This is mainly a product of being busy and tired, and simply having other priorities. I started this blog for me and I see nothing wrong with using it however it suits me. But, it does make me happy when I write, and so I’m going to aim to write something once a week or so.

I’m going to shift the focus of the blog slightly. I don’t want to change its name because that is too much of a faff, but I’ll probably change the tagline when I have time. I’ve always called this a parenting blog, but that’s not really what it is. It’s more about life as a mum (rather than focusing on the actual children), and about how to look after yourself. I’ll have to think of a way to describe that in a catchy tagline!

So my future posts will unashamedly be about me and how I’m surviving my busy life, only one aspect of which is being a mum.

I’m also going to stop doing product/service reviews and sponsored posts. There will be one more sponsored post coming out this week, and that will be the last one. The main reason for this is that my new job prohibits that sort of moonlighting in my contract. I may still review things that I’ve paid for myself, but I won’t be accepting free products or any money to write posts.

And so…onwards and upwards for 2018! Thank you to anyone who reads my little musings, and I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

What are your resolutions this year, or are you a resolution refuser?

 

Mission Mindfulness

 

4 things I learned from 1 year of blogging

Sometime around the end of July, the one-year anniversary of me starting this blog quietly passed. This blog was originally inspired by a holiday that I wanted to write about. A year later, it was ignored because of another holiday, which I should probably write about at some point.

I often see other bloggers writing something about their blogging anniversary (blogiversary??), and I’m not usually one to avoid a good bandwagon tbh. However, I think the sort of things I want to say might be a little bit different.

Until last week, I hadn’t blogged in about a month. I was unsure whether I was done with blogging, or I just needed a break. All I knew was that I really just needed to chill out and watch Netflix in the evening, and to never ignore my kids at the weekend so I could (just quickly) join a linky. I also had some other stuff going on in my life that distracted me from blogging, which I’m not sharing publicly yet … but watch this space (however I can tell you now that it’s nothing to do with having more babies – that’s what people always think when you say you have a secret).

So I had my break and I enjoyed it, but then last week I had a really stressful day. So to stop me mulling over the stressful thing, I went ahead and wrote a little blog post. It brought home to me the real reasons I blog – reasons that I hope I’ll remember as I continue to blog – reasons that might even keep me blogging for a long time yet.

I don’t need to be the best

When I first started blogging, I knew absolutely nothing about the world of blogging. I was just going to write down some stuff on the internet that I thought a few other people might find interesting. Then, I got sucked into the world of stats and leaderboards and follower numbers and branding collaborations. I got a little ambitious and competitive. I got a little obsessed.

What many people who don’t blog don’t know is that nobody gets to be a famous blogger, or a blogger who makes their living from blogging, without having a killer combination of hard work, talent and luck.

I do not need to compete with the famous bloggers, the well-paid bloggers, or even the ones who I personally think are just awesome and wish I could be more like. I don’t have to publish consistently or have beautiful social media feeds unless that’s what want. I can just blog because it relaxes me and because it helps me think things through. My blog is about me, and if anyone else is interested or thinks it’s good, then that’s a bonus.

I don’t need to get paid

Making a living from blogging or getting occasional paid blogging opportunities or product reviews are totally awesome. I’ve dabbled in this a little bit. I may or may not continue doing so. It’s kind of cool, but usually the time and effort I put into a review or sponsored post is not worth the money or “free” thing I got.

Occasionally, there have been a few experiences I’ve had because of blogging that money actually couldn’t buy. I’m grateful for these. But if they never happened again, I would still be happy about my little blog.

Blogging is about people

The best, best thing about blogging is people, in a couple different ways.

First of all, any blogger worth his or her corner of the internet engages with other blogs. We don’t all have endless time to read and comment on other blogs, but really a good blogger ought to have a few other blogs they read. Blogging isn’t just a broadcast … it’s a community. And if you read other blogs, you will be learning new things, and often these things are about people, and you will learn interesting things about people who are different to you. This expands your horizons.

Second, blogging really does help you make new friends. I have made at least one proper, meet-up in person friend through blogging, and have several other acquaintances who I really like. There are lots of bad things on the internet, but blogging has an amazing knack for helping you meet like-minded people.

Blogging is healthy

Ok, so there is the risk that you get obsessed with social media and you never look away from a screen again. But the act of actually blogging – writing something about your life that you have thought about – mitigates against that.

