Remember that lovely wine we had on Saturday night? It was very kindly sponsored by Curious Wines who are themselves award winning bloggers (Social Media Awards 2011). I asked Matt a few questions about wine and blogging.
How did Curious wines begin?
My brother Michael had done the whole corporate thing and was getting a bit disheartened by the culture these places seem to have. He’s very strong with numbers and has good marketing and management skills, so he wanted out to do his own thing.
After a long hard think, and a lot of arse scratching, he decided wine was what he would persue. He saw a gap in the market for a good national retailer of wine online, and as the business evolved, the potential for a chain of wine retail warehouses.
Everything just blossomed from there, and I’ve been in the business with him from the start. It’s been great to see the business grow and evolve, and having your older brother as a boss isn’t so bad when you’ve a good relationship inside and outside of work.
What wines did we sample at the blog awards?
I believe you had our two house wines – Cuvee Jean Paul Blanc and Cuvee Jean Paul Rouge. Two wines from South-West France, which have been in our top 5 best sellers since open of business in 2008. The white is dry and citrusy, and the red is soft, fruity and rustic. Easy-drinking and versatile with wide appeal is what I’d say about the two of them.
Where can we buy it?
You are award winning bloggers yourselves. What do you think is the secret of a great blog?
The secret is to keep it regularly updated with fresh and interesting content. That’s really all there is. As long as it doesn’t become one big sales pitch people will happily follow you. Post useful information that’s accessible to everyone who has an interest in your area of expertise. Ally the blog with Twitter and Facebook and make that your social media angle.
Where can we find you online?
What’s your top tip for choosing a good wine?
Without trying to avoid your question head on, I think the most important thing to do is be adventurous. If you can try as many wines as possible, you’ll soon become familiar with the style of wine you prefer. When you walk into somewhere where the selection is unknown to you, at least you’ll know what you’re looking for if you know the style of wine you like. Much of it is about calculated guessing, but that’s the great thing about it. The variety on offer is massive. It’s something you simply can’t get bored of, so it makes life interesting.
Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is ‘the power of we’. Remembering this about an hour ago, I thought is was the perfect topic for the ’round up’ post from the Blog Awards event on Saturday night as the awards just wouldn’t have taken place without the help of so many people.
When Amanda and I started up the KLCK Bloggers Network just over two years ago, we envisaged it as a monthly meeting whereby bloggers could learn more about effective blogging. The fact that it has grown into such a strong community wasn’t necessarily expected and it has turned out to be a huge factor in the success of the network as people have helped each other out as well as becoming firm friends.
From KLCK Bloggers Network was borne the idea to organise the Blog Awards Ireland 2012. It would have been a much tougher challenge but for the network as we knew we could count on their help and support. The 3 of us (Beatrice, Lorna and Amanda) had been working together as organisers of the network and knew we got on well and probably more importantly, that we worked well together.
Having a team of three people worked marvellously. Occasionally one of us would have a not-so-clever idea that we thought was great, and another person might think it was okay, it took the clear sightedness of the third person to make us realise that perhaps that idea wasn’t so clever after all! What also happened often was that one of us would have an idea and the other two would build on it and make that idea even better. We all work fulltime besides running the awards so we all had weeks that were busier than others, however, there was usually one of us who was available to check the email and chase something or other. We also delegated to our strengths as well as ‘who has the most time this week’!!
That KLCK bloggers community (and a few who join in occasionally from further afield!) formed the bulk of our volunteer helpers – who helped out with countless spreadsheets, packed goodie bags, helped us set up the room, manned the registration desk, seated people, sourced spot prizes…. and much much more.
Our category sponsors also helped out marvellously – not just from a financial point of view but also from lending their support, providing items for the goodie bags, coming to the event, telling us we were doing great and much much more too.
Susan Boyle, our MC for the evening
It’s been our experience that bloggers are naturally a very convivial bunch of people willing to help out others with knowledge and experience and that conviviality was very evident on Saturday night. We know there were finalists there who were disappointed and we know exactly how that feels (we’ve each been there!). Standing on the stage, I could see the tension on finalists’ faces as they waited for the winner to be read out. However, finalists pushed disappointment aside and congratulated the winners, took part in the spot prize games and tweeted and chatted like anything.
Sage’s Social Media Butterflies!
Mona Wise of Wise Words, winner of Best Blog
Blog Awards Ireland involved a year of planning and organising by a team of people and culminated in an event on Saturday night that celebrated thirty worthy winners. Judging by the tweets, so many people had a great night meeting people they had met via twitter and blogging. Blogging has become the success it is because of the power of people writing and reading – ‘the power of we’! Well done to all.
All of the photographs were taken by our sponsor of the Best Photography Blog, Damien Carroll of Cearbhuil Studios and you can download your choice of photos by using this link. Many thanks to Damien for letting everyone avail of these.
We’re delighted to announce and congratulate our winners of each category for Blog Awards Ireland 2012.
You may display your badge with pride – Get it here.
Best Arts/Culture Blog
Best Beauty / Fashion Blog
Best Corporate Blog sponsored by Media Box
Best Craft Blog – sponsored by Belleek Living
Best Designed Blog
Best Eco/Green Blog – sponsored by ESB E-cars
Best Food/Drink Blog – sponsored by Glenisk
Best Group Blog
Best Health/Wellbeing Blog
Best Humour Blog
Best Blog in the Irish Language
Best Blog of a Journalist – sponsored by Elevate PR
Best Lifestyle Blog – sponsored by Garrendenny Lane Interiors
Best Mobile Compatible Blog
Best Blog of a Newcomer – sponsored by We Teach Social
Best News/Current Affairs Blog – sponsored by Newsletter.ie
Best Personal Blog – sponsored by Red Oak Tax Refunds
Best Photography Blog – sponsored by Cearbhuil Studios
Best Political Blog
Best Popculture Blog
Best Science/ Education Blog – sponsored by Glas Learning
Best Blog of an SME – sponsored by Sage
Best Sport Blog
Best Technology Blog – sponsored by Star Trawler
Best Video Blog – sponsored by Spiderworking
Best Youth Blog
Best Blog Post – sponsored by Register 365
Boom, Bust & Bailout will be entertaining us festival style after the last awards have been given out on Saturday night. I talked to Colm from the band about that name, how they met, and what inspires them.
Amanda – Great name! What inspired it
Colm – We were on the road a while before the name formed itself.
We formed in March 2011, we had all witnessed the ‘boom’ and due to the recession felt a degree of being ‘Bust’ since the Boom ended so Bust made its way into the title. All we were hearing on the news at this time was Ireland’s bailout, a new regular in the nations vocabulary and ideal adjunct for our ’3 piece’ band name
The name seemed to capture the times and the spirit of our sessions.
Amanda – How do you know each other
Colm – We all knew each other in passing before we played together. Manus was the middle man that first put us together musically. James and Manus first met on a deserted island in Clew Bay in 1999. We shared a few tunes across a camp fire under the starlight. James and Manus crossed paths again in 2010 through their mutual love of craft beer.
James met me by accident as he called to the wrong house one day, and on being invited in for a cup of tea we soon discovered we had music in common.
I rang Manus in March 2011 to see if he was interested in doing a gig in Billy Byrnes, John Street Kilkenny on Paddys Day and if he knew another musician. Manus said yes to both questions and put the 3 of us together for the gig. It was such a mighty night that Billy Byrnes asked us back and we have been filling the regular Friday night slot since then. Handy too because they do a great pint.
Thats the long winded version of how we met!
Amanda – What sort of music do you play and what inspires you?
Colm – We play the music we love playing.
