Monday, 29 February 2016

Grow Your Blog With Pinterest

Grow your blog with Pinterest

I love Pinterest, and have been a casual user for years. I really want to start using Pinterest more as an extension of my blog though - here's a guide to Pinterest for Bloggers which will hopefully encourage me to practice what I preach!

What is Pinterest?


Pinterest is an image sharing website which lets users upload or simply save images ('pins') to different folders ('boards'). It was launched just six years ago, in 2010, but quickly became the dominant social media network for aspirational living - they don't call all those beautifully styled interior shots 'Pinterest Perfect' for nothing!

Why should I be using Pinterest?


Pinterest has over 70 million users worldwide; about 3 million of those are UK based, pinning some 3 million images per day. The most popular searches are for recipes, crafts and tutorials but people can - and do - search for anything and everything on the site. So, no matter what you write about, Pinterest has the potential to drive traffic to your blog.

How do I use Pinterest?


The simple answer is you sign up for an account - preferably with a username that links you to your blog - fill out your profile information, and then start pinning pictures. You can even schedule pins in advance using sites like Buffer.

But nothing is ever simple!

You need to make your Pinterest account attractive enough that someone looking at it would feel inspired enough to click through to your blog. Write clear descriptions of what your boards are about, to help them show up in searches, and use hashtags in your actual pin descriptions for the same reason. Another idea is to 'brand' your Pinterest boards so your account looks cohesive, like so:

My Pinterest
My Pinterest account - the board cover images are 217 x 147 pixels. (Edit as of August only the top section, or 217 x 111, is actually visible.)
The first ten boards are so are the most important, as they're the ones that will make the all important first impression. Choose categories which represent your blog content, and be sure to have a 'best of my blog' board for people to check out. From that board you can pin on to your other boards, or on to collaborative group boards relevant to the topic - there is a directory for them at pingroupie.com.

Make sure your readers know you're on Pinterest too; include a button in your sidebar, for instance, or even embed a Pinterest board or widget. You can generate the code HERE.

How can I make my blog Pinterest friendly?


They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and, on Pinterest at least, it's true. You might have written the best tutorial / guide / review / etc ever, but the inferior post with the pretty 'pinnable image' is the one which will get pinned and repinned on Pinterest.

Because a 'pinnable image' is exactly what it says on the tin - an image which will represent your post on Pinterest. Make it big, make it bold, and make it striking. The ideal dimensions for a Pinterest image is at least 735 pixels wide, the width of the enlarged image when a pin is clicked on. Canva, the go-to online design tool, has a default Pinterest friendly template available.

To illustrate what I mean, here are two images I've used for a post on creating a blog media kit. The first I created when I published the post:

The unadjusted size is 810 x 450 pixels.

Months later I went back and updated the post to make it more search engine friendly. I also swapped out the previous image for this one:

Everything you need to create 'my first media kit'
You don't even need to take the fancy photos yourself - these are royalty free shots I received as a subscriber to the Wonderlass blog. More cool images can be found on any number of free photography websites.

The content of the post is almost entirely unchanged, but I think we both know which image is more likely to get it shared across Pinterest! Adding my blog address to the bottom ensures that people will know where it came from, even if the link gets lost along the way.

How can I make it easy to pin my content?


Once you have the images, you need to get them onto Pinterest. You can manually add them yourself, of course, either through the pinterest website or via a browser extension. But what about your readers?

Most default blog post footers will have a pinterest share option, but it's not always that obvious. Another option is to install a 'pin it' button which will appear on all your images. Pinterest makes this easy to do with their widget builder page, and you can then modify the code to suit your own needs. If you don't want a particular image to be pinnable - or just don't want the hover 'pin it' button appearing on your sidebar images, for example, include nopin="nopin" in your image html.

Finally, don't forget to confirm your website with Pinterest. This will make sure any image pinned from your blog will be attributed to you.

Anything else I should know?


