The Quince Tree Graduates

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Now The Quince Tree is three years old I think I can say with confidence that I have gained my Bachelor of Blogging (B.Blg). I'm not sure whether I have achieved a Geoff but I'd like to think I've done better at this blogging lark than I did at my actual degree -just a Desmond for that*.

Here follows my dissertation on blogging which true to the spirit of the occasion I finished at 4am this morning having left it until the last minute, Thank goodness for Powerade and Mars bars.

What I Have Learnt About Blogging ~ a self-indulgent reflection on the business of blogging

Naming of blogs
When deciding on a name for your blog go for something which does not tie you to a particular subject unless you are certain that you will want to write about that subject forever. 

I very nearly called this blog 'Playing Hooky' because it was going to be all about my crochet projects. Fortunately I realised I was being over-optimistic about the amount of crochet projects I would complete. I then thought of something food related as I was pretty sure I would always want to include recipes but it occurred to me that I might want to write about all sorts of other things too, so I decided to think of a name which didn't tie me to a subject but evoked a pleasing image. I looked out of my window and saw my beautiful quince tree. 

The Quince Tree is, I think the perfect name for my blog. It allows me to write about a multitude of different things while at the same time giving me something specialised to write about. Not many people know about quinces. Also I just love the word Quince, especially when written in the font I have chosen for my blog title -such a lovely Q (it is Sorts Mill Goudy by the way).

Finding Your Blogging Voice
This seems to happen quite naturally. When I wrote my first post I remember thinking that I was copying other blogs I liked at the time. My early posts felt very contrived and derivative. Looking back at them today I'm not so sure. I think my blogging voice was there from the beginning. Shame the photography skills weren't up to scratch then. 

My advice to new bloggers who are scared of hitting the publish button for the first time is to just do it. Be yourself and your unique voice will follow. Besides the first post will only be seen by your mum.

How to build a readership
So, you have published your first post but nobody knows it is there except your husband and he couldn't be less interested. Visit blogs you admire and leave a friendly comment about what they have written. When you leave a comment be sure to fill in the relevant spaces with your blog's URL. That way the blogger you have visited will be able to visit you and maybe leave a comment. Other commenters will click on your name too and visit. 

Including a list of your favourite blogs somewhere on your blog -a blogroll or a list of links on a separate page is a good idea. It doesn't have to be a long list. Those bloggers will notice from their stats when traffic comes their way via your blog and might reciprocate.

SEO, Monetising etc
Search Engine Optimisation. This is where if you write a post on blogging tips you should not give it an obscure title like 'The Quince Tree Graduates' nor should you fail to include the words blogging and tips in your opening paragraph because folks searching for blogging tips will never find it. I couldn't care less about SEO.

Monetising. This is where you have lots of annoying advertising all over your lovely clean blog. Not that I'm averse to linking to a product or shop I like, heaven knows I link to Amazon often enough. I'm not interested in making a living out of blogging at all. That includes writing a book. Why turn something fun, creative and which I have complete control over into hard work, deadlines and demands?

Blog For Yourself
Blog when you like, about what you like and as often as you like. I think of my blog as an extension of myself. I think it reflects my personality; organised, tidy, opinionated, honest and practical. I definitely don't put on a persona when I write my blog although I swear a lot less on the blog than I do in real life.

Blog Friends
This is the thing I love most about blogging. First you make friends virtually which is wonderful, but if you are really lucky you get to meet those friends in real life. I met several blogging friends last year and it was fantabulous. 

The Unwritten Law of Blogging
When you see a robin in the snow you have to take a photo of it and post it on your blog



* What on earth is she going on about? -
Rhyming slang for British degree classification in common use when I was a student 25 years ago.
A Geoff Hurst (famous footballer** from centuries ago) or a Damien Hirst (artist) is a first class degree.
An Attila the Hun is a 2:1
A Desmond Tutu is a 2:2
A Douglas Hurd (famous politician from centuries ago) or a Thora Hird (beloved character actress) is a third.
In rhyming slang the first word only is used, hence a Geoff, a Desmond etc.
**Soccer player

68 comments:

  1. Such great advice! I really want to get my blog going again, but I'm finding it hard to get motivated. This post has definitely helped!

