My Top 5 Posts of 2016

After seeing the ever lovely Kim share her top posts of 2016, I thought it would be a nice touch to post my top five posts of the past year on the very last day of 2016. I’ve checked my Google Analytics for this information and removed any giveaways, sponsored posts and reviews to see what my best organic content was. I may do a separate post in the new year about my top read review posts but I am unsure as of yet.

So what were my top 5 posts?

Top was my post Does Slimming World Really Work? I was actually surprised this was top but then thought about it realised Slimming World is probably quite a well searched key word and that could be why this ranks so highly.

Second was our pregnancy announcement. I knew this would be in the top 5 as it had has been having consistent traffic for months – especially as I kept it ‘sticky’ at the top of my blog for quite some time.

Third (and my most recent post) was my mother and baby gift guide this Christmas. Apparently a lot of people were searching for presents for new mums and their babies this year!

Coming in fourth was my 10 ideas for extra income. Everyone likes to make more money so I am not surprised by this one.

Finally, my fifth most popular post this year was a post that is over four years old – our classic chocolate cake (with a twist). Who would have thought this would still be so popular? I know this wasn’t posted this year but I find it amazing that such an old post is still bringing in such good traffic!

Have you thought about looking up your top 5 posts of 2016? What do you think would feature on yours?

My Goals For 2017 | Blogging – Freelancing – Health & Fitness – Personal – Financial

I love setting myself goals. Do I always complete them? No – but I do try – and that’s what counts. I set myself a number of goals for 2016 and whilst I can’t say I ticked them all off the list, I gave them a good go. So what have I got planned for 2017?

BLOGGING GOALS

  • To find a better balance – This always crops up in my goals list as it is one I really struggle with. With baby girl due in January, I really do need to find a good balance between everything and I am hoping getting organised in advance right now will help.
  • Relaunch Keene On Saving – This is already in the works so I can partly tick this one off!
  • Guest post on 5-10 blogs in 2017 – I miss guest posting so would like to do it again but don’t want to overwork myself trying to get out content for others whilst trying to create my own
  • Stick to my guns – I’ve recently raised my prices and I need to be steadfast about sticking to them. I know people will pay my rates – this was shown by two last minute pieces of work before Christmas – so I’ve got to have faith and trust in myself and know when to say no.
  • Build up on my Youtube and Instagram – These are the two extensions of my blog that I really want to work on in 2017. I’m also hoping to help Steve grow his niche Instagram account to bigger and better things.
  • Complete some blogging/money/organisation related e-courses or projects, free or paid for – I’ve already signed up for a few for next year and can’t wait to get started on them (Free Financial New Years Resolutions course by EmmaDrew.Info, Project Productivity course from YouBabyMeMummy and The Organised Life Project by Life By Naomi are the ones I have currently signed up for)

FREELANCING GOALS

  • Get some more long term clients – I managed to pick up a few more long term clients in 2016 but also had to say goodbye to a couple too. I picked up some more towards the end of 2016 and would like to continue this into 2017. I also have a few blogger friends who hire me for certain blog related work and recommend me whenever they see someone asking for a certain thing – I can’t thank them enough for their faith and support in me.
  • Get back to using my work website – with work being so busy and the pregnancy, I haven’t been updating this as much as I should have done which is a shame. I hope to update it more in 2017.
  • Finally get a staff writing job for another blog – This is my main freelance/writing aim for 2017. Not only would it be a handy piece of income but it would also help me to boost my profile, a win/win I think.

HEALTH & FITNESS

  • Lose the baby weight – Don’t worry, I am not going to put the pressure on myself to lose it super quickly but I have managed to put on the whole amount I lost during my time at Slimming World during pregnancy. I know lots of this will disappear once baby is born but I am hoping to get back to where I was and back on my weight loss journey – if only to get back properly onto the Slimming World healthy eating plan and not giving into what my pregnant hormones want instead – I just want the good healthy food!
  • Get back into exercising – Again, this won’t be rushed after baby is born but I want to add something into my routine alongside the walking I do every day. I’m not sure what I will do – I need to find something that works for me and around my schedule with Jack and baby girl – but I’m determined to find something. I’m thinking about buying a bike to go cycling around my beautiful village on – I’ve been taking a look at Bike Discount UK to see if I can get a decent discount on one.

PERSONAL

  • Enter more writing competitions – I started 2016 with good intentions and entered quite a few but this tailed off after a while. I would love to give this another shot in 2017.
  • Complete my GoodReads challenge – Again, I started off with good intentions… I am going to lower my amount for next year and hope I can complete it. I think I may have been overly ambitious this year.

