We were so delighted to be nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award by the wonderful Sabine at From Scratch, who offer writing and workshops to improve your business and customer service – and the feedback from clients says they are 100% helpful! We are both proud members of the Ethical Hour Growth Network, and the Sunshine Blogger Award is aimed at sharing all that is happy, joyful, interesting and positive on the web.
So, here are the questions we were set – and our answers:
Tell us a bit about yourself.
We had to make a big decision about our family and money at the end of 2015 – based around me wanting to leave the job I had loved for 15 years… and the major change in our income if I did. It turned into a much wider discussion about our family values, what we wanted, what was important to us etc. So, I started a blog to think about how to save money and live on a budget, while also incorporating stronger values such as our environmental concerns. The blog became very popular as it seems lots of us have these competing elements in raising a family on a budget!
The blog is now incorporated into our website which aims to support families and share the knowledge we have gained. As we are now a business, we’ve also added our expertise in the Frugal Office – to support other small operations that want to be ‘green’ but don’t have unlimited budgets.
2. Does your blog represent ethical values? If so, which ones are most important to you?
I hope it really does represent our worries about the environment, our concern for children around the world, and families that don’t have the luxury of our choices. For us being frugal and saving money couldn’t just be about buying the cheapest things, as they are so often part of the shocking ethical and environmental situation – so we’ve had to find ways to honour those values and concerns, while living on a budget. The great news is that it can be done! We’ve started by sharing our school holiday ideas, and household tactics. In 2018 we will be tackling all of life’s events from the cradle to the grave and how to manage them with both financial and ethical concerns.
3. How often do you blog, and why?
As part of the website we try to do a weekly ‘Thursday Thought’, and we mostly manage it! We also have another theme of ‘Unexpected Parenting’ which we would like to revive; that is more of an ad hoc post. The website itself also has a theme each month so we can share, collaborate and highlight ideas and inspiration in bite-sized chunks.
Here at From Scratch, we help ethical and creative businesses give customer support that’s “on fire”.
4. Do you see a connection between strong ethics and creativity?
I think you could be creative without having any strong ethics – but I do think creativity comes from a place of passion, so it’s likely you feel strongly about something!
5. Apart from blogging, how else do you express your creativity?
6. Can you share a customer support experience which you’d say was “on fire”? If you can’t remember — can you recall a poor experience?
The best customer care I ever had was from Simply Health! I was on statutory maternity pay and also had an 18mth old, and my husband was made redundant – things were tough and we got rid of everything non-essential. When I called to cancel our health policy they said how about you just don’t pay your premiums for 3 months and then see how things go. We could still make claims during that time and we could extend it for another 3 months if necessary. Amazing. My worst customer service was the Tax Credit office – don’t get me started…
7. What’s ethics got to do with giving great customer support? We mainly help businesses by writing great service copy, training their teams, and developing their service strategy.
Just showing human kindness is usually a good starting point, great listening skills and not being so held to a script or computer programme that you can deal with individual needs. The ethics of a company will be expressed via their customer service. I would also imagine the care of the customer service staff is part of that ethical structure – it’s not an easy job!
8. What’s the one word, expression or sentence you never want to hear again as a customer?
Press 1 for …
9. Would you rather have a fast or a personal resolution to your query?
Personal, but I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive!
10. What’s your favourite joke?
Why do elephants have big ears? Because Noddy won’t pay the ransom!!
To keep the power of positivity going, and to share some more great blogs out there we are nominating the following excellent and interesting people for a Sunshine Blogger Award, and setting them ten questions of our own…
Pragya Agarwal from The Art Tiffin – an ethical, vegan art subscription box supporting the environment and mental health charities, and encouraging creativity for the whole family.
SS Blake from Earth and Water – helping us all to balance our lives and leave the world in a better state than we found it.
Claire Mulvany from Cotswold Karma – sharing the beauty of the Cotswolds and encouraging us all to take more Mindful Moments.
