Saturday, 21 January 2017

Why we need an a breastfeeding advert

Have you ever sat watching television when an advert promoting formula milk come on and thought to yourself, "wouldn't it be great if there could be an ad for breastfeeding"?

But where would you find a multi-million pound budget to fund an ad for a free, natural resource? Surely, it will never happen.

Well, it has! Thanks to the inspirational Claire Tchaikowski who had the same thought, but actually got up and did something about it.

The Breastfeeding Advert was launched today in Bristol and I am honoured and humbled to have been given the opportunity to be part of the campaign.

"Human Milk, Tailor-Made For Tiny Humans" advert from Tiny Humans Productions on Vimeo.

Why do we need a breastfeeding advert?

But why do we need a breastfeeding advert anyway and how can an advert pulled together thanks to the generosity of volunteers compete with huge corporations pushing formula sales with multi-million pound marketing budgets?

UK breastfeeding rates are abysmal. At the advert launch today, Dr Amy Brown, Associate Professor of Child Public Health at Swansea University and author of Breastfeeding Uncovered, explained that while 95% of UK women plan to breastfeed a lack of support and a culture in which breasts are sexualised and women are encouraged to get their bodies back means that breastfeeding rates plummet over the first six months and only one in 200 babies is still breastfed at 12 months.

So lots of women want to breastfeed but they don't always know how and they don't have a support network and they're given a lot of unhelpful advice. And this means that when breastfeeding is promoted they can feel very emotional if they didn't reach their personal breastfeeding goals and this guilt can often turn to anger about the breastfeeding mafia.

Trying to create an advert that promotes breastfeeding without alienating women who have been let down by a lack of support is a bit of a tough undertaking.

Separating fact from fiction...

However, when researching her idea for an advert, Claire set about learning as much as she could and enlisted the support of both Dr Amy Brown and Dr Natalie Shenker who has investigated the make up of breastmilk as part of her research into epigenetics and breast cancer. And it was learning about the ingredients of breastmilk that led her to focus on the science in the advert. "After all," Claire says, "If I didn't know any of this amazing stuff, who else doesn't know about this. We need to know."

I am a firm believer that women should be able to make a decision on how they feed their baby in a way that best suits their personal circumstances based on a thorough understanding of the options. At the moment, they are bombarded with conflicting information and anecdotes from well-meaning friends and family.

This campaign, based on the advert and the human milk website, seeks to simply explain what is in breastmilk and how it contributes to the health of baby and mother. It's a way of educating people about breastmilk without preaching about how "breast is best" (a phrase I personally detest). Actually, while breast is brilliant and is probably great for the majority - it isn't best for everyone.  Best can be interpreted as a bit of a judgemental term and who are we to judge the decisions other people make when we don't know the circumstances in which they reached that decision? (Rant over)

...but keeping the emotion

Anyway, the science of the ad is softened by the beautiful images of mothers breastfeeding their babies (I would say that, wouldn't I, because one of them is me feeding Ossie), and the gentle voice-over, which really helps to humanise the science.

Creating the advert has been a labour of love and has taken a long time. We actually filmed the footage back in October 2015!

Next steps

Launching the advert isn't the end of the story - it's just the beginning. The next step is a crowdfunding campaign to buy slots in the mainstream media. And there are a whole host of other plans to use the advert and the website to educate healthcare professionals, new mums and their families etc.

I'm so proud to be a part of this and I can't wait for the next phase of the campaign. I have met some truly inspirational women that are proof that we really can make stuff happen.

What do you think of this advert?

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Blogging goals 2017

Blogging is a hobby for me. It's something I've dabbled with when I've had time. But over the past year, I've read some really inspirational posts and met other bloggers who have really committed to their blogs and are able to turn their hobby into a job and a lifestyle.

Now, I realise that to turn a blog into a profession is going to involve a lot of hard work. And I've decided that 2017 is going to be the year that I roll my sleeves up and see if I've got what it takes to give it a go.

I've not started well. The better known bloggers posted their blogging goals last week at the beginning of the year. But I wanted to take the time to really analyse what I need to do and to set myself some challenging, but realistic goals to see if maybe, this time next year, I might be able to turn SeasideBelle into something that might give me an income.

