Blogging advice for equestrian and rural businesses

Blogging has become such a big part of equestrian and rural business promotion. In fact, it’s a foundation stone for a lot of businesses.

Blogging can be a hugely powerful tool because YOU are in control of it. YOU, as the equestrian or country small business owner, can put whatever you like on there and use it to promote your business. YOU can express your own opinion. YOU can help to inform and inspire your customers. And you know what, NO ONE EDITS YOU!

The great thing about blogging is that you can make it what you like. You can use it to promote your equestrian and rural business, the products you sell or make, your sponsored riders or brand ambassadors… the list goes on.

What’s more, you can use your business blog to become an expert in your field. How good is that?

Blogging is not a quick fix. It should be used as part of a longer term strategy to help you achieve all of the above for your equestrian or rural business. If you’re looking for something that will work immediately, this isn’t your thing. If you’re looking for something that, if written well, could help support your business for years to come, WHILE YOU SLEEP, this is it. Enjoy!

Consistency is king – but what happens when things go wrong?

They say the consistency is king, and I for one preach that. But what happens when your life and work mean that you can’t be as consistent as you want to be? Do you throw in the towel? Do you just struggle on? Do you become completely overwhelmed and brand yourself as a complete failure? Well over the last few weeks I have not been as consistent as I want to be with my blog, just because I have not physically had enough hours in the day to do the work I need to do and do the blog as well. And I wanted to explain a little bit more about why that is. I’m also here to talk about how I am getting back on the path to being consistent. Because it really is important.

Ahh – September…

September is always a really busy month in my world. I have Christmas things that are kicking off for PR and marketing clients, but I also have Burghley Horse Trials and Blenheim Horse Trials. And this year I’ve chucked in a couple of extra fun things too. So first there’s Burghley Horse Trials. A number of my clients attend Burghley Horse Trials and it is a really big deal for them. I don’t actually attend in person and haven’t for a few years, but I am very involved in all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes to make the Horse Trials a big success for my clients. One particular client is Hiho Silver. Not only do they have a stand there, but the company also sponsors the best dressed at the first trot up. Because it is a sponsorship, a lot of preparation goes in behind the scenes before the event even starts. I was absolutely thrilled with how all this came together during the event, but it does take a lot of time. Worth every second though – seeing a big project come together perfectly is a real buzz and one I wouldn’t trade!

Then there was Style, Skills & Silver

A few days later we embarked on Hiho’s very first instameet which was called Style, Skills and Silver. This took place at The Fish Hotel in Broadway and was absolutely amazing on every possible level. I loved every minute, but it took a lot of work behind the scenes too. Emma Warren, Hiho’s Queen Bee, was the person who came up with the idea and did do a huge amount of work, but everyone involved also worked their socks off on their respective elements to make the day the huge success it was. 

Then there was Blenheim Horse Trials

The next thing was Blenheim Horse Trials which, again, was a brilliant event. I did actually attend on the Friday too. Again, Hiho Silver sponsored the best dressed at the first trot up, and there was quite a bit to do around that. I did go for the day on the Friday as I mentioned, and met up with a few people and had a really great time. But it’s another day out of the system and when I have a certain amount of work to do, it’s my blog and content that takes the hit (and so it should be!).

And then there’s my second TEDx talk…

And then this month, just for a laugh, I was very very pleased to accept the invitation to do my second TEDx talk. This one is at TEDx Telford in 10 days time. Not only did the application process take a little bit of time in terms of having to submit various things, but also preparing a talk. I’ve got another rehearsal to go and then the actual event itself. At every stage, this does take quite a lot of time, and so it should do. TED and TEDx are big institutions and when you have the privilege of being invited to speak at these, you need to pay it the respect it deserves. This means time, energy and a whole lot of sweat(!) go into making sure that what I am presenting is useful to the audience and withholds TED and TEDx’s values too. I take this quite seriously because I think it’s such an honour to be invited not just for one talk but for my second. I kind of think this proves that the first one wasn’t all that bad!

Excuses?

I’m not trying to make excuses but I’m being realistic here. My blog and the content I create have to support my business. When I have plenty of work to do, and the reason I have created this content (as in, to help people, create opportunities and show what I can do) has created the work I want, it would be crazy not to do those things in order to create more content, to get the opportunities that I’ve already been given. See what I mean? So the blog is the thing that’s taken a hit. I do tend to schedule my blogs in advance and I have a load saved as draft, but being a bit of a perfectionist (which is not a great thing), I like to proofread, tweak, add links and images after I’ve written them. This means that although I have quite a few saved and ready to go, they still take quite a lot of work to get to the final stages.

