Monday, 16 January 2017

Social Media & Blog Post Content Ideas | February 2017

Whether you're a blogger or a small business owner, it's always a good idea to plan ahead. I like to plan key blog posts 6-8 weeks in advance and this list of key events in February is a fantastic base for planning your social media.

Social Media & Blog Post Content Ideas | February 2017 by SamanthaRickelton.com

I advise sitting down for 30 minutes and slotting in some social media activity around these events. You can plan weeks in advance and then you're done.

It's a nice way to get creative too. Do you rely on local customers/readers? You could ask your Facebook followers where serves the best Yorkshire Puddings as part of Yorkshire Pudding Day or how about asking for book recommendations or recommending a book around your business on National Libraries Day?

Content Ideas for February 2017



1 Feb - Dignity Action Day

2 Feb - World Wetlands Day

3 Feb - NSPCC Number Day

4 Feb - World Cancer Day

5 Feb - British Yorkshire Pudding Day

6 Feb - National Libraries Day

7 Feb - Safer Internet Day

14 Feb - Valentine's Day

17 Feb - Random Act of Kindness Day

27 Feb - 12 March - Fairtrade Fortnight

28 Feb - Shrove Tuesday



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Social Media & Blog Post Content Ideas | February 2017 by SamanthaRickelton.com






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Friday, 13 January 2017

Frugal 2017 - Week 2 | The One with the 'No Spend Weekend'

So.....hot on the heels of the mega savings I was able to make from our monthly budget last week (£240 in case you didn't know - you can read about it here), I was keen to keep the momentum going. We've managed to stick to our budget and haven't spent unnecessarily. Yeah! Here's how we've saved money this week.

Frugal 2017 - Week 2 | How I saved money with the 'No Spend' Weekend Challenge


1 - Meal Planning

Again I planned our dinners around what we already had in the cupboards.

Saturday | Steak Ciabattas, Homemade Wedges & Rocket
Sunday | Bangers & Mash with Frozen Veg
Monday | Quorn and Red Pepper Tacos
Tuesday | King Prawn Goan Curry
Wednesday | Salmon & Couscous
Thursday | Birthday Party
Friday | Chinese Chicken and Rice One Pot

Most of these meals were planned using food up from our freezer or cupboards so again we didn't spend much. I think I maybe spent around £40 on our entire food shop this week. Our stocks are running low though so I don't think we'll be able to sustain this level of budgeting for much longer. I do intend on stocking my freezer and cupboard when I spot a genuine bargain but rather than that item sitting in there for months before it is used, I'll plan to use it up pretty quickly.


2 - A 'No-Spend' Weekend

I am SO proud about this. We spent a lovely weekend break in Harrogate last weekend and normally we would probably spend around £150. We would definitely have eaten out which costs around £70 and would have probably stopped somewhere for cake and coffee or a couple of drinks in a nice pub. I'm pretty sure Steve and I would have bought takeaway coffee in the park and we might have let the kids buy something from the shops. It all adds up! We made a pledge not to spend a single penny and do you know what - we still had a fantastic time! We took all of our own food with us and packed board games for Saturday night entertainment rather than visiting a restaurant & pub. We had fun finding free places to visit in Harrogate and loved Valley Gardens. No Spend Weekends are definitely the way forward for us and it's a good little challenge to set yourself I think. We even packed our own flask of coffee for the park.



3 - I Signed Up for the FREE Postcode Lottery & Completing Surveys

Steve and I spotted a survey on Facebook where you earned a £5 amazon voucher for answering a few questions about a new road layout. It only took us 10 minutes each and was an easy £10 to put in the Christmas fund. We have signed up to more surveys where you can earn 77p - £3 per survey. They hardly take any time and we both have around a fiver in our pot already. Every little helps! You can join Snap Surveys and try it for yourself here.

