Blogging

 

berternie2

Hooray!

I’m so excited about Friday that I could smooch it riiiiiiight on the kisser.  I’ve had a pretty good week really, but it’s been so frantic that every single night I’ve collapsed into my bed and been fast asleep before my head has hit the pillow.

Let’s hear it for Tim, who has been known to check on me in the middle of the night to make sure I’m breathing.  I guess I really have been sleeping like the dead lately.

Anyway, I thought we could kick off the weekend with some great stuff that’s been happening around the web lately.  Follow me!

Rules for life by The Bloggess.  It’s basically perfect.

The 101 Most Useful Websites of 2012.  Most of these are smaller sites or web apps that do one thing really really well.  There are some excellent resources in here – definitely one to bookmark!

How To Not Be Boring by Belle Henley.

Overcoming Procrastination, Money Problems, Self-Doubt & Other Creative Distractions.  Easy, right?  Not according to Chuck Palahniuk, who once wrote, “People don’t want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown.”  I would love to see Chuck and Kate Reid debate that one!

And speaking of Speedy Reidy, Kate has prepared a complete guide to this year’s Eurovision.  It has been a long time since I have seen this level of dedication and statistical analysis, and I for one cannot wait.  Will we ever again find a song that can rival Safura’s Drip Drop?  Oh 2010, you smell like lipstick again.

Did you know that MoMA offers online courses?  You can choose between self-guided or instructor-led courses and some of the topics look great.  I wonder if I should tackle one of these for task #8 on my list

Skillshare is another cool resource for learning.  It’s an online marketplace for classes, and anybody with knowledge can apply to share it.  The best part is that the prices are extremely reasonable, and there are heaps of topics that don’t take themselves too seriously.  Courses range from typography to app-building to cooking and even makeup.  Heaps of fun to be had here!

How to network without feeling gross.

Georgia wrote a beautiful post about learning to live simply.

The value of ugliness by Clem Bastow, who writes some of the best opinion pieces out there.

How to break the online cycle of “compare and despair”.

GeoGuessr.com – Hello, gorgeous.  (Farewell, productivity!)

LOVE this DIY concrete letter tutorial by Wit & Whistle!

Today Kellie shared these cute ideas: DIY instagram wrapping paper and spotty jars with nailpolish.

I’ve been craving soups with this cooler weather, and I’m looking forward to trying these recipes for curried split pea soup with coconut milk and spicy sweet potato and peanut soup.  Yummo!

I’ve noticed a bunch of North American bloggers embracing spring and filling their homes with indoor plants.  I adore having greenery inside, so it’s been great to peek at other peoples’ green thumbs!  Check out Katie’s bedroom nook with mini terrariums, Rachel Denbow’s creative planter ideas, Kaylah’s pretty succulents, Elise’s beautiful bedroom plants and also her tips for keeping indoor plants healthy.

Allie Brosh is back with another incredible Hyperbole and a Half.  ALL OF THE FEELINGS.

Portraits of soldiers before, during and after war.

H&M Shows Collection On Plus-Size Model, Doesn’t Make a Big Deal Of It.  Are we living in the future now?  Hooray!

Design*Sponge shares the story of Crayola.  That vintage packaging is RAD.

Thanks to Nova, Kellie and Danielle for finding some of these great links!

{ 1 comment }

33 self portraits: August 2012

by Elizabeth on September 1, 2012 · 3 comments

in Blogging, External Sites

As part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project I’m photographing myself every month and sharing the results over here.  This little self portrait was taken inside cozy Fort Birthday, and I chose it because it looks like I am up to no good. 

It was a seriously sad day when we had to pull that thing apart.  Being a grown-up is the absolute worst.

 

BIG NEWS, everybody:  I was nominated for a Versatile Leibster Award this week!  If you haven’t heard of it, that’s okay – it was invented three days ago by Kimberley of Melbourne Mum.  Kimberley’s explanation is both funny and sweary so I’ll let you follow the link to see how she came up with the idea!

The rules are:

    • Thank the person who gave you this award and link to their blog. That’s common courtesy.   (Thank you, Kimberley!  I’ve loved reading through your old posts over the past few days.)
    • Next, select 10 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly that are both shit-hot and have less than 200 followers.
    • Nominate those 10 bloggers for the Versatile Liebster Award
    • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

 

What I did instead of following the rules:

I didn’t bother to check out peoples’ stats before listing them here.  These are all bloggers that I’ve discovered pretty recently, and they’re all worth having in your RSS reader.  I hope you’ll check them out!

ALSO I only nominated 7 blogs because I am supposed to be packing a suitcase, not blogging!  If Kimberley gets to make up her own rules then damnit, so do I.

 

Ladies and gentlemen.  My 10 nominees for the coveted Versatile Leibster Award (in no particular order) are:

01.  Kate from Foxs Lane
An organic farmer, stitching whiz, and mum of three beautiful girls.  Kate’s photography is remarkable and her blog is a feast for the eyes.  She makes me want to learn to knit and crochet (but until then, at least I have Etsy!)

02.  Anna Spargo-Ryan
A talented writer, and gifted storyteller.  She’s also the editor of Bide – a new digital magazine which will come out quarterly.  A subscription costs $10/year and with Anna in charge you can count on some seriously great writing!