This isn’t a bad thing. I did really beat myself up about it because I do preach that consistency is king. I’m not changing that – it is!

But it’s not everything…

I haven’t dropped ball on everything. My social media is still pretty strong. But that’s how I think it should be. I like to experiment, try and test different things on different platforms, so I can pass this learning on to my clients and then they get the to use my ‘testings’ on their own accounts. Also, I feel that the referrals and everything else from my social media to my website and to my other social media platforms makes them really really valuable. And as someone who teaches and lectures on social media, I need to be on the pulse on that.

I really love writing and sharing what I’ve been up to with you all. Because of the amount of time and energy each blog takes to write, that tends to be the thing that gets the biggest hit when I’m busy. So I’d like to apologise. I’ve still been putting out at least one blog each week, but it can be up to three (as per my schedule). I’m thinking of revising the schedule too – but that’s another blog!

What do you do to get consistency back?

If you feel like you’ve dropped all the balls and want to get your consistency in content creation back again, I have some tips…

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. These things happen. We all make mistakes and when things get busy it’s very easy to become less consistent because you’re overwhelmed everything else. Accept that this is life. But also accept that you need to pick yourself up and crack on. Don’t dwell.
  2. Start with one thing. If you feel like you’ve dropped all the balls don’t try and pick them all up and start juggling at the same time because you’re just going to feel overwhelmed. If you think that you can pick up one social media platform at a time, for example, then do it. And do that one well. You can then add the rest in when you’re feeling a lot more confident in what you’re doing. So rather been completely overwhelmed by everything being thrown at you all over again, just add one thing at a time into your schedule so you know that you can cope.
  3. And last but not least – you need to get back on it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with work, you might wonder why you need to get back on it. Because things have been going well without being consistent in your content. But I think it’s because you’ve been consistent for so long. And this means it’s not something you should consider stopping too quickly. I’m not prepared to drop it. I’ve kept my social media channels running as I said above, but the blog for me is really really important for so many different reasons. It’s been so useful for me. I know how much it helps people and I get lots of lovely comments from people saying they’ve read something on my blog and it’s changed the way they view something. That, to me, is so important. 

So I hope that’s helped. Being consistent is king. It really, really is, but I also want to acknowledge in this blog that we all make mistakes and we all drop the ball. What’s important is how we pick it back up and carry on. 

 

Can you be an ambassador for too many brands?

Can you be an ambassador for too many brandsCan you be an ambassador for too many brands? I was asked this question for a recent Facebook and Instagram Live. Not only was I very. very sure of the answer (yes), but there was a lot of support for this from business owners too. There are, however, variables on the number. Being a brand ambassador can be great for brand and ambassador, but it’s not always. And, as a brand ambassador, if you’re overstretched and underdelivering, it won’t end well.

Can you be an ambassador for too many brands?

You might have noticed a surge in the use of the term brand ambassador. It used to be a fairly rare ‘thing’ but, with the rise of social media, it’s become a lot more popular. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it’s a grey area. Having a lot of anything can reduce its kudos and can make what should feel like a rare opportunity a lot less ‘special’. But that’s a different subject.

People who are active on social media, who produce good content and engage with their audience are more likely to be asked to be brand ambassadors. When you apply for this accolade or are asked, the chances that any brand worth their salt will have done a little research into you and what you do. Now, these people (who are active on social media, have good engagement, etc) are not all that common… and that means that they can find themselves on the receiving end of a lot of requests. Yep, it’s really flattering and yes, you will probably get lots of lovely free things… but let’s just take a breath and have a little think…

If you are a brand ambassador, the brand will expect something from you

It doesn’t have to be a kidney or your first born, but there will be some pay back. If you’re supplied with products, the brand will expect to see these appear on your social media feeds, on your blog or vlog… and they will expect you to use the items. All of these things take time. Yes, you get the free stuff, but it all comes with an expectation. And so it should… giving stuff away for free is REALLY easy. But if that were the objective, you might not have been picked and the ‘contest’ would have been very different.

So. Yes. You get free things. But they’re not free. You’re expected to give something back and that will take time.

