The Social Lead

Social media and content marketing is a passion for Samantha, owner of Haynet. She has worked in the industry for several years helping rural businesses increase their social media presence.

The Social Lead is free advice in the form of podcasts and articles to help anybody that works with horses, dogs and countryside based businesses raise their profile in the fast changing world of social media.

Haynet Podcast: What You Need To Know When Designing Your Dog Grooming Business Logo

Whether you are starting a new business or rebranding, your logo is vital in giving your potential customers a vision of why they should use your services or buy your products. Sam Hobden hosts this latest episode from the Haynet Podcast chatting about what you need to think about designing your logo, what colours and fonts you use and also how to make an impact from a shop sign to your social media profile. Even though this episode is designed for training or newly qualified dog groomers, this advice can be applied to all new businesses and designing logos. So grab a cuppa and plug yourself in! For more podcasts on all topics relating to rural business, then please visit the Haynet Podcast Library

PODCAST: How Often Should You Be Posting On Social Media When Promoting A Business

Social media can be a minefield to navigate particularly when promoting a business. Creating a presence and having your brand visible needs thought and structure when posting though social media networks. So how often should you be posting content through social media when promoting your business? I answer this question in this latest edition of the Haynet Podcast giving you an insight into when you should be posting to engage a following and how to avoid common mistakes. Grab yourself a cuppa and put your feet up for twenty minutes and have a listen to some of my top tips: For more podcasts, then visit the Haynet Podcast library.

Podcast: 5 Ways In How To Promote Your Dog Grooming Business Through Social Media

It’s been a while since I recorded a podcast but it has been brilliant to chat about all things marketing again! This latest episode is all about promoting your dog grooming business through social media. Many use social media every day to promote their dog grooming business but some perhaps shy away from shouting out about what they do… If you are looking to increase your customer base, social media is a vital tool in raising your profile and promoting your brand and services to potential new clients. Mixing your social media posts with a variety of content will give a reason for your audience to stop and engage which I will chat about today among other ideas. So grab yourself a cuppa, put your feet up and have a listen to my top tips: For more podcasts, then visit the Haynet Podcast library.

5 Ways To Promote Your Dog Grooming Business Through Social Media

Many use social media every day to promote their dog grooming business but some perhaps shy away from shouting out about what they do… If you are looking to increase your customer base, social media is a vital tool in raising your profile and promoting your brand and services to potential new clients. Don’t fall into the trap by sharing daily just every single groom you do through your social media profile. People will start to scroll on by. Mixing your social media posts with a variety of content will give a reason for your audience to stop and engage. Here are five tips to help you utilise social media more effectively with your business: WHO ARE YOU? Use social media to introduce yourself and show your face to your customers. Your relationship with your clients is a big part of your business. If they like what they see and hear and your social media posts have been of value to them, they are more likely to pick up the phone to book their dog in with you. Tell your story about how you started dog grooming and why. Be honest and transparent about your business showing the good times and sometimes the challenges in a diplomatic way. Customers warm to openness and will buy into the service you are providing. Showing your face and personality through social media is key in the promotion of your dog grooming brand. WHERE ARE YOU? Chat about where you are based and why you are there? Is it your home town or do you live in a county that you love? Introduce your salon (perhaps with a video tour) but also talk about what you love about the area. Show where you take your dogs for a walk or what you do in your spare time. If you have dogs, why not make them the stars of your business! DOCUMENT Show behind the scenes in running your dog grooming business. Most owners really do not have a clue how much it takes to keep your business running effectively. Why not film yourself opening the salon in a time-lapse video washing and drying towels, disinfecting your tools, cleaning your clippers, dealing with all the hair. If you have a new piece of equipment show your customers, if you have a new dog in the salon – introduce them and talk about their breed. Show them the dog hair in your tea when you are trying desperately to eat and drink during the working day. It again just shows the other side of your business which many owners do not see. Definitely post your work but mix it in with other content. Show the best of your grooms and ones that have given you a challenge too. Why not once a week have a star dog and explain why you have chosen them. If there are dogs that have a special story to them, tell it through your social media if your customer is happy for you to share. SHARE TIPS With many of us closed or working fewer hours during this latest lockdown, share some grooming tips with your customers. This not only keeps your business on their News Feed but helps them keep hopefully their dogs in good order. Share tips through a blog or a video and make sure you tell them you are there for them to help and offer advice during this very strange and challenging time. INVOLVE YOUR CUSTOMERS This is a great way to make your customers feel involved and valued by sharing their news through social media. If they post something funny about one of their dogs – share it! If they are going through a tough time with their dog for example perhaps it is poorly – then share and show your concern wishing them a speedy recovery. Reposting customer’s content that is linked to your business will make them feel special and valued. Engaging with your social media audience will increase loyalty to you. With social media algorithms, the more your customers stop and engage with your posts – the more your business will appear on the News Feed. So mix it up and shout out what you do! I hope these few little tips have helped and again any questions at all, please post in the comments where I will always be happy to answer them for you. Sam Country Barn Dog Grooming www.countrydoggrooming.co.uk

