BlogCamp: Learnings and friendships

Saturday I headed to Birmingham for BlogCamp, my train left Euston at 8.03am so it was an early start for a Saturday.  It was worth it though as not only did I learn some stuff, I also got to renew existing blog friendships, meet some bloggers who I chat with online for the first time, and meet some new to me bloggers too.  I realised afterwards I hadn't managed to find everyone I'd hoped to, so if I didn't speak to you - sorry.

For me the highlight of the sessions I attended were the Pinterest ones.  Sarah from Taming Twins was so enthusiastic and informative about Pinterest - something I love - that as well as going to the 101 session, I also went to the advanced session in the afternoon.

If you don't know Sarah or her blog then you might know of her Creme Egg Cheesecake recipe (see the pin below), which is also the cheesecake that broke (and fixed) the internet.

If you haven't discovered Pinterest yet, it's "a visual discovery tool that helps people find ideas for all their interests and projects" and I'll warn you now it's addictive!

The sessions were well timed for me as I've got a bit of a focus on Pinterest right now. And while I heard Sarah say most traffic comes from search so it isn't all about followers, I'd still like to get to a thousand (or more) followers.

So what did I learn?

  1. Get pinning early for seasonal events. Pinners start their hunt for ideas at least two months beforehand, which makes sense really as no one wants to find the perfect Christmas thing on Christmas Eve do they?  And no I'm not talking about Christmas already, it's just an example.  But in October I very well might be talking Christmas!
  2. Content on Pinterest is evergreen. So your pins have staying power. The half-life on Pinterest is 3 1/2 months, compared to 24 minutes on Twitter and 90 minutes on Facebook.  So it's worth putting in the effort for the right kinds of posts - future orientated and actionable works best. 
  3. Making your blog more Pinterest friendly is more valuable than spending time on your Pinterest profile.  Of course you'll still want to do some of that, but if it's easier for people to pin your posts and increase your engagement, which as we all know is way better than a large following.  I do know this, but you see I'm less than fifty away from a thousand followers!
  4. Don't use hashtags, instead use longer, thoughtful descriptions which will increase your chances in search results. But don't make those descriptions spammy and stuffed full of keywords.
  5. Be selective and decide which content is right for Pinterest and when and spend time on making that as Pinterest-friendly as possible. You don't need to do long pins for every post (phew).
  6. It's perfectly ok to change the description of the pins you pin. 
  7. Promote your Pinterest presence, but don't tweet every pin. That's just annoying.
  8. It's all about the search. UK pinners search for key life moments: weddings, homes, baby and travel.  And it can be broader than you think - wedding cakes, wedding decor, wedding invitations and wedding flowers and so on.  They also search for seasonal events such as Mother's Day, Glastonbury (yes really), Back to School, Halloween and Christmas.  
  9. Make use of widgets, see the Creme Egg Cheesecake recipe above and my profile below.
  10. Add descriptions to all of your boards, because otherwise they're not going to show up in the search are they?
  11. Include your keywords in your profile, that helps people find you too.
  12. Pin regularly and consistently, consider scheduling pins using Tailwind, which analyses your pin and decides when's best to pin - clever hey?
  13. Use Pinterest Analytics, they're a great starting point to understanding your audience.  You have to convert to a business account for this, that's free so what are you waiting for?
  14. Optimise old posts, whether that's your popular posts or they types of post you expect to do well on Pinterest.
  15. Don't delete pins. There's a big debate at the moment about this, but Sarah's advice is don't do it.

There were of course many more sessions that I haven't mentioned here, I've yet to absorb and work through most of the information from those.  Unusually for me, I took very few photos on the day and the ones I did take were of the presentations to save me scribbling down all the gems they contained.  

As I can't quite bring myself to post this without a picture, below are the early birthday flowers from MOH which were waiting for me when I got home.  And he cooked me dinner when I got home just before 9pm, he's definitely a keeper!