Some brands are flexible

Some brands give brand ambassadors a free rein and don’t give strict criteria. I personally think this is a good policy and you get to see who ‘gets’ it and who really doesn’t. It can be quite eye opening from the other side of the fence. This does not mean that every single post has to include a brand’s product, but it should feature organically in the content because. Wait for it. YOU SHOULD WANT TO WEAR OR USE IT. If a brand is flexible on the content you create, nurture this and support them. But be aware that just because they aren’t kicking off, they will be watching and waiting.

Lots of brands = no time

If you are looking to create content for lots of different brands, be aware of how much time this will take. You might find that, very quickly, you run out of time because of what you should be doing for others. This might mean your own social media suffers, or worst still, that your real life does! This is a real, genuine issue. Being a brand ambassador should not take away from your enjoyment of what you do. And having too many could well do this.

Conflicts

Lordy… this is a big one. Many brands have more than one type of product, and some have MANY. If you’re the brand ambassador for a retailer, they will carry lots of products. So what does this mean in terms of who else you can be an ambassador for? You need to find out. If you’re saying that ‘this x is the best ever’ on one post, and your next post states that something else is… what does that prove? You’re fickle? You can be bought? Your advice can’t be trusted? No one wants this… and you certainly don’t. If you work with people who have very specific products, you can take on more brand ambassadorships, if you work for people who have a range of products, this becomes a lot more challenging…

 

So, yes, you can become an ambassador for too many brands, but the actual number depends on a lot of factors. Being clear on what is expected from each party is crucial from the get-go, and from then you can work out whether or not they fit in with your current constraints and other brand ambassadorships.

If you’d like more hints and tips connected to PR, marketing, influencers, business development and more, don’t forget to join my newsletter– you can subscribe here

Why I reduced my blogging schedule

Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day and your blogging schedule is another addition to your workload? Do you feel like your blogging schedule is slipping? Or maybe you made the conscious effort to reduce your blogging schedule? Yeah… I did that too…

You may have noticed that my blogging schedule has slipped a little of late. Well, that’s not entirely true. It didn’t so much slip, it was more a conscious decision to blog less. To reduce my blogging schedule. But I’ve come to realise that, for me, this wasn’t such a good choice. So here I wanted to explain why I reduced by blogging schedule and why I have every intention of ramping it back up again…

Why I reduced my blogging schedule

Can we nip back in time? A while ago – well, over a year ago – I set myself a challenge. To blog once a day for 40 days. It was my 40 day blogging challenge. The aim was simple: I needed to get blogging for myself. At the time, I did a lot of blogging for other people’s sites and I saw the power it had. But for myself? Never had the time – too busy- nothing to say- insert any excuse you like. I had and used them all. I always like to try and test things so, when a client asks a question, I can actually help solve an issue because I’ve been there and done it. With blogging, I had done this for clients but not for myself, so I knew I needed to change that… so I started the blogging challenge.

What happened after 40 days?

After the 40 day blogging challenge, I reduced my schedule from once a day to three times a week because, really, once a day was not practical for me at that time – three times a week was. It felt good to have a plan and, after writing once a day for 40 days, three times a week was a breeze. I liked it. I got lots of information out, I had lots of lovely feedback, it generated traffic for my website, enquiries and clients. It ticked all the boxes.

As for the negative side of things, blogging three times a week is still pretty time consuming. I’m writing this blog at 11pm on a Tuesday night for a future Wednesday posting. Also, writing three times a week does mean that I can’t do everything else I want to do for promotion and marketing because there isn’t enough time. Well, OK, that’s not quite true. A bit less mindless social media time would generate this deficit. But I digress.

I decided a couple of months ago that I should knock one blog on the head, reducing to two posts a week – on a Wednesday and a Friday. I did also have a TEDx talk to prepare for, which did take a lot of time, I introduced a regular Live session on a Monday afternoon on my Facebook page, and I planned a lot of video content to record. But I felt like something was missing. In addition, I wrote guest blogs for Eventing Nation, become digital marketing partner for The Business Barn and landed two more magazine columns (joining my NFU Countryside column) in Absolute Horse and Equestrian Life. So I haven’t been sitting on my bum doing nothing.

But something was missing… I missed writing three blogs a week!