In addition to personal accounts, Pinterest also offers business accounts. They offer a few extra features - pinterest analytics, promoted pins (if you're in the USA), and rich pins. There are six types of rich pin, which need to be verified with metadata:

  • App. (USA only.)
  • Article. This will make the headline, author and a description automatically show up.
  • Movie. Shows extra details like year of release, name of director, etc.
  • Place. This will add addresses, phone numbers, and maps - perfect for restaurants or events.
  • Product. Links to the product page, and automatically updates the price for you.
  • Recipe. Rather than just linking to your recipe, this will show the ingredients, serving number, method, and so on. You can still get people to click through for more detailed instructions.

Setting up a business account, or converting your existing account to a business one is both free and easy - and well worth considering!



You can also embed pins into your post to make them easy to share.


What tips do you have for making Pinterest work for your blog?







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Sunday, 28 February 2016

This Week #24

Don't let yesterday use up too much of today.
Life this Week

It's been another week of feeling 'bleh'. I wrote a post for Monday about how Marianna's traumatic birth has put me off having another baby. I've been dwelling on it a lot lately which I suppose is just another sign of feeling down and depressed. Hopefully next week will see me getting my act together!

Photo of the Week

Anthony and MariannaAnthony and Marianna.

This Week, I 'Ave Been Mostly...

☆ READING: I've been reading - and colouring - Fashion from Head to Toe.



☆ LISTENING: You Can Call Me Al - Paul Simon. I love that song!

☆ WEARING: You can see some of my fashion fails in this week's Friday Frivolity post. :)

☆ EATING: I've been drinking lots of tea this week.

☆ REVIEWING: Anthony reviewed (read: drank) a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne.

On the Blog

I've been working on my social media this week. I spent an evening 'branding' all my Pinterest boards, and I've been making a big effort with LinkedIn. I've gone from 60-odd connections to over 400, so it must be working!











Saturday, 27 February 2016

5 Reasons You're Never Too Old For Colouring

5 Reasons You're Never Too Old For Colouring

Colouring-in is not just for kids! Here are 5 reasons why you're never too old to pick up a pencil...

5. Everyone's At It:

The colouring-in craze has exploded over the last few years. Three of Amazon USA's top 10 selling books last year were colouring books, and they make up 17% of book sales in Brazil. Nobody wants to be a sheep and just follow the herd but, if you fancy it, millions of other adults have already gone and set a precedent.

4. There's So Much Choice:

The inevitable effect of all this interest in adult colouring books is that, well, everyone is cashing in on the genre. You don't have to make do with knock-off cartoon characters printed on Z-grade paper anymore; these days you can colour everything from the solar system to your own Tarot deck.

Fashion from head to toe colouring book
Hannah bought me this one for Christmas. :)

3. It's A Stress Buster:

The research into this is actually pretty sketchy (geddit?) but the Guardian says it, so it must be true.

2. It's Fun!

You've got my word on that one, which carries much more weight than a national newspaper. Obviously.

1. You're Carrying on a Proud Tradition:

Though it's taken off in a big way recently, colouring-in isn't new. The first colouring book, The Little Folks' Painting Book, is credited to the McLoughlin Brothers in the 1880s, and the first official adult colouring book hit the scene in 1961. It kick started an early 60s fad for colouring, so if you're too hipster to dance to the tune of 2016, you can say you're recreating those swinging cold war days.


Friday, 26 February 2016

Friday Frivolity: Fashion Flubs

Friday Frivolity

This week's host theme is fashion flubs, something I'm all too familiar with. I've had more than my fair share of fashion disasters. Though, to be fair, outfits most people would consider fashion fails I'm really proud of! I mean, even at a young age I was into imaginative accessorising:

My brother and I with doilies on our heads

And I've always had a passion for vintage fashion:

Showing some stocking top while dressed 1920s style for a vintage fair.

