Facebook for equestrian & rural business

Facebook is the most amazing social media platform that most people love to hate. But with over two billion monthly active users, you need to get on board with it!

For zero cost you can get your business set up on Facebook, and you can then use this amazing platform to build awareness of your business and drive traffic and sales to your website too. For free.

Facebook can also act as the most amazing advertising platform with the product being able to target people by a variety of factors. This means that your advertising budget is going to the exact people you tell the platform fit your customer profile. How good is this for an equestrian or rural business? You can tell it the kind of pages your target customers might be following, their age, gender, the activities they like… and these people will get to see your advert!

Since this social network began it has evolved quite a lot; both the Pages for business and the advertising product. And here you’re likely to find some tips and tricks to help use it well for your equestrian or rural business.

How to use Canva

How to use CanvaCanva. One of my favourite online places to be. I am a HUGE fan of Canva and regularly recommend it. I still find it amazing that not everyone knows about Canva, so I thought a blog that gives you the basics of how to use Canva would be a good call. Because it is such a game changer.

What is Canva?

Canva is a free – yes FREE – graphic design ‘tool’. It’s accessible online, it all works through the internet (you don’t need to download anything) and it is genuinely amazing. With loads of inspiration, design templates and even online tutorials about how to use Canva, it’s a really superb space. There are also paid for options (whether you want to buy an individual image or upgrade your package) but I’m not going to talk about them because I can honestly say I am yet to use them. I think as I have a lot of my own images, that helps a lot. Although the resize function would definitely be handy… so I’m not ruling it out. The reason I mention this is because there are so many platforms that are free to use, but if you want to do anything else, you have to pay. And when I mean anything else, I’m talking basic functionality here. I’m not having a pop at these kind of sites as everyone needs to make a living – I get that- but you can really create quality graphics, ads, posts and a LOT more for nothing through Canva.

How to use Canva

I am not saying that Canva should replace quality design – it shouldn’t. While I like to think I am OK-ish on the design spectrum, I am not a graphic designer. Graphic designers don’t just know how to use clever bits of software, then KNOW how to design. This can make the difference between an OK design and something that’s superb.

But, in my experience, Canva is incredible for making a graphic designer’s work go further. So if you want to add your beautifully designed logo to – I don’t know – a quote, Canva allows you to do this. So you’re using the graphic designer’s work with Canva. Equally, if you’ve taken an image you want to put onto social media, Canva allows you to do this. Ideally, you’d have a brand manual too, which would give you things like the hex colours, font families and other guidelines and how to use your marketing collateral so it stays on brand. But these guidelines can (and should) be integrated into anything you create through Canva.

I have also used Canva for bigger things – I have designed adverts through Canva. This is not something I like doing (but that’s because of my skillset, not Canva!), but it has that functionality as you can download your design as a print ready PDF, set the dimensions so it’s sized correctly, and even add bleed if needed. This means that Canva is more than just a tool for online graphics, memes, quotes and more, it’s also very, very capable of creating artwork for print too.

Canva templates

As I said, Canva has a huge range of templates available for you to use, for free. These will, usually, be to the correct size for what they say – like ‘Facebook Cover’ for example. However, if you have something specific in mind, you can just set your own dimensions – that’s the beauty of Canva – it lets you create what you actually need. When you’ve done your stunning piece of artwork, you can then download it in a range of formats, making it great for online as well as print.

Some of the template options are completely designed ready for you – you just change the words and the images as you like and they’re ready to go.

How to use Canva – what do I do?

I actually created a draft of my logo in Canva and then had a graphic designer refine and tweak it, but as I had the framework I could really show what I was thinking! Day to day, I use Canva for social media posts and blog images above everything else to be honest. It means I can quickly create the graphic I want with zero compromise, and I can use the elements I have had designed by a graphic designer in my designs too.

How do YOU use Canva?

If you haven’t used Canva yet, I would urge you to go and have a look on the Canva website here. There is also an app version that I have on my phone, but I have never really got on with that. I can do minor tweaks to designs and then screenshot them if I want to use them on Instagram, for example, but in my opinion the desktop version is head and shoulders above the app.

If you do you Canva, I’d love to know how you use it and why! Pop on over to Facebook to get involved!

What I learnt from giving a TEDx talk

What I learnt from giving a TEDx TalkIn April, I gave my first TEDx talk at TEDx Malvern. I learnt a HUGE amount in the run up to and during the experience, but I needed a bit of time to reflect before I could write this. I wanted to share with you what I learnt from giving a TEDx talk… it might just help you if you’re planning to give a TEDx talk or if you’re just looking to improve your public speaking.