I know, I do wonder what planet I am on most days. The facts are this…

  • I love writing
  • I get great feedback from my blog posts
  • I reach my ‘tribe’ through my blog
  • People get to know me through my blog
  • My blog helps my SEO
  • Blogs help my web traffic
  • Blogs allow me to share unique content

So, in short, I will bring back Monday blogs, because of all of the above. At this stage, I’m not going to commit to a blog each and every Monday, but that is what I would like to achieve. I’m not saying I won’t knock it back to two blogs again in the future, but at the moment, I’m back at three. And I know it’s weird, but I’m kind of excited.

So, that’s why I reduced by blogging schedule- and why I’m ramping it back up again.

How often do you blog and why?

 

When is it OK not to blog?

when is it OK not to blogWhen is it OK not to blog? The short answer is that consistency in everything you do in your business is really, really important. So, therefore, you’d think that the answer to this is that you should always blog. No matter what. But I think there’s an exception to the rule.

When is it OK not to blog?

I talk about consistency a LOT. I have consistently published three blogs a week on my website for a flipping long time. And I’m really proud of it. I love writing. I love sharing my knowledge. And it works as a great tool for my business too. Many people who speak to me about small business coaching or equestrian and country PR and marketing have seen my website first. Some have read a few blogs. Some have read them all (thanks if that’s you!). Blogging is a really important thing for my business, and it’s a really important ‘thing’ for yours too. It has put me on the map in a big way (in addition to the other things I do), and I love it. But sometimes, life gets in the way, and as any blogger will know, content doesn’t manifest out of thin air. Sadly. Although I could be onto a million dollar idea if I can make that happen…

So I should blog all the time, consistently?

Yes, yes you should. That’s the short answer. But you may have noticed that last Monday, I didn’t publish a blog. It bothered me (more than I can express) that I didn’t. But I had a word with myself and realised that sometimes it is OK not to blog. See, I have really rotten cold last weekend (well, from about Thursday) and I felt really rough. I am not a sickly person and I don’t handle illness well. I’m one of these ‘I’m too busy to be ill’ people. I know. It’s not a great quality. As the mother of twin toddlers, running my own business, two horses, a dog that is very high maintenance and being crazy busy (I mean, I know everyone is, just for the record), I can’t just stop. I have been going to bed early, eating paracetamol like Smarties and so on. But life doesn’t just stop. However, removing a bit of pressure can be really helpful.

When is it OK not to blog?

I could have prioritised last Monday’s blog above going to bed early and getting another hour’s quality sleep. Should I have? Well, I’m going to say no. Because although I love blogging and it’s important for my business, because I have been a bit sickly, I’d been slower at other things. I had more emails in my inbox that I would have liked, the house still needed cleaning/washing done and all those boring things. And my clients still needed my attention in coaching sessions. There’s little point in working your backside off to attract the right clients and then doing them a disservice because you’re using your energy badly. Do you know what I mean? So last Monday’s blog was a casualty of me feeling a bit ‘meh’ and needing to focus on the core. What I NEED to do for my business on a day to day level rather than want or need to do on a big picture level.

Life happens

See, life happens. I’m not playing up a cold as something dramatic. It isn’t. But it shows that something as minor as a cold can make you readjust. When bigger life things happen or you and your focus is NEEDED elsewhere, things do slip. And you can either beat yourself up for it or just accept it and aim to get back on track as soon as you can. The former won’t help. If you’re NEEDED elsewhere, you can’t change that. All you can change is how you feel about the choice that you’ve made.

What’s ‘thought leadership’ and why should you care?

What's thought leadership and why should you care?Have you heard the term ‘thought leadership’? Have you wondered what it means and why you should take thought leadership seriously? It sounds a bit weird, but in essence it’s very very simple, and it’s something that you can use your blog to help you with.

What does thought leadership mean?

When I talk about thought leadership with my clients, I usually then mention blogging… maybe even vlogging, but blogging is the first point I talk about. In whatever profession you’re in, if you’re looking to attract clients, becoming seen as an expert in your field is a very very good strategy. This does, however, rely on you being good at what you do and actually being an expert, but that’s a whole different blog. Even if you’re an expert in your niche only, that’s fine. You don’t need to know everything about everything. You need to be able to inspire, be honest and genuine, and share your thoughts and your style online. Thought leadership allows you to share your thoughts, ideas and expert advice in a way that people will see you as a leader – as an authority. This authority will make people think about you when they have an issue or a question about something that’s well within your field of expertise. And that’s why it matters…

And what if you don’t want to be seen as an expert?

