Merry Christmas

I’m taking a week or so off from blogging over Christmas, to hang out with the family, and try to get a few days peace and quiet, so I’m also going to have a break from updating on FaceBook, Twitter and Google+ - I’m looking forward to the rest :)

I’ll be posting again just before the New Year – you’d be very welcome to drop by.

If you’re after something to do in the meantime, I’ve updated the Next Starfish Youtube page, which has quite a few playlists to wade through if you wish. Remember to subscribe if you want more email notifications of updates in your life.

Whatever you’re doing, have a great Christmas break.

-STEVE-

Photo by jack berry,  via Flickr

The Liebster Award

Next Starfish has won an award !

“I’d like to thank my parents, my primary school teachers who taught me to write, and my laptop for making this possible !”

Liebster means dearest or favourite in German, and the Liebster Award is awarded to five new up-and-coming blogs by the awards’ previous recipients, who in turn are expected to pass it on – a bit like blogging nuclear fission (science joke – sorry).

Next Starfish was nominated by the very wonderful Surabhi who writes the Womanatics blog from India’s Andaman and Nicabar Islands. Thanks Surabhi for your kindness – good luck with changing the world !

Being given a Liebster award isn’t going to change my life; I know it’s not the most prestigious blogging award around and there’s no big cash prize – but that’s not the point.

The point is that when someone told me they liked and appreciated what I was doing, it was encouraging and made my day !

Positive feedback is never wasted, it never gets old. A few words of appreciation or encouragement can give someone new energy and enthusiasm. When someone’s hard work goes unnoticed their morale and motivation suffer, and they can become disillusioned and give up.

If we’re serious about making the world a better place we shouldn’t be shy about giving out the gold stars – go on, make someone’s day today.

Of course it falls on falls on me to pass the award on.

The rules of the Liebster Award are that:

1 – You thank your Liebster Award presenter on your blog

2 – Reveal the five new blogs you want to pass the award on to, who must have less than 200 followers (or thereabouts)

3 – Notify the blogs concerned and suggest that they also pass on the award.

So without further ado, here are my five nominations, all blogs I follow, and recommend as being well worth a visit:

COFFEE AND WARM SHOWERS 

Eric’s blog about happiness and downshifting [Idaho]

GREEN AND TIDY 

Rachel’s blog helping people with WAY too much stuff declutter and create homes they love [Brighton]

MAKE WEALTH HISTORY

Jeremy’s blog on financial justice is probably a bit too popular for the rules, but I don’t care [Luton]

STEVE SMITH 

Steve’s describes himself as a change maker and sustainability campaigner [Cardiff]

THE SIMPLE PASTOR

Phil’s Christian blog, with a focus on simple living [Sweden]

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Nothing to do Today But Smile

If you’re a regular visitor you’ll know that I sometimes take a week or so off from updating Next Starfish.

I’m the kind of person who always has to be doing something and I need to nudge myself from time to time to try and practice what I preach, and slow down a little.

So I’m having a week away from blogging – before the whole Christmas rush sneeks-up on us all. I’ll spend a bit of time with my family, read and catch up on my sleep. From time to time idleness has a lot to recommend it !

I’ve also decided to take a news sabbatical for a few days, as the global news is so depressing at the moment.

Instead I  plan to spend an evening or two watching comedy and laughing  - feel free to join me, you’ll feel better !

Photo by Alicepopkorn2, via Flickr

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No Time to Stand and Stare

If you follow Next Starfish on a regular basis you’ll know that I sometimes try to follow my own advice on working towards a simpler lifestyle and take short breaks from blogging, and with one week left of the school summer holidays, I going to take a week off.

I’m working on several new posts for when I get back, including; Fight Vampires with Owls, The Greenest Car in the World, Going Vegetarian for a Month, The View from My Desk, Risk or Safe ? and Sponsor a Child Today. I’ll also be writing about how things are going in the garden and with the chickens. I’m also really excited to have several great articles by very interesting guest bloggers lined-up !

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, why not go and make the most of the end of the summer ?

I’ll sign-off with the words of the original Supertramp, Welsh poet WH Davies:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Photo by Artnow 314, via Flickr

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Next Starfish – Three Month Update

Next Starfish was three months old on the 5th August – woo hoo :)

Thanks to all my visitors and readers from around the globe. All your feedback and emails are very much appreciated. It’s both reassuring and inspiring to know there are so many people out there passionate about trying to make a positive difference in the world.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I want to do is give occasional ‘behind the scenes’ insights into the process of setting-up and running a blog. Most sites don’t seem to discuss these issues very much, and I thought it might be of interest to other social justice, environment and non-profit bloggers, writers and website managers. If anyone wants more information than I can provide in these short summaries – from the basics of putting together a website, through to using social networking, just drop me a line and I’ll try to help out as best I can (not that I’m any kind of expert).

Since going live in May, Next Starfish has had over 4,300 visits, from more than 2,750 visitors, which I’m very pleased with. I’m particularly pleased with how often people are coming back to read the latest articles. During July the site averaged 41 visits a day, and I’m very pleased that Next Starfish now has over 450 Facebook fans, and 530 Twitter followers !

Most of Next Starfish’s visitors find the site from Google (no surprise), but Facebook and Twitter are also increasingly significant. I also get perhaps 10% via social recommendation sites like Stumble Upon and Reddit, which I didn’t expect. The only advertising I’ve paid for so far is a low level Facebook campaign, which cost around $50, and actually has been quite successful in attracting visitors, particularly from around the world. I’ve been amazed with the range of countries visitors have come from, 89 different countries in total with significant numbers coming from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Mexico and India, as well as the more obvious English speaking world. I’m especially pleased with this, as many of the problems I cover on Next Starfish are global in nature, and views and opinions from around the world are particularly important.

In terms of popularity the Foto Friday posts seem to attract the most direct visitors, with Wisdom vs Intelligence, Cleaning Out My Closet, and Sixty Seconds Worth of Distance Run also having been popular. The most ‘liked’ article on Facebook was The Greatest Gift that I Possess. I’d like to say thank you again to all my guest bloggers who have written some excellent articles for me, and I’m always very happy to receive proposals or suggestions for other guest articles – having a range of voices and subjects makes things more interesting . . . and will also allow me to find a bit more time away from the keyboard :)

So what next ? I intend to continue taking it easy over the rest of the school holidays, but in September I’ll do a bit of tweaking to the site layout and look . . . nothing too major. Like all websites I get quite a few spam emails asking ‘if I want to double my blogging income’ – but as so far I haven’t made a penny, twice as much still doesn’t sound too tempting. I’ll look again at the financial side before the end of the year.

In the meantime I hope you continue to find the site interesting – and if you like what Next Starfish is about – please share your thoughts and feedback, either in the article comments or via Twitter or Facebook – and second and most importantly, be sure to let your friends know we’re here.

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