How To Grow Your Equestrian Business Using Social Media And Blog Content

Love it or loathe it the internet is here to stay, with trends changing every year in the technical world and with social media holding a firm foot in the stirrup, especially when growing an equestrian business. Social media is vital to increase the visibility of your equestrian brand and companies that have a lacklustre online profile are getting left behind. Why Is Social Media Integral To My Equestrian Business? Social media is the fastest way to raise your product profile to an equestrian audience. Building your brand online takes time, with work and dedication, but you will be rewarded for your efforts by a rise in sales and interest in your company. Trust is important in any business and the best way to gain this is by giving customers easy online access to your company and the services it provides. Creating profiles on the top social media websites creates a voice and also a face for your company, which will give more incentive to trust your equestrian business. How Do I Promote My Equestrian Business Through Social Media? Getting the content and quantity right is key to grabbing your equestrian audience when promoting your business through your social media pages. This needs to be a careful mix of promotion of your products, testimonials with product reviews, but not over egging your brand to bore the followers swiping through the news feed! Talk about current affair topics, support equestrian sport and post that funny picture of a horse pulling a stupid face, with a quirky quote. This engages your audience, encouraging likes, shares/retweets, pushing your brand out to the equestrian public, who are your potential clients. Blogging In The Equestrian Industry Blogging (short for web logging) is becoming a very versatile tool in the equestrian world. The equestrian industry seems to be embracing this way of blogging to promote their equestrian businesses, competitions or chosen equine area of expertise. Most websites these days have a blog attached, which can then be linked to social network pages such as Facebook and Twitter. Some top equestrian companies are now using blog pages to raise their companies profile or employing professional riders to write about their career through their websites. All the tops riders, especially through the competition season, blog, tweet or post about their successes and failures, these days. Rather than wait for a magazine article to come out in print, this is now the quick and fast way to get their equestrian news out there as well raising their profile. You can use this same tool, within your equestrian business as a rapid way of getting your equestrian product or service out to the customers you are looking for. Why Will Blogging Help My Equestrian Business? When people are looking for a product or a service, the majority will turn to the internet and search for information through a search engine. Blogging is about having conversations in a public space, speaking through writing good content about a topic. This can be relating to a business service, product or just a good experience which is equine related. Or even a bad problem. It is a great platform to showcase an equestrian product or service, that you are trying to promote, using links within the post direct to your website. Thousands of blogs are started each day, with the majority failing to be kept up to date. The key is consistency and continuity of having your brand forefront on a news feed on social media pages. If your topics are being exhausted, then look to current equestrian news and give your followers your opinion and views. Make sure your posts are also visually interesting. Use images of your products, video clips or podcasts. The more appealing to the eye, the more potential clients will stop, click and read. So keep your blogging up to date and at least post an article once a week to keep your clients interested in your business and brand! Do I Need To Employ A Marketing Expert To Promote My Equestrian Business? Marketing in the equine industry is growing, with many turning to the professionals to help them through the minefield of social media and SEO (search engine optimization). Most marketing businesses can help you with as much or as little help as you need to get your business noticed in the equestrian world. Even some advice and assistance in getting you started in the world of social media, many businesses can then forge their own way socially in working with their own content once they have the confidence to actually do their own marketing. Howevere it is time consuming to keep your brand out there. So if this is a struggle for you, then bringing in knowledgeable staff, to promote your business, may be the answer. With experts on board, they will steer your company forward to an expanding equestrian audience, using tools such as posting regularly on social media, writing blog posts that are of genuine interest to your clients and making sure your brand is forefront, through the top search engines. They will guide you with changing trends in social media marketing, keeping your company top of the social media game. Top Five Tips On Blogging Relating To Your Equestrian Business Think you’d like to give blogging a go but aren’t sure how it’d fit with your equine business? Here are a few ideas… Equestrian Products: If you are retailing equestrian products, online or in store, then you can write about why your products might be more appealing to your audience than the many other products that are out there. Explain and show why they are better.Put a call out for some equestrians to review your product, for free and post their testimonials. Ensure that any special offers or discounts are posted often in social media or any new products that are being launched are given airtime, through your page and website. Make sure you use plenty of images of your products. Ensure that any special offers or discounts are posted often in social media or any new products that are being launched are given airtime, through your page and website. Make sure you use plenty of images of your products. Veterinary Services/Equine Therapists:Keep your audience interested in stories about your practice, whether they are successful treatments or even sad cases. Post pictures and tell the stories of your clients. People love reading about how a horse or pony has been saved from a horrible injury or survived through innovative treatment. Show images of you/your staff using the latest equipment, treating horses and x-rays, with wounds and foreign objects that you or your company’s expert veterinary team have treated and fixed! Equestrian Artists and Photographers:Visual impact is key with this line of equestrian business. Show stages of your artwork from the first etchy sketchings, to applying colour to the piece and then to the final finished masterpiece! Share your photographs from a recent session and tell readers about your clients. Offering a chance for a person to win a personalised portrait of their horse or a photography session with them is a brilliant advertising tool, to get your equestrian business out there. Detail any exhibitions that people can visit showing your works. Farriers:With foot problems, a major factor in horse health, showing your work in this area is vital to promote your services and will be a fascinating read for most horse owners. Again, be visual, using photographs and explaining the problems you deal with and how the horses have become sound through your expertise. Trainers and Livery Facilities:Write about problem solving in horse care and schooling. Use images and speak about the success stories of your past students and horses that you have brought on through your training. Give the audience your top tips, whether that’s for in the saddle or dealing with horses on the ground. If your business is livery based then write about what has been happening at your yard, each week. Pick a horse with character and showcase a weekly diary about their antics. Be honest and add humour to your posts. Share with your audience the highs and lows running a livery yard can bring and your tips for making a yard run smoothly. If you need help with promoting your equestrian or countryside business through social media, then contact Haynet

PODCAST: Is It A Good Thing To Be Open and Honest With Your Feelings and Views When Blogging? by How Very Horsey

In this latest edition of the Haynet Podcast, our special guest is the fantastic Daisy from How Very Horsey who has been a finalist in the Equestrian Blogger of the Year Award in recent years. Daisy writes her blog in a very open, honest and endearing manner which has been popular with the equestrian audience. However, there have been times that this has opened her to criticism, so in this episode she discusses is it a good thing to be open and honest with your blog writing? With plans to give rural bloggers a voice through the Haynet Podcast, it has been super to hear Daisy’s thoughts and views on her blog content. This episode is valuable to all bloggers particularly ones that are thinking of stepping into the world of writing content and sharing to an equestrian or countryside audience. A very big thank you to the lovely Daisy for taking the time to record this episode for Haynet, giving us her very valuable advice and opinion. So grab yourself a cuppa, kick off your wellies and come and have a listen! Please visit How Very Horsey

What Judges Look For In An Award Winning Blog/Vlog

As we enter 2020, Haynet and MirrorMePR are looking forward to recognising countryside and equestrian bloggers/vloggers awarding them for their brilliant efforts later this year! With the huge success of both awards last year, many want to know what judges Samantha Hobden and Ashley Rossiter look for when deciding finalists and whats make a blogger/vlogger stand out as an award winner. In this latest edition of the Haynet Podcast, Sam and Ashley met up recently to discuss the awards, announce a new category and give an idea of what criteria they work to when judging the Countryside Blogger of the Year Award and the Equestrian Blogger/Vlogger of the Year Award. So grab yourself a cuppa and plug yourself into this latest podcast. They hope this gives an insight into the judging but any questions you have for the judges, please post a comment on this post where they will happily answer them for you. For more information, please visit their dedicated Instagram channels for all the up to date news about the 2020 awards. Countryside Blogger of the Year Award: https://www.instagram.com/countrysidebloggeraward/ Equestrian Blogger/Vlogger of the Year Award: https://www.instagram.com/equestrianbloggerawards/ For further episodes in the Haynet podcast, please click here Check out our 2019 winners!

PODCAST: Why Are Product Reviews Good For Blog Engagement? by Gee Gee and Me

In this latest episode of the Haynet Podcast, we have special guest equestrian blogger Jessica from Gee Gee and Me. Her blog is predominantly showcasing product reviews which shows where to spend your money and where to save it when buying for your equestrian hobby! Jessica gives her thoughts on why product reviews are good for blog engagement and the challenges these can sometimes present. With plans to give rural bloggers a voice through the Haynet Podcast, it has been super to hear Jessica’s thoughts and views on her blog content. This episode is valuable to all bloggers particularly ones that are thinking of stepping into the world of writing content and sharing to an equestrian or countryside audience. A very big thank you to the lovely Jess for taking the time to record this episode for Haynet, giving us her very valuable advice. So grab yourself a cuppa, kick off your wellies and come and have a listen!

PODCAST: Top Blogging Tips with The Forelock Journal

We have a super guest in our latest episode on the Haynet Podcast! Charlotte from The Forelock Journal is not only a fantastic equestrian blogger but also the current title holder and winner of the Equestrian Blogger of the Year Award 2018. With plans to give rural bloggers a voice through the Haynet Podcast, Charlotte is a very natural choice to be our first guest presenter. This episode is valuable to all bloggers particularly ones that are thinking of stepping into the world of writing content and sharing their equestrian or countryside life. A huge thank you to Charlotte who has given some brilliant advice in this podcast, so please kick off your wellies, grab a cuppa and plug yourself in!