03.  Rebekka Seale from Dear Friend
When I grow up I think I might like to be Rebekka Seale; I hope she doesn’t mind.  She’s an amazing illustrator (check out her portfolio!), a Southern style cook, and she has the sort of style that belongs in a magazine.

04.  Kate from House of Goals
About a hundred years ago Kate and I were schoolmates and great friends.  We recently rediscovered each other on Twitter and these days she’s a blogger too!  She’s also an incredible inspiration in the way that she sets herself goals and then kicks them in the butt.  She’ll one day be remembered for inventing smoobingsmiling with your boobs!

05.  Carli from Tiny Savages
One of the best things to come out of my blogging rant last month was that so many new people came to share their thoughts.  One of those people was Carli, and since discovering her blog last week I’ve become hooked!  She writes a lot about life in Melbourne, and how it changed when she started a family.  Also, she totally read my mind on the Dick Smith advertising thing.

06.  Elizabeth from Please Note Paper
How could you go wrong with a blog written by an Elizabeth?  You’ve probably already assumed that this lady is talented (yup), clever (absolutely) and probably a little bit beautiful (also true), but still… don’t take my word for it, go and see for yourself!  She shares lots of recipes, DIY tutorials (like this upcycled pitcher planter) and her thrifty finds.  Can you tell that I’m a sucker for great photography?

07.  Kate from Kate Says Stuff
This nomination list for the Versatile Leibster Award is full of Kates!  This one lives in country Victoria with her children and her husband, the Supertrucker.  She writes a lot about family life, including their experiences with autism and having a husband who’s on the road.  She’s also inspiring her community to embrace fitness, so follow #operationMOVE to join in!

 And here are 7 extremely random things about me:

Last night I had my hair cut for the first time in MONTHS.  Today I woke up a much nicer person.  (I don’t have time to explain the science behind that, sorry.)

Two weeks from now we’ll be asleep in Connecticut.  And when we wake up we’ll be flying to Florida and meeting my brother in Disney World!

Last time I visited the USA I was excited about seeing the landmarks, like the Empire State Building and Times Square.  This time I’m more excited about seeing the funny little things that Americans do different, like drive-through ATMs, bottomless coffee, and tipping.  Oh, America <3

My dog has started to sense that something is going on.  He’s been following me everywhere and watching as things are put into suitcases.  His sulkometer is only at Level 4 at the moment, but will quickly increase next week as we get serious about packing.

If I won the lottery next week (doubtful, as I never enter it) this is what I would do: buy a house with a brightly-lit room for painting, quit job, paint.  I would also travel all the time with my camera and my boy.  I would allow aforementioned boy to make all my coffees <3

Sometimes I think about going back to university.  But I don’t think I’d be much of a part-time student, and I don’t know how we could survive on one salary.  Hmm.

This week one of my colleagues had a complete breakdown in my office, and there was nothing I could do except be there and hold his hand.  I will never understand the terrible things that humans do to each other.

 

Right.  So, congratulations to all the nominees for this prestigious award.  I’m serious about the packing thing so as soon as I hit publish I am totally getting out of bed.  BEFORE 11am on a Saturday – way to go me!

{ 3 comments }

You are my favourite.

by Elizabeth on August 1, 2012 · 5 comments

in Blogging

A couple of days ago I sat down to write a post about blogging that had been brewing in my mind for a while.  When the time came to put my thoughts into words I was surprised how easily my thoughts came together, and just how much I had to say!

I was a little bit nervous about publishing it.

I shouldn’t have been.  Since then my little post has had hundreds of views, and a bunch of comments from people who wanted to share their experiences with blogging, advertising and monetization.  My post prompted discussions on other blogs, on Facebook and Linkedin, and lots of people have shared it with their followers on Twitter.  I’m absolutely thrilled that so many people have contacted me about my post and I’m a little bit gobsmacked by the reaction.

It just goes to show that the people who read and write blogs are very passionate people.  So many of us are genuinely invested in our community and want it to be great.  In Sunday’s post I said that I felt that I didn’t really fit into the Aussie blogging community, and indirectly your comments have helped me to realise that I was wrong.

I just needed to widen my circle and listen.

Daniel Kjellsson made an excellent point in his comment about this being a relatively new market that will eventually settle down.  I think he’s dead right, and perhaps conversations like these are part of that process.  So let’s keep talking, okay?

 

Thank you to everybody who has joined in the discussion on Sunday’s post.  Thanks for tweeting about it, and for your emails too!  I’m seriously impressed that the tone of the conversation has been so positive and that everybody has had such constructive advice.  I’ve been loving all of the new faces that have come through here and discovering your awesome blogs.

Thanks for all your stories, and for caring about our community.  You are my favourite.

{ 5 comments }

I haven’t been very chatty lately.  For the past month or two I’ve felt a bit despondent whenever I’ve sat down to write here, and it’s taken me the longest time to figure out why.  But I have figured out why, I think, and I’d like to get a couple of things off my chest so that I can get back to doing this thing that I love so much.

I’ll try to explain.

Blogging has been a big part of my life for more than a decade.  I write here to keep a record of the everyday stuff that I want to remember in the future.  I share my goals, stories and photos with other people because I really love hearing about your experiences and ideas, and your feedback too.  Blogging has been an incredible tool for collaboration throughout the past eleven or twelve years and I’m sure I’ll always do it in some form, whether or not people are following along.