    (I got a Desmond as well in my degree!)

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  2. That is such a timely post! A friend and I started blogging a few months ago - wow, it is hard when you first start putting fingers to letters that turn into words. I am getting more comfy with it now and if I don't get something up every week I don't beat myself up... just wait until I have got something to say.

    Thanks for those pointers - will help me get towards my degree :)

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  3. Brilliant post Sue! And I agree with every word. My own FIRST anniversary is up this week so I'll do a post, but won't be doing a give-away because I can't get my head round the logistics of it and anyway I am on hols and can't be bothered! My title is about textiles and to be honest it certainly hasn't been for about 4 of those twelve months, so I kinda think you're right about that as well.

    Bottom line is - enjoy writing for yourself and anyone you think might be listening (and applauding!) and sod the rest. Ooooops. Lx

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  4. Many congratulations on your graduation!

    I love this post, especially the bit about blogging friends. It also fills me with confidence about my own blog, which, I think, meets many of your rules/thoughts about blogging. Well, except the bit about your mum reading it ... my family don't know that I blog (I don't think) even though I have dropped hints about it and it's quite clear to see on my FB and Twitter accounts.

    I will today endeavour to get a decent shot of a robin in the snow ... epic fail (as No2 would say) here at the moment! Don't hold your breath!

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  5. What on earth did you feed that robin, Sue, to get him so plump?!!!
    Blogging, yes, it's a weird but lovely world - and I had never imagined that I would be part of it all a couple of years ago!
    I'm with you on not wanting flashing ads and I steer away from word verification too.
    As for reciprocated visits, visiting blogs and frequently leaving comments does not mean that the gesture will be reciprocated!!! Best not to expect anything!
    I agree that blogging for oneself and being true to who we are are the foundations of any blog. Most people can sense if we are being authentic or not!
    It is said that birds of a feather flock together - and this is also true of which blogs we like to visit time and time again. I enjoy blogs that talk about photography, crochet, crafts, philosophy, books and cooking... not in any particular order. It all depends on my mood or needs of the moment!
    I enjoy down-to-earth people as much as I find inspiration in philosophical musings.
    In fact, I enjoy most things in life... even my work!
    May you continue with pleasure, and for the pleasure of others, the art of blogging! Sandra

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  6. Hooray, hooray, hooray! Couldn't agree more - I suppose Blogland is a big place, catering to a wide audience, but for me it's finding bloggers whose authentic personality shines through that's exciting - just like The Quince Tree!

    (PS: All the best people got Desmonds...)

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  7. Amen to the blog friends bit! And to your letter Q and to so much of what else you say. I think the thing that comes over most strongly with your blog is your love for it - enthusiasm is a very infectious and attractive quality. Here's to the next 3 years.

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  8. I recently started my new blog after over 4 years blogging on my old 'notsupermum' blog. Funnily enough, I also decided that because I was writing about my children less and less - they're teenagers, they don't want me to write about them as much - and was focusing more on the garden and home the blog name no longer suited. I hope you don't mind, but I used your blog name as inspiration for my new one - I also liked the way it was non-specific and after thinking about it for a while I came up with The Dandelion Clock. Thanks :)

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  9. A really good post Sue, I love it when a Blog I read comes across as being so natural and you can just tell the writer is comfortable in their own skin and does not bow to popular demands or fashions.

    If all Blogs were the same how boring it would be be.

    My title was chosen because that's exactly what we were doing at the time starting 'our new life in the country', I wondered a year ago if I needed to alter it and then I thought no, it's all still relatively 'new' after all we were townies for over 40 years....so maybe in another 40 I'll reconsider the title :-)

    As for my degree it's purely one 'in the school of life' so I dread to think what level I've mastered!!

    Sue xx

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  10. Congratulations on completing your BBlg. Your advice is sound. Good luck with your postgraduate blogging studies!

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    1. You never know, one day I may go on to do a doctorate.

