Tag: ITWBN

Afternoon tea – a necessary indulgence



Afternoon tea is my favourite meal.  I know that it might not be the healthiest meal but it trumps on the luxurious indulgence stakes.

I was delighted to be invited to the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown to celebrate the launch of their afternoon tea menu.  The simple thought of it had me up early in the morning and ready to travel.

Like any true afternoon tea addict it is always a complete experience, so I started with my outfit.  It had to be my Lindy Bop Tea dress.  Feeling pretty and bubbling with excitement I set off on my journey with fellow bloggers Sinead from Yummy Mummy and Dolores from Irish Health Hour.

The mood was set with lots of girly chats and laughs and we arrived in good spirits.

A Hotel with a Heart

Some people might say that a hotel is simply a hotel, but this hotel has heart.  What a beautiful warm welcome we received.  The staff were fantastic, friendly and efficient.

As we entered the room where the tea party was being held I just wanted to swirl and twirl in my party dress.  The attention to detail was second to none and my eyes kept jumping around to take in the detail, all of which built atmosphere and excitement.

Pimp my Prosecco

Before we sat down for tea we were offered a glass of prosecco, but not just any prosecco.  This cute primp my prosecco stand meant that we could add flavourings and fruit to our glass of sparkle. As delicious as it was, I wanted to watch my intake and the great staff immediately assisted by pimping sparkling water for me.

The perfect ingredients for afternoon tea for me are great company, excellent hot tea and lots of it and of course the foody goodies.  As we sat down at a perfectly decorated table with great little details like name plates and little flowers I glanced over at the fine china and knew I was in for a treat.

The cake stands were delivered and we all simply dived in.  The bottom layer of sandwiches was my first dive in.  The classic smoked salmon and brown soda, a yummy delicious chicken with apple wood smoked cheddar (so yummy that I was looking for a second one), fresh tasting egg mayonnaise and cucumber and finally a roast beef.  I was ok with missing out on the beef (as I don’t eat red meat), and was delighted to sit back and sip at my tea.

My number one tea party food is a good scone.  These scones served with jam and cream were fluffy and light inside with just the right amount of crisp. The addition of lemon drizzle cake and a fruity banana bread was just the right balance before reaching for the top tier!

The top-tier of any tea stand is pure indulgence and this was no different.  Creamy, dreamy coconut cake, delicious vanilla cheesecake, toffee Mille Feuillee and beautiful little custard tarts which are my mother’s favourite.  The big decision – to choose or simply have one of each.

There was a lot of delicious food and I enjoyed it.  It was great fun though and between lots of laughs as we experimented with Boomerang and dived into our goody bags. Time simply flew.

Just a small note at this stage on the goody bags.  They were fabulous with lots of treats for us bloggers to try.  I will be featuring many items on my Instagram (@DynamicKerry) and my blog in the weeks to come. We were gifted all sorts of goodies from a range of sponsors.  These included the Carlton Hotel, Ultra Pure Laboratories, Human + Kind, Dr Paw Paw, Ardell Lashes, Graham Anthony, Debenhams, Nude by Nature and from local retailers including Chopped, O’Breins Wines, and Westend Retail Park.

This was my kind of afternoon, and to be honest my perfect social occasion.  I will definitely be back!

We even finished off the afternoon with a gin cocktail!  Who could say no to that?

A hotel with a lot more to offer

Before the day ended we had a tour around the hotel and I added to my wish list.  Beautifully appointed rooms just invite you to sink into soft pillows and take a rest.

The fab business centre caught my eye.  Working from home I am often looking for somewhere to hold a meeting or simply work and write when I am out-of-town.  I will be working on a different blog post over on www.kerrymanning.net all about working on the go and will definitely be including the facilities at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown.

The Carlton Hotel is conveniently located close to the fabulous Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and in easy reach of the airport.

Thank you for reading. Let me know if you indulge in afternoon tea at the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown or wherever you live.  Remember tea and cake is best shared with friends.

Kerry xx

Fake it until you make it – a coping with Fibromyalgia

Fake it until you make it.  This is a mantra I find myself repeating over and over.  Especially when I wake up feeling less than fabulous.

There are mornings when I wake-up or rather get up and know that I have had little sleep, am so stiff and awkward that I walk like a puppet.  I stumble downstairs to get painkillers and put on the kettle so I can ease myself into the day. This is what it is like for me coping with fibromyalgia.

