Friday, 8 November 2013

The 'Rules' of Blogging?

Ah yes I know what you're thinking ... where's she been all these months? Well the truth is, I've been busy tending my poetry blog, and now I feel a bit bad to have left Blogging for Creatives languishing like this ...

Rule number one of blogging - post regularly!

Having said that, I've read some very interesting 'rules' over the years, and I still hear stuff that makes me think hmmm... not sure I agree with that rule ... so what do you think?

Are there 'rules' to blogging? Are rules there to be broken? Are some of them taboo, and others just a matter of taste/choice?

Tell me what's your number one rule, or perhaps there's a commonly held belief about 'how to blog' that you 100% disagree with?

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A lot has happened in the blogosphere since 2011!

I've just been preparing my presentation for the Britmums Live conference taking place in a couple of weeks, and it's been really interesting to revisit some of the blogs and other resources I researched for the book back in the summer of 2011.

Many blogs have undergone 'refurbs' and are looking mighty smart. For example, Bleubird has a new masthead and minimal layout:
Bleubird Vintage blog

And Bright, Bold and Beautiful the masthead now boasts more white space, clearer social sharing buttons and wider column widths:

Bright, Bold & Beautiful

Many top bloggers are still on hosted platforms, which in a way I find encouraging, having moved my two other blogs to Wordpress.com last year much to the surprise of colleagues. "Why would you opt for hosted rather than self-hosted?" I am often asked. And the answer is really to do with time and convenience. I don't want to have to worry about backups, endless plugin and theme updates, rip-off developers (yes, I've fallen prey to my fair share) and other housekeeping issues. I would rather rent than buy, period!

I've been spending more time on my poetry blog than anything else, and am very happy with the theme I chose, although I do have issues with the menus and having to put all the widgets in the footer. I might change to another theme at some point, although I like the minimalist edge to this one.

Then in the big wide world of the internet there have been plenty of changes of course. Posterous got sucked up by Twitter in 2012, and Tumblr by Yahoo! just a few months ago. Picnik closed its doors last year too, with Google adding photo editing to its Google+ platform. I'm less of a Tweetdeck fan now its owned by Twitter, and although I've been experimenting on new social platform App.net I'm still not sure if it's gaining any traction.

But one thing that hasn't changed is what makes for great blog design. At Britmums Live I'll be talking about blog design for beginners: tips, examples, 'need to know' stuff with a few nice visuals. That's the Saturday morning session which will be alongside Alison Rothwell who's talking about SEO. On the evening before, I'm on a panel discussing how to turn an OK blog into a GREAT one. If you're coming to the event, please say hello!

Monday, 13 May 2013

BritMums Live - 6 weeks to go!

I'm excited to have been invited to speak at BritMums Live in London and it's only 6 weeks away. There are so many great speakers lined up I feel like I'm in exalted company. Apparently the event has sold out - brilliant work by Jen & Susanna once again in pulling off a great conference.

If you're planning to come, please say hello - I'll be taking part in a panel on the Friday evening and then on Saturday morning talking about blog design in a session alongside an SEO expert. Should be great fun!

In the meantime BritMums have started a Linky for people to introduce themselves beforehand, so here are my answers to the questions everyone's being asked...


Name: Robin

Blog: 1) Blogging for Creatives 2) Poetgal

Twitter ID: @RobinHoughton

Height: 5ft 6"

Hair: Brown, medium length

Eyes: Brown

Is this your first blogging conference? Actually I think it might well be!

Are you attending both days? I think so, if I'm allowed to stick around after I've delivered my speaker slots.

What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2013?
Meeting BritMums bloggers, learning new things, being inspired ...

What are you wearing? Hmm ... probably 'business casual' if I can figure out what that means

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2013?
Ideas, inspiration, new friends!

Tell us one thing about you that not everyone knows
I was a ball girl for Ilie Nastase ...  at the age of 37!


I'm speaking at BritMums Live! 2013

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Featured blogger: Liz Ayling

My first featured blogger for a while! I'm thrilled to be introducing you to The Red Bistro, a super scrumptious food blog by my old friend Liz Ayling.