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  11. Great post Sue and really helpful for a new blogger like me, so thank you. Beautiful robin! Julie x

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  12. Brilliant advice Sue... but the very best bit is being true to yourself. I think it can be all too easy to be seduced by the styling and look of some blogs but if we write in a voice that doesn't come naturally it is all pretty meaningless. I do sometimes worry that readers will become bored by some of my posts but then I remember this is ultimately for me. Looking forward to you achieving your blogging Masters... and PhD!

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  13. A comprehensive and intelligent paper, superbly illustrated. I have awarded you a Barney (that's a Barney Rubble/ Double) First.

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  14. The short and sweet guide to blogging!! Perfect. And so right. I love it! Thanks for putting it so well.

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  15. Excellent advice Sue and couldn't agree more about meeting blogging friends for real! x

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  16. Brilliant Sue! great advice and observations, here's to blogging for fun and enjoyment and building for-real friendships x

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  17. Congratulations, Sue BBlg!

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  18. Love the rhyming slang explanations!

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  19. "organised, tidy, opinionated, honest and practical" = perfect person!
    But you forgot to add creative, civilised, funny and charming.

    Here's to the next three years (we hope).

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    1. Why thank you Helen, how kind you are.

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  20. Barb_in_GA1:53 pm GMT

    Congratulations on your anniversary!

    I love reading your blog (and your Pinterest boards). I've toyed with starting my own, and your suggestions will put me on the right path, I'm sure.

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    1. Go for it Barb. It is so rewarding.

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  21. Another Desmond over here!
    I have made a first faral mistake of naming my blog and linking it to 1 thing in particular (learning how to be frugal), which is a really big part of my life, but i find it restricts me in what i can write about (my other passion is Mental Health). Grrr!

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  22. Fatal, not Faral..i swear my blog isn't this badly written!

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  23. Bonnie in PA2:50 pm GMT

    A fantabulous picture of the robin. If you decide to do a calendar again, that fellow would grace January quite nicely. I hadn't noticed your Q until you mentioned it, so went back for closer observation. It is quite handsome, but I miss the mellow colors of your quince tree at the top. Would you consider melding the two?

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    1. Glad you like the Q Bonnie. I'm happy with the look of the blog the way it is at the moment. that's not to say I won't change my mind in the future -one of the joys of being in charge.

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  24. Hello Sue

    You're my new best friend this week (just found you in the Blogisphere) - shall pop round again soon, keep writing xxx

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  25. I found the name for rusty duck in exactly the same way as you. I'd spent days agonising over what it could be, then sat down in the kitchen with a coffee and looked out of the window.

    Looking forward to the next three years Sue, I thoroughly enjoy your blog.

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  26. I am simply glad that I found your blog in the first place as I enjoy reading it a great deal. I won't be persuaded to start my own though.

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  27. I love your blog. It's always has various and interesting topics.
    I also love your photography skills.
    That was funny about the Robin.

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  28. It's funny you should mention finding your unique voice on your blog. That's one of the reasons I am taking a break from blogging, not feeling very Unique right now and fear I am being a clone of millions of other blogs with nothing new to say.
    That and the fact that I am unable to load pictures from lappy onto blog which was driving me crazy. How have you managed it?

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    1. Bitsy email me(thequincetree@live.co.uk) telling me what you're having problems with and I'll see if I can help.

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  29. What a brilliant post Sue, I've often longed to blog but know it would just make my never ending To Do list even longer and stressier. So you definitely get a Geoff from me for being The Voice of Common Sense as well as Inspiring Recipe Sharer and Ace Photographer/Calendar Designer. I have been known to consult your recipe files for inspiration before compiling my shopping list (unlike you I don't enjoy this task, nor the actual shopping - unless it's at Whole Foods Market of course!)
    Delighted to see I scored an "Atilla" in the dim distant past! Never heard that one back then.

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  30. Hi Sue,
    Congratulations on 3 years of blogging and for giving such inspirational recipes too! What you have learnt about blogging is all so true! I had to smile at the unwritten law of blogging!
    Sarah x

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  31. happy blog graduation Sue, I was half expecting to see a mortar board balanced on the quince tree's branches!

