25 February 2013

My Blog Has Moved!

I've relaunched my blog on Wordpress California Love Letters!

Sadly, this will be the last post on Becoming British. However, there is good news--great news, actually. With the help of my awesomely amazing husband Darren, I've relaunched my blog: California Love Letters! I'm super excited about my new blog, not only because it will be dedicated largely to my love of California, but the design was the first collaboration of this kind Darren and I have done, and I couldn't be any prouder than our baby, California Love Letters, than I am today.

California Love Letters is the home for my blog, and will completely replace Becoming British, so please, please, please bookmark and/or update your RSS feed with http://californialoveletters.com!

You'll still be able to find the posts from my Blogger site on California Love Letters, and of course, I'll be adding new bits as I go along. Let me know what you think of the new site.

I'd love to hear from you!

12 February 2013

It's Pancake Tuesday!

Today is Pancake Day in Britian (also known as Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras in other parts of the world). Even though I am not at all religious, this is one religious day I can get on board with--even if it is only to stuff my face with pancake goodness.

According to Wikipedia's entry on Shrove Tuesday:
Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy, or eggs.
Pancake Day is a big deal. It's the only time of year pancake mixes on prominent display, and the various pancake toppings seem to be available. And in Britain, there is surprisingly a lot of choice!

First, American or British-style? If American style, are you doing buttermilk, fruity, or pancakes with bits of bacon? How are you topping them? With maple syrup, honey, or fruit? If choosing British-style, do you go with the traditional lemon juice and sugar, Nutella, golden syrup or something savory?

In my household, we're going American-style buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup (which is Canadian--how multicultural of us, right?), and completely from scratch--the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book has an easy and tasty recipe.

Tell me, how do you like your pancakes?

02 February 2013

Be Inspired: The Blogcademy in Review

Me with the headmistresses! Kat Williams, me, Shauna Haider and Gala Darling.
Photo courtesy Lesley Burdett Taylor, Infinity Photographic
I attended The Blogcademy just over a week ago, and my head has been swirling with inspiration ever since. The Blogcademy is a strategy-based workshop to help bloggers find inspiration, refine their online brand, learn how to make money through blogging, and network with other like-minded individuals who are passionate about blogging. As I said, the entire experience kind of blew my mind.

I'd always wanted to take my blog to the next level--increase readership, and perhaps make my blog a way of marketing "brand me" to the greater world so I could find a job I truly love. The Blogcademy gave me so many ways to achieve both these objectives and so much more.

The first day of the workshop focused on getting "blogcadettes," as we've dubbed ourselves, inspired and thinking about regular features which could be posted to our blogs. There was a section on blog monetization, the importance of social media, and a discussion about how to do a brand-audit to make sure your online brand is conveyed consistently across the Internet. I think most of us left at the end of the day overwhelmed by all the amazing, new ideas we'd gotten in day one alone.

Day two was equally good. There were more in-depth discussions about diversifying a blog's income sources, how to build a new brand, or go about rebranding an existing one, and a section on photography. I think the most interesting part of day two for me was learning how to build a brand from scratch. I've been thinking for a few months now about the direction I'd like to take my blog, and what kind of design I'd like my blog to have which will clearly convey my blogging brand. It's still a work in progress, but I definitely learned a few things which will help me focus and hopefully relaunch my blog in the coming months.

There was a bit of technical talk throughout the two days--talk of which blogging platforms are best, etc.--but most of the information was really around strategy and how to turn a blog into a business of sorts.

Perhaps the best part of The Blogcademy, however, were all the chances we had over the two days to connect to fellow bloggers and the headmistresses (Gala Darling, Shauna Haider and Kat Williams). There is such great value in being able to bounce ideas off fellow bloggers, and discuss in detail plans for taking your blogging to the next level. And the headmistresses were available during all the breaks to ask questions, which was absolutely brilliant. The Blogcademy community for the London sessions was so enthusiastic that we've already tentatively planned a day out in Cambridge for April.

The venue was beautifully decorated, and totally on-brand.

These were the key takeaways I had from the two-day workshop:
  • I need to seek out and follow more blogs I find interesting. It's a great way to get inspiration and learn more about what types of blogs/posts you like to read, and what types of blogs/posts you don't like, and hence, will avoid in your own blog.
  • I need to make more of an effort to gather "inspiration items" to help develop my brand. One of the quotes we were given during The Blogcademy was from Jonas Peterson, "You will never find your style. Style will find you." Maybe the same goes for branding, but I think the best way to formulate style is to gather inspiration and follow it.
  • I need think about my blog's content and direction--where do I want to go/what do I want to achieve? This has not been a small task for me. I've been racking my brain for the past week thinking about where exactly I want this blog to go, and what I hope to achieve. It's taken a bit of soul-searching, but I think I'm getting ever closer.
  • Social media is important. Social media can be what makes or breaks you brand, and for many bloggers, is what directs traffic to their blogs. Being active, sharing content that is not just your own, and conveying a consistent message across all social media outlets is super important. Not only that, but I think being true to yourself is important. If you put up a front, people will catch on, and your brand could be tarnished forever.
If you have a blog, and are interested in taking your blogging the next level, or even if you don't have a blog and are looking for some inspiration to get started, check out The Blogcademy--the ever-amazing headmistresses could be in a city near you soon!