I have long been a reader of Rona Wheeldon’s flowery blog Flowerona. Even before I started blogging myself, I enjoyed reading her then daily Flowerona posts with a cup of early morning tea before getting the family up for school. As Flowerona has grown Rona’s talent in using social media to grow her blog has been clear and when I saw that she was teaching a course called ‘Social Media For Florists’ I could not resist signing up.
I have to admit that I did feel something of a fraud on this course – it was aimed primarily at florists trying to grow their businesses and as I am neither a florist nor a business I did feel slightly ill at ease. I do blog about gardening, my Cutting Garden and arranging flowers, however, so I felt I had much in common with all the other lovely flowery ladies I met that day.
Rona was an excellent teacher – she exudes confidence and charm and makes you feel that anything is possible. Despite numerous interruptions for questions she was effortlessly able to keep the course on track and to time.
Rona was joined by the very enthusiastic and bubbly Fiona Humberstone – the face behind The Brand Stylist. Rona and Fiona both run extremely successful businesses around their blogs and were full of advice and information on the most popular social media sites for florists. Supporting Rona and Fiona were Duncan McCabe from the supremely successful florists McQueens and Emily Quinton from Makelight Photography. Duncan spent the day shooting a video of the event and Emily took lots of photos – you can see more on Flowerona. You may remember that I took one of Emily’s excellent Photography for Bloggers courses in the spring – it was lovely to see her and catch up with her news.
Due to a very bad journey I missed most of the first session which was all about making a mood board to represent your brand. Lead by Fiona the idea was to think of three words that represent your brand and then to use magazine pictures, photos and styling props to create a mood board to reflect these words.
My words to describe my floral style would be ‘Simple, Homegrown & Seasonal’ and I hastily stuck a few photos of my seasonal arrangements from ‘In A Vase On Monday‘ posts onto my board. Although the flowers change with the seasons, I think my style of using flowers is very similar throughout the year and that was reflected in the photos when I put them all together. If you look closely you might recognise a few of the pictures from previous posts.
We then broke for a much needed cup of coffee and some fantastic cake!
For the second morning session Rona and Fiona talked at length about FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter, sharing the best ways to use these media to develop our own business brand.
After an information packed morning we headed downstairs for our lunch, cooked by the amazing Maddie Hatton. The lunch was as delicious as her Instagram feed had promised – I wanted to take her home to live in my kitchen! All the details of the lunch setting were lovely – drinks by Kilner, glasses, cups, plates and cutlery from the very famous Anthropolgie and lots of flowery chat as we got to know each other better.
Lunch was over all too quickly and it was back upstairs to learn a bit about using our camera phones – I had no idea that I could take a square crop picture straight from my phone (very useful if you are planning to upload a picture to Instagram). We looked at the importance of editing photos to improve the image and of trying to find a style for our pictures that can be instantly recognised.
After that we had a little practice at styling images:
Then it was back to our desks for the final session about blogging.
At the end of the day we were asked to spend some time thinking about how we would use what we had learnt.
My aim for the day was to come away with a plan that would help me build my Peonies & Posies readership. Whilst I do not write for the comments, follows, likes and shares it is always nice to know that the hours I spend photographing both my flowers and my garden and writing posts are for a satisfied audience and a growing readership is a sure sign of that.
What I learnt on the day is that it is very hard to build a successful blog organically – regular interaction with other social media seems to be necessary to promote what you are all about (in my case Peonies & Posies). I already use the social media that we discussed, but in a very haphazard way, so my plan moving forward is:
- My FaceBook page is going to become a place where I share what is wowing me each week – other peoples blog posts, videos, photos and events that I think you will enjoy. There will still be updates about posts on Peonies and Posies as well as photos from my garden, but my aim on FaceBook will be to share what I have enjoyed each week with you.
- I am planning to use Instagram much more. Instagram is almost like a mini blog post – I can upload a photo or two a day that show where I have been or what I have been doing in the garden. As I only post on my blog two or three times a week I can use Instagram to remind you when to plant garlic for example, or to show you the roses as I am going about my garden work – it releases me from the need to be in the house on my laptop when sharing Peonies & Posies with you.
- I have never made much effort with Twitter – to be frank I have found it quite confusing and often an information overload. After the course I have a better understanding of the benefit of it – it is a quick way to communicate – I can catch up with what someone is up to whilst i am on a train or doing taxi duty and I can share what I see very easily with my followers. I doubt that I will use Twitter to post much myself – there are only so many hours in a day, but I will have a quick check on what others are posting daily and retweet anything I love so that my followers can enjoy it too (can you tell that I am even learning to use the lingo!).
- Pinterest will remain something I dip into if I am at a loose end. I have quite a few boards and when I have time (usually during the long dark winter evenings) I love to add to these flowery mood boards. Do take a look if you have never visited me there. Pinterest for me will continue to be a bit of light relief rather than something I feel I have to make an effort with.
So how am I doing with my plan? You know what they say about the best laid plans and so far I have not managed to implement my plan on a daily basis. First and foremost I am a gardener and that is where I prioritise my spare time. Without the garden there would be no Peonies & Posies, so at busy times like the bulb planting season I have to say family first, garden second and then my Peonies & Posies world. I think that getting into the habit of using Instagram daily will help – I can blog and garden almost simultaneously – but all habits take time to form.
So thank you to Rona and Fiona for organising such an informative and stimulating day! Their attention to detail was faultless – the venue, food, styling and flowers were all beautiful. Even more important though was the course detail and this was everything I had hoped it would be. I came away with my own notebook full of thoughts, beautifully printed and detailed reminder cards on all that we had covered and the most beautiful goody bag – I will save that one for another post!
So please take a look at my other social media and do leave me a comment to do let me know that you have visited – every comment, however short, is appreciated and does help to boost my enthusiasm to keep on plugging away with Peonies & Posies!