Well, exploring the idea of thought leadership might not be for you. But then you might also need to think about what this is projecting to your potential customer. If you are looking for help and advice in an area, who do you look for? The chances are that you’ll look for someone who is an expert, well known, etc. in that area. It would be a bit weird to work with someone who wasn’t, wouldn’t it?

There are many ways that you can find people to work with. Word of mouth, social media, asking for recommendations, etc. But having a point online, such as your blog, where people can come and read your genuine and honest thoughts and ideas is a great idea. It’s another reason why blogging should form a key part of your marketing strategy.

Does it work?

Yes. I can honestly tell you that I have had people reach out to me because of something that they have read that I have written. However, there’s one way that it really won’t work. I write about stuff that I know about, that I’m confident about, that I have read about and learnt about and that I’ve tried and tested and experienced. I will never stop learning. In many ways the term expert does feel a bit like an itchy jumper for me, but I do know my stuff and I know that the theories I apply and the knowledge I share works, and works well, when applied. But this has been achieved through failures, trying and testing things.

I really enjoy sharing my knowledge. I love helping and supporting people. And I feel humbled and honoured when people email or message me to tell me that something they read on here changed the way they viewed things, allowed them to try new things or helped them learn something… or even explain something they haven’t really understood previously. I like that. I like it a lot.

Are you a blogger or an influencer? Or both?

are you a blogger or an influencer?Are you a blogger or an influencer? They’re the same, aren’t they? Well no, no they’re not. You can be an influencer and a blogger, just a blogger, or just an influencer… here I hope to explain the difference. Not only is this blog for you if you’re not quite sure which category you fall into, but for brands too.

This blog was inspired by Haynet’s podcast, episode eight, which was hosted by the lovely Sam Hobden, owner and founder of Haynet. Listen to her ‘what makes a blogger an influencer’ podcast.

Are you a blogger or an influencer?

If you’re a blogger in the purest sense, you write a blog, which is an online written ‘log’. The term ‘blog’ came from the phrase weblog if that makes the word make a bit more sense. A blog can take many forms but blogs are generally informal and chatty in style. Blogs vary hugely in content, depending on the writer or objective.

Now, many influencers have a blog, but that’s not necessarily what earns them their title as influencer. An influencer is essentially someone who has influencer over others. Not in a weird or bad way, let’s just be clear. When people put a lot of time and effort into their social media, their audience (usually) grows, and this audience is usually engaged with the influencer. Let’s call the influencer Charlotte. So let’s imagine that Charlotte has grown an audience of 11k on Instagram. She takes pics of beautiful countryside things and gets lots of engagement on her feed. People ask her where they can buy what she’s wearing, or what she thinks about x’s new range, or the best place to visit in a certain county for country things. Charlotte is an influencer. She might have a blog. Her influence could be limited to a specific platform (like Instagram) or more widespread. She could have a blog too and use that to help support her influencer status. If she wants to. But she doesn’t have to.

How do you know if you’re an influencer or a blogger?

In simple terms, if your following engage with you and ask you for advice, ideas, buy things that you’re talking about or wearing, you’re an influencer. Because something you have done or said has influenced them. Or even they see you as such an authority that people reach out to you and ask you your opinion. If that’s you, you’re an influencer.

If you write beautiful blogs about your adventures as a creative outlet, just for you, you’re a blogger.

Or you can be both, if you write blogs about products, services, looks, etc that people read and absorb… and then take action on.

Don’t forget to have a listen to Haynet’s podcast about bloggers and influencers for more infroamtion.

Every day is a school day – don’t forget it!

every day is a school dayToday’s Wisdom Wednesday post (well, that’s why it was written but you can read it at any time you fancy!) is all about learning. Hence the ‘Every day is a school day’ title. Because it really, really is.

Every day is a school day

Have you heard this phrase before? There are many like it, but in essence ‘every day is a school day’ means that you learn something new every day. And with the speed that technology is advancing and digital opportunities are opening up, I think this phrase is the most relevant it’s ever been. If you ever hear a true guru/expert speak, or watch how they operate, self development is a huge part of their week. And that can take many forms. It might be working with a coach, attending lectures and seminars or taking part in courses. It might be reading and listening to podcasts. Investing in learning doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Far from it. In the amazing digital world that we live in, we have so much access to good, free knowledge, it can cost zero. But what it can deliver. Well, that can be priceless.

Should you invest in your own learning?