Liz is one of those amazing people who seem to have a huge range of talents, coupled with an exemplary work ethic. She's the editor at Malta Inside Out, a colourful site dedicated to offering tips, experiences, knowledge and insights on living, working, playing and holidaying in Malta or moving there.


The Red Bistro (subtitled 'servings from a Mediterranean kitchen') is just one of Liz's many projects, alongside running a busy family home in a gorgeous stone house in Malta. She not only develops the recipes and writes and promotes the site, but also does all the photography. Just check out the range of recipes and you'll see how fabulous photos can really make a blog.



In answer to the question, "Can blogs become a business?" Liz says "I think so - but not without strategy and clear business goals." Watch out for Liz on the food blogging and photography scene, she's a force for good!


Monday, 28 January 2013

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Guest blogging opportunities are worth grabbing

A belated Happy New Year! I hope you're feeling motivated for 2013...

The year started off well for me, with an invitation to take part in a panel discussion at the next London Fashion Bloggers Meetup on January 22nd, organised by Diana at trendbridged.com (see screenshot below). I'm really looking forward to meeting the bloggers, the event has already sold out with up to a hundred people expected.

Of course, the most daunting thing will be appearing before all those fashionistas - eek! What the hell am I going to wear? Oh well - I guess I'm supposed to know about blogging, not fashion!

It is striking how fashion blogging has really taken off. Last month the Guardian put out a call for new fashion bloggers to join their roster. Although the deadline has passed, this article is worth a read to find out more about the range and types of bloggers they look for - fashion is a huge subject, after all, and there's plenty of scope for a blog to be unique.

Sometimes a one-off guest post can turn into a regular thing. I've done guest blogging stints in the past for Friday Ad, the Marketing Society and even a costuming site. Getting a regular blogging gig at a national paper, magazine or organisation is a great way to reach a wider audience, gain experience and credibility and grow your reputation as a blogger.

These kinds of opportunities do come up, but it's also worth being proactive and simply asking!

screenshot of Trendbridged.com, a London street style journal



Thursday, 20 December 2012

How I'm going to blog better in 2013!

Phew - practically Christmas already. It's been a great year for blogging and my book has been selling well, which is really exciting.

But as you can probably tell from the date of my last post, I haven't been practising all that I preach! Yes folks, I confess it's been a while since my last blog post here. Why is that? And what are the lessons to be learnt?

Stick to your editorial calendar
When I started this blog, my editorial calendar was stuck to the wall in front of my desk and I kept to it pretty well, but then one month I was busy on other things and forgot to update it... and before long I was 'ad-hoc' posting (rather like this) which is ALWAYS more work than devising and sticking to a schedule.

Keep your ambitions sustainable
Three posts a week was fine at first, when the book was launched and was being reviewed I was doing talks and writing posts was relatively easy, blogging was top of my mind. But that frequency wasn't sustainable over the long term.

Follow your passion
Although blogging about blogging is still on my agenda, my interest in poetry has really blossomed this year and as a consequence much of my blogging has been over at Poetgal. If you find yourself blogging more about Topic A than Topic B, the signs are trying to tell you something. It's REALLY hard to blog about a subject if there's something ELSE you're burning to blog about!

So what am I going to do about it? Well, this blog isn't my only neglected blog at the moment - robinhoughton.com has also seen less action lately! So rather than beat myself up about not blogging equally often across all sites, here's my plan for 2013:

  1. Create a sustainable editorial calendar for my bloggingforcreatives blog, based on, say, two posts a month, for the next 6 months. These can be based on chapters from the book, tips and ideas from expert bloggers and other 'timeless' but useful information.
  2. Create an outline editorial calendar for my robinhoughton.com blog, again based on two posts a month - but if I'm not inspired to write I won't give myself a ticking off. It's my main business blog and most items there are 'thought pieces' brought on by topical issues or events, and I do think that if I don't have anything specific to say which adds value to the debate, it's best not to post.
  3. Continue to blog at Poetgal, when inspired to do so, and not feel guilty about it!
Wish me luck! What are your blogging goals for 2013? What went wrong in 2012 and what worked for you? Let me know!


(Image credit: Origami Penguin as featured on How About Orange)