FINANCIAL

  • Get debt free or as close to debt free as possible – Hopefully I can manage this in 2017, I managed to clear two debts alone this month so I am confident if I keep working hard and pushing myself, this is achievable by December 2017.
  • Increase my income – I’m not going to say double my income as I tried that this year and didn’t manage it – but increasing it next year would be a major plus. If I can get anywhere close to what Emma brings in a month, I will be extremely happy!
  • Minimalise my belongings and sell what we don’t require – If you’re anything like me, you have tons of stuff just sitting around not being used. I’ve already made a start on this and got rid of some stuff but I’m trying to completely scale down on what we don’t need and am selling things we no longer require and putting the money towards becoming debt free as quickly as possible. I’m even thinking about taking part in some decluttering challenges I’ve seen!

Have you got any goals for 2017?

 

 

You Baby Me Mummy

Blogging Your Way To Riches | Book Review

This post contains affiliate links

I love a good blogging book so when I found out that Emma Bradley from Emma & 3 and Lynn from Mrs Mummypenny were bringing out a book, I knew I had to pick it up. Released a couple of weeks ago, I read it within a day and wanted to post a little review today as well as share a little Q&A with the authors themselves. Their book is called Blogging Your Way To Riches and can be bought via Amazon in paperback or on Kindle or via their website.

About The Bloggers & The Book

Emma Bradley and Lynn James are mum’s of 3 children each.  Both exhausted by their previous careers in teaching and finance they decided to make blogging their full-time careers. Both had spent 15 years working before deciding they had had enough. Emma has been blogging for seven years and full-time for two years. She has appeared on The One Show as a direct result of her award winning blogs. Lynn has blogged for three years and was recently shortlisted for 3 awards in the UK Money Blog awards.

When Emma and Lynn met at a conference in September 2016 they started chatting and immediately became aware at just how similar their lives were panning out. Blogging has given them the elusive work life balance that many crave in addition to the freedom of being their own boss. Both share the recipe for success in Blogging Your Way To Riches.

Q&A

Tell me a little bit about you

Lynn James writes the blog Mrs Mummypenny. She has been blogging for 3 years, starting the blog  whilst on maternity leave with her third child. She writes about all things personal finance and lifestyle and loves sharing ways to get the best value for your money. Mrs Mummypenny is run on a full-time basis, prior to writing she was an accountant working for EE, Tesco and HSBC.

Emma has been blogging for seven years and has two successful blogs Emma and 3 and Mums Savvy Savings.  Emma started blogging on a whim never anticipating that it would lead to a change of career!  Emma left teaching where she was Head of Sociology two years ago to work as a full time blogger.  Emma also has three children and is often found writing about parenting teens and empowering young people.

Why Blog?

Blogging gives you a voice where you can talk about anything you want. Whether that be your favourite hobby, your passion, documenting your life or helping people, the subject area can be blogged about. With time and dedication blogging can make you income. Do not underestimate the amount of time and hard work it takes but Emma and Lynn tell you in the book ‘Blogging Your Way To Riches’ how to achieve it.

Why are you working together?

Working in a partnership is such an amazing way to work, particularly after being used to single blogger life. You can motivate each other, bounce ideas off each other and share the workload. They found that their skills complemented each other perfectly for a book project. Emma is an expert at pitching to brands with a huge wealth of experience in the blogging world. Lynn is an expert at negotiation, pricing and goal setting. The split of chapters for the book was perfect matched to their expert areas.

Lynn was great at organising and keeping to a schedule and sorting out the admin from getting book onto Amazon to the commercials. Emma gathered the quotes from her network of amazing bloggers and oversees the sales and PR program. We already have around 40 guest posts planned and all the blogger networks interested in content.

Most importantly we have the similar outlook on work, family, life, a great basis for a working relationship.

Why write a book?

Writing a book felt like the right thing to do. There hasn’t been a book written by leading UK bloggers and at that perfect time of meeting Emma and Lynn decided writing a book was what they wanted to do. The knowledge was in their heads and the timing was perfect to turn it into a book. The paperback is just £14.99 and gives you all the tips you will need to start a blog, improve a blog or make a living from your blog. A great point of reference that isn’t going to break the bank but will give you much food for thought. This must be said from two personal finance bloggers!

And if we didn’t do it, well someone else would have done it some, and probably will publish soon.

What are your 3 top tips for blogging?

  1. Write lots of great content that people want to read. Post regularly and get into a posting routine.
  2. Network as much as possible. Meet other bloggers, brands, PR agencies. Go to events and meet people in person.
  3. Engage in collaborations, linkys, guest posts, blogger Q&A’s. Collaborations will get you different readers to your content, more social following and back links that will help your web authority DA. Plus collaborations feel good, it’s great to help each other out.