I am a very positive person so feeling less than great is hard for me.  I try to focus on the good things in life and not on fibromyalgia, arthritis and the other things that are my shadow.

It would be so easy to simply stay in my lovely fluffy gown and binge watch Netflix.  You really can 3 or 4 episodes without realising the passing of time.

Don’t wallow!

I am determined to not wallow (although there are days that I do).  My lipstick is my companion, it reminds me that you can fake it until you make it.

I recently read something that I really related to.  It was a list of things only people with chronic conditions would understand.  One of these was sitting on the bed and wondering if you really needed to shower and wash your hair.  Yes, this is a real thing.  It takes energy to do this and it causes more pain.

Fake it until you make it

I keep trying and so I wanted to share how I fake it until I make it.  How I push myself  to get going and ultimately how I normally enjoy myself once I do make it to an event.

Realistically each time I do this it does make me very tired the next day, but the joy of getting up and getting glamorous is worth it.

Off to a Fashion Show – Faking it all the way!

A little while ago I was invited to a fashion show at Bellissimo in Galway as an ITWBN blogger.  The show featured fashion from the fabulous Olivia Danielle boutique.  It was one of those days when I really had to push myself.

I got dressed in my new dress from The Curvy Gurl, accessorised and put on my make-up.  Just before leaving I got my photo taken for the obligatory Instagram/Facebook post.

Details of my outfit as requested:

Dress – The Curvy Gurl – Newry (I bought my dress at the Ireland’s got Curves show but they have a fab online shop)

Cardigan: Matalan – old as the hills but a firm favourite as it is my favourite colour

Shoes: Ballet flats from Debenhams

Necklace:  A gift from my sister!

I was also extremely overwhelmed and humbled by the response to a simple social media post. Hundreds of likes, loves and comments all which made me feel better about myself.  I am struggling with weight gain at the moment due to medications and other factors and being told I look good certainly spurs me on to try even harder.

This is how I know that Faking it until you make it works for me.  Looking the best I could already put me in a brighter mood and going out distracted me from pain and tiredness.

I know that there are many people out there, and possibly reading this that are in a position where faking it isn’t always possible.  So this is my call to ask people to understand when your friend with a chronic condition like fibromyalgia says sorry she can’t make it.  I bet she tried really hard. She is coping with Fibromyalgia.

Thank you so much for reading.

Kerry xx

 

Yes, you can be Fabulous and Fashionable over Fifty!

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I love fashion.  As a child I spent hours designing dresses for my Barbie dolls and walking them down the imaginary runway on my bedroom carpet.

As you get older there is a little voice in your head which says that you cannot be fashionable over fifty.  You shouldn’t stand out, and the best one ever – never turn into mutton dressed up as lamb!

For the past couple of years I have watched the media and read blog posts on fashion and felt simply green with envy.  A little while ago I decided that I would blog about fashion for the plus sized and for woman of a certain age.  I am proud to say that this has been a much viewed blog post.

The Galway Fashion Trail

Last Saturday I joined the Galway Fashion Trail presented by Galway Now Magazine.  It was a simply fabulous day and I can honestly say that I have learned that age and size does not determine whether you can be fashionable.

The day started with a stylish, and most delicious breakfast at the Raddison Blu Hotel in Galway.  We whizzed up to the top floor where the view was simply wonderful.  After enjoying this amazing breakfast we watched the first of the fashion shows featuring styles from Harpers and headpieces from Brid o’Driscoll Millinery and Majella Lennon.

I started my day by treating myself to two beautiful necklaces from Jewelbox.ie.  I fully intend paying a visit to the other exhibitors, Sheniel Shoes and Optique Opticians soon.

As this was a fabulous day, we were chauffeured by Bradley Renault  to our next stop. At Sarah Mason where we learnt about the hair from Sarah and about make-up from Aisling K.  I was feeling glamorous already.

The day of fashion shows and food at Swamp, Greenes Shoes, Colette Latchford, Revive Café, Brown Thomas, Choice Boutique and Willow was like a full immersion in fashion.  I found myself feeling so excited as I watched the models on the runways showing off clothes and accessories.  I fell in love with some seriously amazing fashion from House of Mowhawk an IFIA finalist.

My Big Fashionable Over Fifty Fashion take-aways

There were some big take-aways for me, as a plus-sized 52 year old.  What I learned is that you can take lessons and inspiration from fashion shows and magazines, from following Instagram and Facebook accounts and of course reading fashion blogs.  Learn and then twist it to make it your own.