Yes. I could end this paragraph here but that would be a bit of a rubbish one, wouldn’t it? Taking time to learn new things and to try and test them is essential if you want to move your business on. I’m not saying you should throw your life savings at it. In all honestly, you don’t need to. Your investment could be time and zero funds if they’re not available to you. Yes, you do have to look a bit harder and up your ‘crap’ filter settings in your head (I can’t be the only one that has this?!), but you can learn and improve what you do for zero cost. Yes. Zero. There’s a wealth of FREE material out there for whatever business you’re in and whatever skill you’re trying to hone. You will need to put in the legwork and find good sources of information. This can be a bit vexing. Because it’s so easy to get yourself a platform online, it means anyone can. And while there are many (many, many) sources of great information online, there are some people I wouldn’t trust to sit on the toilet the right way around. You need to look out for those. But just keep your spider senses on and listen to what they’re telling you and you should be fine.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay to learn either – far from it. As someone who takes part in paid for courses, works with a coach and reads a lot of purchased books, I believe in paying to ‘play’ or at least supplementing your free learning with paid for. I also believe that paid for advice and knowledge (when it is from the right person) is usually better because it’s been pre-filtered, tried and tested… but that’s a whole different blog!

How do you learn?

Well, this depends on you. Some people are visual learners, some learn best through listening to things, it’s completely up to you. You need to find the style that suits you and how you learn. And also, make it fit with your life. A friend of mine embraced podcasts and audiobooks in a big way as the time she spent on the road increased, so she could make the best use of this ‘dead’ time. Personally, I often have a podcast on in the background when I’m working on something a little less creative, and I went through a phase of listening to audiobooks when I walked the dog (something I need to start again!). I also LOVE reading, and proper books at that, so I indulge in a little Amazon based retail therapy more than I would like to admit. And video is a big one too, depending on the skill you’re trying to learn. Have a play around and see what works for you.

 

My best business books from 2017

Business booksYou might have realised that I have a bit of a thing for reading business books. Well, it’s more than reading, it’s learning in general. I really do believe that every day is a school day, and whether that’s the lessons you learn through reading or doing. In my role as an equestrian and country business coach, I am constantly learning and testing things for my clients. And in my role as a country and equestrian PR and marketing consultant, I am applying what I have learnt and putting my money where my mouth is. Because I believe than in order to teach, you need to do… but that’s a whole different blog.

How does reading help?

One way I continue to upskill is through reading. This might be blogs and articles online and in print, but it’s also books. I know that many people have Kindles and iBooks… and I do have both these apps, but I have to say a ‘proper’ book works best for me. I like turning the pages. I like putting the bookmark in or turning corners. I just like real books.

Now, not all business books are created equal, and as I write this I am deciding whether I have got all I need out of a book I am currently reading and whether it’s time to move on. I believe books should educate, of course, but I do also want to feel uplifted and inspired by a book. So, with this in mind here are my top 9 business books from 2017