There are a few fashion rules I try to follow, all the same, like avoiding 'cheese string' bikinis:

gif of Mama June: 'all that vajiggle jaggle is not beautimous'

But, generally, I don't worry too much because it's all about your state of mind:

gif of nessa: 'I know, I feels it'


Now on to the link-up! :D


The Hosts:

Host: Jess from Babi a Fi
Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Google + // Instagram // Bloglovin'

Jessica is an amazingly funny and smart blogger from Wales who writes on a whole range of topics -- from entertaining vintage nostalgia, to technology tutorials, to book reviews, to raising her adorable munchkin, and so much more! This week Jess has been writing about Domain Authority and plans for a home office nook.

Host: Sarah Eliza from Devastate Boredom
Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Google + // Bloglovin'

Sarah Eliza is on a mission to Devastate Boredom by living a life full of all of her favorite things... friendship and connection, laughter, books and music, furbaby love, minimalism, wellness pursuits, Paleo-ish cooking, and on and on! Curious about how to create a capsule wardrobe without losing your mind?? Check out her series here!

Host: Audrey from Munofore
Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Google + // Instagram

Audrey is an awesome, eclectic blogger, who not only can cook up a storm over on That Recipe, but also writes at Munofore - "MUsings NOt FOod RElated." Munofore touches on humor, parenting, crafting, holiday ideas, tutorials, and more! Check out her gorgeous photos of plum blossom this week!

Host: Lisa from Syncopated Mama
Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Google + // Bloglovin'

Lisa is an awesomely hilarious and wonderfully authentic writer who marches to her own drum on her blog Syncopated Mama, providing an "un-labelly spot" for all the happily off-beat folks out there who have been wishing to find kindred spirits. She shares her adventures building a natural home, teaching her adorbs daughter, establishing and refining positive communication skills, camping, creating, cooking, and so much more! Her ongoing project snapshot is a must visit!


Featured Post from Last Week: 
In a fun twist, since we now have four hosts we will also have FOUR FEATURES.... but you will have to go check out the other three blogs to see if you were featured there! ;)

by Anne at Domesbilissity.

Anne wrote about all the, well, mundane and odd things her children are scared of  - it's something I think we can all relate to, and it made me smile to boot!

Now time for the new stuff! 

This a link-up for all things funny, fun, encouraging, hopeful, and happy. That includes free printables, giveaways, and other fun stuff to make us SMILE and start the weekend off on the right foot.

If you're here in search of fun and uplifting reading materials, skip the rules and just start clickin'! 

Bloggy buddies, thanks for coming to par-tay! You are welcome to link up to three posts, and old posts are always welcome! There are three rules only:

Party Rules


If you want to let others know about the linky, feel free to grab the badge!

Babi a Fi




Thursday, 25 February 2016

Review: Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial

Anthony had so much fun reviewing the BEMO Premium Beard Oil he wanted to give it another go. At least, this was the excuse he gave me when I asked him why he had opened the stupidly expensive bottle of champagne...

Reviewing Moet and Chandon Ice Imperial


I love champagne, however its been a long time since I had the money to buy a decent bottle of the stuff. So when my darling Jessica won a bottle of Moet & Chandon Ice Imperial through one of her endless numerous competitions I was all too happy to liberate the bottle from her clutches.

As with any expensive bottle of wine (currently retailing at £50.99 on amazon) I decided to wait for the right occasion to pop the cork. After I began rereading Sideways by Rex Pickett (a tale of two friends on the stag do from hell in California wine country) my taste buds were clamouring for wines that my bank balance would weep at. After looking at the selection of wines available in my dwindling stock of vino that litters the shelves of my man cave, I found a questionable pinotage and a bottle of self proclaimed white. I thought to myself - why wait for a special occasion? To paraphrase the film adaptation of Sideways, "any day you open a bottle of Moet and Chandon is a special occasion."

With that thought in mind I set the mood. I put my dinner jacket on, turned the lights down and put on Verdi's Rigoletto, filled the ice bucket, then flipped the cork.