But I do hope that people always follow along, because this thing is so much richer with conversation.

 

What I’m about to say is based on my own observations and experiences and is not designed to offend anybody.  That’s boring, but it’s the truth.  But some bloggers will read this and feel cranky.  I hope we can still be friends, because I’m not trying to make enemies here – just find some understanding.

 

 

Natalie Dee - Not Leaving

Source: NatalieDee.com

 

There’s been an undeniable change in the Aussie blogging community in the past two years, and especially over the past twelve months as monetization and sponsorship has settled into a rhythm.  Specifically, the community of people who choose to write sponsored posts and review for cash & goods have banded together to encourage each other along.  There are conferences for people to learn how to market and brand and network and sell.  Lots of normalising language about the shoulds and shouldn’ts of blogging that places all of the value on money and traffic.

There’s also lots of pressure on our existing readerships to adapt with us.  We’re asking that they reduce their expectation of personal stories that are published as they naturally occur, in favour of a schedule that suits the blogger’s statistics.  We’re asking that they measure the success of a blogger by its media kit and market reach.

But is that really all that there is?

 

Source: www.atbreak.com

 

Please don’t misunderstand me, especially if you’re reading this as a blogger with brand relationships.

It might sound as though I’m bashing monetization, and monetized blogs.  Believe me when I say that many of my favourite blogs have relationships with brands, scheduled weekly features, and product reviews.  There are people who are doing it really well without isolating their readership, and for their care and attention they’ve remained in my RSS reader.  There are bloggers whose growing success I applaud from the wings.  I’m not anti-success, and I’m not jealous either.  I’ve had a bunch of opportunities come through this blog too and there’s plenty to go around.

Perhaps I’m a little unusual in that I don’t listen to any commercial radio (I’m strictly a Triple J / Classic FM / Pandora girl) and rarely watch TV.  I download my favourite shows so that I can watch them when it suits me.  If I have to watch live TV (Olympics, Offspring etc) I hit the mute button as soon as the ad break comes on.  Most advertising makes me feel like I’m being yelled at, as though I’m too stupid to figure out stuff on my own.

I think if you listen to too much of that stuff, you begin to believe it.  It stops sounding shouty and starts to look like sound advice.  I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never felt more “advertised to” than I have in the past 12-18 months through the blogs that I read, and I’m conscious of not allowing it to become “the norm”.  I want to remain critical of the stuff I consume so that I don’t fall into the trap of keeping up with the proverbial Jones family.

Let me be clear.

If you’re a plus-sized fashion blogger who has always loved a particular clothing brand, and that brand notices and starts to send you their gear, that is awesome.  If you are a parent of a toddler that won’t sleep, and somebody sends you a product that turns out to be the magic solution, tell us!  This sort of brand relationship is authentic and natural and your audience will wholeheartedly support you in your success.  They may even rush out and buy it too, because it’s something you believe in so much.  I’ve bought stacks of stuff that have come recommended by my favourite bloggers, stuff I’d otherwise have never heard about or thought to try.

However, do you think I believe it when you sing the praises of a particular brand of soup or toothpaste?  Unless you’ve written about your love of soup and toothpaste before, I’ll probably see straight through your writing and wonder how many words you were contractually obligated to write.  I’ll wonder whether that free carton was worth the doubt it placed in my mind about your authenticity.  Every time this happens I feel slowly poisoned towards your blog, and it taints all of your future posts until I feel that my trust has been earned back.

 

There seems to be an assumption in the core Aussie blogging group that if you’re not serious about sponsorship and monetization you mustn’t be taking your blog too seriously.  You must not be interested in growing your traffic or improving your writing or finding your niche.  That’s just not true.

AS A READER: I’m mourning the passing of your natural storytelling.  I miss your life before it became the shiny pages of a magazine.  I miss the revealing, personal brain-dumps.  I miss the stories of your struggles, which have been omitted in favour of your new positive brand.  I miss the mistakes and the drama.  I’m suspicious of the fluff pieces and subtext and your edited life.  I’m sad that you feel it’s better to pump out two mediocre posts per day instead of two great posts per week.

AS A BLOGGER: I’ve been trying to run this 100m sprint wearing flippers and a snorkel and it’s time I jumped back into the pool.

 

 

I wrote this for two big reasons.

Firstly, I wanted to explain why I’ve been half-assing things here lately.  I needed to step back and figure out where I fit in to this big Aussie blogging community.  In many ways it’s clear that I don’t… and that’s a bummer.  Where’s my networking bloggers conference?  You have no idea how close I’ve come to attending a Nuffnang or ProBlogger event just to meet people, and perhaps someday I will, but the content that’s offered at these conferences just isn’t for me.  I wish the topics were a bit more inclusive.

Secondly, I want to tell other Aussie bloggers – even some of my absolute favourites – that I might need to say goodbye.  I’m about to take a good look at my RSS subscriptions and figure out which ones are worth investing in.  I need to surround myself with people who inspire me to do better, and since my goal isn’t to attract PR opportunities I need to adjust my circle.

