Thursday 18 April 2013

Push-Up Bra Blogging [10]: the Freezer Meals Approach

Hello hello.

Another day ... another opportunity for me to prod you into some blog-action with a new chapter of Push-Up Bra Blogging.

As someone commented to me after yesterday's instalment: 'Oh gosh. Chapter 9 already?'

And now it's Chapter 10! How'd that happen? I remember drawing-up my schedule and thinking that the series was going to take me right up until the end of April ... which seemed aaaages away. And now it's next week!! 

[But then the year 2000 once felt like the space-age 'future' didn't it ... and where did that go?]

So let's get on with things before any more time passes us by ...
  • Chapter 10 takes us well and truly into the 3rd stage of the series.
  • So far we've had the 'WHY?' and the 'WHAT?' ...
  • and today kicks-off the 'HOW' element of the course as in: 'How am I going to blog more productively? How will I find the time?' 
And we really do need to look at how you're going to put all your newly-inspired blogging plans into action. Because, as, the philosophy of the entire Push-Up Bra series states:

... it's not simply about the amount you've got ... it's how you handle it that counts!

[I'm talking about handling blog-content here. Stop looking at me like that ...]

Today's advice harks back to what we talked about in Chapter 4: The Push-Up Bra Approach where we discussed the idea of making the most of what you've already got.

But now we're building on that with a method of getting all of those projects and ideas out there ... and on to your blog.

It's also the approach I've been teasing you about ... the one which I use to keep me blogging consistently throughout the year ... the one I truly believe can help you get yourself on track ... so here it is:

See if any of this is familiar: you decide to have a mammoth baking or cooking session in the kitchen, during which you:
  • set aside a chunk of time - to make meals, soups, stocks, cakes, preserves etc
  • decide that - while the kitchen's already in a mess - you may as well just keep going and make some more;
  • think that if you're going to have to wash almost every pan and work surface in the room anyway ... you might as well use a few more;
  • then use the fruits of your labour to stock-up your freezer or store cupboard ...and in doing so ...
  • you make life easier for yourself in the coming weeks where all you'll have to do is pull something out of the freezer, defrost it and voila! you have a meal!
Anything familiar ... or at least anything that makes sense there? Well ...

... regardless of whether or not you've ever actually done this in your own kitchen ... it's one of the best analogies for my  personal - tried & tested - method of efficiently combining blogging with life offline!

And here's how to apply it ...

[Note: my main examples are taken from my experience as a crafty-blogger - but you can easily adapt them to your own specialism. I used a similar technique to get this course up and running and that didn't involve craft projects].

1. Make blog-worthy content IN BULK [this is the part where you set out your utensils + ingredients and make the freezer-meals ... so to speak.]

The easiest route to blogging more craft projects means making more craft projects. The easiest route to blogging more tutorials ... is to create more tutorials. The easiest route to blogging more stories ... is to write more stories ... and so on. However ...

... this does not have to mean finding a great deal more time or many more separate occasions in which to be creative.

Take advantage of any opportunity you DO get to make [or make a start on] several projects in one sitting.
  • I've found that that the items I produce from a couple of hours making cards and layouts, either at home, at crops or weekend retreats can keep me in blogging-fodder for months to come!
  • Similarly this is how I go about preparing new kits for my Etsy shop - I like to set aside a day or two to really focus and make many kits in one go.
  • When I began planning out this series I created 12 new draft posts from the start and dropped my rough notes for each chapter in place there and then.
Grab your notebook:
  • Make a list of whatever it is you plan to blog about more often:- eg. scrapbook layouts, art journal pages, sewing projects, photographs, jewellery etc etc etc
  • Just to get you thinking about your productivity levels write down the times you DO get chance to produce new content:- eg. weekends; a monthly crop; an afternoon off; a twice yearly retreat, a summer break etc etc ... 
  • Try to think back over how many individual items you've made, [you could apply this to photos you've taken or stories which have popped into your head too] in the last month or so.
All of what you've written down is potential blog-content: Right there. Already in your life. Under your nose.

Due to work / family / having to stop making things ocasionaly so you can eat ... your creative periods may very well be irregular, few and far between, once a month, 3 months apart or whatever ... but that does not mean that your blogging has to follow the same pattern.

You can transform the things you create during these irregular or sporadic productive periods into satisfyingly regular content.

But first ... we need to get them off that pile of stuff on your desk ... and make them look presentable. Bloggable.

2. Set up a BULK PHOTO-SHOOT[this is the photography equivalent of making a mess in the kitchen while the kitchen's already messy. Because you only have to clean it up once!]