My friend Ashleigh (of money saving fame) posted about the free postcode lottery this week and it caught my eye so I signed myself up. It's completely free, you just need to check the site daily to see if your post code has been selected. Some recent winners have won £600! You can sign up to the free Post Code lottery here (you will not be asked for your bank details - this is an affiliate link).


4 - Swagbucks

I also signed up to Swagbucks. I am online for a lot of the day anyway so I might as well get paid for it. You can watch videos, complete polls, use the swag search engine or shop at your favourite shops via the swagbucks website to earn SB which can be converted into Paypal cash or gift cards. We're going to try a couple of activities every day and hopefully convert our SB to a gift card this Christmas. You can sign up to Swagbucks and try it for yourself here (affiliate link) - you'll get 300 SB free to start you off.


Where I've spent money this week

Food Shopping - £40
Petrol - £50
Birthday gift for Harry's friend - £5
Family bus ticket to Newcastle for birthday party - £12
Drinks at a funeral - £15
Unlimited coffee at Wetherspoons whilst meeting friends - 89p

A total weekly spend of £122.89 is superb I think. Considering this included all of our transport, a weekend away in Harrogate, a night out in Newcastle, a birthday present and coffee with friends, it's a pretty good achievement.


So this weekend I challenge you to have your own 'No Spend Weekend'. Let me know if you manage it.

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Frugal 2017 - Week 2 | How I saved money with the 'No Spend' Weekend Challenge


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Monday, 9 January 2017

10 ways to grow your blog in 2017


In the past 12 months I have managed to double the amount of traffic North East Family Fun receives and in November and December, North East Family Fun received over 50,000 monthly page views with over 30,000 unique users. I'm pretty chuffed with this! I will say though that this definitely does not happen overnight for most blogs. North East Family Fun is approaching it's 4th birthday and getting to this point has been a long & difficult journey. I have picked up a few tips along the way though and thought I would share them with you today.

10 ways and top tips for growing your blog and increasing page views in 2017

1 - Teach Yourself SEO

My no1 tip is to teach yourself SEO (Search Engine Optimisation - so your blog post will show up near the top of google when people search for certain words). Most of my blog traffic is through google and teaching myself SEO has been the best thing I ever did for my blog. It is a long and never-ending process - there is always something new to learn and I certainly don't know it all yet. It has been a gradual process over the last 2 years for me and making small tweaks here and there can make a big difference. I'm not an expert so I don't feel that I'm the person who can give you tips but if you google, there are thousands of articles out there that will help you. Don't get overwhelmed by it all though and maybe set yourself a goal of learning one new thing every month.

The downside to teaching yourself SEO is that it now takes me 4 times as long to write a blog post by the time I optimise everything - it is definitely worth it though.

2 - Facebook Groups

Have you ever posted in a Facebook group and been frustrated that you're not allowed to post links in that group? Have you been barred from the group or just haven't found any engagement? That's what happened to me. I decided to just go ahead and set up my own Facebook groups with my own rules (alongside my Facebook page - I would always recommend you should set up a blog Facebook page first and foremost). Facebook groups work well for a specific niche, so for me, I have Social Media Management Forum where I share blog posts like this one, North East Days Out where I share days out alongside North East Food Lovers and We Love Christmas. The growth of these groups has been slow but constant and they are all fab places where I have a very engaged audience around a particular blog topic. Don't just link drop in your groups or people will get bored - start debates, ask for suggestions and ask/answer other questions too. My Facebook groups are all lovely communities and a fantastic place to share specific content.

3 - Twitter Chats

I don't do this as often as it should now, but joining in with Twitter chats does make a difference to my site traffic. I would recommend #NorthEastHour if you're in the North East (Mondays 8-9pm and Tuesdays 2-3pm).