The music that inspires us? hmmm – the music we grew up with. The early Johnny Cash recordings in Sun Studios. Early Bob Dylan – beautifully simplistic songs like The Curra Road by Ger Wolfe, mix in some Stone Roses and a bit of drinking music from the Pogues etc and you’ve got the general idea of the bad influences of our past.
Its all about getting to the heart of a song. We play an unusual line up of instruments so it’s always interesting to see what a big full ‘plug in’ band song sounds like when its broken down to its bare bones. For example we play Love will tear us apart by Joy Division. Its revealing to hear a song like that broken down to an acoustic guitar, cittern and a djembe drum.
We believe a gig should be a session of music, free to explode and evolve and open to anyone to join in.
Amanda – Where can we find you online?
Colm – No website yet but we are on Facebook.
We are delighted to announce that Kildare native, Susan Boyle will be performing the duties of MC on the night of the Blog Awards.
Susan is a performer, writer and curator. She is not a Scottish singer, although they share the same name! Susan is fresh from her sell-out debut as part of ABSOLUT Fringe with her solo show “A Wine Gooses Chase”. She loves wine and talking and Twitter.
Make her feel welcome, Tweet her a big hello @miss_susanboyle
Not long to go now until the big event that we’ve been planning for so long. Saturday 13th October 2012 is when the winners of 30 categories will be announced from over 2000 nominations.
About The Event
Blog Awards Ireland is a non-profit organisation and is run by volunteers. The organisers are Lorna Sixsmith, Beatrice Whelan and Amanda Webb and we’ve been planning and working on this event for 12 months. We’ve been ably assisted by a team of wonderful volunteers, all of whom you will also be meeting on the night.
The event couldn’t take place without our sponsors and the proceeds from the ticket sales. We are unable to give discounts on the ticket prices as those proceeds are required to create a great event. There will be a 3 course meal (vegetarian option is available by ordering it when you book your tickets), entertainment, lots of laughs, and a few treats and surprises along the way.
Doors open at 6:30 for a prompt 7:30 start. The meal/awards will end around 10:30 and the partying can go on till as late as you can party.
You can buy tickets online here.
Dress Code – there really isn’t a dress code, you can ‘dress to impress’ or come as casually dressed as you like. The main thing is that you come and that you have a great night.
Hashtag – Don’t forget to join in with the twitter chat by using the hashtag #blogfestirl
Transport and Accommodation
There is parking at the hotel. For those who wish to stay in Naas but not at the hotel, here is a list of B&Bs nearby. If you wish to travel by public transport from Dublin, there is a bus that travels to and from Naas every hour (stopping at the post office which is about ten minutes walk from the Osprey). Here are the timetable details and the cost is €10 return. Doors open at 6:30 and the awards and meal will be finished by 11pm.
We’re delighted to announce that Glas Learning is sponsoring the Best Science/Education category and we’ll be telling you more about them in an upcoming blog post.
Curious Wines are kindly sponsoring the wine for the tables and we’d like to thank them most sincerely for that. Missy Moos are sponsoring the desserts and will be serving the most delectable, scumptious, mouth-watering, delicious icecream in a choice of seven flavours that you will have ever tasted.
Shout Out for Bunting
We’d love some more bunting to dress the room. Do you have any? If you can supply us with some (which we will, of course, return afterwards), we’ll give you a shout out
Best Blog Post
The voting for the Best Blog Post ended at 6pm yesterday. The Top Ten have been announced (many congratulations to them – don’t forget to put a finalist badge on your blog) and they will be judged by independent judges over the next week. The winner will be announced on 13th October at the event.
I think I’ve covered all of the questions that have been coming in on twitter – if you do have a question though, do ask in the comments or tweet us and we’ll add the answer here.
Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can come. Roll on 13th.
Star Trawler is a leading digital production company, based in Dublin. They have extensive experience in the design and development of display advertising, websites, Facebook applications and mobile applications.
Commenting on their sponsorship of the Technology Category, Killian Flanagan, Director of Star Trawler, said:
‘Blogging gives a voice to the real technology experts, often those who are behind the scenes in organisations. The really great ones share their stories and everyday personal perspectives, to make the most complex of technology subjects accessible and even conversational among their readers. Technology will always gather momentum, it is vital that our general understanding and debate can keep up. Well written and insightful technology blogs are essential to this and Star Trawler are delighted to promote and sponsor this category’.
At our Blog Awards launch on 13th August, we challenged some guests to choose two words from the ‘hat’ and write a blog post containing those two words within the week.
I’m delighted to say that they all rose to the challenge and I’m going to share the results with you now.
Hunters Lodge Living picked some well chosen words, well, they seemed to be envied by everyone else! COFFEE and TWEET – would they be easy to include in a blog post though?
Read Fiona’s post about the recent filming at Hunter’s Lodge and tune in to see when she’ll be tweeting about the programmes being aired. I’d love to join her for a cuppa on her patio too!
Register 365, who are sponsoring the ‘Best Blog Post’ category created a blog post using the words THINK and EXCITEMENT.
Check out their post as it contains lots of blogging tips that are worth reading.
Karen at Slender Choice picked the words BANANA and WHY and devoted a blog post to the topic of bananas entitled ‘Go Bananas‘ – go and read it and discover why a banana should be an essential tool in your bag!
Madeleine Forrest wrote her first ever blog post inspired by the words SAD and SWEET – do read her post at Tea Lady Tales for some nostalgia and be prepared to giggle at an ever so innocent 8 year old and her fascination with Easter eggs.
Catherine’s post at Mum of Invention uses the words STORY and LIPS. It made me want to be in that room, sitting beside the Grandad, drinking in every word. I now want Catherine to write the post of the story the young man told!
Helen’s post at Bag Lady Speaks incorporates the words MAM and SMILE in her review of the recent bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey. I think I’ll be following her advice and reading Cloud Atlas instead, as recommended by Helen
AnnMarie’s post at Auntyamo uses SANDWICH and INTRIGUE. Hmmm, trickier ones in my opinion. See how she uses them in her blog post entitled ‘More TV Vicar?‘ which explores the representation of vicars and priests in television and novels - Father Ted springing to anyone’s mind?
Enjoy reading all of them!
I’m pretty sure there may be a few more, so if I have missed it in the gmail, please do alert us and we’ll include your blog post here.
When I was at school we used to play a game where one person would write the line of a story on a bit of paper, fold it over so that the next person in the row couldn’t see what we had written and pass it on. The next person would write the next line and so on. As blogging is like writing stories we thought this would make a fun ice breaker at the blog awards launch party. It certainly got people talking and laughing. Some of them are almost coherent as well. Here’s the results.
I nearly missed the exit for Naas.
He took a drink of water… ?
I thought it would be so easy, I can talk, I can write, but when I have to blog – just get lost so still to follow.
Eager to tell the world what you want it to read.
Still waiting…! It was a labour of love
I was told I knew where he best clobbers were, so I decided to write about it!
And I wrote a blog post about it
I decided against wearing sandals tonight
Is that because your chips are too hot?
And the different thoughts were running through my mind I thought what I was going to write was going to sound stupid to others.
You may or may not be surprised to know that i had never med this before. And willing to give anything a go once I just started writing.
What on earth was a hyperlink I wondered!
I wrote it cutting turf in the bog.
After trying to think of something clever, I eventually wrote about something I knew about
It was absolutely horrendous but was very thought provoking
He didn’t do it but I didn’t understand why?
I was excited – my voice would now be heard.
My first blog post was easy to write because I used voice recognition
Stunned,… I shuffled on.
It’s a mish mash of everything
it was about a long cold night and how unhappy I was…
I didn’t know of the existence of ‘call to actions’
But she soon came to realise it would never be 50 Shades Of Gray
Orange, green, pink and blue. And no it’s not balloons.
