BlogHer Topic - Blogging &amp; Social Media - Editor's Picks en Join Us for 10 #BlogHerFood15 Instagram Challenges With Sarah Michelle Gellar <!--paging_filter--><p><a href="">BlogHer Food</a> is coming up on November 6 and 7 in Chicago. Our team is working hard behind the scenes to get ready to celebrate all culinary things, especially how to write and share about them. (Who am I kidding? That's just the tip of the iceberg!) We are excitedly anticipating this very special weekend in the Windy City -- if you haven't registered yet, <a href="">click here!</a></p><p><!--break--></p><p>To pump up the volume, we're kicking off a bunch of fun Instagram challenges in the ten weeks leading up to the conference (just like we did prior to our big annual conference this past July). This time, however, we've got a partner-in-crime, the one and only Sarah Michelle Gellar!&nbsp;</p><center><img src="/files/SMGheadshot.jpg" alt="Sarah Michelle Gellar" /></center><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Sarah Michelle is not only a superstar of film and television, she also leads a double life as a foodie and crafter. She posts adorable #FoodCrafting pictures on her <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Instagram</a>&nbsp;and in <a href=";">her newsletter</a>, and she was the inspiration for our first challenge which begins today. Check out Sarah Michelle's adorable waffle picture in our challenge graphic below and then get ready to show us how you get crafty and have #FunwithFood.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/food_blogher_IG_challenge.png" alt="#BlogHerFood15 Instagram Challenge" width="550" height="550" /></center><p>&nbsp;</p><p>As usual, we'll be reposting our favorites on the BlogHer Instagram stream, but as an added bonus, Sarah Michelle will be sharing her favorites in future newsletters! <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Subscribe here</a> so you don't miss a thing!</p><p>Here's the entire schedule of challenges, in case you want to get those creative juices flowing. Don't forget to use <strong>both tags</strong> listed for each challenge in your <strong>original caption</strong>; if you tag comments we may not see your pictures. We know the BlogHer community can bring it; let's show Sarah Michelle what we've got! Ready? Go!</p><p><strong>Challenge 1 -- launching today!</strong> Share a picture of something creative you do with food (make food into letters, make cupcakes inside of ice cream cones, etc.) and tag with #FunwithFood and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p><strong>Challenge 2 -- launching Tuesday, September 8</strong> Share a picture of your favorite kitchen tool or ingredient and tag with #KitchenFave and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p><strong>Challenge 3 -- launching Monday, September 14</strong> Share a picture of your biggest kitchen fail (think <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Cake Wrecks</a>!) and tag with #FoodBloopers and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p><strong> Challenge 4 -- launching Monday, September 21</strong> Share a picture of you in your kitchen, or what your kitchen life is like, and tag with #InMyKitchen and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p><strong>Challenge 5 -- launching Monday, September 28</strong> Share a picture of your favorite comfort food and tag with #ComfortFood and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p><strong>Challenge 6 -- launching Monday, October 5</strong> Share a picture of your favorite beverage and tag with #InMyCup and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p><strong>Challenge 7 -- launching Monday, October 12</strong> Share a picture of something you baked and tag with #IBakedThis and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p><strong>Challenge 8 -- launching Monday, October 19</strong> Share a picture of what you're having for dinner and tag with #WhatsForDinner and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p><strong>Challenge 9 -- launching Monday, October 26</strong> Share a picture of your dirty dishes, your overflowing sink, your filthy counter tops! (Yes, really!) What does your kitchen look like when you finish food prep? Tag your photo with #WorthTheMess and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p><strong>Challenge 10 -- launching Monday, November 2</strong> What's your specialty? Share a picture of your best dish and tag with #MyBlueRibbon and #BlogHerFood15.</p><p>Melisa Wells</p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">@melisalw</a></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Suburban Scrawl</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer Food '15 Baking Blogging Events Photography Food DIY BlogHer Conferences BlogHer Food '15 Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:21:46 +0000 melisa 2159996 at 5 Ways to Get Yourself Over Writer's Block <!--paging_filter--><p>This page was white just before I started typing "this page was white," which, as you know, is a trick writers and bloggers use to just get past starting to write when the creative crumbs of creating cease to commence. </p> <p>I was recently reading Geronimo Stilton <i>The Enchanted Charms: The Seventh Adventure in the Kingdom of Fantasy</i> as a bedtime read to my eldest son when I felt a connection from writer to writer with Geronimo. </p> <p>Geronimo always introduces himself at the start of his books as the person who runs <i>The Rodent's Gazette</i>, the most popular newspaper on Mouse Island, but he is also the writer of the Kingdom of Fantasy Series which my son loves. </p> <p>What jumped out at me while reading the opening chapter to my son was how the most famous mouse writer, Geronimo Stilton, also struggles with inspiration and writers block just like any of us. </p> <p>The book opens with a relaxed, peaceful and happy Geronimo who decides to treat himself to some ice cream. He needs a much needed break from writing as he has recently completed Book 6 in his Fantasy series. </p> <p>However, while at the ice cream shop Geronimo is met with fans of his Kingdom of Fantasy series and one after the other tell him how much they love reading his story which, of course, he loved but then they ask in a more demanding fashion, "When are you writing the next Kingdom of Fantasy Book?" </p> <p>Not the question he wants to be bombarded with at the ice cream shop where he just wants his ice cream.</p> <p>In chapter two, Geronimo heads into work where his grandfather greets him with some good news and bad news. Essentially, the good news is his book <i>The Search For Treasure: The Sixth Adventure in the Kingdom of Fantasy Series</i> is a bestseller. Everyone loves it! They love it so much they want the next book NOW! </p> <p>Start writing right now! Immediately! Get to work! Punch out your next bestseller right this minute! Poor Geronimo! </p> <p>Yikes! Talk about a pressure cooker. My creative juices would been sucked dry by that pesky creative sucking mosquito. </p> <p>Geronimo then tries to explain his writing process to his grandfather. </p> <p><center>"Well, you see - the thing is, I can't write it now, because I can write books about the Kingdom of Fantasy only when I have a special dream, and..."</center><br /> <center>(page 15 of <i>The Enchanted Charms: The Seventh Adventure in the Kingdom of Fantasy</i>)</center></p> <p>You can imagine how this went over with his grandfather. We find Geronimo forced to begin writing his next adventure not really committed to do so. We follow him as he attempts strategy after strategy to write his next great adventure.</p> <p>What did Geronimo try?</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="writer's block" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Abhi</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <h1>TIP #1</h1> <p>Drink a hot steaming cup of chamomile tea then lay on your sofa and attempt to drift off. When you don't fall asleep right away try various other positions on the sofa as demonstrated by Geronimo.</p> <p>My favourite is the idea of reading the phone book. When the sleep still eludes you and/or the words just don't start flowing...</p> <h1>TIP #2</h1> <p>Leave your office. Geronimo returns to his house and puts on his favourite pj's and gets cozy in his bed and is just about to drift off when his phone rings.</p> <h1>TIP #3</h1> <p>Turn phone off or don't answer it. Unfortunately, Geronimo answered his and is met by his shrieking grandfather who applies the pressure. And Geronimo responds:</p> <p><center>"I cannot sleep on command, dream on command, or write on command!" (page 22)</center></p> <p>Yes! Yes! Yes! Why doesn't anyone understand how we writers work?</p> <p>Then Geronimo has an idea. He would try to write his seventh Kingdom of Fantasy book without dreaming. </p> <p><center>"After all, I was an author, I'd just use my imagination." (page 22)</center></p> <p>He grabs his computer, opens up a new document and starts on the first page where he stares at the blank screen.</p> <h1>TIP #4</h1> <p>When stuck on the first page, type the title in. When you stare at your blank screen and the white void of nothingness stares back forget tip #3. Turn your phone back on so that way your friends and family can text, or call you.</p> <h1>TIP #5</h1> <p>When friends call to invite you out, go do it! Geronimo's nephew Benjamin calls and ask him to join him and his friends at the beach. He sits on his beach chair in the shade with the sweltering heat making him very tired. And it doesn't take him long to drift off into his dream where his magical kingdom comes to life. </p> <p>When he awakens he has his adventure to write. Man that sounds easy, doesn't it? At the end of the book he tells us that he went back home to work in his home office and his grandfather locked him inside and threw away the key and then preceded to tell him not to come out until he was done writing. </p> <p>Geronimo wasn't worried, he had had his dream and he stayed there writing for days, and days and days. Geronimo made it seem so easy. I love to beach write. I don't usually get to the beach, but I thought I would see if I could apply his tips to myself. </p> <p><b>What do I do</b>? </p> <h1>Tip 1</h1> <p>I usually drink coffee or this tea. (It's a herbal tea for Imagination and Insight.) But then I need my quiet space which doesn't always happen with three kids around. I definitely could not lock myself inside my office for days and days and days nibbling on cheese as much as I would like to do that on some days. If I could, I would probably nibble on chocolate.</p> <h1>Tip 2</h1> <p>I do change my scenery of where I write. This usually means I head outside, coffee shop, or a book store.</p> <h1>Tip 3</h1> <p>Turn your phone off. This is a hard one, isn't it? But we need to shut it off, ignore it, or leave it alone. Sometimes I will just let the battery run out or I will not take it out of my purse. It can get way too distracting.</p> <h1>Tip 4</h1> <p>See my first sentence again on this post. I don't think just typing the title would work for me either. Anything to mark up the blank white screen though including: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!</p> <h1>Tip 5</h1> <p>Definitely need to do this more often. Actually, I find in the summer it is not a problem but for me in the winter months I get out a lot less. Guess I will have to work on this one this winter. Plan more friend meet ups. </p> <p>Here is a list of other things I do when I'm not in a writing groove and need a break.</p> <ul> <li>Read a book from a different genre</li> <li>Colour</li> <li>Meditate</li> <li>Clean/Declutter</li> <li>Try something new or go somewhere new</li> <li>Garden</li> <li>Work on my memory keeping</li> <li>Paint/Draw</li> <li>And of course, hang out with friends and family and have fun!</li> </ul> <p><b>What do you do when your writing muse has abandon you or you need a kick in the you know what to get writing</b>? </p> <p>Bonnie</p> <p>This post was originally posted on my blog at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Adalinc to Life</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools #about writing # blogging #writing tools Mon, 31 Aug 2015 12:27:26 +0000 Bonnie Dani 2131236 at Why You Should Be a SheKnows Expert <!--paging_filter--><p>What does it mean to be a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">SheKnows Expert</a>? It's a question I've heard almost every single day as people learn about our growing community, where people share their passions and find new connections through the SheKnows audience.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Why you should be a SheKnows Expert" /></center></p> <p>What I've learned since we started Experts two years ago is there are about a thousand different ways to answer that question. Our Experts are women and men who work with the editorial team to create original work on, in order to broadcast what's important to them to our (pretty huge) audience. We collaborate and mentor Experts on successful posts, bring them together with each other to network, and find them opportunities to grow. All that support benefits different people in different ways.</p> <p>For a passionate food blogger, it can mean the opportunity to grow her Pinterest following by sharing quick-and-easy dinner recipes with the SheKnows audience of busy moms. </p> <p>For an entrepreneur launching a business, the value comes from bringing her product to a new audience and establishing trust. </p> <p>For a TV superfan, the SheKnows community brings a conduit for her (brilliant) thoughts and a group of people who share her passion.</p> <p>For a professional, the SheKnows audience provides a platform to share her body of knowledge and boost her visibility outside her chosen field, which could lead to speaking opportunities, buyers for her books or webinars or media appearances.</p> <p>For everyone who participates, there's the opportunity to collaborate with the SheKnows editorial team, network with other Experts, find a new audience, inspire each other, and lift each other up. That's what makes this program unique. We have Experts in every topic imaginable, and there's value for each and every one of them. </p> <p>I asked some of our Experts to share, in their own words, how they've used our platform to grow. </p> <p> <h2><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Juhea Kim, Food Expert</a></h2> </p> <blockquote><p>The Experts community has given a substantial boost to my own site, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Peaceful Dumpling</a> It's allowed me to introduce myself to a new, broader audience. I can link to my own Peaceful Dumpling articles, if appropriate within the context of the article—this gives readers a chance to check out my work further, and increases Peaceful Dumpling's brand visibility. I also appreciate the opportunity to build links organically. </p> <p>In addition to the more technical benefits, I also truly appreciate the chance to build my resume. Having SheKnows on my LinkedIn profile boosts my overall credibility as someone who not only runs her own site, but is also a valued writer for major networks. I see this as a benefit when working with brands and sponsors, with other sites, and also with my own team of writers and editors. </p> </blockquote> <p>When I met up with Juhea at #BlogHer15, she got in front of the camera to say some words, too!</p> <script src='//'></script><div id='ooyalaplayer' style='width:550px;height:309px'></div> <script>OO.ready(function() { OO.Player.create('ooyalaplayer', 'Ruazc1dzoLDIx0ZR7aSOoVyZFC3uWrZ8'); });</script><p><noscript> <div>Please enable Javascript to watch this video</div> <p></p></noscript></p> <p> <h2><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Nicole Witt</a>, Parenting and Infertility Expert</h2> </p> <blockquote><p> I'm a former infertility patient, egg donor parent, and adoption professional. After my own infertility battle, I launched <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Adoption Consultancy</a> to help others to grow their family quickly and with as little stress as possible. My personal and professional experiences then led me to also launch <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Beyond Infertility</a>, which is a combination online magazine and community support group for those who are expecting and/or parenting after infertility. </p> <p>I'm passionate about helping others get through this most stressful experience in life, so they can move beyond it and on to the joy of parenthood whenever possible. Here's one example of the information that I have been honored to share via the SheKnows Experts program: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">6 things you should never ever say to adoptive parents</a>.</p> <p>"The SheKnows Experts community has been such a wonderful opportunity for me to share my knowledge with a large audience. Not only have I received affirming feedback about how I'm helping people who I wouldn't otherwise have reached, but my businesses have grown as a result. It's also been a great forum for me to reach out a little bit beyond my core expertise and help others in areas that may have been a little "off-topic" for my business websites. </p> </blockquote> <p> <h2><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">James Oliver, Jr.</a>, Parenting and Small Business Expert</h2> </p> <blockquote><p>Being a SheKnows Expert has been great in general, but now is also beginning to benefit my business, which is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>, the world's only website that lets you turn your photos into a custom collage on removable wallpaper. I recently wrote an article on SheKnows about <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">ways to use various products to help college students cope with homesickness</a>; this was perfect because my company currently has <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">a campaign to fight homesickness</a>, and being able to get that message out on the SheKnows platform has been very helpful. </p> <p>Also, as a #BlogHer15 <a href="">Voices of the Year honoree,</a> I was able to deepen my relationship with the entire SheKnows team and am working on an important project with them to invite more people into the conversation about police violence against Black men. </p> </blockquote> <p>And now, your turn: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Apply now</a> to join Juhea, Nicole, James and our growing community, and pursue your own passion. </p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools BlogHer University Fri, 28 Aug 2015 15:44:07 +0000 Natalie Schwab 2158662 at Learn a Lesson With September's NaBloPoMo <!--paging_filter--><p> So what is the NaBloPoMo theme of the month?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><div style="text-align: center;"> <h1> LESSON</h1> </div> </p> <p> Even though I stopped teaching years ago, I cannot help but think of every September as back-to-school time. There is something about the end of summer that makes me think I should get all my pencils sharpened and learn something new.</p> <p> The Internet has changed the lesson playing field. There is so much you can learn from home. There are, of course, the formal lessons you can sign up for on the Web, but there are also the billions of DIY videos, cooking blogs, and educational podcasts to learn from in the comfort of your own home.</p> <p> I'm going to challenge everyone to tackle a new lesson this month, even if you're not heading back to the classroom. What will it be? Want to take on a home project with the help of some how-to videos? Learn how to cook something you've never tried before? Sew? Play guitar? Learn how to French braid?</p> <p>You can learn all these lessons without leaving your house. Thank you, computers.</p> <p> The theme and writing prompts, as always, are there as a guide if you want some structure to your month, though you can always sign up for NaBloPoMo and chart your own path.</p> <p> <center><br /> <img alt="Septembers's NaBloPoMo" src="" /></center> </p> <p> If you've never joined <a href="">NaBloPoMo</a>, this is the time to do so. It starts September 1 and runs until September 30. Just make the commitment to (1) blog daily for the month (nothing more to it than that!) and (2) to support your fellow NaBloPoMo'ers by reading a handful of the other blogs on the blogroll. Cheer them along and they'll cheer you on too. You can <a href="">sign up for September's NaBloPoMo</a> until September 5th. You can <a href="">grab the official badge here</a> and upload a link to the badges you make.</p> <p> It's as simple as that: <span style="font-weight: bold;">post daily on your own blog. That's it</span>. You can get fancy and cross-post your blog posts onto the NaBloPoMo site. If you need daily inspiration, bookmark the <a href="">NaBloPoMo prompts page</a> for September, which already has all the prompts for the month posted so you can plan ahead.</p> <p> NaBloPoMo is what <span style="font-style: italic;">you</span> make of it. At its core, all you need to do is post daily on your blog. The point of NaBloPoMo is not to be restricted by the theme, but instead to either take it or leave it. If you'll do better blogging every day based on what's happening in your world, throw aside the daily prompts.</p> <p> <b>Sign up for September's NaBloPoMo and tell us about a lesson you found.</b></p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media NaBloPoMo lesson nablopomo theme Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:58:41 +0000 Melissa Ford 2154911 at Facebook Got Us Through My Mother's Illness <!--paging_filter--><p>Sometimes social media gets a bad rap. Sure, virtual gathering places can result in unnecessary drama and rants. But for me, social media – Facebook in particular - has been an instrument of support and friendship at a time when I needed it most.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>I remember the moment I jumped into the Facebook world like it was yesterday. It was a rainy afternoon in 2009, and I finally gave in to my husband's nudging to give it a try. </p> <p>I tingled with excitement as I watched my new connections pop up on the computer screen. I already loved this new toy and I was giddy! And hungry. I couldn't step away long enough to fix dinner for my family. "Order pizza, guys, I'm busy here!"</p> <p>Embracing Facebook came easy for a person like me who tends to be an open book. Even now I continue to post, long after our 18-year-old, Zack, crushed my spirit and announced he was leaving the Facebook world because "you guys have taken it over." </p> <p>Fine, go Zack... I'm not leaving. Not that he cared; he was long gone and onto other formats. </p> <p>I will happily stick to "old school" Facebook. It's my photo album, a reminder of happy times hiking and running with friends, and Disneyland trips with my family. I smile when I look through older comments and pictures that show how we have all changed, especially my boys.</p> <p>When my mother became seriously ill late in 2011, Facebook became more than fun for me; it proved to be meaningful in a different way. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="old hands holding cell phone" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Quinn Dombrowski</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>For a while, until we knew the extent of Mom's illness, I withdrew a bit. Also a prolific Facebooker, Mom went quiet online as well. But as time passed, we figured out covert (and fun) ways to let friends know something as personal as how her doctor's appointment went that day. </p> <p>A good doctor's report was followed by a simple "check in" at Baskin Robins. Friends and family who were in-the-know would give us a "like," knowing we were in the midst of a small celebration.</p> <p>We eventually became quite open, though, and chronicled Mom's journey with pictures and posts about our ups and downs while dealing with an incurable illness.</p> <p>People are funny. Complicated. In this online world, you have Facebook friends that are also your "real world" friends; maybe you're lucky enough to see them on a regular basis, face to face. These friends were not only there for us virtually, but they're the friends who would bring the hugs, the coffee, the food to our family when we needed it most. </p> <p>Then there are the folks we didn't even know were following our story, at least not until they send a private message of encouragement, or a simple public post saying, "I understand." </p> <p>And there are the friends who may not ever post a word, but somehow you feel buoyed by their support, love and prayers. All these friends, together with the friends who didn't use Facebook, formed the safety net that kept us from spiraling downward.</p> <p>Recently, I came across the essay written by "Zack the Spirit Crusher" during his ACT exam. (I don't think he realized the entire essay was available online for us to see. Sorry Zack!) The essay prompt was about "privacy" and Zack's response focused on, you guessed it, Facebook. </p> <p>Making it all about me, I scanned the essay quickly, looking for the word "mom" and sure enough, I was in there. I braced myself, certain he was going to give the test-readers an eyeful about his mother's over-sharing and "take over" of Facebook. </p> <p>Instead, he wrote about how going public can actually help us through life's challenges. He wrote, " mother would post things on Facebook about my grandmother and many friends she hadn't spoken to in years would respond and give their support. That support from hundreds of friends helped my grandmother stay in good spirits in those difficult times."</p> <p>Wow. I was surprised that he'd noticed, and I might have felt a little vindicated, too. But mostly, it made me think about the magic of social media. The magic of people! My people. My friends. Our friends.