Perhaps Think Twice Before You Type

With Twitter trolls, Facebook fiends and forum nasties, social media can sometimes revert to being back in the school playground!  With my passion for all things equestrian and life in the countryside, I read with interest many opinions on social media with most remarks and comments made politely and in context. However some I read with utter disbelief that people can be so nasty with no thought how the person on the receiving end feels…. Charlotte Dujardin, the darling of dressage together with Carl Hester are a dream partnership enjoying immense success. They are supported and loved by the equestrian community, but sadly yesterday with Charlotte’s elimination from the European Championships, this has invited an unjust social media backlash. With the majority being supportive, Charlotte has endured some very nasty and horrible comments questioning her responsibility. She has issued a statement which was very much heartfelt and thankfully the brilliant equestrian community have supported her, despite the few that feel they have to comment with venom. Having run an equestrian blogging network in the past which evolved into social media groups, I read thousands of blogs, posts and comments. Particularly with blogging, posts give a fascinating insight into our lives with horses and the countryside, some very intimate some just factual. Many blog writers can be very open and mention emotional feelings and frustrations. The majority of the time it is done with etiquette and thought, however many can write in anger and when emotions are running high displaying for all to see. Luckily writing about horses, it is mainly the horse that is being discussed and fortunately they are not that clued up with the likes of Facebook or WordPress! Blogging is an online diary so it is down to the author to decide what they write for all to read which can be open to comments or criticism. Think of the personal diaries that we used to keep before the era of the computer. I know I wouldn’t want my earlier diaries posted in the papers for all to read. Blogging online is writing for ALL to see. Social media too can be a hotbed of opinion with some people becoming quite a different character behind a computer screen. How many arguments and difference of opinion have you seen written in groups or social media posts, for them to be sometimes quite offensive and upsetting towards the original poster or others typing their view. Life would be very boring if we all had the same opinion and healthy debate is a very good thing. All it needs is perhaps a second thought in replying without becoming hot headed and bordering on rude. This is the real problem, “socialising” without being face to face. In your reply to a heated debate you need to think would you actually say this to the persons face? The answer would probably be no. It would be a lot harder to say these fiery views to a persons face rather than hiding behind a computer screen. If you were being rude about someone, you wouldn’t want it placed on an advertising board and displayed on the main road, high street or shopping centre for all to see with your name attached to it. I think perhaps it is forgotten that people can see or get to hear what is being written on social networks. What is it like to be on the receiving end of rude or nasty comments when you have posted a picture, blog or replied in a group. Well, it is upsetting. You have to try and be thick skinned and ignore it but this is difficult – we are human after all. How do you deal with it? I would just ignore it. Ok that is hard but it is the best way. When you ignore it and leave the conversation rather than respond to it directly, you do not then risk engaging in the same low level as the other person. Another way to respond to rude comments on social media networks is to respond in a respectful way. Kill them with kindness! Thank the person for taking the time to comment and say that you will have to agree to disagree on the point in question. There would be little for them to say in reply. Luckily these instances are few and far between and social media can be a fun, engaging and a great way to receive positive advice. You can also make good friends that you would otherwise have never met. Think twice before you type and what you may be saying in jest, could be totally misconstrued. Be courteous but that doesn’t mean you are being boring. We all can be funny without being rude and offending someone. Continue to let your true personality shine through as most of us are really nice people behind the computer screen. And let’s just ignore and refuse to engage with those that are not. Most of all, enjoy social networking as it is here to stay becoming an everyday part of our lives. Written by Samantha Hobden  www.hay-net.co.uk Image Credit: Pixabay

PODCAST: How To Make Your Tack Shop Stand Out

Podcast #20 by Sam Hobden The humble tack shop or saddlery business is a very valuable asset within the equestrian community. With big brands disappearing from the high street, it is a very tough place for retail business. We need to use these tack shops to ensure they stay within the community as it would be a crying shame to lose them. I have written a post recently how saddlery businesses can raise their game and compete with online stores. This podcast expands on those points and gives some detailed help to the tack shop owner but also for the rider to have a listen and to ensure they support their local saddlery. So kick off your riding boots, grab a cuppa and plug yourself in. We have some super podcasts coming from well known rural and equestrian bloggers having a guest spot in Haynet’s Podcast, so keep an eye out for them too.

How Often Should You Be Posting On Your Blog?

Podcast #19 by Sam Hobden Writing a blog can be a big commitment and sometimes we may feel we are not posting enough or perhaps sharing too often! So what is the happy medium in posting content through your website and social media pages? Sam Hobden discusses this topic in Haynet’s latest podcast and how often you should be writing on your blog and promoting it through your social media pages whether you are a new blogger or a seasoned writer. Please also come and check out Haynet’s Podcast Library which is filling with advice from Rhea Freeman and Sam Hobden on all aspects of rural social media marketing. So kick off your wellies and plug yourself in!

Social Media Presence vs Website

Social Media presence is just as good as having your own website. And the beauty is that you don’t have to pay for all that jargon that comes with a website!! Why worry about domain names, hosting, SEO and all that other boring stuff when you can fire in a few hashtags and get loads of customers. said nobody. Ever. Get a website. Although you can create a business page on Facebook, you should never rely on this to generate leads. It can be a brilliant way to drive traffic to your website if you use it to your advantage, a website in this day and age is a must for any business. Let’s talk about a few things you need to know about websites and social media and how to use them to benefit you and your business … 1. Control Social Media platforms all have their own algorithms which determine, who sees what, when, and how many times. It’s simply your content, being exposed to a lot of people as they are scrolling through their own news feed. So, the chances that someone is going to click on it and be engaged by it is rather remote. And, even if someone clicks on it, if you don’t have a link to take that person to a platform entirely devoted to you and your business. With your own website, you have full control of the content you put on there, what people see, and how people see it. A strategically timed post onto social media with a snippet of catchy information will likely generate more interest than a Facebook ad. If that contains a link to a website or a blog, with some engaging content or some amazing deals then you potentially have some business. 2. Targeting your audience 90 percent of the time, we go onto social media to kill a bit of time or to have a nosy and see what your friends are up to. We rarely go on there to look at something in particular, it’s just a news feed of randomly generated posts and ads that we tend to scroll through with little interest until a cute dog video catches our eye. Am I right? Just me? Ok moving on… To stand out and get noticed you will need to either posts lots of cute dog videos or its going to need to be something really catchy to get someone to click on it. When we want a specific service or product we tend to go straight to google and search for it. You could have an amazing social media presence, with posts, and fans, and shares and pictures and videos etc… but unfortunately the highest results on a search engine are always going to be websites. Which brings me to my next point… 3. SEO Also knowns as ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ which is a way term used by many to attempt to enhance their ranking on search engines. It is used by website owners to drive traffic to their website. So effectively you can manipulate your way up the search engine rankings by constantly monitoring and tweaking the words and phrases that will drive people to your website. Although this sounds daunting it can be a reasonably easy thing to do, if you so wish to put the time and research into your keywords and meta-tags, it is also a service to outsource to a specialist if you so wished. If you tie all these things in together you will be onto a winner. • Populate your website with interesting content, blogs, and products • Post interesting updates to your social media with links to your website and blogs • Keep on top of SEO and you can almost guarantee traffic to your site None of the above is possible on Social Media – All Social Platforms, unless it is paid advertising you are beholden to their algorithms and visibility. Another reason why a Website is within you control and therefore more beneficial. Keep in mind a Website can be built on a number of different platforms, some of which you own, some of which the website template or host own. Some website builder templates like wix, shopify, GoDaddy website builder etc all continue to own your website platform and are not self-hosted (therefore meaning if you wanted to move away from using them you would need to start from scratch)! Which works perfectly fine for many but it’s worth knowing. A standalone CMS platform, for example but not limited to Magento, WordPress, Joomla and ModX is all owned by you and having a website you own means you can control the hosting fees and ongoing costs. The above is just something to be aware of, different website platform suit different businesses. We would always recommend using a self-hosted site to ensure you are in control. by Danielle Holmes of Black Nova Designs (the marvellous team who look after Haynet’s website!)

Should You Blog Only In A Particular Niche?

Podcast #18 by Sam Hobden As you know my blogging theme for the past decade has been about horses and the countryside. And this subject matter is one I love and am very passionate about. But should you write “off-piste” from your niche including this on your blog? Will this put off your audience and following? Sam Hobden discusses this topic in Haynet’s latest podcast chatting about the pros and cons of writing about what interests you and whether this is a good thing or not. Please also come and check out Haynet’s Podcast Library which is filling with advice from Rhea Freeman and Sam Hobden on all aspects of rural social media marketing.  So kick off your wellies and plug yourself in!

Where To Spend Your Social Media Marketing Budget

Podcast #17 by Rhea Freeman Most businesses will have a budget when it comes to promoting their brand through social media. With the ever changing face of our social media networks, Rhea Freeman discusses in Haynet’s latest podcast where to invest your money when it comes to social media marketing. So please come and plug yourself in and listen to Rhea’s thoughts and views where to concentrate your marketing budgets this year! Please also come and check out Haynet’s Podcast Library which is filling with advice from Rhea Freeman and Sam Hobden on all aspects of rural social media marketing. Our next podcast will be coming soon so keep an eye out on what Sam will be discussing helpging you with your rural business. So plug yourself in!

Having all four business feet on the ground. When it comes to your business.