If only it was fancy dress… I was perfectly cheered
She realised her blog was more like 50 shades of s***e
The price of turnips continue to rise and the country is in a state of panic
Why had he done this? Who did he think he was? Would I be able to control this situation…
Then she looked over at Paddy and said – Brace yourself Paddy.
The old man paused… What he had seen kind of disturbed the normal balance of his morning.
Sitting in a circle, playing games, yes well it could take me back to childhood instead he’s giving me the hee be gee bees
So what do these guys write, who actually reads it? And when does it stop? Well after today it looks like it won’t.
Well what was I to do than try and discover what had been happening while I was gone?
It was completely insane and completely out of this world but stunning and beutiful all the same.
So there I was cleaning out a chicken coop…
Inside I discovered there were cabbages
And that is how it started!
Bad thunder and lightening storm over us last night!
Food festivals and events features with lots of photos
It was raining and I had no brolly.
My first blog was a business blog about Trip Advisor. I started writing my first blog while on tour with Riverdance in Australia & New Zealand. I blogged about life on the road with the show.
MY love for beauty products grew so much blogging was quickly becoming a drug to me. I love to share my opinion and all my tips.
Writers block hits so I wrote about by boy.
It’s a girl, he exclaimed, and I was just happy that she had arrived safely
But how was I to know how safe the giant red jelly was? Never again!
I wrote about our fledgeling business called ‘The Tasting Room’ all about food and wine education
Having thought about it ruminated, fretted and binned my first few attempts. One day the Nike slogan to read – “just do it”
At that point I stopped “This is all wrong” I said to myself. I’m changing the name of the blog to… www.abirdinthehandisworth2inthebush.wordpress.com
I couldn’t tell my hashtag from my blogroll!
It made with heart, grown through the passions, for everyone hungry informations.
Isn’t it very warm tonight.
We set a more serious blogging challenge on the night too. We got people to pick two words out of a hat and write a blog post about them. We’ll be publishing links to the finished posts here and on our social media over the next couple of days.
This week each of us are sharing our story of how blogging helped us beat the recession. You can see Lorna’s story here and Beatrice Whelan’s here. In the final instalment here’s my – Amanda Webb’s story.
In 2009 I had €20 to start my second business. That €20 would buy me my first month’s subscription on a hosting package a Skype phone number and a some phone calls. I needed a website and above everything else I needed a blog.
My first business Feelgood Organic Hampers had been a massive learning curve. I had created a corporate gift collection aimed at ethical businesses. The most valuable thing I got from the experience was not massive profits but a foundation in running a small business and particularly in using the Internet to sell.
By 2009 no one was buying corporate gifts, it would seem crass to give gifts when so many businesses were letting staff go. I had to learn to cut my overheads and it soon became apparent I’d need another income. I started looking around me to see where else my skills laid and passing on the blogging and social media skills I’d learnt seemed like the way to go.
When I launched Feelgood Organic Hampers we weren’t ranking on Google, for anything, even typing the business name into Google returned no results. With Christmas racing towards me I knew I had to do something so I started finding ways I could drive traffic to my website that didn’t involve Google. I’d built a significant mailing list in my business planning stage so I started an email marketing campaign. I joined some online forums, IrishBusinessWomen.com being my main focus. I got to know people, I started networking and sharing knowledge with people there and I started seeing traffic coming to my website both from the email and from my online networking activity. It didn’t take long to fix the SEO but I’d learned a valuable lesson in those first few months after launching.
My next step was to start blogging, I found it a great outlet to share the philosopy of the business and to answer customers questions. I also found it meant I was researching my industry a lot more. I was learning more about the organic lifestyle and why my products would make great gifts and I was discovering trends. Soon I followed blogging with a Facebook business page, I was very lucky to start making sales immediately after setting it up directly from the page… that was it, I was hooked. Blogging helped me to push my message out there, I could share posts on Facebook on Twitter, on the online forums I had joined. I could meet new people and connect with potential customers.
This experience was the foundation of Spiderworking.com, I knew that what I had learnt was valuable and being able to pass this on to other small businesses was something that people may be willing to pay me for. So I took my €20 and built the new business. I built my website from scratch using HTML and was quick to integrate my blog into the design fully. I set up the Twitter and Facebook accounts before the site went live and began to grow my following. Because of my work on Feelgood Organic Hampers I already had a strong community that would support me. I was very lucky in this respect and the foundation work that I’d put in for Feelgood Hampers stayed with me. When I launched the website I’d already started blogging and it was this blogging and sharing of the blog posts that meant I started ranking and getting organic traffic from Google even before I’d implemented SEO. I managed to secure my first few customers before my second months bill for web hosting was due and Spiderworking became a reality.
At first I tried to run the two businesses together but as Christmas approached and hamper sales started coming in I soon realised this wouldn’t be possible. It was a hard decision to close Feelgood Hampers but it meant I could devote myself full time to learning more about Internet marketing, to improve my skills and knowledge and I’ve made that my mission ever since. My blog started out as a very basic guide to social media, I’d produce quick tutorials for beginners both via my traditional blog and my video blog. I soon got bored of this approach though, I’d always felt my personal voice had come through on the Feelgood Hampers blog and I wanted that to be part of this new project. To do this was harder however but as I learnt more my own voice began to creep in. Since I’ve found that voice I’ve been more confident about my blogging, it’s a resource where I can pass on my opinion and knowledge. The tutorials still work well, I can direct customers, those I work with on courses and even people who have general queries at specific blog posts that will answer their questions and if they have a question that I haven’t answered yet I have inspiration for a blog post.
Three years on from setting up Spiderworking.com it’s giving me an income, an income I’d never have had without my blogging and social media activities. I rarely need to make a sales call, people come to me looking for help, people I have never met refer business my way because they have read my blog or chatted with me online. I network offline too but nothing has been more valuable to me than connecting with people online. I’ve also seen my blog reach the finals of some national and international competitions and am chuffed to bits about it.
This week each of us are sharing our story of how blogging helped us beat the recession. You can see Lorna’s story here and here is the second installment with me - Beatrice Whelan.
In 2010, I took the leap of setting up my own web design and digital marketing business – Website Extraordinaire. Website Extraordinaire is no more but I think it is worth sharing the story of how blogging helped me grow my business from from zero to fifty customers and how it then helped me secure my current job at Sage.
Some friends and family thought I was crazy to set up a business in the recession but I knew that the work was out there, it was just a matter of getting in front of the right customers.
Day one, zero clients, what do to? I had no marketing budget but was able to set up my own website and do search engine optimisation, register with online business portals and essentially start getting my business name out there.
Still it would take a few months for things to take off and with a new domain name how could I rank on the first page of Google for searches about web design in such a competitive market?
How could I compete against other companies with massive AdWords budgets and established websites? For me blogging was the answer. I set up a blog on my website and used that to attract new clients, show my knowledge to potential customers, and provide enough original and fresh content for Google to index and rank my site for the keywords my target customers were searching for.
In my previous job, I had set up lots of blogs for other businesses and knew that WordPress blogs were extremely search engine friendly. But setting up a blogging system for others is very different from writing your own blog posts. I had written some blog posts before about other interestes but my business hadn’t depended on those. No pressure then!
Then one evening in October 2010 I went to my first KLCK (Kildare, Laois, Carlow, Kilkenny) Bloggers Network meeting and met Amanda Webb and Lorna Sixsmith. I came away from that meeting inspired and enthused and promised myself that by the next KLCK meeting I would have my blog up and running and have published a few posts.
My blog became a springboard for my business. Within a few months I was a finalist in the 2011 Irish Blog Awards in the Best Technology Blog Category (and getting some good local PR as a result), was writing a technology column for the Kildare post and my blog posts had helped to rank my website at the top of Google for my target keywords and over much more established websites. In the meantime, I was growing both the social media followers and real customers for my business.