What I learnt from giving a TEDx talk

For ease, I’m going to pop these in a kind of long bullet point form…

  • Public speaking is not as scary as I thought. I’ve always told myself that public speaking is scary… because I have had a few public speaking brushes before and all made my heart pound a bit. This time, I genuinely wasn’t scared. Which was weird. On the lead up to it I was a little anxious, but from the point I got in the car to make my way there, I really wasn’t…

 

  • I’m not as bad as public speaking as I thought. In my head, I had decided that I was not a gifted public speaker. And to be clear, there is PLENTY of room for improvement, I’m not denying this for a second. But I’m not bad. And the fact I have admitted to myself that I’m not bad has given me a huge confidence boost. Silly, isn’t it? We have the power to change how we feel about something so radically by shifting our perception from awful to ‘not as bad as I thought’. However, saying you’re not as bad as you thought, well, in my case, means I want to go on, learn more and do more. Saying I’m point blank terrible makes me want to run for the hills. So I’m not as bad as I thought. And I am happy with that.

 

  • Break it down. If you think of the whole TEDx talk ‘thing’ as one big chunk, it’s overwhelming. Breaking it down makes me much easier. I thought of it in a number of different ways and tried to work on a bit of it regularly, so what to wear (parts one and two!) was one thing, the draft of the talk, recording the talk, learning and ‘performing’ the talk, writing the cards, preparing the slides, sourcing the images, etc etc. I even broke some of these into bits – so I had a very vague outline for the talk I was giving and then started to fill bits in… and leave bits to get more info on and come back to. If I’d thought ‘right – today I am doing all things TEDx’ I would have come unstuck quickly. Because while I knew who I needed to speak to and needed pics from, getting images takes time… not a long time but with time differences it does. Chipping away at it and breaking it into bitesized chunks was much easier.

 

  • I can do slides. It turns out that I although I have seen a million (slight exaggeration) Powerpoint presentations before, I haven’t actually done one myself. I didn’t realise this until I started working on it and very quickly hated the design options available to me. I hated them so much that I designed every slide in Canva and imported it as an image into Powerpoint. So I don’t do slides in a conventional way, but I can do them.

 

  • Slides should not make up your talk. I watched a lot of talks on Youtube before my TEDx talk and I found one theme in common with what I thought were the best talks. The slides were limited (in some cases there were none), enhanced the talk by adding images/video/key facts, and were clear and easy to read. The ones I disliked the most had the talk on them… I mean, why have someone read something to you from a screen? Of course, some more technical talks benefit from more detailed slides with facts, figures, graphs and charts. Mine wouldn’t have. And although I could have added more slides with more images, I was quite happy with what I did.

 

  • Go with your gut. When I was talking through the slides with my Dad (who, turns out, has done loads of presentations using Powerpoint…) he was pretty sure I was putting over the wrong kind of thing. He said that images weren’t really right for slides. And they should be more dynamic than mine. Well I wanted images and I didn’t want crazy moving parts – it’s just not me. I’d also watched a lot of talks and realised that everyone is different and there’s no ‘right’ way. You do you. So I did me. And I was really pleased with what I’d done.

 

  • What you wear matters. This is something I’m slowly beginning to realise. Your clothes aren’t just about how you look, it’s how they make you feel. I put a fair amount of thought into my outfit (and was ably assisted by Sophie Callahan and Karen McConnell) and I was pleased with how I looked. Looking at the pics taken on the night, I was cross with how my shirt creased at the front… I would probably wear something different in style next time because of this, but I felt confident and happy (and it did look really good before an hour’s car journey and an hour sitting down in a theatre!)

 

  • Enjoy it, because it doesn’t really matter. Don’t think I’m being flippant here. I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity and TEDx matters a LOT, but I decided that enjoying it, to me, was important. This was also a bit deeper because if I worried myself stupid and told myself that it mattered SO much, I would have been scared of making a mistake. Of stumbling. Of losing my thought. This would make it a lot more likely that I would and, if I did, I would struggle to get back on track. When I decided that I would give it my best shot but, quite rightly, acknowledged that no one was going to die if I messed up, I was able to enjoy it and really think I delivered a much better talk as a consequence.

 

  • Preparation matters. I felt fairly confident in what I was doing for many reasons – and one was the amount of prep I had done. I had had a fairly quite week to make sure I had time to prepare (thanks for the kick in that direction Emma Warren!) but it made a huge difference. I didn’t over rehearse what I was saying but I had a few good run throughs, had everything ready in plenty of time- I’d even allocated time to iron my shirt! Preparing things on every level helped me feel a lot more confidence for my TEDx talk.

