#Blogging Course and The Ivy, Tower Bridge, #London – Part 1 (Blogging)

I recently went on a blogging course in Whitehall, London. Christine and I, agreed to meet on the train and travel together. The trains were chaotic and we had to keep changing the route but eventually took the next one to London Bridge and then to Whitehall via the London Underground. We arrived, exhausted but dived into the cloakroom, knowing full well this would tip us over the lateness line. I absolutely hate being late, but we were not the only ones, due to the transport problems.

Luckily, the lecturer was just starting and we plonked ourselves down and listened. As usual, with these things, they don’t give much away, but the content (below) did remind me of what I should do in order to be a tenacious blogger. I’ve listed the key features at the end of this blog, as they may help remind others what you need to do to improve your blog.

I found this information useful, but without much substance. On the plus side, the tips I liked helped refresh my mind about what I need to do to improve my blog. My main wish is to interest people and maintain their interest. The main reason for blogging is because I love writing and researching stuff. On this basis, I will continue, and it doesn’t hurt to remind oneself what needs to be done.

I’ve decided to have another look at blog themes, although will keep the rolling blog format. I need a strategy for social media as I want people to read my blog. I find reading other blogs, interesting too, so will keep an eye out for fascinating blogs to read and follow. As far as improving my skills, I am taking a photography course and may decide to do a Photoshop course too. I already use CANVA.

Another thing I plan to do is look at old blog posts and do some updates. I like the ‘break a story’ idea as I get out and about so could do more of this so long as it will interest people and remain relevant.

Anyway, after this event, we rushed back to London Bridge for our delicious meal in The Ivy. To be continued…

 

Blogging Course (Key Points)

Checking up

Look at your blog and check colours, fonts, style and branding. Compare to others. Have a responsive layout. Plugins, links, platform?
Have a Media Kit (with case studies, traffic, engagements) – This is when you have lots of traffic!
Skill Up – Html, editing (photo shop), etc.

Branding

Is the theme consistent with your brand? Imagery/photos (you could be known for your pink, filtered photos). Know your style. Have a dialogue with followers. Go to networking events.

Enhancing

How are you doing as a writer? Tone/style…is it consistent? Visuals – Are they good enough. Photos should be very good. Text over pictures – CANVA is good for this. Search engines love videos. User experience – check for broken links, updating blog posts and make sure dates are relevant. No popups (although some disagree with this advice).

Promoting

Traffic
Networking and ask peers to share (something that I won’t do). Meetups, trade shows and FB groups. I haven’t found FB groups all that good. Collaborations, link ups and identify similar blogs.

Subscriptions, giveaways, competitions, list posts and check your headlines. Be controversial (finally found something I’m good at).
Break a story (e.g. review a new restaurant/exhibition).
Evoke an emotional response. Be personal and find new content/ themes.

Social Media
Have a strategy and be methodical. Post three times a day (Twitter), once on FB, once on Instagram but keep it the same and scheduled. Engage others through content, peers and brands you like. Use news stories that are relevant to what blog about. I often use studies to back up what I am blogging about. Network with journalists. Pitch stories to local newspapers.
If you write about a product encourage the business to retweet (promote) what you have written.

Monetising

Advertising with Google Adsense. Free to sign up and put the code on the blog. Affiliate marketing. Instagram is good with links.(This is not applicable to me at present.)
Sponsored posts – Someone pays you to write a post, newsletter or podcast. In other words, go freelance with your writing/photography. If you are an expert on something, then write an ebook/course.

Effectiveness

Check to see how effective you are with Google analytics, FB insights, Twitter insights, reader surveys, etc.

London – Evening out with moments of reflection…

 

Several months ago, five of us had booked to hear a lecture on Gin, History and Chemical Science, at the RSC, Burlington House, London. As always, these evening events are a great excuse for catching up with family, plus enjoying some wine, beer and food in the process.

 

Trafalgar Square

As we strolled from the railway station through Trafalgar Square, towards the Piccadilly Circus area, we were instantaneously struck by the unnatural atmosphere after the appalling atrocities of the afternoon before. Everyone was respectful and subdued. People were observing the pavement art work and some were waiting for the Major of London to arrive and speak at a rally to show solidarity. Everyone seemed hushed, observant, considerate and emotional. Most of the sound seemed to be the helicopters above, police vans and sirens.  It certainly wasn’t business as usual in London that evening. I couldn’t help feeling proud to be British, be grateful and take a few moments to think about the individuals injured or who had lost their precious lives so unexpectedly and needlessly.