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  32. DillyDeli8:26 pm GMT

    First time I have ever left a comment on any blog but could not let this day go by without telling you how much I have enjoyed a peek at life on the other side of the world from ChCh NZ since I discovered The Quince Tree 18 months ago. I also miss the actual tree but love the Q along with the wonderful recipes, photos and glimpses of another world and season. I'm never sure whether I'm looking back or forwards, preparing to plant when you're harvesting, stripping off to keep cool when you're layering for warmth but I'm always inspired. A virtual toast to you from the shaky isles, congratulations you're definitely a Geoff!!

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  33. You've definitely graduated! And you should know that you have been a huge source of inspiration for me. I haven't commented much but I have been reading you for awhile. I think your advice is spot-on, both as a newer blogger and as someone who has done some of that SEO writing in "the real world," you know, for money...it's important to some but I don't feel I need it in my blogging life. Thanks for this post, keep on keeping on.

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  34. This post made my laugh out loud Sue, wonderful stuff. You most certainly deserve a Geoff :0)
    Hope you keep blogging for many more years, I always love to visit.
    Jacquie x

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  35. Damn if only I'd done more research before I started my blog! You've certainly left a lot for us 2nd year underblogruates to live up to - great post Sue, thanks :-)

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  36. Happy birthday to your blog and congrats on your graduation! You're so right about the blog name thing. I hate mine and wish I'd had more imagination. Yours is perfect so you are allowed to be smug. :-)

    Gillian x

    ps I got an Attila, but it was from an ex-poly, so I don't know if that counts for much...

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  37. An incisive, original, and amply footnoted treatment of a notoriously tricky subject area. Further research funding recommended.

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  38. Your blog is simply terrific. I have read it for quite some time now and I love how you described how you picked your blog name.
    Claire

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  39. I was trying to simplify my lfe and nearly three years on the title Live Simply Simply Live still serves me well - I have lots of sub categories now....Simply love it! (And yes, I do believe my life is now simpler.) I loved your comment about the fun of 'being in charge'!
    An interesting post as always. Thanks..

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  40. A wonderful post. I could not help but smile at the reference to the naming of our individual blogs. Mine has never had a post referring to the menopause and I now am kind of stuck with the name. C'est la vie.
    New Zealand has a South Island Robin which is totally grey with a light grey breast, the prettiest of little birds. I learned that from reading a blog!
    Long may your lovely blog thrive.

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  41. Huge congratulations on your graduation. This is certainly one of my favourite online places to visit. You have earned your mortarboard plus some fireworks, a mahoosive cake and an enormous cheer. Yep, definitely a Geoff. HURRAY FOR THE QUINCE TREE!!!

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  42. Really interesting reading this, Sue. Your blog is super - I love the way you convey the feeling that you're writing because you enjoy it and tangibly warm to the theme of whatever topic you are writing about. Never fails to draw the reader in. Happy Blogging graduation and enjoy all the accolades - they are so well-deserved! E x

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  43. PS Your "Q" is absolutely beautiful! E x

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  44. Great post and I'm glad to see that my thoughts chime very closely with yours on the subject. Maybe that means I have a blogging degree too? I do hope so, it'd be my first you see!

    S x

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  45. If only I'd read your blog before setting mine up - I think I'd have called it something different! Not to worry!
    You live and learn .................. And initially I thought I would use it to just keep a record of cards I made, and then when I read more and more blogs, I thought - I could record my version of that and share this photo etc.
    If you do get around to reading and looking at my blog - I have a very similar robin photo! Although I've not totally enjoyed the snow (to say the least, as I am a total wimp about driving in it) I have loved seeing so many more birds in the garden.
    Happy weekend.
    Sara x

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  46. Happy anniversary, Sue! I love reading The Quince Tree and seeing your photos; here's to many more anniversaries!