Clear, well lit photos are an essential factor in upping your blogging game, but it comes at a price ... it costs you in time.

Therefore, in order to get this to work efficiently you're going to need two things:

[i] organisation ... and ...
[ii] a tripod

Let me explain why ... 
  • You might be like me [or you too SJ!]:- someone without any professional lighting equipment to use, relying solely on the rare occasions [here in the UK!] when the sun is shining enough for you to achieve those well-lit photographs you're looking for! Like some sort of Cinderella: everything must be captured before the sun goes in!
  • ... or else you might be grabbing a moment while your baby naps ...
  • ... or before the latest episode of Fashion Police starts ... 
... whatever it is, we're all working under time constraints and so ... we're going to dive-bomb this photo-session! Flash-mob it. Get in and get out. Smash + grab.  No time-wasting allowed!

You ready? OK ... here goes ...
  • Have everything you need to photograph readily on hand. Maybe keep all of your un-photographed projects together in a box or in a separate pile on your desk. Wherever. But have them within easy, clear reach.
  • Then the next time you have time to yourself ... grab the projects and take them to your studio.
What? You don't have a photography studio?

Me neither ... but you can make one ...  here's mine:
Welcome to my side of the bed. If I said here's where the magic happens .. you'd get the wrong idea! But what I mean is ... the blog-photography magic!

Fortunately [and no, I didn't plan it that way!] both the cabinet and the walls are white ... so it makes the ideal studio backdrop. And while you don't need to do anything as extreme as redecorate ... you could look around your home for a good, bright, corner which could suit the task.

Chances are if you've seen any craft project on my blog or a product in my shop ... then it was photographed in my bedside studio.

Whenever I find time to have a bulk photo-shoot I simply:
  • make myself a cup of tea ... to keep my spirits and fluid intake up!
  • clear everything off the cabinet
  • roll up the window blind to let in as much daylight as possible
  • grab my box of un-photographed items [or scour the room for them if I've been lazy!]
  • mooch around the house collecting little 'props' if that's what I want to include in my photos that day
  • set up my tripod
  • turn on my camera ...
And yes ... about the tripod business ... I really, really do recommend you get one.
  • It undoubtedly improves the quality of your photos [no more shaky, blurriness!]
  • But it also means that you can leave the camera set up - in position - while you simply swap out the item you just photographed for the next one in the queue.
  • No picking up and putting down. No turning the camera on and off. It's all there, waiting, good to go.
  • This saves so much time ... it becomes like a mini production line!
  • And they're really not as expensive as you might fear, especially as you don't need anything fancy. Mine cost less than £10 from Aldi a few years ago but places like Amazon and Argos had similar priced ones last time I looked. [Seemingly shops beginning with 'A' sell affordable tripods!]. Maybe it's something you could drop hints about for your next birthday!
Then ... once you've taken all those images [and, if I've got a few months worth of finished projects to capture, and I want full length shots plus close-ups ... this can run into the 100s of pictures] ... you're going to need to do something with them ...

3. BULK EDIT the photos next time you get chance:

This might be straight-away [while you're in the photo-groove!] or it might have to wait until the next time you get a free afternoon. But if you do have to wait ... don't start worrying that you're slipping 'behind'. You're not. Because ...

... once you've set up this workable system ... eventually you'll reach a 'critical mass' where, at any given moment, you'll always have:
  • a box of projects waiting to be photographed
  • a set of images on your computer waiting to be edited plus ...
  • a set of edited images waiting to be blogged
... and your readers won't know anything about when it all happened or how far apart these actions were ... they'll just see the finished blogged results!

And then you'll have finally put an end to the mad rush to make, photograph and blog a project in the same day!!

There's more on that idea to come in Chapter 11 next week ... but until then ...

I know it won't always work like this. There are definitely going to be times when you might need to photograph something sooner than you'd planned eg. for a deadline.

But with this system in place, whenever that occurs, there's nothing stopping you exploiting the situation and grabbing that box of unphotographed items ... and snap them at the same time as the rush-job. Killing two birds with one stone!

Again .. it's like making an extra freezer meal while the kitchen's still upside down from the last one. Make it work for you, to save you time in the long run!

But, you can't edit photos without photo-editing software ... do you have some?  Because I really think you need it.

I don't use anything fancy - mainly just Microsoft Office Picture Manager, and Picasa [free to download] but it really is advisable to learn a few basic techniques to brighten, crop and re-size your images. I won't go into it all here - this isn't really what this series is for ... but I'm sure you can find out a few tips by Googling.

