Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard that normal notebooks are totally out. Don’t even think about picking up pen and paper and writing notes in the way you, your mum, you’re mum’s mum and her mum before her have been doing for years.
Because this year you need to get serious about your to-do list. Actually, you should’ve been doing that last year to be honest….maybe even the year before that. We might already have missed the cutting edge to-do list boat.
ANYWAY. I am NOT one for having a word of the year. And I don’t journal, gratitude or otherwise, so you can take it from the depths of my cynical core that this journal is LIFE. It works, it’s amazing and I can’t live without it.
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What is a Bullet Journal?
It’s a book of blank pages you can fill with joy. And that’s where the platitudes end and practicalities commence.
Because, in truth, the whole ethos of the Bullet Journal is practicality. It’s about ease of use, and being able to quickly log what you need to do and be able to prioritise it too.
Although a lot is made of the complex ‘coding’ used if you use your journal in a classic way, I honestly think it’s crazy simple. And that’s coming from moi — who regularly leaves the house without nappies. NAPPIES. (For my baby, not me……)
Let’s get into the nitty gritty then shall we? I made you a video for this because it’s much easier (and less dull) than writing it all out for you. Even though I’m an incredibly skilled writer who’d make the monotonous task of telling you how to write a to-do list seem like a sonnet. Obvs.
As I write this I’ve been vegan (with one BIG break while I was pregnant……) for about two years. But for a huge chunk of that time, I refused to label myself as anything. Why?
Because people are seriously judgemental when it comes to diet aren’t they? And I include myself in that category too, because I’m judgey (a word, not a word?) as fook. It’s just one of those things. Food is just super important to us humans and I think we all have funny little quirks when it comes to our eating habits.
Needless to say, if you’re reading this post you are either a new vegan yourself (trying Veganuary out perhaps?) or friends with someone who is. When you make a big change to your lifestyle; because that’s what being a vegan means I guess, changing your lifestyle as well as quitting animal products, it intrigues people, inspires curiosity and it also threatens people a little.
Some people, not all I hasten to add. Some people. But it does, doesn’t it? I think when anyone does anything we feel is ‘good’ or something we ‘should’ do too, but don’t want to, we feel a bit, well, pissed off. I know I do. I can’t even cope with how much waste I need to reduce and my brain can’t seem to cope with the idea of switching to cloth nappies instead of the ‘chuck ’em on a landfill and leave them to ruin the planet’ ones I currently use (*bows head in shame*).
So that, I think, is why people ask so many questions, and also why those questions can be a little bit clunky. But, as a vegan, I’m here to tell you they’re fudging annoying 😉
- Where do you get your protein? This is the worst, you guys. THE WORST. I refer you to this response: “One cup of spinach has about 7 grams of protein”
- Why are you vegan? Is it for health reasons? Erm. Why do you love junk food? is it for sexual reasons? I mean…….
- I could never give up cheese. How do you do it?! Dude, I’m not gonna lie, it’s rough out there. Vegan cheese tastes like death.
- Oh, you’re vegan! Don’t ask me to give up my birthday steak?! I mean, I definitely won’t. Because I literally give zero sh@ts about what you eat.
- [when ordering food together] What are you gonna eat? Is that vegan? This one is just tiring. Don’t worry about what I’m eating. And please don’t keep asking me…..it’s so dull.
Okay, so all of that sounds super narky but honestly, I jest for the sake of the post. If you are recently vegan, good luck and godspeed! You’re changing the world 🙂 And if not, you are also awesome!
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been obsessively podcasting for about 8 months now. Not long at all to be teaching anyone else how to do the same, but the thing about podcasting is that it’s pretty simple once you know how. And I know how. So why don’t I show you?
To start off with, I presume you know why you’re starting your podcast and the topic, at least roughly. I’m gonna just assume you do anyway. But if not, then pick a placeholder topic and carry on reading.