 

I’d like it if we could talk about this.  Have I said anything unfair here?  Does anybody else feel like the best of our bloggers are sounding a little watered down these days?  Perhaps I’ll finish on a positive note here and mention some of the bloggers that are getting it right – the perfect mix of storytelling, self-promotion and maybe even some brand relationships:

Elise Joy Blaha
Beth MacDonald
Rachel Denbow
Eden Riley
Danielle Hampton

If you and I could talk about this over a bottle of wine, what would you want to tell me?  Conversation is something we need more of, and I’m interested in hearing what other people have to say.

Have you moved on from some of your old favourites because of sponsored posts?  Do you know of some bloggers who are navigating these monetized waters with style?  Do you wish I had the guts to name names?  Me too.  Sorry.

{ 44 comments }

A response from Ferrero Australia

by Elizabeth on June 2, 2012 · 2 comments

in Australia, Blogging

Two days ago I wrote about Ferrero Australia, who approached me about reviewing their Mothers Day hamper back in April.  The email exchange which followed left me feeling pretty used, so I decided to share the story with everyone here.

In my post I suggested that Ferrero underestimated the value of treating bloggers with professionalism and respect. My decision to write about my experience was not made lightly, and many of you helped to circulate my story on Twitter, Facebook and on your own blogs.

Ferrero Australia arrived at work on Friday to discover that I’d written about my experience, and less than 24 hours after publishing my post I received an email from Derek Lath, the Corporate Communications Manager for Ferrero Australia.

Subject: Ferrero Australia response
Date: Friday 1 June 2012, 11.40am
Sender: Derek Lath

Dear Elizabeth,
 
I write to you as Corporate Communications Manager for Ferrero Australia.
 
Our company has only just been made aware of your emails this morning via a media monitoring tracking report.
 
The agency you have been in contact with, AtomicSearch, did not communicate your correspondence to us. This agency manages the email address Content-AU@ferrero.com. They have acknowledged their failure to bring your enquiries to our attention  and have apologised to us. There is a clear management issue between ourselves and this agency which we will rectify quickly.
 
I would like to apologise for the lack of response to your query. We aim to reply promptly to all contacts we receive, as we have done with every enquiry we have received since Easter in regards to our position regarding the sustainable sourcing of cocoa.
 
For your reference, we have issued a news release reconfirming our goal to source 100% sustainable cocoa before 2020 http://www.ferrero.com/news/group-news/Ferrero-Cocoa-supply-chain. More detailed information on our sourcing activities and our roadmap to reach this goal will be published in our third Corporate Social Responsibility report planned for release in July 2012. Our previously published CSR reports can be found at www.ferrero.com
 
Please contact me, if you require any further information.
 
Kind regards,
Derek

Ferrero’s response has answered many of my questions about the relationship between Ferrero and AtomicSearch, and provided some context for the strange email exchange between us. I’m now satisfied that Ferrero never received my emails directly, despite the use of a @ferrero.com email address.

What puzzles me is why an online marketing agency like AtomicSearch, which seems to specialise in social media marketing, would make such rookie mistakes when managing my enquiries. Rather than allowing their client to harness the potential in my questions, they ignored me and hoped that I would give up.

But wasn’t my blog specifically targeted by AtomicSearch for its potential to spark discussion about the brand that hired them? Wasn’t it kind of risky to treat me poorly when I asked tricky questions?

I’m protective of this space. I’ve spent hours on its design, money on its upkeep, and I fill it with content that I care about. Other people care enough about it to spend time here too. The least I can do is ensure that neither my readers or I are taken advantage of by companies wishing to profit from what we’ve got here. And I say that as somebody who cares about chocolate, amongst other things!

I’m sorry that Ferrero was saddled with the poor decisions of the agency it hired. I’m also sorry that I didn’t try harder to contact the company directly before I wrote about my experience with their promotion. I’m confident that Ferrero would have answered my questions if they had ever received them.

I hope that the companies who choose AtomicSearch to manage their campaigns hear about my experience. I hope that they understand the value in treating bloggers as assets to their brand, rather than simply throwing free stuff their way and trusting that they’ll gush. Online discussion is not that simple, and the people who should know that better than anyone are the experts in social media marketing.

Before I finish, let’s not forget what stirred me to write to Ferrero in the first place.

In Cote d’Ivoire alone there are an estimated 200,000 children working the fields of small farms – many against their will – to create chocolate enjoyed around the world. Many of the children don’t even know what chocolate is.

The world is starting to understand a lot more about the ethical issues surrounding the cocoa supply chain, and how this affects the lives of the children who are currently sold, abused and enslaved to work on farms. The responsibility rests on all of us to apply pressure to the billion-dollar chocolate industry, and to ensure that the supply of cocoa is remodeled to protect these children.

Along with some other major chocolate manufacturers, Ferrero’s decision to develop timelines and commitments will help to deliver real change to the people of West Africa. This should be commended.

So. A thank you to Ferrero Australia for responding swiftly to an unpleasant situation, and also to those of you who spread the news about my experience. I’m passionate about the value of bloggers in Australia, and I’ve really felt your support over the past couple of days.

{ 2 comments }

Update: Ferrero Australia responded to this post the very next day. Click here to read their response.

Almost every day I’m contacted by a brand who wants me to mention them on my blog.  If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know that I almost never say yes to these requests, but I do try to respond to every enquiry that comes my way.  After all, I still get a kick out of the fact that people find this place and want to be a part of it; the least I can do is say thanks for getting in touch.

