Liebster Award 2

LiebsterBlogAwardUnbelievably I received a second Liebster Award very shortly after receiving my first!  Annie from the OCD Squirrel was kind enough to nominate me.  Annie is a super talented and original writer – I really love her style.  Check out the post and her fantastic blog via this link: http://theocdsquirrel.wordpress.com/

For details about my first nomination, including details of what the Liebster Award is read my earlier blog post: The Liebster Award.

Questions from Annie

1. What do you like to blog about?
I like to blog about the things that interest and inspire me.  First and foremost that is event and conference management, but social media, marketing and business also features!

2. What’s the story behind your blog name?
Hmmm, as it happens my blog name is currently under consideration!  When I started the blog it was simply called Events Northern Ltd which is hardly inspiring!  Now the long winded title is: Conference and Event Management Blog from Events Northern Ltd which is hardly catchy!  The title and theme/style/layout of my blog, as well as whether to go self hosted, are some of the things I am pondering so watch this space!

3. Which blog post of yours are you most proud of?
I wrote a post entitled Social Media in 10 Minutes a Day which explains how to manage your social media presence with limited time.  The post was well received and was the inspiration for a presentation at an annual business event we run.  It also led to an invitation to speak at an event which generated lots of great feedback.

Other than that I felt the need to respond to the ongoing debate Are Event Management Degrees Worthwhile? which was also a well read and shared post.

4. If you could live one day over again, what would it be?
My wedding day!  It was an amazing day but it all went by so quickly so I would love the chance to relive and savour it over again!

5. Tea or coffee? (cheat question: how do you like either?)
Tea earlier in the day and coffee later on usually.  White, no sugar please!  Or lemon and hot water would do nicely too thank you very much.  I must admit though a work I am the worst person in the world when it comes to brewing up!

6. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Probably something from my second school french exchange.  The family I stayed with were farmers and I think they struggled to feed me anything without meat in it so I got water with spaghetti in to eat every evening (no exaggeration!).  It really did not justify being called soup.

7. What do you think of Nicholas Cage?
Now that you mention it he does have a certain “je ne sais quoi!”  I can see the attraction (well minus the long hair and dodgy moustaches at least!).  I have to admit though Annie I do not share your love (infatuation?!) with him!

8. Who was your first celebrity crush?
Phillip Schofield.  When my mother was pregnant with my sister she asked the six year old me what I wanted to call her.  Without hesitation I said “Phillip Schofield.”  Luckily mum and dad settled for a more fitting name!

Then my affections transferred to Paul Heaton from the Beautiful South since the first time I saw them in concert at the age of 14!

9. What is your dream job?
Either:
A. Doing what I am doing now but with more time/focus on blogging, writing, teaching, speaking, marketing, social media and consulting.
B. Being one of the Dragons on Dragons Den (or simply a business angel)
C. Being a librarian

10. What’s your favourite quote from a film?
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”  Forrest Gump

11. What and/or who inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere – through people and conversations, in the media, online.  Inspiration is rarely a problem, time is generally the limiting factor for me!  My biggest inspiration is my husband, I love bouncing ideas around with him.

11 random facts about me

  • When I was at secondary school I had 3 different jobs – paper round(s), working in a bakery from 6.30am every Saturday morning and making drinks and washing up in a residential care home (I loved talking to all the residents!)
  • I have a degree in event management
  • I enjoy cheerleading and street dance
  • I used to have my tongue pierced
  • I have worked with Mr Motivator
  • I have a Jack Russell called Poppy
  • I don’t know how I managed before I got my tablet (a Hudl) - I love it!
  • I love snowboarding
  • I am a useless cook
  • I have size 8 feet
  • Our dream is to live in France one day….