At first taste there was definitely a citrus taste, with a note apricots and pears. The drink itself was less gassy than normal champagne, probably a side effect of being served over ice. It has a slightly oaky finish and goes down smoother than a pair of velvet underpants. To my mind the beginning of the bottle was bliss as I was unencumbered by baby and girlfriend. It still remained a good quaff when the two ladies of my life returned home for the evening, though something of the ambiance was lost and the bouquet was somewhat overpowered by the scent of Marianna's Eau de Toilet.

I would recommend to both the novice and the experienced drinker alike; and it makes a wonderful gift for those who are looking to add a little sparkle to their life.

Anthony enjoying the champagne.
For more of Anthony's writing, check out his politics blog Man Down My Local.

I won the bottle from paillettes&champagne last year, but I don't drink much so it's just sat there since. I tried a glass with Anthony and it was very nice - but it didn't make me think any better of having to listen to opera, I must confess!





For more reviews, please click the image below: 
Reviews from Babi a Fi - food, fashion, beauty, baby, toys, books, tech, days out, and more!





Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Office Nook Wishlist



Ever since we moved in to our current place I've been meaning to get myself a desk. I mean, you can work anywhere these days, thanks to wifi and laptops, but there's something about having a self contained workstation which always makes me more productive.

We have the space too - the house is a three bed so the spare room is currently home to my Sindy houses, an ancient Billy bookcase, and a neverending supply of wet washing. Seriously. All the room ever seems to be used for is drying laundry.

But that's about to change!

Next month I'm going to splurge at my interiors store of choice - IKEA - and create my own little office nook!

ikea home office wishlist

  1. MICKE Corner Workstation. (£125) I love that the back panels are magnetic so you can use them as a noticeboard.
  2. HEJSAN Magazine File. (£1.50) 
  3. Roberts Revival DAB Radio in grey. I won this last week from Glasswells and it is beautiful!
  4. TJENA Storage Box. (£3) You can never have too many TJENA boxes.
  5. MICKE Drawer Unit. (£45) This will be great for storing all my paper craft stuff.

I've already got a chair, a little lamp for the desk, and some nice storage tins for paperclips and suchlike I bought from Tiger. I'll post some photos when it's all set up and ready for use. :)



Tuesday, 23 February 2016

What Is Domain Authority?

What is domain authority?

Once I began to take blogging seriously I kept coming across the mysterious term 'DA'. It didn't stand for District Attorney, or Deviant Art, or even Domineering Aardvarks. What it actually stood for was 'Domain Authority'.

So what is Domain Authority?


Domain Authority predicts how well websites rank on search engines, and comes in the form of a score between 1 and 100. The higher the score, the better the website will rank. Examples of websites with a DA of 100 include Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Page Authority or PA, on the other hand, scores a specific page on the website.

Does my blog have Domain Authority?


The basic answer is: yes. The full answer is slightly more complicated. For your blog to have its own Domain Authority, it has to have its own domain. My domain is babiafi.co.uk, for instance. If your blog address is a subdomain, like babiafi.blogspot.uk, its DA will be 'shared' with the host domain.

When I had that blogspot address my DA would come up as 95 - but that was actually Blogger's DA. I had no Domain Authority of my own. You can find out your DA HERE; you can also download the MOZ toolbar which lets you be nosy and check out the DA of every website you visit. DA is not static either, it is updated roughly every month, when the Mozscape link index is updated.

Why is Domain Authority important?


DA is only a prediction of how well a website ranks and, as the cynical may well point out, is the rather recent brainchild of Moz, a digital marketing company. But - your DA is used in lots of other settings too. It impacts on your Tots100 score, for example, and many brands won't work with a blog which has a DA of less than 25 or so.

How is Domain Authority calculated?


There are over 40 different factors used to calculate a website's DA, but some of the big ones include:
  • Age of the domain.
  • Domain popularity. I.e. the ratio of links from and to your website.
  • Size of the website. The more content there is to be indexed, the better chance a site has of being ranked highly.
  • Number and quality of backlinks.
  • Moz metrics like MozRank and MozTrust.