Scarlet Words is not monetized, because sponsorship money is not what makes me want to write.  I don’t accept paid links or payment for review, and I don’t write about things I don’t care about.  All of this is spelled out pretty clearly on my Advertising page for two big reasons: 1) I want my readers to trust what I write here; and 2) I don’t want to waste brands’ time.

So when I was contacted by Ferrero Australia to write about their Mothers Day chocolate hamper I responded quickly.

Subject: Review on Ferrero Mother's Day Hamper
Date: Friday 20 April 2012, 11.43am
Sender: Toby Olsen <content-au@ferrero.com>

Hi Elizabeth,

Ferrero Rocher Australia has recently launched www.FerreroBoutique.com.au where you can buy chocolate exclusive gift hampers online

We are currently giving high quality Australian bloggers the opportunity to review one of our unique chocolate hampers. As Mother`s Day is quickly approaching, we would like to send you the new Limited Edition Ferrero Mother's Day Hamper, free of charge - all we would need from you is a short review on your fantastic blog.

If you are interested please get in touch and we will send over further details.

Best Regards,
Toby Olsen

Later in the day there was a follow-up email from a different person, indicating that they were having some technical problems.

Subject: Review on Ferrero Mother's Day Hamper
Date: Friday 20 April 2012, 7.36pm
Sender: David White <d.white@atomicsearch.com.au>

Hello Elizabeth,

I am David White from AtomicSearch. We are Sydney based online marketing agency associated with Ferrero Australia.

We sent you an email earlier from Content-AU@ferrero.com email address. Please refer to the email below sent by Toby Olsen.

We have recently noticed an email Content-AU@ferrero.com is having some configuration error and all email to this mailbox are bouncing back. We are trying to resolve this issue asap. In the meantime please can I request you to contact me if you are interested.

You can simply reply to my email and I will be able to assist you further.

Best Regards
David White

No problem, I thought.

To be honest, I kind of liked the thought of giving away something like this on my blog, since I haven’t done a giveaway in such a long time.  There was just one problem: when I heard the word “Ferrero” I immediately thought of the change.org campaign that had been launched around the same time, calling on Ferrero and Lindt to end practices that supported child labour, slavery, human trafficking and abuse.

I decided to give Ferrero an opportunity to answer my questions, rather than just say no.  Here’s what I wrote:

Subject: Re: Review on Ferrero Mother's Day Hamper
Date: Saturday 21 April 2012, 5.33pm

Dear Toby & David,

Thank you for contacting me yesterday regarding your Mothers Day promotion.  It's a pleasure to be contacted by brands who have come across my blog, and I enjoy sharing news with my readers about products that I genuinely enjoy.

I would appreciate an opportunity to ask you some questions before we discuss your offer.

Shortly before Easter I was contacted about an online petition from change.org regarding Ferrero and Lindt and their connections with modern day child slave labour.  Specifically the article claimed that the other major chocolate companies have reduced their support of the farms of West Africa that enslave and physically abuse children, and have also developed timelines to amend their supply chains to accomplish even more in coming years.  World Vision's detailed scorecard tells me that your company is not performing as ethically or proactively as your competitors in this regard.

I acknowledge that this issue is extremely complex, and although I'm somewhat familiar with the Harkin-Engel Protocol and ILO Convention 182 [Prohibition on the Worst forms of Child Labour] I don't pretend to understand the broad issues completely.  However, I am also conscious of the influence that a company as big of yours could be lending to this cause.

Issues such as child abuse, human trafficking, child labour and slavery are so much more important to me than the chocolate hamper you've asked me to review.  With that in mind I wondered if you would be interested in responding to my concerns, and allow me to publish your full (unedited) response on my blog.

Please know that I am interested in promoting a balanced and respectful discussion.  I would be happy to discuss this further if you have any questions of me.

Best wishes,
Elizabeth
www.scarletwords.com

I didn’t expect Ferrero to be happy about my email, but I did expect a reply.  After all, I had taken the time to explain my reaction to their proposal and offered them a forum in which to respond.  I wasn’t on a crusade (I don’t even own a pitchfork!) – I just wanted to raise awareness and get people talking about it.

Conversation is good, right?

I already knew that the company has published a timeline of commitments in response to these human rights concerns, and that there was plenty of positivity that Ferrero could bring to the discussion.  Given that they initiated this dialogue, why turn down an opportunity to tell people about the stuff they are doing right?

For whatever reason I didn’t get a reply.  I gave it one last shot.

Subject: Re: Review on Ferrero Mother's Day Hamper
Date: Thursday 10 May 2012, 5.05pm

Dear Toby & David,

I was disappointed to have not received a response to my email from last month.

I would truly value an opportunity to hear from you regarding Ferrero's reliance on farms in West Africa, and the conditions of the children who are employed and enslaved there.  My questions were not designed to ambush or harrass, but simply to open a conversation.  Most people would agree that issues of child enslavement, human trafficking and abuse deserve to be talked about openly.

I hope that you will consider responding to my questions and concerns.

Best wishes,

Elizabeth
www.scarletwords.com

It’s been a couple of weeks now, and still no reply.

Now, I’m not writing this post to convince you to boycott Ferrero.  In fact, there’s good news about this company: last month Ferrero made a public commitment in response to the change.org petition to “independent and credible third-party verification of the sourcing of all of its cocoa by 2020” (full statement here: PDF).  It’s an unprecedented move that puts them at the front of the pack where their industry is concerned.