</p> <p>Mom's final Facebook post was on July 10, 2014, just one week before we lost her. She couldn't type anymore so she asked me to type her message as she dictated it to me. </p> <p>Then she summed up in a few sentences what I've spent a few hundred words trying to say here. She publicly thanked everyone for their love and support during her time in the hospital, when she was in pain and the future was uncertain. </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>She ended by saying her supporters had been "the brick and mortar" of her life, adding that "life would be nothing without family and friends." Undying words of wisdom from a special woman, and a perfect example of how Facebook has united our family with those we love.</p> <p><i>Flutter On,</i><br /> <i>Cheryl&nbsp;</i><br /> <i></i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Health Facebook illness social media Thu, 27 Aug 2015 12:58:08 +0000 Cheryl Scott 2154401 at How to Build Your Instagram Account <!--paging_filter--><p>I avoided using Instagram for a very long time because I didn't know how to use it, and I didn't like the fact that it could only be used on your mobile. So I stuck to Facebook.</p> <p>But in this day and age, if you have a business, you have to be everywhere. With so many free social media sites, why not take advantage of it? So about a year and half ago I started an Instagram account, these are the things that I noticed straight away.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="Instagram" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: Instagram via Whitehotpix/ZUMA Wire</i></center></p> <p> <ul> <li>As soon as my account was opened I gained a couple of followers before I even put up a photo. That was a bit odd, but I was pretty happy about it so I followed them as a common courtesy. But what you will realize yourself is once you have followed them, they will unfollow you! It seems to be a little trick that some Instagramers do to gain more followers. Yes, I admit I was hurt, but hey, it's Instagram and I can get over it pretty quickly.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>If you put up a photo with no hashtags, it is not going to get a lot of likes (unless you already have a huge following, like celebrities)</li> </ul> <ul> <li>You will be continuously losing followers. Every morning when I woke up and checked Instagram I saw that my number of followers had dropped, which was disheartening but it just meant that I had to work a bit harder.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>The last thing I noticed was, there was a lot of TERRIBLE photos on Instagram.</li> </ul> </p> <p>I am in no way an expert on Instagram as I am still learning, but I just want to share some things that I have learned so far that you can also try. So here are a few beginner tips to build your Instagram presence.</p> <p> <h1>1. Be consistent</h1> </p> <p>Make sure that you put up at least 1 image a day, otherwise your followers will see your account as being inactive and stop following you.</p> <p> <h1>2. Follow others and like their pictures</h1> </p> <p>When you follow or like other Instagram pictures, the owner of that account will get an alert and most of the time they will go into your profile to check out your photos. They may either start following you or like some of your images.</p> <p> <h1>3. No blurry pictures</h1> </p> <p>This is one of those terrible pictures that I was talking about. Instagram is all visual, and blurry pictures are just pointless. Even if the photo was taken at the most amazing concert EVER, don't put it up just to show that you were there because all people will see is a cr@p photo.</p> <p> <h1>4. Use hashtags</h1> </p> <p>This helps people search and see your pictures. When I first started out, it was hard to think of which hashtags to use that would get images seen. I was so happy when I found the phone app <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">TagsForLikes</a>. It groups the most popular hashtags used on Instagram. </p> <p>All you have to do is copy and paste them into your pictures. I've gotten more likes than normal by using this app and it's free.</p> <p> <h1>5. Write an Instagram bio</h1> </p> <p>You only get a small amount of space under your profile picture to write a brief bio, but make sure that you do write something. I've seen a few where they have left it blank and just placed a website url. </p> <p>This is fine if you are Beyonce but if you're not as well known as her, it will make people click the back button pretty quickly because we don't go searching for who you are, what you do or what your Instagram is about.</p> <p>I hope these tips have helped guide you with starting your Instagram account. I will be working on more tips to share with you to further increase your Instagram following.</p> <p>If you have any great beginner tips for starting an Instagram account, please feel free to comment below.</p> <p>Charlie Dulcet<br /> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools #Instagram #blogging #followers Wed, 26 Aug 2015 12:58:47 +0000 charliedulcet 2142290 at 6 Lunch Hour Activities for Bloggers in Need of a Creativity Boost <!--paging_filter--><p>It's 11AM and your inspiration well has run completely dry. You've already completed your "mindless" tasks for the day like checking emails and gathering project updates, so what do you do now?</p> <p>If you work in the highly creative field of blogging, you're probably painfully familiar with this situation. The pressure of producing creative work and out-of-the-box strategy is not only frustrating on days you don't feel inspired, but detrimental to any creativity you could potentially muster up. </p> <p>This is where the beauty of the daily lunch hour comes in.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="6 Lunch Hour Activities for Bloggers in Need of a Creativity Boost" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Angie Garrett</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Rather than spend your lunch time in a drab breakroom with last night's leftovers, use this time to its fullest with an activity to open your mind and get the creative juices flowing again! Check out six suggestions from content and creativity pros below to make the most of your lunch hour and get the rest of your day back on track.</p> <p> <h1>1. People Watch</h1> </p> <p>Few things in life are more interesting than taking a moment to simply sit and watch others go about their daily lives. Creepy? Perhaps. But you're doing this for work purposes so it's totally fine. Grab a coffee and a spot on a park bench then let the people watching commence!</p> <p>"Make up back stories for the people you're watching," says Tammy Coron a backend developer and blogger at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Just Write Code</a>. "If you happen to be with someone, bounce your ideas off one another, and take turns with the story."</p> <p> <h1>2. Smell it Out</h1> </p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Studies</a> have shown that certain scents can help to boost performance in the workplace. For example, individuals who were exposed to rosemary aroma had higher concentration and cognitive performance. </p> <p>Additionally, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">cinnamon and vanilla scents</a> have also been linked to increased creativity. In other words, you've just found a new excuse to do some shopping for a new desk lotion during your lunch break.</p> <p> <h1>3. Do Your Cardio</h1> </p> <p>No one likes cardio... OK, that's a lie. Crazy people like cardio. Love it or hate it, spending some time on the treadmill or participating in a kickboxing class during your lunch break could be just what you need to come up with the awesome content ideas you're after.</p> <p>"Ideas for some of my top performing pieces of content have come to me during a workout" Says Paul Phifer, Director of Content at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>. "This is a great time to get moving and let your mind wander." </p> <p> <h1>4. Make a Date</h1> </p> <p>As humans, we tend to gravitate toward routines. This is totally fine for most, but bloggers must keep things fresh and lively in order to keep the inspiration flowing. Fortunately, adding a little more excitement to your life could be as simple as taking yourself on a weekly date.</p> <p>"Set a weekly date with yourself to do something that's fun and perhaps pushes you out of your comfort zone a little" says Julia Cameron creator of the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Artist's Way movement</a>. "It doesn't have to be something specifically creative, but it does have to enjoyable."</p> <p> <h1>5. Watch Something Funny</h1> </p> <p>Everyone could use a good laugh in the middle of the work day, but who would've thought that it could actually help you perform better when it comes time to get back to work?</p> <p>According to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">NPR</a> blogger Sarah Zielinski, "mood matters when it comes to creativity. Anxiety focuses a person, but good cheer and contentment liberate creativity." Take your lunch hour to watch your favorite comedian online, or do a little research to find potential comedy hours at local bars and coffee shops. </p> <p> <h1>6. Take a Nature Walk</h1> </p> <p>"Did you know that there is actually something in the forest air that <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">calms our nervous system</a>?" asks SheKnows expert, Catherine Shefski in her post "<a href="">5 Ideas for When You Need a Fresh Start in Your Life</a>."</p> <p>Whether you live in the concrete jungle of New York or the outdoorsy environment of Salt Lake City, you have the opportunity to relax your nerves with nature during your lunch break. Find parks or trails near you that offer a quick change of scenery. Be sure to check the difficulty/duration of each trail first to find those that you'll be able to complete within an hour.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools creativity boost quick activities Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:13:15 +0000 2137664 at Grow Your Blog Without Posting New Content <!--paging_filter--><p>Generally, I try to consistently post 3 or 4 days a week. On the days that I don't post, I often feel at a loss of what to do to maintain and grow my blog. Rest assured, friends, there is PLENTY to do on non-post days that will make a dramatic difference to your blog. </p> <p>Don't freak out on me: these are all just suggestions and goals. You don't have to be Wonderblogger and do them all each time. But here are 3 things you can do to give your blog some juice without writing new content.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="grow" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Read Read Read!</h1> </p> <p>Ideally, you started a blog because you actually like to read other blogs, right? Well, spend this off time catching up on all your favorites! With the busyness of the day and nurturing your own blog we often don't have to time to read some great posts. And while you're at it...</p> <p>1. Leave 5 (meaningful/engaging) comments on other blog posts.<br /> 2. Explore and find 4 new blogs to follow! Do you use Bloglovin? Let <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Helene</a> be your guide. </p> <p> <h1>Give Your Blog a Tune Up</h1> </p> <p>Your blog can get rusty, just like a car, without proper maintenance and care! Spend some time making sure everything is working as it should, or do that update or improvement you've been putting off.</p> <p>1. Check for broken links! Broken links are not only annoying but can discourage your audience.<br /> 2. Name your post photos. This little step can seriously increase your SEO rating. Jana has a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">great tutorial</a>.<br /> 3. Label and categorize your posts.<br /> 4. Brainstorm 2 new post ideas.<br /> 5. Update your old post intros and add in long tail keywords. What is a long tail keyword? Amanda from Meet@TheBarre <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">tells all here</a>!</p> <p> <h1>Get Social</h1> </p> <p>Make your way through a few social media sites.</p> <p> <h2>Twitter</h2> </p> <p>Twitter is about so much more than just dropping in links to your posts. Want to really get involved in the blogging community? This is your best resource.</p> <p>1. Put a spin on your old posts and tweet out links using #archive.<br /> 2. Share the love and retweet 5 posts from other bloggers!<br /> 3. Find 5 new tweeters to follow.<br /> 4. Lastly, it never hurts to get ahead of the game on scheduling your tweets for the next few days. </p> <p> <h2>StumbleUpon</h2> </p> <p>Do you stumble? If not, definitely start by signing up. SU is a great way to not only support your fellow bloggers but also get high traffic. When I first experimenting with SU <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">this post</a> from Jaelan@Making Mrs. M was so helpful. </p> <p>1. Spend 5 minutes just stumbling. The more you stumble, the more your posts get stumbled. Fact.<br /> 2. Find 3 of your favorite bloggers to be friends with on SU. I'll be your SU friend -- @Bldeskins11.<br /> 3. Stumble 2 posts from other bloggers that strike your fancy.</p> <p> <h2>Pinterest</h2> </p> <p>Pinterest is a huge ally for bloggers. What other platform can you so readily expose your content to 72 million people? I'm devoting an entire month to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">growing my blog with Pinterest</a>, but just a few tasks can also make a big difference!</p> <p>1. Organize your boards and create custom photo covers. ( I like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">this tutorial</a>.)<br /> 2. Update your descriptions for any of your original pins. Do you know how important pin descriptions are for growth? Here's <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">"6 Tips for Writing Effective Pin Descriptions</a>".<br /> 3. Follow 5 new Pinners. Maybe they'll follow you back? Maybe one of their pins will spark a post idea? Or, maybe you'll see a dinner recipe for tonight? There's no loosing with this one.</p> <p> <h2>Instagram</h2> </p> <p>Instagram is becoming my favorite social media platform. The community is huge, and you can easily get exposure with a little effort. Does your blog have its own account? I just recently created one for <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">The Lady Lawyer</a> and have seen big results. </p> <p>1. Follow 5 new bloggers or companies/brands that pique your interest.<br /> 2. Like (heart) 10 photos on your feed AND like 10 photos of users you don't follow.<br /> 3. Go back to old posts and insert relevant hashtags. Let <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">this post</a> from Sarah@VenusTrappedInMars be your guidebook. </p> <p><b>What do you do on your non-writing days</b>?</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools blogging; tips Mon, 24 Aug 2015 13:51:27 +0000 theladylawyer 2147178 at How to Link to Your Sources (and Why It's Really THAT Important) <!--paging_filter--><p>"If your momma says she loves you … check it out." That's an old reporters' creed about checking your facts&mdash;and whether or not you consider yourself a reporter, you need to keep it in mind as you're writing any nonfiction post. The one key thing you should always do: <em><strong>link your claims of fact to credible sources</strong></em>.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="link to credible sources" /></center></p> <p> <h2>Why to link</h2> </p> <ol> <li><strong>It improves your authority</strong> as a writer and Expert. Showing that accuracy is important to you, and that you follow journalistic best practices, is a key path to maintaining credibility. It's important to show readers that you've taken responsibility for your facts.</li> <li><strong>It protects your work.</strong> Linking to credible sources is the most responsible way to present facts you haven't researched yourself. By showing that the fact-finding was done by a news source like the <em>New York Times</em>, or that the research was done at, say, Stanford, you're less likely to open yourself up to accusations of libel or misleading the public, because you're not the original source of the report.</li> <li><strong>It's better for SEO.</strong> If you're writing on your own platform, this has direct impact on your reach. If you're working with an editor, you're showing off your professional skills and letting the editor know you care about the company you're writing for.</li> <li><strong>It's respectful to your reader.</strong> You're giving the reader the best possible chance to understand what you're talking about and learn more, if she wants. Encouraging curiosity and helping the reader dig deeper is a sign of a thoughtful, passionate writer who cares about her audience.</li> </ol> <p> <h2>When to link</h2> </p> <p>"Blueberries are purplish-blue" or "Barack Obama is the U.S. president" is not a claim of fact: Most people genuinely know these things. But what about "blueberries are powerful antioxidants," or "Barack Obama has a secret love child"?</p> <p>Link to credible sources every time you're citing claims that, if wrong, would damage or mislead the reader. Health stories, science stories, and news stories (including entertainment news) are particularly important to get right.</p> <p>If the thing you're talking about actually happened to you, or you observed or researched it, that's firsthand reporting; you don’t need to link it for credibility. And if you're an expert in the field you're writing about, your body of knowledge is certainly a source in itself. But …if your local paper also reported it or a different expert is saying the same thing, linking there after you tell your own story can only back you up and give you more credibility.</p> <p> <h2>What to link to</h2> </p> <p>Your link is only as valuable as the source you're linking to. Search wisely to find credible sources: academic studies, respected news organizations, credentialed experts. The first Google hit (or first <em>page</em> of Google hits) may not be the most authoritative. I recently compiled a <a href="">list of great journalism resources</a> that can help get you started. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Journalists' Toolbox</a> has a huge list of searches to find exactly what you're looking for and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">a list of expert sources on various topics</a>. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Wikipedia's guideline for identifying reliable sources</a> is really comprehensive and worth a look.</p> <p>If you can only find one report, study, or credentialed expert as a source, say so. Your story will be safer if you can wait until multiple news accounts are reporting the same thing, or multiple studies confirm a theory … if you can. But if you can't, you've covered your bases by noting that information on your fact is still progressing and may change.</p> <p>Choose the original source whenever you can, rather than a writeup or analysis on another site. It's the most likely place for the information to be updated, it's more likely that the link won't go missing, and it's a professional courtesy.</p> <p> <h2>How to link</h2> </p> <p>The phrase you choose to link matters. It's best for SEO purposes to link to the meaningful phrase ("blueberries are powerful antioxidants"). Don't link to the source, or to things like "according to." Matching the actual claim to the source is easy for your reader to understand, too.</p> <p>Use language that shows you're attributing the research to your source: "According to the <em>Washington Post</em>, bananas are the most popular fruit in Texarkana." "A study by a team of Harvard astrophysicists concluded that the world will end on February 26, 3277."</p> <p>You may be writing a post that is not supported by the body of work on a particular fact. Perhaps you're talking about an alternative health treatment, or your belief in a certain diet, or that there were two shooters on the grassy knoll. If your topic runs counter to the majority of studies or sources on a topic, you can still write about it. But you'll undermine your own authority unless you acknowledge the discrepancy and argue your case. You don't need to dwell on it; just make it clear that you are talking about your own thoughts, and tell the reader why. If there are other writers who share your belief, link to their work and use phrases like "I agree with X's belief that …" to show you're not alone.</p> <p>Linking the right phrase to the right source is really all about giving your reader the best chance to fully buy in to what you're writing … and that's the best way I know to get ahead in the writing game. Try it, and I’m sure you'll agree. And if you run into any roadblocks finding a good source, let me know in the comments and I'll see if I can help!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools BlogHer University Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:24:38 +0000 Julie Ross Godar 2153379 at Ashley Madison Data Is Outing Thousands Of Cheaters, and I Can't Be Happy About That <!--paging_filter--><p>The news is all abuzz with reports of the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Ashley Madison hack</a>, and how it's outing prominent people in the government, giving data to where cheaters live and work, and casting a harsh, glaring light on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">hypocritical public figures</a>.</p> <p>As a woman who's been on the other side of the cheating equation, you'd think I'd be dancing a gleeful little dance, and I'm honest enough to admit that part of me did just that. See cheaters? This is what happens! No matter how careful you think you are, the seeds you sow grow into giant monstrous things that always, always devour the best of your worst intentions.</p> <p>But then I think about it - really think about it.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="Ashley Madison" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: Manuel Romano/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press</i></center></p> <p>Because this data, these names, these addresses and credit card accounts all belong to people. They may not be people who deserve an ounce of sympathy, but these people are married to other people or maybe the parents of people who do. </p> <p>I try to imagine how my daughter would feel, having her Dad's name all over the internet, outed for his foolish and cowardly choices. Because that's what cheating is, in its essence. It's a cowardly act. There is only one reason anyone cheats: because they choose to do so. That's it.</p> <p>All that talk about terrible spouses or marital discord or lack of physical attention is just noise. There are a thousand reasons for people to be miserable in a marriage, and there are always two people making that marriage miserable to some degree. </p> <p>But people of character, people with integrity and compassion - they have the honest but difficult conversations. They move to resolve, either by reconciling or moving on, and they follow through. They don't take a vacation between someone else's legs when the going gets rough. Or just because they're bored.</p> <p>These people did, and yes, their spouses most certainly deserve to know that they did, but their children shouldn't have to know it, too. Their spouses certainly deserve to know about it, but not this way. Not in a public forum, smeared all over the internet for family, friends, neighbors, coworkers to see. Not posted on a never-ending billboard that will be accessible on any search engine for years to come.</p> <p>I speak from personal experience when I tell you that short of death, there are few things as devastating as finding out that you're married to someone you don't really know. Someone who would gamble your love, your children's intact family, and their own personal honor without a whole lot of forethought for the consequences. </p> <p>It makes you feel like you're living with a space alien who suddenly crawled into your spouse's skin. It makes you doubt everything you believed about yourself. It makes you feel expendable, disposable, less than nothing. All of that is more than anyone should reasonably have to bear. To add public humiliation to the pile is just inhumane.</p> <p>So you'll excuse me if I read about this hack and you don't see me crowing. It's hard to crow when a hundred ugly memories rush over you, and bile is stuck in your throat.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Marriage and Commitment Work/Life Love & Sex #Divorce #infidelity Fri, 21 Aug 2015 13:54:26 +0000 SingleMomtism 2153164 at 7 Tips on How to Write a Dynamic Personal Essay <!--paging_filter--><p>After a 20-plus-year career in publishing, I know how to expertly package material to get an editor's (and reader's) attention and I can help you do it, too. Here are my tips on how to successfully write a personal essay that will get read, shared, and appreciated. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="7 Tips on How to Write a Dynamic Personal Essay by Estelle Erasmus" /></center></p> <p> <h2>#1: Mine Your Life for Stories</h2> </p> <p>Writing is one area where age and experience works in your favor. Think about it: The more you have lived, the more stories you can tell. Couple that with a timely or trendy topic or angle, and you have publishing gold. </p> <p>Writing a personal essay works best when you can write about a topic that you are passionate (or obsessed) about. I wrote a piece that won a Voices of the Year honor at #BlogHer15, "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Giving Up the Ghost Baby," after undergoing a devastating ectopic pregnancy. A </a><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">piece I wrote for <em>Marie Claire</em></a> was about a creepy roommate I had years ago, who had never left my mind because her behavior was so bizarre. </p> <p> <h2>#2 Open Strong</h2> </p> <p>A powerful opening brings your reader right into the action, rather than including background information in a conversational style. Many of us have probably written in this conversational style on our blogs; for instance, "I woke up this morning, had coffee (black), drove to the supermarket, looked up and down the aisles searching for the perfect avocado, and then can you believe it, a crazy man started screaming at me …" </p> <p>A personal essay, though, must be crafted with carefully chosen words. It would likely start right in the middle of the action, with perhaps a small preface. "Standing in the supermarket, perusing the summer-fattened avocados, I heard a staccato of background noise. To my horror, the sound was housed in the body of a small, wizened man, and he was at screaming at me …" </p> <p>Great opening sentences of essays get your attention, make you want to read on and often pose a question that you feel needs to be answered. </p> <p> <h3>Good starting sentences:</h3> </p> <blockquote><p><em>Purple Clover</em>, Susan Shapiro:<br /> "Try my shrimp tempura," he said and offered a chopstick-full.<br /> "I don't need another Jewish mother," I told my tall, 40-year-old blind date, who'd ordered the most fattening dish on the Japanese menu.</p> <p><em>New York Times Motherlode</em>, Jordan Rosenfeld:<br /> I used to make terrible judgments about what it meant to be a "PTA mom," which stood for "Perfect Type A." I envisioned a carefully coifed, cupcake-baking beast of a woman whose pastel capris never bore so much as a smudge of child-effluence, all with a polished smile.</p> </blockquote> <p> <h2>#3 It's All in the Sensory Details</h2> </p> <p>A good personal essay includes lots of details to paint a vivid picture for the reader. Don't just say you ate a muffin. An essay would describe the muffin—what it tasted or smelled like, and what it evoked in you. </p> <p>Case in point: "As I ate the blueberry muffin; its tart aroma made me gasp, as I recalled seeing my lover hand-feeding its morsels into the grasping mouth of another woman." Using lots of sensory images depicting examples of sight, sounds, touch, or taste (and its effect on you) invites the reader into the story. </p> <p> <h2>#4 Use Words that Work</h2> </p> <p>We've all seen the word "amazing" a thousand times. While it may work in a quick, casual post, in an essay you need every word to work for you. The more common the word, the more readers will tend to overlook it—and your writing as well. So if you want to write the word "happy," try substituting a different word like "elated," or "delighted." When I was writing a personal essay, I would always write a first draft and then go through the essay, substituting more interesting or unusual words. </p> <p> <h2>#5: Create a Flow</h2> </p> <p>A good personal essay has a narrative arc: a beginning, a middle, and an end. While you are at it, avoid clichés and get rid of most adverbs (words ending, for the most part in ly)—they represent lazy writing. </p> <p> <h2>#6: Leave the Reader with a Gift</h2> </p> <p>Your reader should get a universal takeaway message from your essay. This means that some transformation or learning or understanding has taken place and that's what you convey in those last sentences. </p> <p> <h3>Good Last Sentences: </h3> </p> <blockquote><p><em>Modern Love</em>, Meghan Austin:<br /> Love often doesn't arrive at the right time or in the right person. It makes us do ridiculous and stupid things. But without it, life is just a series of unremarkable events, one after the other. </p> <p><em>New York Times Motherlode</em>, Lisa Heffernan:<br /> For most children, childhood isn't about passion, but rather about exploration. Our job as parents is to nurture that exploration, not put an end to it. When we create an expectation that children must find their one true interest so early in life, we cut short a process of discovery that may easily take a lifetime.</p> </blockquote> <p> <h2>#7 Sound It Out/Print It Out</h2> </p> <p>I like to read my essay out loud, so I can catch clunky words or too many repetitions (I try to avoid using the same word more than twice). I also print it out, because sometimes you just need to see it on paper (and not the screen) to catch other errors. </p> <p>I can't wait to see what you write.</p> <p><em>Estelle Erasmus is a SheKnows Expert and a widely published journalist, author, three-time BlogHer <a href="">Voice of the Year</a>, and former magazine editor-in-chief (of five publications). She blogs at <a href="">Musings on Motherhood &amp; Midlife</a> and offers editing and writing services. She is on Twitter at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">@EstelleSErasmus</a>.</em></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools BlogHer University Fri, 21 Aug 2015 03:19:35 +0000 Estelle S. Erasmus 2153109 at Create a Phone Jail to Take Charge of Your Mobile Device <!--paging_filter--><p>As phones are able to do more and more things for us, we tend to spend more and more time on them. You always see pictures of people at restaurants spending more time on their phones than with each other. I sometimes think we are just a few steps away from the hover chair society in Wall-E.</p> <p>As a writer, I'm no exception. I continually email back and forth with clients, and I use social media to interact with followers. My phone allows me to network and keep contact with the outside world. I don't have family nearby, and I tend to feel isolated sometimes living out in the country. I also use my phone to make grocery lists and balance the bank account. </p> <p>But the fact of the matter is, even if I'm doing the most noble thing in the world on my phone, the kids just see me on my phone.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>I share with them what I'm doing and I let them see what I'm doing, but there comes a time when phones just need to be put away for real face-to-face relating.</p> <p>One of my former high school teachers, Mrs. Seidl shared a picture towards the beginning of the school year. She created a "phone jail" for her classroom as extra incentive to curb the new-age distraction of the cell phone. I thought, what an awesome idea!</p> <p>It inspired me to create my <i>own</i> phone jail for home as extra assurance of uninterrupted family time for dinner and an activity afterwards.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="phone jail 1" /></center></p> <p>The phone jail is for me and my husband. Our kids are young so they don't have their own yet. (Though my toddler likes to stick his play phone in there sometimes.)</p> <p>I just got an old plastic large-sized clear container I had in a laundry room cabinet and used electrical tape to create the stripes. Electrical tape is wonderful to work with because you can stick and unstick several times and it's still good.</p> <p>The label is just folded computer paper and a Sharpie. I know Pinterest folks can really jazz this up if they want to!</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="phone jail 4" /></center></p> <p>This particular night we just kept it very simple and turned off all the lights to make shadow puppets.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="phone jail 5" /></center></p> <p>The kids loved it, and my older boy really looks forward to "family game night."</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="phone jail 6" /></center></p> <p>We have also thrown water balloons at each other outside or just sat on the porch watching fireflies. Sometimes if mom and dad are especially weary, we just watch a movie together with snacks. Anything you do counts and in my book, the simpler the better.</p> <p>Is a phone jail really necessary?</p> <p>Can't we all just turn off our phones and lay them on the counter? Yes.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="phone jail 2" /></center></p> <p>But seeing this jar reminds me every day that we are investing in that time, and I look forward to it. Plus, I like doing crafty things and the kids think it's cool that we have a jail on the counter.</p> <p>It also helps me disconnect from my phone, which I am feeling more and more attached to lately. That little notification light drives my OCD tendencies a little nuts. When my phone is in phone jail, it's off to avoid the temptation to check for little blinking lights!</p> <p>You could also use a phone jail for a girls night in or a date night with your significant other. Or even eating out at lunch. The phone jail on the table would be an interesting conversation piece to meet other people!</p> <p>I would personally think it was cool if I saw one on someone's table.</p> <p>I'm not mad at phones. Mine has come in especially handy on a road trip with the kids. Just know when to put it away and make a phone jail if you need help!</p> <p>Read more life and family posts on my blog <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a><br /> Follow me on Twitter<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"> @RealHonestMom </a><br /> Join my Facebook page <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">RealHonestMom</a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Technology Finding Balance family time phone jail putting phone away Thu, 20 Aug 2015 12:58:37 +0000 AudraRogers 2142014 at You Don't Need to Use Curse Words in Blog Posts <!--paging_filter--><p>I don't care what you want to call it. It's idiotic. I hate reading a blog post with a bunch of f-bombs (or any curse words for that matter). It's like the author can't think of another way to express themselves so they lower their standards to speak as neanderthals. </p> <p>The story may be good but if the post contains a lot of profanity, I refuse to share it or like it, and it's highly doubtful I will come back to that blog ever again.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="curse words" /></center></p> <p>Am I perfect or being self-righteous? No. I. Make. Mistakes. Every. Day. Ask my kids, my husband, or my best friends. I am idiotic at least a few times a day for various reasons. Sometimes I even curse. My temper gets the best of me and then I feel bad afterwards. Like I just lost a few brain cells, too. </p> <p>Why is this a growing trend in the blogging community?</p> <p>Because this crazy world is starving for sensational content that leaves your mouth hung open in awe, whether good or bad, happy or sad. Some writers are turning to profanity to gain attention. Bad news sells, people. </p> <p>Check out the recent top news stories. On <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">NBC</a> it's a missing airliner, a cop on trial for murder, a lion killer, a landslide, and child pornography, among other sad and terrible stories. On <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">CBS</a> you have those stories plus child neglect, the Taliban, voyeurism, missing kids, and a dead baby in a crib. </p> <p>Oh and then, there are political stories and the widely covered election campaigns. I would not place those in the good and happy categories either.</p> <p>There are so many bloggers out there now covering every topic imaginable that it's a fight to go viral. It's a fight to make money writing online. It's a fight to be noticed.</p> <p>Maybe it's in your personality to curse like a sailor. Whatever. You don't need to share it with the world. If that is what you must do to be noticed then you have a problem. It's like the high school it-girl being popular because she's easy. Yeah, the football team may like her, but do they respect her? </p> <p>Learn to write content that people want to read, without being a potty mouth.</p> <p>And media outlets need to stop promoting this content.</p> <p>Will they? Of course not! It makes money! Some sites are even geared toward promoting sensational content. Even certain mommy blogger media outlets. "Oh look, this mommy cusses! That means she's a real person!" No. It means she cusses. </p> <p>I am a real person, and you won't find a curse word on my blog. I don't need to be sensational. I don't need to go viral. Want, yes. Need, no. I will stick to my guns and keep my blog rated "E for everyone."</p> <p>If I can do it, you can, too. Don't follow the crowd like a bunch of lemmings and jump off the cliff into writing oblivion. If you think you will be remembered for your honesty, that may be true. If you think you can't write honestly without cursing, then you are fooling yourself. You can express your feelings without profanity. </p> <p>Just take a look at this post. I think I got my feelings across just fine.</p> <p>Some will agree with me, and others will not. "Your blog is your home. You can write whatever you like in your personal space." This is true.</p> <p>But I don't have to visit your blog if I don't like it, right? Is your freedom to cuss worth losing readers? Maybe it is. I don't know. It's your decision.</p> <p>Tina Marie Ernspiker @ <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Los Gringos Locos</a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Media and Journalism blogging curse words writers Wed, 19 Aug 2015 12:58:44 +0000 Tina Marie Ernspiker 2141135 at Are You Sending Your Child Back to School with a Cell Phone? <!--paging_filter--><p>The age of cell phone spotting has begun in our house. During dinner, the twins provide me with a list of kids in their school whose parents have bought them cell phones. </p> <p>Over half of the list sounds highly suspicious, mostly because they are the children of parents who have sworn that they wouldn't provide their child with a cell phone pre-high school. A few others are probably trying to pass off an iPod Touch as an iPhone. But there are other elementary school kids who do have cell phones because I've seen their cell phones.</p> <p>Yes, I just wrote elementary school.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="cell phone" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">R. Nial Bradshaw</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>There are actually two concurrent discussions going on here: (1) At what age would you buy your child their own phone (and everything that goes along with that including mostly unfettered access to the Internet) and (2) At what age would you allow your child to carry said phone out of the house?</p> <p>I don't accept the argument people trot out that we didn't have cell phones as kids and our parents could communicate with us just fine. The reality was that there were plenty of times when we wasted energy trying to track each other down or parents needlessly worried because their children couldn't reach them.</p> <p>For instance, one day, due to miscommunication, I got stuck at middle school. I called home from the payphone several times, but I had no way of reaching my mother since she wasn't at home and I ran out of quarters. I tried to walk home. She found me while she was driving through the neighborhood, trying to track me down.</p> <p>We accepted that situation -- annoying as it was -- because we didn't have any other choice. Once we could get a calling card, I got a calling card so I would never be quarter-less (and therefore unable to make a call) again. </p> <p>And now we can take it a step further: we can provide the child with a way to reach us and a way for parents to reach their child.</p> <p>So do we do it? Do we provide them with that cell phone? So far we haven't.</p> <p>Because I work out of the house, the twins go to school nearby, and they're only navigating a single home (vs. children of divorce who may move between two places), we don't have a deep need for a cell phone. I'm always the one to pick them up and cart them to their various activities. </p> <p>They certainly don't need it during school hours. (Even if they would love to use it during school hours.) And they're not home after school on their own.</p> <p>Right now they're not going out on their own. Will I change my mind when they're going out to the movies with their friends, especially knowing how impossible it is to find a payphone these days? I have no clue.</p> <p>Of course, if we wanted a way to reach them without navigating the added headache that access to the Internet and social media accounts brings, we could buy them a non-smartphone; just something that can make and accept calls.</p> <p>Is that a complete waste knowing what they really want?</p> <p><b>So weigh in as kids go back to school: are you sending your child to school with a cell phone, and at what age did they begin to use a phone in the house or out of the house</b>?</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Family age cell phone kids Tue, 18 Aug 2015 12:58:16 +0000 Melissa Ford 2146280 at Why I'm Not Posting About Back-to-School on Facebook <!--paging_filter--><p>I love seeing pictures of your kids, I really do. I'm not just saying that because I hope that it will ensure that you don't unfriend me after I write the rest of this post. I really mean it: your kids are damn cute.</p> <p>But I don't know if I'm going to post anything about back-to-school this year on Facebook because I'm already overwhelmed by the wall of back-to-school photos in my feed.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="back-to-school" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Ian Burt</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>While I don't post pictures of my kids online, I do sometimes throw up a status update or two about their lives. But back-to-school, like many other big yearly events, churns out a wall of status feeds all focused on this one event.</p> <p>First there were the last-day-of-school photos followed by the requisite vacation snaps. Then there were the when-is-school-going-to-start status updates. And finally, finally, we have entered the deluge of back-to-school photos.</p> <p>Kids on the front step, smiling wanly at the camera. New sneakers. Hair brushed. Backpack on both shoulders. Matching lunch box dangling from fingers.</p> <p>Sometimes they're holding a sign to announce the grade. Other times they're marching onto the bus. Or walking down the street towards the bus stop. Or into the school. Or grinning while their florescent yellow patrol belt blinds me.</p> <p>And underneath every photo, continuously pushing it back up to the top of my screen, is an on-going patter about how early school starts where the original poster is. Or how late school begins where the commenter lives. Or how they haven't even started back-to-school shopping. Or how they can't wait until their child is out of the house.</p> <p>And then the next week, it starts anew. A constant, roaring deluge of back-to-school photos.</p> <p>They're all cute, but there are so many back-to-school photos that it has become impossible to see anything else. There is no other news bubbling up in my Facebook feed. Insofar as I know, the rest of the world is at a standstill while children march back towards the classroom. </p> <p>And while it was sort of nice to get a break from election commentary, the back-to-school photos have become an impenetratable wall. Nothing can get through.</p> <p>I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I sort of wish we could go back to complaining about presidential candidates. I want to see photos of your dinner or pictures of yourself in your new ModCloth dress.</p> <p>Just a little more variety in my feed.</p> <p>Do you become overwhelmed by your feed at certain times of year when every status update is about the same thing?</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Family back-to-school Facebook Mon, 17 Aug 2015 12:58:21 +0000 Melissa Ford 2145380 at Please Stop Falling for Facebook Scams <!--paging_filter--><p>It seems Facebook has once again been inundated by contests and promotions encouraging otherwise intelligent people to share posts and tag friends, all in the name of winning a dream vacation (or car, or boat, or gift card, or box of kittens, etc). </p> <p>Maybe it's because I'm a skeptic at heart, but I've never fallen for one of these. They're just so obviously scams. Why is it that people that I thought had common sense continually fall for them?</p> <p>Let's make a few things clear. Walt-Disney.World is not a legitimate page. Neither is Disney-Cruise-Line or any other page with misspellings or incorrect usage of punctuation in the title. Shocking, right? If the contest or giveaway seems too good to be true, it probably is.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Here's another easy way to spot a fake. If the post has numerous grammatical errors and misspelled words, it's a fake. Believe it or not, but legitimate companies hire people to post on social media. It is their job to post on Facebook. </p> <p>Somehow I don't think the Walt Disney Company (or Land Rover, or Six Flags, or Target, etc) would pay someone to represent the company on social media who doesn't have at least a basic grasp of English composition. Do you?</p> <p>So, how do you know if a page is legitimate or not? Facebook actually makes it very easy because Facebook verifies pages for us! Crazy, right? If Facebook has verified a page, there will be a blue check mark next to the page title. Here is an example of a Facebook search for Disney Cruise:</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="facebook" /></center></p> <p>It really is quite simple to spot a fake. I could go into all of the reasons <a href="">why "liking" and "sharing" fake pages is a bad idea</a>, but I won't. There are plenty of other blogs and news stories dedicated to that. </p> <p>If I have prevented at least one friend from embarrassing herself by sharing a fake page on Facebook, then my time spent writing this post has been worth it.</p> <p><i>This post originally appeared on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sarcasm Spoken Here</a>. Like it? Find me on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Facebook</a>.</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Facebook fake Facebook pages Fri, 14 Aug 2015 13:03:37 +0000 Sarcasm Spoken Here 2139704 at Want To Get Published? Don't Be Afraid To Pitch <!--paging_filter--><p>If you want to write things somewhere other than your own blog, learning to pitch your ideas effectively is key. </p><!--break--> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>There is a lot that has <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">already been said by much wiser people</a> about learning how to pitch, so I won't get into that (I am still learning, anyway!), but what I will say is this:</p><p>The hardest part about pitching is hitting the send button.</p><p>Each and every single time you send out a pitch, you are setting yourself up for possible rejection. The "thanks, but no thanks" e-mails or the radio silence that you're left to interpret as "no" even though you're hoping it means "maybe they just haven't read it yet" or "sorry, I was on vacation/at a conference/flushed my iPhone down the toilet so I couldn't reply, but your writing is awesome, please write this, here's some money."</p><p> And then when that doesn't happen (which is a lot of the time if you are pitching regularly), you feel pretty terrible and you doubt your own prowess.</p><p>Recently I came across writer/editor <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Kelli Russell Agodon's</a> brilliant article <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">"Submit Like A Man: How Women Writer's Can Become More Successful"</a>, and it pushed me to think differently about my approach to pitching. </p><p>Agodon argues that, in general, women are more likely than men to be held back from their own writing success because of the intimidation factor of inevitable rejection and/or critical feedback, even though rejection or feedback is normal and necessary and in some ways actually a really good thing. We tend to take it personally, and shy away from resubmitting our reworked stuff or pitching new ideas. We stand in our own way.</p><p>The first piece I ever had published online somewhere that wasn't my blog was a piece called <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">"Things You Say That Drive Twin Moms Crazy"</a> on Scary Mommy, one of my favorite parenting humor sites of all time.</p><p> In addition to having a wealth of awesome, hilarious content, they also have an INCREDIBLE reach and web presence, so your stuff will definitely get read. My piece did well <span class="st">—</span> shared over 250k times, over 500 comments, and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">led to a short radio interview about the hilarity of twin parenting</a> <span class="st">—</span> so it was a pretty great experience for a first try! But that piece was also my first foray into pitching, and it was originally rejected, which naturally made me think I was probably a terrible writer and I should never pitch to Scary Mommy again.</p><p>I read the rejection e-mail to my husband (it was actually a really encouraging, positive e-mail with actual feedback from their amazing content manager, whom I completely adore and secretly worship). His response? "So just fix it and try again."</p><p>So I did. I rewrote it that very moment and sent it off a few hours after I'd received the rejection e-mail, and the next day, it was accepted!</p><p> And that one "yes" led me to consider continuing — first to get my first paid piece, then to get my first well-paid piece, then to get my work published in different places I thought would be out of my reach. In other words, I'm really glad I didn't follow my instinct and take that rejection personally.</p><p>A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece that I really wanted to send to a print magazine. I'd never done anything like that before, and I knew it was a pretty big long shot (I could already envision the rejection e-mail in my head).