Top 9 business books from 2017

  1. The Million Dollar Blog – Natasha Courtenay-Smith. I recommend this to anyone who asks me about blogging. Yes, some people have done incredibly well financially from blogging, and while this book definitely does cover this aspect, it’s inspirational and educational for anyone writing a blog. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger looking for a kick up the backside or you’re on the first step of your blogging journey GET THE BOOK. It’s a good one.
  2. She Means Business – Carrie Green. This is a very different animal to any other book on this list, but as I enjoyed it and a lot of people I work with love it, so it had to get a mention. Carrie Green is the founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association and has managed to build a really decent empire and income from helping others via FEA. In this book, she talks about how she got there and build this empire. But it’s more than that. It’s hugely motivating and inspirational. Even if you don’t apply every single thing Carrie talks about in the book, I defy you not to feel like you can take on the world after you’ve read it.
  3. Brand Brilliance – Fiona Humberstone. I do love branding and the process. I blame the fact that when I was marketing manager at a big equestrian company, I worked very closely with the graphic design team and created branding for new collections, POS, packaging, ads, copy and more as part of my job. Making sure what was created was ‘on brand’ was essential and became something I valued in every decision I made. Because branding doesn’t stop at a logo. It’s in a brand’s every fibre. When I see a slightly wrong shade for a brand, it annoys me. When I see an image that is ‘off brand’, I wonder what the thought process was there. When I spot that an incorrect font has been used for something, it bothers me. I could go on, but we’ve all got lives to lead(!). Fiona Humberstone, aka The Brand Stylist, is incredible. She’s gets right under the skin of brands from the start, from the season your brand is through to the finer detail. And more than that, this book is a flipping work of art. It’s probably the most expensive on this list but it’s a thing of beauty.
  4. AskGaryVee – Gary Vaynerchuk. This, along with Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, The Thank You Economy and Crush It are an education in social media, marketing, PR and how the world can work for you. Gary is a slightly outspoke American entrepreneur who I have a bit of a thing for. His brain and the way he processes information is genuinely incredible, and the fact he can then communication this in a way that’s easy to understand is something else. Not only a brand in his own right, Gary’s also behind a range of companies including Vaynermedia, and started his assent to greatness on YouTube, talking about wine. And anyone who knows their drinks that well gets my vote. This book is based around the popular #AskGaryVee show, which you can watch for free, but it’s the filtered version. And I liked that.
  5. Your Press Release Is Breaking My Heart – Janet Murray. Having been involved in country and equestrian PR and marketing for quite a while now, you might think a book about press releases breaking people’s hearts would not feature on my list. But you’d be wrong. I still wholeheartedly believe in the humble press release (when done correctly, for the right reasons and when you’ve put in a lot of leg work… there are many caveats!) but it breaks my heart too when I see them used incorrectly. Why? Because they will not yield results. Sending an editor you have never even exchanged an email with your life story is not going to win you any fans. And paying someone to bother that editor is a double kick in the face. PR and marketing is often thought of as a dark art and I couldn’t disagree more. It’s actually very, very straightforward. And this book helps promote this message.
  6. Lucky Bitch – Denise Duffield Thomas. I have read both of Denise’s books and found them both brilliant. They’re very mindset focused but also, again, very logical with very actionable ideas that you could apply to your life NOW that would make a difference to you and your business. It starts when Denise decided she was going to travel the world for six months and how she actually managed to do this, and be paid to do it, with her husband. It wasn’t luck, it was down to hard work, the most positive of positive mental attitudes and a lot of thought. It’s another one that’s easy (and nice) to read, so I would definitely recommend both of her books.
  7. Eat That Frog – Brian Tracy. If you’re a bit of a procrastinator, find your to do list leaves you unmotivated and you spend too little time on the things that make the biggest difference, I’m going to tell you to Eat That Frog. Well, I’m not actually. I’m going to tell you to buy the book. The advice given is, in many ways, stating the absolute obvious BUT it’s great to understand more about the process and why. And it works. The book cost me under £3 on Amazon (I did have to add P&P), so it was a complete bargain too.
  8. They Ask You Answer- Marcus Sheridan. An ode to the power of content marketing if ever there was one. Marcus managed to transform the fate of his company using the power of content marketing. And I have to say that I personally believe in the power of this more than most. Being able to speak freely, to put your story out there, to help you get on the elusive front page of Google, and answer the questions people are desperate to know the answers to for free is  big deal. And the for free bit – yep – it does take time and energy but you can do it yourself and the cost to have a go is zero. And, what’s more, it’s not a one hit wonder, it’ll keep churning away for you in the background for as long as it’s there. As Marcus explains.
  9. Pig Wrestling – Pete Lindsay. This business book is genius… but read it twice. It explains how to deal with issues (your pig) in a very interesting and logical way, and it explains this through telling a story. Yep. About a pig in a pen. I’d actually forgotten how much I loved this book until I saw it on my Amazon history, and I will be digging it out for a re-read. Turn problem solving on its head with this one.

There are many good business books out there, and a number I have read and enjoyed that didn’t make this blog, but I would love to know which business books you think I’ve missed? What has been your best business book from 2017?

She Means Business Book- Advent Calendar Competition

She Means BusinessToday I’m giving away a copy of She Means Business… and here’s why.

Why am I giving away a copy of She Means Business?

Quite simply, because I think it’s a great book that everyone in business should read. She Means Business is written by Carrie Green, founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association. What Carrie has managed to achieve is nothing short of spectacular. From nothing, literally nothing, Carrie has created an organisation designed to support female entrepreneurs. She has a membership group, had her first ‘vacay’ this year, speaks at events and does a lot more. And she also provides a HUGE amount of free content in terms of podcasts, videos and blogs on her website the Female Entrepreneur Association.

Why do I like She Means Business?