So, make up your own mind about Ferrero chocolate.

I wrote this post because I am tired of bloggers like me being used poorly by professional marketing agencies and big brands.

Blogging in Australia is young and still years behind the US market, but for the most part the Australian bloggers being targeted by marketers behave according to a high professional standard.  Those who review products and services have organised themselves and established standards of conduct.  They know their value to brands, and so do the companies who have approached them in the spirit of partnership.

It’s time for brands like Ferrero to grow up.

It goes without saying that online discussion works both ways.  That’s why you don’t ask a recovering alcoholic to review your brand of vodka (Eden handled that one with so much grace), or embark on social media campaigns without understanding how your hashtag can be hijacked with complaints.

And obviously, don’t contact a blogger to ask for their help and then become unresponsive when they won’t fall into line.  Not unless you’re really ready for them to write about their experience with your brand.

Update: Ferrero Australia responded to this post the very next day. Click here to read their response.

{ 4 comments }

Apples

by Elizabeth on November 1, 2011 · 0 comments

in Art, Blogging, Melbourne Studio of Art

 

We’ve had a beautiful long weekend here in Melbourne, thanks to a little horse race known as the Melbourne Cup.  It’s been such a luxury to have those extra two days away from work, and it feels like it’s been a week since I’ve thought about work!  I’m not really looking forward to hearing my alarm tomorrow morning but I’m glad that I only need to get through three days in the office this week.  I’m going to have to try pretty hard to not undo all this relaxation.

I had a few plans for this extra-long weekend, and the most important one was to get started on a painting to give to my Mum & Dad for Christmas.  The two little apples above are what I came up with, and even though I’m only 95% sure that it’s finished I’m really happy with how they’ve come out.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it will look framed and finding out where it will hang in my parents’ house.

Maybe they’ll just stick it on their fridge like they did back in the day!

 

I haven’t mentioned yet that I’ve started a new term of art classes at Melbourne Studio of Art and we’re almost up to week three.  This term the class is being split between two teachers – Michael Gray for painting, and for drawing a teacher who is new to me, Ju-Yuen Chew.

I can already tell that Ju-Yuen is going to kick my butt where technique is concerned, and get me out of the tiny little comfort zone that I’ve developed in my first 8 weeks of classes.  I learned so much in my first lesson with her, including how reliant I am on tonal work to make an object look believable.  It’s really, really hard for me to just draw an outline, and this is something that I’m going to have to work on.  Whether I like it or not!

In our last lesson we focused on negative space (ie. drawing the space between objects, rather than the objects themselves).  It’s an exercise that forces you to really look at what’s in front of you rather than just trust what you already know about the shape of a cube, a sphere, a bottle etc.  It’s an excellent problem-solving technique if you can’t figure out what’s “wrong” with the object you’re drawing.

 

 

Sometimes I forget that I’ve only been doing this for a short time.  I know that I have come an extremely long way in only 10 weeks of lessons, and it’s something that I wish I had started when I was younger.  I guess I always assumed that drawing was something that “other people” were good at, and now I know that it really is something that anybody can learn how to do.  When I look at the work that my classmates present at the end of each lesson I realise that we are all basically kicking butt at this thing, and that’s really encouraging.

I realised the other day that I haven’t shared my very first drawing here, from the first class of last term.  It’s pretty funny to look at, but it represents the absolute limit of my knowledge and ability just a couple of months ago.  I dug it out today and photographed it so that I could remember how far I’ve come.

 

In contrast, this is my drawing from Week 1 of my second term of classes.

 

We didn’t have a class this week because of the long weekend, so I’m glad I managed to fit in some painting on my own at home.  Next week is another drawing class, and then the week after that we’re back with Michael for painting.

Painting used to be something that I was terrified of, but not any more!

 

 

 

Oh!  One more thing.  This month I will be posting every day for NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month.  The name is silly (especially since it’s INternational these days!) but it’s a great motivator to bring you something new every day.  I’d really love to hear from you in the comments this month, just to reassure me that I’m not talking to myself!

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Farewell, August.

by Elizabeth on August 31, 2011 · 2 comments

in Blogging, Life

31 Photos in 31 Days

 

August was a crazy little month in my part of the world!

My family welcomed two teeny tiny baby boys named Archie and Harrison, my big brother moved to London, and a certain handsome boy I know turned thirty-two.  Just last week one of my lovely friends told me that she is expecting (hooray!) and Tim started his new job after job hunting for six months.

That’s quite a lot of happy news to cram into one month!  Not to mention the fun we’re having at our weekly art classes at Melbourne Studio of Art, which are always such a highlight of our week.

August has had its troubles, but for the most part it’s been very good to me and my little household.  It has certainly provided an awful lot of stories to share with you here!

 

I thought I might link up my favourite posts from August, since I have been quite prolific this month!  Here are a few links for those wanting to catch up:


This boy
Fifty minutes
August sunset 

My brother and me
Hip hip, hooray!
Melbourne Studio of Art – Week 4
The girl with the red balloon
Washi tape!
Paper dolls by Mel Stringer
Gran’s desk
Melbourne Studio of Art – Week 6 

 

There’s just one more thing to do before we can welcome September, and that’s to say a great big thank you to Tracey from sh1ft.org for hosting 31 Photos in 31 Days this month!

