I do love it when my different worlds collide – how’s this for a good story…but bear with me, you need a bit of detail and hopefully even if you’re a reader who doesn’t write their own blog, you’ll at least find the randomness of the linked connections amusing…

About a month ago I went along to the UK launch of a German technology company, blogfoster. blogfoster are a German technology startup who essentially use technology to automate the entire montetised link between bloggers and brands who wish to collaborate with bloggers on sponsored content. It also offers compelling Insights for bloggers (all free for the blogger) helping the blogger make the most out of their content and understand their audience. A market leader in Germany, they are launching in the UK with ambitions to be the “leading cross-channel technology provider for Influencer Marketing in Europe” and see the UK blogging scene as part of the largest advertiser market in Europe.

As regular readers know, I’ve been a lifestyle blogger for more than a decade now, and had a parenting focus since I first became pregnant back in 2011 and started writing The Little Pip. Back when I started blogging in 2006 making money was all over the place – not just was it not regulated but it was pretty hard to keep track of things. Even with a separate blog email address, it took me years to sort out sending invoices rather than just making them through PayPal, and even now, I spend a considerable amount of time on manual admin.

As I am sure you all know too, I don’t just make a bit of money through blogging, I also have a day job, which used to be as a lawyer, and I now am a content marketer for a legal technology company. As part of my day job, I create insight led reports that our customers and potential customers will find useful – I spend a lot of time thinking about what will resonate with our audiences, and how to assess what is working. Content wise, how technology plays a part in our lives, and our work and businesses, is a massive facet of that work – in the last month we have released one report on the Gig Economy from an employment perspective, and the other on the impact of technology and lawyers… how lawyers can’t afford to be left behind and must listen to what their clients need, and invest and implement technology, despite the fact that this is changing the profession. Suffice to say, it is all inter-related, and how technology can impact and improve what we do, how we deliver services and what we expect as clients, is fascinating.

So when a friend from work took a new job in Berlin, and knew of my interest in both blogging and technology, I was pretty interested when he emailed one day to say that he’d met someone I really had to meet… that someone worked at blogfoster – who were just about launch blogfoster into the UK market. Blogging and technology is a pretty interesting subject – the rise of the ‘blog’ and the impact of native advertising, and then more regulated, obvious sponsored content, brand collaborations and social advertising to a largely personal, hopefully engaged audience, to what makes a good blog in which the readers can be kept happy, engaged and increasing, whilst also allowing the blogger to make an income from said content, is widely discussed. Which is why I found blogfoster a compelling solution, and not just because it was a European company launching in the UK post Brexit rather than the other way round.

I think blogfoster is a really interesting proposition – both the founders, Jan Homann and Simon Staib, presented at the launch and so did one of their investors. Dr. Gerrit Seidel, Partner and Managing Director of yabeo Capital GmbH gave a hugely interesting few minutes on investing in start ups – the three things that get investors excited were all present: “Team, technology and scalability – three success factors for startups. blogfoster has them all”. I thought it was a great touch to see (a) how lovely and approachable the founders were, and I chatted with them at length about the blogging landscape and technology, and life generally, as well as meeting one of the investors, who clearly has a great deal of faith both in the company and the team. Every single member of the blogfoster team was interesting, personable, fun and I loved they were all staying together in an Air BnB apartment- which is another example of using technology to disrupt a market… the largest hotel/accommodation chain in the world and it doesn’t own a single room!

blogfoster disrupts the ‘traditional’ model

If you can call something less than 10 years old traditional of course, but I found the idea of using technology to automate a process, disrupt the old standards and bring a fresh approach to a model where all numbers can be bought, to be compelling, fresh and interesting.

blogfoster understands bloggers

I liked immediately that blogfoster “got” bloggers – there is no SEO campaigns element to blogfoster, so all campaigns are about content not just about links, or even reach – views are important, but not the only thing. All links are to be no-follow, for example, there isn’t an option for a PR company to use blogfoster to automate their SEO campaigns. Brands sign up to create a campaign and they select who they are aiming at, what kind of bloggers and what kind of engagement they are after, and the blogfoster technology presents options from their list of bloggers, using sophisticated algorithms to put forward the best matched options, inviting bloggers to opt into campaigns that the meet the criteria for. The communication, billing and reporting is all handled by blogfoster, allowing the blogger to focus on what they do best – content writing, not admin.

blogfoster Insights

blogfoster is not exclusive – you can work with them and other similar companies too. It doesn’t cost anything to the blogger. It’s quick and easy to sign up and install Insights, and even if you for whatever reason don’t end up taking on any work through the company, I think the Insights look pretty interesting in their own right (and certainly seem easier than Google Analytics to understand). It took me less than 5 minutes to sign up and install blogfoster Insights, and they give a view of your audience, how they use your site and what keywords they searched, all in useful and easy to understand dashboard.

not just for big bloggers with a huge following

There is real opportunity to be linked with companies who are looking for niche audiences – one of the bloggers at the audience was a jazz blogger… Although blogfoster works with brands like Topshop, ASOS and Etsy, they also work with loads of smaller companies, who perhaps don’t have the big budgets for agencies, and this is a good chance to be linked with them rather than rely on either your blog being found or having to pitch for work yourself.

Try blogfoster yourself – 3 super easy steps:

  1. Sign up at blogfoster here – enter your blog name and some quick registration details.
  2. Fill in your profile which has a short paragraph about your blog section and you can link your social media handles. Select the various ‘verticals’ that your blog covers – which is how the brands select who they are looking to work with.
  3. Link blogfoster Insights by installing their plugin on your site







Have a look and come back and tell me what you think!