We are so lucky these days when it comes to business, the internet offers us the opportunity to reach new people daily.  Enabling us to stay in contact with clients and customers and do it simply quickly and easily. But many rural businesses don’t have an email list! Or if they do they struggle to use it and the list is cold and frosty! Email should be a vital part of your marketing and client retention.  But because Facebook and Instagram have become such giants in helping businesses online.  And the platforms are so simple to post to.  Many equestrian entrepreneurs, have discounted using an email list as part of their marketing strategy.   Focussing on Facebook as their number one method to drive traffic to their website and to contacting their followers and fans.  But building your business this way is….. LIKE BUILDING YOUR HOUSE UPON SAND Part of what I teach is that you need you need to prioritise building a list above building your Facebook page and profile! I know it doesn’t give the same rush of dopamine to the brain but there is a vital reason I do this: Facebook, Instagram, Linked in etc. they are not your platform and it could all end tomorrow! Your list is yours to contact whenever and you have direct access to their inbox. Yes, there are lot of new tech ways, messenger bots etc. to contact people, but email still is one of the best and simplest (and actually less intrusive ways) to build relationships and repeat sales. I recently watched in horror as Facebook blocked a friends  business page entirely and took it down and then I sympathised with a friend when all her website links from her facebook  and Instagram page stopped working! The impact on their business was devastating! So please, don’t build your house on sand. Get you email list set up. . Then you can use Facebook to build your list instead and should you fall prey to the algorithm or facebook police,  it won’t matter for you will be business as usual. And if you need help, with setting up an email list for your business. Visit my website. Jenni Jenni Bush The Equine Business Assistant www.TheEquineBusinessAssistant.co.uk

Should We Be Blogging Solely Through A Social Network?

Podcast #16 by Sam Hobden Blogging through a social network, especially Facebook is on the rise. But can writing content in this way through just one channel be a good thing? Is it better to have your own blog page or is it better to have your content on a network that you are not in full control of but has a wider audience? Sam Hobden explains the pros and cons of blogging through Facebook and how trends in blog posting have changed recently. Please also come and check out Haynets Podcast Library which is filling with advice from Rhea Freeman and Sam Hobden on all aspects of rural social media marketing.  So quick off your wellies and plug yourself in!

Riding Through Her Award Winning Year With Roosa’s Horsey Life

It is award week here at Haynet with the finalists being announced in the Equestrian Blogger of the Year Award 2018. Hosted by Haynet and sponsored by equestrian and countryside PR & Social Media Marketing Agency MirrorMePR, the award is in its seventh year recognising blogging talent with equestrian blood running through its veins. Last years worthy winner of the awards was Roosa’s Horsey Life. Her passionate equestrian blog writing from her home country of Finland to her recent relocation to the UK is a warm and honest view of life with horses. Samantha Hobden, one of the award judges, recently caught up with Roosa to see how her blogging year has been since winning the award in 2017: Has your heart always been with horses? Did you spend your childhood riding ponies? I believe I was born with a love for horses! It must be in my blood as my grandfather started riding horses, then my mother started riding horses when she was a teen, my brother was a child when he got his first pony and I was put on a horse before I could even walk. I had my pony and Basse when I was a teenager so I spent the majority of my time at the stables. I remember being really annoyed at the fact that one weekend I had to go to a party rather than going competing, which I think explains how much of an addiction to horses I already had then! Your love for your horses comes through really strongly through your blog. Tell us about the horses in your life. We’ve currently got 5 horses. Long-time followers of my blog will know of Basse and Vallu as well as my newest boy, Erik (yes, that truly is his stable name. His competition name is Dybdalsgaard’s Ferrari which NO ONE can pronounce so we are sticking with Erik!). Basse came to us when he was 2 years old and I still call him the baby of the family even though he’s 16 years old this year. He truly is my best friend, we’ve been through so much together and I can’t put into words how delighted I am to have him here in Wiltshire, happy and healthy. Vallu is my heart horse, but has also reached the age of 16, he’s currently enjoying an easier life with lots of time outside and a less intense workload. Both of these horses owe me nothing, so I just want to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible. Luckily, we have quite a bit of land so when the time comes, they can be retired and stay at home. My newest boy Erik is a 14-year-old gelding by Blue Hors Don Schufro, he was purchased by my mother this time last year but after 6 months it became clear that they didn’t suit each other and by that time I had totally fallen in love with him. The plan is to get lots of training done over winter and then get out competing next spring with him. He’s such a cool horse, I can’t wait to get back into competing after such a long time away from the competition scene! The two other horses who are less often on my blog/social media are my mother’s two horses, Rama and Melisse. Rama has been with mum for nearly 6 years and at 20 years old he’s officially known as ‘the Grandad’ whilst Melisse is the newest addition to the team. She’s an absolute firecracker and we already adore her. She fits into the herd so well, I can’t wait to see her going well with mum. Being Finnish, is the equestrian industry very different there than it is here in the UK? The biggest difference between Finland’s equestrian industry to the one in the UK is that in Finland there is such a smaller amount of horses and equestrians. It means that there is a big misconception between the public and the equestrian industry that “only rich people can have horses” which is so not true, but it remains prevalent over there. In the UK I feel like there are horses and ponies in every corner of the country! It also means that over here you have much bigger competitions, and the chance for ‘normal’ people to succeed at competitions is much greater! However, the passion and love for horses in the equestrian industry in both countries is the same. Your blog is a great shout out to some super equestrian brands that are out there. Tell us about your favourites and why. Eskadron/Pikeur, Anky, Equestrian Stockholm, Le Mieux and PS of Sweden are my favourite brands. Because I’ve tried the cheaper brands out there, I’ve learnt that good quality products don’t come cheap and if you want your purchases to last for a long time, you have to be willing to pay more. We’ve had horses for so long that I’ve learnt that high end brands last better, cheaper products just do not last as well as products from the brands mentioned earlier. They also bring out equestrian products that tend to be in line with the seasonal colours on the high street (especially Eskadron and Anky) which means that finding matching rider clothing is much easier! What keeps you motivated to keep blogging and why do you love blogging so much? I love how blogging allows me to share my passion for horses, my horsey life and equestrian lifestyle; it has opened up so many avenues that I could never have imagined before! My blog started off as a diary and as something to look back on, especially my lesson summaries, but over the years it’s evolved into something more from which I’ve gained new friends and followers. Having followed many other equestrian bloggers over the years, I’ve also learnt so much about everything from social media and PR, to new horsemanship skills and new equestrian brands. It’s the chance to learn from and connect with other equestrians that feeds my desire to carry on with blogging! The main thing that has kept me motivated throughout the years is this wonderful equestrian community; I have met so many wonderful people who are equally passionate about horses. I would like to thank everyone who has been there for me on the way, you have helped me in more ways than I could possibly express.   Did winning the award change anything for you? The biggest change that I experienced after winning the award last year was that I had friends, acquaintances and relatives see my blog differently. They seemed to realise that whilst it is hobby, it is also something that I am good at, which made a big difference in their attitudes towards my blogging, and that was amazing! It also really helped me with my confidence about my blog, instead of feeling bashful about writing a blog, I am now proud to call myself an equestrian blogger. And nowadays, after winning the award I now feel like a part of a community of bloggers and I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging ideas and meeting lots of amazing equestrian bloggers and companies! What advice would you give wannabe bloggers out there? Try not to worry too much about who will read it, to begin with and how many people are reading your blog. Just write something you want to say and then build it up over time. You’ll be amazed by how many page hits you will get, but this does not happen immediately (at least not for me!). Also, don’t try to spread yourself too thinly, covering every possible topic that there is. For me, the best blogs are those that have a clear identity and style and stick to topics that they know. When I started blogging back in 2013, I thought that I could get lots of traffic through search engines because all of the popular blogs out there got a lot of Google love. The reality is that you won’t get much traffic from Google when your blog is new as it takes years before your search engine traffic kicks in. So, to get your blog ‘out there’, do it through social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are just a few examples of social sites that can drive a lot of traffic to your blog. For me, social media and blogging are inextricably linked. And don’t forget to join the #HorseBloggers Meet Up group on Facebook, it’s the best place for advice from your fellow equestrian bloggers and gives you the chance to learn from others! And finally, don’t think that your material isn’t worthy or is too ordinary and boring. Sometimes it will feel like no one is reading what you’ve written, but trust me nothing is too ordinary or boring when it’s to do with horses! Please visit Roosa’s award winning blog at: https://roosashorseylife.blogspot.com/ The Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2018 starts on Wednesday 17th October where the twelve chosen finalists will be announced through the awards dedicated Twitter channel. Please come along at 8pm GMT to see the top equine international bloggers that are in the running to win the award this year!