RSC and Gin Lecture

We met other members of our party at the RSC, and enjoyed a complimentary gin and tonic. Very good gin, made by three chemists, one of them, Professor Andrew Whiting, was giving the talk.

The lecture was excellent and inspirational. Professor Andrew Whiting explained about the history and resurgence of the gin industry and his background. He then spoke about the business and their approach to developing innovative gins with imaginative flavours. He also talked about the marketing and branding approach going from the original Breaking Bad image towards a modern, slick and more wholesome brand, thus attracting a wide customer base. May have to check out the chocolate flavoured gin for future reference!

Afterwards, we went for a quick drink and meal and then caught a train home feeling very tired, happy and appreciative. We all had an enjoyable evening out which gave me an insight to the business of gin, humility and respect.

London – A challenging day out…

A day out in London shouldn’t be complicated. But it was. Very complicated and challenging. My friend and I decided to frequent London for a day trip of art, decadence and fun. Well, what a challenging day it was. Everything that could go wrong, did! However, we have a wonderful friendship and just laughed it off.

We arrived at the railway station and were informed that trains are not going to our planned stop and we would have to alight at London Bridge. Of course, our plans then had to change. We got off at London Bridge and Elaine, who is from London, decided we should get a red bus so “we could see London” which seemed OK, although I always ride on the Tube.

We waited and waited for the bus and then realised it doesn’t travel on Saturdays. We started walking and managed to catch a bus to St. Paul’s near the roof top bar. Got off and went to the roof top bar, Madison. The first lift got stuck at level 1 and then went back to the ground floor. We changed lifts and managed to arrive at the bar. The lift to the bar is glass and as you slowly ascend you see St. Paul’s Cathedral which is magnificent. We ordered wine, sat and admired the view and took copious photos. As we chatted away we realised we should make our way to Tate Britain to see the David Hockney exhibition. This apart from roof top cocktails, was the point of the day.

Yes, you guessed it, we got another bus and because it was St. Patrick’s Day, the powers that be in their wisdom, decided to shut The Strand as we waited for our bus connection.  We got the Tube to Pimlico (via Victoria).

On the way to the Tate, we popped into the restaurant to reserve a table for two, for that evening.  Wonderful views, cocktails and food expected, as researched online. The restaurant was shut for a function. “Sorry.” said to waitress.

We arrived at Tate Britain and bought our tickets for Hockney. The tickets were for 7pm that evening. As it was 3pm, we decided to view the galleries, have dinner and return for the long-awaited exhibition.

We thoroughly enjoyed the gallery and wonderful art then found a pub, which although a bit basic, was OK. The food was reasonable and frankly, I was glad to sit down.

The Hockney exhibition was superb and worth the wait. His work goes from the British avant-garde of the 1950s with phallic shapes and his looming (then) illegal sexuality coming out, literally, in his paintings. The period moves on to mid-late 1960s, with a blaze of blue and vivid green, towards poolside paradise and comfort. This is a fascinating insight into his life in sunny California.

Hockney is fascinated by water, glass and shimmering light. In his art, his version of humanity feels flat among the velvet, sumptuous furniture. A type of painting that has an accidental three-dimensional, sentimental effect which slowly draws you in because the colours are vibrant and stimulating. Although perspective sometimes seems wrong and inferior, the paintings are emotionally magnetic. Well, they are for me and judging by the crowds, for others too. Full of illusion and curiosity and subtle elements such as the white cat facing a window and unflattering features of his friends with a backdrop of clarity and modernistic lines. As you look at the faces of his friends, you wonder how disappointed they must have been by his depiction of them. Not flattering at all.

Overall, we felt the day was worth the difficulties. Life is complicated and you have to make the best of it with a little moaning along the way. Anyway, as I pointed out to my friend, who can remember the days when her father could park his car, along the banks of the Thames, Grosvenor Road, in Pimlico, if you don’t deal with the exacting problems, you will never do anything.

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