I will be completely honest here and tell you that if not for this photography challenge there is no way that I’d have posted here every day.  Now that it’s done I’m really looking forward to using this momentum to make my blog even better in September!

How was your August?  Are you ready for September?

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Attn: Bloggers (required reading!)

by Elizabeth on July 28, 2011 · 1 comment

in Blogging


Image from Andrew Chen

I don’t often blog about blogging here, but there are some excellent points raised in this post by Marta Writes that I think every blogger should read.

the crappy parts of blogging come in a number of forms; i will name a few. you are fearful about putting yourself out there. you feel greedy; you want what they have. you care too much of what others may think. you don’t get any comments. you can’t think up anything original to post about. you copy and paste everything onto your own blog. you are inspired by others but feel that you cannot possibly inspire others. you get sucked into everyone else’s life. you are green with envy. you have unreal assumptions about bloggers. you start thinking everyone is more successful, talented, and all around better than you are. sound familiar??

if you start down this path, you’ll begin to imagine that you are the only blogger who cannot cook, who cannot scrapbook, who cannot modge podge correctly, who cannot write hilarious memoirs, who cannot reupholster, who cannot be fashionable on a dime, who cannot be a fun mom, a darling wife or a super business woman all at once. and you can certainly not attempt to bake those tiny cupcake balls and dip them into little lollipops with sesame street character features that will be recognizable to your one year old at the party that you are throwing him that better be blogable, or else.

I totally recommend reading the entire article if you are a blogger.

I’ve been blogging for a long time now. A really long time. I was blogging 11 or 12 years ago when “blog” wasn’t a word that people knew – myself included! I used to update a static HTML page with my own code and manually enter things like timestamps. It was primitive, and I didn’t know many other people who were doing it. Certainly nobody else in “real life”.

Blogging is so much more mainstream now. Blogging is, if you want it to be, a profession! And I’ll admit, I love the way that blogging has become such an excellent source of news, opinion, reviews and inspiration. I spend large portions of my free time reading other blogs, and occasionally large amounts of my cash on the beautiful products and places that my peers are writing about! More important are the “me too” moments that we have when we read about somebody’s experiences – good and bad. The feedback we sometimes receive, or can give to each other. The community.

But sometimes I worry that blogging has become a little too polished. The newest wave of bloggers are so media-savvy and image-conscious, and so determined to present themselves in the best possible light. It’s understandable too, when you look at the statistics. The traffic belongs to the positive, picture-perfect, strong women.

We have to hope that they feel just as accomplished and validated in their real lives as they do on their blogs!

I’m not trying to be critical of these people, because some of my favourite bloggers fall into this category. However, I know that it is so easy to look at these people and feel defeated. It can be paralysing, it can cause you to stop writing, to stop trying to build on the wonderful things you’re already doing. I know this first hand, because I have been guilty of some of the pointless behaviour that Marta writes about in her article.

I think I got over most of that attitude a long time ago, and I think it started when I acknowledged that these superstar bloggers had put a dent in my mojo. It’s funny how instantly I was able to see how stupid that thinking was! It’s not a competition, there is no finish line. And readers can tell straight away if you’re writing sincerely or not.

So, here’s to running my own race!

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This is not a blog post.

by Elizabeth on November 24, 2010

in Blogging

So.

I’ve noticed more than one participant of NaBloPoMo making throwaway posts this month because life was getting in the way of quality content. In fact, even the creator of the whole Blog Posting Month made one last week so maybe we should be following her example?

All I know is that it’s finally time I used my get-out-of-jail-free card, since I have been struck down with The Black Plague a bad cold and all I want to do is sleep.

We will return you to your regular programming tomorzzzzZZzZzZzZZZzzzZzz…..

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It’s NaBloPoMo time again!

by Elizabeth on November 1, 2010 · 3 comments

in Blogging

All of a sudden it’s the first day in November, which means one thing – NaBloPoMo time! For those who haven’t heard of it, National Blog Posting Month is the blogger’s answer to NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) in which a bunch of ambitious people set out to write a novel in the month of November.

I think we bloggers get it a little easier, somehow.

Anyway, I’ve participated for the past few years and have always been glad to be a part of it. It’s an awesome way to meet new people as well. So I hope that if you’re stopping by for the first time that you’ll drop me a note to say hello!

My hastily-constructed plan for the next month:

1. Discover some new kickass bloggers, and tell you all about them
2. Document some of the awesome Etsy purchases I’ve made lately
3. “Show and tell” some stuff from my house and real life
4. Break out my camera a little more
5. Put the finishing touches on my new blog design

I’m looking forward to checking in here every day for the month of November, hope you’ll do the same!

(Are you blogging every day in November? Leave me a little note so that I can pay you a visit!)

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Finding a way

by Elizabeth on July 14, 2010 · 7 comments

in Blogging, Life


Borrowed from Epheriell Designs

I’m worried that I might be losing my blogging mojo.

Real life has been difficult to write about lately. Nothing terrible has happened, and there has been no earth-shattering news. Things are ticking along quite well in most areas of my life and for the most part life is good.

So why can’t I write?

I have some theories.