That said ... a quick word if you're a Blogger blogger:
  • re-sizing your images before uploading them means that you won't be taking up unnecessary space on your free Blogger account which only allows you so much storage.
  • I re-size all mine to 550 pixels wide - which is plenty big enough for online viewing.
  • This drastically reduces the raw file size from my camera down to around 100 or 200 KB saving me so much space!
  • It also means I can override the odd default image sizes offered in the Blogger settings. Instead I just hit 'Original Size' and get nicely sized images that seem to fit better than the other options.  
OK ... I don't want this to turn into a technical-talk series here ... so I'll move on!

4. Now blog all those projects you've photographed ONE AT A TIME!!! [One. At. A. Time.]

So ... we've made all those meals, wedged them into a full freezer, messed up the kitchen, used every pan and spoon in one fell-swoop ... and now here's the fun part: We get to eat them!

But ... after spending all that time spent preparing them ... are you going to defrost them all and serve them all up on the table at once?

No. I thought not.

Then why do you do that on your blog?

OK, OK ... you might not do this ... don't throw things at me! But I've read many, many, blog posts where the blogger does just that ...

How many times have you seen someone blog a ‘catch-up’ post ... where the blogger apologises for not being around much lately ... and then blogs a fortnight’s worth of content in a single post?

And you can almost put money on it that ... in another week or two ... they’ll be back along with another catch-up post and yet another month's worth of material all crammed into one place.

[If you do nothing else after reading this series ... please tell me you'll stop doing that!]

As interesting as each item in that binge-post may be ... it runs the risk of getting lost. Meanwhile the blogger runs the risk of doing themselves out of an easy month's worth of content!

But this doesn't have to be the way!

The cycle can be broken by blogging the majority of your separate items individually:
  • Don’t throw everything into one post.
  • Do allow projects the space to breathe and be appreciated in a post of their own.
  • Do take close-ups and detail images of your work if you're concerned about your reader having enough to look at.
This method also makes you more aware of WHY you're sharing this particular item:
  • As there won't be a lot of other things going on in the post - to distract your reader - it can force you to see what's interesting about the item / the photo / the story. 
  • What's worth pointing out to your reader?
  • What makes it worth blogging?
  • This could be a technique, a supply, a style, a tip, the back-story etc etc ...
And if you've got more material on a similar subject, eg. you've made a set of matching items, or in variations of colour, using a similar method etc etc:
  • that's still no reason to blog them all in one post!
  • put a feather in its cap and call it 'a mini-series'
  • then space them out over a week ... or whatever.
Obviously exceptions to this will apply. For example:
  • I combined three separate projects into one earlier this week in the 3 Creative Rescues for Photo-printing Fails post. But in this case, there was a clear rationale for doing so - to offer several solutions to the same problem - but not just because I'd made three things and couldn't wait to get them all on my blog!
  • And ....
  • ... if you've made 30 identical cards ... and you plan to blog one each a day ... that's going to make for a dull and rather predictable month for your readers!
But I'm sure you get the general idea ... and I hope you'll be able to identify how and when it will come in useful for you and your personal goal to blog more often, more consistently, more smoothly ...

So ... to recap:
  • Pace yourself.
  • Stop firing all your ammo in one battle.
  • Stop force-feeding your blog posts until your reader can no longer face scrolling down .... and down ... through a bloated post.  [I know ... I'm guilty of that in this series! But I only do that during my occasional information-heavy series!! Forgive me?]
  • Save some material for when you don't have time to create anything new from scratch [all you'll have to do is add in your pre-prepared photos and a few words ... and hit Publish!]
Yes, you'll have to find the time to blog 3 things individually rather than one at a time ... but this doesn't take 3 times as long.
  • You simply drop each individual project into 3 draft posts in one sitting. While you'r ein the blogging mood. There and then.
  • It really shouldn't take that much longer than throwing them together in one post.
  • You can then schedule the posts to publish on 3 separate days. And while you get on with the rest of your life ... your blog starts to looks after itself ... and your readers don't need to know any of it. 
  • Seamless blogging is within your grasp! 
I promise you that when you adapt some of the ideas from the Freezer Meals Approach to suit your own lifestyle, creativity, and preferences ... you'll be blogging more regularly in no time.

And, best of all, you won't need to produce any additional content to do so!!

I'd love to know your immediate responses on this ... and then maybe ... in a few weeks time ... you can give me an update on how you're getting on.

Comments, Facebook interactions, tweets, carrier pigeon messages ... they're all equally welcome.

I'll see you soon.