How To Improve The Connection Between Brands And Their Customers Through Social Media

#Podcast 15 by Rhea Freeman Social media is huge and you cannot ignore engaging with your clients through social platforms with your rural business. If you think that this is an area that needs improving, then Rhea Freeman talks about how to improve the connection with your audience and potential new clients through social media in Haynet’s latest podcast. If you think that chatting with your clients is only for the shop floor, then Rhea’s advice is to help you change in that way of thinking. So please come and have a listen. Check out Haynets Podcast Library which is filling with advice from Rhea Freeman and Sam Hobden on all aspects of rural social media marketing. Our next podcast is all about the rise of the Facebook blogger and can they be deemed to be bloggers by using a social network only? So kick off your wellies and plug yourself in!

What Makes An Equine Blogger Worthy To Be A Finalist?

Dates have been announced in the forthcoming Equestrian Blogger of the Year Award 2018. On Wednesday 17th October 2018, finalists who have made the awards this year will be announced through our dedicated Twitter channel at 8pm GMT. Voting for your favourite blogger will end on Friday 26th October and the winner will be announced on Tuesday 30th October 8pm GMT! There is still time to put your blog forward for consideration to the judges with the closing date being Friday 28th September. Judges Samantha Hobden from Haynet and Ashley Rossiter MD from MirrorMePR are currently judging a vast number of international equestrian blogs and deciding which ones make the finals. With the huge number of equine blogs to be taken into account, the criteria is tough this year. This is to ensure that an exceptionally high standard of finalists will be in the running for the title of Equestrian Blogger of the Year. Samantha Hobden and Ashley Rossiter spoke about this criteria, giving bloggers an idea of what is expected.  “We are looking at engaging blog content that embraces brilliant storytelling and allows the reader to immerse themselves in your chosen topics, news, and views, wrapped in well written and thoughtfully composed feature content.” “We are also considering the ‘user experience’ of the site and the use of visual content and how easily we can digest all of your blog content easily and with reading pleasure. A place where we can discover your personality and your passions and easily revert back another time to read again. Other factors that will be taken into consideration will be solid supporting social activity surrounding your blog, excellent social media etiquette and an awareness of the importance of engagement with fans.” For further news, please follow the award social media channels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

How Not To Make Mistakes When Rebranding Your Rural Business

Podcast #14 by Sam Hobden There may come a time when running a rural business that you may be shifting focus, offering a new service or changing the products you sell which would invite a rebrand. Having been through a rebrand myself with Haynet accommodating the new changes, it is a process that needs to be well planned and thought through. Having not given much thought when starting up Haynet seven years ago, my recent rebrand was a big learning curve spending more time and thought on the process! The latest podcast in the Haynet series is all about how not to make mistakes when rebranding your rural business. Come and have a listen to my top tips in making it a success and not making mistakes along the way: Please also come and check out Haynets Podcast Library which is filling with advice from Rhea Freeman and Sam Hobden on all aspects of rural social media marketing.  So quick off your wellies and plug yourself in!

How Running Competitions Through Social Media Can Help Your Rural Business

Podcast #13 by Rhea Freeman We see competitions several times a day on social media and this is a great way of raising your profile and engagement for your rural business. The latest podcast featured on Haynet is all about this very topic. So if you have been thinking about running a competition to promote your company and brand, then please take a listen to Rhea’s advice on how to run a competition through social media and the results you can expect! Please  also come and check out Haynets Podcast Library which is filling with advice from Rhea Freeman and Sam Hobden on all aspects of rural social media marketing. Our next podcast is about rebranding and how you can shift focus without confusing your customers and social media following. So plug yourself in!

How To Stay Motivated To Keep Blogging

We all have phases when writing our blog or providing content for our business page can all seem too much effort. It is totally normal to lose enthusiasm with blog posting and every blogger or business owner goes through it. In our latest podcast in Haynet’s expanding library, Sam Hobden discusses ways of staying motivated to keep blogging. So if you have lost your mojo recently when it comes to putting your virtual pen to paper, then come and have a listen. Remember we have a library of useful podcasts for rural bloggers and business owners, so grab a cuppa and plug yourself in!

5 Reasons To Start Writing Your Equestrian Blog

I wonder how many pictures you have on your phone of your horse and pony? Too many to count I imagine. Photographs do sometimes tell a story, but there is nothing more warming than to read and look back on times that you had with your horse and pony. I am now a few decades on from being a pony mad teenager and the closest thing to a smartphone I had in those days was the local red phone box! It is very hard to imagine life without all the technology that surrounds us now but we did manage to survive without them. I spent my childhood and early teenage years riding mad ponies and I loved it. Taking photographs was a long-winded affair having to send off negatives through your local chemist waiting a week for your photos to arrive. Thankfully technology has moved on and pictures with memories are now made in an instant. What we did have, was a pen and paper and I started writing diaries about the fun, the falls and the successes of riding ponies. Every few days I would write down the funny stories that life with ponies bring and what was going on in my life. I didn’t realise at the time how important those written entries in my diary would become so cherished now. A few decades on, I found these forgotten diaries in my parent’s attic a few years ago and it was the most brilliant feeling reading them back. Memories can fade sometimes so these written entries transported me right back to my childhood which is so good to have and recall. To read about those forgotten hairy ponies that would turf me off every week was a delight! The diaries are now all tatty and worn but my words were real, together with pencil sketches of the ponies I was riding. Even a couple of old rosettes fell from the pages! Writing down about the times you have with your pony can be a lifelong record and I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to read back many years on. My diaries also mentioned my family and pets we had at that time. They are precious memories to cherish, especially when some of these are not around anymore. Technology has moved on and if you would rather type out your memories, then writing a blog is an excellent and easy way to start. With the use of the internet, online blogs are a brilliant way of keeping a record of your successes and failures that living the equestrian life can bring. Pages can be printed off which I would highly recommend keeping a hard copy of your diary entries. Together with photographic entries, blogging is such a versatile and modern way of keeping a diary. The equestrian blogging community also get together online and read other equine bloggers posts. This is a great way to keep connected socially with others that share the horse passion. Sometimes writing down your feelings, your frustrations and your happy times is a great release of emotion. You can also keep posts private on your blog, but if you would like them online make sure you are entirely happy with your diary entry before it goes live! So, I urge you to start writing about your equestrian life. Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. Just make sure you have that moment written down! Still undecided to start your own blog? Well here are 5 reasons to start your very own equestrian blog: It will preserve your equestrian memories by writing your own digital journal. You can inspire others to perhaps start horse riding just by reading your horses stories. It will improve your writing and confidence. With your stories and viewpoint being documented this can be of interest to others who will start to follow your posts. You can learn from other equestrian bloggers and relate with them when problems arise with your horse or pony. It is a great community. It can easily turn into a career. Blogging is now more recognised within business and if you have a good following writing quality content then great opportunities can come your way! by Samantha Hobden Come and join the #HorseBloggers Meet Up group on Facebook where we have a friendly blogging community who write about all things horse!

Why Should You Use Video When Marketing Your Rural Business Or Blog?