Here are your questions!
We are a new business – supporting families, here are few questions to find out more about you and your family:
1.Tell us a bit about your blog and how it supports family life.
2. How do you balance time to write and share with parenting?
3. We are trying to practice more considerate spending – what’s your favourite store bought item?
4. Frugal HQ is in the old potting shed! Where do you get your work done for the blog?
We are also striving to measure the positive impact we can have by making small changes to our daily lives…
5. What are you top ‘green’ tips?
6. Do you believe there is a link between conscious living and more positive mental health?
7. What is your favourite ethical or eco item?
8. Do you feel your blog holds you more accountable for your choices – and is that good or bad?!
At The Frugal Family we are also all about saving money!
9. What’s your favourite free family activity?
10. What’s your ‘go to’ luxury or treat?
Thank you so much for being part of this fun and positive part of the internet – the ‘rules’ are listed below – have fun sharing your answers and introducing us to some other lovely blogs x
These are the rules:
Thank the person who nominated you for the Sunshine Award and link back to their blog.
Answer the questions set by the person who nominated you.
Nominate other blogs and give them questions to answer.
Notify your nominees through social media or commenting on their blog.
List the “rules” and display a Sunshine Award logo in your post.
Add green value to your business the easy way…
One concern about the environment is our carbon footprint – you may have heard this term and thought there was nothing you could do about your impact at work… but there are a number of ways every business can look at becoming carbon neutral, or to offset their carbon footprint.
You can calculate your carbon footprint online, there are lots of organisations that do it. A rough guide is that every person in the UK produces about 12.5 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Here are 5 ideas to consider how you could reduce your carbon footprint:
1. Thinking about how you travel. Avoiding flying, and use the train or bus over driving. Perhaps offering a car share if you are attending an event for example…
Can you walk or cycle to work?
2. Replacing lights with LED fittings, and turn lights off in unused rooms.
Perhaps you could fit sensors to operate the lights automatically?
3. Buy recycled paper and try to reuse before recycling again. Only print essential documents.
Remove yourself from junk mail lists using the help from www.ecocycle.org
4. When you replace electrical items, go for the best Energy Star rating you can.
Maybe you could audit all the equipment in the business and see what you actually use/need?
5. Try to reduce the air miles of your food by buying and supporting local producers. Also consider going veggie or cutting down on meat… #Meat Free Monday?
Taking a packed lunch to work also saves you money!
Offset your carbon footprint – ideas…
*Plant trees annually with the Woodland Trust, Trees for Cities or any other great charity
*Search for a project to support that floats your boat on www.co2zoo.com
*Help others to reduce their footprint by offering lifts or joining a sharing community like Helpful Peeps
*Share information – shout out about the changes you’re making and inspire others! You could join a Twitter #, write a blog post, collaborate with a supplier the list is endless…
Plan Your Writing for a Year.
So, you are full of great ideas for articles, blog posts and have a bunch of photos on your phone… and the first few sentences flow from you like Shakespeare – until after about a month of writing you suddenly have nothing to say, or someone has just posted the same idea as you, or you just lose your writing mojo.
One great way to manage your website writing is to plan it out in advance. For some of you that may sound impossible but I promise these steps will mean you can have a year of weekly writing to share on all social media all ready to go – so you can get on with the fun bit of actually writing it!
This works for all subjects so I will try to give a variety of examples – I like a challenge so if you don’t feel you can do this let me know and I will walk you through the process. I was a lecturer and coach for 15 years writing and delivering courses on time management, journaling, life planning and perfectionism – remember that procrastination may be the real problem.
- You need a calendar, planner, diary, app. Something with the day/week/month. I work best on paper and then move onto electronic things. I’m also a big advocate of sticky notes and pencils with erasers on. I would also advise some colour coding for an easy way to see ‘what’s what’.
- Divide the year into seasons – this works for fashion, food, gardening, kids activities, weather, travel pretty much everything. By this I mean physically write or colour in the calendar with seasons. This gives you three month chunks (in most countries…).