Here's how I plan to do it.
  1. Post more consistently. This is going to require some forward planning. I'm going to need an editorial calendar and I'm going to need to plan posts in advance so I can upload posts on regular topics on regular days. I've seen a few linkies that might help with my planning and I've spent some time working out the subjects I'd like to focus on. I'll share my editorial planning process with you later in the month.
  2. Redesign the blog. At the moment, I'm not 100% happy with the way Seaside Belle looks. The branding is all over the place - especially with the graphics I use. So I'm going to take the time to write some brand guidelines so I have a consistent look and feel to the website. I'll update you with how I do that sometime in February.
  3. Grow my social media following. It's all very well posting more consistently and getting a better looking blog, but to make a real success, I'm going to have to extend this across my social media channels so I can extend my reach. At the moment I've got 667 followers on Twitter and by 31st December 2017 I'd love to get to 1000 followers. On Facebook I have 55 page likes. Facebook is more of a slow grower, so I'm going to be conservative in my goal and aim to get to 150 by the end of the year. On Instagram, I've managed to get 326 followers so I reckon 500 by the end of the year is a pretty realistic expectation. I also want to make more of Pinterest. At the moment I use my personal page for the blog and I'm going to investigate whether it would be worth setting up a separate SeasideBelle branded Pinterest before setting myself a goal for this. SeasideBelle is also on Bloglovin and has 44 followers. If I could get to 150 by the end of the year, I'd be very happy. I also list SeasideBelle on the Tots100 index where I am currently ranked 1648. With a bit of hard work, I reckon I could get into the top 1000 by 31st December. I'll keep you updated with my progress each month.
  4. Make an average of £200 per month from SeasideBelle by the end of the year. At the moment, I'm signed up to a couple of Affiliate networks where I get a small commission if someone clicks on an affiliate link in my post and buys something, but I've only written a couple of posts that include affiliate links and haven't really had any income from this yet. Over the next few months I'd like to exploit this potential income stream a bit more. However, I'll only ever post an affiliate link to a product I would probably buy myself and I'm keen to stay true to myself so I'll never be overly 'salesy' so you won't be bombarded with posts trying to sell you something, just so I can make money, I'd rather only use affiliate links as a value added extra to content I would write anyway. I also have a couple of ads on the site, but I haven't made anything from them yet either - I'd need a lot of traffic to make them worth while, but as my following grows they might provide a bit of pocket money. If I really want to turn blogging into my job I'm going to need to create a media pack so I can offer things like sponsored posts (don't worry, I'll always make it obvious that I'm being paid to write something) and social media shout outs. I will also have to look at diversifying my income stream and selling products, so I'd like to try my hand at writing an e-book this year - although this will probably be a project for the autumn.
  5. One thing I have learnt is that to succeed you need to invest in learning or CPD (continued professional development), so I'm planning to take part in more blogger events and meet-ups. Last year I went to BritMums Live, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and I went to an Exeter Bloggers MeetUp, where I met a few more bloggers and we learnt about 'monetising your blog'. I've also met some local bloggers socially through the Devon Bloggers Facebook group and I think by meeting up with others, some of whom are already blogging professionally, will be really helpful in sharing best practice and keeping the faith that this is something I might actually be able to do!
  6. Take advantage of blogger networks to access paid opportunities. I'm a member of Tots100, Britmums and the MumsNet Professional Bloggers network, but I don't really tap into the opportunities available or take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available on their websites. This year I intend to access at least 3 paid opportunities through these networks and take part in 1 or 2 training sessions, webinars or events that they run.
So that's one very ambitious blogging goal for 2017 and six pretty measurable ways I can work towards achieving it.

I'll keep you posted about how I get on!

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Monday, 2 January 2017

Why you should keep your Christmas decorations up until 6th January

It's a brand new year. Time to start afresh. But does that really mean you should take your Christmas decorations down already?

I know that some people find it easier to put the tinsel away before the end of the holidays so the house is tidied up ready for the new year to begin in earnest. Maybe I'm a traditionalist at heart, but I'm a big believer in keeping my tree up for the full 12 days of Christmas. Here are five reasons why:

  1. The build up to Christmas is huge. As soon as Hallowe'en is over, the shops are full of cards and merchandise. The lights are often switched on in town centres from mid-November and advent starts 4 weeks before the big day - so why end the festivities prematurely? If you're going to celebrate in style, you may as well see it through until the end.
  2. And talking of endings, Christmas doesn't end until the Feast of the Epiphany, when the three kings arrived at the stable (it was a long journey and they were on camels). The tradition is that if you took your decorations down before then, the wise men would not be able to find their way as the Christmas lights represent the star of David.
  3. January is depressing enough - so I like to keep reminders of the festive joy up until the last moment. What better way to remind yourself of your loved ones than seeing all their cards still up around the house through the first week of January.
  4. Although the longest night was just before Christmas, January is still cold and dark. I love the way the Christmas lights and tinsel add a bit of sparkle and light to life.
  5. It's a way of delaying the New Year's resolutions. Most resolutions are broken in the first week of January. But by easing yourself into the new year and keeping Christmas going for its full duration, you have an excuse to start your resolutions again on 7th January, when Christmas is put away.

When do you take your Christmas decorations down?