The Last Two Weeks

As I am half way through the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I can’t believe it’s already day 15, so I have decided to do a bit of a cheat post today (plus, my Internet connection is likely to be disconnected at some point today, so I need to be quick!) and list all the posts I have published over the last 14 days.  I wouldn’t normally do it like this, but as I have been posting both on this blog and my eBook formatting blog you may have missed some.

Day 1

My Top 10 Posts of 2012

Day 2

Social Media for Authors – Part 1

Day 3

Why France?

Day 4

Paperback or eBook?

Day 5

Incredible Goal Setting for 2013!

Day 6

Virtual Author Services – DIY or Outsource?

Day 7

5 Simple WordPress Plugins

Day 8

How are eBooks Evolving?

Day 9

Who needs a schedule?

Day 10

Sneak Preview – eBook Marketing eCourse

Day 11

Flick the Off Switch More Often!

Day 12

Education Never Ends

Day 13

Twitter Follow Back Rules

Day 14

12 Steps to Format an eBook

Twitter Follow Back Rules

While I was scrolling through my new Twitter follower’s this morning I came up with this idea for a blog post.  

How many of you take time each day to see who your new followers are and decide whether to follow them back? Or, do you just follow everyone back?

In my opinion it pays to keep an eye on who you are following, and who unfollows you.  You can check out a previous post on the tool I use to look at all this sort of information, 5 Ways to Analyse Twitter with SocialBro.

But this blog post is all about Twitter profiles and what to look for when deciding who to follow.  First though, a little quiz (the answers are at the bottom), out of the following 10 Twitter followers, which ones did I follow back?  Put your answers in a comment before checking your answers.

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

6.

 

7.

 

8.

 

9.

 

10.

 

Without giving away just yet which ones I followed back I want to just go over the things I look for when deciding whether to follow or not.

Am I interested in any of the information they have provided in their profile?

The first thing I look at is whether this person interests me, as a general rule I tend to follow back all authors and writers because this is the niche of my business, and books interest me. If they are neither authors or writers, then I check for other interests such as France, cooking, pets etc… If they come across as normal people who tweet normal things that interest me then I follow back.

Do we have something in common?

Similar to the above, if we have interests or business goals in common it’s likely I will follow back.

Could they be a potential client?

This is a difficult one because everyone could be a potential client. If someone sounds normal, has a genuine sounding profile and I am interested in what they have to say then I follow back. Sometimes I will look at the last few tweets they have made if I’m really not sure, that usually confirms whether I follow or not.

Does the profile contain any hashtags such as #teamfollow or similar?

This may be personal opinion, but I really hate it when people use these hashtags in Twitter profiles, it’s even more likely I won’t follow you if you have this stupid hashtag in your profile.

Do I know what this person tweets about?

I like to know by just reading the profile what this person tweets about, if it’s not clear then I will have a look at the last few tweets, and if it’s still not clear I don’t follow back. You can see one of my examples above is in a language I don’t even understand, so there is no reason why I would follow someone when I won’t even understand their language… oops given that one away!

Do they have the default profile image?

If you have the default egg image as your profile picture it’s usually a sure fire way of me not following you back. There are exceptions to this rule of mine, one is personal friends/family who don’t know much about Twitter to begin with, I let them off for a while. Another is those people who explain the reason they use the default image such as one of my followers the other day, she had set-up a new account and was preparing an image for this new account. Explanations go a long way…

I hope that’s given you some ideas about what you can look for on Twitter if you’re constantly umming and ahhing about who you should and shouldn’t follow. In fact as I was writing this I realised that I did some similar posts last year, which you can check out here (I don’t think my rules have changed much) – 5 Followers NOT to Follow on Twitter! and Who do you Follow on Twitter?

And here are the answers… (really small so you can’t cheat easily!)
3, 5, 8, 10

Who needs a schedule?