Do you like to see yourself on film? No? Me too, I am not comfortable with being filmed. But like it or not, video is the biggest marketing tool for getting your message out there. Whether you want to tell your audience and clients about a new product or want to make your rural blog more interesting, video is a quick and easy way to engagement. In our latest Podcast in Haynet’s library working together with Rhea Freeman Equestrian & Country Business Coach, I talk all about why you should be embracing video, giving you some interesting statistics, making the decision in taking part in live or edited videos and how to make you more confident in this line of marketing. So please, plug yourself in and let us know your views on video. If you have just delved into filming yourself, or for your business or simply adding some vlogs to your blog page – then let us know!

What is BETA all about and why should equestrian businesses visit?

It is BETA week and if you are an equestrian business, you will know that this is an important weekend in Birmingham to watch and follow all the 2018 equine product trends! If you are a new equestrian business and have not come across BETA before, then what is it all about? Why should you visit? Rhea Freeman is a BETA pro and has spoken all about the exhibition that is being held this weekend in Birmingham in her latest podcast. So whether you have visited before or thinking about visiting BETA, then plug yourself and listen to Rhea’s top tips and advice about how to make the most of this equestrian annual trade event and why it will be of value to you and your business!

What Makes A Blogger An Influencer And Does It Matter?

Haynets new podcast series has had a popular reception and our library is slowly building with Rhea and Sams help and advice. They hope these will be a useful learning tool for horses bloggers and those in equestrian and rural business. Further to Podcast #7 with Rhea where she discussed “What Are The Marketing Trends In 2018 For Rural And Equestrian Business?” she put to Sam the next topic for discussion for the podcast “What Makes A Blogger An Influencer And Does It Matter?” So please plug yourself in and have a listen to Sam’s advice and thoughts on what makes a blogger an influencer and does it matter!  Coming soon will be Rhea’s Podcast with her reply to Sam’s question which is “What Is BETA All About And Why Should Equestrian Businesses Visit?” If you want to find out all about BETA, then this will be the podcast to listen to. Please come and take a look at our PODCAST page for all previous episodes in our expanding library, which we hope you enjoy listening to and hopefully learning something from them!

Podcast: What Are The Marketing Trends For 2018 For Equestrian and Rural Businesses

Haynets new podcast series that launched in the autumn has had a popular reception and our library is slowly building with Rhea and Sams help and advice. They hope these will be a useful learning tool for horses bloggers and those in equestrian and rural business. Further to Podcast #6 with Sam where she discussed “How Can Using The Hashtag #HorseBloggers Help When Promoting Your Equine Blog Content”, she then put a question to Rhea to answer in the next podcast which was “What Are The Marketing Trends For 2018 For Equestrian and Rural Businesses”. So please plug yourself in and have a listen to Rhea’s top advice on what trends are predicted to help rural business shine in the in 2018 – she gives some really top tips!  We would love to hear your views too, so let us have your predictions on where rural marketing is heading over the next twelve months. Coming soon will be Sam’s Podcast which Rhea has asked Sam to discuss “What Makes A Blogger An Influencer and Why Does It Matter?” Please come and take a look at our PODCAST page for all previous episodes in our expanding library, which we hope you enjoy listening to and hopefully learning something from them!

31 Equestrian Blogging Ideas To Keep You Writing

Throughout the month of August earlier this year, #HorseBloggers through it’s dedicated Twitter channel posted a tip every day helping you to keep writing. Sometimes topics dry up or you just feel you have nothing to say. There is always something to write about, so this post is listing the thirty one tips to keep your blogging trotting along. I am also writing thirty one posts, writing about every tip in this series, so please visit the HayBale section where you can read these posts. If you find one of these tips spurs you to write a post, then please let us know here at Haynet and hashtag #HorseBloggers when sharing it socially: #1 Blog about your first horse or pony you rode. Write about what you loved about riding for the first time. #2 What is your favourite breed of horse and pony? Do you ride a certain breed and if so why. #3 Write about your riding ambition – do you want to event or enter the dressage arena for the first time? Set yourself some new riding goals and blog about it! #4 Go back in time and post a favourite photo from the past whether that it be you riding or a good friend or family member. Write about the memories. #5 What’s in your tack box? What is the product you could not live without? Write about the oldest equestrian kit that you have and is still doing the job. Take pictures and post your post! #6 Write about your stable routine which will help beginners who have just started out with horses. Give your top tips for mucking out, what bedding your use and where to save time and money. #7 Write about your favourite equestrian film. What memories does that film bring back? Reminder the reader of what brilliant horse and pony films that are out there. #8 Tell us about your typical day. Write about your yard and what your routine is, how you juggle your family and work. Write about the best parts of your day and the worst parts too. Let the reader know how you manage to fit a horse in your life. #9 Have you been on a riding holiday? Is there a favourite place to take your horse to ride? Write about the ride and why you love it with some photographs of the views from horseback. #10 Horse riding falls! They happen to all of us. Write about your riding falls and how they affected your confidence or if you were physically hurt. What made you get back on even after a nasty fall. Write about how you felt. #11 Tell us about your riding instructor! Ride about how your riding has improved by your riding lessons, what are your lesson goals, what part of your schooling are your struggling with but also what are your riding triumphs. #12 What are your favourite horse books? Are these recent books you have read or very old books going back many years? Write about why you loved them and what they have taught you. #13 What are your money saving tips when it comes to owning horses. Write your top five tips to share on your blog. Invite readers to share their equestrian “hacks” to save the pennies. #14 What are your favourite horse blogs? Write about the top ten equestrian blogs that you follow and why. Give them a shout out and some blog love! #15 What is on your birthday or Christmas wish list that is horse related? What equine products that are out there that you would love to have and why. #16 Box rest tips. Has your horse been on box rest? How did you keep them entertained while they have days or weeks in the stable. #17 Invite a fellow horse blogger to write a guest post on your blog. Sharing content is a great way in increasing traffic to your page. Remember sharing is caring! #18 Write a “before and after” post which has showed a condition that your horse had that has improved with your treatment and care. Write about the ups and downs when treating an equine ailment or illness. #19 Give your farrier a big shout out in a blog post. Write about if you have overcome a shoeing problems and how you keep your horse’s hooves in tip top condition. #20 Write an equestrian bucket list. Even if the list is short, blog about what you would love to do with your horse that is different. Refer back to it and make it happen! #21 List the top five equestrian products that you could not live without. This could be anything from your favourite breeches to a turnout rug that has lasted. Shout out the companies you mention. #22 Post a video on your blog. Film your horse enjoying themselves in the field or a hack out. Film your lessons and write about the best bits as well as the frustrating bits too. #23 Write an equestrian product review. Give the pros and cons of the product and why you tried it out. Give it a mark out of ten and whether you would recommend it. #24 What is your favourite equestrian blog post from another blogger? Why has their post appealed to you and what did you learn from their post. Let the fellow blogger know that their content is one of your faves! #25 What is your favourite picture of your horses or pony? Post the picture on your blog and explain why it makes you so happy. Tell your story behind the photo. #26 Give a shout out to your equestrian heroes. Has Mary King given you the urge to start eventing? Did Carl Hester give you the inspiration to enter the dressage arena? Write about your riding stars! #27 Have you lost a horse that was one in a million? Write about the time with your beloved equine and how you felt when it was time to send them to Rainbow Bridge. Share your pictures and memories of them. #28 Share an equestrian problem. Is there something that you are struggling with your schooling? Is your horse difficult to load or are they displaying behavioural problems? Ask through your blog post and engage with your fellow horse bloggers for their advice. #29 Write about the best equine event that you watch or visit regularly. Is Badminton your favourite equestrian place to be or do you love a day at Cheltenham? Perhaps it is a local hunter trials that you love to watch. Write about these horse events together with your photographs. #30 Write about your tops tips to get through the different seasons with your horse. How do you survive the winter, what are your summer top tips in dealing with the heat around horses and ponies? Do a photo montage of your horse through the seasons from the sun to the snow. #31 Our last tip and give yourself a big horse blogging shout out! Write a post about why you started blogging and why you enjoy writing your stories from the stables to the fields. Make sure you post your social media pages on this post and when followers can find you. Please let us know if you use any of the above blogging tips, where we will share your horsey content for you. Happy blogging! by Samantha Hobden