- Then add any dates relevant to your PERSONAL LIFE – for example I add the school holidays as I don’t work the same times during holidays. Also consider any relevant life events happening that may make a relevant article.
- Then add any dates relevant to your SUBJECT MATTER – festivals, events, award seasons.
- Next take a look at www.awarenessdays.com or something similar for your country. This will show you National and International celebration or awareness raising events. Make a note of any that resonate with your theme, your readers or you feel are interesting. It’s best to make a separate note of them first, and then add some of those to your plan – you will be surprised how many there are! This gives you themes and topics to write alongside, and gives great exposure (for example by using relevant hashtags on Twitter or Instagram) and may lead to collaboration with new organisations.
- Add in the ideas you already have scribbled on bits of paper and stuck around the house. See where they ‘sit’ best and link with any of the Awareness Days or items from no. 4 (SUBJECT).
- Do an internet search for your niche or a subject you plan to write about and see what else is linked to that, find out what questions people have around those issues and that should give you another couple of writing prompts.
- Join a Twitter Hour and Facebook Group around a subject that you would like to write about, engage and get a feel for topics that are relevant and current – there should also be opportunities for collaborative posts either by responding to others or creating one yourself.
- On average, you will be looking to put something on your website every week which means 52 ideas (you may have more by the end of this). Rather than worry about numbers, as you think of something add it in pencil to the calendar, you can also use those cool page sticky things for colour coding if you want. You may choose to keep to the same day of the week for your regular activity for example we have a Thursday Thought as the blog on our website, and then post in addition to that as and when appropriate.
- If you go off writing completely then remember the power of video – everyone’s doing it, so instead of writing you could just speak to camera and post, or do a Facebook Live or Instagram story and direct everyone to it. You may also consider starting a You Tube channel, we have one just as a place to store video that we want to use on the website, but with effort it could become a really engaging platform, and with the information world becoming faster and faster video is the present and future….
If none of these float your boat then I have EVEN MORE ideas:
- Remember good content is the key, so write when you feel the buzz and keep them for a rainy day…
- You can re-purpose old posts with an update.
- Be topical – respond to a news article or story and share on relevant social media.
- Use Quotes to inspire yourself or others, make them beautiful and always credit where/who they are from.
- Review something relevant to your work that you already own.
- Ask for ideas with a poll or questionnaire.
- Encourage Guest Posts to come and add an article to your site for you.
You can read and watch or just do one or the other. As I’m easily distracted the video is likely to be longer than just reading this!
Take your pick – and I’d love your feedback on which works best for you…
Add green value to your business the easy way…
With the US walking away from the Paris Accord, the environment is back in the headlines – and it’s a fast growing area of the market, with people looking at what companies offer in terms of their ‘green’ credentials.
From the largest down to the smallest business – everyone can make a positive impact by looking at a range of easy changes, they benefit the World as well as your business by engaging new customers without losing any current clients.
Here are 5 quick starters…
- Recycle your paper and card – reuse first if you can e.g. printing on both sides for rough drafts or items you will bin.
- Recycle other office products e.g. toner cartridges, Tassimo pods, old equipment, stamps… pretty much anything will be useful to someone else, and may make you or a charity some money.
- Lower your energy bills by switching off unused equipment, changing to LED lighting, turning off lights in unused rooms.
- Think about company transport use – can you carpool, take the train, have a Skype meeting?
- Use recycled products and let people know you use them e.g business cards, paper and pens and buy recycled equipment when looking for new chairs, tables or printers.
Evidence suggests that these small changes are likely to improve staff health and attendance, reduce bills and by being more socially responsible you will be able to engage a wider audience to your business.
There is so much more you can do if you get the green bug… and if you want to make changes at home too – you can follow www.thefrugalfamily.co.uk.
To prove the US do care about the environment, here’s a great article from the mighty Harvard. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2009/10/workplace-green-place/