January 30th, 2017 · 7 Comments
I had a very ambitious plan to actually get things done this year… and believe it or not, things are slowly but surely starting to roll around here. I began by declaring January the month of computer themed decluttering and sorting out blogish things that tend to get forgotten in the day to day of life. If you haven’t yet done any computer maintenance or blog updating at all this year, then it could actually be many months since you did anything at all… may I gently suggest that you back up your machine before you head out into the week. Otherwise, I have blogged about decluttering your computer, updating your blog (and I have a few nice updates coming your way), and finding your workflow… This week I am going to talk about streamlining your Social Media.
Most of us are so busy living, that we hardly have time to blog, let alone spend time falling into the huge time-trap called social media. But the fact of the matter is that in order to promote the work you do as a blogger, you have to spend some time on social media. The other fact of the matter is that hours of your life can literally roll past you unnoticed, while you scroll down your Twitter feed or watch other folks’ Instagram stories… and I won’t even mention Pinterest. In order to make social media work for you you need to have a social media plan, to get the most done for the least possible time spent over there. This past month I have been setting goals and getting a few of my social media strategies in order for the rest of the year ahead.
Se7en Strategies to Streamline Your Social Media
- Work with your Strengths: Just because everyone else is everywhere on social media doesn’t mean that you have to be there as well… pick your three best social media platforms and stick with them. I know all advice appears to say that you have to be here and you have to be there. While you do need to share your work, you don’t have to share it everywhere. If you hate Facebook and love instagram then go with that, if it is vice versa, that is okay too… there is space in the world for all sorts of online players and you definitely do not have to love it all.
- Each Platform Needs its Own Attention: And this is why you cannot be on every single platform, there just isn’t enough time in a day. Twitter is not the same as Instagram and Instagram is not the same as Pinterest at all. They are each unique and draw a particular kind of follower. While our overall brand as family friendly site with lots of interests is covered on all sites, I do treat our platforms very differently. For example you can find us on:
- Instagram: My favourite platform to play on, I have a lot of friends there. On instagram I will share one or two of our blog posts each week, but not all of them… folks are there to see our behind the scenes everyday life and that is where they will find it. It is very relational and always good for interacting. My goal is to post one or two, never more than three pictures a day. Folk will comment and I try to respond to their comments… I spend a fare amount of my online time commenting and engaging with other folk in my feed. You can draw folk to your feed with a great comment and then if they like your feed they will follow you. My strategy to double our instagram following last year was to find one or two new folk to engage with each day.
- Twitter: I have found folk on Twitter less conversational than on instagram but they do enjoy sharing more, they are looking for news and they are especially looking for something fabulous to share. I post every blog post I post almost immediately on Twitter and then again about twelve hours later, when the other half of the world is awake. I spend about ten minutes on Twitter twice a day and tweet and retweet things that I find interesting… stuff about books, traveling with kids and the great outdoors. While I tweet in batches, I never tweet our own content as part of a batch, I prefer that to stand alone and hopefully get noticed that way. Always, always thank folks for retweets, courtesy is king. Otherwise, I have found the best way to build our Twitter following has been to just join in. Twitter chats are a fantastic way to find likeminded Twitterers… find one you like and join it consistently.
- Pinterest: This is by far our biggest platform… and yet I don’t pin a lot of our own material, I pin almost exclusively other folks content and only things that I think our followers will enjoy. I have found a couple of pins spread over the day to be a good strategy for keeping folk checking to see what we are pinning. Three times a day I pin between ten and twenty pins and that’s it. I don’t linger on Pinterest and I don’t search for things there. I do keep tabs on what folk pin from our blog, and you can do that for your own blog at https://za.pinterest.com/source/put_your_own_blog_address_here/ When I see a post of ours start to get pinned, then I will pin it myself, because I know that it is a post that our followers want to see.
- Find out Where your Followers are: Previously in this series, I mentioned that you should take a look at your Google analytics, right now you need to take a look and see where your followers are visiting your site from. This is a clear indicator of where your followers like to hang out… join them there. If most folk visit your site from Facebook, then dedicate a good chunk of your social media time to Facebook. By far the most of our traffic come from Pinterest… this tells me that our followers are on Pinterest and that I need to be active on Pinterest in order to meet our readers where they are at.