This is everything you’ll need to know, in order:
Pick a Topic
Okay, I know I just said don’t worry about a topic but perhaps do. Don’t think about it in ‘blog niche’ terms because the podosphere is far less crowded and much easier to stand out. You could chat about your life, your favourite food or something more specific like blogging, creativity, gluten-free dieting or style.
I’ve found podcasting to be so much fun, but like with anything — you need to be passionate about the topic if you want to keep going.
Interview or Solo Show?
Since starting my podcast I’ve had lovely feedback, mixed feedback, negative stuff too but the thing I’ve heard the most is this: you’re such a natural interviewer. That’s strange to me because when I hear myself I cringe!
I mean…..I don’t speak in proper sentences and I waffle for Britain but somehow my chats seem to impress people somehow. And I think it’s purely because I only interview people I am genuinely interested in. That’s kind of it.
I thought about strategy and, obviously, when the podcast gained traction and I was featured on the iTunes homepage I received interest from people wanting to be on the show. But down to sheer laziness, I decided early on to only chat with people who interested me in some way.
I’m blessed with a wonderful bunch of blogger friends because I’ve been around for a little bit…..but there are people within the industry I wouldn’t have wanna chat to. Not because they’re not interesting but because I personally don’t have much to fangirl over.
And that’s another thing. I’m a shameless fangirl and proud. I don’t try to be cool or professional when I interview people. I’m 100% myself whether that means I’m nervous, waffly or giddy and overexcited. And I honestly think that means that the listener feels comfortable – because I’m a bit of an idiot and proud!
You’ll know that in the first season I chose solely to interview people. And I’m sticking to that format because I like listening to it, and that’s the ethos of my show – introducing you to the blogger behind the blog.
But in #Podmas, I sat down and recorded 12 mini-episodes of just me. And I actually loved it! It was harder to keep things flowing because it was just me and my thoughts (I never work with a script) but it was easier to edit, both for sound quality and for content.
Whether you decide to use a script or not is entirely up to you. Try it out for a teaser episode and see how it feels.
NOTE – If you decide to Interview, then there are a few options you can use to record your guests. I use Call Recorder (which records your Skype chat) and then I extract the audio from the .mov file it creates using Quicktime.
You could also use Google Hangouts or Zencastr.
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Choosing Your Podcast Host
Just like with your blog host (unless you have a hosted blog with someone like Tumblr or WordPress.com) you will also need a host for your podcast.
I used to host with Libsyn, who are really great. They have a few monthly payment options and it depends on how much you’re uploading (the frequency and size of your podcast) but it starts from $5. The analytics are great too and I could see my downloads per episode super easily. The stats have got even better now too!
You can also host with Soundcloud, which is free (I guess there are pro options) but they are newer and I haven’t used them so can’t comment.
I host everything with Squarespace, as that’s what my blog is hosted with too — this saved me $15 a month as I pay no extra for it.
Submit your Podcast to iTunes
When you pick your host, you’ll typically submit everything through them (although you will need to do it through Apple at the very start too).
Make sure you follow these instructions to ensure that your podcast is accepted. Once done, you are ready to start podcasting!! I’ve heard the main issue is the artwork, so make sure that’s the right dimensions and you should be fine.
Also consider submitting your podcast to other directories, including Spotify and Stitcher.
Record and Edit
The techy stuff was massively aided for me by my girl Sam Sparrow who is a super experienced podcaster and all-around babe. She helped me with the initial setup, answered all of my questions and showed me a few nifty tricks too.
But she uses Garageband, which I didn’t get on with at all (because I am a div….most people find it simple!) so I used Audacity instead.
Both are free, so I suggest you go ahead and have a play with them both and see what you think. I watched a few YouTube tutorials and learned as I went if I’m honest but it really wasn’t hard.
The main thing I learned (from Sam, and experience) is that getting the audio right first time is the easiest thing to do.
And the best way to do that is to follow a few super simple guidelines:
- Don’t sit by a window, and try to be in a room with soft furnishings instead (bedrooms not bathrooms!).