 

  • Cheerleaders. For various reasons, I didn’t know anyone at who attended the TEDx talk. There was talk of different people coming with me but I didn’t push the point and it didn’t happen – the talk sold out very quickly too, so that was quite a large factor. But you know what? It didn’t matter, because while no one was sat in the theatre, I have the BEST bunch of cheerleaders who were with me every step of the way on my phone. I had SO many lovely comments come through email, messenger and text during the day and had lots of messages asking how it had gone too. I think I was in the car for about 30 mins replying to everything before I started on my way back. That made me feel incredibly special. Your cheerleaders don’t have to be in the same room… or even in the same country!

 

  • I want to do more of it. A rather unexpected result of my TEDx talk was that I want to do more public speaking… yeah, I was surpised too. As soon as the event had finished and I was outside chatting to some of the attendees, I was approached about giving other talks, so that was nice.

 

  • You need to step beyond your comfort zone to grow. And to get that lovely buzz that’s a mix of pride, achievement and possibility. It’s a nice buzz.

 

  • If plan A doesn’t work out, there’s a load more letters… and if you get stuck, ask for help. I had put a post on my Facebook page asking for a case study element for my talk. Whether I didn’t explain it properly or what, I don’t know, but none of the responses were what I needed. This was a problem as it really illustrated the point. It wasn’t until I was speaking to Sophie Callahan that the idea hit me. And I should add that it was her facial expression that gave it away. See, I was looking for someone in my local area who had connected with someone in a rural location through social media. Of course, the answer was looking me straight in the face – I was the perfect example. You know sometimes people say things are too obvious? Yeah – that.

 

  • You can condition yourself. I started off being nervous and managed to feel excited. This was due to something Emma Warren, my lovely client and friend suggested. In essence, it was when you feel a pang of ‘Oh Christ, what have I done, it’s going to be awful’, do something to change the game. She suggested I rubbed my hands together and said ‘I’m so excited about giving my talk and sharing my knowledge with the people there – it’s going to be great’. Or something like that. Damn me it worked. I only did it twice… and then I struggled to get worried about it. Weird. But it worked!

 

So that’s a snapshot of what I learnt from TEDx. Although I feel that this could have applied to all public speaking and all of the above will definitely help me in the future.

If you’d like to see my TEDx talk, you can have a look at it here. I hope you enjoy it. And HUGE thanks to Jane at Confident Rider and her friend Vivre for helping me illustrate how incredible social media is…

Behind… the Small & Supercharged group | Rhea Freeman

Small & SuperchargedToday I wanted to tell you a bit more about my Small & Supercharged group. This Facebook group has now reached over 1000 members (and there will be a competition to celebrate over on my Facebook page very very soon!!), so I thought it would be a good chance to catch up.

What’s Small & Supercharged all about?

In essence, Small & Supercharged provides a safe, online place where small business owners can share ideas, ask for advice and network. Originally, lots of different people joined the group from a variety of different industries, but it definitely has a central theme. And that’s canine, equestrian and rural. It’s hardly surprising that the group has attracted people from this space. I have worked in this area for a long time, so most of my contacts are also active in this space… and a lot of their contacts are too.

The community is a fab, busy and buzzing place with so many different skills. I should emphasis here that while canine, equestrian and rural links MOST of the people in the group in one form or another, don’t be fooled, there’s a real diversity in the group. We do have people who run tack shops and equestrian centres, of course, but that’s not all. We have PR and marketing people (equestrian PR and marketing and not!), computer whizzs, website designers, graphic designers, photographers… LOTS. Some of these people might simply own a horse or a dog, so understand a little bit more about what makes the industry tick. You don’t have to be up to your eyeballs in the equestrian, canine or country industry to gain from the group. Promise. It’s the diversity of the group that makes it work so well. There’s people in there with very different skillsets. And this means that lots of people benefit.

Is Small & Supercharged UK only?

Nope. We have members from all over the world, and that absolutely thrills me. I find it so interesting seeing what other people get up to and how the industry differs from continent to continent. Many of the businesses in the group are international, so whether someone is based in Australia or England, it matters not. We can all help and learn from each other.

Why is it called Small & Supercharged?

The group is aimed at small businesses (well, small and medium really) so small was easy. Supercharged refers to the drive of the people inside it. Their desires and passions are infectious and inspiring.