Over the next few months, I built my blog up, improved the quality of content in my posts and continued to use inbound marketing to gain new business. I started to guest blog for Tweak Your Biz (formerly Bloggertone) and found that doing guest posts on other blogs really helped me reach a whole new audience and soon I started to get a few UK based customers.
Thanks to my use of blogging and social media, I had a constant stream of work and with 50 customers I would need to take on employees if I was to stay in business. So at the end of year one I made the very difficult decision to close Website Extraordinaire. In all honesty I missed working as part of a larger team and the security of employment. In October 2011 I was offered a full time position as Social Media and Content Specialist at Sage and I’m not shy about saying it was my dream job. I don’t think I can go as far as saying that my blogging activities got me that dream job but it definitely helped.
Now that I am back in full time employment is blogging less important to me? No, it’s even more important. Not only is it part of our social media activities at Sage but for me personally it continues to help me in my career and provide me with opportunities. I write for the Sage blog and continue to guest post on other blogs. I really think people can underestimate what blogging can do for their business but also what it can do for them personally.
At Sage we now have over 15 employees contributing regularly to our blog, to show our customers the diverse range of people that work at Sage and their variety of expertise. At Sage, most of our bloggers don’t work in the marketing department but they still see the benefits for their career in contributing to the Sage blog and how it helps build their personal brand and I’m now seeing the benefits of blogging radiate throughout the whole company.
As businesses and individuals in Ireland continue to be challenged by the economy, people will have to look within themselves and within their business to see what resources they have. Blogging is that untapped resource for many businesses (large and small) and for many people. Tell people what you and your business are good at. Blog about it and see the benefits.
I’m interested in hearing how blogging has helped your business, comment below or tweet me @beatricewhelan
The three of us thought it would be interesting to share our stories about how blogging started us on our journey to organising the blog awards, how it helped our various businesses and careers – so here is the first instalment of three with me, Lorna Sixsmith:
I have two businesses that would not exist if it were not for blogging! Social Media is not only creating new roles within businesses, the formation of consultancy businesses and the creation of awards ceremonies, it is also an important tool for businesses to use to promote themselves, to communicate with customers and to gain free press coverage.
I started blogging for my brand new interiors consultancy and online shop Garrendenny Lane almost five years ago, having heard on a Carlow Enterprise Board women-in-business course that ‘blogging drives traffic to your website’ and I thought to myself I’ll give that a go as I hadn’t a clue about SEO or Google Adwords (let alone a budget for the latter). I didn’t know anything about how to ensure hyperlinks opened in a new window or how to write calls to action or many of the tips that I now write about regularly at Write on Track.
Family photo taken by Farmers Journal in 2009 (as a result of publicity from my blog)
Blogging brought in about 40% of my turnover in my first year of business - from people phoning to enquire having found my blog to the sales that came from free press coverage as a result of my blog. I discovered after a while that some people were phoning due to the lack of calls to action – they simply didn’t know where to buy the product I had blogged about! I needed a course on business blogging back then!
My first piece of national press coverage came about less than three months after starting my blog when a journalist from Irish Country Living (Farmers Journal) phoned me and on hearing I was married to a dairy farmer, decided there was a feature in this story and before I knew it, she had visited and interviewed me, the photographer called and took some photos of me on my own and with Brian and the children – we were featured in a full page spread two weeks later.
Blogging also provided a vehicle to get to know other interior designers, bloggers and journalists so before I knew it, I was part of a few different communities too. Editors of magazines asked me to write articles on the latest design trends as seen at European trade fairs and now one of the editors has asked for an article on how homeowners and interior designers can use pinterest. I also guest blog at Tweak Your Biz.
Together with Amanda Webb, I set up the KLCK Bloggers Network in August 2010. Although by this stage, I was relatively knowledgeable about blogging, I find that I learn something new at every meeting and always come away enthused and inspired. 2010 also saw me make the decision to downscale the interior design side of things with Garrendenny Lane (due to changes in the economy!), invest in a new website and concentrate on online sales.
Reaching the finals of the Blog Awards and Social Media awards in 2011 in the category ‘Best blog of a business’ made me realise that blogging had become my favourite part of the business and perhaps I should be doing something more business-orientated with it. Feeling that I wouldn’t have the time to start up a ‘blogging business’ on my own, I joined forces with a friend, Marie Ennis O’Connor, who I met on twitter in 2009, and we set up Write on Track in the autumn.
We offer a copywriting service and businesses can outsource their blogging and/or social media work to us. We also offer social media training and I have taught for various Enterprise boards as well as working with start-ups and SMEs. We were delighted when our ‘Write on Track’ blog was a finalist in the ‘Best Blog of a Business’ category in the Social Media Awards this year. 2012 is turning out to be an extremely busy year between running two businesses and organising the blog awards! I’m thoroughly enjoying running the Blog Awards with Beatrice and Amanda and yes, my life now revolves around blogging!
Blogging continues to drive traffic to my websites and what’s more, people seem think of me because of the blog. In the last week, I’ve been interviewed by the Irish Times on being a ‘mumpreneur’ working from home (will be published next Monday or the week after), interviewed by a journalist for a feature on business women using social media (for AIB bank) and been featured on the Digital Hub website.
I’m on a mission to get more farmers blogging. There are so many foodie bloggers doing a great job promoting Irish food and I’d love to see more Irish farmers blogging with pride about their farming methods and what they produce, as well as becoming part of an ‘Irish farmers blogging community’.
I write three blogs at the moment – Garrendenny Lane (interiors), Write on Track (social media) and Irish Farmerette (my personal blog). If you would like to follow me on Twitter, you’ll find me at @GarrendennyLane, @Writeontrack_L and @IrishFarmerette. I’ve decided to incorporate all three loves into the one pinterest account!
It’s been pretty busy here at Blog Awards HQ. I’m sure you all know that the nominations have been published – all nearly 1900 of them throughout the 28 categories.
Best Blog Post
Due to a number of complete blogs being entered in the Best Blog Post category, we re-opened that category for another week and emailed all the nominators to reply to us with their nominated blog post. We’ve got lots in but don’t forget the deadline is midnight tonight if you haven’t got around to doing so yet.
Our launch for the Blog Awards coincided with our second birthday for the KLCK Bloggers Network, hence, we combined both events last Monday night and had a great evening at the Osprey.
We’d like to thank all our supporters who came along to enjoy the night, many new faces and it was nice to put a ‘face to the blog’! Joan Mulvihill from the Irish Internet Associatio spoke, followed by Dave Antrobus.
Then, it was time for some fun and games with some speed blogging around the tables, some fun tips being delivered by members of the audience and some choosing of words out of a hat to inspire future blog posts.
Even some little people joined us
We’re delighted to announced new sponsors since our last report – Belleek is sponsoring the trophies, Best Personal Blog is sponsored by Red Oak Tax Refunds, Best Blog Post by Newsletter.ie and Best Blog of a Journalist is sponsored by Elevate. Many thanks to all our sponsors as without them, we couldn’t run this event.
If you’d like to become a judge for the blog awards, we’d love to get more people on board. Do fill out an application form indicating which categories you would like to judge and we’ll get back to you soon.
The short list will be published on 8th September so not long to go now ……
We are delighted to announced that Newsletter.ie is sponsoring the Best ‘News/Current Affairs’ blog is the blog awards.
Newsletter.ie was founded by Irishman Christopher Byrne ten years ago and they now have an office in Ireland and a sales office in San Francisco.