What can I do to improve my Domain Authority?


5 Top Tips to Boost Your Domain Authority

What tips do you have for increasing Domain Authority?



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Monday, 22 February 2016

Why I Don't Want Another Baby

Why I Don't Want Another Baby

"You'll change your mind before long," is what everyone tells me.

Perhaps I will. I can't see into the future, after all. But right now, I have no intention of having another baby - no matter how many times people ask me when the next one will be, or how many times they tell me Marianna will be lonely if I don't lie back and think of England. (Well, Wales, let's be realistic here!)

It's not that I don't like babies. I wasn't entirely sure I did before I had one, but hormones and experience have worked their magic and transformed reluctant indifference to fawning delight.

It's not even that I don't like the idea of another baby. I had a brother and, vicious brawls aside, we got on wonderfully. We shared secrets, and kept each other company, and commiserated every time the other had a telling off to deal with.

If the science in Junior was real, I wouldn't have a problem with adding to our family.

Junior screenshot
Danny DeVito and Arnie in Junior.

But it isn't and I do.

Because I just don't want to be pregnant again. They say you forget the pain of childbirth, and perhaps you do. Marianna was delivered by cesarean section while I was under general anaesthetic so I really can't comment on it.

I do remember the nine and half months of constant worry though, knowing that if something was wrong it was all on my shoulders. I was the one who had to keep track of the baby's movements, and I was the one who had to be careful and sensible, and report any changes to a professional only to be told I was being silly and paranoid.

I do remember the feeling of relief that I was finally at hospital, finally about to be induced at 12 days overdue, finally able to give up sole responsibility for being able to tell if something was wrong.

I definitely remember the terror of being told something was wrong. Something I hadn't even noticed, and had absolutely no control over. The sickening fear as, minutes after being welcomed onto the maternity unit with smiles and jokes, I was rushed down to theatre and warned not to get my hopes up.

I remember my own terrible aftercare, and being left to my own helpless devices with nothing to occupy my time other than imagine all the worst case scenarios. I remember the incapacitating pain of my new abdominal wound, and the blind hysteria when I was told the baby I had seen for less than ten minutes had now had a fit and might not make it.


Marianna on NICU.

Marianna went for a check up with her consultant just last week, where he admitted to being amazed. That when he had seen her for the first time, following that fit, he hadn't thought we'd ever be taking her home from the hospital.

We were lucky, so astoundingly lucky. On that first day when the wonderful surgeon who had only the slimmest of hopes pulled out, in her own words, 'a little miracle' who was breathing independently. And on the next, when Anthony was taken aside and told to try and prepare himself.

I was lucky. I don't smoke, rarely drink, and for the entire pregnancy did everything by the book. I'm fairly young, relatively healthy; I was considered completely low risk. Yet I came close to losing my own life on the operating table.

It might be 2016 but childbirth still isn't safe. It still isn't easy.

For once, I'm going to be selfish.

I don't want another baby.


Marianna now
Marianna today.






Sunday, 21 February 2016

Life This Week #23

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.
Life this Week

It was half-term this week so there wasn't that much on at work - no seminar, and the only proper meetings I went to were planning committee on Tuesday and Cwmbran Community Council on Wednesday. The fate of the playschemes was decided at the latter; you can read more about it HERE.

On Thursday we went on a community litter pick, and then we had Labour branch AGM. I didn't want to be secretary anymore because it's a hassle with so many members not being on email - you either have to find the time to deliver agendas, or the money to post them. Anthony's going to do it now instead! :D

Photo of the Week

Marianna in sunglasses

This Week, I 'Ave Been Mostly...

☆ READING: Cracked Online.


WATCHING: Porridge. I love that show!

☆ LISTENING: Very High and Mighty - a song from Rainbow about Bungle getting above himself. I feel like I've heard it about 4000 times this week.
☆ WEARING: Make up for the first time in ages!