Why community matters

Community is important. As humans, we’re pretty sociable creatures (well, most of us!!) and while some industries have more of a defined hub- this one doesn’t. Whether it’s because we have the ability to trade all over the world, or that people who are in the equestrian, country and canine industry tend to be geographically ‘remote’, I don’t know. And I should say when I say remote, I don’t mean on the top of Everest, more rurally located. And that makes them difficult to gather in a face to face format. Facebook groups, like Small & Supercharged, provide this place. This community if you will. Of course, there are rules and running a group is not without its challenges, but when I hear of how much good the group has done, things that have happened as a direct consequence of our little corner of the internet or someone who has been lifted by another member or comment, it makes it all so much better.

If you’d like to become part of the Small & Supercharged community on Facebook – we’re all over here.

How not to sell on social media

How not to sell on social mediaDo you want to have a coaching session with me?

In short, I have just committed what I believe to be a cardinal sin in terms of social media, content marketing… actually any form of PR at all. I have committed this to illustrate a point- it’s horrible on every level. And if it made you feel half as uncomfortable as I felt typing it, then I apologise.

How not to sell on social media

If you didn’t see anything wrong with my direct approach, then you have a little bit to learn about social media. But worry not. Because you’re here now and we’ll get it sorted. You’re going to find out how not to sell on social media. And you’re not alone if you think this is OK. It’s not, but you’re not on your own.

So… social…

I’ve heard both Gary Vaynerchuk and Dan Meredith use an analogy that perfectly describes why the above is wrong. But it’s not really ‘PG’ content so we’ll go a different route. Imagine you are at a bar, or a restaurant, or a party. You walk over to someone you see and out of nowhere ask them to buy from you or do something to help you. Just because you want them to. They don’t know you. You haven’t added any value to them or their lives. You haven’t even had the courtesy to introduce yourself. How do you think that encounter will go? Do you think they’ll be reaching for their purses and wallets while asking you if you accept cards? Or do you think you’re more likely to get told where to go? Or laughed at? Or, depending what you ask, a slap in the face? I know where I’d put my money…

See, there’s a reason why you can’t just ask for what you want. It’s not socially acceptable. The clue is in the name. I mean… it’s flipping rude! Social media isn’t about saying ‘I have this – buy it’. An advert can do that. Social media is about being sociable. Finding out about your fans and followers and what makes them tick. It’s creating interesting content and tips to help support their goals and objectives. It’s about actually caring about your audience. It’s about delivering more than they could hope for and asking for nothing. You should look to make friends of your fans and followers. To forge real connections and to actually engage with them in an authentic way. And if you don’t want to, don’t be surprised to get slapped in the face. Metaphorically or otherwise!

How do you sell on social media then? If you can’t ask?!

You can ask, but you can’t ask all the time, and you can’t ask without putting in any effort. Treat your fans and followers as friends. Share things you think they might like to read or watch, create content that might be useful to them, tell them where you’re going and share information about new things you’re doing. Create polls, how tos, videos, memes… whatever appeals to your audience and strengthens your brand. You can say you have things for sale. You can share news of products and services. You can do all these things, but they mustn’t be your sole online strategy… because it won’t deliver.

If you’re looking for a little help with how to sell on social media (or how not to sell on social media!), you might find Five Ways To Grow Your Equestrian Business On Social Media a good read. Enjoy 🙂

Why Facebook ‘scaremongering’ angers me so much…

Facebook scaremongering Have you heard that Facebook is changing the way that posts for businesses are being displayed in the News Feed? And have you seen all the posts that explain how Facebook is screwing us over? It’s the end of the platform? They’ll leave Facebook? How it’s all a scam? How you should pay them money to beat the new changes? How many did you tick? Now, I for one am SICK of all the posts that get published of this nature. Facebook scaremongering I call it. There is no need to be scared. Or feel all is lost. And I’ll also explain why I hate the Facebook scaremongers.

So what’s a Facebook scaremonger? And why are people Facebook scaremongering?

I’m just going to clear this up now, before we hang out together for the next few moments. There are the ones who pretend they can see the future of Facebook and it’s bleak (you know, because they’ve read something). These people use a lot of different wording but most revolve around the ‘I told you so’ and ‘you’re screwed unless you pay me money to help you’ idea. Let’s just take a breath here. I’ll explain my take on this and any other tweak in the algorithm and how we’re going to deal with it. Like rational humans. OK?

If Facebook loses its audience its of no use to anyone.

Most of the changes that Facebook make involve protecting their community. The 2 billion plus people who use the platform. They need to protect these people because the people make the platform. Facebook with no people is a billy-no-mates convention. If the community gets fatigued and detached from the News Feed and what they’re doing, they’ll come back less often. The news from Facebook states that: ‘we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people’. And let’s just think about this phrase in relation to what Facebook is all about. Connecting people. If they’re not chatting and having meaningful interactions, it’s not working. It’s not a community.