The Newsletter.ie email platform is affordable, easy to use and has been rated best inbox delivery by its customers. It is free to use for up to 2,500 contacts. Its facebook sign-up app is a handy device to gain new subscribers. The sign-up process on the Newsletter website is simple and quick. There are no set-up fees. Once your email is activated you can start right away. Subscribers can share the email with their friends due to the integrated social sharing.
Well over 5,000 companies are using Newsletter.ie and each user can track the shares, follows and email opens in each of their newsletters.
As with all our sponsors, do give Newsletter.ie a shout out, particularly if your blog is in the News/Current Affairs category as without the sponsors, this event couldn’t happen. We’re delighted to have them on board.
We’re delighted to announce that Register365, one of Ireland’s most trusted web solutions providers, is sponsoring the Best Blog Post category in the Blog Awards.
Register 365 offer a range of products to help businesses and individuals build an online presence. They offer an extensive suite of online products and services, including domain names, web hosting, simple website design and e-commerce functionality. Their expertise lies in providing practical assistance and advice to businesses when it comes to building and optimising their online presence.
On asking Register 365 which of their services would be of most use to bloggers, they replied that as every website and blog needs a domain name, theirs comes with the added benefit of free email. Their web hosting plans are great for getting bloggers online as they include free Apps such as WordPress – the world’s most popular blogging tool.
Register365 offers Irish customers the very best in reliable, professional and affordable website hosting solutions. Their advanced hosting technology guarantees optimum performance and stability to ensure your website runs as smoothly as possible. As part of the internationally renowned Dada Group they also provide industry leading domain name registration services.
I also asked them for a tip they might like to share with bloggers and here it is: Blogging is just the start – make sure you push it out through your social media channels to get value for your hard work!
We are delighted to announced that the Belleek Group are the prize sponsors for the Blog Awards 2012. Did you know that the Belleek Group is comprised of Belleek and Galway Crystal here in Ireland and Aynsley China in the UK. In all they have 5 brands: Belleek Living, Belleek Classic, Galway Crystal, Galway Living and Aynsley.
Belleek Pottery is a longstanding and famous Irish brand, they have been in operation since 1857 and are celebrating 155 years in business this year. Based in Belleek Co. Fermanagh, Belleek Pottery still produces high quality world renowned Fine Parian China giftware and tableware, handcrafted today as it has been for 155 years. I remember visiting the factory there some twenty years ago and it is great to hear that the brand is still going strong through so many recessionary times.
The Belleek dedicated team of in-house designers are continually developing and introducing new ideas and concepts to the marketplace. I asked Emma of Belleek to describe the Belleek Living brand today and she described it as “reflecting the atmosphere of the modern home, combining exclusive, contemporary design and effortlessly unique style – perfect for the 21st century homeowner. As Belleek Living has a worldwide reputation for quality and craftsmanship it is one of the Irish brands that is present in homes all over the world.”
We’re keeping the design of the actual trophies a secret until the 13th October so do check out their website in the meantime.
Do like Belleek Pottery’s Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @theBelleekGroup. Many thanks again to Belleek for supporting Blog Awards Ireland by sponsoring the prizes and becoming part of what is going to be an amazing event.
We’ve reached the end of another busy week at the Blog Awards Ireland. The big news is that nominations have closed. We got a big influx before the deadline and our team of volunteers have been busy sifting through the entries.
Change of date for Nominations list
Due to volume of entries, and because we want to make sure we don’t make any mistakes we have decided to change the publication of the nominations list until 10th August 2012. So you have to wait a bit longer to see if your blog was nominated. The long list will contain all blogs that have been nominated. The next round will be judged by a panel of judges who will choose the best entries for a shortlist.
Judging Best Overall Blog
Initially we asked you to nominate blogs for the Best Overall Blog category. However we thought that everyone deserved an opportunity to win best blog so we’ve changed the way this category will work. First we checked that each blog entered in the best overall blog category has been nominated elsewhere. Here’s what will happen now:
- All category winners on the night will be in with a chance of winning Best Overall Blog
- From these we will choose the blog that got the highest percentage score from the final round of judging and award the prize to that blog.
We hope you agree that this is a much fairer way for the winner to be chosen.
Tickets on sale
We just released the first 50 tickets for the event itself on 13th October 2012. Click here to book at the early bird rate of €30.
Apply to be a judge
We are looking for people to help judge categories. Lorna, Beatrice and myself have nothing to do with shortlisting or picking winners, we are throwing this open to you. If you are interested in becoming part of our judging panel you can apply online here.
Sponsorship & Glenisk
We’ll have lots of new sponsors to announce over the next couple of weeks, it’s great to be chatting to so many great companies about the awards. Most recently we welcomed Glenisk to the Food & Drink category.
We asked you to keep the 13th of August as a date in your Diary for the launch party. We can now reveal that it will happen in the Osprey Hotel Naas at 8pm, we have lots of fun planned for the night and we’d love to meet some of you so do drop in. It’s free to attend but as space is limited you must reserve your place here.
That’s all for this week. This time next week the nominations list will be live! In the mean time have a look at the captions Sian Phillips came up with for our photo (click again once loaded to get the full size image). Keep an eye on our Facebook page as we’ll be putting another picture up so you can put words in our mouths next week.
We’re delighted to announced that Glenisk is sponsoring the Food/Drink category for Blog Awards Ireland 2012.
I’ve been a fan of Glenisk products since I came back to Ireland in 2002 and needed goats milk and yoghurts that tasted good and were readily available on most supermarket shelves. Glenisk ticked all the boxes plus they had a comprehensive organic range which has grown and grown. I haven’t met any of the Glenisk team as yet but have had chats that involved amusing anecdotes about goats with Vincent on facebook!
Glenisk celebrates its 25th birthday this year, starting from a small base of one paid employee and lots of family volunteers in 1987, they now have a staff of 50 people and the number of organic farms supplying them is growing too. Their ethos of “making good food, naturally” has stayed the same over the 25 years and will continue to do so.
Their range of products are continuing evolving to meet customer needs whether it is for those with allergies, sugar free recipes, fat free yogurts, probiotic yogurts and more. Did you know that more than 85% of the yogurt sold in Ireland is imported? I think (as a dairy farmer’s wife) that is a shocking statistic with our dairy heritage and capability. Do support Irish farmers and businesses, buy Irish yogurts!
The popularity of the Food and Drink category in the blog awards shows how important food is to all of us, not only to how we eat/cook/experiment with food but also how we product it. As Emma from Glenisk says “Food blogs help to portray our unique relationship with food and our clean, green image to the wider community.”
Glenisk have been awarded a number of food and environmental awards over the years and they know how nice it is to be recognised for what you do well. Each month, they feature a food blog they particularly admire in their newsletter and share the blogger’s work with their 30,000 Facebook fans, Twitter followers and newsletter subscribers. They are delighted to be sponsoring the blog awards as they see it as a great way to recognise the superb work that food bloggers produce and to bring their blogs to a wider audience.
Glenisk are very active with their own social media, finding videos with their resident chef, Rosanne Stevens, to be particularly valuable in showcasing how their products can be used in cooking and baking. They also find that social media gives them the opportunities to talk to customers but also to listen to them.
I asked Emma what she thought encapsulated the best food blogs and this is her response:
“The best food blogs are those where the blogger is passionate about food and about communicating – throught writing, photography and video – and especially those bloggers who, with honest and insightful accounts, give a real flavour for the importance of food in their own lives.”
Good luck to all the food bloggers that have been nominated. Do check out the Glenisk website including the range of recipes they have available.
We’re racing towards the Blog Awards at high speed. It’s almost two months since we opened nominations and we’re still getting a steady stream into our inbox. I’m really looking forward to sifting through the entries and discovering new blogs. Here’s what we’ve been up to in the last week or so.