- Sharing is Meant to be Caring not Scaring: While it is important to share your blog content across your social media platforms, make sure that you are not just there to promote yourself… that’s pushy, overwhelming for your followers and too many calls to action… especially those that require your followers to change platform, will turn them away. While social media is work, a lot of folk are there to relax, they don’t necessarily want to hop over to your blog when they are looking at your Instagram feed and following a link on Twitter might have them wandering off for days. There are very few followers that will follow you across all your platforms, just enjoy the followers you have where they are. There are followers and fans on each platform, but really (for myself) a handful of superfans that extend themselves across each platform, as well as consistently commenting on our blog, I make sure to respond to them and engage with them.
- Sharing is Really Caring: Social media is all about connecting with your followers and potential followers and so sharing things that interest you is a good way to define your online self and build up your personal brand. I know that social media is the place to share your own work… but, and here is a tip, it is definitely not exclusively your own work. There is a vast difference between promoting material that interests you and plain old self promotion. If you want to get noticed on social media, then make a point of share other folk’s good work… if nobody else notices you, then the folk you are promoting will notice and appreciate you, and so will their followers. It is a win/win tactic for social media growth.
- Have a Strategy for Sharing Your Own Content: For each and every blog post I write I have a routine for sharing. I always tweet it out, but I don’t tweet and tweet it… once for our side of the world and once more for the other, that is enough. I only mention our blog posts once or twice a week on Instagram. And then, as I mentioned above I pin posts of ours when I see them starting to gain traction on Pinterest. Could I self promote more, could I push harder… yes, but that isn’t my style, I am quite content to let the internet do most of the work and share my content on.
- Schedule your On/Off Times: To be honest, the internet doesn’t really care if you are engaging on it or not, there are plenty of other folk on it 24/7 for it not to matter if you take a little time out. It took me a while to get that… anybody who is trying to build their online presence is told to spend time and attention on it… I have found the opposite to be the case. It is as if taking a break gives me fresh eyes when I return, because of that I only really hop onto the internet before school, around lunchtime, when I have finished with school and then later again in the evening. I know you can use software to schedule your social media posts and promotions. I like to have conversations and interact… so generally if I post something I want to be around for a little while to engage the followers that interact.
And the Se7en + 1th strategy:
- Make your Content Easy to Share: The trick about social media and sharing is not so much promoting yourself at every turn, but to create such fantastic content that other folk will share it for you. Make sure your posts are pinnable, make sure your feeds are available to your readers to follow, so that they know where to follow you. And for followers that only want to pop by from time to time, it is easy enough to create a newsletter and take your blog to their inbox.
Hopefully you will find some top tips in this post. Honestly, I need to get onto this immediately… if you take a look at our blog design you wouldn’t even know we were on Instagram… and I have to confess that there isn’t even somewhere to sign up to our newsletter and follow along, because we don’t have one yet. This is definitely an action point for me… I am hoping by letting our readers know that I need to address this, that that would motivate me to just get moving already.
Previous Posts in our 52 Weeks of Getting Things Done Series
Tags: Blog School · Organizing Se7en · Thoughtful Thursdays
January 26th, 2017 · 2 Comments
We are blogging over at Red Ted Art today, where there is an entire month of Valentines in her 31 Days of Love series. We were so thrilled to be a part of her series. Over here we have been trying to have a crafty afternoon or two each week, and it is summer… so there is a lot of dragging the table out into a shady spot in the late afternoon and then sitting and creating all sorts of crafty things until the sun goes down…
Lately, we have been transforming dozens of delivery boxes…
With the help of the scrap basket and project glue…
Into patchwork hearts…
If you want to know how to turn your patchwork heart into A Patchwork Heart Puppet for Valentines Day… then head straight over to Red Ted Art for all the details.