The key with Twitter Chats is to not drop lots of links but instead take the time to engage and find new people to follow who could become long term readers of your blog. Ask them questions, reply to their Tweets, add them to Twitter lists and RT (if suitable for your audience). I would recommend leaving a link at the end of the chat and maybe a few times in between if relevant. A huge thanks to Cups of Charlotte who has put together this list of blogger chats:

10 ways and top tips for growing your blog and increasing page views in 2017 - a list of Twitter chats

4 - Learn How to use Pinterest

You often hear that Pinterest is a fantastic source of traffic for bloggers but unfortunately that has never been the case for me. So I spent a few days teaching myself about Pinterest, I joined tailwind and in December I received 2500 referrals from Pinterest. Not bad! If you post recipes, travel posts or blogging tips (these are what have worked for me), I would highly recommend you try Tailwind (join here for a free 30 day trial using my referral link - you don't need to input any card details) and add yourself to the Pinterest Group Boards group on Facebook to find some tribes and group boards to join.

5 - Post More Often

This is a no brainer really but if you normally post 2 times per week and every post receives 100 views, adding one more post per week should increase your traffic by around 100 per week (that's an extra 5200 views per year). In realilty, I have found that posting more actually increases your page views more than this as the likelihood of a post going viral increases if you post regularly.

6 - Start A Weekly Series

Every Thursday I publish a 'What's On at the Weekend' guide and it is again, one of the best things I have done for my blog. It is regular and useful content that my readers seek out and I have received feedback that people come to my blog to specifically find this. Your regular series could be monthly to begin with if you don't have the time to create new weekly content and it can be about anything - perhaps your favourite recipes from the month, a snapshot of where you've been that month, sharing a childhood memory or favourite beauty tip - anything! You can ask other bloggers to guest post on your blog as part of the series too. Creating a regular series gives readers a reason to come back to your blog and it really helps to define your niche.

7 - Comment/Share/Link to Other Blogs

Around 80% of the comments on my blog are from other bloggers. Non-bloggers tend to comment on social media instead. If you are serious about growing your blog, I would recommend commenting on at least 5 blogs per day. Eventually, these bloggers should come back and read your content and hopeful leave a comment too.

Similarly, if you've read a blog post and think your audience will enjoy it, share it across your social media and tag the blogger in your post. It's nice to share the love and again eventually, others should do the same for you and expose your blog to their audience.

8 - Tag Brands

If you've written about a brand - don't forget to tag them in all of your social media. Brands will often RT or mention your review on Facebook and therefore share your blog to all of their followers so it's certainly worth a try.

9 - Use Analytics & An Editorial Calendar to Plan Content

If you haven't already installed google analytics on your blog, make that your priority today! It's free and such a useful resource. It can be confusing at first so I would also recommend downloading the google analytics app which is a little more user friendly. Over time you can use analytics to find out when certain types of content is most popular. For example you may find people start searching for Christmas ideas in October. If you use this information to plan when you are going to post similar content, more people are going to see it.

It doesn't have to be seasonal posts that google analytics can help you with - regularly review your top 10 posts and try and re-create posts like that. Creating more popular content will ensure readers come back time and time again.

Similarly, use an editorial calendar and stick to it. Then you won't be surprised when Valentine's Day sneaks up on you and you realised you were going to write a post about a few ideas for Valentine's crafts but it is too late. An editorial calendar stops this from happening. You don't need anything fancy - I just use my blog planner.

10 - Talk about your blog

If you'd like your blog to grow, you need to let people know about it. Be proud of your blog and tell everyone about it. Attend local networking meetings, post about your blog on your personal Facebook profile,  share your blog on Twitter, post on Linkedin, Pin on Pinterest, ask your friends and family to share relevant posts, put yourself forward for round up posts (I recommend joining the Content and Round Up Request for UK Bloggers group) and promote your blog in any way you can.

I hope you've found these tips useful - let me know if there's anything I've missed that has worked for you. If you'd like to see more posts like this, you can follow SamanthaRickelton.com on Facebook here.