</p><p> I didn't even really think the piece I wrote was as strong as it probably needed to be, but I knew that if I didn't at least try to pitch it, it would go nowhere.</p><p>I closed my eyes and hit send before I could overthink it, and then I spent the rest of the day feeling like an idiot who was wasting an editor's time.</p><p>The next day, I got this e-mail:</p><p>"Hey Alana! Thanks for sending this. I like your writing. Could you send me some more ideas?"</p><p>Uh, yes, I think I can do that!</p><p>Before that e-mail had popped up, I would have paid REAL, ACTUAL DOLLARS to somehow go back in time and NOT send in my submission. I'd read over and over and over again about how editors are constantly bombarded with pitches, and so unless my work was stellar and rock solid, I never bothered to send it out. But now, instead of telling myself that chances are good I'm going to get rejected, I consider this:</p><p>Editors want you to send them stuff because it is their job to publish things. If you are on the ball and good at writing and you've done your homework and can deliver on what you're offering, then you're <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">already ahead of the curve</a>. And if your pitch really does suck? Chances are it's already a distant memory in the editor's mind once he or she has said, "Not for us, sorry!" Ruminating on it for days afterwards will only make you hate yourself.</p><p>Got an idea kicking around that you're afraid to pitch? Pitch it anyway. </p><p>Have you been pitching stuff and keep getting turned down? Keep pitching until someone says yes. </p><p>As terrifying as is to put your work out there, the only way it'll ever see the light of day is if you pitch it. Pitching gets you published. Pitching makes you a writer.</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Media and Journalism Career Work/Life blogging freelance writing Pitching an Editor Thu, 13 Aug 2015 20:10:21 +0000 Alana Romain 2130261 at How (and Why) to Use Your Existing Content to Create Something New <!--paging_filter--><p>Repurposing your content merely means taking work you've already done and reformatting it so that it looks and feels new. It has one obvious benefit: You've already written most of it, so you don't have to start from scratch. Easy, right? </p> <p>It can be … but repackaging content is an art. You can and should work with content you've already created to come up with innovations on themes you cover often, find new audiences, and solidify your areas of expertise across platforms.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="How (and Why) to Use Your Existing Content to Create Something New" /><em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Mark Crossman</a> via Flickr Creative Commons</em></center></p> <p>You can also repackage your content by turning written material into video, ebooks, podcasts, presentations, and the like, though today I'll mostly focus on synthesizing existing written posts into a new post.</p> <p> <h2>Reformatting for a new audience</h2> </p> <p>If you're looking at expanding your work to a new site or platform, you can tailor things you've already worked on to the style required. For example, for SheKnows Experts, we know that <a href="">infographic content</a> is interesting to our audience, so if an Expert has an older post that might make a great infographic, we'll work with her on getting that designed. Same content, new format; new audience via SheKnows, and potentially a new audience via Pinterest as well, since the more visual content is friendlier to that platform.</p> <p>Looking at my own content, I notice that <a href="">The Great Non-Dairy Ice Cream Taste-Off</a> performed well. It would make a great candidate for a cute infographic with my tasting notes next to each type of ice cream base … though I'd probably want to update it first, since I wrote it a few years back. (I doubt that research will pose much of a problem).</p> <p>Infographics do take design time (one benefit of being a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">SheKnows Expert</a> is the ability to use our design team). But you can do the same kind of reformatting with the information you work with a lot, changing it up to align it to your new audience. </p> <p>For example, I write a lot about writing and blogging tips on BlogHer. If I were repurposing for a post on SheKnows, I know the audience isn't made up of writers like BlogHer is. I'd consider taking some of my best posts about writing tips and turning them into tips for all kinds of creativity instead.</p> <p> <h2>Finding and expanding on themes</h2> </p> <p>As much as I love saving time, I most love repackaging because, as an editor nerd, it's fun to tease out commonalities from posts I hadn't realized had something in common. The key is to synthesize a new twist from the stuff you have, so it strengthens your expertise on the subject without feeling like an echo chamber.</p> <p>Once you've decided which current posts support your new idea, you can excerpt from earlier posts and link back to them. So literally you just need to write a new intro/angle, conclusion, and transitions. Sometimes, you'll see you have two-thirds of a great post, and you can add a little bit of new writing to make a really great new one. (This gets easier when you have a bigger backlog of content to choose from, by the way.)</p> <p>For instance, I took a look at my (tons of) posts on, and saw I am extremely prone to celebrating writerly holidays. On January 1, maybe I'll create a post or graphic of The Year in Word Nerd Holidays, drawing on existing work about <a href="">National Poetry Month</a>, <a href="">Punctuation Day</a>, <a href="">Grammar Day</a> (they're different), and <a href="">Pun Day</a> (I really <a href="">like Pun Day</a>.</p> <p> <h2>Solidifying and reinforcing your expertise</h2> </p> <p>Often, a topic you've written about becomes relevant again—child water safety is back in the news due to a tragic accident, say, or it's August 13 and people are searching for back-to-school tips. Don't miss the opportunity to reinforce your expertise. </p> <p>For example, next Thanksgiving, I'll probably round up my best pie tips from the <a href="">Month of Pie</a> experiment I did a few years back.</p> <p>Another way to reinforce your expertise is by conducting an interview. Finding people who are also experts on your topic will allow you to revisit material you've already covered, extend the conversation to create something new, and place yourself squarely within in the community of experts on your topic. </p> <p>For instance, on Grammar Day, I might take the post <a href="">Six Companies That Get Grammar Right</a> as a starting point to invite other editors, or maybe a brand expert, to an interview about the importance of good grammar in business.</p> <p> <h2>Expanding into non-written repackaging</h2> </p> <p>Exploring other formats besides online writing helps you expand your audience even further, by placing it on different platforms. </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Say you're ready to share your expertise in the form of tips or lessons. Just as you expanded repackaging different lessons into a new post, you can also take those tips and turn them into any of several different learning formats. (If you're a SheKnows Expert, talk to your editor, who can help you decide whether there's a format we can collaborate on!)</p> <ul> <li>Use PowerPoint or an online tool like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Canva</a>, or the tools at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Slideshare</a> to create a presentation deck. Uploading your learnings to Slideshare exposes them to the site's native audience, and gives you back an embed tool so you can put your new deck into a post.</li> <li>You can then use that deck to host a webinar hosted on a site like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>, and possibly organize them into a class on a site like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Udemy</a></li> <li>You can also repurpose that same deck to propose yourself as a speaker (to <a href="">BlogHer</a> or somewhere else), either to demonstrate your ability to organize a presentation, or as the content of the panel itself</li> <li>Consider using a tool like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Animoto</a> to turn your work into a video</li> <li>Host a Twitter chat where people can ask questions about your topic</li> <li>You can also gather your tips or lessons on a topic and turn them into an ebook and put it on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Amazon</a> and similar sites, which can expand your audience ... and even make you a little money.</li> </ul> <p>I suggest you review your existing pool of content quarterly and think about what you've written with an eye to eventual repurposing, repackaging, and revisiting. If you're truly organized, you might want to keep a Google doc by topic so you have your work handy!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools BlogHer University Thu, 13 Aug 2015 16:35:29 +0000 Julie Ross Godar 2147030 at Sorry For Being a Crappy Blogger <!--paging_filter--><p>I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for being such a crappy blogger. I'm sure right now there are about four or five of you saying, "oh my God, don't say that, you are amazing and the sun doesn't shine till you wake up in the morning!" And to you four, I would like to say thank you, you're the real heroes. </p> <p>But yes, I have been a crappy blogger.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="sorry" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Butupa</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Every Pinterest article ever pinned about blogging has one thing in common, the importance of consistency. I have not been all that consistent. Some weeks it's five posts, some one, some none. I just swing whatever way the wind blows. I know its a no-no, and I know I need to stop, or start, whatever.</p> <p>Somewhat related, I feel like I need to have something very specific and concrete before I post. Some of my favorite blogs (<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Helene In Between</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Daily Tay</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Living in Yellow</a>) often feel like you're catching up with a friend over coffee, and I love that.</p> <p>They post a lot about what's going on in their lives, and that's something I've never really done. I mean, obviously my posts are very much written in my voice. But writing about what I did over the weekend, a vacation, a dress I'm thinking of buying, basically me, is something I'm not super comfortable with.</p> <p>I think it boils down to the fact that any time I start a post that's really about me or what I'm doing I think, "who the heck would want to read about this?" and I stop dead in my tracks. Don't be fooled by my partially (to fully) hidden face selfies, I don't think I'm all that swell and I second-guess everything I do. </p> <p>I guess it's easier for me to write about something completely removed from my life or to make myself the butt of the joke. It doesn't make for the best writing and you guys deserve better, all four of you.</p> <p>So my promise to you is to do better, to do more, and to show you more of myself. It won't be pretty, but let's be honest, it never really was, pretty isn't my "brand." </p> <p>Now I'm not saying my life is particularly exciting (it's not), but maybe you'll like my blog for the same reason I like other blogs, you're a nosy mo-fo who likes to creep on other people's lives.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media blogger blogging life Thu, 13 Aug 2015 13:14:17 +0000 Heather Foley 2136562 at Everything I Know About How to Write Irresistible Headlines <!--paging_filter--><!--break--> <p>For a while, we here at BlogHer thought the art of the witty headline was dead and SEO murdered it, leaving behind a keyword-laden husk of the vibrant art form that produced <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Headless Body in Topless Bar</a>.</p> <p>There is a little truth behind our hand-wringing: It IS very good for SEO to put keywords in your post title. However, the actual post title isn't the only way you're attracting readers. </p> <p>You're also sharing some version of your post title and maybe some teaser copy on Facebook, Twitter, in newsletters, and probably in some programmable areas of your website. These places call for the art of the enticing headline.</p> <p>Great advice for headlines often comes from the original attention-grabbers: advertising copywriters. Here are some headline tips we like from <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Brian Clark at Copyblogger</a>.</p> <ul><li>Be USEFUL to the reader.</li> <li>Provide her with a sense of URGENCY.</li> <li>Convey the idea that the main benefit (of reading the story) is somehow UNIQUE. </li><li>Do all of the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way.</li></ul> <p>I would add a fifth U: Keep a little bit of the story UNTOLD, so there's something in there to pique the reader's curiosity.</p> <p>That seems like a pretty tall order for something that should probably happen in fewer than ten words, right? And it is, which is why even headlines follow trends. In the past year, You-Won't-Believe-Why-This-Cat-Wrote-That-Headline trendsetter <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Upworthy announced it was moving away from clickbait headlines</a>, with co-founder Peter Koechley saying the site had "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">unleashed a monster</a>."</p> <p>Here's what I think Koechley meant: Getting the right people to click on a post they're then happy to read requires more than writing click-fishing headlines. It's a combination of a bunch of things. An interesting headline is a start, but you also need a few sentences of relevant teaser text, and an interesting, illustrative image (which may or may not contain text). Then, you need to share whichever combination of headline, teaser, and image is most appropriate for the platform at hand. </p> <p>For example, in Facebook, you'll want to make sure it's showing in the image that you want for your post (we've all had that moment when Facebook pulled in something unrecognizable, right?), isn't truncating your awesome teaser copy, and is using the headline that will appeal to your Facebook friends (as opposed to your blog readers or Twitter followers). </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="match" /><br /><em>Public Domain Image via Pixabay</em></center></p> <h2>Tips for Writing Compelling Headlines</h2> <p>Google has turned us all more logical than we would've been otherwise. If you're my age or older, you remember how hard it was to use the card catalog in the library, because HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT THEY'D FILE THIS BOOK UNDER? Now do you question what to type into the little box to find a book on toenail art? No, you do not. Your brain has changed. Thank you, Google. Use that superpower and write your headline exactly as you would type your search string. That's how you start a good SEO-friendly headline you can then work with to make more interesting, starting by playing with the below.</p> <ul> <li>Use who/what/when/where/why/how language in your headlines if your post is a "service piece" (that is to say, a very useful, usually evergreen post). Examples: How to tie a scarf; When to throw out leftovers. </li> <br /> <li>For rants, try "Dear X" formats. Use a name if the person is famous. Otherwise, use an uber-specific description. Examples: "Dear Kim Kardashian, I do not want your butt to break the Internet." "Dear Prius driver in the carpool lane, I know you can go faster than that." Experiment!</li> <br /> <li>The reason the above "Dear X" format works well? People not only react to specifics, but to emotions. If you're working on a story that rouses emotion, lead with that in the headline. Example: "A guide to everyone you hate on airplanes, and how not to be one of them."</li> <br /> <li>People like numbers, and we find they particularly like numbers over 10, written numerically (as opposed to being spelled out: 8 rather than eight). Again, specifics are eye-catching. Example: "17 foods you didn't know contained gluten" (which is not only specific, but extremely useful to those who are gluten-free).</li> <br /> <li>Use 11 or fewer words. Any more and your brilliance risks getting cut off, so make every word count. Adjectives should be specifically descriptive and unusual where possible. Example: "Landmark divorce ruling awards everything to the wife"&mdash;that word "landmark" shows the reader that it's not only unusual, but new and important.</li> <br /> <li>However, aim for a conversational tone. A how-you-really-speak headline is more relatable than the newspapery convention of eliminating all articles and sounding like a telegram. Example: "The easiest way to make your hairstyle actually stay all day"&mdash;that "actually" does contribute to the meaning by implying that most methods don't work (but this one does). It also conveys to the reader that the writer has been frustrated herself and has an emotional investment in this solution.</li> <br /> <li>Be accurate. One huge reason people hate clickbait headlines is that the story doesn't live up to expectations. If your story isn't life-changing, unbelievable, irresistible, unmissable, don't say so or you risk annoying your reader.</li> <br /> <li>And ... remember not to overuse any of these headline tactics, or you risk sounding less like you than like Listicle Bot, or Angry Ranter, or Hand-Wringing Pearl Clutcher. To that point, our most important headline tip is this: <strong>Don't forget to be your human self.</strong> Ask yourself of every headline: Would you click on it? (Really?) Does it sound conversational, even though it's brief? And does it reflect your voice and the tone of your piece? </li> </ul> <h2>How to Add Text to Make Images Work as Part of Your "Headline"</h2> <p>Consider adding text to an image you include with your piece. But don't use the exact same text on your image as you use in your headline. Remember, many social media platforms pull in the headline and the image, so repeating the same text just looks redundant (and wastes an opportunity to add more text the reader might need to click on your post). </p> <p>One more thing: Make sure you have permission to use images before you use them. Please. I beg you. Once you have checked to make sure you have permission to use the image, check to see if you can modify it before you put any text on it. For more on how to add text to an image, check out <a href="">Julie Ross Godar's excellent post on the topic</a>.</p> <p>Think about expanding this idea into a graphic or even infographic treatment. If you're a SheKnows Expert, talk with your editor about working with the design team on your idea, whether it's text, graphic, or infographic&mdash;help from our designers is a benefit of being part of the Experts community!</p> <h2>How to Think About Your First Paragraph as a "Headline" </h2> <p>Though you can override it, platforms like Facebook pull in the first few sentences of your piece. The first paragraph of a piece is known as a lead paragraph (often spelled "lede" by editors). Usually, your lede will be a concise and interesting reason to read the post. Keep it to three sentences or fewer and see the Copyblogger guidelines above&mdash;they totally apply here. All the important stuff should either be in this paragraph, in a few killer sentences. Keep in mind your readers are very likely reading your post on their phones in the line at the grocery store. </p><!--pagebreak--> <p>Sometimes, you'll choose to go with a different lede&mdash;something that works up to your point to give context or for writerly reasons. That's okay, but remember that you'll want to fill in all summary fields in whichever your platform or CMS may be, and you'll want to manually enter a "lede" that can stand on its own when you share to places like Facebook. (Another perk of the SheKnows Experts community is that the editors do this for you.)</p> <h2>More Useful Tips on Headline Writing</h2> <ul> <li><a href="">How to Write a Headline or Teaser That's Impossible to Ignore</a></li> <li><a href="">Old-School Skills That Still Matter</a></li> </ul> <p><b>What have you found works for you when writing headlines?</b></p> <p><em>Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel <i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">THE OBVIOUS GAME</a></i> & the managing editor of</em></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Career Work/Life BlogHer University Wed, 12 Aug 2015 17:07:08 +0000 Rita Arens 2140972 at Is It Still Okay to Blog About My Kids? <!--paging_filter--><p>As my kids have grown out of infancy, I've thought more and more about where the boundaries are around what I share on my blog and on other forms of social media. I think about it quite a lot, and I've wanted to write about it many times, but I have backed off every time in fear of being too judgmental of other parents. </p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>I don't want to add to all the noise in social media about how parents aren't doing this or that right. I know intimately how completely overwhelming and crazymaking that can be when it reaches a certain pitch.</p> <p>So this is not an advice column – more of an invitation to work through this question with me, because it can be pretty tricky and confusing. How much is okay to share when it comes to our children? When it comes to photos, anecdotes, funny moments, hard moments, and when it comes to asking for advice or support?</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="teddy bear" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Bjorn Laczay</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I like to write about my life (obviously), and I'm not one to bemoan the evils of social media too much. I am an autistic parent, which means that like most parents, I have a need to connect with other adults who share similar interests and experiences. </p> <p>But like most autistics (and introverts, for that matter), I have a limited amount of energy to socialize in person or on the phone. (Actually I have NO energy to socialize on the phone and would rather stab myself repeatedly in the eyes with a fork, thank you very much.) </p> <p>So, for me, Facebook and Twitter and blogging are pretty much the best things since sliced bread.</p> <p>My kids are a big part of my life of course, and I'm with them almost all day almost every day. They take up a lot of my headspace. I love them and think they things they say and do are interesting and amusing. </p> <p>It's natural for me to want to share some of that as I write about my days, I think, but the older they get they more I become aware that their stories are not mine to tell. </p> <p>So more and more lately, I am trying to zero in on the incredibly fine line between writing about my life as their parent, and not writing about their lives as individuals who have a right to privacy but do not actually know what the internet even IS yet besides an endless fount of cool videos.</p> <p>When I think back on my childhood, my parents are part of my story, an integral part, a shaping influence, but they aren't the main characters. I am. And my kids are the main characters in their own stories, not supporting actors in mine.</p> <p>So if you have noticed that I've been writing less and less about them on my blog, it's not just because my autism diagnosis has provided me with a lot of non-kid-related material, but also because I am deliberately moving away from oversharing. </p> <p>I suppose "mommy blogging" seemed less problematic to me when the kids were babies. New parents are on a steep learning curve. I know that I was quite frantic at times to reach out and ask whether I was doing anything at all right! </p> <p>And since babies pretty much all do more or less the same things (eat, sleep, cry, poop), I don't think anyone's child will mortified to learn that his mom once asked whether the consistency of his poop was normal. Hey, we all wondered about that at some point. And all babies poop. They aren't terribly private about it either.</p> <p>I don't know when exactly they change over from Everybaby to little tiny people, but they definitely do. And then all the questions begin. What is okay to share? What isn't?</p> <p>The business of protecting privacy while sharing our lives is so complicated and multilayered. I have been developing a rather convoluted system of levels of privacy. </p> <p>I share pics of the kids on Instagram, but I monitor who is following me. I don't share kid pics on Twitter. I do share some funny kid stuff on Twitter but without using their names. I share photos of the kids on Facebook a little less than on Instagram, and I do share funny or cute stuff about them with their names. </p> <p>But I also have some different friends lists for different levels of intimacy. I do share photos and names and some anecdotes on my blog, but honestly, I'm becoming less and less comfortable with that stuff and thinking about how to move away from that while still writing about being a parent.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Sometimes I wonder if I will lose followers who came here for cute kid stories and are getting bored of hearing about sensory issues or social justice or whatever else is on my mind. But hey, it's <i>my</i> blog.