What’s your biggest lesson learnt in blogging?

For Lynn, it is to go in high on negotiations, there is nothing worse than feeling like you have sold yourself short and done some work for less than the agency or brand would have paid. What’s the worse that can happen, maybe they say no your fee is too high? Well then you negotiate to the right level.

Networking and being nice is the best way to get on in the blogging community.  Having a good reputation is your biggest asset and by always being professional you will be remembered and PR’s will want to work with you time and time again.

Who are your favourite bloggers/social stars?

Lynn’s favourite blogger is Cash Carraway (The Comeback Mum). Her posts are always thought provoking and insightful and her writing style is simply amazing. Brummy Mummyof2 is fabulous for vlog content, she is so funny and makes her feel happy about life and its troubles.

Emma has so many favourites but the blog she has to read is More Than Toast by Alice Talbot Judge.

If could start your blog again is there anything you would do differently?

Lynn would have Search Engine Optimised her posts correctly from the very first post. Her traffic would be far higher now if this had been done properly. It is so time consuming to now repair the 110 badly SEO’d posts from the past.

Emma wishes she knew to categorise her blog posts by topic from the start.  This would have made it easier for readers to find other related posts.  She still hasn’t managed to go back and correct this rookie error as it would take so long.

What is the best thing you have spent money on with your blog?

Lynn’s best investment was the logo and photoshoots from the early says of the blog. This cost £150 but the self-hosted blog (another great idea to self-host from day 1) looked professional and welcoming.

Having a blog redesign is the best money Emma has spent. Over the years Emma has kept the blog fresh by having various headers that have grown with the blog.

Where do you want to be in 5 years’ time?

Lynn would love to be running a successful Mrs Mummypenny business with turnover more than £200k (yes aiming high, and it will happen!). With flexibility to continue to spend as much time as possible with the boys and keep going to all their football matches.

Future plans for Emma include more public speaking and media opportunities where she can empower and educate others.  Emma remains passionate about young people and wants to raise the image of teenagers through her blog.

My Review

 I’ve been blogging now for almost six years. For the first year or so, I had no clue just what blogging could bring but over the years, I’ve watched the blogging scene change and grow and seen so many people make the leap to becoming full time bloggers. I myself earn most of my income via my blog with the odd freelance work on the side so I was intrigued to see what information Emma and Lynn could share that I could take on board as well as other newer bloggers. Both Lynn and Emma blog around their families like I do – I often see bloggers who don’t have young families sharing their stories so its refreshing to read about people in the same situation as me.

What I love from a book like this is personal anecdotes and there are plenty in this book which tie into the point the authors are making. I loved reading about how they met at the UK Money Blogger Awards (or SHO-MO’s) and the idea for the book came about. I liked that they could tell their own stories – Emma able to talk about the blogging scene back when she started seven years ago and Lynn talking about blogging when she started three years ago.

Whilst having blogged for almost six years means I have learned a lot as I went along, I loved that this book was able to offer even me some fresh information that I could take on board and use to improve myself and my blog. For newer bloggers wondering if it is possible to make money from their blog, this is a great resource as there’s a wealth of information from not only the authors but numerous other fantastic bloggers, many of whom I have had the pleasure to meet over the years and who really know their craft.

Would I recommend this to a new blogger? Definitely – its jam packed full of information that will be incredibly helpful. For someone who’s been blogging for quite some time? Yep. Even if you’ve been blogging since the beginning, I’m sure you’ll find out something new and also find the authors stories and journeys very interesting.

Have you read this book?

My Top 3 Freelancing & Blogging Tips

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I’ve been blogging for almost six years now and freelancing for almost three. It has been a hard slog at some times but I think I’ve done well to come so far and I now have regular freelance clients and regular blogging contacts who I work for month to month. I see many people talk about jumping ship to freelancing/blogging full time – whether that is because they’re not happy in their current role, they’re facing redundancy or they want to try their hand at it now their children are attending school full time, we all have our own reasons.

I started blogging just before I got pregnant with Jack and it was just a hobby back then. Even if I didn’t earn from my blog now, I would probably still be writing as I found a world that I fell in love with. I started getting asked to work on a freelance basis by people too so when redundancy was put on the table at my workplace, I made the crazy decision to take voluntary redundancy and go freelance – and I’ve never looked back. Yes, I’ve had lean months and other times I’ve had absolutely amazing months. So what tips can I give you?