If so please swing my Just Giving page and make a £1* donation to the 'SAVE THE CHILDREN' charity to help me reach my target. I'm hoping to transform my hours of work on this series into at least £500 worth of aid for children worldwide.

I'm stuck on 64% of my target ... with only 2 posts left in the series. And I'm beginning to - ever so slightly - lose hope of reaching £500.

Edited 22.04.13: since writing this ^^ 12 marvellous ladies stepped up, dug deep, and helped me get within spitting distance of my target [sorry about that mental image!]

I now only need *£86.57* to make it! Go shake out your pockets!

 In the UK? You can donate £1 on my page OR by texting: PUBB88 £1 to 70070.  

Generous international folk can just hop over to my Just Giving page.

**Please don't feel uncertain about adding just £1 to the pot. £1 is plenty. You're super for even thinking about it. Thank you. x


  1. Oh queen of the metaphor - I love the image of someone freezing 10 meals and then serving them all the next day!

    Your links at the bottom are not working - I'm off to donate again as a thank you for doing your bit to stop the blogging splurge appearing in my reader.

  2. Another great episode and I love your metaphor (and up here we could tell you a thing or two this winter about freezing and bras that don't even NEED pushing up, but I digress). You've given us a big reminder about focus in a blog post: that just one thing can be plenty. That's my favourite sort, because being A Bear of Very Little Brain, especially by the end of the day, I am not capable of taking lots in. I'll be back here though with my pen and paper very shortly!

  3. And that is exactly how I cook. Used to be a life saver on shifts especially nights. I do make posts in advance on some occassions but not as a general rule although last week I wrote 3 posts on one day and planned them on a schedule so I had three days to calm down if my mental health went up the karzee again.
    I think these ideas are more the way I need to blog because of the effects being ill generally has on my ability to blog regularly at times,
    Thanx again for this fab series,
    Jo xxx

  4. I definitely do this! I posted almost a full week's worth of blog posts on Monday when I had some free time. That's given me more time this week to visit other people's blogs and be a good commenter/community member, which has in turn brought more people to my blog!
    (p.s. don't forget to stop by on Saturday when I show you what I've learned!)

  5. What good ideas! As queen of the messy kitchen, this all makes perfect sense. And a brilliant excuse for not doing any housework. " sorry dear, no ironed shirts, Julie said I had to draft out a months worth of blog posts" excellent!

  6. When you look at the Sunday newspapers the articles can often be described as 'ones they prepared earlier'. Their articles are interesting but usually undated and talk about events that didn't happen recently. My point being if it works for the national press it can work on a blog as well.I love the idea of a 'mini series'. Sometimes on TV you get occasional programmes that appear irregularly sometimes with gaps of months in between, sometimes with gaps of a few years. Often more interesting because you don't get them all the time.

  7. Hi Julie just wanted to say thank you for my blog hop prize that has arrived safely xxx

  8. This looks great. I'm coming right back to read this as soon as I say goodbye to the guests who have just rung the doorbell. But wanted to link uo my belated March in Munbers first

  9. Love this common sense approach. You're not far off your target now Julie so come on bloggers if you've enjoyed this as much as I have reach into your pockets and support this worthy cause

  10. I just had to pop by to say I am sat here doing a month's worth of Saturday posts, beginning what I hope will be one of a few regular features I am planning on including on my blog after reading this series!

  11. Funny that I'm reading this post today, because I was totally having a crazy cooking/baking day in the kitchen today and knew exactly what you were talking about! =)This series has been so helpful. Off to donate. =)

  12. I've been saving this up to read when I had the time to savour it! I'm a big fan of freezer meals and also of slow cookers - is there a slow cooker approach too please? :)

    I hope you reach your goal any day now

  13. A very interesting and useful article. Ive been off on a crafting weekend with friends and have.been discussing your series with those who blog so I hope they pop in here.

    Your series has certainly given me Food for thought and kick started my blogging block

    Come on lets get Julie to her target

  14. Just commenting again - I want to thank you because this series has really made me look at how I blog and pushed me into doing some things I had been thinking about for ages. I've now got posts scheduled, some regular things sorted into series, with names, chosen a new background for my blog, and generally got on with things.
    My Question for your final day is to do with interaction - how can we encourage community, get people to comment and to reply to each other, join in linky lists and visit each other because it is good to know that more than the same two or three people are out there.

  15. Now you see, freezer meals have never ever made it to the freezer in this house. I live with a bunch of gannets - turn my back and they've left me with nowt but the mess it took to make it! I get your metaphor though and am guilty as charged of the blog binge and then nothing again.

    So much food for thought... Hmmm!


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