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  47. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on blogging. I have become addicted to reading them and you are one of my first ports of calls..... Think I may start one myself but do not know anyone who has a blog so your advice is invaluable. I think making the first step to start it is the hardest. Linda

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  48. Happy anniversary, Sue. Lovely post. I'm sure others have said this - but I haven't read them as I am against the clock, and shouldn't even be here on the computer - personally I'd award the Quince Tree a Hirst, or a Hurst, whichever you prefer. X

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    1. Doh! of course I meant a Damien or a Geoff. Hopeless. Never a good idea to do these things when you are meant to be doing something else.

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  49. Oh my gosh, your blog is so pretty...I just found it from Bunny Mommy's link. Can't wait to come back and have a good explore. I have a new blog, so your post was most helpful and encouraging. Thank-you!

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  50. What a wonderful post, and thank goodness you rediscovered me, as I have also remembered just how much I used to love reading your posts and admiring your photos too........

    I agree with all of your sentiments, and as for SEO, it makes me laugh, I have the MOST un-seo (have I just made up a word there?!) titles in blog-land! I write primarily for me, and if I manage to pick up some nice books to products to review along the way, than I accept the ones that fit in with my writing and blog, BUT, my blog is a hobby that sometimes rewards me with tasty and literary surprises along the way......

    The fact that my blog is a hobby irks many top UK bloggers who ask me why I promote things that are close to my heart for no pay!!! Really, I have had some quite nasty emails!

    But I digress, thanks so much for your lovely comments over the last few days, and I have added The Quince Tree to my google reader feed, as I now I am wordpress, I don't have that handy list of blogs I follow in my dashboard any more.

    Karen

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  51. Wow, lots of lovely comments. It must make you feel great. Good advice . I totally agree.
    Cheers

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  52. Your robins are so different from ours! They are so beautiful! I have yet to see any robins in our snow...maybe they will appear in another month or two! Robins are very welcome in my neck of the woods since they seem to bring Spring with them!

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    1. Gosh, they are aren't they? American robins are related to thrushes and blackbirds -quite a different species. You learn something new every day.

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  53. Such good advice. Very timely for me as I tentatively dip my toes into the blogging world - wondered how to get some visitors!
    I always look forward to reading your sensible views on the world - congratulations on your anniversary.
    :: Thank you ::

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  54. Pati from London10:43 pm GMT

    Brilliant post Sue, as usual you deserve a Hirst! Pati x
    ps: I can't remember how I discovered your blog, It was ages and ages ago but I'm so happy I did!

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  55. Deborah V from Diss6:34 pm GMT

    Congratulations! Your blog is such a treat to view. I initially alighted on it looking for ways to use my own quince and have been a dedicated reader ever since. Without you I might never have found Honor Arundel! And the photos are stunning - has washing ever looked more beautiful?x

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  56. Thank you for this post it's put some things I've been pondering about blogging into perspective.

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  57. The time flies by, doesn't it? I manage to miss my anniversaries completely, every time - much like I missed this post first time round, gobbled up by my Google Reader.

    This is a really good post - and you've got a lovely blog, very much with your own voice. It's reflected in the number of people who visit it - you do what you say on the tin, and you do it enormously well. Hats off to you.

    I have to say I do run ads on my blog - though it's VERY sporadic, and only with companies I like and who approach me (I have no energy for doing the running). I think - and you know I'm not a particularly visual person, so this is where we diverge - there's something honest about a display ad compared to some of the other options. I'm constantly offered paid text links, hidden away in old posts or unseen areas, which are just SEO by the backdoor for these companies, and a little bit sneaky in my opinion. I always say no.

    Without advertising, we might never have met - the Kew trip, which with train tickets, entrance fee, and lunch, stacked up to more than £100, would have been difficult to justify out of my family's budget. I was lucky enough to be offered a display ad which covered some of the cost, which made it a lot easier decision to make. I take advertising not to make a living out of my blog, but to take advantages of the opportunities that blogging offers me.

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    1. Oddly I never think of your blog as one covered in advertising, in fact I was just looking at it and didn't notice any -your writing completely distracts me from anything else.

      Hoping your ads can fund another trip to London in March.

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