Blogging encourages introspection, but it also requires you to think about how to write about your introspection in a way that engages others. For me, blogging has helped me avoid negative thoughts about myself and instead think about how I can be my best self. This process is what I like to share on my blog.

So what next?

A lot of people talk about their future goals for their blog on these sort of posts, and sometimes those include getting to a certain follower milestone or something measurable like that. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’ve been to some mindfulness talks and I now prefer to set intentions. So here are mine:

  • To stay true to myself in all ways, including with my blog.
  • If I don’t feel like blogging, I’m not gonna blog. So you know what’s happening when I don’t post for a while.
  • But temporary breaks don’t mean I need to shut down the whole thing.
  • Carry on nurturing the community I’ve become a part of by joining in on social media and reading other blogs when I can.
  • Carry on balancing introspection with things that might be useful to others – this is, after all, a public place.

What do you think? Has your blogging journey taken you to places you didn’t expect? Did you go down a road that you later decided wasn’t right for you? What’s good and what’s not so good about being a blogger?

Sunshine Blogger Award: Sweet stealing and spelling

I was invited by the very lovely Anna Brown to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Award. It’s a nice little tag post where someone asks you 10 questions, which you then answer and nominate 3 more bloggers to answer your own 10 questions. It’s a nice way of shouting out to other bloggers you like and learning more about them.

1. If you could visit any point in history for just an hour where, when and why?

Okay this is overly sentimental, perhaps, but give me a break – I’m still in grief mode. I would go back to Florida in Summer 2003, when I was living with my grandparents. I would sit my grandma down and ask her all of the questions I never got to ask, and tell her the things I never got to tell her.

2. What film does everyone else love that you think is totally overrated?

Does it have to be a film? Because the thing that really fits this question for me is Breaking Bad. Everyone thinks it’s so great, right? I tried really hard to watch it, but it just sets my teeth on edge. I had nightmares about the episode with the bathtub. If you’ve watched it you’ll know what I mean.

But I do like that joke that went round, about how if Breaking Bad took place in the UK, the whole story would never have happened because the NHS would sort him out for free and he wouldn’t need to sell drugs.

3. If you were a cocktail what would your ingredients be and what would you be called?

This is a really hard question! I’m no mixologist! Can I be a drink that already exists? I would be a bourbon sour, because it’s classy and complicated but not up itself. Also, it’s American but slowly becoming more accepted in the UK.

4. What five items are always in your handbag?

Besides the obvious wallet, keys, etc., I assume? Too many pens, an emergency sanitary pad, headphones, lipstick and business cards (two types – one for blogging and one for my day job).

5. If you had to lose one sense, which one would you choose?

Hearing because I think you probably lose the least amount of quality of life. You can still drive, see where you’re going, look in the mirror (I’m vain like that), unlike if you were blind. I love to eat so I don’t think life would be worth living without a sense of taste, and your sense of smell is linked to taste. And life without touch would be very lonely. I’m already losing my hearing anyway, I think, from listening to too much loud music as a teenager.

6. Have you ever broken the law? Details required unless a court case is pending.

When I was about 12, I stole some sweets from a store because I really wanted them and didn’t have any money. I felt so guilty that I went back the next day and left the money on the counter before running away. I’m such a rebel, right?

7. How do you de-stress?

I could probably make an argument for running or even blogging, but let’s face it: it’s wine.

8. If you could only eat one meal and drink one drink for all eternity without negative repercussion what would they be?

Does that mean I could only ever eat that thing, or just that I could eat as much of that thing as I want? Anyway, I reckon it would be a spicy chicken tikka masala with some vegetable sides, pilau rice and naan bread, with a Strongbow cider. If it’s a full meal, I would require poppadoms with chutney beforehand and cupcakes for afters. Really moist and spongey cupcakes with lots of icing on top – American ones, not stodgy British ones.

9. If you could choose a week away with your partner/children to ANYWHERE IN THE WHOLE WORLD or a week away solo to the place of your dreams, which would you choose? (and where’s the place of your dreams?)

There are so many places I’d like to go, but my big dream is to go to India, with a mixture of sightseeing and relaxing on a beach in Goa. A week might not be enough. I would either go with my partner and not my kids, or maybe take them when they’re much older than they are now.

10. Tell me three things that make YOU wonderful.

I’m honest, loyal to my friends, and good at spelling.

