Friday, 6 March 2015

You've Done All You Can, So Just Go With The Flow

A common theme across most bloggers is this feeling that we should all be doing better than what we are actually doing. So at what point do we say enough is enough? When can we just sit back and admire the fruits of our labour? Maybe never. 

I always talk about SEO and marketing and those things are something we have to keep on top of and monitor frequently, but the trouble is, we end up doing nothing but that. We work continuously hard on our posts, our optimisation and our promotion purely because we never see instant results. We keep pushing as hard as we can but whilst we're pushing, we miss the tiny progress we are making. 

Seeing the results of your blog, both in followers and in your analytics takes a lot of time and patience. Set up blocks of time, this could be a day, a few days or even a week where you focus solely on your SEO, come up with that months promotion schedule and marketing plans. I like to do this at the beginning of every month, I usually spend a day purely on updating and optimising my social media, a day working on my SEO and analytics and two days coming up with a content schedule, a promotional plan and updating my progress reports (I like to use excel to keep track of followers, traffic, post likes etc). 

Once you've worked you butt off for a few days, relax and let your hard work run its course. By all means, keep an eye on how things are going, do a quick check to make sure there's no major faults and do general maintenance whenever you have a spare second. Then, when the next month rolls around, you can have a look and see wether last months work has had any effect. If you find your stats have gone down, have a look into why that might be and rectify it. If your stats have increased, take a look at what areas haven't done as well as others and tweak them slightly to give them a little boost. 

If you take a look at your analytics and followers and find that nothing has changed, leave them be and check back the following month. It might be a case that your hard work needs a little more time to develop. 

It's so important, especially if you're trying to balance a blog with a full-time job, that you don't burn out. You don't want to get so caught up in stats that blogging becomes a stress rather than a release. 

In March's newsletter, I'll be including a FREE content audit sheet to help you keep track of which content is doing well and which subjects you should focus on more. A content audit sheet is a great way to start off your blog reporting, especially if you only have time to focus on one area every month. It'll be released at the end of March with a few handy tips to get you started. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

How A Blog Can Boost Your Filmmaking Career

I talk a lot about blogging and marketing your blog on this space, but I also throw in the odd film marketing post as well. As a blogger and film graduate, I've come to see how the two can work hand in hand to really boost each other. 

Blogging is usually seen as a very personal space, more like an online diary than anything truly productive, but that is so far from the truth! Blogging is quickly becoming a must have digital marketing tool. Creating useful and interesting content around your business subject can hugely enhance your visibility and boost your sales. This is also true in the world of filmmaking. 

During our final year at University, we were encouraged to write a blog around one of our projects, we were to write about what inspired us, what are processes were and document the overall production of the piece. This is an excellent way to gain exposure for any filmmaking project but also shows your skills as a filmmaker. So what can a blog really do for your filmmaking career? 

Positions you as an expert in your field. By showing that you have a knowledge and passion for filmmaking and film in general, people will start to see you as an expert in that area. Make yourself the place to go, for people who are also passionate about filmmaking, to get their information when they're stuck or need inspiration. 

It can be used as your online portfolio. Many filmmakers have showreels but very few of them show their processes. If you are a cinematographer, director or editor, it can be hugely beneficial to document your processes and sources of inspiration. This will give any potential collaborators an idea of who you are, how you work and wether you will be a good fit for their crew or as a collaborator on a project. 

Increases your visibility as a freelancer. Most filmmakers, no matter what area they work in, will be freelancers. Being a freelance filmmaker is all about who you know so it can be difficult to really get yourself out there and get work. Creating a blog and promoting your content will greatly increase your reach and will get you noticed by people you never would have met under normal networking circumstances. Using Twitter and Facebook to promote new blog posts (the helpful and informative content mentioned in my first point) can open you up to an international audience and will show that you are active in the world of filmmaking. 

Blogging is a great way to support your brand and it should always be considered in any digital marketing pal, wether that is marketing your film, marketing a product or marketing yourself.

Have you ever considered starting a blog to support your filmmaking? Have you always thought of blogging as a bit 'wishy washy'? 

Monday, 2 March 2015

How To Manage Stress And Focus Wayward Ambitions

How to manage stress and focus your wayward ambitions

When I first re-branded this blog I decided to keep all of my focus on building up my new content. I really wanted this new direction to work and to do so, I needed all of my energy to go into my content. 

However, soon my ambitious mind took over and started to run away with me. I was soon planning to switch my CMS, write an ebook, open an Etsy shop filled with premade designs and create a monthly newsletter for my readers. My 'to do' whiteboard on my desk would be filled with tasks to cram into my evenings after work and my stress levels soon started to rise. 

In the past I've head mental health breaks due to stress and my last one was just under a year ago. The cause of said break still fresh in my mind, I decided I'd catch it before it could escalate into something serious. I've made such a massive amount of progress in the last 3 months and the last thing I want to do is send myself hurling back to square 1. 

So, I wiped everything off my whiteboard and sat down to think about the key things I wanted to focus on. I decided I would pick the 4 main areas of my life and choose 1 thing to focus on in each of those areas. So, I chose blogging, entertainment, health and education and really thought about what I wanted to achieve in each of those categories. 

Blogging. Scheduling as many posts as possible when I'm in my writing mood. Some days I just don't want to write and I wanted to make sure I had posts scheduled for if one of those days landed on my posting days. On the days when I do feel inspired, I try and write as many posts as possible until I think 'I just want to go downstairs and watch Pretty Little Liars now'. I made the decision to not force myself to write if I didn't really want to, blogging is a hobby and a passion and the last thing I want to do is make myself hate it. 

Entertainment. Read as many books as possible. I've said a few times in my posts that I am terrible at reading books, I have the attention span of a 2 year old. This however, does not stop me buying the books. I have so many that I want to get through stacked on my bookshelf, but I never could be bothered to pick them up. It's now the beginning of March and I'm already half way through my 3rd book! For me that's a pretty big deal as I usually wouldn't even get through 2 books in a year. I've been taking them on my commute and using that time as reading time. I've even noticed that by reading on the train or waiting for the train, I'm not as stressed with my daily commute to and from work. 

Health. I've been forcing myself to go on late night runs after work, as I'm training for Race For Life's 5K in May. I've never run a 5K before and after my knee injury about 2 years ago, my fitness became non existent. Now I'm back on the NHS Couch 2 5K podcasts and doing great! I've even added in 15-45 mins of Yoga everyday for some strength training. Now I'm pretty much in the swing of working out regularly, I don't have to force myself to do it. 

Education. I've been learning coding with Treehouse for a while now and I'm really starting to enjoy it again! I'm currently doing the PHP track and my brain is definitely being tested. Because I've been so organised with blogging, it has given me that extra time in the evenings and at weekends to do a little bit of course work here and there. 

Giving myself these areas to put all my energy and focus has really made a massive difference. I now don't have that feeling of 'all I do is eat, sleep, work repeat', I actually feel like I have more free time because my brain isn't thinking of a million and one things all at once. I have my time when I focus on my blogging, I have the time when I focus on having fun etc and by allocating my time properly, I feel much happier and healthier. 

Remember, you can have it all, just not all at once.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Best February Posts To Show Your Blog Some Love

Favourite Posts From February To Help You Show Your Blog Some Love

February is always the month of love, with Valentines Day being celebrated for far longer than it needs to be (I'm not bitter, I promise). As a singleton, I did enjoy the massive amount of self-love and blog love posts that were popping up on my feed, all with super motivating and helpful content. So here are just a few of the posts that really made me think about giving my self and my blog a little bit of extra love this month. 

Jen recently posted this awesome post about The Three Biggest Secrets To Creating A Blog You And Your Readers Will Love. Jen always writes with authenticity and the tips she shares in this post really gets you thinking a bit more deeply about your relationship with your blog and your readers. 

Kenzie over at Hello Neverland posted 14 Ways To Love Your Blog Right Now, which really made me think about the little changes to spruce up and refresh my blog. All of her suggestions are so simple and easy to do, but make such a huge difference to your blog as a whole. 

6 Ways To Love Your Blog Or Business This Valentines Day was written by Melyssa over on The Nectar Collective and gives you a few more handy tips on how to not only love your blog, but also your business. Some really great practical tips to get you not only loving your blog but also enjoying it. 

The month of love may be over, but that doesn't mean we have to stop showing our passions some love. I think it's really easy to let your passion carry you a way, so it's good to reminded of why you were so in love with it in the first place. 

Did you show your blog or business some love this month? 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

3 Simple Ways To Improve Your Search Engine Optimsation

Three Simple Ways To Improve Your Search Engine Optimisation

Following up from my SEO Tips For Beginners post, I wanted to list a couple more simple and beginner friendly ways to boost your blog/websites SEO. SEO is complicated, I'm just going to throw that out there and make it loud and clear. I've been researching and teaching myself as much about SEO as I can for the last 6 months and some of it still sounds like a completely different language to me!

The good news is you don't have to be an expert to make effective changes to your SEO and start seeing progress. It's always handy (and cheaper) if you can get by with basic SEO knowledge, especially when it come to working on your own website SEO.

Make it super easy to share your content.  If you make it extremely easy to share your post or page on desktop and mobile, people will be a lot more likely to share your lovely content with the world. Sharing your content not only increases your traffic but get's your link out into the big wide open water of the internet.

Seed your content on as many platforms as possible. Another way of getting your link out onto the web. Seeding is when you plant a link to your website or post on sites like Stumble Upon and Reddit. These sites are great at getting people who may never come across your website organically (typing your keywords into a search engine). I've noticed that since I started seeding my links on these websites, Stumble Upon has made its way into my top 10 sources of traffic!

Link to other pages on your site or blog. Internal linking is so easy to do and is great for your SEO. By linking to other pages on your site you are creating your own little web. The spiders I talked about in my SEO beginners post, love a good web to crawl. Creating your own web means that search engines like Google will see those links on your site and check them out, they will then index them if they haven't already, so that your post or page will show up in future organic searches.

The most important thing to remember about SEO is that it takes time and patience to see the results of your hard work. It takes Google a while to index new sites and get all the backlinks and extra stuff sorted, so be patient if you don't see results straight away. 

Have you been sorting out your SEO recently? Or do you leave your SEO to sort itself out?

Monday, 23 February 2015

5 Things Your Film Pitch Could Be Lacking

Five Things Your Film Pitch Could Be Lacking

One of my favourite modules in University (there weren't that many to be fair) was Producing and Marketing. I loved learning about how to sell your film to potential buyers and I was fascinated at all the little details that could make or break a pitch.

If by some chance you're reading this and you are not a filmmaker, don't click away just yet. A lot of the points I'll be making can easily be transferred into other creative professions, in which you have to pitch a project to a potential buyer or client.

For those filmmakers who have never pitched before, it can be very confusing to know what your film pitch should include to really sell your idea. The most common form of pitching an independent project these days, is through crowd funding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. This gives you a few options when it comes to pitching, a written pitch, a verbal pitch, a video pitch or a combination of all 3.

You may already have a pitch written up and ready to go and you're wondering if there's anything else you could add or anything you could improve to really make it successful? Below are a few key points my producing lecturer drilled into us when we had to pitch our own scripts.

Reveal the key points of the whole story. This will probably be argued against as there seems to be some debate as to wether you should reveal the end of your story. Personally I think yes. You have to remember that you are not pitching your film to an audience, you're pitching your film to someone who is going to give you money to make it. Those people want to be reassured they're investing in a good strong story and they can't do that if you don't tell them how it ends.

You need to make sure you have identified the key plot points in your script that really make it interesting. Then, when you start your pitch, you will have the most exciting parts of your story ready to entice the buyer/investor.

Make sure you have a catchy logline. A logline is a short sentence that sums up the plot of your film. It needs to be short and to the point, explaining the general premise of what happens. e.g. 'A lonely young small-town girl is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.' - The Wizard Of Oz

What is your genre and what existing films does it resemble? It's essential to know exactly what genre your film falls into when marketing your project, all films will fall into a genre or cross of genres. It helps to think of similar films already released, this allows you to really narrow down your genre. For example, in university I wrote a script about a young woman who believed she was little red riding hood and how that innocent belief began to spiral out of control. I pitched this as a cross between The Game with Michael Douglas, as it had thriller elements but it was also similar to the film Red Riding Hood with Amanda Seyfried as it was also a dark fantasy. 

This just gives people a better idea of how your script will play out and what kind of tone and audience you're trying to target. 

Examples of visual style. This ties in nicely with the previous point. Talk about what visual style you want your film to have, what kind of camera shots do you want to include? Is it going to be all hand held? Is it going to be graded in a specific kind of way? 