</p> <p>I do still like to read about other people's family lives. Other people have come up with other solutions to this privacy issue, like blogging under pseudonyms. I decided a few years ago not to be pseudonymous here because this body of work is important to me and I want to have my name on it. </p> <p>Some people make their blogs private, another good strategy, but I didn't do that for the same reason cited above. Perhaps I could have invented names for the kids, but that would probably be a flimsy wall to climb if anyone wanted to find them.</p> <p>I like the idea of asking the kids' permission to write about them, and probably will someday, but they aren't old enough yet to understand what writing on the internet means. When I do write about my children, I try to keep in my mind the idea of them someday reading this. Or of their friends someday reading this. </p> <p>Or of their boss someday googling them and finding this. I never want them to feel embarrassed or as though I made their lives all about me.</p> <p>Though I would be happy for them to someday read this and know that I respected them, was proud of them, and felt privileged to stay home with them. I know I have not always managed this well, but I'm trying very hard to do better.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Pop Culture Family #blogging #oversharing #parenting Wed, 12 Aug 2015 13:11:08 +0000 eisforerin 2137358 at A Simple Trick That Will Get You Writing 1000+ Words a Day <!--paging_filter--><p>When writers don't feel they are writing enough, they often resort to trying to write a certain numbers of words each day as a challenge. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Setting a goal of writing a certain number of words each day can be motivating and get you to write more than you would have otherwise done. </p> <p>The problem is many writers set a daily goal which is too difficult to achieve which makes them feel as if they failed. The sad part is they may be writing more than they ever were, but still feel as if they failed because of an arbitrary number. </p> <p>There's an easy solution to this which will also greatly increase you chances of continuing your challenge long term.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="writing" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Fredrik Rubensson</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>When most people decide they want to write a certain number of words a day of any amount (500, 1000, 2500, 5000, etc) they will set that amount as the minimum amount they need to write each day. In the short term, that's usually OK. </p> <p>When one first begins a challenge, they are motivated to write and they'll usually hit their number. As time goes on, however, it can get more difficult, especially when the inevitable life reality comes into play.</p> <p>If, for example, the minimum number of words the writer wants to compose each day is 1000, she may reach that goal the first week. Then one day, there is a family issue which eats into her normal writing time. Due to this, she fails to reach her 1000-word minimum for the day. </p> <p>Many will continue, trying to add the number of words missed to the next day. Inevitably, the writer falls too far behind, gets frustrated and quits feeling they failed to meet the challenge goal. They feel this way even if the challenge helped them to write more than they would have normally written.</p> <p>First, you need to keep track of how much you're writing. Many writing programs already have this, but if you write with software that doesn't, you can get the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">word count here</a>. This will keep you honest so you know how many words you're actually writing each day rather than estimating (or trying to count them all by hand).</p> <p>The easy solution to this is to have the goal of writing 1000 words a day, but going in knowing that things happen and there will be days when 1000 words will be unrealistic. Instead, a better way to set up the challenge is to say the goal is 1000 words a day, but the absolute minimum that needs to be written is 100 words.</p> <p> <h1>Why a 100-Word Minimum?</h1> </p> <p>The 100-word minimum is important for a couple of reasons. First, it forces you to commit to writing something each day even when you are busy. With 1000 words if things get busy, it's easy to say you don't have the time to write 1000 words that day, so you don't write anything at all. </p> <p>There is absolutely no excuse not to write 100 words except if you aren't committed to writing.</p> <p>In the end, being committed to writing each and every day is far more important than the actual number of words you put down on paper. If you commit to sitting and writing something each day, you're going to end up writing a lot more than if you aren't. </p> <p>In addition, the commitment to write daily will form a habit of daily writing. Instilling that habit will greatly increase the number of words you write no matter what your daily goal happen to be.</p> <p>The second important factor the 100-word minimum has is that it greatly increases your chances of success. When you know you only have to write 100 words to be successful for the day, there is a lot less pressure. </p> <p>Sure, if you don't reach your goal of 1000 words, you will be disappointed in yourself, but you won't feel like a failure because you still hit the 100-word minimum. The next day you can start fresh trying to write the 1000+ words, not feeling the pressure of trying to make up any deficit in numbers from the day before. </p> <p>With the 100 words as a minimum, it's simply a lot more difficult to fail. And since it's more difficult to fail, the likelihood is you will continue a lot longer than you would have if you set a higher daily word minimum.</p> <p>Many may think creating a minimum number of 100 words when the real goal is 1000+ words a day will mean you'll write less since your absolute minimum is so low. I have found this to be 100% wrong. The truth is the opposite will likely happen. This is especially true if you are committed to the 1000 words a day goal. </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>All the 100-word minimum does is to give you a needed out on days when things go crazy without making you feel the craziness forced you to fail.</p> <p>Some may ask, why have any minimum number of words at all? By committing to 100 words a day, you make writing each and every day a priority in your life. If you are to succeed in meeting your writing goals, writing has to be a priority. </p> <p>If you can skip days without writing anything, it becomes easier to skip writing again and again, or even worse, it becomes a habit. The 100 words shows that writing is a priority and writing be done to some extent every day no matter how busy that day may be.</p> <p>The next time you decided to take on a writing challenge, try this alternative approach when you make the commitment. I think you'll find you are able to complete a lot more of them, and increase your writing productivity which is, in essence, the reason you take the challenge in the first place.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools NaBloPoMo blogging tricks writing tips Tue, 11 Aug 2015 12:23:38 +0000 savingadvice 2135682 at Think Before You Make Personal Attacks on the Internet <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p><i>Editor's Note: I loved this post and think it's a really important read, especially as we ramp up into election season over here in the US. --Mel</i></p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>I currently have a "no personal attacks" rule that I try to stick to on the Internet and it fucking sucks. I think this actually might be why I curse <i>so much</i> right now. You see, long ago I used to be one of those "tell it like it is" people. </p> <p>Way back when, on MySpace, I even documented my inability to argue without attacking on my blog. This incarnation of me would bust in with guns blazing on all manner of occasions. It was too much, it was superficial, and it was annoying. Sure, it was kind of funny, but almost always at someone else's expense.</p> <p>It didn't really matter that I was insulting people in the news or that I knew in real life, either. I just wrote the first thoughts that came into my mind when reacting to something I'd read or experienced. </p> <p>Granted, I'd take the time to write the stories out the best I could. I worked to make them read well, make sense, and provoke reactions. All I wanted to do was make people laugh, so I figured no harm, no foul.</p> <p>Welp, I was wrong. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="stop sign" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Clover Autrey</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I realize now that what I was doing was feeding into the troll mentality. When you add your voice to the ether and you give it a troll's intonation, you're broadcasting that it's OK to be somewhat verbally abusive. Being mean is acceptable, so long as there's a punch line or a point. </p> <p>That's not to say that I'm clutching pearls over here. I realize that in comedy, people make fun of things all the time. I get it; that's comedy, that's comedy writing. Comments on the Internet, however, are not the same goddamn thing.</p> <p>I used to work in an open office. What that means is that there are no walls separating employees. No one has a real office and there are no doors. We were to see one another as equals, not rungs on some metaphorical ladder. Even the conference rooms were made of glass. Transparency was for everyone in this office, and it was horrifying. </p> <p>It took a while, but eventually I got over the fact that everyone could hear and see me at all times. Looking back, I'm unsure as to why I was so uncomfortable with this setting. After all, I'm an Internet nerd. This is where I live, and here, you're always being watched, especially when you make comments on posts.</p> <p>Back at this open office gig, my colleagues and I would take great delight in peering awkwardly into conference rooms. We liked to do this whenever we caught our friends looking up from an infinitely boring meeting that was running predictably long. If we could get them to laugh quietly to themselves, we'd consider it a win. </p> <p>If they LOL-ed, we'd scurry away so we wouldn't get caught in the crossfire of disapproving glances of objection, shot amongst the Big Dogs in the room.</p> <p>Similarly, we're all watching when your comment appears beneath a news article or some media outlet's Facebook post. Most people won't care about what you're saying, some will agree, and lots will be combative. </p> <p>Think of comments more like conversations you're having with other human beings in conference rooms with glass walls, because that's essentially what they are.</p> <p>The best part about working in an office with transparent conference rooms? Whenever two people would take their heated conversations into one of those spaces and proceed to have it out. Granted, this was an important office and these were all important people -- not me, everyone else -- so they almost always maintained decorum. </p> <p>Those of us on the outside, though, we all knew how to read the reactions. Every eye roll, shrug, and darting glance registered. We could plainly see when things were spinning out of control. Watching those "meetings" crash and burn was an office perk on the level of the free catered food. </p> <p>In addition to free office food, everyone likes a good soap opera, even fancy people in fancy clothes, doing fancy business.</p> <p>What I'm getting at is that your comment wars are the soap operas of the Internet, guys. Everyone's watching. Do you really want to be the irrational asshole that can't get their argument straight and who devolved into a pile of personal attacks within the first two exchanges?</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>No one wants to be the raving lunatic because no one listens to crazy. Sure, you can verbally spar with some nimrod that's either baiting you into it or completely oblivious, but where's the point in that? After it's over, all you'll have left is a record of how easily you can lose your cool available online. </p> <p>It'll be there forever unless you delete it, but that would just make you a coward. So you see, you're screwed either way.</p> <p>This is not to say that posting jerk remarks will be easy to avoid. Spewing personal attacks at complete strangers is easy, especially when they don't agree with what you're trying to get across. As a matter of fact, nothing feels simpler when you're sitting safely behind a keyboard and glowing screen. </p> <p>It can also be <i>fun</i>, I know. It's exciting to fling out a burn at some asshole that's just attempted to shut you down. Sometimes, it can even feel downright exhilarating to shut somebody up in no uncertain terms, but save your energy instead.</p> <p>What good is it to shut the bad guy down if you become the asshole in the process? What are you, Donald Trump? You don't wanna be Trump. I don't even think Trump wants to be Trump. Sure the money must be nice, but let's be real for a minute here; no one gets that bitter by living a happy and fulfilling life.</p> <p>Besides, insults are the easy way out. They're the smoke bombs of the Internet. You fling a little mud, you distract from the conversation, and you're out. It doesn't matter what you were saying prior to that moment. Your views could have been valid or thought provoking, but you've just nullified all of that with a personal attack. </p> <p>You are now the troll and you know what they say about trolls: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Online Trolls are literally losers according to study –</a></p> <p>Ultimately, you're going to say the wrong thing to the wrong person and they're either going to ruin your day, or you're going to regret something you've said. Trust me. You will go entirely too far one day and the world will be just outside your glass conference room, watching as you crash and burn. </p> <p>Hell, I'll probably be in the stands. Don't worry. I'll let out a loud "woooooooooooo," so you know it's me.</p> <p>I'm going to be honest with you. When someone shoots you down, it's going to hurt. The takedown won't feel good, but the burns will heal. Contrastingly, when you've said something you regret, it sticks around much longer. It can ruin friendships and even jobs and you won't even have made your point because, as I said earlier, no one listens to crazy.</p> <p>If your objective online is just to harass people, you're a miserable dick, plain and simple. (That's not trolling, that's just me being my usual abrasive and direct self.) Alternatively, if your objective is to actually connect with people, discuss issues, and gain perspective, then you might want to consider laying off the insults.</p> <p>It bears mentioning that while it's true that we should never feed the trolls, there's nothing wrong with refuting their nonsense before exiting the show. No, there will be no winning, but someone will come along after you've gone, they'll read your response, and they'll know to ignore that idiot, too. </p> <p>If someone disrespects you, address it if necessary, but tread ever so deftly. The battle for the Internet rages in every comment section, every day and we all become warriors the moment we toss our words into the ring. And finally, here's my plea: Get on the good side and help us crush the bitter net of the 90s because if Skynet doesn't get us, the asshole trolls will.</p> <p>SocialCoJane<br /></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Funny internet trolls social media Mon, 10 Aug 2015 12:19:31 +0000 SocialCoJane 2130434 at 10 Things I Hope To See In Lena Dunham's Newsletter <!--paging_filter--><p>Dear Lena Dunham, </p><p> I've loved you since the first time I laid eyes on you. It was 2013 and you were receiving a Golden Globe award. I loved your chocolate colored dress, your hair, your tats, your speech. That I didn't discover you or your award-winning show, "Girls," sooner was because I was buried under two little babies under 2 and didn't have cable.</p><p> </p><p><center><img src="/files/lenadunhamgirls.jpg" alt="Lena Dunham is starting a newsletter called Lenny" /><br /> <em>Jan. 5, 2015 - New York, New York, U.S. - Actresses ZOSIA MAMET, LENA DUNHAM, ALLISON WILLIAMS and JEMIMA KIRKE attend the New York premiere of HBO's 'Girls' Season 4 held at the American Museum of Natural History. (Credit Image: © Nancy Kaszerman/</em></center></p> When I heard that you and Jenni Konner are launching a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">newsletter called Lenny</a> in September, I subscribed via email right away. <p> I love it already. You got me right from the tagline, "An email newsletter where there's no such things as too much information." The background slideshow of you eating donuts with your "Girls" castmates, hugging a dog and posing for a mock-up of the rousing WE CAN DO IT poster is perfection. I love that it's billed as a mixture of high and low—I can find out where Jemima Kirke gets her palazzo pants, while getting current information on abortion options. </p><p> Thank you for not making me choose between trendy nail polish and social activism. Thank you for promising diversity and making clear it's not just for "straight, white, cisdenger women." Thank you for covering the vast territory that GOOP ignores, which includes the young and broke. </p><p> While I am a few (ahem) years beyond your demographic, I plan to be an avid reader and supporter of your project. Here are 10 areas I hope your newsletter covers. </p><p><strong> 1. Race </strong></p><p> Please engage your readers in discussions about race. In our current cultural climate, when women like 28-year-old Sandra Bland can die in a Texas jail cell after a traffic stop, you cannot ignore these issues. Invite columnists of all races to contribute to your newsletter. Make your newsletter a space where real change happens for women, where social justice is something more than just a hashtag, and where women can unite in the solution of this country's greatest ills. You have been a vocal supporter of women's rights, but that discussion has to include race. It's imperative. </p><p><strong> 2. Sex </strong></p><p> I want to read stories about women enjoying their sexuality. Testimonials about great positions or how to have more fun sexually with our partners in a sex positive way is something I would read and pass along to all my friends. </p><p><strong> 3. Friendship</strong></p><p> You've achieved incredible success at a very young age. Tell us how your friends reacted to it. Any stories about friendships that withered after you achieved such great success? You're friends with Taylor Swift. Are you ever jealous of Taylor Swift's popularity? How do you manage intimate friendships when you are a public figure? </p><p><strong> 4. Book reviews</strong></p><p> You wrote a book, so you must be a reader right? Tell us what you think of Aziz Ansari's new dating book, "Modern Love." Review Mindy Kaling's second book when it comes out this fall. I'm dying to stay in touch with the hot reads, so I'll be looking to you for the short list of your favorites. </p><p><strong> 5. Style<strong></strong></strong></p><p> You have incredible style. Can you give us some tips on how to wade through all the images of size zero models on the catwalk to find something fun and funky all our own? I'm STILL dying over the red leather skirt you wore on Seth Meyers' show. Show us ladies with real curves how to pull off great style. </p><p><strong> 6. Gossip </strong></p><p> I'm not saying you should go "Mean Girls" on us, but if you wanted to tell us what Jimmy Fallon has in his green room or what Taylor Swift has in her purse, I'd click on that every single time. Who can kick ass at Soul Cycle? Who loves the paparazzi? You have access to lots of interesting, artistic, creative, odd-ball people. Don't make me get all my juice from Us Weekly. </p><p><strong> 7. Election year information </strong></p><p> As we head into an election year, I want information about each candidate's views on all matters affecting women and our daughters: abortion, North Korea, immigration, federal maternity leave policy, gun control, gay marriage, transgender rights. </p><p><strong> 8. TV </strong></p><p> Give me the scoop on shows I should be watching, besides yours of course. What shows educate and entertain? Which ones are sex positive and have great female characters? What should I watch when I'm done binge-watching "Girls," "Orange Is the New Black" and "Scandal"? </p><p><strong> 9. Sisterhood </strong></p><p> Your book had lots of great stories about your sister (some of which created quite a stir). Can you tell us more about that relationship? How do you and your sister negotiate the public commentary on your relationship? How do you deal with competition? Has your relationship with your sister helped you form these great partnerhsips with women like Konner and your Girls' castmates? </p><p><strong> 10. Mistakes/Regrets </strong></p><p> My favorite thing about you is your openness. I'd love to read about mistakes you've made. How did you make them right? Who helped you? What's your process for discerning how to amend your behavior once you've made a mistake? How does it feel to make mistakes as a famous person?</p><p> <em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mom.Me</a></em></p> <h2>More from Mom.Me</h2> <ul><li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I Can't Wait Until Lena Dunham Becomes a Mom</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lena Dunham: "Yes, I Am a Feminist"</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">20 Breastfeeding Myths... Busted!</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Family News & Politics Entertainment Fri, 07 Aug 2015 19:39:49 +0000 2138441 at 5 Things That Inspired Me to Return to Blogging <!--paging_filter--><p>I enthusiastically started my lifestyle blog January 2015. I researched the blogging process, selected a platform, bought books about blogging as well as a blog planner. I even found online mentors whose step by step advice I could follow. </p> <p>After gathering all these resources, I sat in front my computer and created a few decent blog posts. Three weeks later, my creative well dried up. I didn't know what else to write.</p> <p>I left the blogging world within a matter of weeks. I now realize I made some strategic errors in my first attempt at blogging. After taking a couple months off, I am now prepared to blog consistently. Here are five things that helped me renew my enthusiasm and inspired me to return to blogging.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="inspiration" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Jennifer</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>1. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Facebook</a>. As with most social media users, I get a lot of my news from Facebook. My news feed is consistently full of articles from news outlets or posts from my friends about current events that provoke me to comment.</p> <p>I'd spend almost an hour each day reading articles about racism, gender inequality, poverty, animal cruelty, marriage equality, etc. I don't just read, I post lengthy comments, especially when a user posts something derogatory or asinine. </p> <p>My long winded responses got me thinking, if I felt this passionate about a subject, I could totally write a blog post about it instead of just commenting on a Facebook post. This is what I intend to do.</p> <p>2. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Google Trends.</a> When it came to content creation, I was a poor planner. I failed to realize that writing about trending topics could enhance by the blog. Searching my topic ideas in Google trends, can help me figure out if this topic I'm passionate about is truly the best topic for me to write about. </p> <p>Here's how it works: plug your topic ideas into Google Trends. You'll get a line graph depicting spikes of that search year over year and month over month dating back to 2004. Oh and the really cool thing is it can also forecast how this topic will trend through 2016. </p> <p>Searching topics with Google Trends can help you determine the optimal month to post about certain topics. This is especially useful information if you're planning to do a specific topic series. You can also see trending news items and top search charts; these searches can also be filtered by sub-topics and region.</p> <p>3. Facebook Groups. I joined several blog groups on Facebook as a way to network with other bloggers. Prior to joining the groups I knew no other bloggers, but through these groups I've met several bloggers in the South Florida area with whom I can now share ideas and turn to for support. </p> <p>Interested in finding a Facebook blog community? Check out <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Blog Elevated Community</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Bloggers2Business</a>, and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">The Blog Loft</a>.</p> <p>4. Podcasts. I had to find a way to regain my motivation and drive for blogging, so I listened to podcasts that focused on entrepreneurship and self-development every day before and after work. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"> Your Kick-Ass Life Podcast with Andrea Owen</a> reminded me that I'm worthy. </p> <p>I'm a creative woman who can and will succeed. The <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">EntreLeaderhip</a> podcast gave me insight into what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur in the current market from some of the top minds in the business. </p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Myleik #mytaughtyou podcast</a> with CurlBox CEO, Myleik Teele gave me the kick in the pants I needed to take action. Her five-point lists on topics ranging from self-discipline to goal setting are full no-nonsense, real world advice. If you're looking for daily motivation, I highly recommend listening to these podcasts.</p> <p>5. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Twitter</a>. I decided to become more active on Twitter and, as a result, was able to interact with a lot of bloggers. My favorite thing about Twitter is #TwitterChat. I participated in mommy chats, social media chats, leadership chats, blogging chats... you name it, I jumped into it. </p> <p>Twitter chats are a great forum for you to learn from peers and thought leaders in real-time. By engaging in these chats, I met new people who once had the same concerns about blogging as me but found a way to overcome. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Blog Elevated</a> hosts a great Twitter chat Tuesdays, 9pm central time... check it out!</p> <p>I'm really excited about blogging again. And if you have a creative block, my advice would be to take a step back. Sometimes, the inspiration we're seeking is all around you. We just need to step back and pay attention.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools #about writing # blogging #blogger #blogging tips Fri, 07 Aug 2015 13:12:15 +0000 MissKwame 2132851 at How to Be an Expert: Start by Creating Compelling Content <!--paging_filter--><p>This month at <a href="">BlogHer University</a>, we're talking all things <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Experts Among Us</a>, and I couldn't be more excited. As the lead editor of the program and a long-time Experts team member, I've witnessed some pretty marvelous successes—from <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Voices of the Year honors</a> to tens of thousands of social shares, to media pickup on sites like Buzzfeed. The content made by Experts has incredible potential.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="BlogHer University How to Create Successful Experts Content" /></center></p> <p>So what is it that makes a piece of Experts content resonate with readers? Let's dig into it. And hey, if you're not an Expert (psst, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">go sign up</a>!) these tips really apply to any piece of editorial content, so stick around.</p> <p> <h2>Here are some of the key things that make Experts content succeed:</h2> </p> <p><strong>1. Passion.</strong> We want you to write about what you care about. That passion will come across in your piece.</p> <p><strong>2. Originality and creativity.</strong> What's your personal connection to the topic? How are you going to make it your own? Instead of posting any old recipe, maybe you post a recipe that's been in your family for years. Something that makes you nostalgic or has real meaning to you. And then when you share the recipe with us, share that story, too.</p> <p><strong>3. Voice.</strong> Write the way you speak! The most successful pieces have your personality shine through, even in posts with recipes or tips.</p> <p><strong>4. Original photos.</strong> Writing a personal story about your family? Help readers connect with your content even better by including an original family photo. It's true that high-quality photography helps posts be seen and read and shared in social media. But remember that posts can have more than one photo, and even if it's a lower-quality snapshot, that extra image that gives people a deeper contact with your life and perspective is very revealing.</p> <p><strong>5. Good writing.</strong> Sounds self-explanatory, but not all good writing will perform well across every platform.</p> <p> <h2>Writing types that work well on</h2> </p> <p><strong>Responses to trending news</strong> If you have a strong gut reaction to something in the news, it's probably the case that readers will feel that passion. That's why I always encourage the Experts I work with to pitch me timely opinion pieces.</p> <p>I find there are two approaches that most successful Experts use when responding to trending news:</p> <ul> <li>Share your opinion or reaction in a way that lets people see your point. That generally means a structured post that shares your points. Here's a good tutorial from an earlier BlogHer University series about writing a great opinion piece. You may not consider yourself a journalist, but <a href="">the op-ed structure Kirsten Akens outlines here</a> is a great way to make sure you're getting your thoughts through. <p>Here's a great example of this kind of post, by Expert Kalisha Buckhanon: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">We have to give our black girls 'the talk' and it's not about sex</a>. It went live around the time of the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="; " class="external-link">McKinney, Texas pool party arrests</a>. </p></li> <li>Use your expertise to further the conversation. If you're able to use your own perspective to dig deeper into aspects of the story people may not have considered, that's a great place to start. Here's an example by Expert Tracey Hawkins: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">How to safely track your lost or stolen smartphone</a>, written after news broke that <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">a Canadian teen was shot after using his phone tracking app into a dangerous situation.</a></li> <p><strong>Op-eds on important causes.</strong> Not every opinion piece has to be tied to a breaking news headline. If it's important to you, we want hear it. Here's an example by Cory D. Byrom about an issue that's certainly timely, but not tied to anything that happened in the news that week: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Here's how I'm raising my kids to embrace and appreciate diversity</a>.</p> <p><strong>Pinnable DIYs and recipes.</strong> If you're doing a step-by-step tutorial, photos really are key. If you're interested in improving your photography, there's no better place to start than our <a href="">BlogHer University photography tips</a>. </p> <p>One of the benefits of being a SheKnows Expert is that if you aren't comfortable taking photos, we have a talented design team who can create custom graphics and infographics for your articles. Just ask us! Here are two examples of posts our design team worked on with Experts. </p> <p><center><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img src="" alt="Low-carb gooey skillet brownie for two" />Low-carb gooey skillet brownie for two</a> by Expert Carolyn Ketchum</center></p> <p><center><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img src="" alt="Girl Scout cookies and wine are a match made in heaven (INFOGRAPHIC)" />Girl Scout cookies and wine are a match made in heaven (INFOGRAPHIC)</a> by Expert Paula Moulton</center> </p> <p>We'll be sharing more tips for strengthening your content all this month on BlogHer University. Tune in to our weekly Twitter chats each Friday at 1PM. Just follow #BlogHerU and look for the questions from @BlogHer.</p> </ul><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools #Experts BlogHer University Thu, 06 Aug 2015 22:53:54 +0000 Natalie Schwab 2141119 at How Do You Know Where Your Audience is Hanging Out Online? <!--paging_filter--><p>So, you're blogging but you don't know where your readers are coming from. Maybe you don't even know if you have more readers than your mom. (Hi, mom!) How do you reach your readers if you have no clue where they're hanging out?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="keyboard" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Amir Yalon</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I'm gonna let you in on a little secret no one is telling you. You don't have to be everywhere all the time. I'm talking social media here.</p> <p>You've got Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Youtube, Tumblr, Vine, Yik Yak, among hundreds more. Most say you have to be on all these sites and utilize them to their max potential. </p> <p>Here's the secret: you just need to be WHERE YOUR AUDIENCE IS! That's it. If they are on Facebook or Bloglovin' or the good ole IG (Instagram to old people - that includes me) then you should be on those sites promoting your brand. If your audience is&amp; not on Google+, then why are you wasting your valuable time on G+?</p> <p>If you want to know where your audience is coming from, Google Analytics will be your BEST FRIEND. What is Google Analytics you ask? Well, it's simple. It's basically the all-knowing of the online world. </p> <p>Once you register for Google Analytics and install the code to your website (learn how to do that <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">here</a>) you can view whatever you want about your website. </p> <p>How many readers did I have yesterday? What language did they read in? Wow! I'm famous in France. What's their location, IP address, how long were they on my site, and so much more - all in one place I might add! It is amazing what you can learn about your audience in one simple webpage. </p> <p>So, now that we all have Google Analytics, how are we going to use this to help find out where is your audience? Well, I've got some handy dandy screenshots of my own analytics to help with that.</p> <p> <h1>1. Go to Your Analytics Profile</h1> </p> <p>This is the easy part. Go to your Google Analytics profile and sign in. Once you're signed in you'll come across your main audience page that looks a little something like this: </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="audience 1" /></center></p> <p> <h1>2. Click on the Acquisition Tab</h1> </p> <p>Once your pull up your main page, click on the acquisition tab on the lower left hand side of the screen. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="audience 2" /></center></p> <p> <h1>3. Click on the All Traffic Tab</h1> </p> <p>You'll then click on the All Traffic tab from the drop down menu.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="audience 3" /></center></p> <p> <h1>4. Select Source/Medium from the All Traffic Tab</h1> </p> <p>Finally, you'll be able to preview your most referred traffic. Aka where your audience comes from. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="audience 4" /></center></p> <p>As you can see, Stumbling Upon Lizzy gets most of its traffic from direct, share buttons, and Facebook. Facebook is displayed three times in my top 10. That means a lot of my audience comes to my site from Facebook. Therefore, I should focus more efforts on promotion on Facebook than Google+ (thank goodness). </p> <p>Twitter is also in the top 10 as well as Bloglovin'. I use both of these sites to promote my posts and will continue to do so in order to help build my traffic. </p> <p>What do you see when you pull up <i>your</i> source referrals? Whatever you see, that's where your audience is coming from! Congratulations. You now know more than the average bear, and I'm proud of you for that! </p> <p>In all seriousness, I hope this was helpful! I will be posting more tips and tricks for blogging and social media soon. Be sure to follow me on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Facebook</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Twitter</a>, and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Bloglovin</a>' for updates! </p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img alt="signature" class="alignleft size-full wp-image-642" src="" height="150" width="600" /></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools audience blogging blogging tips Google Analytics Thu, 06 Aug 2015 13:36:41 +0000 stumblinguponlizzy 2132439 at BlogHer University: How to Be an Expert <!--paging_filter--><p>Now that #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us is a memory of inspiring speakers, killer parties, and <em>so much</em> collective wisdom, it's "back to school" time, with the August session of BlogHer University. This month, we're diving deeper into that phrase, "Experts Among Us."</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="How to Be an Expert" /></center></p> <p>I loved that title, because it recognizes the truth. We're not all experts in everything we're interested in. But we are all passionate about something. And saying YES to that passion puts you on the path to becoming an expert, which can open all kinds of doors.</p> <p>Too often, <a href="">impostor syndrome</a>, a lack of credentials, or just a lack of support keeps us from stepping up to our expertise. It's up to us to claim it. </p> <p>As Kathryn Finney said to Meghan Martinez during her presentation at <a href="">The Pitch keynote</a>: <strong>"Everything about you is wonderful and amazing and you don't need qualifiers."</strong></p> <p>This kind of connection, collaboration, and community is what we're doing with the SheKnows Experts community. We bring Experts of all types&mdash;from doctors with credentials to obsessive TV fans&mdash;to the extended SheKnows platform (of 80 million uniques a month!). We help you grow your audience, connect and network with each other, and brainstorm with our editorial team. We're building a collaborative, inspiring space for women … kind of like the BlogHer conference, year-round.</p> <p>That's why we're focusing this month on How to Be an Expert. While I wholeheartedly recommend that you apply to <strong><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">join the SheKnows Experts community</a></strong>, this month's lessons will help you share your expertise, sharpen your writing, and expand your reach wherever you choose to be.</p> <p> <h2>How to Be an Expert Lessons</h2> </p> <ul> <li>How to create a killer personal essay</li> <li>How to source claims of fact (and why it's so important for your credibility) </li> <li>How to give your posts a great headline</li> <li>Tips for writing compelling content, for Experts and beyond</li> <li>How to claim authority in your writing</li> <li>Ways to repackage your existing content to give it (and you) lasting value</li> <li>Success strategies from current SheKnows Experts.</li> </ul> <p>As usual, tune in to #BlogHerU on Twitter every Friday from 1-2 Eastern to join the conversation about the week's lessons and add your own comments. See you there!</p> <p><center><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img src="" /></a>SheKnows Expert and Voice of the Year Liv of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Unbelievably Human</a></center></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools BlogHer University Wed, 05 Aug 2015 22:45:44 +0000 Julie Ross Godar 2139842 at 3 Reasons Why I Love Instagram <!--paging_filter--><p>The Atlantic had <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">a lovely bit of writing</a> about a social network I use most every day but never thought about all that much: Instagram.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="instagram" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Jason Howie</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I like Instagram, too. In fact, you can find me <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">right here</a>. A lot. </p> <p>Up until this chilly rainy morning, I'd never stopped to wonder why I liked Instagram so much. </p> <p>First of all, it's the one network that made me realize I love taking pictures. My husband likes what I do with small, everyday things like metal fences, wild flowers and sunrises. He thinks it's poetic the way I find beauty in these small, oft-overlooked things. The things most people never see as they go about their busy day. </p> <p>I have been cursed - or blessed, I go back and forth on this - with a freakishly weird ability to <i>see</i> everything. I walk into a room and right away I notice paintings that hang crookedly. I notice bad breaks between scenes in movies all the time. I notice when someone's paint job was not done with the proper rollers. </p> <p>I can see details most people miss. I spot flecks of dust everywhere. In many ways it's a great gift, as it allows me to be successful in visual media arts. But it's also a curse because I can't turn it off, see, and sometimes I wish I wasn't noticing quite so many details... </p> <p>But Instagram gives me an outlet for the results of this freakishly weird curse. And since my pictures appear to bring pleasure to a few people, that makes it alright. </p> <p>I also like to take pictures of interesting plates I sometimes make in my effort to bring colour and joy to my diet. It's kind of silly to take pictures of your food, right? I agree. And yet, those are invariably my most popular ones. So there. </p> <p>Something else: Instagram has made me realize that you don't need a very big, expensive camera to take interesting pictures. Most of what I take is shot with a small device such as an iPhone 5 or iPod 5. The pictures I take while I'm out jogging are captured with a beat-up old iPhone 4. </p> <p>I wish I had enough money to buy the camera gear I drool over, but I can't justify that expense right now so I make i-photography work for me and practice my composition skills so that when I do get my grubby hands on my dream gear I will be better able to make it sing. </p> <p>So there. Keep the pictures coming, Instagrammers.</p> <p><b>Why do you love Instagram? And how can we find you on the site? Leave your handle in the comment section below</b>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Photography Instagram iphotography poetry Wed, 05 Aug 2015 13:00:33 +0000 BrigittePellerin 2123591 at Dianne Jacob Explains How to Make Money From Your Food Blogging <!--paging_filter--><p>Dianne Jacob is the author of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">WILL WRITE FOR FOOD: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More</a>. The first edition won the Cordon D’Or International award for Best Literary Food Reference Book in 2005. The second edition won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award in 2010 for best book in the USA in its category. The third edition came out July 15, 2015, and featured a new chapter on one of my favorite subjects: making money. </p><!--break--> <p><center><img src="" alt="Dianne Jacob" /></center></p> <p>BlogHer talked to Dianne about this new edition and specifically her tips for food bloggers and writers.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Will Write for Food" /><br /></center></p> <p><b>BlogHer:</b> Self-publishing has changed publishing in general by lowering the barrier to entry while also flooding the market with more (often deserving) offerings. What’s the place for self-publishing in food writing, as you address in this updated version of WILL WRITE FOR FOOD?</p> <p><b>Dianne: </b> Self-publishing is great for certain kinds of bloggers:</p> <ul><li>Those with huge audiences. They are well suited to sell their books directly to their readers — no traditional publisher required, and they receive most of the profits.</li> <li>People who want to publish recipes for family and friends.</li> <li>Those who like to be in control. Self-publishing lets you write anything you want, create your own cover, even choose your own paper stock if that’s your thing.</li></ul> <p><b>BlogHer:</b> What are the some of the topics you cover in your new chapter on making an income from food writing?</p> <p><b>Dianne: </b> Lots of new careers emerged as a result of having a blog, such as a social media consultant or a food stylist. A few people have even opened restaurants and stores, or created food products. Some have forged lucrative online businesses that have a money-making component, such as meal planning, recipe sharing or special programs or services. Some food bloggers are sophisticated business people, but the majority blog as a hobby. </p> <p><b>BlogHer:</b> What is the most important thing for an aspiring food writer to remember?</p> <p><b>Dianne: </b> That she has something important to say, just like any other writer. </p> <p><b>BlogHer:</b> How has food blogging changed since you entered this space?</p> <p><b>Dianne: </b>The focus on images has made it essential to be an excellent food photographer and stylist. Photos drive readers to blogs, especially on social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Also when food writing first started, it didn’t occur to anyone that there was a way to have an income from it. </p> <p><b>BlogHer:</b> What’s your favorite thing about writing a cookbook?</p> <p><b>Dianne: </b> The recipe testing. It’s made me extremely popular with friends, neighbors, and workout buddies. I may have made 175 pizzas now, between <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">GRILLED PIZZAS & PIADINAS</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">THE UNITED STATES OF PIZZA</a>, which comes out September 22.</p> <p><b>BlogHer:</b> What part does reviewing play in food writing?</p> <p><b>Dianne: </b> I think it’s a big part, but most food bloggers seem loathe to do it. They tend to talk “about” a restaurant, book or product rather than express their opinions. It’s a combination of thinking they’re not qualified to voice an opinion, and feeling like they can’t say anything that isn’t positive. It’s a shame. I’d love to read more reviews.</p> <p><b>BlogHer:</b> What’s your favorite piece of advice you’ve ever received with regard to food writing or blogging?</p> <p><b>Dianne: </b> I think it was Judith Jones, the legendary cookbook editor, who said to use powerful action verbs. Use them to start an instruction, such as “simmer, beat, or push.” She hated reading sentences that started with “In a bowl, combine.” In the book I included a list of 100 action verbs I found in MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING. Judith Jones was Julia Child’s editor, so I bet she pushed her on using lots of verbs. </p> <p><b>BlogHer:</b> If you could do one thing over when it comes to your career in food writing, what would it be?</p> <p><b>Dianne: </b> I started a food writing career in my 20s, when I became the editor of a city restaurant magazine. Then I got diverted and took other jobs at magazines until my 40s, when I got back into food writing. It would have been such fun to stick with it, but now I’m making up for lost time.</p> <p><b>BlogHer:</b> Which food writers have you been reading lately? </p> <p><b>Dianne:</b> Over the weekend I bought two cookbooks while at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Omnivore Books</a>, a cookbook store in San Francisco, promoting WILL WRITE FOR FOOD. One is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">STEEPED: Recipes Infused with Tea</a>, which evolved from a friend’s blog, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Food Poet</a>, and her former experience at a tea company. I also bought blogger Maureen Abood’s cookbook, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">ROSE WATER AND ORANGE BLOSSOMS</a>: Fresh & Classic Recipes from my Lebanese Kitchen. I coached her on her book proposal and I can’t wait to try some recipes. </p> <p><b><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">WILL WRITE FOR FOOD</a> is updated and available now!</b></p> <p><em>Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel <i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">THE OBVIOUS GAME</a></i> & the managing editor of</em></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Books Career Food Work/Life Entertainment Tue, 04 Aug 2015 21:04:33 +0000 Rita Arens 2134763 at #CakeWithCashmerette aka How to Fight Fat-Shaming Internet Trolls <!--paging_filter--><p>When fashion blogger Jenny Rushmore, more commonly known as Cashmerette, posted a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">pic to her Instagram</a> of a sketch she made of a voluptuous woman in a bikini with the hashtag #beachbodyready, she could never have imagined the series of events that would soon unfold. While scrolling through the comments in response to her post, Rushmore noticed one in particular, a young man telling her that he was disgusted by her body and that she should eat less cake. </p><p> And while most people would say not to feed the Internet trolls, Rushmore decided to address it head on by posting a radiant pic of herself in a maxi dress with the caption "Also to the random jerk who fat-shamed me this morning in a comment and suggest I eat less cake: As you can see from this pic, my life is just a sad mess, so I'm glad you've just helped me steer my dietary choices, cheers! #effyourbeautystandards #CakeWithCashmerette" </p> <p><center><img src="/files/cakewithcashmerette.PNG" alt="Fight fat-shaming with #cakewithcashmerette" /></center></p><p> Fans quickly took notice and took matters into their own hands. Soon, pictures of women eating cake and various other sweet treats started popping up all over Instagram with the #CakeWithCashmerette. </p><p> As she <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">explains on her blog</a>, "For that is what happened. I mentioned this incident on the photo of my awesome green striped Colette Moneta maxi, and as a laugh, hashtagged it with #CakeWithCashmerette. A little while later, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mary took a photo of herself eating delicious cake</a> while reading my blog posts with the hashtag … and then it exploded! A lady cake-eating explosion! At last check there were over 150 photos in support on Instagram, and just an overwhelming tide of support and positivity and public cake eating. It was also a definitive UP YOURS to fat-shaming, body-policing anonymous people out there." </p><p> "Bigger women deserve to eat whatever they're hungry for just as much as smaller women. No food is inherently unhealthy (except poisonous things!) ... Food isn't moral, and neither is fat. Beyond that, you can tell virtually nothing about what someone eats based on what they look like." </p><p> <em>Originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mom.Me</a></em></p> <h2>More from Mom.Me</h2> <ul><li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I Can't Wait Until Lena Dunham Becomes a Mom</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lena Dunham: "Yes, I Am a Feminist"</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">20 Breastfeeding Myths... Busted!