Tag Archives: Blogging

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Nov. 04.

Alas, For This Is The End

Large Blog ImageAs may be obvious, I have been struggling for posts for a while now. I have thought and thought about what I could write about. I have taken some photos to do posts, but I have been unable to write them. And, finally, yesterday, I came to the realisation as to why.

Beauty blogging just doesn’t inspire me any more. As much as I would love to say it does, I can’t. And that leads me to a conundrum. I want you to be able to feel my passion when I write. I want to be passionate about what I write. If I can’t be passionate, it shows in my writing, and that is something that I could never subject you to.

For that reason, this will be my last post on Robyn Rants and Raves for the foreseeable future. That does not mean that I don’t want to continue blogging. I do very much want to keep writing. I am just unsure what direction I want to go. I am thinking through ideas for a new project, so I will be about, hopefully sooner than you think.

I value every opportunity Robyn Rants and Raves has given me. I value every pageview, every reader, every person I have met through here. Most of you have become good friends, and I do very much hope that we remain friends into the future.

The immortal words of a Mr. Bilbo Baggins seem an apt way of finishing:

“I regret to announce — this is The End. I am going now. I bid you all a very fond farewell.”

Farewell for now!

Robyn

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Oct. 07.

Waffle Wednesday: Where Have I Been

ww-logo-thYes, I know I have been posting a little sporadically on Robyn Rants and Raves for the past while. Yes, I know I should post more often (I am working on that). But I haven’t been doing nothing. I have been keeping busy. And as this counts as a post, and keeps everyone here up to date, let me tell you, where have I been?

Okay, having been unwell, there was a time where Robyn Rants and Raves had my (almost) undivided attention. I needed the distraction, and here was perfect. But, I am no longer unwell. In July my GP told me I was fit to go looking for work again (hallelujah!). The finding work bit hasn’t been easy (boooo), mainly because I have a particular skillset, but I don’t have a qualification in what I know how to do. I am changing that though!

In September, I was told to apply to do a course. I was given two weeks to do that (the department of social protection are so generous!). I couldn’t take that long, and within 24 hours had researched courses, applied to one, and been accepted. And at the end of last month, I became a student in Dublin Business School, studying Digital Marketing. It is the choicest parts of a 3 year degree, stuck together into a 1 year course, but I get a Level 7 award at the end of it. I will talk more about the course over the next year, but it was a joyous relief to be told that a large part of one module is being graded on the “setting up and running of a blog”, and that we are to use WordPress. Well, I’ve been blogging here for 3 years, and using WordPress for longer, so I went up, kissed the lecturer (not quite) and did a happy dance.

My digital home from home :-)

My digital home from home :-)

I’ve also been working on getting fitter, and losing some weight, as I have on occasion blogged about. Well, it is most definitely working. I now train using a heart rate monitor, and can push myself so much harder. I can cover the 2.14 km circle around the local park in 4:30 (the first time I tried it was closer to 6 minutes), and I can now climb hills too! It was a great feeling to go up the hill that beat me the first time out on the bike, and go sailing over the top of it.

Finally, as I do enjoy my food (maybe a little too much) I have been spending a bit of time in the vegetable garden. Most of what we’ve grown for the year has been eaten now, but the most recent thing to be taken out of the garden is a pumpkin (actually, 3 pumpkins). They should be orange around the end of the month. I learned from lifting them up, they’re heavy!

The most orange of the pumpkins

The most orange of the pumpkins

All this means that I have gone from having too little to do and too much time, to too much to do and not plan as to when to do it. Things are settling down a bit more now, so I am finding more time to blog, and I plan on getting regular posts going again soon. Someone put the rugby on at the same time, and those rugby players, and Nigel Owens (I do have a little crush on Nigel, but who doesn’t?) can be a distraction too. I am working on getting everything back on track. As the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says, Don’t Panic!

Robyn

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IBC-ft
Jun. 03.

Waffle Wednesday: A Learning Experience – Irish Bloggers Conference

ww-IBC-thAt the weekend I was so lucky to be invited to attend the second Irish Bloggers Conference, by the absolutely wonderful Anita of Dolledup.ie, and held in the delightful venue of the Radisson Blu hotel on Golden Lane. It would have been wrong of me to attend and not make it a learning experience, as the wealth of knowledge on stage was immense. I went armed with my notebook and camera to find out what was what.