Previous Valentine Posts
Se7en’s Teeny Tiny Hearts and a Valentine Round-Up…
Hearty Treats for a Celebration…
Glittery Valentines Galore…
Se7en Hearts and then Some more…
Se7en do Se7en Valentines…
Se7en Steps to a Valentines Party…
A Hearty Breakfast in Se7en Steps…
Se7en Valentine Bible Games…
Tags: Fabric Crafts · Recycle Crafts · Tuesday Art Task
January 26th, 2017 · 4 Comments
So we are back into the regular swing of things… plenty of school, plenty of reading aloud and getting stuff done…
Lovely Links from This Week
- Such fun and colourful artiness with Salt Painting… in the Artful Parent.
- Just saying if you need a hike, then this trip along the Tsitsikama Trail looks like a little bit of heaven: If Not the Otter Trail… then this Trail… in GetAway Magazine.
- If you looking to just change from a lifestyle of shopping, shopping, and more shopping then this is a great read My “Buy nothing year” How one woman saved $22000 in the Telegraph…
- We have to try Ivy’s Fruit Tart on Somewhere Slower…
- And… 10 Ridiculously Simple Steps to Writing a Book.
- Gotta Love Molly Moo’s Storage Fun…
- It’s Multicultural Children’s Book Day on the 27 January… follow Pragmaticmom for tons and tons of book ideas.
- International Book Giving Day is Looming, and yes we have a project to share with our readers. In the meantime head over to their site and take a peak at their lovely book marks.
This Week’s Highlights
An unheard of event, I finished every book I was reading last week and I find myself between books… a rare and alarming place to be, not to mention so many decisions on my “to read” list…
Family Reading: We got these books out of the library last week and it has been very quiet around here… there is a Lego revival as folk play and play and play some more…
Listening: There are some folk that I have followed for ever through blogging and podcasting, and really they feel like family… Sorta Awesome Podcast is one those. Last week they featured their favourite follows… including our instagram feed… I was way beyond surprised and thrilled!!!
Watching with the Kids: We have begun A Series of Unfortunate Events… and will see how it goes…
Watching Myself: The Australian Open… as one does.
Planning: Next month’s new theme on our 52 Weeks of Getting Things Done Series… we will be heading into the kitchen…
This Month’s GiveAway
If you haven’t entered our fabulous Give Away… then follow the link and leave a comment!!!
A Blast From the Past
That’s us… Hope you are all have a fabulous week!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
January 24th, 2017 · 6 Comments
We went to the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra on Sunday evening and it was out of this world. The entire family went, and it was fantastic. There is a reason the Summer Sunset Concert Season should be on everyone’s Cape Town bucket list.
Imagine being in the most beautiful gardens in the world, a summer evening picnic under an African sky and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra playing for you. It is out of this world dreamy…
So many friends have told us that the one thing to do in Cape Town is to go to a Summer Sunset Concert, that it is an unforgettable experience and one of Cape Town’s top “to do” events… and for some reason we have never been to one. Well now we have been and what can I say… this is definitely an unmissable Cape Town Classic event.
So on a perfect summer evening, with misty clouds pouring over the mountain to cool us down we sat and listened to: Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”; Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dance No 10”; Rodrigo’s “Guitar concerto (de Aranjuez)” with soloist James Grace on guitar and Beethoven’s “Symphony No 5”.
Some of my kids have been longing to hear the orchestra for years… and to finally get to see it in the great outdoors was pretty much a dream come true.
A Family Friendly Event
This is a very family friendly event, full of lots to look at and listen to, there were folk there from every age and stage… all there to enjoy the Orchestra playing beautiful music. It is a very relaxed atmosphere, and a very engaged crowd… moments when you could have heard a pin drop. And our kids were transported into the place where fine music takes you…
I think what had always made me a little bit nervous of attending was that huge crowds and kids aren’t always the perfect fit. What was I thinking? This is Cape Town and things are just as relaxed as we say there are. There were lots of kids there and a very family friendly audience.
Another thing that worried me was that it would be impossible to find parking and we would have to carry our picnic for miles… turns out, and I will say it again… this is Cape Town. Capetonians are very relaxed and slow to get moving, everyone does everything at the last minute and just but getting there half an hour before the start we were able to find parking easily and very close to the entrance.