These are my fashion lessons from the Galway Fashion Trail..

  1. There are always new season colours. Pick the colours that work for you and add them into your wardrobe to update them.  I love the dusky rose pink of this season and already have a fab pair of shoes and will be adding more – maybe a handbag!  The other colour that really popped for me was tomato red!  My all-time favourite royal blue also make an appearance which made me smile.
  2. Scarves are a beautiful way of making a statement. We were gifted some beautiful scarves from Swamp and Willow but also saw some amazing designer items from Louise Porter and Niamh Daniels both IFIA finalists.  I will be adding scarves to my birthday list.
  3. Jewellery is a great way of making a fashion without trying to be too trendy. Jewelbox.ie have some great fashion pieces in rose gold that shout this season.  I bought two pieces and will be featuring them in a new blog post soon.
  4. Dress lengths are great at the moment. The models showed off some amazing dresses at most of the shows that were on the knee or mid-calf.  This is such a flattering length.
  5. Don’t judge a book by its cover. When we visited Swamp I immediately thought that there would be nothing I liked.  I was wrong. There are quite a few items that are larger in size and might just be updating my wardrobe.  Lesson learnt – go into boutiques and stores, and wander around with an open mind.
  6. When in doubt, go with your instincts and wear what makes you feel fabulous.
  7. Finally I generally buy things when I really love them. I might spend a little more, but I know when I love something, it fits well and makes me feel fabulous, I will wear it!.

I really want to say thank you to Golden Egg Productions and Galway Now for hosting this wonderful event. And to all the lovely bloggers many of them much younger than me who welcomed me and made me feel fashionably fabulous.

I am a proud member of the ITWBN and the Irish Blogger Agency who invited me to be a fashionista at 52.  Thank you!

Thank you for reading

Kerry x

PS – Thank you to Sinead from Yummy Mummy who helped me with photos!

 

 

SeaBreeze – An oasis of tranquillity

Since moving to Galway over a year ago I have been searching for a place for me.  A place where I can indulge myself in little treats that make me feel good about myself.

You can be excused for thinking I might be talking about a coffee shop that served good cake, but this is so much more important.  I have been looking for a beauty salon where the staff are friendly and the service is good, and more importantly where I feel good, going in and even better coming out.

It was an honour to be a guest at an event for SeaBreeze Beauty & Day Spa when they celebrated their 16th birthday towards the end of last year.  I came away with a sense of finding my new beauty home.  My eyebrows had been threaded as a treat and I was clutching the little booklet which was fast becoming my wish list of treats for me. (anyone wishing to know what I would like for any occasion please feel free to buy me something from here).

There are real perks to being an ITWBN blogger and I was beyond delighted to receive a tweet to ask if I would like to try out one of the SeaBreeze treatments.  At the time my back was in a spasm and there was one treatment that jumped into my mind – a massage!

An Oasis of Tranquility

The salon is in Oranmore which is great as it is a minute off the motorway and less than 15 minutes from home for me.  As I parked my car, my sense of anticipation was mounting.  I knew what was behind the glass doors.  Tranquiliity.

The SeaBreeze decor is ‘sea’ themed and there is the most wonderful restful energy in the salon. There is a sense of stepping into another world where worries, stress and to do lists simply do not exist.

Ciara took me off for my Swedish massage which was simply blissful.  She was so kind and caring and adjusted the pressure to ensure that I got the benefits but no additional pain as I was very tender that day.

I was so tempted to spend a little while sipping tea in the relaxation room.  This room is an oasis itself.  Deck loungers would lull you into forgetting about real life.  I was honestly so relaxed from my massage that I thought I might fall asleep so I passed this time.

I love quotes and when I saw the quote from John Steinbeck on the wall at SeaBreeze I knew I had found home.

The best six doctors anywhere
An
d no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest and air
Exercise and diet.

If you live in Galway – I urge you to visit Sea Breeze and relax and treat yourself.  If you don’t then find your own little oasis and treat yourself when you can.  Fabulous Women deserve to be pampered.

Thank you for reading.

Kerry xx

 

 

 

 

 

Do your clothes give you joy?

Do your clothes give you joy?  Or do they make you feel nostalgic? Do they make you feel fabulous?

clothes memories fabuliciousfifty

I was privileged to talk to Marcia O’Regan of Colourharmonie recently and somehow we stumbled on the subject of clothes and decluttering.  She is currently reading Maria Kondo’s bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.  Marcia was telling me about her experience of tidying her closet, and only keeping items that give her joy.