Well, I read a LOT and I listen to a lot of podcasts and videos to help my own development. I pre-ordered Carrie’s book before it launched because I liked her manner and her attitude and was in awe of what she had achieved. I also think that she’s very honest in sharing her experiences and I think that’s important. So many people only show the highlights, which makes us mere mortals think they have everything together, everything is easy and, therefore, we are failing because some days it’s a flipping hard trudge. Carrie’s not like this. And neither is  She Means Business. It’s honest but also incredibly inspiring and motivating with plenty of take away tips that the reader can apply as they go. It’s also a big hit with clients of mine and people within the Small & Supercharged group, so it make perfect sense to have this as one of my giveaways in my first ever advent calendar competition.

Would you like to win She Means Business?

I only have one copy to give away, but all you need to do it pop on over to my Rhea Freeman PR Facebook page, watch the video that will be pinned to the top today and enter. That’s it! Of course, I’d love it if you’d tell your friends by sharing the post… although that is not an entry mechanism… as that would break Facebook Ts and Cs… and I wouldn’t want to do that!

I hope you enjoy my advent calendar competition – best of luck!

Why I stopped vlogging (and why I am pleased I did it!)

why i stopped vloggingYou may remember a little while ago, I decided that I was going to produce a weekly vlog. And I did it for a while. But a few weeks ago I called time on it, and I wanted to tell you why. Not because I think vlogs are ‘over’ or old, far from it. I’m a huge fan of vlogs and would rather watch these on Youtube than the rubbish that appears on my TV screen but, for me, it wasn’t working. Here, I’m going to tell you why I started vlogging, why I stopped vlogging, and what I learnt… so you can learn from my experiences.

Why did I start vlogging?

Well, I love a vlog. And I love video. And as with all things I like to have a go. I find this useful because, for my coaching and PR clients, I like to have been there and got the t-shirt before I advise or suggest things. And nothing works better than actually doing it. I have an iPhone 7 plus, so I had the tech (or, at least, tech that was more than capable of the job), my husband edits videos… so I was all set up.

And what did I learn through vlogging?

Well, a lot! In order to make 10, or even 15 minutes of interesting content each week, you have to do a lot of recordable things. This posed a problem for me. With my coaching, I couldn’t record what I was doing due to client confidentiality, so that was that scuppered. I spend a lot of my time writing and planning… and that’s dull to watch. I spend a LOT of time organising my toddlers (well, I say organising… more like managing!!), and I’m not happy filming them (that’s another blog I need to write!!). So what does that leave me with? Walking the dog? Dealing with the horses? OK- not the worst content in the world, but I felt I was majorly lacking on sharable content. So I guess that was the first thing I learnt. You need to be doing a lot of interesting, sharable stuff to vlog.

Next thing I learn was the need for good light and sound. I know this is important because of the other videos I create, but many a time I had to delete a decent vlog clip because I filmed it when I was walking the dog and there was a slight breeze that really messed with the microphone.

I also learnt that it is incredibly time consuming… and I don’t even edit my own videos. The filming takes a long time, the checking, the Youtube element, the promoting. It took a long time.

Because of the time it took, the other, more informative videos I make fell by the wayside. And I didn’t like this. The instructional and informative videos add more value to my brand and to my clients and following. And it felt a bit frivolous to abandon that in favour of this.

I also learnt that I need to be careful how I spend my time. It’s good to try new things, but also being able to say ‘it’s great but it just isn’t for me’ is also a really important thing. You have to try things to make them ‘break’, or find out if they work for you.

And I learnt a HUGE amount that I have passed and can pass onto my clients if they want to have a go at vlogging or creating more casual videos. And that’s worth its weight in gold.

Do I regret vlogging?

Absolutely not. I might revisit is again in the future – you know – if I get more interesting(!). No, in all seriousness, I don’t regret it for a second and I have learnt a huge amount that I am sharing with clients all the time. I also think that increasing popularity in Instagram Stories made the decision to shelve vlogging a lot easier, because that’s kind of a daily vlog anyway. Well, for me it is. And as I say, I might well vlog again in the future, Vlogging can have MASSIVE value for the right people and the right businesses. People have made their fortunes through them, have gained clients through them and a lot more too. I had plenty of lovely comments on my vlogs, and I did actually attract clients and enquiries through them, but they didn’t feel right for me at this time. But I would encourage EVERYONE to have a go.

You can see my vlogs over on my Youtube channel. I hope you enjoy them.