A short walk up the hill to the rolling lawns of the concert area and little wait in the queue… not nearly long enough to get in some good drawing, which is the main reason some of my children visit Kirstenbosch. And in we went, found a good spot and put out our picnic blankets… and sat snacking and relaxing while the orchestra warmed up and the crowds arrived.
The gardens were open for an extra hour after the concert, so we sat and had our supper…
And chatted and “people watched” as the crowds left…
Pretty much last to leave… will the last person please turn out the lights…
There are still plenty of concerts to attend this season, you can take a look at the line up here.
I would like to thank Kirstenbosch Gardens and Hippo Communications for the Summer Sunset Concert Series, for providing our family with tickets so that we could all attend together and for the GiveAway Tickets for our readers earlier in the season. This is not a sponsored post and all the opinions expressed in this post are entirely our own.
Tags: Cape Town
January 22nd, 2017 · 6 Comments
This is the third post in our series of 52 Weeks of Getting Things Done, and in the month of January I am working on getting computer, blogging and social media goodies done. I have to ask, what was I thinking last week when I set myself numerous tasks the very same week that we started a fresh new school year. Let me explain for those readers that don’t homeschool… when you have taken a significant break from homeschooling and head back into it, even if you carry on from exactly where you left off, each of your students will take this as a sign to say “mam” every five seconds and claim they have no idea what they should be doing, other than just hanging about waiting for you to instruct them… truth is that isn’t how we homeschool and something they only try in the first week and then figure out that isn’t our style and carry on as usual. So you won’t see a new about page and you won’t see a new media page up on the blog, I do have roughs, and outlines, and I have a whole lot of new blog goodies that I have been working on, just waiting to launch.
Se7en Steps to Getting Your Work Flow in Order
Meanwhile I got to thinking, if I am getting things done then it is genuinely time to start organising my work flow – I know I can hear you laughing out loud… but until last year, I never considered blogging work at all. It was just something I added onto my day once everything else was done. So picture this… running a home (full time job), parenting a gang (full time job), homeschooling the same gang (another full time job), and add in a little volunteering, and my working day finishes at the earliest 11pm every night. And then I would start blogging, for as long as it took. This meant that I was getting little to no sleep for a number of years, long after my smallest children had outgrown sleepless nights, I was still up nights and all nighters, ahem, were far to routine. This does not a happy mother make and last year I took my appalling sleep habits in hand… and blogging got a whole lot slower. For the first time I realised that the amount of time I put into blogging was another full time job. So definitely time to figure out how to do all the things I do, and sleep and blog. I love blogging, it is here to stay, we just need to figure out a way to fit it into our day.
- Find Your Sleep Rhythm: You cannot work if you haven’t slept. Period. If you get to your computer too tired to type, let alone too tired to think… then you should definitely be sleeping. I decided to make sleep a priority… and just go to bed, in fact I don’t blog every day and on nights when I am just too tired I no longer sit at my computer hoping that a blog post will jump out at me. Instead I reward myself with a trip to bed, I am tired enough to have earned it. The feeling of wellness after a good night’s sleep is phenomenal and the amount of quality work you can get done completely removes the effort that goes into trying to work when you are just too tired.
- Split Your Work into Chunks: I always considered blogging to be a chunk of work at the end of the day. Turns out that just isn’t so, you can break it up. Turns out I have three distinct types of work that all fall under the umbrella of blogging. You may have more, you may have less… whatever you have, you can’t actually do them all at once. The first type of blog work for me is responding to email and social-media-ing… sharing and engaging with our community is imperative; the second type of blog work is the creative side of blogging, creating content, generating ideas, writing and taking photographs, actually doing the stuff that we blog about; and finally editing the photographs and getting posts ready to launch. I have always done all three of these tasks simultaneously at the end of the day. Realising that I was continuously multi-tasking and distracting myself from the task at hand, was a bit of an eye opener!!!
