Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Social Media for Money Seminar


Well, not quite. 

I always thought that making money from social media meant showing a bunch of very annoying ads to readers of my blog and taking the risk of turning them away. How wrong I was!! Making money from social media can be done in all sorts of ways, but before you launch there is some vital information you need to know first. Thanks to Kylie Travers' 'Social Media for Money Seminar' I am now armed with a wealth of information, and  a ton of exciting avenues to explore. 

During the seminar I heard from the following savvy folk:

Hairul Lutfi a coffee loving accountant from The Firm, an accounting company based in Braddon
Nicholas Tebbey a senior associate from Snedden Hall & Gallop, legal eagles based in Deakin
Ben Hanson from MGA Insurance Brokers, based in Phillip
Travis Longmore a professional photographic storyteller, and
Kylie Travers an all round wordsmithy sort and savvy CEO

Hairul started the seminar off with a catchy (definitely not boring) presentation about the tax aspects of social media. First question you have to ask yourself is... am I running a business, or is this a hobby?  For me, I blog, I tweet, I Facebook (yep, its a verb!) and I dabble in Instagram.  Do I make money from any of these? No, therefore I cannot claim any additional income, nor can I claim any related expenses. 

Hairul went on to demystify the various tax entities of Individuals, Partnerships, Trusts and Companies, plus stressed the importance of record keeping. If you claim income, or claim for expenses you have to have sufficient evidence to back this up, or the tax man will come a probin'. 

Next up was Nicholas who talked about your identity in social media, and the benefits of intellectual property protection. As a blogger I have an identity that might just be worth protecting. I can do this by lodging a Trade Mark for my blog name (or logo if I had one!). The industrious folks at IP Australia can assist you with this, and applying for a Trade Mark is done through their eServices online system. 

My words, thoughts and images are my own. How do I protect myself from others using my material? Some handy tips are:

- Writing a statement on my blog (yep, still have to do this!) that states my permission is required before anyone shares my material;
- Disabling right-click on photographs, so others cannot save the image; and
- Placing a watermark in my photographs.

The same courtesies are expected in return. If you wish to quote content or images from other sites, generally seek their permission first, and if granted acknowledge that they are the author. Think of it as a bibliography when writing an assignment... if you use material from others, cite it. 

Ben was up next, and delved into the land of insurances. A whole raft of insurance issues arise if you have a website that sells products, or keeps personal information. Goods need to be safe, and customers are covered by the Trade Practices Act. You need to provide a cyber safe platform for customers to do business with you, and you need to keep their information safe. Another tip from Ben was around your content, and if it has the potential to impact others. What do I mean by this? Well, will it defame someone? Will it slander their character or their business? A good test is... would you print the same material on the front page of the newspaper? If the answer to that is no, then it probably doesn't belong on a website.

Travis then provided a detailed presentation about the ins and outs of the various platforms of social media. The key tips I took away for some of the major platforms was: 

- you can use boosted posts to reach a wider audience;
- you can narrow the audience that your post is targeted to, to hit specific interest groups;
- Facebook algorithms are always at play, and the more likes and interactions a post has, the more prevalent it will be in news feeds;
- there are things called dark posts, that allow you to post something to a very targeted audience, but don't show up on your own timeline; and
- Facebook itself will give higher preference to a post containing video, as opposed to one containing images. 

- This is probably the last most "open" platform that has the least restrictions; 
- It is still limited in character size, but use of tiny urls will gain you extra character space; and
- Twitter lists are a great idea to categorise those you follow, to give some order to your incoming news feed, and you should aim to set up lists early, before you follow too many accounts. 

- Hashtags rock! (Travis made this pretty clear)
- Only use a few hashtags on your initial post... then go to town on your first comment and fill it with hashtags. Hashtags increase the likelihood that others will find your post when they search. 

Travis also provided some great insight into finding your 'voice', and got us thinking ... know your audience... know your platforms... know your message... and figure out your story. One main thing I took away from Travis' presentation was that 'content is king'. Its all well and good to be the most savvy social media user, but if your message isn't thought through, and you don't have something meaningful/interesting/thought provoking to say.. who's gonna listen? 

