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2015 Highlights and What’s In Store for 2016?

2015 highlights and 2016 plans

2015 has been a year of new directions, challenges and opportunities for Practically Perfect Mums, as well as a rekindling of my first love, so what’s in store for 2016?

2015 HIGHLIGHTS

Reconnecting With My First Love … Video!

Something which has made me very happy this year is the move back towards to my original career as a video producer. Of course, everything evolves and so now, in place of filming dull old hip replacement surgery, space satellites and corporate videos, you might find me reviewing THE most awesome kid’s party ever!, or in front of the camera blogging about the pros and cons of our holiday villa in Lanzarote.  
Primark Christmas Text
(If you’d like to keep up to date with my latest videos projects, you can subscribe here.)
 
I’m well known for video and vlogging in the parent blogger sector and earlier this year I was invited to speak on the creative panel at BlogCamp by the TOTS 100 network. The idea terrified me and for that very reason, I knew I needed to do it. I’m pleased I did, as it was quite an informal event, with a number of my blogging pals in the audience, so it turned to be a gentle introduction to public speaking. On reflection, I think I’d compare it to running a half marathon. I dreaded doing it, but afterwards I was so pleased that I’d pushed myself, I experienced a massive high as a result.

They called me a travel journalist.

2015 is the year my travel blogging has really taken off. Our family has been given the chance to discover destinations as diverse as Dartmoor, Lanzarote and mainland Spain and I get to share the best of the places we’ve visited with other families. I’m grateful to the holiday companies and PR agencies I’ve worked with and to the Spanish tourist board, who approached me out of the blue inviting us to be the only British guests on their Benidorm for families press trip. I kept thinking they must have mistaken me for some prestigious glossy magazine editor, but they loved my Top Ten Family Activities in Benidorm post and video work and have me on their list for future trips, so it looks like it might have been me they wanted after all!

Top Ten Family Activities in Benidorm
Over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in my house alone, bashing away on my laptop, so it feels like a big deal that clients like these have started referring to me as a journalist, a title more commonly associated with members of the print press. It’s also been great to meet journalists from Germany, Denmark and Sweden who I now count as friends and hope to meet up with again soon.

Theatre shows suitable for families?

I’ve continued to work closely with the Bristol Hippodrome, writing reviews of numerous top notch theatre shows and sharing my age suitability suggestions based on observations of my children’s reactions and attention spans! My reviewing year begun on a high, with a performance of the spectacular War Horse, after which my children had a chat with author Michael Morpurgo.

Michael Morpurgo and War Horse at Bristol Hippodrome
At the end of the year I saw my favourite panto so far, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Other 2015 theatre highlights were family favourite Mary Poppins, which incorporated the most amazing effects that I’m not sure I would have believed if I hadn’t seen them myself and The Curious incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, during which I kept finding myself leaning forward so as not to miss anything.

I invest a lot of time and care into researching and writing these articles and am well rewarded as, not only do I receive wonderful feedback from the theatre, actors and my readers, but reviewing also enables me to take my family to the theatre much more regularly than I would otherwise manage.

Me Versus the House

My battle with getting on top of the house continues and this year and I can tell that this strikes a chord with many of you. My “Me Versus the House” board continues to be one of my most popular on Pinterest. The Chelsea Football Bedroom Makeover I did for my 9 year old and my Kärcher steam cleaner review are becoming firm favourites!

Chelsea Football Bedroom Makeover with Hillary's Blinds

Focus on Community

One of the benefits of having this established website and social media network is that I’m able to provide free publicity for community events and charity fundraisers, which was one of my core objectives when I originally came up with the concept. Practically Perfect Mums continues to play an active part in our fabulous community of Portishead – my events calendar and weekly planner continue to be popular sources of information for thousands of families, consistently remaining within my top five all time most popular web pages since I set up the website.

Charity Matters

Once again I had the chance to do something funny for money, which this year meant joining around 100 other bloggers at the Wembley arena Danceathon, where our ridiculously clad team danced for six hours and raised well over £30,000 for Comic Relief.
Red Nose Day Comic Relief Danceathon 2015 #RedNoseDay #ComicRelief #Danceathon #2015 #TeamHonk
More recently I was able to support an amazing group of local women by writing about and publicising their tireless work to collect, organise and ship a huge amount of essential clothing packages to Syrian refugees. At the time of writing this Help For Refugees post has attracted a remarkable 128 Facebook shares. Not bad for a local Portishead article and I’m pleased to say the coffee morning fundraiser was absolutely packed to the rafters.

The Power of the Network!

To the untrained eye, I might appear to waste a lot of time “messing about on my phone” (who, me?!) but I feel that my time invested into social media has paid off this year as I’ve been rapidly rewarded with a healthy following on with my newish instagram account, I have over 1800 Twitter followers and I’ve racked up over twelve thousand minutes of watch time on YouTube. I’m very excited to have just reached and passed 1000 Facebook likes only yesterday (Yippee!).

My very active Bumps, Babies and Beyond Facebook group currently has over 1700 members in and around Portishead, who are doing an amazing job of buying, selling and gifting second hand children’s paraphernalia and keeping it out of landfill!

It’s this level of engagement which allows me to effectively publicise community events, spread the word about charity fundraising or make people aware of my latest travel post or video. And of course all of this only works thanks to all of you, who read and watch and like and share and subscribe so generously.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR 2016?

The reason for writing down my 2015 highlights was to work out what has worked this year and what I’d like to build on next. Reading this back I’m no too dissatisfied with this years achievements, so which direction should I head in 2016?

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  • ME VERSUS THE HOUSE – 2016 could be the year I get on top of the house. I doubt it but I’ll still keep trying so if that’s your thing, you can see more posts and videos on home improvements and decluttering.
  • THEATRE – I already have press dates booked up until June next year so there’ll be plenty more family reviews including tips for taking little ones and age guidelines.
  • COMMUNITY PROJECTS – As long as I have time, I’ll keep working on the local events calendar and writing about community events. If you’re in Portishead and are interested in helping out with this giant task, then drop me a line – there’s more than enough to share!
  • COMIC RELIEF – Lots of you have expressed an interest in joining in with next year’s fundraising event, so I’ll keep you informed as soon as I hear more.
  • VIDEO & VLOGGING – I’ve built up my production kit and video is something I plan to work on even more in 2016. I’m already having discussions with a very exciting kids activity company about how we could benefit their brand using a combination of my YouTube channel, website and social media package. I can’t say any more about that project now, but watch this space!
  • TRAVEL – who knows where this will take me this year, but I’m looking forward to the ride.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading and have a VERY Happy New Year. I hope you’ll be joining me again in 2016!
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