- Finding the Time to Work: Believe it or not, epiphany warning, if you go to bed earlier, then you can wake up a little bit earlier. I know, things your mother tells you and you never believe… I am not your mother, and I am telling you… that if you are going to bed earlier… at the same time as your kids even, you will naturally wake up earlier. Truth. In that early morning slot, while the house is still quiet, before my kids begin their day and after I have read a little bit, I do all my social-media-ing… tweeting, instagram, pinning… and emails. What I don’t get done I leave until the next day and at the end of the week I drop it all together… I tend not to bother with emailing and such over weekends. The early morning turns out to be a good time for me to get all those little things done that you don’t necessarily love doing, but need to get done in order for our blog to keep rolling. Honestly, I am not at my best first thing, but I can reply to things and read other folks blogs and leaves comments.
- Figure out Your Best Time: My best time to work, is towards the end of the afternoon. That time after school, after our rest, when I used to get into the kitchen and start dinner. Turns out that that is when my brain really gets into gear and likes to create, just before the evening rush. So now I know I try to do all my blog creating then. Dinner can start a little later, when I am relaxed because I know I have done the major work of the day. Just one thing, I have eight kids, and if it was easy to work with a gang of kids around I would never have started the bad habit of blogging all night. Turns out, that you can actually blog with kids around… and this is how I do it…
- Consider Wearing a Hat!!!: I am not kidding… my kids need a distinct physical sign that says, “Now is not a good time to interrupt the mother person.” I don’t want to be in a room out the way, with the door closed, that would be crazy not to mention dangerous. I am guessing that with one or two kids asking for something once every minute… that it would be difficult to get anything done. Well with eight… it is impossible. After an entire morning spent doing school with them, and yes I do completely ignore my phone and the internet during school time, our kids have my full attention… and after lunch we read and chill together… they tend to drift away in the afternoon and work (some might call it play) on their own projects. It appears to be a good work slot for all of us, and they know that if I am wearing my hat… that they need not bother me for incidentals. I just have to point at the hat and they wander off again. It works for us.
- Set Some Limits: The limits are mine… once I get started I can just keep at it… but I make sure that I have a working blog post before I get up from my desk, and then I stop. It is very easy to get distracted, check out a few blogs, have a look what happening in twitter and like a couple of photographs on instagram… and before I blink, all my blog time has been eaten up. So I do have a few ground rules, no engaging on the internet when I have a post to write and get the post prepared as far as I can before starting dinner. Just knowing that there is a physical limit, makes me concentrate harder and get the work out of the way. And trust me, a number of folk are quite happy to let me know that it is time to start dinner. Not to mention, quite a few folk are trained to start dinner if I am too busy.
- The Very End of the Day: Once my kids are in bed, blog posts are pretty much pre-planned from earlier in the day… photographs are taken, se7en points are jotted down and I literally have to edit photographs and get the post ready to launch. With my new sleep plan, if I am too tired, I skip this and head for bed. Honestly, I don’t for a moment believe that our followers are holding their breath for the next blog post… and I know posting on a schedule is key and all that… but I am only human, and if a post has to wait a day or two, or even three… the internet will not break. Talking of breaks…
- Take a Break it’s often the Most Productive Thing to Do: You don’t have to be in a state of collapse before you take a break… Long before that stage, you can actually stop and read a book you would like to read, watch a movie, take your kids for a walk… they will play and you will be in the great outdoors… it sounds crazy, but often the most productive thing you can do is refresh brain, so that it is good and ready for work a little later. In order to be creative, and blogging is creative, your mind needs time to potter about and relax… you can’t just go go go all the time. Rest is the key to creating fresh content.
The challenge to getting things done this week is to get the sleep you need, and once you have that, find your most productive time to work and really work then. If you can’t get to your computer because you are watching kids at that time, then make a plan to get something done… at the very least have a notebook and pen with you so that you can jot down ideas. In order to get anything done you need to be rested, and then you need to work with your rhythm and not against it.
Previous Posts in our 52 Weeks of Getting Things Done Series
Tags: Blog School · Organizing Se7en
Oh I love a fabulous giveaway… and this is one of those. Lovely, lovely activity books just right for a surprise for my guys for their first week back in school. These books come from publishers Creative Nature, written by Kate Muller, with Aaniyah Omardien.