- Watch your levels as your record, so you can tell your guests to speak up (or speak up yourself!).
- Use headphones to block out ambient sound.
- Use a microphone.
Should You Do Show Notes?
I mean, I dunno. I do, but they can be a faff. Especially as I send them to guests beforehand. It’s easier now I publish podcasts through Squarespace as I skip the step of writing show notes, then copying it into a separate blog post too.
If you use bit.ly links in your show notes you can track conversion and whether or not they’re worth doing but in my view — it’s worth writing a small amount at the very least, with references to people’s social media handles etc.
If it’s a very long show note, perhaps think about writing a summary then adding a link to ‘see the full show notes’ on your blog.
Promoting Your Podcast
I think that getting into New & Noteworthy is a lot of people’s goals. But there is no real formula to guarantee you do it and a lot of noise around what you ‘should’ be doing to get there.
Based on what I heard, I presumed I’d have NO chance but I was featured on the Apple homepage New & Noteworthy (there are pages for every subcategory) straight away. This did give me a big boost in downloads and helped me reach a new audience but it can’t have had such a huge effect as downloads didn’t drop massively when I left the coveted section 😉
Because my podcast is pretty niche I knew who my audience was and where to find them. So I focus on promoting via Instagram and Twitter. You know who your audience is, so target them and be shameless! Soon enough, they’ll be promoting it for you 🙂
A few final thoughts: Don’t worry about your audio too much — as Sam Sparrow always tells me — content is way more important.
Yes, there will be people who switch off and leave you a bad review because you slurped tea or edited shabbily, but that happens to everyone! Honestly! Have a look at some of the biggest podcasters and see the grumpy negative reviews. It’s no drama and every time someone switches off, you’re niching down and getting a less diluted fan base.
I hope this has been useful and let me know if you have any specific questions.
I hope this is the year you decide to start your podcast too, and if you are planning it & want a little help — stay tuned, because Sam Sparrow and I are making an e-course for you!! It’ll contain everything you need to know to start your first podcast from the techy bits, to the practical stuff and how to find your own niche.
If you want to be the first to know about this, and get a discount on the price — sign up to my newsletter 🙂
Alternative title: Flowers and Champagne are NOT the one……
This is a very strange post, I know. And to be totally honest I’m not sure how it’ll go down but it’s been in my head for such a long time, and I feel like it needs to get out immediately!
If you know anyone who’s ever grieved, or you’ve experienced it yourself you’ll no doubt be aware that flowers are the go-to choice of gift, am I right? Perhaps just a card? Or both? Probably both, to be safe.
But reframe this. Someone has died. Here’s a living thing that looks and smells nice but you will have to tend to it, find a receptacle for it and arrange it in a certain way. I know all you wanna do is curl up and cry, and you have a whole stack of admin to do., people to call and things to tick off your list (because nobody tells you that death is a total life-admin ballache) but here’s a little task for you to deal with daily. Until said task dies. And you have to bury it in the bin. Unless you forget, and it starts to stink like DEATH.
Don’t Buy Them Flowers
See what I mean? Flowers are actually one of the most annoying presents you can get someone who’s grieving. Or who’s had a baby for that matter. I guess that’s why the new wave of gifting boxes devoid of flowers came about.
But here’s a weird thing. There isn’t any type of ready-made gift box company set up for those who’ve gone through a bereavement. Isn’t that bizarre? In my research, I found gifts including chocolates (what?!), champagne (wha-what?!) and biscuits…….all with flowers.
I cannot imagine sending anything less appropriate than flowers and some champagne or chocolates to someone who has just ‘lost’ a loved one. Can you even imagine popping a cork and tucking into delicious celebration chocolates while you plan funeral songs, or ring round relatives to let them know what’s happened?
Maybe. I don’t know.
I can only speak from experience and tell you what I found helpful when my dad died. Things friends did they probably don’t even realise was so helpful.
Little kindnesses that broke my heart they were so touching, and made me feel less alone. Less scared. Less fearful of the future.
Grief is all-consuming. It’s frightening, and confronting and leaves you so raw you won’t know who to turn to but you will need people.
All the cliches are true, everyone deals with things differently and there is no wrong way to reach out to someone who’s grieving (bar punching them or burning their favourite dress or something nuts like that). But I want to share a few things to buy someone who’s grieving I think will be far more helpful than a bunch of wilting carnations.
I know this sounds odd, but there’s nothing better than receiving some home-cooked food when you are grieving. Something simple you can stick in the oven is ideal — pies, a chilli or a quiche are all ideal (diet depending obviously!).
I’ve even thought about ordering a Waitrose shop to e delivered with things like milk, bread and a few yummy ready meals too. Because, honestly, when they’re in the depths of despair they won’t be thinking about food, but they will need it.
SEND A LETTER
Not just a generic sympathy card, but a letter telling your pal you are thinking of them, and always will be. Someone sent me a letter within a card when my dad died sharing their own very personal grief story and it made me feel a lot less alone. I knew I had a friend I could text who was ‘in the club’ with a shorthand unlike any other.
So now, I always do the same for others.
TICK OFF THEIR TO DO LIST
Similarly to food, practical things are so key. If you work with someone, find their to-do list and just tick things off for them. Same with home stuff too. Cleaning…..dog-walking, trips to the vet — these are all things that’ll alleviate a bit of brain fog.
Even if they never realise these things were done for them, being able to return to work/home with one less thing to do is an amazing gift.
TAKE THEM FOR COFFEE
This might seem a little contrived, and feel a bit awkward. In fact, you might not even realise why I’ve added such an obvious thing to the list.
Well, I’ve added it because so often people forget to do the obvious. Actually. quite often I felt ashamed of my grief. I felt as though I had to pretend to be ‘normal’ in case I made everyone around me feel awkward and that made me feel nuts!
Other people’s grief can be overwhelming when you haven’t been through it yourself. Hence why being ‘in the club’ gives you a whole new level of freedom you didn’t have before. Freedom to ask: “How are you?” or say things like: “Grief is bullshit” with abandon.
Feeling ‘normal’ is such a glorious gift. One we all take for granted I think. Taking your friend for a cup of tea, glass of wine…..to the shops. Anything, really. Just do something small so they know you are thinking of them and you still wanna hang out with them despite the fact they *might* cry.
REMEMBER THE SHIT TIMES
This might not be straight away. In fact, it’s probably better if it isn’t straight away because grief doesn’t end the moment you bury someone.
In fact, after the funeral, when everyone’s stopped calling, sending flowers and checking up on you is probably the loneliest time of all.
The first few years are so tough, but the first year is the strangest — the anticipation of special ‘days’ like Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Christmas, Birthdays and anniversaries: of the death, the funeral, the last holiday you took together. These can all feel so poignan and, in my experience, are worse in their anticiaption than their actuality.
Honestly, I don’t recall anyone remembered the anniversary of my dad’s death and that did feel shit. Now, things like Father’s Day are less raw but still smart. So I try to always remember other people’s ‘shit days’.
I hope this guide helps you help someone who’s grieving. And if nothing else I hope you make them a pie 🙂
Oh man, I don’t want you to think this is one big bitch about all the things that went wrong on my wedding day because, honestly, it’s not.
If you were a guest, I really wouldn’t scan through this post hoping to find a thinly veiled version of yourself and me moaning about you. Because it’s not a post about rubbish wedding guests either, I’ve already written that one 😉
It’s also not a digging for compliments exercise, where I bemoan my lack of perfect body and terrible hair etc and you diligently compliment me. It’s not that.
If you’ve come to this post hoping I have a brilliant set of tips for you on how to care for your baby with some amazing routine that’ll help them sleep, eat and play like a dream — move along immediately. I don’t. In fact, I have zero helpful answers for any of your baby related questions.
Just wanna put that out there immediately. I’m not about false hope you know?