The blogs I nominate are:

http://www.d2digital.co.uk/blog/default.aspx @d2_digital
http://thesecretwoman.org/ @the_secretwoman
http://fairytaleprettypicture.co.uk/ @alinaisaev
http://www.carlislemarketing.co.uk/ @linzmcwilliams
http://virtuosoassistant.wordpress.com/ @VirtuosoAssist
http://themarketingscrapbook.com/category/blog/ @bethgladstone
http://tigerfishpr.co.uk/blog/ @amandatigerfish
http://www.coomarketing.co.uk/blog/ – @clairenield
http://www.prettythrifty.co.uk/ @_pretty_thrifty
http://aatnweddingfavours.wordpress.com/ @aatn_andrea
http://www.arealbridesguide.co.uk/ @realbridesguide

Questions for the bloggers I have nominated:

  1. Explain your blogging journey
  2. What do you love most about blogging?
  3. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  4. In your opinion who is the best 90s band or artist?
  5. What makes you mad?
  6. Dog or cat?
  7. What is your main aim/ambition in life?
  8. What are your blogging goals?
  9. What is your favourite book of all time?
  10. Would you carry on blogging even if no-one read your posts?
  11. What is your favourite flower?

Don’t forget to add the link to your post in the comments below so I can have a read!

Happy blogging!

Liebster Award

LiebsterBlogAwardI was absolutely delighted to find out this blog had been nominated for a Liebster Award!  The fantastic Events Blogger Caitlin Kobrak nominated me (read all about it and check out her fantastic blog here > http://www.eventmanagementstudent.com).  Caitlin is a really talented and dedicated blogger and I absolutely love reading her posts.  She is also a well deserving finalist in two categories of the UK Blog Awards 2014!  Thank you so much Caitlin!

So what is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is for bloggers who have fewer than 200 (or according to some variations on the rules 1,000 or 3,000) followers.  Either way I have taken this to be email subscribers to our blog, rather than followers on social media as otherwise we would be ineligible!

Liebster Award – how it works:

  • thank the person that nominated you and link back to their blog
  • display the award “badge” on your blog
  • answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you
  • list 11 random facts about yourself
  • nominate up to 11 bloggers and let them know you have nominated them
  • set 11 questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  • post a comment on the blog post of the person that nominated you so they can read the post

I found this post helpful when reading up on it: The Official Rules Of The Liebster Award.

Caitlins questions to me

1. Why did you start blogging?
The thought really appealed to me – any excuse to talk and write about the world of events! I kept hearing about the importance of blogging for business too and so Gemma from the UK Blog Awards helped me set up and start the blog in June 2011.

2. What is you favourite type of post to write & why?
I really enjoy taking a topic and relating it back to event management and also giving hints and tips to relate something to peoples own event projects.  For this reason I particularly enjoyed doing Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) and writing posts inspired by recent events such as What the Arctic Monkeys can teach you about event management and Event management lessons from the Apprentice.  I think it is healthy to take a subject area or hot topic and give it a twist or think about it differently.

3. If you had a super power what would it be?
Time travel would be good!

4. What do you feel has been your biggest achievement in life so far?
On a professional level my biggest achievement has been setting up Events Northern Ltd and celebrating 10 years in business in June of this year (the company was incorporated in 2004).

5. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would ban grumpy, miserable and rude people!  Life is short and there is simply no need for it!

6. If you could speak to your past self, what would you say?
Don’t waste time worrying; everything works out for the best in the long run.

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Still running conferences and events but hopefully with more time for blogging, writing, consulting and speaking!

8. Who Inspires you the most?
I am lucky enough to have heard speeches from many inspirational individuals over the years such as Jamie Andrew OBE, Michelle Mone OBE and Phil Jones.
I look up to successful entrepreneurs such as Sir Alan Sugar, Sir Richard Branson, Karren Brady, Luisa Zizzman, etc.
Julius Solaris from the Event Manager Blog is really inspiring from a blogging and events perspective.

9. What is the one goal you are working towards?
One day I will write a conference management book!  It hasn’t yet progressed beyond the many ideas in my head but watch this space!

10. If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be?
Any of the inspirational figures I listed above!  Or Paul Heaton….. (of the Beautiful South/Housemartins fame).