Firstly, the books are printed on lovely strong paper (using sustainably sourced papers), young artists can use whatever materials they like to create beautiful art on the pages. The books are locally created and produced, covering topics that are familiar and interesting for young folk who want to know more about nature and the environment. Fabulous for local kids and for kids overseas who want to know more about our local wildlife. All the information is presented in a fun and interesting way and doesn’t feel like “school work” at all. Each spread includes a picture to colour, and a poem… as well as other fun snippets of information and puzzles to fill in, ideas on things to make and create and interesting factoids about the animal featured on the colouring page.
The fynbos book is filled with animals that you would find in a fynbos environment… animals that we might be familiar with and other animals that we are dying to see. Birds and reptiles, mammals and insects… a great variety of creatures great and small. Each animal has its name in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa.
The seashore book includes a great variety of local sea life, and lots of environmental snippets that go with it. There is also information on plastic pollution, the currents around the coast of South Africa… and factoids on all sorts of interesting things, for instance how they put numbered rings on African penguins… and how long a seal can hold its breathe underwater.
We have a set of activity books to giveaway. A fynbos activity book and a seashore activity book to give to one lucky winner. If you would like to take a closer look at the books, then head over to the Creative Nature website, where you can download a couple of printable pages.
This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on the 29 January 2017. We will draw and publish the winner in the following Fabulous Fun Post. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have already won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away.
We would like to thank Creative Nature who supplied us with “Fynbos and Seashore Colour and Activity Books”, one set to review and one set to GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed are as usual, entirely our own.
Tags: GiveAways and Swaps · Se7en at School
January 18th, 2017 · 1 Comment
A weekend of birthday fun, and ice creams from the Ice Cafe in Kalk Bay…
Because a birthday wouldn’t be a birthday without ice-cream…
We took an unexpected mid-summer break for a few weeks, the father person was on leave and who can do any school when he is around distracting us!!! All in the best possible way of course. I have that slightly raspy voice from back to school week, when I get back into the spirit of literally reading-a-loud all day…
Lovely Links from This Week
- And I know it is summer over here and we can think of nothing but watermelon… in a couple of months (I can’t say weeks… we are going to need this French Hot Chocolate Recipe on Wanderlust, just saying!!!
- Spotted this on DIYphotography: For those of you who want to take better pictures and want to study at Harvard… Harvard has a thirteen module online photography course for free…
- I blogged about Children Just Like Me recently, well here is the back story on Brightly… everything to love!!!
- Colouring Books have gone to a whole new level, I know so many adults who would love their favourite childhood classic colouring book, here is a whole lot of colouring to take a peak at on Imagination Soup!!!
- Totally have to gotta love Geometry Art With String and Babble Dabble Do…
- Meanwhile, if you want to be a writer and for some reason, any reason you aren’t… then look no further than Smartblogger for inspiration.
- If you are planning to dip into Shakespeare with your kids then here are lots of lovely links to enjoy Shakespeare on BBC schools…
- And I always have to stop by a top ten children’s books post… here is one on Babyccino, full of childhood magic!!!
Book of the Week
Family Reading A-Loud: Today is A.A.Milne’s birthday… and we love this book so much. The true story behind the story of Winnie the Pooh. You can read our review here.
Somehow the last thing I think about when it is time for a new phone is essential phone cover that you need to go with it. Last year when the father person got a new phone he went looking around for a phone cover and found one that, when you bought it helped to fund more trees, for our tree planting friends at Greenpop. How cool is that… so he came home with a cover with a map of Africa on it. And then and there I knew that I wouldn’t forget a phone cover next time my phone contract said it was time for an upgrade…
Moving forward to December, GreenPop had a series of GiveAways and we were lucky enough to win a voucher towards a phone cover from Houdt… I have to say they went way further than the extra mile to serve us, and here it is… just waiting for our phone provider to upgrade…
A Blast From the Past:
That’s us… Hope you are all have a fabulous week!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun