What I’ve Learned From A Year And A Bit Of Blogging…

What I’ve Learned From A Year And A Bit Of Blogging…

Welcome back to The Student Entrepreneur. I would like to start by yet again apologising for my lack of posts for the last couple of months. It seemed I have suffered from a large bout of laziness; so lazy have I been, in fact, that I didn’t even write a review of the final episode of this year’s The Apprentice series. In case you didn’t know and want to, Leah Totton triumphed as Lord Sugar decided to take a risk and invest £250,000 in her medical cosmetics company. Congratulations to her!

So, back to the important stuff. I’ve been racking the little brains I have over the last couple of weeks for what I could write about next. Trying to gain inspiration, I revisited some of my earlier posts from the blog and they made me realise that The Student Entrepreneur has been operational for over 15 months! In this time I’ve learned a thing or two about blogging and so I’ve decided to share with you some of the most basic things I’ve learnt.

1 – Write about stuff that interests you!

I started the blog hoping that it would inspire me to become more entrepreneurial. I wanted to try something different each week and then report back to you, my lovely followers. It hasn’t quite worked out like that. But despite the fact that I haven’t made any money or started a business out of it, I have had a great time writing about weird and wonderful things with topics ranging from the most popular Christmas toys of recent years to why Fifty Shades of Grey became so successful. I’ve always tried to write with a bit of humour and inject a bit of my “unique” personality into each post because at the end of the day, that’s what’s enjoyable for me. And it seems to have worked as you can see from the stats…

Wordpress Stats 1

2 – Build an audience

Some bloggers will tell you that building an audience is essential if you want your blog to be “successful” but I guess it depends on what sort of blogger you are and how you determine success. Some won’t give a hoot about how many followers they have or how many views they get but me, I’m greedy and I want more. I’ve amassed a following of sorts; nothing to try and start a new religion on but my blog’s twitter page has almost 500 followers while my Facebook page has gathered a credible 65 likes (If you haven’t already, like The Student Entrepreneur by clicking on the box at the top right of the page…go on!) Add to that the 20 WordPress followers I have and it starts to make you realise that if you persevere with your blog, people will take notice and follow.

3 – Post regularly

The Apprentice: Series 9

The Apprentice: Series 9

Something I have come to realise is that it is hugely important to keep the blog updated regularly. It’s just I haven’t always practiced what I preach! In the early days, I would post something new on average once a month and unfortunately the result was that it wasn’t enough to sustain people’s interest. The views of the blog were low and I knew I needed something to write about regularly. Having written about last year’s Apprentice final, it was suggested to me that I should blog about each episode of this year’s series and so I did (minus the final!) and as you can see below, my monthly views jumped drastically from April to May. I was blogging about a programme which people were interested in anyway but more importantly, I was writing about it regularly and so it appears from the stats that people came back to the blog, which to tell you the truth, is a lovely feeling.

Stats

4 – The importance of tagging

Another reason why this series of The Apprentice has gained me so many views is because I tagged my posts with phrases related to the show, specifically using the names of the candidates. For example, had you typed the phrase “Leah Totton wiki” into Google a couple of months ago my blog ranked as one of the top five results. Even now, although falling from the top page of results, The Student Entrepreneur still sits proudly at both 12th and 13th position for that specific phrase (at time of writing). My advice to people who want to start a blog or who are struggling to get noticed is to really spend time thinking about what the best tags for your posts could be. They need to be individual but there still needs to be a certain number of people searching for the term in order for your blog to be discovered. If you want to get views, never underestimate the importance of tagging.

5 – Get motivated!

Although I do suffer from blogger’s block occasionally, I find the more you discover about your topic of choice, the more interested you are in it. I’ve read some great things about entrepreneurship and I’ve also started trying to meet like-minded people. If you want to produce the best blog I suggest you do the same. It doesn’t matter what your field of expertise is, it’s more than likely that someone else will be as passionate about it as you are and rather than let this put you off, speak to them and get their experiences and you’ll find that you’ll get your passion back.

So there you have it, five basics things I’ve learned over the last fifteen months which I think are useful for any prospective blogger who wants to get Mama's Mealsnoticed. I will finish this article with some very exciting news.    The Student Entrepreneur, aka me, has a job, of sorts! I recently joined the Manchester Entrepreneurs society and noticed a vacancy for a marketing internship for a new start-up company called “Mama’s  Meals”. They produce home-cooked takeaways using the freshest ingredients and are aiming to deliver these to students who want an alternative to the unhealthier alternatives!

Like them on Facebook here:

Mama’s Meals

Stay tuned for more about my role with Mama’s Meals soon!

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The Apprentice 2013 – A review of Episode 11

A review of Episode 11 – Interviews

Margaret

Welcome back to The Student Entrepreneur as we review what was the second last episode in this year’s series of The Apprentice and what an episode it was! Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seat belts as we revisit this year’s interviews episode to find out which two lucky candidates would be progressing to the final!

THE TASK

Yes, that’s right, as usual when the process has whittled itself down to five potential candidates, then all they have to do is survive being interviewed by four of Lord Sugar’s nearest and dearest (well, in the business sense) advisors and hope and pray that they do enough to get through. Here’s a tip, lying doesn’t usually work…

WHAT HAPPENED?

I’ll now proceed to give a little description of each of the five candidates’ days.

JORDAN:

Jordan

For those of you who watched it, starting with the illogical nature of Jordan is a logical choice. Through the interviews it transpired that actually Jordan didn’t own of the company he was proposing Lord Sugar should invest in. How on earth did he manage to get this far?! It was a bad day all round for Jordan as he also failed to solve a Rubick’s cube in the three minutes he said it could take him. Claude didn’t much like him and called him a “parasite” and told him that the interview was terminated before he’d even had a chance to open his mouth. Deary, deary me, Jordan.

LUISA:

Luisa

Luisa, unsurprisingly had written some rather negative things about former employers on her application and this didn’t go down to well with Margaret, who I have missed enormously again this year. Altogether though, I think Luisa has softened over the past eleven weeks and actually she came across quite credibly during the interviews throughout the day. Her idea was to design a bespoke baking accessory company to deliver tins, and cupcake holders and such like to bakeries.

NEIL:

Neil

This has to have been one of the most frustrating episodes in the history of The Apprentice as I’m sure half of Britain was screaming at Neil to change his foolish, foolish idea. He certainly is a very-hard worker and his oodles of self-belief but its that same self-belief which can also make him tunnel-visioned in terms of the wider picture. His idea was to set up a website for people to sell their own homes but proposed that he could make money by having estate agents advertise on the site. It was a complete business contradiction and as each adviser asked him to reconsider his idea and produce an alternative, he just refused to see that it wasn’t going to work. But how would he fare in the boardroom?

FRANCESCA:

Francesca

Fran has looked a little bit clueless through the series but obviously she’s got enough about her to survive for so long. She came across well in the interviews except perhaps one where she revealed that she’d just plucked the figure of £5 million that she had said she has made from her business, out of thin air. She didn’t subtly and slyly fit it in to her business plan, no she put it on the front page with a font size close to 700. She didn’t look the most credible of candidates at that stage but as someone dryly said later, her idea for a national exercise class certainly “had legs”.

LEAH:

Leah

Leah was criticised in the interviews for appearing very cold and that certainly came across when she ruthlessly told one of the advisers that she could see at least four places where his face could benefit from non-surgical cosmetic interventions which funnily enough, happened to be the premise of her business idea. She told the advisers that she wished to open a number of cosmetic clinics and proceeded to go into huge detail about her business plan but again her idea seemed to have potential.

THE BOARDROOM

SO, after probably one of the most gruelling experiences of their lives, the candidates then had to go and face Alan, Karen and Nick. It seemed that no sooner had Jordan sat down than he was the first to go! Lord Sugar looked a little annoyed as he told Jordan to leave citing the fact that because Jordan didn’t have any stake in the business, it would be impossible to invest in him. It was certainly the most straighforward of firings that Lord Sugar had to make. You could see the next one tearing him apart as he decided to let Neil go. Having performed so admirably for eleven long weeks, Lord Sugar was very disappointed that his idea had been so poor but also by the fact that Neil had failed to react to the pretty big hints from the advisors who had told him to change his idea. And so we were down to just the ladies and after being reassured on the ethics of her idea, Lord Sugar told Leah that she would be making the final! And at last, a break in the icy-cold facade as she looked genuinely delighted. So it was down to Luisa and Francesca for the final spot in the final and despite the fact that she has been a bit of a nighmare, Lord Sugar elected to let Luisa do battle with Leah in the final for a chance to be his next Apprentice!

chess leah luisa

And so, tonight we shall find out who will be Lord Sugar’s next Apprentice. I’ve probably got this wrong but I’m going for Leah to win it. Her idea just seems to be more profitable than Luisa’s. Who do you think will win it?

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The Apprentice 2013 – A review of Episode 10

A Review of Episode 10 – Stall to Shop

Apprentice Luisa

Welcome to the antepenultimate (yes, that is a word apparently) review of this year’s series of The Apprentice. In just over a week’s time, we will know who will be crowned Lord Sugar’s next Apprentice! But who was shown the door in Episode 10?

THE TASK

Lord Sugar this week addressed the candidates via a pre-recorded message shown on the television in their house. Jordan swanned down to the living room in his sarong just in time to hear that this week’s task was to grow a business in two days. The first day, the teams would sell whatever products they wanted using the £250 given to them, from a market stall whilst on the second day, they were to reinvest in new products using the money they’d made from the previous day and sell from a pop-up shop in Shoreditch.

Sarong

THE TEAMS

Lord Sugar went old school as he changed the teams to be girls versus guys. Both groups looked confident as they slated each other’s chances. Myles led Endeavour this week, while Luisa headed up Evolve. 

WHAT HAPPENED?

The girls took mere minutes to decide that they wanted to sell fashion items and identified products like leggings, scarves and hats as the gold dust needed to make them the money. Luisa was decisive in her approach and really looked like she meant business. Myles, on the other hand, looked like a man under pressure and as time ticked on, the boys didn’t have a clear strategy. Even Karren looked exasperated as she waited, in vain, for some urgency. Karren Brady hungoverMaybe her impatience stemmed from the fact that she was clearly suffering from having had a big night. I was just surprised she didn’t don some hangover sun-glasses! Eventually, the lads decided they wanted to sell ceramic products from their stall.

Francesca did some snooping around other stalls in the area before bagging one in a good location for the girls while Leah and Luisa went shopping. They stacked their stall high with furry hats and leggings. Their stall may have looked like it contained every roadkill in a hundred mile radius but their products were selling fast. Luisa showed her retail prowess throughout the task and realising that this was a “smell what sells” task, as Lord Sugar loves to say, she sent Francesca back to the hat store to get some more.

Roadkill

Meanwhile, the boys’ stall was ever so slightly bare. There is minimalist and then there’s Endeavour’s stall. It was a little embarrassing to look at and no wonder it took them so long to make any sales. Of course, the products weren’t everyone’s cup of tea; they’d picked butter-dishes and a ceramic rubber-gloved shaped scourer holder thingy and a ceramic notepad to sell, but if they had a busy looking stall then people would have been naturally more interested.

Jordan spent most of this task farting about. First, as Neil and Myles bought their fine ceramics, Jordan was schmoozing a woman who made greetings card but it took him hours to come back. Suspicious…And then, no sooner had he arrived with the cards than he was off again as he tried to offload the cards to nearby shops. The one positive for the boys on day one was that their products were high-margin ones meaning the sales they did generate were very profitable.