 

Now I am a long way from being a tidy (a very long way) but this really resonated with me.  For quite some time now I have only bought clothes that I really love.  Part of this was financial but I also found that when I was wearing something I really love, I felt more confident, and I suppose a little bit fabulous.

I really believe we dress for ourselves and even though people around us get the pleasure of seeing us with a pretty dress and make-up, how we look does for some of us impact on how we feel.

After the call with Marcia I returned to household chores which of course included the endless laundry.  As I was hanging up my clothes I realised that almost every item of clothing carries a story.

These are some of the little one line stories my clothes have to tell ….

  • A pretty blue floral dress that I call my party dress.  I bought it with gift vouchers in South Africa on a visit home.  The first time I wore it was for my birthday 4 years ago.
  • I have quite a few maxi dresses, all similar in style but in a wide range of fabulous prints.  These are dresses that arrive in boxes from Dubai.  My lovely sister sends me care parcels and each time I wear one of my dresses I think of her – it is like a fabric connection.
  • A royal blue chiffon jacket was a gift from my Mom from the fabulous Queenspark in South Africa.  It is sheer and light but adds not only colour but style to anything it is thrown over.
  • I won a prize on Facebook of a voucher for Liberties in Westport.  I thought I was too fat to be able to choose anything from this wonderful boutique.  When I went to visit I was treated really well and fell in love with a long dark purple top that I wear often.  It covers a multitude of sins.
  • My current favourite dress summer or winter is a LBD – it is really simple but beautifully cut and when I wear it I feel great.  I stumbled across it at the time of the month when you shouldn’t find anything you like.  It was a big decision, and meant a few lean days before payday but it was worth it.

One thing I realised when I was walking down memory lane in my closet was that I keep my clothes a long time.  I have a beautiful cardigan that I paid quite a bit for and literally wore it until it fell to holes.  I then begged my mom to use her embroidery talent to create little flowers over the holes.

I am committed to doing a bit of decluttering and tidying up very soon, but I know that some of my lovely clothes will stay with me.  That way I can wear my memories and joyful moments.

I would love to hear some of your clothes stories – I bet that a visit to your closet will bring up many happy memories.

Kerry x

 

 

Celebrating my birthday with Joy

I have always loved celebrating my birthday.  I guess it is really just a great excuse to get together with family and friends and celebrate life.

There is always reason to celebrateAs I get older (and I will be 52 in a few days time), I try and reason with myself.  You are too old, too tired, not well enough, it will be too much work, and then something happens to remind me why we should celebrate our birthdays.

Last week I listened to Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sheryl Sandberg is a fabulous woman in my opinion, and has shown just how strong she is following the death of her husband just over a year ago.  In this speech she is very honest and quite emotional about the shock of dealing with his sudden death and how she has coped.

She talks about finding joy and meaning. “Dave’s death changed me in profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void — or in the face of any challenge — you can choose joy and meaning.”

Choosing joy over sadness can be really hard, but the rewards are immense.

I urge you to listen to the speech which you can do here.  Her honesty about pain and hurt is so real, but so is the message that we can continue on.

Now what has this to do with cake?  During her address Sheryl Sandberg says “I used to celebrate my birthday every five years, and friends’ birthdays sometimes. Now I celebrate always.”

We do not know what is ahead of us, but what I do know is that my riches in my life are in people, my friends and family.  A birthday party – why not?  It is a great excuse to celebrate life and to focus on gratitude for what we have experienced this last year.

I have decided that this year I will simply open my home, and spend quality sofa time with wonderful people.  It is an open invitation to if you would like to join in, please message me.

I have chosen to celebrate on 6 June which is a day early, but as it is a bank holiday it will be lovely and relaxing.

I urge you to use any excuse really to celebrate and spread joy.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

Be Brave – take the first step

Be brave, take the first step

Being brave is huge!  It means different things to different people really but it is really a very powerful emotion that can propel us forward in a really good and positive way.

What does brave mean to you?

For some people attending an event or a function is brave. For others it might be attempting something that they never thought they could do.  We all have our comfort zones and when we take a step outside of this lovely comfortable place we are being brave.  For me it is stepping out into the unknown.

I am being really courageous this year.  Due to my health, I have had to start again.  Literally.  Imagine almost 52 and having to find a new career which will fit in with my current life.  It isn’t easy, but I am reading and learning and hopefully will be able to work part time very soon.