Now, let’s pretend Facebook didn’t protect its community. Our feeds would be filled with engagement bait and general rubbish and it would become a whole heap less interesting. And when people get bored they don’t keep coming back. And if the audience goes, what use is that to anyone?

Your reach might suffer

Yep. The news item states that too. Depending on the content you create and promote, it could hurt. A lot. But you don’t need to lose your mind here. You need to innovate. You need to read what the news item says. The one on Facebook, and look at what it’s saying. There are themes that we’ve all known have generated better engagement for a while, and these will probably help us to get the exposure. The content you put out on social should be good. It should aim to engage people and spark conversation. Because you can post every minute of every day, it really doesn’t mean you should. You should look to put out your best work, your most useful content, the posts you think people are actually going to care about.

So, why are we not panicking?

Because Facebook is continually tweaking what it does. We’ve all noticed changes on our pages and profiles, different functionality, new things, different things, etc. And we adapt. If a post doesn’t work the way it should, you learn and try something else. And if you’re not doing that then you’ve been doing social media wrong! Social media is all about engagement. The clue is in the name. So if your posts haven’t been getting engagement, you need to change what you’re doing anyway. And if you haven’t been, this is your wake up call. Crack on.

So, Facebook is screwing us over?

Nope. Facebook is a FREE platform that was developed to help PEOPLE connect with PEOPLE. We, as small business owners, are beyond lucky to have the chance to engage with customers and potential customers for free. Yep. Zero cost. Zilch. And if we want to increase a post’s reach, or target different people, we can throw £1 at it and that happens. £1. I mean, I’d suggest you spend more than £1 if you’re serious about it, but you get my point. Can you do that in a magazine? Can you attend an event for that? Do a leaflet drop? Reach someone on a different continent who has similar interests to your audience? Nope. Facebook isn’t screwing us over. It gives us amazing opportunities each and every day, and we need to respect it and that. And if we have to ‘pay to play’ and up our content game, then so be it. Facebook is a business at the end of the day. It needs to protect itself and the asset it has (people’s attention and engagement) which it converts in money through advertising. I’m good with that.

What if you rely on Facebook for your whole business?

It blows my mind that some people rely on a platform that they do not own to support their entire income stream. If you’re in this boat, you need to get on the other social platforms, get yourself a website and OWN your own brand NOW. That isn’t Facebook’s fault, it’s something you can thank Facebook for as it’s given you warning. If my sole income relied on something that could literally vanish tomorrow, I wouldn’t sleep at night. Seriously. Take control of your own destiny. And part of that is having your own owned platform that you can promote yourself from.

I hope you’re feeling a bit calmer?! This is something that I will be chatting to my coaching clients about in the coming weeks and months, but that is NO DIFFERENT TO NORMAL. We are always reassessing what’s working and what isn’t and building on it. 

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.

 

A big thank you- part 2… Equestrian and Country Advent Calendar Giveaway

Caracal EquestrianFollowing on from part 1, this is the second and final part of my Equestrian and Country Advent Calendar ‘thank yous’. I always meant to do this in the period between Christmas and New Year, and while I know I technically made it, a day to spare is not ideal. But still, we’re here. So, now to thank the brands who donated prizes for days 13-24. As I said it part one, I really am very, very grateful to the brands who supported the Equestrian and Country Advent Calendar Giveaway, but I am also incredibly grateful to all of you. The people who liked, shared and commented on the Facebook posts each day… because I am sure you had more than enough on your plate in December! I have LOVED receiving pictures and notes from the winners and seeing the prizes in their new homes. So a big thank you to you too.

Before we crack on with days 13-24, I also wanted to take this opportunity to wish you an incredible 2018. See you on the other side…

The Equestrian and Country Advent Calendar Giveaway – part 2

Day 13 – Hold Fast Mug – Doris & Co. As a very proud brand ambassador for Doris & Co, I have a bit of a thing about the brand. Since the first British creamware mug entered my life, I’ve been hooked. Not only is this beautiful handmade creation made in the UK, it’s hard as nails. You can dishwasher it (is that the right term?), it’s robust, it’s lovely to hold and use… and the designs are fab. All the pieces in the collection have an exclusive design. In the case of ‘Hold Fast’, this has an equestrian theme, but many don’t. Everyone who meets Doris loves her, so when the company said they would like to donate a ‘Hold Fast’ mug to my giveaway, I was pretty Haynetdelighted.