I read many articles which suggest you become more disciplined, create a schedule and stick to it, or plan every hour of the day so you know exactly what you’re doing and when.  But having tried and tested these suggestions over the last year or so I have come to the conclusion that having a set schedule does not agree with me.

Stress

One of the main reasons it doesn’t agree with me is because when I write down an hour by hour schedule, if something ‘off the schedule’ happens it cascades down the rest of the days activities causing me to stress about what I should be doing, rather than actually getting on with the work in question.

© Jean Valley – Fotolia.com

For example… a few months ago I set out a day by day schedule to include the following:

  • Walking the dog
  • Checking and responding to emails
  • Client work
  • Social media
  • Power Hour

It was a pretty vague schedule, but I had put these activities within a time bracket.  So dog walking between 9.30 and 10.30 (and again between 3.30 and 4.30), and client work between 10.30 and 12.00 (and again between 2.00 and 3.30).  What happened when I got up late one morning?  I was behind before I’d even got started for the day which created stress for the rest of the day, constantly trying to catch up with my schedule.

I read this great article yesterday which gave me inspiration to write this post – 7 Ways to Be a Stress-Free Workaholic

Change of plan…

I ripped that schedule off the wall and decided to work on things when I was in the right frame of mind to work on them.  I still have to walk the dog in the morning, but if I haven’t left the house at 9.30 I’m not getting stressed about it.

For now I’ve decided to follow the workbooks by Leonie Dawson which I mentioned in my previous post Incredible Goal Setting for 2013!.  Her suggestion is to write down your 3 MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) for the day. That way, I have written down everything I need to get done each day (or month) and I can break bigger tasks down into smaller ones.  The same can be applied to client work, for example, I am currently formatting a book which requires me to insert 111 images.  It’s going to take some time, so I have broken it down into smaller chunks, rather than sitting for hours trying to get it all done in one sitting and going cross-eyed.

What I find easier than creating a schedule is working out how I can spend less time doing something.  This morning I decided to create some rules in Outlook to redirect all the newsletters I get into a folder other than the inbox.  I also decided that I would start implementing the 4 D’s for my email – Do it, Delegate it, Delete it or Defer it.  I hope this will improve my overflowing inbox!  As I just had to look up the 4 D’s to remind myself, I thought I would link to the article I found, lots of tips for email – Empty your Inbox: 4 ways to take control of your email

Here is another article from the same site as the previous one about stress – 10 Easy Ways to Get More Done

So from now on, I won’t be scheduling, I will be flying through the day as it happens but trying to make my tasks more fun and take less time.  Any tips on how I can improve on this please leave me a comment.

Why France?

One of my Twitter followers asked me this question a few days ago just before the UBC started – so I thought I would answer it in a blog post.

My Story

In my previous job at a University I worked as a Programme Coordinator, working with post-graduate students studying psychotherapy and mental health.  I was the person everyone used to come to with their admin and IT problems.  The department I worked in had always been on the verge of closing, in fact I think the first shock came after only 6 weeks of me being there, the risk of redundancy looming (again – another story).  Eventually after 4 and a half years the department was deemed not financially viable and lucky for me (and the other programme coordinators) we had put in for voluntary redundancy some months before.  When it was offered to us we were told if we didn’t accept then compulsory redundancy would eventually come to pass.

I left the university on 31 July 2011 with 1 years salary as their parting gift!

What did I do?

I had had 4 months to consider what I wanted to do when I left my job, and I quickly decided I didn’t want to be an employee any longer, I wanted to run my own business.  With a year’s salary behind me I knew that I could try it out and see what happens.  It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do, and even on 1 August I was still not 100% clear what my business was going to be.  I signed up to PeoplePerHour and looked for admin jobs I could do while working on my business ideas.

I had also taken on selling my late Grandfather’s book (Sojourn in Silesia) and had decided I wanted to re-publish it and publish it as an eBook.  While doing this I learnt how to format eBooks and how to self-publish books.

This is the town I live in.