I have also had to be extremely brave and face some of my exercise demons.

This time last year I was living in Westport, working as the Head of Marketing for a financial services company and generally living it up.

Now my life has changed and I am living in Galway and trying to get my body as strong as possible in ways I can control.  I think this is really important as I cannot completely control the arthritis or fibromyalgia (never mind the other issues), but I can control my fitness levels.

I was brave in February when I did a 10km walk for charity.  I felt this way again when I did the Darkness into Life walk earlier in May.  I felt terribly brave when I went to my first yoga class.  Granted it was a yoga class for people with joint pain, but it was still hard to walk into a room and realise that you might be the biggest person in the class and more likely the least flexible person.

Fast forward a few weeks and I am lying on my back with my legs up against the wall, and trying various poses.  It is still a long way from the downward facing dog, but I am proud that I am taking these little brave steps.

Every day we have a choice, to be brave and take that step out of the comfort zone or stay cuddled in the warmth of the known.

I do both.  One thing I have learned though is that every time I take a brave step, the reward is there.  It isn’t always immediate, but it does come.

Please feel free to stop by and tell me your stories about being brave.  It honestly doesn’t matter how small the step, it is a step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

 

Fabulous Women delight in each other’s growth

'A Flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms'

When a flower is blooming, it doesn’t worry about the flower next to it, neither does it compete with it simply blooms. This is a wonderful sentiment and one that I really need to take heed of.

As woman (even from a young age) we are always very aware of our peers. How they look, how they are doing and how we are doing in comparison. I don’t know about anyone else but I always seem to come up short.
We have so many lessons we can learn from nature.

For fabulous women there are two sides to this very relevant quote:

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms

The first is that we should delight in each other’s growth and celebrate each other’s victories.
A couple of months ago I started a group on Facebook called Fabulous Woman. It was something that I did because I was looking for a tribe. I was seeking positive woman who were not bitchy and who wanted to lift each other up rather than breaking each other down.

I can’t begin to express the joy that this group has given me personally. In a space of two short months it has grown to over 800 members with many members active on a weekly basis. As I am lucky enough to have two home countries membership has grown not only in both Ireland and South Africa, but across the globe. It is so wonderful to see support pouring out across the miles, and fabulous women friendships being formed.

This wonderful bunch of fabulous women is just like a full field of flowers all blooming together and celebrating life.

The second part is one I really need to take note of.  We are all individual and unique.  It is so easy, especially on social media to wonder if you are good enough or if you are doing enough in terms of diet, exercise or even fashion.  We are constantly bombarded with messages of what we should and shouldn’t  do.

I think we spend far too much time competing with others – and sometimes they are not even aware that we are competing.  I often find myself using my energy on something that isn’t productive.  Something that doesn’t make me bloom.  We need to nurture ourselves.

I also seem to be a worrier.  I am told if there was nothing to worry about I would find something.  I have had to learn, and am still learning that other people’s problems are exactly that, they are not my problems.

So today let us remember this Wednesday quotation:

‘A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms’

Thanks so much for reading and for the support.

Kerry x

If you would like to join the Fabulous Woman Facebook group – please feel free to request or message me!

Social Isolation – the curse of the self-employed

Social Isolation is a phenomenon that is often associated with the elderly.  I do believe that it effects many other people too and can be a curse of those working from home.  This is a long post, but I really hope you read it through to the end.

Social Isolation

I had a visit from a very wise friend recently.  We were chatting about my new circumstances.  A quick update for anyone who may not know I had to give up work in December due to ill health.  I am now ‘pottering about’ doing a bit of writing, working on my blog and exploring opportunities for the future where I can create an new career where I can work part time, but also on my own timetable to fit it with when I feel well enough.

My friend listened to what I had to say and then asked me about social isolation.  I laughed and said oh don’t worry about me I am very outgoing and I am always out and about.  This isn’t entirely true as sometimes I am physically too sore to do too much.

Working from home is becoming more and more commonplace both for the self-employed and for people who have the option offered by their employers.  There are great perks.  You can put a wash on between calls, nip out to collect the kids from school or even to buy a bottle of milk.

There are downsides too and social isolation is one of these.  Social isolation is defined as the complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society. It differs from loneliness, which reflects a temporary lack of contact with other humans.

Social isolation isn’t a choice, it is something that creeps up on you while you are busy.