We’re delighted to welcome new sponsors on board. Sage Ireland are sponsoring the Best Blog of A SME category and Glenisk are on board for the Best Food Blogger category. We’ll have more to announce over the next couple of weeks.
If you’re interested in sponsoring get in touch, drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Category sponsorship starts at €650 and we’re also looking for contributions to the goody bags on the night.
There was a very good reason we were getting out photograph taken, we sent out a new press release this week and we’re delighted to be featured on The Sociable, The Digital Hub and The Kildare Nationalist already. If you’ve seen coverage of us online or offline please let us know. We’re keeping our Tumblr updated with any mentions we find. You can view our full press release and download high res photographs from our brand new press room on our Website.
Nominations closing soon
If you haven’t nominated your or someone else’s blog in The Blog Awards Ireland yet there’s still time… but not much. We’re closing nominations on the 31st of July and hope to have the nomination list online by 4th August. Nominate here.
Why do you blog?
We asked you on Facebook why you blogged. A hard question to answer but it seems that most of you blog because 1. You like to share your ideas and insights and 2. To connect with other people. I have to agree, blogging is an amazing social tool where you can meet lots of wonderful people. I can’t wait to meet you all in October.
You can join the conversation and add your thoughts about why you blog here.
Put words in to our mouths
As a result of our photoshoot we have lots of pictures of us holding speech bubbles. Just for fun we’ve asked you to come up with captions to add to the photographs. There’s some great responses already but do add your own. This could be your only chance to put words in our mouths! Click here to join in.
That’s all for this week. This time next week we’ll be closing nominations, I’m excited already!
We are delighted to welcome Sage as a sponsor of the Blog Awards. Sage is sponsoring Best Blog Of An SME in the Blog Awards Ireland. Sage provides a range of business software from Accounts and Payroll, to HR, Time Management and CRM software. Sage has over 40,000 business customers in which range from single person start-ups to large companies.
The Blog Awards are using Sage One Accounts which is an online accounting software to manage our accounts for the blog awards, keep track of income and costs and produce invoices.
The Sage Blog is the hub of Sage social media activities and it’s where Sage publish the majority of their content that they then share on social media channels. The Sage Blog is a leading B2B blog in Ireland and Sage has enjoyed a substantial growth in traffic to their blog in the last few months.
As Avril McArdle, Digital and Marketing Manager with Sage Ireland points out; “The Sage Blog is about providing useful information to businesses in Ireland. Sage has a wealth of knowledge from our 30 years in business and we use our blog to share that knowledge with business owners. For us, it’s about adding value and helping business owners solve their problems. Our blog provides a space where business owners, accountants and Sage Business Partners can share their expertise and experience. We also have over 15 Sage employees regularly contributing posts to the blog so it is a vibrant representation of our business and its people.”
We asked Avril why she thinks an SME business should have a blog and what she thinks makes a good SME blog. “A great blog is first and foremost about providing valuable content. Whether that content is informative, entertaining or useful, it’s about how valuable it is to your target audience. If this helps to develop the personality of your business in the process, show more of your human side, demonstrate thought leadership and add more value to your product or service then that’s a great bonus to your business. The best blogs are ones that are honest, sincere and also look nice. Don’t forget how important design and layout are in enticing visitors to your blog and keeping them coming back for more.”
The Sage Blog also features guest bloggers such as business owners and accountants and they also crowd-source some of their posts via their Facebook and Twitter activity. Their monthly Facebook chats called Lunch ‘n Learn, are collated and published as posts on their blog. Sage tells us that they have some exciting things coming up on their blog soon and that they are interested in publishing posts by business owners that have an interesting story to tell. Get in touch by email email@example.com or tweet them @sageireland.
Even though the weather is terrible and it doesn’t feel like summer at all, the weeks are flying by and the weeks are getting closer to the Blog Awards Ireland event on 13th October. Are you starting to get excited? We are!
There’s still lots for us to do in the coming days and weeks – we’ve to sort out the application forms for the judging not to mention getting the ticket sales facilities up online (all in hand) but here’s what happened this week and will be happening over the coming days.
Damien at Cearbhuil Studios will be taking the photographs in the run up to the awards and on the night of the awards and as you probably know already, is sponsoring the Best Photography Blog.
We’re delighted that our two business blog categories have been sponsored. The Best Blog of an SME business is being sponsored by Sage (and we have a post coming up on that) and Best Corporate Blog is being sponsored by Media Box (read all about Media box sponsorship here). We’ll be announcing more sponsors over the coming days too so watch this space!
We’re starting to collate all the nominations and (a bit like Santa’s elves) count once and check twice! The nominations list will be published on 4th August. As the press release regarding our headline sponsor will be released next week, we are extending the deadline on nominations until 31st July as we can be working away in the background (just like the aforementioned elves!). Therefore, if you come across an amazing craft blog or worthy corporate blog or a well written technology blog (or any others) do nominate them – the more the merrier.
We’re almost up to 1,300 nominations and the most popular category is Best Personal Blog at the moment with 335 nominations.
A Question For You
What is the most popular blog post you’ve ever written? For me, on my Garrendenny Lane blog, it is a blog post about how to decorate girls bedrooms and no other post has even come close. People are sharing their most popular posts over on facebook and apart from finding some wonderful posts, do share your most popular post with us over on facebook.
Don’t forget too – if you come across a brilliant blog post, do nominate it in the Best Blog Post category.
On the Radio
We were invited to KCLR 96FM to speak on the Bottom Line business show about the upcoming awards. Beatrice brought cupcakes! Many thanks to Edwina, the producer and to Conor, who interviewed us. You can listen to the broadcast here.
Last but not least, remember the competition! The prize is a night’s accommodation at the Osprey and two tickers for the awards. You can check out some entries already on the facebook page.
We are delighted to announce that Media Box is sponsoring Best Corporate Blog in the Blog Awards Ireland.
Media Box specialises in PR, social media and communications training. Their key phrase is ‘creative couture’ as they aim to create a unique campaign for each new client that comes through their doors.
Joanne Sweeney Burke isn’t a stranger to any of us as we all remember her for gracing our television screens on The Apprentice in 2011. Joanne achieved finalist status and was runner up. No stranger to doing well in awards, Joanne has been a finalist in the 2010 Enterprising Donegal Awards, Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Western Region) 2008 and the PPI Broadcaster of the Year Awards.
As Joanne says, you really can’t underestimate the power of business blogging and entering awards. Your online brand reputation is of immense commercial value in today’s marketplace. Blogging is a cost effective tool that allows each business to build its profile using rich content, technology and its personality. It is a free source of publicity that can be monitored and blogging gives every business the scope to tell its corporate story, to have a two-way conversation with its customers and engage.
We asked Joanne for a blogging tip for our readers and for anyone considering nominating their blog for the awards – ‘Blog regularly, blog honestly and blog like you’re never blogged before. Give your company a voice. Invest in branding and add functionality – it is an investment that will generate a great return. Don’t be afraid to ask for help too.’
As a former journalist, Joanne finds blogging to be an exciting and productive method of publishing content online and engaging with audiences. The Media Box blog is named Running In Heels partly because they are mainly a company of ladies (only 2 men) who love their heels – almost as much as they love blogging! One of the regular slots on their blog is the Monday Mashup which is a weekly collective of news from Media Box.
Joanne will be presenting at the National Women’s conference in Portlaoise in October and we’re delighted to have Media Box sponsoring Best Corporate Blog in the Blog Awards Ireland.
It’s hard to believe that nominations have been open for a month now. We’ve had over a 1,000 so far and they keep coming. Here’s more about what has been happening at Blog Awards Ireland over the last week.
We have a couple of new category sponsors too, we’ll be announcing those this week so keep an eye on our social media sites.