</a></li> </ul><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Body Image Style Tue, 04 Aug 2015 19:51:42 +0000 2138449 at How to Stop Scrapers From Stealing Your Content <!--paging_filter--><p>People will do anything these days to post free content. Instead of writing something fresh, they would rather copy posts from your site and post them on their own. </p> <p>Content scrapers think that by including a by-line at the top of the post and an attribution at the bottom – or not – that it's "curation." Guess what? It's still copyright infringement.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="scrapers" /></center></p> <p> <h1>What is Scraping?</h1> </p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">According to Google</a>, examples of scraping include:</p> <p> <blockquote> Sites that copy and republish content from other sites without adding any original content or value<br /> Sites that copy content from other sites, modify it slightly (for example, by substituting synonyms or using automated techniques), and republish it<br /> Sites that reproduce content feeds from other sites without providing some type of unique organization or benefit to the user<br /> Sites dedicated to embedding content such as video, images, or other media from other sites without substantial added value to the user</blockquote></p> <p> <h1>How Does Content Get Scraped?</h1> </p> <p>Your content can be scraped through any number of ways, both overt and covert. If your site has an RSS feed, and it should, you're making it very easy to scrape your content. Scrapers use the feed to deliver your text, images, and links right to their site.</p> <p>One way to combat scrapers is to change your RSS feed to from full to summary, so they only get the first paragraph. Trouble is, all your Feed recipients would get the Summary, and you may not want that. Content scrapers can become almost like hackers in the way they use fetching, AJAX, CSS Hooks and Markup to steal your content. </p> <p>In my recent post, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Difference Between Content Scrapers and Eels</a>, I mentioned that Google might advise against web scraping, but it does offer a Chrome app called Web Scraper to make the scraping easier!</p> <p>Do scrapers merely select your text and images, copy them and paste them into their site? I don't think so. Content scrapers are too lazy for that. So don't bother using a plugin to prevent text selection. That will only frustrate you when you need to copy something yourself.</p> <p>Pick your battles with content scrapers: decide what line has to be crossed before you take action.</p> <p> <h1>How to Deal With Scrapers</h1> </p> <p>There is no reason to let content scrapers get away with copying and profiting from your writing. </p> <p>Start nice. Email the scraper a sober, non-threatening letter, written by a lawyer if possible. State the fact that they are using your content illegally, point out the law as it applies to the Digital Millennial Copyright Act (DMCA), and make a demand.</p> <p>Be sure to include a deadline so they know you're ready to take it to the next level.</p> <p>Some sites are so shady, they don't even have a contact page or link to email of any kind. But maybe the admin has a name. Try Googling that. If you find the person on social media, make a connection and send your demand letter that way.</p> <p>I found one of my scrapers on Linkedin and invited him to connect, which he did. I sent my demand letter to him, but he ignored it.</p> <p>If the scraper has no email on the site and no name to search for social media, just about the only thing you can do is place the demand letter – or an excerpt – in the post's comments. If the site is on auto-pilot, the comment will appear. If it's being moderated, the scraper is forced to see the demand letter.</p> <p>The problem with commenting is that it might lead to an online fight, and that can look messy.</p> <p>Having no satisfaction from contacting the content scrapers directly, your next option is to complain to the hosting company under the auspices of DMCA.</p> <p>What's great about your scraper being hosted by a free platform, like, is that you can complain directly to them and they will be your enforcer. After all, hosts don't want to condone copyright infringement any more than a normal person would, corporations being people and all.</p> <p>I appealed to these complaint departments, and Googling the provider and "DMCA" will get you to the same pages. Their forms are easy to complete. Include your personal information, the infringing URL, the source URL, and a description.</p> <p>In my experiences, the hosts acted quickly and decisively in their takedown of my scraped posts, sometimes notifying me with an email.</p> <p>If the scraper has a self-hosted site, it takes a bit more work to find the correct ISP with whom to complain. You can check to find the infringing site's hosting provider. Sometimes it's not so easy, especially if they pay to conceal the information.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>I found that <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">DMCA</a> offers a DIY Takedown service called Website Protection Pro that is pretty cool. For $10 per month (or less with a coupon found on the Internet) you can use the service for an unlimited number of cases. They provide you with forms to complete, which you save as PDFs and send to ISPs.</p> <p>So, for $7 bucks I used the DMCA DIY Takedown service and was surprised to find that not only was my scraped content removed, but the entire site was taken down!</p> <p>The Managed Takedown service also offers a Lookup Tool to find the correct ISP for the infringing site, similar to And, DMCA offers badges to place on your site to let scrapers know you have "protection."</p> <p>You can also get stolen content de-indexed from search engines. First, I contact the major search engines with DMCA requests to have the infringing material removed from their search results. This way, if the scraper happens to be getting any search traffic, that can be shut down.</p> <p>If the site owner is using an ad network to serve ads on the infringing content, report them to the network. They're almost guaranteed to be in violation of the ad network's terms. After all, the advertisers paying that ad network don't want their ads running alongside illegally-published material. </p> <p>So the network is in a position to take action. If they have private advertisers, you could also reach out to them. Chances are they'll discontinue their ad contracts if they find out their company is associating with a site owner who openly breaks the law.</p> <p> <h1>More Ideas</h1> </p> <ul> <li>Auto Link Keywords – With a plugin, such as SEO Smart Links, you can actually replace keywords with affiliate links. This will help you gain even more links pointing to your affiliate account when a scraper steals your content.</li> <li>Internal Linking – When you add a large amount of internal links to your posts, scrapers will actually link back to your posts when they use your content. This is a good way to get backlinks and steal some of their visitors.</li> <li>Use an RSS Footer – With the RSS Footer plugin or the feature in WordPress SEO by Yoast, you can create an RSS Footer. This can be customized however you want and you can promote your own products in your RSS. This will help you when a content scraper steals your content.</li> </ul> <p><b>So, what are you doing to stop content scrapers from scraping your content</b>?</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools content scrapers DMCA Security Tue, 04 Aug 2015 13:27:00 +0000 marikane 2114318 at Why Do You Get Scared When You See Something Twitter Trending? <!--paging_filter--><p>Chincoteague was trending.</p> <p>The little beach town where our family has spent its summers since Josh and I got married was trending on Twitter. I couldn't even wait for my computer to open. I Googled the town's name from my phone.</p> <p>I assumed there was a shooting. Barring a shooting, maybe a natural disaster closed the beach. Or a shark attack; there had already been so many strange shark attacks this summer. No, it had to be a shooting. Or a shark attack. Shooting. Shark attack.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>It was the annual pony penning.</p> <p>That's all it was. A local event -- held yearly to help keep the wild horse population at a sustainable level -- somehow had enough tweets to push it onto Twitter's trending list.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="danger" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Jenny Downing</a> via Flickr </i></center></p> <p>My stomach unclenched and my brain stopped problem solving on how I would tell the kids that hell had broken loose at the beach.</p> <p>When I mentioned this reaction to a co-worker, she was amused. Why had my brain gone directly to something terrible? Isn't that always the case when we don't know why something is trending? I mean, when I see Kim Kardashian is trending, I assume that her ass has broken the Internet once again.</p> <p>But everything else -- the mundane people and common places? In all those situations, my brain immediately goes towards the worst possible reason for trending.</p> <p>And I'm going to guess that you do the same. If you saw someone or someplace you knew trending on Twitter, would you assume that it was for something good or something bad? </p> <p>And was this always the case? Was there ever a time when a name or place hit the news and we assumed first and foremost it was for a good reason, or has news (and, by extension, the Twitter trending list) always skewed towards the bad? </p> <p>Is the Twitter trending list just another form of "if it bleeds, it leads?"</p> <p>I don't know. But I am relieved (though sort of confused) that our little beach town was trending for something good. It makes the dinner table conversation a little easier.</p> <p><b>Do you panic when you see something or someone trending on Twitter but you don't know why</b>?</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Chincoteague trending Twitter Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:58:32 +0000 Melissa Ford 2136209 at See All the Photos From #BlogHer15 Now! <!--paging_filter--><p>They're here! Take a look at all the official photos from #BlogHer15 ... and click over to Flickr to download them&mdash;you're free to use them on your personal blog, so long as you credit BlogHer.</p> <p><img src="/files/images/batch/thursday%20keynote.jpg" alt="" /></p><p>#BlogHer15: Thursday night <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">kick-off keynote</a>!&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/parties.jpg" alt="" /></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#BlogHer15: Parties!&nbsp;</a></p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/friday%20morning%20keynote.jpg" alt="" /></p><p>#BlogHer15: Friday morning <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">keynote</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/friday%20lunch%20keynote.jpg" alt="" /></p><p>#BlogHer15: Friday afternoon <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">keynote</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/voty.jpg" alt="" /></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#BlogHer15: VOTY and Femvertising</a></p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/pitch%20morning%20keynote.jpg" alt="" /></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#BlogHer15: The Pitch</a></p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/saturday%20afternoon%20keynote.jpg" alt="" /></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#BlogHer13: Saturday Afternoon Keynote</a></p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/expo.jpg" alt="" /></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#BlogHer15 Expo</a></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"><img src="/files/images/batch/saturday%20keynote.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#BlogHer15: Saturday Evening Keynote</a></p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/closing%20party.jpg" alt="" width="550" height="366" /></p><p>And finally, the #BlogHer15&nbsp;<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">closing party</a>!&nbsp;</p> <p>If you're a member of the media or have some other reason to use these images apart from your personal blog, please <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">contact us with a request</a> and well be happy to speak with you!</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 BlogHer 2015 Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:00:00 +0000 lifewithRoozle 2135331 at Thank You, Mark Zuckerberg, For Using Your Platform to Talk About Miscarriage <!--paging_filter--><p>Mark Zuckerberg is going to be a father. His wife, Priscilla Chan, is pregnant, and they announced it on Facebook yesterday with the now ubiquitous photo of Priscilla's grinning face and their totally adorable dog.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p> <div id="fb-root"></div> <script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href=";set=a.529237706231.2034669.4&amp;type=1" data-width="500"> <div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"> <blockquote cite=";set=a.529237706231.2034669.4&amp;type=1"> <p>Priscilla and I have some exciting news: we&#039;re expecting a baby girl!This will be a new chapter in our lives. We&#039;ve...</p> <p>Posted by <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Mark Zuckerberg</a> on&nbsp;<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";set=a.529237706231.2034669.4&amp;type=1" class="external-link">Friday, July 31, 2015</a></p></blockquote> </div> </div> </p> <p>1.5 million likes and almost 50,000 shares later, and it's the miscarriage conversation heard around the world. Mark Zuckerberg used his enormous platform to discuss the fact that they had three miscarriages prior to the current pregnancy. The reason: by not talking about it, they felt very alone.</p> <p>He realized what a lot of people realize once they start talking about their experience: there are a lot of me toos out there.</p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Half of all pregnancies</a> end in miscarriage. That statistic includes miscarriages that occur before the woman knows that she is pregnant. The miscarriage rate once a woman knows she's pregnant? It's 15 - 20%.</p> <p>Chances are that you or someone you know has experienced a miscarriage, but since we don't talk about it, we never know that we're surrounded by people who "get" it and can be a pillar of support during a very difficult time.</p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";set=a.529237706231.2034669.4&amp;type=1&amp;theater" class="external-link">Zuckerberg writes</a>, </p> <p> <blockquote>We hope that sharing our experience will give more people the same hope we felt and will help more people feel comfortable sharing their stories as well.</blockquote></p> <p>I'm grateful that Zuckerberg used his reach to get an important message to the general public. His use of Facebook shined a light on its positive attributes: the site can be used to educate, bring us together, and knit us tightly into a global community where support can come from near and far.</p> <p>I hope more people continue to use Facebook this way to get their message out there, especially when the point of their message is not just to impart news but to also make a bold statement of "you are not alone."</p> <p>Congratulations, Mark and Priscilla!</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: © Young Yee/Featurechina/Ropi/ZUMA Wire</i></center></p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Pregnancy Health News & Politics Facebook Mark Zuckerberg Miscarriage pregnancy Priscilla Chan Sat, 01 Aug 2015 19:24:17 +0000 Melissa Ford 2136266 at What It's Like to Be a Target on the Internet Every Day: Brianna Wu and Shireen Mitchell at #BlogHer15 <!--paging_filter--><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Brianna Wu</a> is a video game developer. She’s an entrepreneur, a blogger, and a podcaster. For the last year, she has also been a target. She is often cited as one of the primary targets in an ongoing online campaign to intimidate, threaten, harass, and ultimately endanger prominent women in the gaming community. <a href="">Brianna joined us at #BlogHer15</a> to share her experiences.</p> <p><img src="/files/images/batch/brianna-wu-quotes-2_0.jpg" alt="Brianna Wu at #BlogHer15" /></p> <p>Brianna told a packed ballroom she's been targeted as a woman in tech since she entered the space, with that bullying reaching a fever pitch in the past year. Beyond her, though, she said it's reached such a critical point that it can no longer be ignored.</p> <p><img src="/files/images/batch/shireen-mitchell-quotes-2_0.jpg" alt="Shireen Mitchell at #BlogHer15" /></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Shireen Mitchell </a>joined Brianna in conversation. Shireen is the founder of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Digital Sisters</a>, the first organization specifically focused on women and girls of color in technology and digital media. As the current chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, Shireen developed and is currently running the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stop Online Violence Against Women (SOVAW)</a> project&mdash;an initiative in which she is collaborating with legislators to bring women who had equally offensive and scary experiences as Brianna to the forefront.</p> <p><img src="/files/images/batch/brianna-wu-quotes-5_0.jpg" alt="Brianna Wu at #BlogHer15" /></p><p>The discussion ran from big media sites like Reddit to technology conventions to the wild West of Twitter and how the threats are handled by law enforcement. Brianna described having to explain Twitter to police in an effort to get justice against her attackers. </p> <p><img src="/files/images/batch/brianna-wu-quotes-3_0.jpg" alt="Brianna Wu at #BlogHer15" /></p> <p>Shireen noted that part of the problem, in her opinion, is that white men are trying to hire dark-skinned, female versions of themselves, and that is not diversity. </p> <p><img src="/files/images/batch/brianna-wu-quotes-1_0.jpg" alt="Brianna Wu at #BlogHer15" /></p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/shireen-mitchell-quotes-1.jpg" alt="Shireen Mitchell at #BlogHer15" /></p> <p><img src="/files/images/batch/brianna-wu-quotes-4_0.jpg" alt="Brianna Wu at #BlogHer15" /></p><p><img src="/files/images/batch/brianna-wu-quotes-6_0.jpg" alt="Brianna Wu at #BlogHer15" /></p> <p>The internet has brought us community, friendship, and a space for creative work and business. While it is mostly a safe space, the internet is sometimes a breeding ground for trolls and threats. Brianna Wu and Shireen Mitchell remind us to demand safer spaces online for everyone. Brianna and Shireen are at the forefront of that work&mdash;but they can't do it alone.</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 Feminism Technology News & Politics BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 Fri, 31 Jul 2015 16:50:34 +0000 lifewithRoozle 2133943 at How Do You Know What It's Worth to Blog Something Hurtful? <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p>What a thrill it was to be on the "When You're Too Much For Your Audience" panel at BlogHer '15 with some dynamic and powerful women. </p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Our bad-ass moderator was <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Logan Levkoff</a>, PhD, a sexologist, relationship expert, and author. Our speakers: author <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sarah Ann Gilbert</a>, Thien-Kim Lam from <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I'm Not the Nanny</a>, and Maureen O'Connor, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">New York Magazine</a>.</p> <p>So we're swimming along on our panel, laughing and joking and sharing our wisdom of the hows and whys of deciding what we say and when we say it. A woman in the audience during Q&amp;A shared that she put something on her blog that was unflattering to her parents. </p> <p>They took issue with it. Yes, she said they were hurt, but it was true and they seem to forget that truth of the story. Sister Sarah Ann Gilbert gave her a great answer about creating boundaries and deciding what the fine line is when sharing about family. </p> <p>I jumped in with my point and asked her <i>what is it worth to you</i>? At the end of the day, you say you love these people, so are you knowingly willing to hurt them? </p> <p>Needless to say a bigger conversation ensued where folks felt like they shouldn't hide their feelings, they should have the right to say what they want. Too many people are hiding their feeling as it is. And I agree. But my main question stands... What's it worth to you?</p> <p>You see, while we love this brave new world of blogging, and many of us use it as therapy creating whole communities of supportive folks, there is that moment that what you share will perhaps hurt someone that is dear to you. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="hurt" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Lauren Holloway</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I am not suggesting people edit themselves or hide or swallow anything. I simply want to remind people there is a price to pay. Are you willing to pay it to say what you want to say about another person? </p> <p>To the person you hurt, the context doesn't matter. They feel exposed and maybe shamed. How do you repair that? How do you feel better about telling your truth knowing that it will hurt another that you care about. </p> <p>Look, I blog freely and openly on my blog. I have shared just about every painful event that has happened without calling folks out (except my ex-husband in the early days of our separation and ultimately our divorce). </p> <p>Even though I didn't use my ex-boyfriends name, he found my blog and read all the shit talking I did about us. He has exited my running narrative of my life. It was an illuminating lesson that I think I am doomed to repeat because I am a blogger and I blog about my everyday practical life.</p> <p>Am I careful about what I say about other people? No. Not in the way that would spare their feelings. But then I don't write about my immediate family unless it's celebratory. That's my deal. That's my rule. Everybody else is fair game! </p> <p>Sometimes I am unflattering to myself. It doesn't matter. Whatever my truth is I tell it nakedly and unashamedly.</p> <p>The young woman who shared about her parents hurt feelings started to cry. I knew she didn't mean to hurt them. She wanted to stand in her truth and be acknowledged for that truth. I understood. I wanted to hug her, get up from the panel table and put my arms around her. </p> <p>In that moment I do believe she grew in her blogging life. And saw perhaps that words truly do have power even if it's your truth. I would bet that from here on out as she blogs forward she will asks her self on that next post "what's it worth?"</p> <p>Be loving &amp; Be in LOVE</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences #BlogHer15 BabzRawlsIvy lovebabz Fri, 31 Jul 2015 13:42:22 +0000 Lovebabz 2128534 at How to Plan Out a Blog in 5 Easy Steps <!--paging_filter--><p>"Katie, how do I start a blog?" This question has become rather common recently and is one that I find a little tricky to answer in a way that can be most helpful to those asking. </p> <p>I usually respond with "What do you want to blog about?" at which point an awkward pause usually follows. When this happens I know that it would be unhelpful of me to go through the click-by-click specifics of starting a blog.</p> <p>Instead, I take a step back and delve into the essential steps based on the foundation you build <i>before</i> starting a blog.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="start" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Steve Depolo</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>You can't get to where you want to be if you don't know where you are going, can you? Think of these steps as an informal business plan which will provide your blog journey with some direction. </p> <p>When I first had the idea of starting a blog, I would write in my journal every chance I got. I wrote down dreams and ideas, set my goals, made plans, took notes and made to-do lists containing things to research. </p> <p>If you are thinking of starting your own blog, I would encourage you to read through this post with a pen and paper handy so that you can explore your own answers. </p> <p>Remember that some of the answers may change over time as you develop your blog and find your unique voice. Others will remain constant and keep you on track when you start getting pulled in a million different directions in the blog world.</p> <p> <h1>Establish Your Vision</h1> </p> <p>What is your blog about? If you cannot answer that question in under 3 sentences then you probably need to work on understanding your vision for your blog.</p> <p>When thinking about your vision, think about the bigger picture. Having an understanding of your own dream and purpose is crucial to keeping you motivated and keeping your blog on track with a sense of togetherness. </p> <p>You can then align all of your blog actions, big or small, with your vision, making your product a complete package instead of a jumble of different pieces that will just confuse the audience. </p> <p>I am sure that my Instagram page was confusing to the audience at first and that is because I didn't have my thoughts together as a complete package. I had my vision but I hadn't aligned it with my actions properly to create a complete package - please learn from my mistakes!