I strongly believe that there are degrees of social isolation.  An ‘at home’ worker can spend hours a day alone.  I am quite happy with my own company for much of the time, however the value of social interaction is huge.

Spending time with colleagues and friends is one of the best forms of communication.  Conversation sparks ideas and thoughts and generally gets us out of ourselves.

Social isolation can lead to depression, social anxiety and a loss of self-esteem.  This can result in the ultimate vicious circle where you might become more reluctant to interact socially and withdraw even more.

Since I have been ‘home alone’ for the last six months I have been very conscious of the fact that I no longer need to get up in the morning, do my hair and make-up and go off to work.  Although I have not missed all the office politics, I have missed the chats around the kettle, lunches with colleagues and meetings. I have also missed getting dressed up.

I just love meetings.  I love the interaction and flow of ideas.  I enjoy deadlines and the challenges of working as a team to beat them.

So how to ensure that we don’t suffer from  social isolation?

  1. Go to an opening of an envelope

My partner says this what I do.  Seriously though if there is any opportunity to interact I take it.  I have attended coffee mornings, focus groups, blogger events and meet-ups.

Martha Fraser who recently organised the Shine Adventure an event for online businesses facilitates free meet-ups in different areas.  A couple of hours and a cup of coffee with online colleagues – a great idea.

The Women’s Inspire Network started by Samantha Kelly (aka Tweeting Goddess) also holds great networking and inspirational events.

 

  1. Become a lady who lunches (or a gentleman)

Lunch or even a morning coffee (or tea and a scone if you are me) is a great way to break up the day and to have a good natter.  I have been very brave and grown my network by simply asking.  If I have been following someone online that is very interesting, I will call up and ask them to meet me for lunch.  What is the worst that can happen?  They could say no or perhaps they will say yes and you will have made a new friend and contact.

  1. Beware social media it is a joy and a curse

I really enjoy social media and see a huge value in it both in terms of keeping up with friends and family and making new connections.  I have a wonderful group that I created with a friend called Fabulous Woman – it inspires me every day.

The key with social media is to know how much is enough?  I aim to spend enough time to be inspired and connected without spending so long that I start suffering from FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out) and a feeling of isolation – where I start to imagine the whole world is having a better time with more friends and more cocktails than I ever will.

 

I love linking point 2 and point 3.  Meet someone on Social media and take it off-line – invite them to tea!

 

  1. Keep a diary and keep it full enough

A diary has been my constant companion in all the years I worked.  It still is.  It is a great way of not only organising yourself, but also creating balance in your life.  I try to schedule at least one – out of the home office – activity a week.  Keeping a diary also helps to track what I do work on, so at the end of the week I can sit back and reflect on what I have achieved and what did and didn’t work.

  1. Keeping up with friends and family – thank you Skype

I also use my diary to remind myself (I suffer from the odd bit of brain fog) to set up calls with my family and friends far and wide.  We are lucky to live in an age of technology where you can have a chat with an old school friend as though they were in your living room.  I have even carried the iPad around the house showing off my cooking prowess.

  1. Walking and exercise

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am an avid convert to the daily walk.   I try to get out every day dodging the showers if necessary.  I was walking a couple of days ago, enjoying the sunshine in my bright blue coat.  I smile and say hi to anyone I pass on the road.  I was walking along in the town and a gentleman looked at me and said – my you have a happy face.  I wished him happy Monday and moved on.

 

These are some tips and ideas that I have used and would suggest.  There is a way to prevent social isolation when you are working from home, and I do believe it needs to be a conscious choice.

May is mental health month and as someone that has suffered with depression over many years I think it is important that we raise awareness for mental health.

Thank you for reading

 

Kerry x

 

Blog marketing – a plan to follow

 

Fabuliciousfifty blog marketing planI recently had the opportunity to talk to a group of bloggers and as part of that presentation I discussed marketing a blog.  Thank you everyone for the great feedback!

I have worked in marketing most of my adult life, so when I decided to start my blog I thought about marketing it too. The obvious route was to see how other people marketed their blogs, but then I started thinking back to what I did as my day job.

My area of expertise is in strategic marketing.  I did a little marketing strategy for my blog, which has been reviewed and re-evaluated at regular intervals. It was only on a scrap of paper mind, but I would really recommend doing this as it helps to clarify my thinking, both in terms of content and my reader.