As I mentioned above nominations are still flooding in. You still have 14 days and counting to get yours in. If you’ve nominated already and have discovered a great blog since it’s fine to nominate again and yes, you can nominate yourself.
We’re busy planning a launch event for Blog Awards Ireland, all we know for sure at the moment is that it will coincide with our KLCK bloggers meeting on 13th of August. It’s also KLCK’s second birthday so there will be cake! Keep the date in your diary, we’ll be announcing details soon.
We’ve added a suggestion box to our Facebook page, we need your help to make the night of the Blog awards the best blogging party ever. We’d love your thoughts and ideas about how we can make it special so please drop your ideas in. We may not be able to do everything you suggest but we’ll do our best to incorporate your ideas.
Competition – Win A Night At The Blog Awards
Our ‘Win A Night At The Blog Awards’ competition is hotting up. I’m loving this one with the cats – but then I am a cat fan. All you have to do is download a copy of our logo and take a picture of it somewhere, full details here. We’ll put the entries to a public vote and the winner will win two tickets to the event and a room for two for the night in the Osprey hotel.
Do you remember your first blog post?
This week we asked you if you remembered your first blog post? My first one on my first blog was simply what I was going to talk about and a hope that I’d be able to keep it up. Find out what everyone else’s was and add your own to our thread on Facebook.
It’s been another busy week for Blog Awards Ireland. Lots of nominations being received, getting plenty of mentions and features and we’ve got lots lined up over the next week too.
The nominations have been open for almost 2 weeks and so far we’ve had almost 800 nominations. Nominations close on 16th July so don’t delay – put a button up on your site to encourage others to nominate you and don’t forget – you can always nominate your own blog. (Here’s how to put the button on a blogger blog and here’s instructions for a wordpress blog).
Remember the best blog post category too. If you come across a blog post that seems worthy of this award or if you yourself have written what you consider to be your best blog post of all time, do nominate it for this category.
Blog Awards Ireland Press Release
We’ve been busy sending out our press release too announcing the Blog Awards Ireland event. If you’d like to read it, we’ve posted it to our blog and if you would like a copy of it with high-res photographs to publish, do get in contact. We’d be delighted.
Blog Awards Ireland Tumblr
We’ve been getting great coverage on various blogs and websites around the country from the Digital Hub to Bloggers.ie. Each blog that mentions us is being screen grabbed and linked to from our Tumblr blog so if you do mention us, do link across or let us know and we’ll link to you as a thank you. All these mentions make us happy too as it’s spreading the news.
Poll – WordPress V Blogger
It’s often interesting to see which is the most popular blogging platform and I’ve noticed it vary quite widely depending on the audience at an event. We put up a poll on our facebook page (do have your say if you haven’t already done so) and so far it looks like there is a 50/50 split between bloggers and wordpress. No tumblrs mentioned as yet!
Blog Awards Ireland on Google +
Are you on Google + yet? We’re over there with a Blog Awards Ireland page so you can circle us and see what we’re up too there too.
Amanda went to the dotconf conference last week and included in her dotconf post are Kirstie McDermott’s slides with her 25 top tips from 5.5 years of blogging. Well worth reading.
Blog Awards Ireland – Competition
Have you heard about the competition for 2 free tickets and a night’s accommodation at the Osprey. Go on, read what’s involved and have a go.
If you want to check out the Osprey, you can watch our video showing the day we spent photographing in the penthouse suite.
Amanda is going to put a suggestion box up on our facebook page over the weekend so if you could get your thinking caps on and/or if you have any great ideas for the blog awards, do share them with us. We can’t promise we’ll implement every one but we will consider them all and maybe do some this year and some in future years.
We have lots planned for the next week so we’ll be back again with our report on how it’s all going in the run up to the Blog Awards Ireland event 13th October 2012.
I was lucky enough to go to #dotconf on Friday. It was a brilliant day, so many great speakers on so many topics. For bloggers the highlight of the day had to be Kirstie McDermott’s presentation. “25 things I learned from 5.5 years in the Blogosphere”.
Kirstie is somewhat of a blogging legend to me. She was one half of the hugely successful Beaut.ie and these days she is beauty editor for the Irish Examiner Weekend amongst other things. Most enviably she is one of the only people I follow on Twitter who has managed to secure her first name @Kirstie as a Twitter handle.
I was Tweeting from our Blog Awards Ireland during her presentation and below you will find the 7 tips that my fingers were fast enough to type.
- Get your blogging tone of voice right. The ‘I’ voice is important, be funny, be colloquial, be friendly.
- Be your own editor – make sure you check and check and check your blog before you hit publish.
- Respect your sources, if you’ve seen something elsewhere credit the originator.
- Listen to Google – sometimes you may find that posts without comments get lots of traffic.
- Think about titles and keywords – make sure you get the subject of the post into the title of your blog for SEO
- Schedule and plan your blog or it will consume your life. Editorial Calendar plugin for wordpress is cool.
- Don’t feed the Trolls! Don’t let them upset you, delete their comments.
The tips were coming thick and fast so how even though smoke was coming out of my fingers as I typed I was never going to keep up. Luckily Kirstie’s presentation is available online, so if you like the ones I’ve shared you’ll find plenty more here.
Which of these tips is the most helpful to you? Do you have a top blogging tip that you want to share? Leave us your ideas in the comments below.
Last week we showed you how to add a ‘Nominate’ button to your WordPress blog but some of you have been in touch having problems adding it to Blogger. Sorry we neglected you! Here’s how to do it.
1. Click on to design in your top toolbar
2. Choose ‘Layout’ from the side menu
3. Click ‘Add a Gadget’ on your sidebar
5. Copy the blog button code from here.
6. Paste into the ‘Content box’
7. Click ‘Save
8. Click ‘Save arrangement
9. The button should display on your blog page as below.
Let us know if you have any problems adding the button.
If you would like to see a copy of our press release for the Blog Awards Ireland, do read on. If you are a journalist or a blogger and you would like some high-res or more images, do get in contact with us and we’d be happy to forward some onto you.
Blog Awards Ireland Celebrate The Best Of Irish Blogging
Technology might traditionally be seen as a male domain but this year, three women, all enthusiastic and avid bloggers, are organising the new Blog Awards Ireland. It will take place on 13th October 2012 in the Osprey Hotel in Naas, and nominations are open now until 16th July. Celebrating the best in Irish blogging and bringing communities together, the organisers see the Blog Awards as an important event in the social media and awards calendars.
Lorna Sixsmith, Amanda Webb and Beatrice Whelan have used blogging and other social media platforms to promote their businesses and those they work for (Garrendenny Lane and Write on Track, Spiderworking, and Sage Ireland). Co-organisers of the KLCK Bloggers network for 2 years and the Bloggers International Conference in June 2011, they are now organising Blog Awards Ireland.
Blogging is not just about writing, it is also about creating communities. Bloggers will find others who share the same interests – be it business, social media, farming, food, beauty, technology, health or any other subject. Blogs are not just a source of entertainment, they are also educational and they prevent isolation.
As stated by Beatrice Whelan: “The Irish Blogosphere is an amazing assortment of creativity and knowledge. The Blog Awards give us the opportunity to meet offline and reward the best Irish bloggers who are constantly improving their blogs. No other event brings together such a vast variety of interests in one room.”
Blog Awards Ireland will create an annual offline event to bring all of these online communities together and to celebrate the best of Irish blogging. The Awards will offer businesses an opportunity to increase their visibility and prominence in social media circles. With more people being guided in their buying decisions by bloggers rather than friends’ opinions, blogging is a considerably influential tool in word of mouth marketing. The organisers expect 250 people to attend the event on 13th October with hundreds more following the event on twitter from their armchairs at home.