Think of directors whose style you really want to emulate and talk about how you would use that style to tell your story. 

Gather a list of FAQ's. This can be from family and friends or you can have a think of what kinds of questions people not involved in your project might ask you. It's always handy to pitch your idea to a family member or friend first and get their feedback. Take any questions they ask and come up with detailed answers, this just makes sure you're covered if your client or investor asks you loads of questions you're not prepared for. 

If you're making a video pitch for a crowd funding site, you still need to include all this information, even if you've already got it written down. The main thing you have to think about when pitching your idea, is to create a visual in their mind. Films are all about visuals, so your investors need to be able to see it clearly in their heads before they can make a decision. 

These are just key points of pitching a film, but what else would you say is important to include in a project pitch? 

Friday, 20 February 2015

How To Use Google Analytics: Channels and Traffic Sources

How To Use Google Analytics: Channels And Traffic Sources

As soon as you step foot in Google Analytics you are bombarded with different tabs and endless possibilities as to what it can do (not going to lie, it still scares me a little). Understanding your analytics can really change your outlook on your blog or website, so it's important to at least have a basic understanding of it. 

In this post, I'll be focusing on the area I use the most, the channels and traffic sources tabs. These help you grasp a better understanding of where your readers and customers are coming from and what areas you need to improve to gain more traffic. 

To find your channels and source/medium tabs, head over to your Google Analytics, scroll down to Acquisition (It's the one with the arrows pointing to the right)

Google Analytics Acquisition Tab


Channels shows you what kind of places your traffic comes from and it groups them into 4 main areas, in order of the most used:

Google Analytics Channels

Most of my traffic comes from referral traffic and my organic search is way down at the bottom (oops). If you've had your domain name/blog or website for a while, you might want to take a look at your SEO to boost your organic search higher up the list. I've recently changed my domain so it's to be expected that my organic is at the bottom, as I've lost all my backlinks

Let's take a closer look at what each of these channels actually mean though and what they can tell us. 

Referral - Links from other websites e.g. people featuring your post in their own posts and linking to you. My top 5 referrals are below for Cat Crawford, as you can see, people find my blog through Bloglovin, then from Jenny Purr, as she recently linked to me in a post, and then there are some forums and RSS feeds at the bottom. This just gives you a better idea of where your traffic is coming from and allows you to see what sites are linking to you. 

Google Analytics Referrals

Direct - This is when someone types in your URL or clicks on a direct link to your site. What I get from this is that my top post from January is my SEO tips for beginners post, a handy thing to know when planning posts in the future, as I now know people really want simplified SEO posts. 

Google Analytics Direct Traffic

Social - What social media platforms are bringing the most people to your blog or website. My top social media platform is Twitter as I post regular promo tweets. I've also been spending a little more time on my Pinterest, so I can see from this that my efforts are paying off! I've also noticed that people are using the app Pocket to save my posts and people are also finding me on Stumble Upon. This means I should think about focusing a little more on those platforms as there's clearly an audience to be tapped into from those channels. 

Google Analytics Social Tab

Organic Search - Finally there's Organic Search, this is where my SEO comes into practice. Below are the keywords that people have used to find my blog, people are still coming here for beauty posts but people are also using my URL as a search term to find me. Over time this will improve and my keywords will change, but as I've changed my domain name I still have to build my keywords for this domain. This can be very useful if used alongside my tips from Finding Keywords and How To Use Them.

Google Analytics Organic Serach


The source/medium tab is basically a more detailed version of the channel tab. Instead of just telling you what kind of channel your traffic is coming from, it also tells you specifically what URL your traffic has come from. 

Google Analytics Source/Medium Tab

It's pretty much a summary of everything from the individual channel tab. The most popular way to get to my site is to click on a direct link or type my blog address into the address bar, then from Bloglovin, most likely the Bloglovin feeds of my followers and then from the link Jen very kindly posted on her blog. 

This just gives you a better overview of where your promotional efforts should be. Google Analytics also shows you graphs to give you a better visual indication of how your traffic is looking. I'm not going to go into reports or any of the stats you'll see on all of these pages just yet, I don't want to overload you with information. As long as you can grasp these basic lists, you can have a much better understanding of how to improve your blog/website. 

Have you ever looked at your blog/websites traffic? What parts of analytics do you wish you knew more about?