Blog Camp Birmingham 2016

Last weekend I took a trip into town for this year’s Blog Camp, the fabulous free event run by Tots100. 
What did I learn?  Well in summary: I have to set up a collaborative blog with some of the best craft and food bloggers, use the fabulous photo tips to enhance the brilliantly written posts, add in a fantastic you tube channel and perfect pinterest account and then take over the blogging world. Then all I have to do is add some affiliate links and I’ll be super rich too.
Seriously though, if you want to learn how to get the best out of blogging, then blog camp is the place to go. 

Of course I didn’t attend all sessions, the idea is to pick and choose. I wasn’t originally going to go to the collaborative blog talk but I’m so glad I did. I gained some great inspiration from the talk by Molly, Jen, Alison and Pam.I would never have thought before that collaborative blogging was for me. In brief here are a few tips from the session.
  • Be careful when picking your collaboration team, don’t just pick friends but it would be good to get on with contributors.
  • Smaller number of contributors work better together, but if you have a lot of contributors then it’s good to have someone in charge.
  • Plan everything before you start and see who has what skills
  • Don’t spend too long choosing a name for the blog
  • Always keep in touch with each other
  • Keep the momentum of the blog going, keep posting
  • Share all the promotion between the contributors
  • Bounce ideas off of each other

I’m always looking to improve my photography so I decided to choose the food photography session by Sandhya from Sandhya’s Kitchen next.

I learnt that being the right shot needs lots of planning and attempts. I’m just too impatient. I want my shot to look good and I’ve picked up tips on lighting and backgrounds before but I can’t say that I’ve ever planned how I’m going to photograph my food before I’ve even cooked it. It does make sense though, if you want that prefect shot. 
I really need to work on colour schemes as well as composition and using a colour wheel is good for this.
The next session was Stats and Metrics.

To be honest I’ve heard Sally talk about the metrics of Tots 100 a few times before. I only really went to this session because it was easy to get my wheelchair in the room and the last session had left me feeling a little claustrophobic. However, Sally’s talk was really interesting and it was good to hear that statistically my blog is doing pretty well even though I’m not  the top of the Tots. It’s so easy to get hung up about how well you are doing in comparison to other blogs, but I’ve always believed that if you love your blog it will show and your readers will love you too. 
Craft bloggers get the best site visitors, followed by food bloggers. Probably because these blogs have tons of resources for people who are looking for them. I use a lot of cookery blogs myself when looking for new recipes. 
After lunch I went to the talk on Writing Awesome reviews by Emma and Lindy
I already think my reviews are pretty awesome anyway 😉 but there are always new things to learn.
If you want to write good reviews then remember to write them in your own voice and add a little interest to them. Stay honest but if you really hate the product too talk about it first. For example, if you are sent a faulty product, before writing a really rubbish review, see if they can’t send you a working product for you to review. Then you can say that the first one didn’t work but it was sorted out and a good product was sent out.
We had a really interesting debate on whether or not you should write a bad review.
Personally I think if I really hated the product I’d look at why I hated it. If it was personal preference i.e. I didn’t like the taste then I’d say that but maybe my partner did like it? If no-one liked it then it would probably be something that the manufacturer needed to address.
I always follow something negative with a positive. You can be honest about something you didn’t like without being nasty.
I was keen to attend the Pinterest talk and Sarah from Taming Twins was incredibly enthusiastic about the program.
I do use Pinterest a lot..but generally to find things I like and keep them where I can find them again. I mostly pin cakes. If I’m planning a party or event I’ll start up a Pinterest board and fill it with all the ideas I might use for inspiration. I use Pinterest as personal tool rather than a blogging tool. 
However, I have noticed that  I do get quite a few views to my blog from things that I have pinned there, usually recipes or crafts that I’ve done. 
Here are Sarah’s tips for a Perfect Pinterest Profile.
  1. Ask people to use pinterest, ask on your blog, ‘pin this for later’
  2. Use the widgets that pinterest offers to get people to view your pinterest site
  3. Refresh your board covers so your profile looks good
  4. Use Keywords in your descriptions of your boards and pins so people can find them
  5. Pin regularly, consistantly
  6. Use analytics to see what pins are generating more visitors
  7. The tool Tailwind has many uses.
  8. Optimise your old posts to get new visitors
  9. Use Affiliate links on your boards
  10. Get featured on Pinterest.

The final talk from Emma from From Aldi to Harrods, was all about making money using affiliate programs. Sign up to one of the many affiliate sites like Amazon or Affiliate Window and use the links within your posts for a passive income. You should disclose that you are using affiliate links. 

I do this occasionally as you can see by this post which I tend to do regularly just before Christmas.

The one thing I regret is not taking photos. I only took a couple but to be honest, being stuck in a wheelchair is not a good place to get a decent photo….This is something I need to adapt to, at the moment I’m still thinking like a standing person, I need to think like a sitting down person instead, I’m sure the shots are still there from a different perspective.

I did get a photo of my lovely cake, fetched for me by the lovely Steph from Steph’s Two Girls.

I’d like to thank Sally and the Tots100 team for putting on a great Blog Camp and to The Wood Window Alliance that  made it possible with sponsorship. I’d also like everyone who was helpful to me on the day in particular Hannah from Hannah Spannah who fetched my lunch for me. But also thanks to everyone who fetched me drinks, opened doors for me, moved chairs for me and generally helped me to fit in. Bloggers are awesome!

I’ve reached the final of the MAD blog awards and voting closes in just a few days. If you’ve not voted yet I’d really appreciate your support for Raisie Bay in the School days category. Thanks x


  1. May 23, 2016 / 1:49 pm

    I'm so pleased you had such a good day. It must have been very daunting and you need to be proud that you went for it. The world is now your oyster – as long as you blog about it and do all that other stuff you mentioned in the first paragraph 😀

  2. May 23, 2016 / 9:18 pm

    Thanks Jenny, and yes I'm so pleased I went. I'm definitely going to get my plans going on taking over the blogging universe! 😉

  3. May 23, 2016 / 9:35 pm

    Hi Anne, Thank you so much for a lovely write up with food photography. You have summed up the whole event so nicely…

    Pleasure to meet you the otherday.

  4. May 24, 2016 / 10:15 am

    Thank you Sandhya, I think you did a great job. I'm already planning my photos before cooking now 🙂

  5. May 25, 2016 / 4:07 pm

    Amazing tackling blog camp from a wheelchair – yes i imagine it's a very different perspective and probably much harder work than a 'stander' has to do. Thanks for putting out those Pinterest ideas – I am so low tech it's been off my radar for years following a rather depressingly feeble attempt and getting it to work. All the best, Jo

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A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.