I’d like to invite 3 blogger friends of mine to participate next:

And here are your questions:

  1. What fictional place would you most like to visit?
  2. What’s the farthest you have ever been from home?
  3. If you could have one day where there would be no consequences for doing socially unacceptable things (not necessarily illegal – just rude), what would you do?
  4. Who would play you in the movie of your life?
  5. What is one song that would HAVE to be on your life movie’s soundtrack?
  6. What is the number one thing on your “bucket list”?
  7. What is your favourite conspiracy theory, that you really hope is actually true?
  8. Would you rather travel to the past or the future, and why?
  9. What is your favourite word? Mine is defenestrate.
  10. Name 3 things you are grateful for today.

#EatSleepBlogRT – 21 May

Welcome to Week 7 of #EatSleepBlogRT! We’ve have decided to try out hosting the linky on both of our sites so you can now find it on Petite Pudding or The Mum Reviews. If you are a regular reader of one of our blogs, who is also a blogger and hasn’t tried out joining our […]

Welcome to Week 9 of #EatSleepBlogRT! It was a really busy week, as you will see from my host post, but I really enjoyed reading all your posts as a way to unwind on Friday night. I’m a little late adding this post and Zoe’s post is missing this week due to her wifi being gone for her impending move. Life never stops being interesting!

The winner of Top Post is Lisa Pomerantzster, “Swimming upstream. The world can be a pretty mean place sometimes, but it’s nice to be reminded that it’s right to keep on standing up for ourselves.

The Mum Reviews
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Top Tweeter was Laura from Five Little Doves (@fivelittledove5). And incidentally I really loved her post this week about CBeebies Land. I’d been wondering if it was worth going and she makes a good case.

The Mum Reviews
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So, as always, please link your post, comment on the one before you and tweet at least 5 links with the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag. We’re looking forward to reading your posts. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole and Zoe

The Mum Reviews
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So, as always, please link your post, comment on the one before you and tweet at least 5 links with the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag. We’re looking forward to reading your posts. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole and Zoe

Linky Rules

  • You can link 1 post – all subjects welcome
  • Please put our lovely badge on so that we can show off its fabulous design!
  • Comment on and tweet the post before yours.
  • Retweet at least 5 posts on twitter using the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag (including the hosts’ posts)
  • Hosts will retweet when you link up (if you tag us in your tweet) and when we comment.
  • We will pick one post each week as our featured post
  • A Host will comment on and tweet all posts linked up.

#EatSleepBlogRT – 14 May

Welcome to Week 7 of #EatSleepBlogRT! We’ve have decided to try out hosting the linky on both of our sites so you can now find it on Petite Pudding or The Mum Reviews. If you are a regular reader of one of our blogs, who is also a blogger and hasn’t tried out joining our […]

Welcome to Week 8 of #EatSleepBlogRT! Thanks for everyone who joined us last week. It was a great group and very hard to choose a top post among so many great ones!

The winner of Top Post was Miss P Meets World, “ “What’s in our baby keepsake box?”. This made me all emotional and nostalgic about the little things I have that remind me of when my babies were very small. They really do grow up too fast. Are you good at letting go of sentimental things to avoid clutter? I definitely am not!

The Mum Reviews
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I’m awarding Top Tweeter to The Frenchie Mummy (@FrenchieMummy) this week. She made a really great effort in tweeting out lots of posts.

The Mum Reviews
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So, as always, please link your post, comment on the one before you and tweet at least 5 links with the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag. We’re looking forward to reading your posts. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole and Zoe

The Mum Reviews
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Linky Rules

  • You can link 1 post – all subjects welcome
  • Please put our lovely badge on so that we can show off its fabulous design!
  • Comment on and tweet the post before yours.
  • Retweet at least 5 posts on twitter using the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag (including the hosts’ posts)
  • Hosts will retweet when you link up (if you tag us in your tweet) and when we comment.
  • We will pick one post each week as our featured post
  • A Host will comment on and tweet all posts linked up.

#EatSleepBlogRT – 7 May

Welcome to Week 7 of #EatSleepBlogRT! We’ve have decided to try out hosting the linky on both of our sites so you can now find it on Petite Pudding or The Mum Reviews. If you are a regular reader of one of our blogs, who is also a blogger and hasn’t tried out joining our linky, please join in! It’s a great way to get to know some other bloggers and get inspired with new ideas. If you’ve never joined a linky before and aren’t sure how it works, feel free to DM @themumreviews on Twitter with any questions you have.

The winner of Top Post among last week’s links was What My Fridge Says, “My boobs are not small, they are low fat.”. She writes about an unimaginably difficult time in her life and how it changed her perspective. She is, as ever, inspirational and reminds us how transformational gratitude and self-love can be even in the darkest of times.

The Mum Reviews
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We are back to our old ways with Heather from Shank You Very Much (@HeatherKeet) winning the Top Tweeter badge yet again. However, @myrealfairy was hot on her heels so the game is afoot this week.

The Mum Reviews
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So, as always, please link your post, comment on the one before you and tweet at least 5 links with the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag. We’re looking forward to reading your posts. Thanks for joining us.

Nicole and Zoe

The Mum Reviews
<div align="center"><a href="https://themumreviews.co.uk/" rel="nofollow" title="The Mum Reviews"><img src="http://i1262.photobucket.com/albums/ii606/Petite_Pudding/EatSleepBlogRT%207_zpsz6pkpd9o.png" alt="The Mum Reviews" style="border: none; height: auto; width: 200px;" /></a></div>

Linky Rules

  • You can link 1 post – all subjects welcome
  • Please put our lovely badge on so that we can show off its fabulous design!
  • Comment on and tweet the post before yours.
  • Retweet at least 5 posts on twitter using the #EatSleepBlogRT hashtag (including the hosts’ posts)
  • Hosts will retweet when you link up (if you tag us in your tweet) and when we comment.
  • We will pick one post each week as our featured post
  • A Host will comment on and tweet all posts linked up.

A guide to growing Twitter followers for busy parenting bloggers

I have been blogging since the end of July 2016, and just over 6 months later I have over 3,300 followers. I find that I gain an average of 100 followers every week. There are plenty of bloggers out there who have more than me, but I’ve spoken to loads of bloggers who find Twitter difficult.

Most people will tell you that the key to Twitter is to actually chat to people rather than just dropping links to your blog posts. And they’re not wrong. However, I’ve still done pretty well for myself so far, and I am totally chat-impaired. I can’t think of anything to say on Twitter to just start a chat. I am not particularly witty and I fear commenting on current events.

I’ve read loads of posts about how to grow your Twitter, and there are lots of tips out there. In this post, I’ve tried to say something different from what I’ve seen all over town. These are my personalised tips for growing your Twitter without being witty or putting loads of time in. I hope you find them useful!

Get your basics right

Be sure you have nice pictures for your profile picture and cover photo. I personally think that it’s better to have a picture of yourself as your twitter profile pic because it makes you seem more personable. It’s also important to put a clear and personality-laden description on your profile. And of course, make sure you put the link to your blog on there.

It’s also a great idea to pin a post that you’d like people to notice. When I follow a new blogger, I often click on their profile and retweet their pinned tweet.

Get sharing from your blog right

First of all, make sure you are using Twitter cards. Twitter cards are when Twitter automatically adds the featured image of your blog post and its title in a nice big rectangle when you share the link. This is so important. I really don’t think anyone clicks on links that don’t use Twitter cards.

If you are on WordPress.com, Twitter cards should work automatically. If you are WordPress self-hosted, you will need to use a plugin such as Yoast. If you don’t use WordPress, I don’t know how you do it, but it’s worth figuring out.

Also, please make sure that your Twitter sharing button on your blog posts has your Twitter handle connected to it. This means that if anyone shares one of your posts using the sharing button, you will automatically be tagged on Twitter. If you don’t have this enabled, you won’t know if someone shared your post, and you’re missing a valuable chance for interaction. I often don’t even bother sharing posts if their Twitter handle isn’t connected.

Finally, make sure your Twitter handle is easy to find on your blog. You’d be amazed how many blogs on which I’ve struggled to find it!

Don’t use robots or be a robot

Not everyone will agree with me, but I just can’t bring myself to automate my Twitter. Many people use tools that automatically tweet out their new blog posts, but I think that takes the joy out of it.

When I tweet a link to a new post, I don’t use the title of my blog post in the tweet. I write an interesting quote or fact from the post, or I ask my readers a related question. If I tweet the post more than once, I introduce it differently each time.

PLEASE never use automatic DMs. Don’t send any DM to people, automated or otherwise, simply thanking them for following, or asking them to follow your other social media accounts. I don’t know anyone who likes that.

Use hashtags well

When you’re ready to drop a blog post link, spend a few minutes searching relevant keywords to see if there are any relevant hashtags you could use. It’s good to use one or two on each post. Also, check what’s trending and use a trending tag if it’s relevant (and ONLY if it’s relevant).

Be supportive – engage

Even though I’m not good at initiating chats or saying clever things out of the blue, I do engage with other people on Twitter as much as possible. At least once a day I scroll through my feed and retweet or favourite a few things that I like. If I see something to which I have a response, I reply to the person and start a conversation about it.

When I follow someone new, I go through their feed and try to find something to retweet, just to be nice.

If someone shares one of my posts – or tags me in a post that is relevant to me – I always favourite and retweet it. And I reply and thank them for sharing.

Curate who you follow

When I started blogging, I followed a load of random parenting bloggers. This wasn’t too bad of a strategy to start with. Many of them followed me back and I was able to start building relationships with them. Not everyone will agree with me, but I have a general policy of following people back when they follow me, and it’s served me well.

I choose whether to follow someone back based on their profile description.

  • I always follow bloggers back (because it’s a chance to be mutually supportive).
  • I don’t waste time following random celebrities, news sites or anything that I don’t feel could potentially benefit my Twitter following or my blog.
  • I follow back brands I’m interested in (but not that random mattress company in Spain).
  • I sometimes even follow back those vaguely spammy people who claim to be SEO or content marketing experts on their profiles.
  • I never follow back content bots (the way to spot them is when all their tweets have every word starting in caps along with clickbait-style links).
  • I don’t follow back “normal” people who follow me because of a comp or who just tweet about their lunch or their dog.

The thing that makes me totally comfortable with following freely is Crowdfire. It tells me when someone unfollows me or if I’m following an inactive account. If someone unfollows me, I simply unfollow them back. If someone never tweets, I unfollow them too. It is purely through this strategy that I’ve managed to end up following fewer people than the amount following me.

Take advantage of linky retweets

If you are joining in with linkies (and if you’re trying to grow your blog, you probably should be), a lesser know fact is that they are great for your Twitter account. If you have no idea what a linky is or how to use one, please read Cuddle Fairy’s Linky Guide.

The main purpose of a linky is to get comments on your blog whilst discovering and supporting other blogs. However, most linky hosts will offer to retweet the link to your post if you tag them on Twitter once you’ve linked up. And most linky hosts have huge followings, so they will be sharing your post with a huge amount of potential followers.

For example, one of my favourite linkies is “Keep Calm and Carry on Linking Sunday” hosted by A Moment with Franca. Franca alone has over 10,000 followers, plus she usually has about 4 co-hosts who will also retweet you. So they will be spreading your link all over Twitter. I also join a linky called #EatSleepBlogRT hosted by Petite Pudding and Diary of an Imperfect Mum, in which the main goal is for people to retweet each other’s posts.

Twitter chats

I have only joined in one Twitter chat – #tribalchat (follow @tribalchattweet for more info) on Tuesdays at 8pm – but it has been so beneficial to me. Every time I do, I get noticed on Twitter, even occasionally by brands. I assume this is because you are being active and Twitter’s algorithm decides to show you to more people.  And even better than that, I’ve actually made some really good blogging friends through doing it!

The way #tribalchat works is that there is a host each time and they ask “icebreaker” style questions that all the chatters answer. They’re usually very silly and even slightly rude. Then we are all meant to interact and chat away as much as possible. You can join in as much or as little as you choose. Just remember to put #tribalchat in everything you tweet so the others will see what you write.

It can be intimidating at first, and I know I didn’t feel I was witty enough with my answers. But alcohol and practice has made me a pretty decent #tribalchat-ter. A few practical tips:

  • Chat on your laptop. The chats go fast and it’s almost impossible to keep up on a phone.
  • Check the host’s feed for the questions.
  • Search on the #tribalchat hashtag to see what other chatters are saying. Remember to click the “latest” tab, otherwise you’ll only see the most popular things people say rather than all the things.
  • Keep refreshing your notifications too and respond to what people say to you.
  • Retweet anything you think particularly funny or interesting.
  • Use GIFs because they’re funny and take up more space.

If #tribalchat isn’t your cup of tea, you could try #ukpbloggers, #tbhchat or #babybantzchat, among many others. Fellow blogger Samantha from North East Family Fun also suggested to me that joining in with local non-blogger chats is a great way to bring in a new crop of readers.

Run competitions on your blog

I use Rafflecopter to occasionally run competitions on my blog, when I find a brand willing to cooperate. You can ask people who want to win your comp prize to follow you on Twitter and tweet about the comp. This has the potential to grow your following massively. Some compers will unfollow after the competition finishes, but many will stick around.

How parenting bloggers can grow Twitter followers by 100+ per week

Thank you to bloggers who responded to my crowdsourcing request for this post. I found I already had pretty set ideas for the post, but their contributions were appreciated:

 

What do you think of my Twitter strategies? What are your top Twitter tricks?

When am I going to drop a plate?

I have had this post title, ‘When am I going to drop a plate’ in draft for months – probably since shortly after I started this blog last July. What do I mean by dropping a plate?

I mean that this guy is a metaphor for my life: giphy.gif

Running around, trying to make sure all the plates are balancing on all the sticks. It’s impossible to be everywhere at once or to keep the plates spinning forever. Sooner or later, one of them is going to fall. Even more likely: they will all come crashing down at once.

I have felt like I’ve been coasting along keeping the plates spinning for quite a while. But all the time with a sense of foreboding that I couldn’t keep it up forever.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, this January has been accompanied by the jangling of smashing crockery.

I was staying healthy, but now I have the flu. I had a flu jab, but I still got the flu.

I was keeping up with work at my day job, but now I’ve missed 3 days in a row from the flu, so cue the overflowing inbox next time I have the strength to look at it.

I was keeping the house tidy. Now it is not tidy.

I was keeping up with the blog. Now I’m struggling to write anything or find time to promote it.

I was staying positive mentally. Now a beloved relative is very unwell and I can’t help but dwell on that. Even though my being upset will do absolutely nothing to change it.

I’m just about managing to keep the kids alive and happy. That’s the only plate that is never allowed to fall.

What do you do when your plates come crashing down? I’ve been limping along, pretending they’re still spinning, doing the bare minimum of everything just to get by. Then when the bug hit, I let them fall. I was relieved for an excuse to lay in bed for 3 days straight (at least while the kids were at school/nursery, that is – not everyone has that luxury).

How do you get some new plates and start them spinning again? Do you focus on one at a time until you can slowly build back up to the full performance? Do you hoist them all up again with one herculean effort? Do you sweep one of the plates under the carpet and pretend to forget about it?

The plate that would be forgotten, swept away, and never replaced would have to be the blog. I’m not allowed to give up on working or existing. I even (vaguely) need to keep my house tidy.

But I’m not one who easily lets go of things. Whether that’s a good or bad quality – it’s difficult to say. It makes it harder for me to accept that things change. But it might just help me keep going when I feel like quitting.

So I’m going to focus on one plate at a time for now. Tonight I’m hoisting up the blog plate with this honest post about how hard it is to keep going sometimes. This weekend, I’ll look after myself, my house and my kids. On Monday, I’ll tackle those work emails.

And I’ll forgive myself for all the broken plates. Because none of it would be worth doing if it was easy. And gravity catches up with us all.

The Pramshed

If you don’t try, you can’t fail…?

I’m the sort of person who would rather leave things to fate than really try for something. It’s easier to quietly hope for something than to go out there and really try. If I don’t try in the first place, then I can’t fail! So I am doing something that scares me now.

I’m going to go ahead and ask that if you read this blog, could you – pretty please – drop me a little vote in the #tribalchat awards?

Tribal Chat is this awesome community of bloggers of which I’m a part. We have a Twitter chat once a week and all support each other in a Facebook group and across social media. Three times a year, they do a little award ceremony where people can vote for different bloggers who they think are doing well in particular areas.

I started blogging to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone. Asking for your vote is totally out of that zone!

There are loads of different categories you can write me in for. You can write The Mum Reviews in up to 3 categories, but any more than that and your vote won’t count. I’m happy for you to choose what category you think my blog most fits, but if you want a suggestion, I’d be keen on Rising Star, Kindness or Social Butterfly.

Rising Star because I went from 100 to 2600 Twitter followers in 6 months. I think that’s pretty good going. Kindness because I help other bloggers learn how to do blogging stuff. Social Butterfly because I have a good #tribalchat attendance record and am always up for some wine and a silly GIF.

If you are in the running as well, drop me a comment about what category you’d like me to vote for you in. You see: kindness! 😉

Please CLICK HERE TO VOTE. Remember to vote for me in no more than 3 categories. You don’t have to fill in all the categories if you don’t want to.

THANK YOU! xx

Two Tiny Hands