Thank you

Thanks to Sally and her team who made BlogCamp happen, to everyone who led a session and to the event's sponsor Wood Window Alliance.  I hope to be able to attend next year, as I've still lots more to learn and even more blog friendships to renew. If you want to find out what other people thought of BlogCamp, there's more posts here


So taking Sarah's advice, it'd be great to see you over on Pinterest...

Pepping up some patio pots

I noticed that my Spring pots had sprung and were all but done when I started to tackle the garden last weekend. And I resolved to change that and get some bedding plants for the patio. I asked MOH what colour plants he fancied this year - I wasn't quite expecting the look of confusion though. When pressed he chose orange, because as he later said, he thought it'd be hard. 

It wasn't actually. So orange and white we have. 

At the garden centre one lunchtime I picked up some Gazanias, Bellis, Tagetes and Allysum and left them in the boot of my car for the afternoon... Ahem. At home later they soon recovered, it's amazing what a drink of water can do. 

five pots, lots of plants some sun and the will to have some pretty pots on the patio

I have five patio pots which stand along the edge of the patio - somehow odd numbers work best here - but when I bought the plants I hadn't worked out how I would split the twelve of each variety equally between the pots. I was pretty sure though that six trays would be ample.  

I still didn't know how I was going to split them as I started planting, so I broke the plants away from those terrible polystyrene cases and laid them in the pots: two of the Alyssum, Gazanias and Bellis for each pot and one of the Tagetes. 

It's not symmetrical, but it seems to work. Pleased with avoiding a complicated maths lesson I rewarded myself with some faffing about on my phone.  

laying out the planting
An orange gazania ready to unfurl and flower
Gazania catching the evening sun
Bellis white flowers standing tall
A close up of the white bellis
White frothy allysum
tagetes one per pot

And there you have it, some pepped up pots for our patio. And some that conform to the request, however tongue-in-cheek it was made. But why, oh why do I find myself covered in compost whenever I plant up pots?

Please say it's not just me!

covered in compost
Home Etc

A calm coastal bedroom

So far you've seen the kitchen and bathroom room sets from this year's Ideal Home Show, and today we're moving into the bedroom.  It seemed the obvious choice to me, because after a bath I'm always ready for bed.  

This bedroom was billed as coastal bedroom, but I think it's one of the calmest bedrooms I've seen in a while.  And there's more detail than you first think, look at the texture in the wallpaper above the picture rail.

a coastal bedroom roomset

I didn't notice that to start with, all my attention was on those drawers - aren't they fantastic.  A simple and classic design, and very well done. The hanging shelf with its three items also works well, as do the collections of threes on top of the drawers.  The blue with this colour is I think a winning combination.

There was texture throughout this room, just look at the carpet.  And the ceiling light.  Yes feathers.  Actually, we saw lots of those, and while I like the texture it brings, another part of me thinks how much dust it would catch!

goodhomes roomsets 2016

There's a few too many cushions on the bed for me, but I do like how they pick out the colours of the feature wall.  And so do the blankets on top of the wardrobe to.  There's texture again on the bed, as well as the velvet cushions there's the weave cushion and edging to the throw.  It's a room I'd be very happy to sleep in (not at the exhibition though, obviously!)

a comfy bed

The feature wall makes this bedroom something special. When I saw it, it reminded me of the bathroom from last year's room sets.  But looking back it's quite different.  This is softer and more subtle, and for me adds to the calmness of the room.

jute basket

The textures continued - the large knit rug at the end of the bed and the storage basket - it makes you realise how much texture can add to a room doesn't it?  And lastly, there was a shell chair - on its own, I wouldn't go for it, but in this room it fitted in perfectly. Funny how that happens isn't it.

shell-shaped chair
a coastal bedroom goodhomes roomsets 2015

So yes, this is a bedroom I'd be very happy to have - I don't necessarily see the coastal them, but I do think it's somewhere to relax and be calm. What do you think?