☆ EATING: Anthony made some gumbo last night but I didn't like it. It just tasted like prawns in stew to me. :(

☆ REVIEWING: Nowt this week.

On the Blog

I've joined up with three lovely ladies to co-host the Friday Frivolity linky - it's open until Monday so if you have a post, new or old, that is fun, happy, or generally positive please link it up! :) I continued on with my Mountfield Doll House series, and wrote about my history in fandom for International Fanworks Day.

I had another guest post go live this week too, all about my doll house and miniature collecting hobby for Mummy 2 Monkeys. Other than that, I did some prettying up of my blog code, adding share and follow buttons to the post footer and making the new posts, old posts and home buttons clearer. I even got around to updating my About Me page.







Saturday, 20 February 2016

Getting My Hands Dirty!


On Friday we all helped out at a big community litter pick in Northville. I blogged about the first one we did, back last summer, and you could see the big boost in engagement since then - there were about four or five times as many people this week! A group of lads from Itec Cwmbran came to lend a hand, one of Torfaen Council's waste management officer brought a load of leaflets and recycling wheels along, and Bron Afon helped organise the skips and cover the publicity side of things.

It's so fab that there is a community group driving this because, as you can imagine, if a councillor suggests a litter pick the only response is: 'I pay my council tax, why doesn't the council do it!?!' I've written before about the realities of council tax but, basically, the council isn't your mum. Torfaen CBC does a basic street cleanse every fortnight - picking up some 1600 tonnes of litter a year - but they're not going to be there every time some lazy sod can't be bothered to walk a few extra feet to the litter bin. What a community litter pick can do is sweep a number of streets, much more closely, at the same time, so you can really see a bright and shiny 'before and after' difference. Which will hopefully encourage people not to just dump all the same junk back again...

Northville Community Litter Pick Group Photo
Group photo! Credit: Northville Community Facebook Group.

Anyway, back to Friday. Anthony had the grabber, and I brought my own gloves because I'm a sad act like that. We picked up empty pop bottles, snack wrappers, broken glass galore and even a couple of condoms. From the middle of a residential street, and all. After the pick everyone reconvened at the skip amnesty point where the collected litter and dropped off waste filled three skips.

All of the 120-odd trolleys abandoned over the estate were rounded up and wheeled into Cwmbran Shopping, much to their disgust. The trolley problem is vast and long standing, but it does no harm to make a statement! Marianna loves riding in trolleys, so she was super happy to be wheeled into town in one, regardless of the politics behind it all. I wasn't so happy to carry her back to where Anthony and her pushchair were waiting. She definitely isn't a tiny baby anymore.

Trollies in Northville, Cwmbran
110 Trollies! Credit: Northville Community Facebook Group.

Then Anthony had to wangle himself onto the video being made before we went home. I think he's jealous he didn't get to be in the Urban Buzz video a while back. ;)

Northville Community Group in Cwmbran hold a clean up day
Northville residents pushed 110 abandoned trolleys off their estate and back to Cwmbran town centre for the supermarkets to collect. Northville Community Group organised a litter pick as part of their plans to get everyone together to make the area a nicer place to live. Over 50 people of all ages took part in the community clean-up. Bron Afon helped out with skips so residents could rid of any large items.
Posted by Bron Afon Community Housing on Thursday, February 18, 2016
>



Friday, 19 February 2016

Friday Frivolity

Friday Frivolity

I'm super excited to announce that I'm joining the lovely gang from Friday Frivolity as a host! This is an awesome linky which is all about the fun, the fab and the frivolous. With that in mind I want to talk about crime. Knife crime.

Poor ol' Blighty is overrun with it.

It's happening on our beaches:

great black backed gull. credit: maria de bruyn

It's happening in our homes:

Basset Hound with knife through head Halloween costume

It's even happening in our fancy restaurants:

lobsters with knives

Okay, you got me. I'm actually contributing to this week's linky host post theme - wild animals. I just saw this gif of a crab with a knife and couldn't resist building on it...

gif of crab with knife




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