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GO SELF EMPLOYED IF YOU AREN’T ALREADY

Make sure you are doing everything right in the eyes of the law. If you’re working for yourself, make sure you are doing it legally and register with HMRC. This means filing tax returns (whether paper or online) each tax year and keeping impeccable records. You can either do this yourself or choose a good tax accountant to do it for you.

I must admit that I am yet to do my tax return for April 2015-2016 but will be doing it in the next few weeks as there is no way I will get it done in the last few weeks of the deadline (31st January 2017). I am also considering hiring an accountant this time around as I find myself getting in such a flap even though I’ve got everything filed away neatly, ready to just pull out and type in the details.

CARRY ON WITH THE SAME ROUTINE

It is all too easy when freelancing and blogging to come downstairs at 11am in your pyjamas and set up for the day but that won’t do you, your business or your productivity any good. Getting up at a reasonable time, making yourself some breakfast and a cuppa and then getting on with your day – much better all round. I have a drink and some breakfast in the morning with Jack then I walk him to school before getting home to sit at my desk at 9am. If I didn’t have that structure and routine that I’ve finally forced myself into, I wouldn’t start work until afternoon due to sheer laziness!

NETWORK & BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

This is one I need to work on but I’ve been getting better. Networking is key to getting your name out there but believing in yourself is a key part of that. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re less likely to interact with people. I still haven’t attended my villages business community meeting even though I know I really should. Most of the time the hours clash with the school run but they’ve started later meetings now so I really should turn up.

However I am getting much better at talking about myself and what I can offer when talking to people now. My blog isn’t a secret like it was when I first started and I’m more than happy to explain to people what I do when I’m freelancing. Sometimes I may be in conversation with someone and someone else overhears and asks more questions and something comes from that – if I hadn’t been having that original conversation, nothing would have happened.

Start to believe in yourself and watch your world change. It certainly has for me.

Do you have any blogging or freelancing tips? What do you do for a living?

 

What I’ve Learned In 6 Years Of Blogging

Collaboration

Okay, okay – I’m not quite at six years yet but since baby girl is due two days after my 6th blog birthday, it is highly likely that I may be a little bit busy with other matters to celebrate my blog birthday with posts like this then.

Blogging has certainly been a journey for me and I came into it with no expectations whatsoever. I had no real blogging schedule –  just posted as and when I liked and I never knew half the things I know now. I didn’t know about being sent products to review, being paid for posts, about all of the different blogging awards and ranking systems. I was quite oblivious – and I liked it.

But my blogging journey has changed and it has changed my life too. I’ve blogged through three pregnancies, I posted about my proposal – I’ve talked about various things that have been going on in my life and been super honest on here when I didn’t feel I was able to IRL. But I have learned a lot along the way – here’s just a few things.

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WHAT YOU PUT IN IS WHAT YOU WILL GET OUT

The effort you put in will be shown in what you get out of your whole blogging experience. When I was simply blogging as and when, I didn’t get much out of my blog. Yes, I got enjoyment but since I’ve kept to more of a routine and worked on growing my blog, I can definitely see my efforts being rewarded.

I’ve also invested in my blog where needs be – purchasing hosting when I went self hosted, buying my own competition prizes, paying to schedule social media. All things I’ve purchased as investments for my blog and which I am reaping the rewards of now.

NETWORKING IS IMPORTANT

All good businesses market themselves and whether we blog as a job or whether its just for fun, we all want eyes on our blog, right? Networking is super important and I love it because I get to meet amazing people who I wouldn’t get to meet otherwise. I’ve lost count of the amount of bloggers I’ve met at blogger events and conferences and if I hadn’t decided to actually go and network at these events, I would probably have never met them – and some of these people are my closest friends now.

PEOPLE WON’T ALWAYS AGREE WITH YOU…

AND that’s fine. The world would be boring if everyone agreed on the same things, wouldn’t it? I don’t always agree with what some people write, simply because I have had a completely different experience to them – but that doesn’t mean that either opinion is less valid than the other.

STATS REALLY AREN’T THE BE ALL AND END ALL

Yes, stats can be super important but they shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on. Get too immersed in checking out your stats and your content can start to suffer, take too long looking at them and you forget to be social on social media. We’re all guilty of doing it and so I make a conscious effort to only check my stats when I update my media kit every month, when I’m asked by a contact OR if I see a random but sudden spike of visits to my blog. Stats are, of course, important for many things but its too easy to get lost in them and forget about everything else. Also you may not have the greatest stats but have much more engaged readers and followers than someone else who gets super amazing traffic. It’s all swings and roundabouts at the end of the day, really!

What things have you learned since the start of your blogging journey? Let me know in the comments below.