I had to take a holiday…

With the redundancy money in the bank I decided I deserved a break, so decided to take a 2 week holiday to my mum’s in France.  Mum has lived in France for 7 years, so it wasn’t my first visit, I used to go over maybe once or twice a year if I could.  The first week I did a lot of work, I had managed to secure a job from PPH formatting CV’s for a recruitment company with offices around the world.  They were sending them over at all hours of the day, and I was averaging about 8 – 10 CV’s per day.  It wasn’t much of a holiday…

On the first Saturday of my stay (I think I had arrived the previous weekend) we were all invited to my mum’s neighbour for a BBQ.  That’s when I first met my boyfriend, the brother of the neighbour.  The evenings of the second week of my holiday were spent with him and his friend who took me out to various places, a picnic down by the river one evening, fireworks another evening, a meal in a medieval town another.  At the end of the week both of us were returning home (me to the UK and him to his home in northern France).  To cut a long story short, he had already decided to move to the area to start work on the family farm, renovating it to live in, more about that later.

Showing my dad where I was moving to!

When I returned home I was very sad, I had had the best holiday in France I had had in the 7 years I had been visiting.  In May of that year, I had been to France again for a week and the thought had crossed my mind then that I would quite like to live there, but hadn’t really given it anymore thought… until now!

Decisions

Now I had a boyfriend in France (we kept in touch by phone everyday) and I no longer worked for anyone, I was free to choose where I lived, even a different country.  It all happened very quickly, my mum got extremely excited and went apartment hunting the week I returned from my holiday.  I had a flying visit to Budapest to take care of at the end of September and then I was free to move. Mum found me an apartment quickly and paid a deposit.  I moved to France on 23 October 2011, just 6 weeks after returning from my holiday.  About a month later my boyfriend joined me, and we have now been here for just over a year.

So… why France?

Hopefully from my story above it’s quite obvious, mum is here, boyfriend is here… but there are some other things I love about France! The weather is a slight improvement on the UK, warmer in the summer, but possibly a bit colder in the winter.  It’s quiet – in my apartment I can’t hear screaming kids, noisy traffic, fighting neighbours (all of these things happened in my street in England).  I love the old houses and the countryside – I never thought I would say this, it must be my age, but the surroundings are much nicer.

I still can’t speak the language, but I am working on it and it’s something I hope to master in 2013!  Having a French boyfriend you would have thought it makes it easier, but we communicate in English, it’s become a habit.

Home in 2013

The renovations at the farm are coming along really well, and the plan is to move there in the spring… there are a couple of stipulations before I agree to move away from my apartment though!

1. There must be a working toilet (this has been the hardest thing to achieve so far… again, long story!)
2. Internet – I can’t work without it!

I’ll try to keep you posted on the move.

I hope you like the photo’s I have used in this post, if you have any burning questions about France then leave me a comment… I could write a book about all of this, and maybe one day I will! 

My Top 10 Posts of 2012

So my very first post of the Ultimate Blog Challenge… Firstly I’d like to wish your all a Happy New Year, or Bonne Année as they say in France!

As I am technically not meant to be working today, I thought I would choose something easy to start with, but I hope that my top 10 posts of 2012 will provide you with lots to read and if anything particularly peaks your interest leave me a comment – most of these posts from 2012 are still relevant for 2013.

I think I’ll start from the bottom up, give you something to scroll down for… so at…

Ten

Get Organised with this Free Resource

Nine

Who do you Follow on Twitter?

Eight 

3 Tools to Optimise your Twitter Account

Seven

How I added a week’s worth of content to Buffer in 1 Hour using Flipboard…

Six

Self Publishing your eBook the DIY Way!

Five

5 Followers NOT to Follow on Twitter!

Four

5 Ways to Analyse Twitter with SocialBro

Three

10 Virtual Assistant Resources

Two

Is Twitter Unfollowing People Randomly

One

5 Little-Known Tips to Improve eBook Formatting

 

Remember that I will be alternating my posts for this challenge, so tomorrow’s will be on my eBook formatting blog.