Just some of the displays at the conference

Just some of the displays at the conference

Now, I will say that I probably didn’t use either as much as I should have. I am partly to blame for this, though I also assign blame to those who were speaking. You could spend so long paying acute attention to what was being said, that you plain forgot to take it all down. There were, though, a few bits that did make it in to my book, which will stick with me. The first part of the day was mainly about blogging as a business, and was led off by fitness blogger Rob Lipsett, who also has a line of gym gear. Three things stuck with me from his presentation:

  • Build up your name: Don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Be unique! Be noticed. This is very true. If you have 50 people all blogging about the same thing, in the same way, everything looks far too identikit, like it is the exact same info on a different template. Make your content unique, make it interesting. Put your slant on something and claim it as your own. It will make it so much easier to recognise YOU!
  • Be good at what you do: If you are doing something don’t half-ass it. Know what you are talking about! If you are knowledgeable and passionate about something it will show in your work.
  • And finally, if you are looking to make blogging your business, DO IT! If you are in a 9-5 job that you are just slogging through, ask yourself WHY? Move from something you are just doing to something you are passionate about doing!

Conor Lynch of socialmedia.ie talked about monetizing your blog – making it pay for itself, and you. Luckily a link to his full presentation is available here, but the main thrust of his talk was about the main forms of advertising, how they work, and how to implement them in a way that will not drive away visitors. There was one caveat he had though. The most important thing you need to have before advertising becomes worthwhile is TRAFFIC! If you think that you can just slap some ads onto the blog and it will become a goldmine, it won’t. You have to work up to it first!

I admittedly didn’t take any notes during Alison Canavan’s talk. We were all ordered to uncross our legs, clear our laps, and be in the present. The group meditation was a nice touch though!

The final speaker in part one was Anita Whyte of Dolledup.ie, who, though battling nerves, gave us two things. She has an app coming out soon, and one piece of advice: Interaction is key. Talking to people, sharing with people, interaction makes a big difference. The social aspect can’t be underestimated.

Artwork on display

Artwork on display

The second part of the day focussed on women in business & media (well, it was a mostly female audience, with the few men being questioned as to whether they were lost or being held there against their will, by the brilliantly funny MC Marcus O’Laoire). Sonya Lennon, of Off The Rails and Lennon-Courtney fame told us to not put all of our eggs in one basket. Keep building your profile. Keep looking for the next thing that you can get involved in. Basically to not expect one thing to last forever, but to keep adapting and evolving.

Writer and broadcaster Barbara Scully gave one of the standout talks of the day about women in media and social media (it’s owned by women and cats don’t you know). Again, I was paying too much attention to her to actually make notes, but a couple of things stood out.

  • Keep disciplined, making regular updates to your blog or social media. Watch the reactions to each post. Does something get people talking or clicking more than others?
  • With social media, particularly Twitter, get your name right from the start. Can you expect to be taken seriously with a name like @aurora111? – this is Barbara’s original twitter handle (Incidentally, I’ve always been @robyntmorton – I got something right!)
  • Know your facts: How difficult is it to say something incorrect and try to salvage the situation. You are better off checking your facts and getting it right first time.
  • Important: PUT DOWN THE WINE! Tweeting/facebooking/whatever after a few glasses may seem like a good idea. It may seem like fun, until the next day when you ask “Did I tweet that?” Think before you tweet!

Mary Carty of spoiltchild.com and Stemettes was talking about women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) and told us that “skills are the new safety.” If you don’t have skills, learn them. If you do have skills, keep improving them. And keep learning new things. Skilled people are always needed! She also told us not to wait on perfect. You will be forever waiting for the perfect opportunity.

Orla McDonagh, the Gym Bunny told us of two important things that are needed – Passion & Ego – before encouraging us to take pictures of a couple of slides that contained important information to keep considering (these are in the gallery below)

Gym Bunny

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After the second break, where I tried to be sociable and passed on the delicious looking cupcakes that disappeared in about 5 seconds we had our final three speakers of the day.

Pete Wedderburn (the vet off the television, yes) talked about how he used old media and now new media to build the profile of his vet practice from having two vets not busy, to having many vets always busy. He also asked us to tweet about why exactly we blog, as he was interested to see the myriad of reasons (I blog for enjoyment, friendship and as a means of relaxation)

Timi Ogunyemi, the picture editor of Picture This talked about the 3 C’s (Communicate, Collaborate, Celebrate). I was more lost in his stage presence & glasses, but did manage to note that we should embrace creativity, and love what you do.

The final speaker was Darragh Dolye, a man who has a simple job description – to get things noticed on twitter. He led us on a 20 plus minute, 211 slide journey, that comprised many of memes and funny pictures, while telling us to know where different sources of traffic get to the blog (he is the reason that Robyn Rants and Raves now has a Whatsapp share button). When I wasn’t doubled up laughing, I did manage to take a couple of photos of his presentation, so, the best of Darragh Doyle is below, minus his naked pictures (yes, there were pictures of him, and lots of other naked people, in the presentation)

Darragh Doyle

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The day finished with a fashion and beauty bloggers panel, including Anita Whyte, Nuala Gorham, Holly White, Joanne Larby, David Cashman & James Butler. One of the interesting questions asked was about dealing with negative comments on blogs and social media. I thought the answer given that negativity will happen (some people just hate seeing others being successful) and while you shouldn’t stifle it unless it gets really bad, do not engage with it. There will be so many more positive comments, and brands may be watching. If you lower yourself to the level of trolls, it does not reflect well on you.

blogger-panel

The bloggers panel (I was in an awful place for pictures of this)

One more thing that was mentioned a lot, by numerous people, was about saying yes to opportunities. There must be a reason for someone offering an opportunity to you, so always, where possible, say YES to the opportunity. There may come a time when you have to balance which opportunities pay the bills or not, but don’t let opportunities pass you by. A Richard Branson quote was used to illustrate this: “If you don’t know how to do something, say yes – then learn to do it.”

It was a fantastic day, and as you can see, I took a lot away from it, which, hopefully, you can take bits of too. It was, at times, a bit overwhelming, and a bit of information overload, but it was a very worthwhile day (without even mentioning the goody bags, the Yamamori gift card that I won, or the drinks afterwards in 10 St. Stephens Green), and in the absence of a video of the full day that I can watch back, I will certainly be in line for tickets for the next one. Major kudos have to go to the team at Cool Events for the effort in putting together the day, which is most appreciated.

Robyn

 

(Thumbnail picture credit: Irish Blogger Association & Holly Shortall)

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What the hell is that?
Mar. 04.

Waffle Wednesday: I’m Back! (Well, Almost)

Robyn RHello there! I’ve been kind of absent the past while, but the good news is that I’m just about back to doing whatever it is that I do here (if anyone knows what I’m meant to be doing here, let me know in a comment, please and thank you). It will take me a couple of days to figure out what is sitting in the review box (which looks like a bomb has hit it) and decide what to write about, but I’m finally able to get my mind back to what I enjoy doing most.

I apologise for my absence, but, as some of you may know (I’ve written about it a lot) I have been dealing with some complicated health issues for the past year and a bit, and it all got too much for me. Having your entire existence dictated by when you do (or don’t) have appointments with hospitals, doctors or nurses is not easy. I’ve said it before, but if you’ve been through it, you know what I mean, and if you haven’t, I hope you never have to. Concentrating on the blog, and well, concentrating on anything really, became almost impossible, so I took a break.

Fortunately though, on February 19th, I found myself in hospital, for a long awaited and looked forward to major surgery (I know that sounds weird, like I’m some kind of surgical masochist) to finally solve the kidney problem I was having – I’ll avoid the gory details, as it is bad enough that I know the mess that was made in there. It was a messy surgery (I left the ward at 8.30 and didn’t get back until that evening), and quite probably involved the doctors looking like this:

What the hell is that?

What the hell is that?

It was all a success, and after a week of recovery, heavy painkillers (morphine on tap for 3 days) and some fairly forgettable food (though not entirely bad this time, my nagging worked) I was deemed fit enough to go home (they really just needed the bed – as was demonstrated by the loud conversation about bed demands just outside my door before asking if I wanted to go home).

So, after almost another week at home, I’m at the point where the pain has more or less gone (unless I move stupidly) I am in a good mood and can pay attention to doing things like blogging again (woohoo!).

Bear with me a couple more days, and I’m sure I will find something to rant and rave about really soon! Expect topics to include the search for a good manicure, pedicure, brow shape and hairstyle (all things that have been neglected for a while) but don’t expect me to be talking about swimsuit season this year (not being able to be active for too long, and the huge scar that now wraps around my waist can be blamed for that).

Thank you for sticking with me through all this!

Robyn

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Sep. 03.

Waffle Wednesday: Managing the Blogger-Brand Relationship

ww-wafflethEarlier this week, an incident occurred where an unnamed brand sent an email to an unnamed blogger saying to take a review down or face legal action. It later transpired that it was all a big misunderstanding, but it did lead to a discussion as to how far a brand can go to deal with potentially unflattering reviews, how bloggers would respond, and just how quickly a relationship between a brand and bloggers can go sour.

While everything was unfolding on facebook and twitter, a number of bloggers stated that they would be reluctant, or just plain unwilling to post reviews of that brand that they were working on, out of fear that they would be turned on too, and that is completely understandable. After all, the majority of bloggers write their blogs for the fun and enjoyment they get out of it, and don’t expect to be put on the spot that way. It does though, make me wonder about how to manage the relationship between blogger and brand.

Firstly, one main thing is important. Both sides have rights and responsibilities. The blogger has the right to write and share their opinions of a product, free from pressures from the brand to say things a particular way. The blogger though, has the responsibility to be fair, honest and truthful in their review. They can’t go and say that something is the best thing ever, when it really isn’t, just because they have been given free products to try out, as then nobody will trust what the blogger has to say. But likewise, they can’t go and present something that isn’t true, just out of spite. They can’t say that a brand, for example, tests products on puppies and fluffy bunnies when it just isn’t true.

The brand though, has the right to feedback, good or bad, on products that are sent for review. Even if the review never makes it up onto a blog, it can be helpful and polite to give some opinion on the product and that it is not going onto the blog as the product didn’t agree with you and you stopped using it/have too many reviews of similar products clumped together/insert your own reason here. It shows that the blogger and brand appreciate working together. At the same time the brand has the responsibility to accept what the blogger has to say about the product in question, provided it is truthful. After all, the brand is looking for opinions of normal people, written for normal people. It has a marketing department (usually) to come up with the shiny emotive wording for advertising, while a blogger gives the view of the everyday person using it. Both sides have their uses, but you don’t want everyone to be sprouting the same marketing lines about products.

When something does go amiss though, the way it is handled is unbelievably important. It can be so easy to send a snarky email to say take your review down NOW or else! But that is not the best way of doing things. Addressing concerns, where valid in a polite way, is more likely to get the intended result. Sending an email to say” Thank you for your review. We appreciate you taking the time to write about X. We would like to address a couple of things in your review, namely…” will almost always get a polite response, and the issue cleared up. In the vast majority of cases there is no malice intended by the blogger, and minor issues can be cleaned up, leaving everybody happy. Of course, you can’t tell someone to change their opinion, and you can’t guarantee that everyone’s opinion will be positive, but these things happen.

The knee-jerk reaction though, can backfire spectacularly though. As alluded to earlier in the post, once the original email was sent, the bigger blogging community found out about it, and opinion towards the brand turned really icy, really quickly. Blogging is a social activity, and bloggers are great about sharing information with other bloggers. A brand can suddenly see an entire community turning on them, just from one little faux-pas. That can lead to the opinions of those you want to hear, and that readers want to see, being distinctly unflattering, if they are voiced at all.

Both sides deserve the right to be respected. There are no winners from making threats against people for voicing their honest opinion, or making a small factual error. In the end, both brands and bloggers need to work together for the system to work, and in realising that, we are almost guaranteed an outcome that is acceptable to everyone.

Robyn

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Liege Waffle
Jul. 30.

Waffle Wednesday: My Absence

ww-wafflethFor those of you who regularly read the blog, you will know that I usually plan on writing 6 days per week, and that I had been struggling a bit before taking most of this month off. I feel that it only fair ro offer some kind of explanation for this.

For me, blogging is meant to be all about fun, and sharing my love with the world. Unfortunately, the fun kind of fell away from blogging for a while. I was working away on the blog, but I was feeling like my work wasn’t being appreciated. Page views were diminishing, people weren’t commenting, and I started to wonder what the whole point of it all was.

I was questioning what to do. What is the point of continuing to do something that I’m not enjoying? Yet, at the same time, I have made so many friends and learned so much through writing Robyn Rants and Raves, that to abandon the blog outright would have been a decision I just couldn’t make. So, I walked away from the blog for a while, originally expecting it to just be a week, but having it turn into three weeks.

It was actually an odd feeling, not writing something, or preparing things for the blog, but it was needed. Sometimes you just have to stop, walk away, and collect yourself before going back to it. In writing the first couple of posts for this week I found myself enjoying it again. I’m back to having fun with the blog, which is the most important thing. This isn’t a job. This isn’t something that is life and death. This is FUN. I don’t earn anything from it. If anything it costs me money. But I do it because I enjoy it, most of the time.