Collaborative post with blogfoster and the sign up link is a referral programme – however, I was not paid to attend the launch and this post came to fruition after the launch due to my belief and admiration for the brand. I go to a lot of events and I only write about the ones that I am interested in and think you guys will be too… which is why I am writing about this one!

How was your half term? I’m still adjusting to the fact we have a kid old enough to have our arrangements dictated by school holidays. We decided to spend our February half term on a family skiing holiday in the French Alps, with 9 of us over 3 generations celebrating my father in law’s 70th birthday.

We went to our usual resort in Montgenevre, France, just over the Italian border, flying to Turin and then getting a transfer. It’s part of the Milky Way Hautes-Alpes, roughly where the 2006 Winter Olympics was held and has been a ski resort since 1907. At 1,860m, the resort is good and high which means the snow is nice and reliable.

I obviously took loads of photos but I also filmed some bits and got M to as well, which I put together into the following video, if you’d like to see.

M’s family have been coming to Montgenevre since he was in ski school himself and we’ve been there several times together too. This perhaps isn’t the resort for you if your entire party are composed of expert black run adrenalin junkies (mind you, Candide Thovex, an extreme skier, was filming in the resort this week) but for mixed ability family friendly skiing we think Montgenevre has enough challenging reds and blacks combined with lovely gentle bunny slopes and some gorgeous sweeping motorway type greens all the way down the mountain to keep everyone happy.

Admittedly there is a lot of preparation in going skiing with a baby/ young children but with the right attitude and a good deal of balancing it is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing holidays we have taken.

There is no getting around the cost of a ski holiday but with some preparation it can be a moderate rather than extortionate bill. We take the middle ground between a fully catered chalet and total self catering by booking everything through a company which specialise in making ski holidays easy: Ski Etoile. We pay a little bit more for things than if we organised them ourselves but the beauty is everything is organised for us, even the chalet and transfers are booked for us. We just tell them our dates, requirements, book flights and arrive at Turin and are picked up by a driver. Ski school, ski hire and lift passes are all ready and waiting for us and there is a locker in the ski hire place for us to use which means we don’t have to drag our kit up and down to the slopes. A cot and a highchair were brought to the chalet and we didn’t have to worry about anything the whole week, whilst still have the enjoyment and freedom of our own chalet.

The two kids spent every morning in ski school, whilst I looked after Buster, hung out with my mother in law and enjoyed coffees in the sunshine. M, his brother and Dad used the 3 hours in the morning to ski hard. In the afternoons M and I went skiing together whilst the kids ate lunch with their grandparents and then we all hung out together, skiing or tobogganing, before heading back to the chalet for baths, dinner and lazy evenings.

I had a ski lesson on the first day with the excellent Barbara from ESF which Gerry at Ski Etoile organised for me. The great thing about using Ski Etoile was that we could just ask Gerry to sort things out and then we paid the bill at the end of the week – we were able to hire sledges, for example, and my father-in-law’s boot broke, so he just spoke to the ski hire shop he sorted him some boots and they were added to our invoice. Barbara really gave me confidence to ski at my preferred speed, reminding me that if I was “taking pleasure” from the experience, what did it matter what speed everyone else whooshed past at!

Pip and her cousin both did Club Piou-Piou every morning and thought it was fantastic. They made friends, spoke French and learnt the skiing basics which we then put into practice together. I will probably follow this with another post on the specifics if anyone is interested?

Buster, on the other hand, spent a lot of time Alpine napping but also seemed to thoroughly enjoy his first ever snow experience. Next year he will join the childcare in the mornings which will mean M and I can do some more skiing together – we didn’t book anything this time as I wasn’t sure how much skiing I could or wanted to do, as I haven’t really done any exercise of that impact since he was born as my pelvic floor has rather been in recovery mode since delivery a 10lb 8oz baby!

There is so much more I want to say, so I think I will split this into two posts, including some of my top tips for skiing with kids, and recommendations of things to pack!

It seemed an apt day to publish this when part of the tube is even more delayed due to strikes, and I spent my 3rd morning in a row waiting for 6 trains to pull out of Finsbury Park station before I could get on one myself. Research by Citrix Go To Meeting suggests we spend over 11 days a year commuting and that the average commute is 45 minutes – which would be my commute length if I didn’t have to spend a good proportion of time waiting for a train I can fit inside…

Which is why I really like Fridays. On Fridays, I work from home. I make some coffee, do the school run and am back at my desk at home by 9am, blood pressure so much lower, feeling so much calmer, and ready to begin work. If I have a lot on, I can also use my commuting time to spend working, gaining an extra 2 hours of useful time back. I also use it to spend more time with Pip, and have some contact with her school, which I think is hugely beneficial to us all. Additionally, I use my lunchtime to catch up with the laundry and housework, meaning we can spend more time as a family at the weekend. Win, win, win!

My company prides itself on being flexible and family friendly, but it is still a big corporate and working from home even once a week is not standard. I wish I could work more days from home particularly as I think meetings are pretty easy using new technology for everyone to dial in from home and it is just habit preventing a more flexible approach. I wish we could get to a point where management can see the benefits that I can see… I gain back an extra 8 hours a month working from home, 5 more than the average 3 that the research suggests and even if that is split between time for me and time for work, that is still a whole half a day per month in terms of person hours.

Do you ever work from home? What do you do with your extra time?

Collaborative post