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10 ways and top tips for growing your blog and increasing page views in 2017

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Friday, 6 January 2017

How I Saved £240 This Week | Frugal 2017 - Week One


Last week I posted about how we have plans to live as frugally as possible in 2017 so we can save enough cash to buy a new car in 2018. Here's my first update: 

Money Saving Tips & How to save money | How I saved £240 this week | Frugal 2017


1 - Cancel Direct Debits

I've went through all of our Direct Debits and cancelled any non-essentials. I am VERY sad to say goodbye to Amazon Prime as it was just so convenient being able to order groceries through my phone and have them delivered within 2 hours. The £20 minimum spend wasn't very frugal though so it had to go! These are the direct debits we've cancelled:

Park Savings           £50
Crowdfire                £6
Amazon Prime        £8
WWE Network       £10
Netflix                     £8

Steve has also reduced his weekly allowance from £12.50 to £5 per week (used for food/drinks at work) which is a saving of £32 per month.

Total monthly saving = £120

If you multiply this across the year it is £1440 per year! Wow! I am quite shocked by that figure.


2 - Freezer and Cupboard Inventory

I've went through my cupboard and freezer and made a list of everything that's in there. Considering I thought my cupboards were quite bare, I was impressed with what I found. This was a fab base to plan my meals and every meal we cooked this week used up something from our cupboard meaning that we spent less.


3 - Meal Planning

  • Monday | Pesto Pasta  - We used the dry pasta and a jar of pesto we already had in our cupboard. We would have normally bought chicken too but missed it out as Monday's are now meat-free for us.  Cost = FREE
  • Tuesday |  Lemon and Rosemary Fish & Couscous for us | Fish, Chips and Peas for the kids. Again we used up freezer ingredients in this meal - I did have to buy some garden peas from Aldi though as we'd ran out. Cost = £1.00
  • Wednesday | we were lucky to receive a last minute invite to a restaurant for review so dinner tonight didn't cost us any cash (perks of the job).
  • Thursday |  Teriyaki Chicken - Again, we had a sachet of Teriyaki sauce in our cupboard already and plenty of rice. I bought chicken thighs and a pack of mixed peppers from Aldi (used the rest on Friday). Cost = £3.50
  • Friday | Chicken Fajitas - I realised I had fajita seasoning mix in the cupboard plus wraps in our freezer so all I needed to buy was the chicken and peppers. I used thighs again which I think go further and cost less. Cost = £3.50


Total cost of dinner for 5 days = £8 for the 5 of us. I think this is really good. I know it won't always be as cheap as this as I start to use things up from my cupboard but it's a good start. I think this has honestly saved us at least £40.

I will be shopping/meal planning in 5 day cycles as that's going to work best for us but I would highly recommend you check what you already have in your freezer and cupboards and plan your meals around that.


4 - Not Going Out

Normally, the kids going back to school would mean Steve and I would go out for a child-free lunch at the first opportunity. We have resisted this week so a gold star for us and it saved us around £30.


5 - Enjoying a FREE Day Out

On the last day of the holidays we took a flask of coffee to Plessey Woods and enjoyed their free trail and a cuppa whilst the kids played in the park. Normally on the last day of the holidays we would have probably went to the cinema or bowling and lunch and spent at least £50 so this was a good saving.


Total Saving in Week One = £240

I am really pleased with this. It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it. If you're interested in following my money saving journey, please give SamanthaRickelton.com 's Facebook page a like. Let me know if you have any ideas for me to try next week. I really want to keep the momentum going.

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Money Saving Tips & How to save money | How I saved £240 this week | Frugal 2017

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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Word for 2017 | Frugal

I'm not going to make any resolutions for 2017 as I'm not very good at keeping them. We do have a goal in mind though and that's to save enough £ for a fabulous family holiday in 2018 and to upgrade our car in Spring 2018. Ideally, I would like to save £7000 (yikes!!) and we will be trying different things every month to save as much as I can - I hope you can join me.