Nominations are now open at www.blogawardsireland.com. There are 30 categories to choose from which include Best Personal Blog, Best blog of a business, Best Mobile Designed Blog, Best Crafts blog so the range is quite diverse. Bloggers can nominate their own blogs and it is free to enter. Sponsorship opportunities are available for any business who would like to be connected with such a lively and exciting event by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
More high-res photos available on request.
It’s hard to believe it’s only a week since we launched Blog Awards Ireland. It’s been great to have such fantastic support, there’s still massive amounts of nominations flying in. The judges are going to have a hard job choosing from them for the shortlist. Here’s some of the other news from the Blog Awards Ireland office this week.
We are not the Irish Blog Awards!
I’m sure you’ve all had a chance to read about why we decided to launch the Blog Awards Ireland, if not you can read about it here. Beatrice, Lorna and myself are passionate about blogging. We’ve all seen the success that blogging can bring first hand, we’ve done business, made friends and learnt loads from being part of the blogging community. That’s why we wanted to take on this project. Of course we would never have done so if the Irish Blog Awards were running this year. They have always been amazing in the past and we wouldn’t attempt to take on this project if they were still around. The organisers have always made them an event to remember in previous years. We’re here because they aren’t, we’re a new organisation not affiliated with Irish Blog Awards. We wanted to continue celebrating Irish blogging and we’re delighted so many of you are coming on this journey with us, we are hoping you’ll all contribute your ideas and suggestions so we can make this a really great blogging party.
The ‘Nominate This Blog’ button
Our first suggestion from Twitter was that we publish a button asking for nominations that can be added to blogs. We launched the button late last week and it’s great to see it popping up on so many blogs across the country. If you want to add the ‘Nominate’ button to your blog here’s how.
I’ve experimented with Tumblr quite a bit over the last year or so. It’s an interesting blogging tool and it’s hard to get your head around when you have been used to using WordPress. However it is incredibly simple when you get the hang of it. We’re planning to use Tumblr to link to all your great blog posts about us so do let us know if you write about us and I’ll add you in. It’s still a work in progress but I’m busy reading up on how best to make it work. You can see the beginnings of our Tumblr here.
If you are using Google+ you can now circle Blog Awards Ireland. I know for many G+ seems like a network too far but I really am beginning to love it. It’s much cleaner than Facebook and the content is much better and easier to search. I still love Facebook and you will probably see more of us there and on Twitter than on Google+ but it can be a great place for content discovery. Here’s where to find us on Google+.
Bank Managers and Solicitors
No one told me when we took on the Blog Awards Ireland that I’d have to talk to bank managers and solicitors! Technically this is business number three for me so you think I’d be used to it, it’s still a process that I don’t relish and I’m glad to have got most of the legal stuff out of the way finally. We are a non profit organisation which has made the whole process slightly harder. Who knew it was so hard to set up a bank account! We’ve a couple of things left to do before we can put tickets for the event on sale so do watch this space.
Win 2 Tickets to the Awards
The good news is you don’t have to wait until the tickets go on sale to get some. You can enter our competition on Facebook for a chance to win two tickets and a room for two in the Osprey hotel. More on that here. Good luck
We have just added the ‘Nominate’ button to our website so you can use it for your own blog by placing it in the sidebar.
Here’s some instructions for how to do so in your wordpress.com blog:
Go to our Buttons & Badges page.
Go to the dashboard of your blog and click on the ‘Appearance’ in the left sidebar.
Click on ‘Appearance’ and a number of option will come up. Click on Widgets.
Scroll down till you find the ‘Text/html’ box on the left side. Click on it and drag it to the top right (which represents your side bar). For this example, I decided to place it on the top right of my sidebar, just below the search box and above the facebook like box.
Paste (CTRL + V) in the code you copied into the text box. Click save.
Go to your blog – the button should be on display in your sidebar.
(Obviously, I can’t enter the Blog Awards which is one of the disadvantages of organising it so I had to delete it again!)
Any questions? Do pop them in the comments box.
Nominations for Blog Awards Ireland 2012 are now open. You can nominate any Irish blog and/or you can nominate your own blog. If you know the email address of the blog that you are nominating, do include it too so we can get in contact with them but if you don’t know it, don’t let that prevent you nominating.
There are 30 categories in total so do have a good look through the entire list and choose the categories that best suit the blog you are nominating. Some blogs may only fit into one category, others may fit into 3 or 4 categories.
Best Blog category
If you are really proud of your blog and feel it deserves to be in this category, go on, enter it. Don’t be bashful. If you come across a blog that you think is deserving of being in the ‘best blog’ category, then do nominate it. The blog awards will be all the more exciting the more blogs are entered for an award.
Judging & Judges
Judging of 29 categories – All of the categories (except best blog post which will be explained below) will be judged by independent judges. The judges will not have a blog entered into the awards. The judges will be business people, authors, sponsors, from all walks of life. We will be asking judges to inform us if they see that any friends have blogs included in the categories they are asked to judge. Neither Amanda, Beatrice or I (Lorna) will be judges.
The judging criteria is available to be viewed – we will be putting up more specific points for some categories (e.g. Best Mobile Blog) in due course but the general criteria can be seen now.
Best Blog Post
If you are especially proud of a specific blog post or if you see a post that you think is worthy of being nominated for this award, then please do nominate in this category. If you are unsure about how to enter a post rather than the whole blog, simply double click on the title of the post which should provide the url of the post in the address bar above. Click on it, copy (CTRL + C) and then paste (CTRL + V) into the relevant section on the nomination form. If you can’t manage it, don’t worry, we’ll get in contact if we see the url for a blog in there and ask you which post you’d like to nominate.
(You will have to enter the ‘best blog post’ separately to nominating a blog in other categories as the url will be slightly different)
This post is being judged by public vote. Nominations close on 16th July and the nominations list will be published on 4th August. Voting for the ‘Best Blog Post’ will open on 4th August and you will be able to vote online.
If there is anything we’ve omitted to mention or if something isn’t clear, please do ask a question in the comments below.
We (Amanda, Beatrice and Lorna) decided to organise the Blog Awards Ireland last autumn and as it will be held on 13th October, there is a whole year of fun and preparation in the run up to celebrating the best of blogging in Ireland on October 13th.
So many people blog for many different reasons and with so many blogs being of such a high standard, we felt it was important that these were rewarded. Blogging is an important part of any social media strategy for businesses and it deserves recognition. Of course, there are also all those blogs that are written for fun, or to educate, or entertain, or inform and they all deserve recognition of their talent too.
Having been in awards finals, we understand the excitement and pride that one receives when doing well in any awards and considering that so many bloggers are writing away on their own, we felt it was important that Blog Awards Ireland recognised this hard work, talent and enthusiasm.
While there are many business awards available, sometimes small businesses don’t enter them because of nervousness or because of the expense. Entry to the blog awards is free and all businesses, big and small, should find a category to suit their area. Of course, there are categories suited to the personal blogger too.
Categories will include Best Personal Blog, Best Science/Education, Best Blog of a Journalist, Best Mobile Compatible Blog, Best Fashion/Beauty Blog, Best Health and Wellbeing, Best Designed, Best Corporate and Best Video Blog and many many more. Do check out the complete list of 30 categories and you can enter your blog in more than one category.
The Best Blog Post will be a People’s Choice, hence everyone will have a chance to vote for their favourite blog post.
We want the Blog Awards Ireland to be an event that involves as many people as possible and celebrates the best of Irish blogging, culminating in a fabulous annual event where the ‘creme de la créme’ of Irish bloggers are recognised and rewarded.
We’ll be keeping an account of our ‘blog awards journey’ here on the blog and on facebook so do keep in touch and let us know what you think too.