Both teams regrouped at the end of the day to discuss what had sold well. The girls knew that the hats had proved popular and so decided to restock on those to sell at their shop for Day 2 but also recognised the need for a higher value product. The guys had sold a number of the ceramics items but because there were so few items in total, it was hard to know what exactly was their best product and indeed, what would actually prove popular for their shop. In the end, they bought in more of the ceramics.

The second day started with both teams dressing their shops with stock. Yet again, Endeavour’s looked pitifully empty, so much so that it drove Myles into extreme lengths as he and Neil abandoned 90% of their shop space and made a little stall at the front door to sell their products. But yet again, sales were slow for the boys. Neil was having more luck than Myles who just seemed completely clueless. Strange from a man who normally has such a swagger and intelligence about him. Jordan “Houdini” Poulton did his usual disappearing act as he spent four weeks with a man discussing which candles to buy. Far from a triumphant return, Myles and Neil both looked disappointed with Jordan for what he’d brought back but then, bizarrely, sent him off again. Neil suggested to Myles that one big sale could make the difference for them and so they entrusted Jordan to bring back something of real quality with the money they’d made from the day. What he brought back was, how should I put it, “interesting”. vaseIt was a clay vase with separate sections for each flower stem. Jordan loved it but the other two weren’t so enthusiastic about it’s potential, especially when he told them it could retail at £190. Clearly uncomfortable with the prospect of selling it, Myles shooed Jordan off once more to try and offload the product to a nearby business. With five minutes to go, it looked like Jordan might have found a buyer for it but we were left guessing by those cruel The Apprentice editors as they decided it would be best to reveal whether or not Jordan had been successful in the boardroom.

Evolve’s day seemed to be going a whole lot better than Endeavour’s but they weren’t without their flaws. Again the hats sold well but the high-end dresses that Francesca had purchased for the shop weren’t budging. Eventually, Luisa slashed prices to try and shift them but as the day ended, it looked like the girls were still left with a significant stock. However, it did seem that they had been more successful over the two days than the boys and I got the impression that a lot was resting on whether Jordan had sold that vase!

THE RESULTS

In the end, Jordan failed to sell the vase and rather predictably, the girls wiped the floor with the guys, with them finishing the task with assets totalling £809.05 compared to the boy’s total of £550.26.

THE BOARDROOM

There were no hard calls for Myles this week about who to bring in with him as there were only three guys in the team so they all came back in. Lord Sugar seemed bewildered that Myles had flopped so badly and criticised the quality and quantity of the boy’s products. They had completely misunderstood the nature of the task and should have loaded their stall full of cheap products on the first day to really work out what could sell on Day 2, instead of buying just 16 items of ceramics. Lord Sugar then wanted to know what each gentleman’s business idea was. Neil’s had an idea for an online estate agency, Myles’ was a luxury product advertising agency and Jordan’s was some public and software engineer platform for creating “apps”. Sugar seemed to have real trouble getting his head round Jordan’s idea and things got so much more complicated and weirder when Jordan introduced the fact that he has another business partner, a software engineer and tried to renegotiate the 50% stake that Lord Sugar has in the company in order to get a percentage for this third person but that was never going to go down well with Sugz and he balked at the suggestion and quickly ruled it out. He was getting half of whatever candidate’s idea he invested in and that was final. It got even more ridiculous as Jordan seemed to throw up in his mouth as Lord Sugar came very close to showing him the door. Lovely! But in the end, Lord Sugar decided that Myles’ idea was something he didn’t feel comfortable with and so Myles became the eleventh candidate of the boardroom.

Lord-Sugar-Youre-Fired

FAVOURITE QUOTE:

Lord Sugar again wins it when he summarises who he thinks would buy that vase:

“Yes, I’m sure some arty-farty bloody advertising agency would buy it.”

That man doesn’t mince his words.

So I have to hold my hands up and admit I was wrong. I really expected Myles to certainly be one of the last two candidates standing and I was shocked that he’s off. Never shall we see Myles Mordaunt’s magnificent muscles again! I can’t wait for this week’s episode though as it’s the interviews from hell task for the remaining five! Three are going…who’s your money on to win it now?

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