If you do find yourself in a similar situation, don’t get overly panicked about it. Do take a step back, relax and leave it for a bit. It will always be waiting for you when you are ready. And likewise, if you see a blog post that you enjoyed reading, or it is something that you can share advice or an opinion on, then PLEASE, do share it. Even a one line comment saying that you agree with the person, or that you recommend something to go with it, it shows that you appreciate the effort that has gone into the blog. Blogging is a social activity, and feeling that you are talking to yourself really, at the end of the day, helps nobody.

Robyn

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ltbc-blog
May. 26.

Lets Talk Blog Challenge: Magazine Vs Blogging

ltbc-blogThis is week 5, and the penultimate week of the Lets Talk Blog Challenge, which is being run by Sarah from At The Beauty Desk. Last week we were looking at survival guides. This week, we are giving our opinions on conventional or new media. In other words, here comes my views on the argument of Magazine Vs Blogging.

There was once a time when if you wanted to know what a beauty product was like, you would go to your newsagent, pick up your magazine of choice, go home, make tea and sit on the couch. Then you would relax, go through your magazine, see the advertising visuals, maybe a little write up about it, decide you liked how it looked, wanted it, and would scurry off to the shops to buy it. Occasionally though you ended up disappointed that it didn’t look the same on you that it did in the ads. Now though, there is a new way to do things. If you want to know what a beauty product is like, you go to Google, type in what you’re looking for, and a whole list of websites talking about it, a few selling it, and you click a link you like the look of. And look, you’ve ended up on a website run by a normal person. A person like you, not by an airbrushed advertising model. A person who is also looking for a product that will make them look and feel special. You’ve entered the world of the blogger.

The question is though, is one better than the other? Will one kill off the other, or can they co-exist peacefully? To answer that we must look at both sides of the story.

LTBC-Magazines

Magazines: Generally, magazines have the advantage of being staffed by professionals. They know how to write pleasing, emotive reviews. They get ready access to new products, and established magazines have a large readership and reach, giving them an easy way to spread information, and of course, a great way for advertisers to push their wares.

Ah, advertisers. Where would they be without them?  As a former advertising designer myself, I know how much effort goes into making something that catches the readers eye and makes them want to buy something. Huge numbers of creative people are involved in getting an advert ready, and advertisers want to see a return on their investment, which can be quite sizeable depending on the publication, size and positioning of their advert. Magazines also want to make sure that they get their lifeblood, the advertising revenue. This leads to a conundrum. Just how impartial can magazines be? If you have a regular advertiser, who pays very well for their ad spots in your magazine, can you jeopardise the relationship, and your revenue, by rubbishing a product? That, however, is a debate for another day.

ltbc-computer

Blogging: Enter new media. The online world is a wealth of information, once you know how to weed through the rubbish that also populates the internet. Fortunately search engines have made that bit so much easier, and now, when you type in something to search for, a great number of opinion posts come up. This is the domain of the blogger. Bloggers tend to be normal people. Well, normal for bloggers is subjective. Some people call us crazy. We call ourselves passionate. either way, we are regular members of the public, with a love for our particular subject. A love that we want to share. A love that isn’t biased by anything in particular. Like the public, we just want to find products that make us feel amazing. And by sharing our views we can help others to find their favourite products too. I can’t say bloggers are going to be completely unbiased, because, as brands and PR companies begin to take blogging more seriously, and supply more sample products to bloggers, the question of neutrality does come up. A blogger though, I feel has less to lose by saying what they feel, than a magazine does. This can allow for much more scope of opinion from blogs, and as long as you have faith in what a blogger has to say (and there are so many FANTASTIC bloggers out there) there will always be a source of information to turn to.

There will always be a place for magazines in the world. They do contain a great mix of information, opinion, and I have many times looked through magazines just to admire sensational advertising imagery. We will also come to a point of eventual equilibrium between old and new, magazines and blogging. That time isn’t yet though. Blogging will continue to rise in popularity, and become more important. Just as text messaging, social media and email have changed the balance in communications, so will blogging as a source of information and opinion.

Robyn

 

Part of the Let’s Talk Blog Challenge series:

Want to join in the Let’s Talk Blog Challenge? Please do! Join in and discover more bloggers in the challenge on Twitter #LetsTalkBlogChallenge

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