How to save £400 in one month

How I'll Save £400 in January 2017

1 - Direct Debits

First of all, I've gone through our direct debits and cancelled a few non-essentials:-

Park Christmas Savings Club - £50 CANCELLED
WWE Network - £10 CANCELLED
Netflix - £8 CANCELLED

Steve also has £12.50 per week allowance to spend at work which we are cutting down to £5 and he's going to take his lunch in more often rather than buying in the canteen. This will save £32.50

TOTAL SAVING | £100.50

2 - No Takeaways

After an indulgent Christmas, I don't feel too bad cutting out our takeaway treat. We normally buy one every fortnight on a Saturday night and it costs £35 for the 5 of us.

TOTAL SAVING | £70

3 - Walk more

Steve has gotten into a bad habit of driving the kids to school and back rather than walking on his days off. He takes the kids to school 2 days per week and I reckon this must cost us around £10 in petrol per month. We also visit Newcastle once a week to stock up on shopping but this usually costs us around £6 per week in petrol and parking. I've sourced a few butchers and fruit and veg shops that are more local (with free parking) so we're switching to this instead.

TOTAL SAVING | £34

4 - Clear Out and Sell on Ebay

The kids' rooms both need a good clear out to make way for all their new Christmas gifts. I'm going to hopefully sell some of their old toys and clothes on Ebay. I am not sure if straight after Christmas is the best time to do this but it's worth a try

MONEY MADE | £50 ish

5 - Meal Planning and No Eating Out

Meal planning really works so I'm going to get back into this rather than just deciding on the day or texting Steve to pick up something from Tesco on the way home from work. Shopping twice weekly really works for us and I am going to try and keep our food shopping bill at around £80 per week to start off with (so £40 per trip) which on paper, seems do-able to me. This will save me around £100 per month on groceries I think. I'm planning on using Aldi, Lidl and local butchers/fruit and veg shops - I'll be heading out with a list and not deviating from it! We have a few vouchers for Waitrose and M&S left over from last year so if we do crave a treat, we'll use these rather than spending actual money.

Steve and I usually head out on a monthly date night and/or head out for lunch at least once a month. I reckon this costs us around £70. There'll be none of this in January! We'll cook some nice lunches at home instead.

TOTAL SAVING | £170


Total we can save in January = £424.50

Wow - that seems like so much when I write it all down! I am determined to do this.

I'm going to write a little update every Friday (hopefully) about how I've saved money that week. Let me know if you have any tips for me and don't forget to follow me on Pinterest where I'll be sharing more money saving tips. 


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How I'm planning on saving £400 in one month

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Thursday, 29 December 2016

Social Media & Blog Content Ideas | January 2017


Whether you're a blogger or a small business owner, it's always a good idea to plan ahead. I like to plan key blog posts in advance and this list of events in January is a fantastic base for planning social media and content for your blog or business.

Social Media & Content Ideas for your business or blog | January 2017

I advise sitting down for 30 minutes and slotting in some social media activity around these events. You can plan weeks in advance and then you're done.

It's a nice way to get creative too. Do you rely on local customers/readers? You could ask your Facebook followers where serves the best non-alcoholic cocktail as part of Dry January or how about asking for recommendations for the best Chinese restaurant or recipes in time for Chinese New Year?

As part of Blue Monday you could upload a quick video of you doing something silly to put a smile on your followers faces or perhaps you will share your favourite Winnie the Pooh quotes on Winnie the Pooh day? Here are some key dates from which you can base your January Content around:


Throughout the month

  • Dry January
  • Veganuary
  • Goals and Resolutions
  • 2016 Review


Special Dates

  • 3 January | Festival of Sleep Day
  • 4 January | World Braille Day
  • 9 - 15 January | National Obesity Awareness Week
  • 16 January | Blue Monday
  • 16 January | Martin Luther King Day
  • 18 January | Winnie the Pooh Day
  • 25 January | Burns Night
  • 28 January | Chinese New Year (Red Fire Chicken Year)


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Social Media & Content Ideas for your business or blog | January 2017




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