Marketing a blog – a mini plan

When you are putting together a marketing plan there are a few essentials that are normally included.  There are various models and methods for planning a marketing strategy, but for this post I am going to focus on my favourite method.

  • Research
  • Target audience
  • Message
  • Establish objectives – set goals.
  • Actions

Research

Research is the first stop for anything.  You might have an idea of starting a blog, but unconsciously or consciously we all research.  I would advise doing more of this.  Read blogs, talk to your friends, ask questions.  Do some research on the techy side – find out which platforms work for you, which channels work for you.  (Although I have snapchat it really doesn’t work for me – it doesn’t fit in with my message).

Your research and your initial idea you give you a very clear idea of what you want to blog about, but who is going to read it?

Target Audience

Defining your target audience is I think one of the most important steps in marketing.  My blog is called Fabuliciousfifty – so there is a bit of clue in the title.  My audience is primarly woman who are a little older.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t get readers across the board.  Google analytics tells me that my readers range between 30 and 60 and do include some men!

I think that it is important to have an ideal reader in your mind.  Marketers even go as far as describing their ideal customers.

This might be a description for a product like healthy convenience foods – or a blog for busy working mums.

This is Mary, she is a working mother who has two kids and is short on time.  Convenience is key in her life.  Healthy eating is a priority, as is exercise.  She is 35 and living in Ireland.  The more detail and description you give to your ideal customer the better.

Knowing who you want to reach will help not only with coming up with content, but also with promotion and how you go about reaching your ideal reader.  It is also important for approaching brands as they will want to know who your target audience is.

Message

Knowing what you are and who you are talking to is really important and is quickly followed by your message, or elevator pitch.

My message is…

Fabuliciousfifty is a health, wellness and positivity blog which is all about being fabulous despite the curve balls life throws at us.  I have survived a very hard marriage and am constantly dealing with a good handful of auto-immune diseases, but I am determined to be fabulous.  There are days that I feel awful, but every day I try to be fabulous – inside and out.  I want to inspire anyone who is battling with health – especially those invisible diseases to find the fabulous no matter how they are feeling.

I also have a real passion for body confidence – and believe that we should all feel fabulous no matter what size and shape we are.

Goals and objectives

Your message links directly into your goals and objectives.  If we are following a traditional marketing plan the next step is to establish some objectives.  Objectives and goals are really important in all aspects of life.

I think it is important to go back to why you are blogging when setting objectives.  Some of my own objectives are to get meaningful comments on blog posts – I don’t get them every post but when I do – wow that really makes me feel good.  When I get personal emails telling me that a blog post really touched someone that means loads.

Many bloggers set statistics as goals.   Examples of reasonable goals might be 200 Facebook followers on your blog page, or 50 blog followers.  These are good goals, but, I honestly believe that we shouldn’t get too caught up with numbers.

Yes numbers are important – they are important for collaborations, and they are important for us too.  I just try and not get bogged down with them.

Other great objectives are to set a blogging calender – and stick to it.  Make a plan to post weekly/ bi-weekly or whatever, but most importantly try to stick with it.  I generally post on a Wednesday – sometimes more often but lately I haven’t been that well and have fallen a bit behind.  Within a space of a week I had skype messages, personal calls and texts saying how much readers look forward to Wednesday and that they were glad I was back.

Set objective such as an interview once a month, following and reading 4 other blogs per month – and of course leaving a meaningful comment.  Blog love is the best!

I also make research one of my objectives – this might involve a subject or a product range but I do believe that if you write with knowledge it does make a difference.

Actions

Finally the actions.  These actions are not really blogging itself, but more actions that promote and organise your blog.

  • Set up a blogging calender
  • Start a blogging idea bank
  • Put together your media kit
  • Set up a blog page on FB
  • Join in Twitter Hours -examples are #womaninspire and  #galway hour – there are many more for specific subjects
  • Join Facebook groups (I will be doing a post on these very soon)
  • Attend a blogging event such as ITWBN birthday or Bloggerconf
  • Join a blogger agency – just launched in Ireland the Irish Blogger Agency

I also set myself mini time goals and action plans for social media.  I do some social media coaching and always tell my clients to limit their time on social media.  It can be a real time suck – so my advice is to set yourself times for social media and then work hard at social media during that time.  At the moment I am working on my Instagram and have committed to uploading something every day, inputting 1 hashtag and finding new people to follow.

Thank you so much for reading this long post.  I would love your feedback and any ideas you have for marketing blogs.

 

Kerry x

 

 

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