11. Whats your top number one place you want to visit?
Without a doubt New Zealand is top of my list.

11 random facts about me

  • I love the colour red
  • I am proud of my Yorkshire roots
  • On a summer holiday as a child I managed to cycle into the swimming pool (something my family will never let me live down!)
  • I have only missed one V Festival in the last ten years
  • I haven’t eaten meat since the age of 8
  • I wanted my parents to call my sister Phillip Schofield?!
  • Caipirinhas are my favourite cocktail
  • I auditioned for the Royal Ballet School (needless to say I didn’t get in!)
  • During university I worked in the call centre for a betting company
  • I met my husband on a summer holiday in Magaluf when I was 21
  • My ultimate luxury is a hot bubble bath with my Kindle!

I nominate the following blogs/bloggers:

http://theeventsgirl.wordpress.com/ @theeventsgirl
http://eventsglos.wordpress.com/ @eventsglos
http://gemsinlondonblog.com/ @duport1982
http://theeventure.wordpress.com/ @zziwd Emily
http://www.gleanin.com/blog @gleanin
http://evvnt.com/category/tips-tricks/ @evvnt
http://event-wide.co.uk/category/blog/ @event_wide
http://joanna-isms.blogspot.co.uk/ @joanna_isms
http://mackskyevents.wordpress.com/ @eventcornwall
http://jemimagibbons.com/ @jemimag
http://www.digienable.co.uk/news @digienable

My questions to the nominated bloggers

  1. When and why did you start blogging?
  2. Describe your blog
  3. What is your favourite colour?
  4. What are your blogging aims for the future?
  5. How do you find inspiration?
  6. What is your ultimate indulgance?
  7. What is your ideal job?
  8. How much time do you spend blogging each week?
  9. What is your worst habit?
  10. Tell us about the best event you have ever been to?
  11. Where is your favourite place in the world?

Nominated bloggers – don’t forget to leave a comment with a link to your blog post below so I can have a read!

Unbelievably I received a second Liebster Award very soon after receiving this first award, which was great as I got to nominate more blogs and spread the love!  Read about it here: Liebster Award 2

2013 In Review: WordPress Annual Report

Happy New Year!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for the Events Northern blog (how kind of them!).

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

We have some great posts planned for 2014 and we are looking forward to continuing to develop and improve our blogging skills!  We hope to blog more regularly (no matter how busy we are organising fantastic events and conferences!).  We also want to look more closely about the important role bloggers can play within events both pre-event, on site during the live event and post-event as this is an area that really interests us.

You may also be interested in reading this related post:
Top 10 Blog Posts of 2013

 

The Event Industry and Blogging: Are Event Managers Missing a Trick?

UKBlogAwardsLogoWe are really excited to be a collaborative partner in the National UK Blog Awards, which is the first cross industry blog awards to take place in the UK.  As a blogger myself and an avid reader of blogs on a largely daily basis we are really passionate about being involved in this exciting project.  I started blogging in June 2011 and I am enjoying continually learning and developing my skills and immersing myself in the blogging community.  I am finding it truly inspiring seeing so many fantastic blogs being entered into the Awards and wish I had more time to read them all!

One of the 14 categories for individual bloggers and businesses that blog to enter is the Events Category and I have been surprised to find entries in this category lagging behind the other sectors slightly.  I never seem to have any shortage of event blog posts to read, however I realise of course that many of my favourite event bloggers are not from the UK, notably:

As the UK has such a strong and vibrant community of event professionals I believed that everyone like me would be beavering away on their blog as often as they could, knowing how important it is to post regularly in terms of improving SEO, visibility and showcasing knowledge of their niche sector.  Now don’t get me wrong – many UK event professionals ARE doing this, and some of which have already entered the awards!  I did some research and it was great to see so many established blogs with regular postings and a back catalogue of archived blog posts on interesting topics (going back several years in some cases).  HOWEVER for every great up to date blog I discovered there were numerous others with blogs which hadn’t been updated since circa 2010/2011.  This made me wonder are these companies still in business?  I wondered if it was actually more detrimental having a neglected blog on their site rather than having no blog at all?

In this quick investigation into UK event management blogs I searched for both Freelance Event Managers and Event Management Companies as it is proven that blogging is a great leveller in terms of inbound marketing returns, particularly for small businesses.  I was also however surprised at some of the biggest companies in the event industry not having a blog at all.  And others still that called something a blog when really it was just a series of news posts and self promotion.

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate how hard successful event planners work in the industry and the long hours that they keep because I do the same too!  I am certainly not saying that I am perfect in any way – you will see that I have sometimes had months when I have not posted to this blog due to work pressure, maternity leave, etc (although hopefully not recently as this is something I am improving on and committed to).  I feel however that missing a post or three is entirely different to going AWOL from your blog for 6 months plus, particularly without any explanation.  It is one thing being busy and not having enough hours in the day but not finding the time to write a post in the space of half a year or more sends out the wrong messages I would say!

It also made me laugh to discover so many sites which proclaimed “this is my new website and blog, which will be updated regularly without fail” never to have any further posts!

Generic blog logo

Universal blog icon

The UK has world class events, venues, suppliers, technology, eventprofs and event management companies but in terms of my quick blogging research it seems that the UK as a whole could be falling behind the rest of the world in the events blogosphere.  Most event managers that I know have lots to say and if the prospect appeals I would encourage you to definitely think about starting a blog and giving it a go!  Perhaps then you will be entering the awards in 2015!

One thing that I have found really inspiring is the number of students and graduates blogging.  As an employer if someone with a well written blog applied for a job in this competitive market this would potentially set them apart from the other candidates as it shows self-motivation, passion, thought and dedication – all key attributes required by an event organiser.  This heartwarming article from the Guardian Professional gives a real life example: Blogging During Unemployment Helped My Career.  Despite the difficult economic climate blogging helped this Graduate into work after 2 years of unemployment and illustrates potentially the springboard that blogging could be if you so wish, whatever your profession.

Do you think the UK lags behind the rest of the world in terms of event management blogs?  What are your favourite UK event industry blogs?  

Are you an event manager?  Do you or your company blog?  How often do you try to post and what is the longest period you have gone without posting?  What were the reasons for any breaks?  

Do you think it is best to have a neglected blog or no blog at all?  I would love to hear your thoughts on these issues below!

In a forthcoming blog post I am going to discuss the importance in engaging with bloggers as part of your event marketing strategy, before, during and after a live event.

Individuals and organisations can enter their blog for FREE in the UK Blog Awards up until midnight on 15th December 2013 via the UK Blog Awards online entry form.  There are 14 categories for individual bloggers and businesses that blog to enter – 12 industry categories (including the Events Category) and 2 sub categories including ‘Most Innovative’ and ‘Young Persons Blog Award.’  We will look forward to reading your entry!

What Have I Learnt from #BEDN

Today marks the final day of #BEDN (Blog Every Day in November). For the last 30 days myself and over a hundred other bloggers have endeavoured to write and publish a new blog post every single day.  A suggested topic was given each day which could be used for inspiration or disregarded if you had something more pressing to write about.

November has been a hectic month!  On top of my normal busy day job organising wonderful conferences and events for people I have written 44 blog posts (27 for Events Northern Ltd as I missed writing two posts over the course of the month and posted one guest blog post, 16 for the UK Blog Awards and 1 for DCMS about the Blog Awards), I have been a hosted buyer at EIBTM in Barcelona, I have spoken at the Social Media for Women Conference and on a personal note my gorgeous little boy had his 1st birthday!  Phew!

I know it sounds clichéd but I feel like I have been on a blogging journey by being a part of this process!  Originally I started this blog and religiously blogged regularly every two weeks, easily spending two hours planning, researching and writing each post.  Then there have been other times when I have gone long periods without posting at all due to workload (and of course all small business owners have it drummed into them that not posting regularly is the ultimate sin!).  During November time has been short and I was keen to participate but I knew that to succeed I would have to write shorter posts and adapt my approach. I am really proud of the achievement and glad I got involved.

So What Have I Learnt from #BEDN?
> That I can write a blog post in 20-30 minutes
> That I can take a random topic and blog about it. Or most importantly can take a subject area and relate it to the events industry
> That a blog doesn’t have to be long, shorter is often better
> That even if it is slightly after midnight you can change the date and time so that it registers that the post was published earlier than it actually was
> That connecting my WordPress blog to my social networks for automatic sharing is a great time saver
> That if I post regularly I feel it gives me greater freedom to include a variety of posts e.g. venue/hotel reviews, lists, pictures
> That there is inspiration everywhere, particularly from industry magazines, blogs and social media
> That my Tesco Hudl is amazing for allowing me to draft and publish blogs on the go
> That pen and paper are great for planning the content of a post
> That I should encourage more gust blog posts
> That picture galleries are a great alternative to a text post and I definitely should explore vlogging too
> That I need a blogging calendar
> That I should remember to repost blog posts again the day after posting and on a regular basis whilst it is still current to encourage continued traffic
> That being controversial or challenging a controversial point of view is great for traffic

As much as I would love to I can’t sustain blogging every day but hopefully I have proved to myself that blogging at least one a week is feasible.  Perhaps I can work on the position of posting at a set day and time each week and building up a stack of posts in reserve for when it is impossible to find time to blog?

Blog Traffic
I have seen my followers and blog traffic increase massively during November. I am unsure if this is an immediate knock on effect of posting so regularly, the support of others doing the campaign stopping by or perhaps a bit of both? 

Thank you everyone for reading!

How have you found #BEDN?  What have you learnt?  I would love to hear your comments below!

#BEDN Blog Every Day in November Introduction

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumEvents Northern Ltd is taking up the challenge to Blog Every Day in November (Twitter hashtag #BEDN).  This is a great initiative from Elizabeth of the Rosalilium Lifestyle Blog.  She has set the challenge to boost creativity, encourage people to get blogging, have some fun and be inspired (great idea by the way!).

This means that every day in the month of November I aim to blog every single day (30 whole posts!).  This will be no easy task, work is busy and there is lots going on during November, including my exciting first trip to EIBTM in Barcelona.  However we pledge to blog as often as we possibly can!

Elizabeth has put forward a suggested topic for each day and bloggers are encouraged to work on that theme if they can unless they have something more pressing they wish to cover.  The important thing is to blog every day if you can!

I am more than aware that our blog is often the first thing to get neglected when we are juggling multiple work projects and we appreciate this is the ultimate blogging sin in terms of SEO and engagement.  My posts can also be quite detailed and lengthy.  Hopefully #BEDN will help on both these counts though, making posts short, sweet and regular.  We hope this will inspire, influence and improve our blogging skills for the future.

So Elizabeth suggested that we should use this post to introduce ourselves.  I am Becki; MD of Events Northern Ltd, which is a conference and event management company based in Preston, Lancashire and established in 2004.  We are a SME and we blog about things that interest us – predominantly everything event related, social media, marketing, technology and business.

I am sure there is time for you to still sign up if you wish to join the challenge too!  Sign up to #BEDN here.

Outbound Marketing is Dead

Inbound Marketing Overview. Photo Credit: Business 2 Community

LEAD at Lancaster University Management School recently held a reunion for past students.  Becki was excited to return and hear from Nathan Smith of Smith and Smith PR.  Nathan gave a presentation entitled “Outbound Marketing is Dead: An Introduction to Inbound Marketing.”

Nathan explained how sales calls, direct mail, tv ads and unsolicited emails (outbound marketing) are no longer effective, consumers nowadays are much more sophisticated, selective and wary (or even fed up?) of these methods.  If they want information they will seek it out themselves and so it is up to us as businesses to make available the information people want and lure them in (inbound marketing).

We have often wondered how effective cold calling is for businesses as we find it such a turn off.  Likewise mail shots just seem so out of date nowadays (think of the planet!) and I have email overload already without spam adding further to my inbox!

So what is inbound marketing?  Inbound marketing includes:

  • SEO
  • blogs
  • social media
  • enewsletters to a verified opt in list
  • Ebooks
  • webinars
  • word of mouth/recommendations
  • PR/news/media
  • video
  • forum
  • podcasts
  • and other forms of content marketing.

The landscape has changed unrecognizably from outbound to inbound marketing since I started out in the events industry and since I set up Events Northern Ltd in 2004.  The great news though is that inbound marketing costs less and has better a ROI!

This infographic by Mashable provides a useful visual explanation:Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]

Further useful reading can also be found here:
Hubspot: Inbound Methodology

Calling all bloggers!
If you already “blog” you may be interested to enter the UK Blog Awards.  It is open to individuals/freelancers and organisations across 12 industry categories and 3 sub categories.  It is FREE to enter.  The deadline is midnight on 1st December 2013,

If you are interested in the power of social media….
We recommend you attend the Social Media for Women 2013 Conference, Preston, 26th November 2013.  Becki is delighted to be running a workshop on Social Media in 10 Minutes a Day.

Our search for a generic and recognisable blog logo

Recently we launched our new Events Northern Ltd website.  It was important to us that the new site linked through to our blog, both via the website and also via social media buttons on our email footers.

Becki Cross, MD, Events Northern Ltd

New Events Northern website

Our web design company automatically suggested using the Blogger logo alongside our other social media buttons to click through to our blog.  As we have a WordPress blog though we were resistant to this.  Although we realise that the Blogger logo is widely recognisable to many people as a blog link, we have a WordPress blog and so it seemed wrong to us to use in essence a competitor logo to click through to our blog.  However we discovered that the WordPress logo seemed to be less identifiable to people.  After a quick straw poll we found that some did not recognise and relate the WordPress logo to a blog at all and others viewed it more as a content management system or website builder platform and so it seemed to confuse those that we questioned about it.  This came as a surprise to me as I was familiar with WordPress as a blog publishing platform long before we started our own company blog and anticipated that others would also recognise it most strongly with blog content.

This led to a debate in the office about the best solution and we turned to the READY2SPARK LinkedIn Group (marketing communications for event planning) for some guidance as we didn’t want to hold up the launch of our website.

Lara McCulloch-Carter (@ready2spark) and Jim Spellos (@jspellos) were particularly helpful responding to my post.  If we decided against using the WordPress icon Lara suggested having a blog header or creating our own custom blog icon that signified a blog.

Jim advised that the B Blogger logo, technically, is the Blogger logo from Google. He advised that although many people appear to be using it as a generic blogging icon this is not accurate.  It is a trademarked icon so people should tread carefully and definitely avoid using it incorrectly as this is infringement.  He explained that

“It would be like using the Facebook logo to redirect your users to MySpace or another social networking service.”

He also flagged up Google’s terms of use which prohibit the use of the logo outside of their terms.

Generic blog logo

Universal blog icon

We were in agreement with this advice and luckily we then stumbled across a solution in the form of a blog post by Brendan Mitchell from March 2009.  Brendan had come up against the same problem years earlier and couldn’t believe that with the prevalence of blogging there was no standard icon for blogs.  He therefore tasked himself with creating a universally recognised, standard blog icon in the hope that in years to come everyone would be using it.  He based the icon design on the standard RSS feed icon and through his website (www.theblogicon.com) he provides various formats and colour variations of the logo for free and without any restrictions, including various sizes of the logos in PNG, GIF formats, plus Photoshop & Illustrator vector files.

We were delighted to find a universal and recognisable Blog logo which we are comfortable and happy to use.  Brendan’s orange version of the universal blog icon now has pride of place both on our website and on our email footers.

I hope others can benefit from using the logos too.  To show our gratitude to Brendan and to save other businesses the time searching and deliberating over this issue we hope that our blog post will further spread the word!

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

To share your support for the universal blog icon please follow the links below:

www.theblogicon.com

http://www.twitter.com/brendanmitchell

http://www.facebook.com/brendanmitchell

http://www.linkedin.com/in/brendanmitchell