What Makes A Good Blogger? by Sam Hobden Podcast #4

Haynet recently launched a new series of podcasts which we hope will be a learning tool for horse bloggers and those in equestrian and countryside business to listen to and help within this industry. Working together with Rhea Freeman, a well known business coach within rural marketing and PR, we aim to bring our knowledge, humour and opinions to topics that will benefit you within the areas of blogging and rural business in general. Further to Podcast #3 with Rhea discussing what social media platform should a rural business use, she then put a question to Sam to answer in the next podcast about what makes a good blogger? So please plug yourself in and have a listen to what Sam thoughts on what makes a good blogger and why.  We would love to hear your opinion too, so let us have your views. Coming soon will be Rhea’s Podcast with her reply to Sam’s question which is “How Can You Make Your Rural Business Stand Out This Christmas?” Haynet is also listing all the podcasts in a library, which we hope to build this up for you all to listen and benefit. Here is our PODCAST page and we hope you listen and enjoy!

A Year Being An Equestrian Blogger Of The Year Award Winner

With now only days away from announcing the winner of the Equestrian Blogger of the Year Award, Haynet caught up with our 2016 winner Sophie Tunnah from Team Tunnah Eventing.  We asked Sophie what winning this award has meant to her and how it has changed her equestrian blogging over the last twelve months: What gave you the inspiration to start blogging about your life with your horse? Had you done any writing before? I started blogging back at the end of 2012, when blogging certainly wasn’t as popular or glamorous as it is as we head towards 2018. I wanted a way to document our competition days so that I could reflect on them in more detail – how I felt, what was positive/negative, areas that I wasn’t sure on, goals for training… It was a personal record of competitions at first, but I soon realised that there were others out there who did similar things but each in their own unique way. I created a Twitter account to begin talking to like minded equestrians, sharing good & bad days, and asking for tips/recommendations. The main reason I created a blog specific Twitter was because my existing Twitter account was full of work related content around digital marketing… There have been two defining points in my blog’s life: When I got Louie, and I realised that we were on a journey with my first young horse, and I wanted to capture that, be able to look back on it, but also to be able to share it – whether asking for tips/ideas, or in years to come, sharing it to other equestrians with their first young horse…   Being nominated for Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2016. This opened my eyes as to how many other equestrian bloggers there are out there!! Using Twitter, I’d discovered a few here and there, and seen quite a few micro-bloggers (using social platforms rather than having a physical blog), but I soon discovered a whole community of bloggers. All of which are supportive, curious and interested in one another’s content/journey/blogs…   I don’t have a background in writing really – English at school never seemed to come easily, but thankfully blogging and dissecting Shakespeare & Jane Eyre are completely different!!! However, as part of my digital marketing career, I’ve done heaps of work in copywriting for websites and online materials. Having a fairly creative side, I really enjoy writing my blog posts – my main aim is always to be natural and only post what I really think, do and say. I don’t really try to inject my personality to my content, but instead, let it flow from how I’m feeling about that particular topic.   How often do you post and do you find topics to write about in your equestrian life easy to come up with? I think because I don’t force my blog – it’s a hobby – I don’t think too much about what to write about, it comes fairly naturally as we enjoy everyday equestrian life. When I post about topics that aren’t about our journey, it can be something that I read about in the news that I’m interested in, it can be ideas that I think others may enjoy (like my A-Z). I do spend time looking at the blogging world in general, and sometimes there are ideas from there that I incorporate, such as my ‘6 Picks’ features. I also enjoy learning from others, so I thoroughly enjoyed my Q&A posts and guest bloggers that I’ve featured. I don’t have a set posting plan – blogging fits in around my life and so when I need to sit down and think about something, that’s when I’m likely to spin a blog post. Such as a bad day competing, or a training day gone bad. My Blogger’s Corner feature is the only set of content that I have purely not for my own use – it is for bloggers out there who want an idea of how to be a tiny bit better at something. These posts typically take me longer to write, as I have to carefully pull together the information I’m trying to deliver to them. So far they seem to have gone down well and I’ve even had a couple of guest bloggers complete them, including last year’s Rising Star, Equipepper! One of my dislikes is blogging for blogging sake – so I could spend days writing a post, but if when I read it back, I don’t like it, I won’t publish it. Equally, I don’t try to set goals as to how many posts a week/month I should be writing. Just looking back, I wrote 19 posts in my first year of blogging – this increased to 35 & 32 in 2015 (when I got Louie) & in 2016. in 2017, I have produced 71 with just under a quarter of the year left to go… At no point in time, have I made a conscious effort to increase my posting frequency or volume, it has just happened with enjoying the blogging community out there.   Since winning the title of Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2016, how has this changed your blogging and did it open up any further opportunities to you? As I say, during the award nomination, I realised that there were a lot of really great bloggers out there, from all over the world. That was almost a year ago, and now I’ve discovered even more. But one common thing that I notice was a large void between professional equestrian lifestyle bloggers and hobby bloggers. the void wasn’t in their efforts or their content (irrespective of platform) but in the knowledge of the opportunity available to them. I’ve worked in Digital Marketing for over 10 years, in social media and blogging for nearly 6 years and have a solid background in using CMS (content management systems) to create content, as well as SEO being one of my core basics… I decided to put this to use, and test the water if bloggers out there would be interested in creating a knowledge-sharing community. A community designed to help us all build better blogs, better social media, and reap the rewards of our efforts. In March, I set up the Equestrian Bloggers Facebook group, and promoted it via my Twitter feed – the only requirement to the group is that you must have a physical blog. Today, the group has just over 100 members, and sees a great level of engagement in the group. As admin, I facilitate weekly traffic threads, social engagement thread, Wednesday Wisdom, Weekend stumbles, a group Pinterest board & a group dedicated Twitter designed to share traffic related tweets further… But other members are also enjoying the group and have brought their own ideas into it.  Heather Wallace runs a monthly blog hop, Mathilde Kvernland ran a “review raffle” where each member reviewed another blog & shared it onto their own social media… Ruby Butchers is also looking to start a monthly thread to share old content that becomes relevant again, or has been refreshed, or is time insensitive. On joining the group, I ask that members introduce themselves, which most do and the group’s response is very friendly and welcome. Members are also invited at ANY time to post a specific query/issue that they need help with for anyone else to answer. This can be anything at all relating to their blogs… I run a feedback form every few months, and so far, on the whole, I have had great feedback. Some members, at first, though there weren’t enough opportunities to generate traffic, but the main objective was not to drive traffic, but instead, knowledge share and create a niche, worldwide community. You can clearly see I enjoy learning, so one area I focused on what understanding areas of benefit more. I’ve had a relationship with EquStreamz for almost a year now – testing their product and I’m about to publish a post detailing all of their research into the use of magnetic therapy. I worked with Sarah, the main campaigner at ‘Glow Means Slow’ to understand the work she was taking up and what the campaign stood for in addition to the BHS’ efforts in this space… I’ve also been lucky enough to ask an Olympic rider about their approach to a young horse, find out what goes into being the course builder at a British Eventing event, and recently I caught up with Victoria Brant to find out what it takes to take the big step of setting up on your own in business and making a dream a reality…     I joined Haynet’s Cream of the Crop club earlier this year and was fortunate to try JHL’s Faux fur headcollar, which I’ve since gone on to purchase JHL’s products, most recently my grackle noseband. I also discovered a fab antiseptic spray from Renasan to add to my first aid arsenal! So it’s been a VERY busy year!   If someone who was thinking about starting an equestrian blog, what top tip would you give to inspire them to start writing and posting through a blog? Just have a go!! It’s a personal thing to do, and at first, you won’t have an audience, so there really is no need to worry about anything that goes live!! Once you find a bit of confidence, you’ll easily realise how many people out there will enjoy reading your stories and posts.  My top tip is to keep it natural – tell it in your voice. Don’t have an alter-ego…. Your readers want to read something authentic, so stick to your opinions and how you feel about everything equestrian. The great thing about blogging is that you can literally post about ANY topic you would like!  After you start promoting your blog through social media, you’ll soon see a pattern as to what content works well & what content is more specific or niche.  Most of all be proud of your blog – be happy with what you publish. If 90% of your drafts never make it live, don’t worry!! For most of us, it will be a hobby, so enjoy it & don’t let it stress you out!! Join the Facebook group – there’s always someone happy to help in there!!    Team Tunnah Eventing is one of our worthy twelve finalists in this year’s Equestrian Blogger of the Year Awards! There is still time to vote for your favourite #HorseBloggers, so please come and vote for the blogger that you think is a 2017 winner. Please VOTE HERE and come along to our dedicated Twitter channel for the awards, where we will reveal the winner on Monday 30th October from 7pm.