Last up was Kylie, who began by stating the importance of first building up your online community, before thinking about how money can be made. Kylie is the CEO of Occasio Enterprises which is a firm 'all about increasing your online presence'. Some of the ideas Kylie provided about how to increase your community reach, and possibly make money from social media included:

- Purchasing websites and Facebook pages, ones where the authors have stopped producing content. The sites Kylie focuses on appear to have content and messages that are close to her heart, being finance, travel and motivation. Money can be made by resurrecting these sites, displaying advertising, increasing user reach, sponsored posts and affiliated sales to name a few;
- Becoming an author, maybe with content from blog posts, and seeking to have a book published;
- Checking sites like Problogger for writing jobs;
- Approaching companies that pay for sponsored tweets through Twitter;
- Using Facebook to run events and sell tickets;
- Using Facebook, and getting paid to promote other businesses;
- Getting paid to photograph products and publish images on Instagram; and
- Product reviews via YouTube.

Suffice to say, a ton, nay a wealth of information was gained from this seminar. Thankfully Kylie will be sending a resource pack out to participants that contains all the fine details and sources of information, as there was just too much to note down. 

The really fun part of the whole seminar was the ongoing tweeting!  Throughout the seminar, participants were actively involved in tweeting comments and thoughts to the presenters, with a popularity competition held to see which presenter gained the most tweets! This was a load of fun, and allowed participants to see and follow each other, adding to the networking aspect. It was great to be part of a group of like minded Canberra folk all involved in various aspects of social media, and all with a unique story to tell. 

Thanks also go to Smoque Woden for the catering (mmm.. sliders), the Abode Hotel for hosting the event, and Lerida Estate wines for the delicious door prizes. 

Hats off to Kylie and her team for an informative, thought provoking and very enjoyable seminar. If you get the chance to hear Kylie speak, go for it. She has a wealth of information to share.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Walnut Pesto (pesto di noci)

How good are fresh walnuts at the moment?? 

I have been eating my fill, fresh from a Batlow seller at the local trash 'n' treasure markets in Jamison. I bought a 1/2 kilo bag from him last week... used them all up... then today headed back and bought a 1 kilo bag.  They are just. That. Good. 

So what have I made with them so far....

1.  Date and walnut energy balls, some rolled in crushed walnuts, some in coconut. I reduced the almonds in this recipe and added walnuts, and ditched the pistachios as well as a covering, with crushed walnuts. 
2.  Sprinkled on work salads, along with lettuce, mushroom, capsicum, tuna and ranch dressing. 
3.  As part of filling inside a baked apple, (note to self: by apple corer) and 
4.  Walnut pesto. 

Walnut pesto you say? In Italian its pesto di noci and its delightful! I made my own basil pesto a few months ago when my basil was in full swing, but alas on account of it being winter here, the frosts were not kind and the pesto has long since finished. So, not wanting to head out to the shops, I opted for a purely nut based pesto.  

Without following a recipe, I toasted my remaining walnut pieces in a small fry pan, so it was enough to cover the base of the pan.  I toasted them for a few minutes, until they started to release their aroma. 

I then popped them into a food processor, along with a handful of pine nuts (what was left in the bag), a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese and a crushed garlic clove. Whizz this around for a bit to break down the walnuts. 

Then, with the motor running in the food processor, I added a steady stream of Cobram Estate garlic infused olive oil, and then a longer stream of light olive oil. Enough for the mixture to begin to form a paste like ball, but not to be slushy. 

I marinated a sliced large chicken breast in a couple of tablespoons of the walnut pesto, and popped this into the fridge for about an hour.  

I then baked the chicken along side a medley of other vegetables; potato, carrot, Spanish onion, zucchini and broccoli. The pesto formed a lovely crust on the chicken, and its delicate flavour complimented the moist chicken. 

Next on my list for the remaining pesto is a creamy pasta based dish, something like this one from BBC Good Food.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Cake Bake and Sweets Show

This show was nearly on par with a Willy Wonka's factory tour (or so I'm led to believe!). Maybe not as many free samples, but darn close. 

This 3 day event was held at the Sydney showground, 12-14 June 2015. It is also on later this year in Melbourne on 23-25 October 2015, so if you get the chance to go, I'd thoroughly recommend it.

The show was filled with all manner of food goodies to buy, baking/cooking/decorating products to purchase and sample, decorated cakes to marvel over, practical classes in decorating, and a line up of celebrity chefs and foodies doing cooking demonstrations, and book signings. Phew! Glad I booked the whole day and wore comfortable shoes.

Here are just a few highlights from the day: 

Shoneji and Catarah of Southern Girl Desserts (winners of the 2013 Cupcake Wars tv show) having fun in the 'Super Theatre' cooking up Chicken & Waffle Cupcakes. Photos were taken off the big screen.

A giant Canolli from Mezzapica Cakes in Leichhardt NSW. They also sold regular sized canolli, of which I bought 4!!! (2 x ricotta, 1 x vanilla and 1 x chocolate = all dee-licious, but the ricotta filling was my fave!). 

Lolly and sweet display stands (no, you couldn't sample anything here), all the rage at weddings these days, or for a fancy children's birthday party. 

Decorated cakes, made by budding cake decorators of the future, and edible artwork on display.  

The most amount of coloured edible glitter I have ever seen! The girls from Caking Mad said they only ever bring out their entire range when they are doing shows, such as this one. 

My purchased haul for the day. Too many goodies to rattle off, but suffice to say I am set for specialty sugars, vanilla products and decadent fruit roll-ups for quite a while! 

A book by the lovely Lyndey Milan, who is an all round foodie, television presenter, food editor, author, food demonstrator, and is a passionate advocate for Australian farmers.

An adult day ticket for the Saturday was $26 and I thought was well worth is. Additional costs if you wanted to take a hands-on class. 

I'll definitely be back next year! 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Orange Pound Cake

Let me start off by saying, I love bundt tins, and I love bundt cakes. They look so dramatic in their various shapes and swirls, and are so very easy to make. If you have ever thought they look complicated to make... think again. 

Today's outing to the local fruit and vegetable market saw citrus in season. It is winter here in Australia, just the time to be munching down on oranges, blood oranges, and mandarins. We picked up a 3kg bag of oranges, that are sweet and tasty. I decided to make an orange bundt cake with some of them, so set about searching the internet to find a great recipe. Thanks to Table for Two, I found Julie's Glazed Orange Pound Cake.  

A perfect recipe, so easy to follow.  I did however substitute the buttermilk for regular lite milk (we had just come back from shopping, and I didn't want to make a second trip), plus I reduced the amount of sugar in the cake. I wanted it to be slightly less sweet, so the tang of the orange rind and juice shone through. 

Thoroughly enjoyable, and the added bonus of the house smelling delicious while the cake was baking! 

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Belluci's - Woden

So we were deciding where to go out to dinner on a Saturday night in Canberra. The criteria... it has to be vegetarian friendly, not too far away, good selections on the menu and reasonably priced. Belluci's in Woden fit the bill. We rang and were told they could fit the five of us in at 5.30pm, as long as we were done by 7.30pm. Suited us fine, as we were planning on dinner at 6pm anyway. Glad that they could accommodate us with such a late booking on a Saturday night. 

While we were there, a couple of tables turned over to the next lot of diners. The restaurant soon got busy. But the busier it gets the louder it gets. So glad to have gotten in so early, as conversation toward the end was a little tricky across out round table. 

A CBR Braves ice hockey match was on tonight across the road, so there were a few eaters coming in after the game had finished. (Oh, and by the way, the CBR Braves won against the Sydney Ice Dogs, 4-1. Smashing success, this the second year of the CBR Brave team's existence).

Now to the food!  The menu was broad with lots of choices... that is until the specials were announced to us by the lovely waitress. Damn you awesome sounding specials!!! There were two that sounded quite delicious and made me rethink my choices. 

We started with a single serve of the focaccia. We went for half garlic and rosemary, and half sun-dried tomato and pesto. 3 pieces of each were served, which was plenty to start the meal with. Pictured here was the last remaining piece. I was so hungry I dove in without first taking a photo! 

For the main, I chose from the specials menu. It was a chicken breast, with prawns, sun-dried tomato , cashews and a lovely full flavoured sauce.  We were told this dish used to be on the main menu years ago, but was removed. There was so much negative feedback from the regulars that it has been on the 'special's list constantly for the last 8 years!  I wonder why they just don't put it back on the menu? I paired this with a Gaelic Cemetery 'Celtic Farm' 2014 Clare Valley Riesling. Both were simply delicious. 

Others chose the Belluci's Special pizza... always a crowd pleaser, one supreme pizza (pictured), one vegetarian gnocchi dish, and a duck pizza from the specials menu. We couldn't decide whether the duck pizza was served with sour cream on top, or was it crème fraiche? 

Tempted by the dessert menu, our selections were... Bombe Alaska, three serves of the black forest dessert, and one tiramisu. I had the Bombe Alaska which was spectacularly lit upon arrival! I snapped off a couple of pics before having to blow out they dying flame. It was a decadent dessert, and the Italian meringue was as soft as soft and had delicious crunchy peaks on the outside (that is apart from the charred top!). A long black coffee was just the right drink to cut through the sweetness of this dessert. 

The bill averaged out to only $53 a head which I think is great value for money. Each of us shared in the focaccia, each had a main and dessert, and the drinks totaled 2 glasses of wine, 1 beer, 1 juice, 1 soft drink, 2 coffees and 1 tea. Not bad at all.

Monday, 1 June 2015

In My Kitchen - June 2015

June has arrived, and with it brings winter... and a snowy BANG! Temperatures in and around Canberra have plummeted and lashings of snow abound in nearby towns. Minus 5 degrees forecast for us for the next few days, so some frosty mornings are ahead.

Cold nights... call for comforting foods. I can't wait to cook up these dried fruits. Directions are to simmer in a little water and brown sugar, then serve with cream.

In my kitchen... is a new pan. This one, a cast iron pan, and its fantastic for cooking steak.

For my cookbook collection... are new books. The waffle recipes will go a treat in my waffle maker, the 'sniff swirl & slurp' will hopefully expand my knowledge about wine, the Lodge cast iron cookbook will definitely get a work out with my new pan, and lastly the 'At my Mother's knee' is a beautiful book with stories and recipes from celebrities and their families. The photography in it is just wonderful, and the pages are done in a scrapbooking style. It would make a wonderful present.  

After recently visiting my parents-in-law in Toowoomba, Qld, we came back with a bucket load of macadamias.  They grow them in their backyard. I think I have perfected the right amount of effort to use with the hammer to hit them just once to open. I have cracked about 20 so far... probably 250 to go!!

In my kitchen... is a pewter Chinese wine set I picked up for a bargain at the local trash 'n' treasure Sunday market. Such wonderful craftsmanship. The Shou Xing, the god of longevity is holding a peach, a sign of longevity, and there is a peach leaf on each of the cups. 

In my kitchen... is a late (!) Christmas present from my sister in law who lives in Plano, Texas. Its a Yolk Fish, and he's a cutie pie. He's used to pick out the yolk from a cracked egg. 

A new chocolate bar has gone on sale in Australia, and it is distinctly Australian! Cadbury teamed their dairy milk chocolate with salted caramel and Vegemite.  Yep, Vegemite. I like it! It is sweet from the caramel, and the Vegemite gives it a umami like taste that lingers after the piece has gone. 

Speaking of confectionery... a recent trip to a new USA Candy store scored me some Tabasco chocolate. I think I'll have a some milk on hand, just in case I need a little cooling off when I taste it! 

Last sweet thing, I promise... a delicious rum and raisin caramel fudge. So, so glad I got the small tub! It was divine. 

Thanks for taking a little peek into my kitchen. What's happening in your kitchen this month?

Join in the fun of the IMK blog series, brought to you by the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.