Day 14 – Stock – Caracal Equestrian. Ailsa, the lady behind Caracal Equestrian is a seriously talented designer and seamstress, and I have loved watching her brand grow and expand over the last few months. The company is best known for its beautiful riding shirts (do check them out, seriously!), but it also makes stocks. Like the shirts, the stocks use more unusual fabrics to create something truly stunning. Traditional shapes and design touches meet pretty fabrics and lace and more. The stock is a great example of this, so I was thrilled when Ailsa kindly donated one to the competition. Thank you Ailsa and Caracal.

Day 15 – Heavyweight Bobble Hat – Apt Cavalier. I first met this bobble hat when I was putting together my Christmas gift guides. I was due to send all the gift guide products back to their ‘owners’ after filming. But there was an issue. I loved this one too much and felt I really needed it in my life. The colour was ‘my’ colour, by which I mean the burgundy/plum that has made up my logo for years. And I made the fatal mistake of trying it on and it was so snug. As I walk the dog in all weathers and spend time outside with the horses (and, OK, have pretty crazy hair), it ticked so many boxes. And at just £12.50, it was a bargain. So I treated myself. And I am in no way disappointed. After this, I got in touch with Sarah at Apt Cavalier about the competition and she very kindly said she’d donate one for it… so thank you Sarah!

Day 16 – Stationery Bundle – Sainsbury’s. This was a prize I bought, because I am nothing if not a stationery addict! I do like Sainsbury’s stationery, and the ‘You’ve got this’ embossed in foil on the notebook sold it to me!

Day 17 – Haynet Saddlecloth and Mug – Haynet. I have the privilege of working with Sam at Haynet on her fabulous podcast. I love being involved with this and am very excited about 2018 too. Anyway, I digress. Haynet is a fabulous website, well, a lot more than a website, a community, that offers support for equestrian and country bloggers. Some of these bloggers blog for business and some just for fun. But why they blog matters not, Sam supports them. I was really thrilled when Sam offered a branded saddlecloth and mug for the advent calendar snaffle friendship braceletcompetition. I’m looking forward to seeing them pop up on social media soon, to help spread the Haynet message. Thank you Sam for the donation.

Day 18 – Stable Hands & Muck Off – Hawkins Organic. Hawkins Organic is run by the same people as Annabel Brocks, and you’ll know by now that I am a big fan of Annabel! The Hawkins collection is really lovely, and I was delighted to feature products for dogs, horses and humans in the Christmas Gift Guides. I wanted to share a bit of Hawkins loveliness in the advent calendar and opted for Muck Off (hand wash) and Stable Hands (hand cream) as I felt these had the most universal appeal. Made with green fig, they smell lovely, and they’re beautifully branded too.

Day 19 – The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith. This is another book I bought as I recommend it to SO many people. If you’re thinking of starting a blog or you’re feeling a bit ‘meh’ on the inspiration front, head to Amazon now if not sooner! The Million Dollar Blog is not very expensive, it’s really easy to read and full of useful info, case studies and more.

Day 20 – Bubblegum Pink & Faux Fur Headwarmer – Annabel Brocks. This was another competition prize that people loved… and especially with the chilly weather we were experiencing then, it’s not a surprise! I have the pewter velvet version of this and it is lovely, so I wanted to get one for the giveaway so someone else could enjoy a little head based luxury. The fully reversible headwarmer combines bubblegum pink tweed with luxurious faux fur, is made in Britain and is so snug. I know the winner was very excited to be picked!

Day 21- #AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk. Another book? Yes, but the last one for this competition, and I wanted to end with a good one. I am very fond of Gary Vee because he’s right on the money on so much. I have every book of his and have pre-ordered his new one too. He doesn’t sugarcoat things and his knowledge and insight is incredible. This book is nothing short of an education and one I really think anyone in business should read.

Day 22- Exclusive Snaffle Friendship Bracelet – Hiho Silver. This little bracelet is SO cute and this new version has two very special new features. The Exclusive Sterling Silver Snaffle Bracelet is not new to Hiho Silver, but this version is. On the original, the toggle that allows for adjustment is a round Hiho engraved toggle, but on this one IT’S A TINY SADDLE. And just when you didn’t think it could get any better, the beads have been replaced by teeny sterling silver stirrups. I love it. And when Hiho donated one to the competition, I did a happy dance. There. I told you.

Day 23- Wimpy Bundle – Diary Of A Wimpy Eventer – Victoria Brant. Victoria has just released her second book, and I originally spoke to Victoria about buying book two for this competition. Well, she wasn’t having that, so she donated book two, a Wimpy Calendar and a Bravery Band instead! Thank you Victoria. The whole bundle is lovely – the calendar was created with her fans, the Bravery Band gives a welcome reminder that all will be OK, and the book. Well, if it’s anything like book one, it’s bound to have the reader crying and laughing! The second book ‘How to stay on top’ is out now (and I am reviewing it too) and book one ‘How to get your leg over’ is genuinely great. Victoria is as open and honest as she is on her Facebook page and manages to help the reader feel inspired and motivated by sharing her story.

Day 24 – Seaside Stroll Candle – Zoella Lifestyle. Is it odd to end on something from Zoella Lifestyle? I’m going to say no. And here’s why. In the equestrian and country industry, there’s an increasing surge towards vlogging, as there should be, because it’s a great tool. I watch quite a few vlogs and Zoella is one I watch. I know I am nowhere near her target demographic, but with over 13million subscribers, anyone looking to harness video to promote themselves needs to pay this lady some respect and have a look at what she does. The candle is testament to the power of video. No Zoella Lifestyle range would exist without the Zoella brand. And the brand would not exist without Youtube and video. Simples.

So that’s it, we’re at the end of the thank yous (if you’ve stuck with me to this point, thank you again!). A big thank you to everyone who’s been part this. See you in the New Year!

A big thank you post… Equestrian and Country Advent Calendar

Sweet Images PhotographySo, as 2017 draws to a close, I wanted to write a thank you post. I’m grateful to many people this year, but this blog is going to focus on one group, and these are the kind businesses who contributed to my Equestrian and Country Advent Calendar Giveaway, something I ran over on my Facebook page between 1-24th December. A lot of the products were donated by clients, some I bought, and others were given, very kindly, by people who I have the pleasure of knowing through social media, or through my Small & Supercharged business group on Facebook. And before I give you a whistle-stop tour of days 1-12, I wanted to say a HUGE thank you if you entered any of the competitions or supported my Facebook page this year and during the competition. I appreciate it. I have also LOVED hearing from the people who received the prizes. It’s so nice to hear that they love the prizes as much as I did. So, without further ado…

The Equestrian and Country Advent Calendar Giveaway…

Day 1 – She Means Business Book – by Carrie Green. This was a book that I bought as I recommend it to so many people and I wanted the Advent Calendar Giveaway to be relevant for equestrian and country business owners.

Day 2- Personalised Ornament from Hoofprints Amy, the lady behind Hoofprints, is a client of mine and very, very kindly provided a personalised ornament for one winner. The ornament that was pictured featured my in-laws’ black Labrador Polly (photograph by Sophie Callahan!) and my mother in law LOVED it, so when Amy said she was happy to give one to one lucky Facebook fan, I was thrilled. Thank you to Amy and Hoofprints for the really kind donation.

Day 3 – Wine Down Hoof Pick – Noble Outfitters. Noble Outfitters very kindly donated one fab hoof pick for the competition, so a huge thank you to them. The company sent me a lovely bundle of bits and bobs for my Christmas Gift Guides and the hoof pick was in the Hiho Silver Double Wrap Leather BraceletStocking Fillers one… and I just loved it. I mean, what’s better than a beautifully made hoof pick with a wooden handle? A beautifully made hoof pick with bottle opener and corkscrew, that’s what!

Day 4 – Faux Fur Neck Warmer – Annabel Brocks. Annabel Brocks is best known for its luxurious fully reversible faux fur head warmers made in the UK using lovely tweeds and fabrics… but the company makes more than that. And the Faux Fur Neck Warmer is one great example. The one Annabel Brocks very kindly donated had pale faux fur on one side and bubblegum pink tweed on the other. It was a VERY popular competition! Thank you to Annabel for donating this gorgeous prize.

Day 5 – Sophie Callahan’s 2018 Calendar – Sophie Callahan If you follow me on social media or have followed this blog at all, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Sophie Callahan and her work and I have the absolute privilege of working with her too. This incredibly talented lady very kindly donated one of her gorgeous calendars for day 5. I own one of these lovely calendars and in addition to beautiful pictures, Sophie’s also added a number of key equestrian and country dates too, which is really useful.

Day 6 – Exclusive Double Wrap Leather Bracelet- Hiho Silver. This was the most popular giveaway and people went mad for it. I mean, I’m not surprised. The double wrap leather bracelet is genuinely a thing of beauty… and it’s nothing short of a miracle I allowed it to leave the house to go to its new home! I am very lucky to work with Hiho and am very grateful to them for kindly donating this little gem. The recipient was very excited when I told them they had won it!

Day 7 – Burgundy Boot Tassels – Fairfax & Favor. Oh, I do love this brand… and I was Sophie Callahan Equestrian Calendarthrilled when they said they would be happy to donate this rather festive pair of suede boot tassels. I own a pair of the Reginas and a pair of the Explorers… and also a pair of navy and plum tassels… and I love how they can transform a look. Don’t get me wrong, the boots look gorgeous with their matching tassels too, but the extra touch of adding a dash of colour to them to tone with an outfit is a winner. Thank you Fairfax & Favor.

Day 8 – Eat The Frog Book – by Brian Tracy. This was a book I bought as part of the giveaway because I found that the advice between the covers was simple to understand, kind of obvious really, but absolutely game changing. It’s also a book and an idea that I know a number of my clients have had great success with, hence it made it into giveaway.

Day 9 – Mounted Print – Sweet Images. I’m very lucky to work with the fabulous Rachel Bragg, the lady behind Sweet images, and I have always loved her work. When this very print popped up on her Instagram feed, I asked if I could buy one for my office wall, because I loved it so much. The colours were lovely, the timing was perfect… I LOVED IT. Anyway, long story short, I have one and Rachel very, very kindly donated one for my advent calendar giveaway too. A massive thank you Rachel for doing this.

Day 10 – Arthur Bear – Kate Negus Saddlery. I’ve worked with Julia and Kate Negus Saddlery for a number of years, and the quality of the products she designs is exceptional. Marilyn, the mighty cob, is lucky enough to own a gorgeous Kate Negus bridle and it’s stunning – made using English leather and beautifully crafted in the UK too. Not all that long ago, Kate Negus launched the new Lifestyle Collection, and Arthur Bear is one part of it. A big thank you to Julia for donating an Arthur.

Day 11 – Running In The Rain Scented Candle – Hanrose. If you haven’t heard of burgundy tassels from fairfax and favorHanrose, I have a real treat in store. If you love scented candles, wax melts and all manner of loveliness, you’re very much home with Hanrose… so I was delighted when Johanna, the lovely lady behind Hanrose, offered a candle for day 11. The candle, called Running In The Rain, came in a gorgeous tin and had a lovely fresh scent which would work so well in any room. It was lovely to be able to give a great horsey company a bit more exposure and I am very grateful to Johanna for providing this lovely gift.

Day 12 – Hanging Star – Robin Roadnight. I have been a huge fan of Robin’s since I ‘found’ her via the Small & Supercharged group and then bought a ‘Horsepower’ print for my office wall. And then I was hooked. Robin creates truly beautiful equestrian art, which she prints onto fabric and makes beautiful homeware products from, and the star is a great example. I have a heart hanging up in my kitchen and it makes me smile whenever I see it, and I know how thrilled the winner of the Hanging Star was as they sent me a lovely email. Thank you to Robin for the donation.

 

**The plan was to do one blog thanking all the brands who kindly donated to my Equestrian and Country Advent Calendar… but it would have been a HUGE blog. So part 2 will follow tomorrow! **

Sweet Images – Mounted Print – Advent Calendar Competition

Sweet Images PhotographyToday’s prize is a super dooper special one. It’s a print from my incredibly talented friend and client, equestrian photographer Rachel Bragg aka Sweet Images Photography. This print is lovely. I saw it on Sweet Images’ Instagram and I just loved it. So I asked if I could buy one… and it’s even more amazing in the flesh. Rachel has kindly donated another print for one lucky Facebook fan. If you’re the lucky winner, you will love it!

Why am I giving away a Mounted Print from Sweet Images?

I just adore this print and I am confident that my Facebook following will too. The timing was clearly perfect when the shot was taken but the colours and the composition of the image I also find very calming. I also feel that this image is very Rachel, by which I mean it perfectly encapsulates what she does as a photographer for her clients. It’s capturing those special moments and holding a situation or feeling in time. And this picture, I think, shows it really well. I also like that it’s not a ‘traditional’ beach image because that’s not the kind of thing I would want on my wall unless it was of me riding. I see this as a piece of equestrian art. And the fact that Rachel, who I am just beyond proud of, took it, makes it even more special.

Why do I like the Mounted Print from Sweet Images?

It takes me back to my horsey roots a little more and, as I know that the vast majority of my followers on social media, and the vast majority of my clients, have links to equestrian and country, I am confident they will like it too.

Would you like to win a Mounted Print from Sweet Images?

I bet you do! All you need to do is come on over to my Facebook page on the day this is published, watch the little stop motion video and like and comment below that video. If you read this afterwards, worry not – you can find out more about Rachel over on her Sweet Images website. However, if you’re in time, all you need to do is 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.

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

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!