Which Social Media Platform Should A Small Rural Business Use? by Rhea Freeman Podcast #3

Haynet has launched a new series of podcasts which we hope will be a learning tool for horse bloggers and those in equestrian business to listen to and help within this industry. Working together with Rhea Freeman, a well known business coach within rural marketing and PR, we aim to bring our knowledge, humour and opinions to topics that will benefit you within the areas of blogging and equestrian business in general. Further to  Podcast #2 with Sam where she discussed What Is The Best Blogging Platform?, she then put a question to Rhea to answer in the next podcast about which is the “Which Social Media Platform Should A Small Rural Business Use?” So please plug yourself in and have a listen to what Rhea thinks is the best social media platform should a small rural business use and why. We would love to hear your opinion too, so let us have your views. Coming soon will be Sam’s Podcast with her reply to Rhea’s question which is “What Makes A Good Blogger?” Haynet is also listing all the podcasts in a library, so we hope to build this up for you to all listen and benefit. Here is our PODCAST page and we hope you listen and enjoy!

What is the best blogging platform to use? by Sam Hobden Podcast #2

Haynet has launched a new series of podcasts which we hope will be a learning tool for horse bloggers and those in equestrian business to listen to and help within this industry. Working together with Rhea Freeman, a well known business coach within rural marketing and PR, we aim to bring our knowledge, humour and opinions to topics that will benefit you within the areas of blogging and equestrian business in general. Further to  Podcast #1 with Rhea discussing whether the equestrian industry was in better shape than five years ago, she then put a question to Sam to answer in the next podcast about which is the best blogging platform to use? So please plug yourself in and have a listen to what Sam thinks is the best blogging platform to use and why. We would love to hear your opinion too, so let us have your views. Coming soon will be Rhea’s Podcast with her reply to Sam’s question which is “What Social Media Platform Should A Small Rural Business Use?” Haynet is also listing all the podcasts in a library, so we hope to build this up for you to all listen and benefit. Here is our PODCAST page and we hope you listen and enjoy!

Is The Equestrian Industry In Better Shape Than Five Years Ago? #1 Podcast

by Rhea Freeman Haynet has launched a new series of podcasts which we hope will be a learning tool for horse bloggers and those in equestrian business to listen to and help within this industry. Working together with Rhea Freeman, a well known business coach within rural marketing and PR, we aim to bring our knowledge, humour and opinions to topics that will benefit you within the areas of blogging and equestrian business in general. Here we kick off with Podcast #1 when Sam asked Rhea this question: “Is The Equestrian Industry In Better Shape Than Five Years Ago?” So please plug yourself in and have a listen to what Rhea thinks of this and is it in better shape? We would love to hear your opinion too, so let us have your views. Coming soon will be Sam’s Podcast with her reply to Rhea’s question which is “What Is The Best and Easiest Platform To Start Blogging?” Haynet is also listing all the podcasts in a library, so we hope to build this up for you to all listen and benefit. Here is our PODCAST page and we hope you listen and enjoy!

Sam Hobden from Haynet Features in ECNLive Intervlog

Answering our ECNLive ‘intervlog’ questions this week, is Samantha Hobden from the equestrian and countryside blogging network, Haynet.

Top Five Tips to be a Fab Blogger!

Does it ruin your day when your blog posts do not receive comments or are not re-tweeted or shared on Facebook? My first piece of advice about this very subject is to definitely not take it personally! You have to ask yourself why are you blogging and who are you blogging for? The majority of us blog for our own personal archive and note to look back on over the next few months and years. There are many blog writers that blog about their own life and goings on that do appeal to the reader and find that they have quite a following. Other bloggers are writing to get their name out there and potentially trying to make a career and if they are really lucky even an income.   I have written my top five tips that I think could help the equestrian and countryside blog writer:   1 DON’T MAKE IT A CHORE This is the top rule in my book! If you find blogging a chore, then don’t do it! We have plenty in our lives that are laborious chores so if blogging is one of them for you, then ditch it! I am all for doing things in life that you enjoy. I happen to like blogging and reading other blogs. The most successful blogger are the ones who are writing because they enjoy it. If you belong to Haynet then we have one thing in common – we all love horses! So to write about horses is a topic we all enjoy.   2 MAKE IT APPEALING Content isn’t the only thing that matters. Your blog page should also be visually appealing, viewers are attracted to posts with photos and pictures which is so much more interesting to read that just plain text. However, don’t over do the graphics with fancy type faces and garish colours which can be off putting and make your blog hard to read.   3 TRY AND STAY IN ONE PLACE Many bloggers try different blog hosting sites or with hosting their own sites, especially if they are just starting blogging . It may take you a while to find the best set up, but try to do so as soon as possible and then stay in one place so your readers can find you. Moving around to different URLs too often is sure to lose you some readers. Better still why not stay at Haynet! If you have an established blog and it’s necessary to move it to a different address, try to publish a last post on the old blog that points readers to the new blog and leave it up as long as possible.   4 ENGAGE YOUR READERS OR MAKE VIRTUAL FRIENDS WITH THEM Perhaps the most important factor in attracting and keep readers is establishing a relationship with them. Tell your readers who you are and something about yourself but within the safe realms of the world wide web! You need not go into a lot of personal details but don’t just remain nameless. Many bloggers who want to keep their online identity separate give readers a profile name with no indication to their real name i.e “BeautifulBlogger” If you don’t have a reason to keep your identity confidential, and you want to make your way in the world of blogging then you would benefit by using your real name and make available contact information. This will help you become more recognised in your chosen area of blogging and more approachable. Regardless of whether you reveal your true identity, you can engage readers by interacting with them through the comments feature on Haynet or through your blog. Becoming friends online involves interaction, commenting and being consistent. If you don’t comment on peoples blogs either, it becomes a very boring blogging place to be!   5 BE CONSISTANT AND CONCISE If you want your blog to have more hits and a regular following then you have to post often. As mentioned in my top tip, don’t make it a chore but give yourself a target of once a week or once a month. Try and make your blog posting habit forming. So make sure you visit your blog, write about your latest news and then share and share your story, especially through your social media pages. Posts don’t have to be pages of text, waffling for three paragraphs until you get to the main point of the post. Be concise which grabs a reader more. Being honest, most readers have short attention spans and also have limited time in their lives to read serial blog posts that is of interest to them. I know I prefer to read a short but to the point post rather than a long, complex one.   If your subject does mean that it has to be lengthy then break them up into short paragraphs to make them more readable. There’s nothing more daunting to a reader than a huge mass of unbroken text! Keep it simple but interesting and another golden rule is check your grammar and spelling. I try and proof read my posts at least three times before I post. If I don’t, I ALWAYS make mistakes!   I hope this has given you some help in the right direction in increasing awareness to your blog writing. Remember Haynet is an equestrian and countryside blogging community with members all over the world. I very much look forward to reading your blog posts!   Written by Samantha Hobden of Haynet