Once upon a time I used to write candidly (and regularly) on a fairly private blog. I had a strong readership of ‘trusted strangers’ who used to follow my little adventures and offer their thoughts. Over time a lot of real-life people started to read along, and I began to fear that damage might be done with thoughtless words. I’ve never been big on speaking to real-life people through my blog, so I think I began to choose my words more carefully.

But, real life happens and it doesn’t make sense to keep a personal blog without acknowledging the things that go on. Otherwise it would just become a catalogue of links and other peoples’ pictures. Yawn.

There’s an awful lot of unwritten Real Life from the past couple of years that I wish I could talk about now. A couple of friendships have been let go, and wasted energy restored. It would serve no purpose to re-hash it all here, but these were big decisions that have helped to shape the person I’m becoming.

I like this person way better than the old one, for what it’s worth. But that doesn’t mean that these changes haven’t left a dent or two.

So, I’ll continue to mull over these ideas and figure out some balance that will keep me blogging and engaged with you guys again. I miss this place a lot lately.

How are things with you?

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NaBloPoMo 2009

by Elizabeth on November 1, 2009 · 7 comments

in Blogging, Website news

nablopomo3

It’s that time of year again, where I attempt to entertain you every day for the month of November!

Here’s a little blurb about NaBloPoMo, from the FAQ:

The whole thing started off as a goof based on National Novel Writing Month, the challenge of which is to try to write an entire novel during the month November. Not everyone can commit to an endeavor of such magnitude, though, and so National Blog Posting Month was born. However, after doing a November NaBlo for a couple of years in a row it seemed that a lot of people had found their momentum and wanted to keep going into December and beyond. So now NaBloPoMo is something you can drop into any month of the year, though November is still the biggest month, and is the only month when members donate prizes that are then given out randomly to other members who posted every day in November.

I wasn’t sure if my heart was in NaBloPoMo this year, but I know I’ll be cranky if I have to watch everyone else doing it! The satisfaction of finishing those 30 days is too great to pass up, and besides – I always discover the most interesting blogs in November as I scour the web for inspiration.

And now that I’ve created an elaborate graphic to mark the occasion, I guess I’m locked in! Feel free to use the image above on your own blog if you’re participating this year, or throw this one in your sidebar:

nablopomo200x150

(Please save the images to your own server.)

I’ve also decided to donate a couple of prizes to the prize pool. Pending Eden’s approval, I’ll be donating an Aussie-themed food/confectionary pack (to an overseas participant), and an 8×12″ print from my photography portfolio at Scarlet Arts.

So – who’s with me? I’d like to set up a folder in my RSS reader of other bloggers participating in the NaBloPoMo madness. Leave me a comment if you’ve signed up!

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It’s not you, it’s me.

by Elizabeth on November 28, 2008 · 2 comments

in Blogging, Life

In many ways November has been a terrible month to commit to daily blogging.

My new workplace, until this month, has been remarkably kind to me as I have learned the ropes. I was given a month-long handover, a lengthy orientation in which I sat with colleagues from different departments, and a really supportive set of co-workers.

And while they continue to be supportive, they suddenly see me as somebody who has everything under control. I have become the go-to person for all sorts of issues that I hadn’t even considered a few weeks ago. Issues that are suddenly my responsibility to solve, develop or take ownership of.

I’m in a new, challenging phase of work where I really don’t know what will be waiting for me each morning when I walk through the door. So far I’m doing well to keep all the balls in the air, but it’s a hell of a way to learn to juggle!

So while I admit that my posts have been a little on the light side, content-wise, I’m pretty happy that I’ve stuck with NaBloPoMo. By the time this month ends I’ll have crossed one more item off my list (to post one photo every day), and that’s worth plenty on its own. The fact that I’ve posted a little extra each day was a bonus, and mostly good fun.

So I want to thank everybody who has been following me this month, especially if you’ve just discovered my blog. I hope you understand that the lack of inspirational posts has not been the result of a lack of interest on my part – just a lack of hours in the day! The nature of my workplace means that things will really slow down in a couple of weeks, and one of the luxuries I am looking forward to is the time to write here more regularly.

Well, in between interstate and international visitors!

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Oh, hi!

by Elizabeth on November 13, 2008 · 0 comments

in Blogging, Life

I know my posts have been a little lightweight for the past few days. For some reason I have been sleeping badly all week, and although I’m falling into bed at the first available opportunity I’m just not rested when I wake up. It doesn’t help that I’m completely under the pump at work, and really need all my remaining brainpower to keep my head above water there.

Somehow, despite being the “new kid” at work, I have become the go-to person for every question under the sun. I am secretly pleased with myself for being able to dig up the answers 99% of the time, but I could really do without the constant tests!

I am considering learning to juggle. My boss told me today that I don’t need lessons.

Life is good, it’s just that my resources are a little bit stretched. And that doesn’t seem to make for particularly inspired blogging. I thought it might help to put that in writing, so that you know that I know. Y’know?

Tomorrow is Friday. My dad is coming to stay with us for a couple of days while he’s in between conferences, and we’ll see him for another few days next week too. Rather than attempting that awkward, “Dad? This is my blog…” conversation, I imagine I’ll continue to be brief on the days he’s here!

I’ll continue to update in some form every day, so keep dropping in. Meanwhile, if you have an interesting link to share, leave me a comment!

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