</p> <p>Try not to overcomplicate it, just think from the heart. The vision for my blog, as written in my personal journal when I was going through my own brainstorming process, was to inspire others to see the beauty of the world around them by documenting my own journey and travels. </p> <p>My dream was, and still is, to inspire. Now think about yours...</p> <p> <h1>Establish Your Goals</h1> </p> <p>The vision serves as the bigger picture of where you want to take your blog. Now you need to break that dream down into smaller, achievable goals which will become the framework you can build off to achieve your vision.</p> <p>Achievable is the key word to remember when setting your goals. For example, "Create a successful blog" is not a useful goal to set because it is far too subjective to measure. At what point is it successful? </p> <p>For this to be a useful goal in your strategy, break it down into something that is specific and achievable. If we were going to fix up the goal I used as a bad example, we could change it to whatever success means for you.</p> <p>That could be "x amount of subscribers" or "create x blog posts per week" or "write a sponsored blog post" – something specific that we can measure.</p> <p> <h1>Establish Your Budget</h1> </p> <p>How much money are you able to spend on your blog? Keep in mind that this number may change as you move along, but you do need to have a benchmark budget to begin with to direct how you set up your blog. </p> <p>In terms of the set up costs, there are a few options available to you that you would need to research before getting started. You can either spend money and purchase your domain or use one of the free blog sites to create a page for yourself within their website. </p> <p>There are even a lot of extra design and feature options available to you so it is very easy to get carried away! To keep you on track in this early phase of setting up your blog, I would stick to the basics and focus on extras once you are established. </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Really, all you need to know for your budget in the early stage is whether to pay for a site or use a free one.</p> <p> <h1>Establish Your Time Commitment</h1> </p> <p>How much time are you able to commit to this blog? For some it is a full time job, some it is a part time job and for others it is simply a 'here and there' hobby. </p> <p>It is important to set a boundary of your time investment to keep a balance between your other commitments in life - work life balance is needed in the blog world too! </p> <p><i>I will just check this</i> and <i>I will just check that</i> starts snowballing and before you know it, you've forgotten to feed your kids! Okay, so maybe a little dramatic and I hope none of you forget to feed your kids, but you get the idea that it is easy to get carried away and burnout. </p> <p>This is where having an understanding of your own time commitment comes in.</p> <p> <h1>Read</h1> </p> <p>I would strongly urge you to read. A lot. When I first had the idea of starting a blog, I read as much as I could about blogging. I would print articles from Pinterest and read them, highlighting the key areas and making notes all over them soaking up as much information as I could. </p> <p>I knew nothing about blogging and this helped me greatly! It gave me a wide variety of information everywhere from the technical aspects on setting up the website to the business aspects of marketing the blog. </p> <p>Reading should be a continuous habit as a blogger so that you can always develop your knowledge and skills, so don't limit that one to the set up phase.</p> <p>So there is your blog homework for the week. I guarantee that taking the time to go through this first will help to develop your future blog and create a higher quality product!</p> <p>Until next time, Katie xox</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media SAHMs Tips, Tricks & Tools # blogging #blogger #blogging tips #blogger #traffic #wordpress Thu, 30 Jul 2015 13:52:14 +0000 thekatieshowblog 2114380 at Tell Us What You Know With August's NaBloPoMo <!--paging_filter--><p> So what is the NaBloPoMo theme of the month?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><div style="text-align: center;"> <h1> KNOW</h1> </div> </p> <p> Everyone is an expert in something. I, for instance, am an expert in wishing I was at Hogwarts which means that I know those books backwards and forwards. Comes in handy when I'm trying to beat my kids in a round of Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.</p> <p>I am also an expert penny whistle player -- what I lack in skill I make up for in pure joy -- and word maker-upper. I'm an expert baker, making up my own recipes, and expert interactive fiction player.</p> <p>Knowing what you know, what you really really <i>know</i>, is important because those skills become what you can teach. It's what you can pass along to another human being and make your mark on this world. Yes, we <i>all</i> have things that we know that we can pass along to others. I'm willing to bet that you do it every week through your blog whether you've thought about it like that or not.</p> <p>So this month's theme is celebrating what you know. Pop over to <a href="">#BlogHerU</a> to learn more about experts. Back to school means reflecting on what you learned as a child. And maybe it's time to learn something new. To start a new project, learn a new language, take that cooking class.</p> <p>To just know <i>more</i>.</p> <p> The theme and writing prompts, as always, are there as a guide if you want some structure to your month, though you can always sign up for NaBloPoMo and chart your own path.</p> <p> <center><br /> <img alt="August's NaBloPoMo" src="" /></center> </p> <p> If you've never joined <a href="">NaBloPoMo</a>, this is the time to do so. It starts August 1 and runs until August 31. Just make the commitment to (1) blog daily for the month (nothing more to it than that!) and (2) to support your fellow NaBloPoMo'ers by reading a handful of the other blogs on the blogroll. Cheer them along and they'll cheer you on too. You can <a href="">sign up for August's NaBloPoMo</a> until August 5th. You can <a href="">grab the official badge here</a> and upload a link to the badges you make.</p> <p> It's as simple as that: <span style="font-weight: bold;">post daily on your own blog. That's it</span>. You can get fancy and cross-post your blog posts onto the NaBloPoMo site. If you need daily inspiration, bookmark the <a href="">NaBloPoMo prompts page</a> for August, which already has all the prompts for the month posted so you can plan ahead.</p> <p> NaBloPoMo is what <span style="font-style: italic;">you</span> make of it. At its core, all you need to do is post daily on your blog. The point of NaBloPoMo is not to be restricted by the theme, but instead to either take it or leave it. If you'll do better blogging every day based on what's happening in your world, throw aside the daily prompts.</p> <p> <b>Sign up for August's NaBloPoMo and tell us what you know.</b></p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media NaBloPoMo know nablopomo theme Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:58:22 +0000 Melissa Ford 2132459 at Renee Bergeron and the Superhero Project <!--paging_filter--><p>Renee Bergeron, who blogs at <b><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Little Earthling Blog</a></b>, had her personal photography project, The SuperHero Project, go viral recently - including an article on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>. This project is designed to give the gift of professional photography to special needs families.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="Renee Bergeron" /></center></p> <p>Christina Berchini of <b><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Hey, College Kid!</a></b> had her article about the guilt of introversion picked up by <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Huffington Post</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Elite Daily</a>.</p> <p>Marilyn Chudda, who writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><b>Brazilian Flare in the USA</b></a>, had her Piña Colada and Ice Cream Dessert recipe <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">featured by PopSugar</a>.</p> <p><i>BlogHer Publishing Network members -- do you have news to share? <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Click here to share it</a>. Or check out all the <a href="">BlogHer Publishing Network member news</a> in the series.</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer Publishing Network News Renee Bergeron BlogHer Network Member News Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:58:46 +0000 The BlogHer Publishing Team 2130018 at 13 Easy Posts That Will Get You Over Writer's Block <!--paging_filter--><p>It's happens to all bloggers at some point. Blogger's block. You want to write a post. You feel like you need to write a post. You sit down to write a post. And the mind goes blank. You've got nothing. The harder you try, the more your brain freezes.</p> <p>Sometimes it's an indication that you need a break. Frequently, though, it's a temporary thing and all you need is a little inspiration (or a few tips) to get going again. Here are 13 tips to help you overcome blogger's block.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="writer's block" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Jill, Jellidonut... Whatever</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>1. Tell a Story</h1> </p> <p>Two years ago I saw <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Bo Eason speak at IDEA World</a>. I learned from him that your personal story is your most valuable asset. </p> <p>Several weeks ago, when I was at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Bloggy Boot Camp</a>, we were encouraged to tell our story. </p> <p>It humanizes us, makes us relatable, allows readers to know who we really are, what we're afraid of, and what we're proud of. We all have stories. Sometimes we've learned a lesson from them. Sometimes they're just a part of our personal history.</p> <p> <h1>2. Say it with Pictures</h1> </p> <p>A picture is worth a thousand words, so if you're short on words, share some photos of a recent event, adventure, or even something from the past. You can go with a wordless concept or add descriptions. Once you start you may find that the words start to flow.</p> <p> <h1>3. Ask a Question</h1> </p> <p>Are you in the market for a new (pick one) dishwasher, running shoes, car? You name it and your readers probably have experience and knowledge about it. </p> <p>Or maybe you'd like the benefit of their experience dealing with an issue with your child's behavior or a conflict with a teacher. </p> <p>While not the only thing to consider in such circumstances, crowdsourcing your readers will certainly get you a lot of thoughts and opinions on the matter.</p> <p> <h1>4. Answer a Question</h1> </p> <p>Do your readers occasionally ask you questions, either in the comments or by email? Take one (or more) and answer it in a new post!</p> <p> <h1>5. Tell Us About YOU</h1> </p> <p>Different than telling a story, just tell your readers a little bit about yourself. This can be a list of your favorite (or least favorite) things, what you like to watch on television, where you got married, etc. Tell us about a day in your life. </p> <p>There are a lot of blogger's memes floating around the blogging world. You can use one of those for a starting point or create your own.</p> <p> <h1>6. Review a Book or Movie</h1> </p> <p>Have you seen a great (or terrible) movie lately? Read a good book? Share! Why would you recommend it? Is it appropriate for children? Why or why not?</p> <p> <h1>7. Tell Us About Your Favorite...</h1> </p> <p>Start off a post by telling us about your favorite anything (run, meal, party, vacation, race, workout, teacher, class) and let the words flow.</p> <p> <h1>8. Share Your Expertise</h1> </p> <p>Everyone is an expert at something. Whether you're a chef, personal trainer, coach, fashionista, you have expertise to share. </p> <p>It may be a recipe, workout, or outfit, or, less obvious but still as interesting, how to select a good knife set, what is the best surface to run on, how do I measure myself for skinny jeans. </p> <p>If you're a mom, you are an expert (yeah I know it doesn't always feel like it). Breastfeeding, weening, potty training, toys for each age, intimacy after baby. The list goes on and on. There are so many things that you know that your readers want to learn.</p> <p> <h1>9. Share a Tip</h1> </p> <p>People can learn from your experience. Did you just travel to run a marathon? How to pack for a traveling marathon. Did you go to a conference? What did you learn? Did you just buy a new car? How did you negotiate? </p> <p>There are so many things that we do in our daily life that others can learn and benefit from. Share yours.</p> <p> <h1>10. Prompts</h1> </p> <p>When all else fails, there are many lists out there with blog post ideas. Just Google <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><i>blog prompts</i></a> and you'll see.</p> <p>Also, you don't need to do NaBloPoMo to <a href="">use the prompts</a>. Peruse the monthly writing prompt lists.</p> <p> <h1>11. Google</h1> </p> <p>And speaking of Google, it comes in handy again to find out what your readers are searching for. Say I want to write a general fitness article. I can Google "fitness workout questions," and of course, 63 million links pop up. </p> <p>Take note of three things here. First, when you are typing your search, what else pops up as a suggestion? When I start to type "fitness workout," in addition to "questions," I also see "music," "plan," "apps," "beginners," and many more. That is what people are searching for!</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Then scroll down the page to the bottom, where Google suggests other fitness workout question searches you may be interested in. There again you will see suggestions based on what other people are looking for. Your readers want to know this stuff!</p> <p>Finally, you can take a look at the first two or three pages of your search. See anything interesting? I see "11 Common Workout Questions Answered." Wow, an idea pops up! I'm not going to copy anything, but now I have an idea for a post.</p> <p> <h1>12. Write Down Random Ideas</h1> </p> <p>Remember that great blog post idea that you had on the run? No, you probably don't because you didn't write it down as soon as you got back. Make notes to yourself when you think of something you'd like to write about. </p> <p>I keep a running list in Evernote, but I also have a lot of envelopes around my desk with post ideas scribbled on them. I even sometimes create a new post, give it a working title and a couple descriptive sentences. Then it is there looking at me in my drafts, just waiting to be written.</p> <p> <h1>13. Pull From the Headlines</h1> </p> <p>Is there something in the news that affects you? A story that moves you, research that changes the way you look at things, an incident that angers or scares you? Share it with your readers.</p> <p>These 13 tips should help you find a little inspiration on those days when the ideas just won't come. If you have something that works for you I hope you'll share it in the comments.</p> <p>Debbie Woodruff writes about running, blogging, &amp; a plant-based lifestyle at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Coach Debbie Runs</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools blogger's block Overcoming Writer's Block Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:58:39 +0000 Debbie Woodruff 2128596 at How to Get Started With Periscope <!--paging_filter--><p>Oh look, another social media platform... Just what we need. I'll admit it; I was reluctant to get at first, but I LOVE <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Periscope</a>! </p> <p>If you haven't heard of it yet, Periscope is a live-streaming app owned by Twitter. The fun part about it is that you have the ability to interact with followers in real time. If you're wondering how to get started with Periscope, here's how.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="periscope" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Creating an Account</h1> </p> <p>The first step is to create a new account. Download the Periscope app for your <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Android</a> or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">iOS</a> device in their respective stores.</p> <p>If you already have a Twitter account, it is easier for existing followers to find you, but you also have the option to join via your mobile phone number.</p> <p> <h1>Menus</h1> </p> <p>There are 4 menus available on the bottom of your screen once you sign up and finish the quick tutorial.</p> <p>1. The main <b>TV Icon</b> shows all of current or recent broadcasts for the people you are following.</p> <p>2. The <b>Globe Icon</b> shows all of the people in a specific region that have their optional geographic locations turned on.</p> <p>3. The <b>Broadcast Icon</b> is used to create your own live broadcast. You must have the camera and mic activated order to broadcast. </p> <p>There are sub menus that include the option to share your location, do a private broadcast with specific users, filter users that can use the chat (users you follow or everyone) and to share a link to your broadcast on Twitter. It is always best practice to name your broadcast before starting.</p> <p>4. The <b>People Icon</b> shows a list of people on Periscope that you currently follow on Twitter, an option to access your profile on the top right corner and the ability to search for users in the top left corner.</p> <p> <h1>User Profile</h1> </p> <p>Since Periscope and Twitter are connected, your profile picture and bio should already be populated. You also have the ability to edit or change if you choose. </p> <p>Your profile gives a list of general information that most profiles give: your following, followers, help, feedback, terms of service and more. An important sub menu in the profile is the <i><b>Settings</b></i>. Here you can save the broadcast to your phone's camera roll and/ or get notifications when new users follow.</p> <p> <h1>Quick Tips for New Users</h1> </p> <p> <ul> <li>Hearts are equivalent to "likes." Double tap your screen if you're agreeing with the broadcaster or to just show them love.</li> <li>You can invite people on a live broadcast by sharing via the app, Twitter or any other social platform with the link.</li> <li>Broadcasts can only be replayed up to 24 hours from the live date. If you click the link after the 24 hours, it takes you nowhere.</li> <li>Periscope doesn't support landscape (horizontal) positioning and you should do broadcasts in a Portrait (vertical) position.</li> <li>Saving to your camera roll gives you the ability to share on your other social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube (to monetize), Instagram or embed on your blog.</li> <li>There's no time limit. Broadcasts can be as long or short as you wish.</li> <li>When replaying a broadcast, there is no rewind or fast forward option available.</li> </ul> </p> <p>If you haven't already, follow us at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Type4Naturals</a>. We'll share event coverage, highlights from our brunches, behind the scenes of our YouTube videos, product unboxings and quick updates from us. </p> <p>Although I'm pretty knowledgeable in the tech world, here is a great resource that helped me understand the app a little more shared by fellow BLMGirl:</p> <p><center><iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p><b>Have you used Periscope</b>?</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools apps periscope social media Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:14:20 +0000 Type4Naturals 2119034 at Why I Don't Pin Your Content (and How You Can Change That) <!--paging_filter--><p>Pinterest is a potential plethora of traffic, growth in readership, and exposure. It's easy to become mesmerized by the shiny, pretty packages it contains and become complacent about the things you pin and how you use Pinterest in correlation with your blog or business.</p> <p>But you really shouldn't.</p> <p>As a marketing professional, I see four common but huge no-no's that happen all too frequently, especially with bloggers. I'm going to share my industry expertise to help you avoid these common pitfalls of Pinterest.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="pins" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">TheTruthAbout</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Problem One: Your Pin Graphics and Pictures Suck</h1> </p> <p>You may have the best advice for getting your baby to sleep through the night. You may have the best idea for how to refinish grandma's old bookshelf. You may very well have all the answers on how to get through potty training without pulling your hair out. </p> <p>But no one on Pinterest will ever get to your site to read your material or re-pin your content. </p> <p>Why?</p> <p>Because the Pinterest graphic for your material sucks or in a lot of cases, is completely non-existent.</p> <p><b>The fix:</b> The reality in using Pinterest is that it's a visual medium. The sheer existence of Pinterest relies on pictures and graphics. Your potential users are drawn to pretty, well-designed pins for content.</p> <p>In most cases, like myself, as a blog/business owner, I will absolutely not share or re-pin content that doesn't look clean or professional.</p> <p>Why?</p> <p>Because what I pin is a reflection on my brand and business. Everything I do with regards to Shiraz In My Sippy Cup sends a message to my followers, but more importantly, potential customers and business partners. </p> <p>So while you may have kickass content, most people on Pinterest won't ever have the chance to read it because they won't click through your crappy graphics to get to your site.</p> <p>Any blog or business should have a monthly budget allotted for post graphics and here's the good news – you don't have to invest a ton of money into software products to get pin-worthy posts. What's my secret? For about 99.9% of my Pinterest graphics, I use <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>. </p> <p>The best part? The majority of my use is FREE. Canva is a robust graphics program that allows anyone with any level of graphics knowledge, the ability to easily and effectively create professional, pin-worthy posts. </p> <p>The program has pre-made Pinterest templates that you can customize to your liking and if there is a charge, the fee is usually only $1. In a month, I may spend $5 or less for all of my posts and in my opinion, $5 is worth it. I would drop that on something useless in a month so why wouldn't I invest it into my business?</p> <p> <h1>Problem Two: You Don't Make It Easy to Share Your Content</h1> </p> <p>So there I am, reading your post, and I LOVE it. You've got me hook, line and sinker. The only problem? </p> <p>Nowhere on your site do you give me the ability to pin your post. I hover over your pictures hoping the "Pin Me" graphic pops up but alas, no dice. I look on your sidebar and at the bottom of your post for your social media sharing icons, but you don't have those installed either. What's the deal?</p> <p><b>The fix:</b> The inability for me to easily and conveniently share content is a huge pet peeve of mine in the blogging world. I'm completely dumbfounded that so many bloggers still don't understand this one simple concept in sharing content: Your readers want simplicity. </p> <p>We don't want to have to copy and paste and pull up links and basically sign a mortgage through the Pinterest website to simply share your content. You can fix this very easily by visiting <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a> and installing your own social media sharing icons for your site. </p> <p>The whole process from installation to completion took me around five minutes and the gains to my blog have been invaluable as the app also includes stats and analytics. My readers can easily select the Pinterest icon to share my posts and of course, I always have a pin-worthy picture to accompany my post.</p> <p>Boom. Done.</p> <p> <h1>Problem Three: You Love to Go on Pinning-Sprees</h1> </p> <p>I have literally seen certain users pin 50 – 100 images in a five minute period; everything from food, to sports, to silly pictures, to well... crap. </p> <p>Nothing will tune me out more than spam and yes, when you're pinning like your life depends on it, I call that pin spamming. It's overwhelming but more, it's downright annoying.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><b>The fix:</b> Set aside a few specific times per day to pin and during those times, be focused on what you want your content to be. Remember, what you choose to pin is a direct reflection of your brand. </p> <p>Try to be specific in your goals and what you're trying to accomplish. If you know that you and the hubs are getting ready to do a huge kitchen overhaul, consider setting up a private board.</p> <p>Pinterest came up with this nifty little idea a couple of years ago and it really doesn't get used to its full potential. These private boards are an excellent way of pinning a ton of stuff without clogging up your fellow pinners' stream.</p> <p> <h1>Problem Four: Your Pins Don't Go to Permalinks or Are Broken Links</h1> </p> <p>So I've found your incredibly well-designed Pinterest graphic and you've pulled me in with an interesting title. I take the bait excited to read what you've got and click on your pin to only find that you've either deleted the page on your site that it's associated with or the link doesn't work. Annoying!</p> <p><b>The fix:</b> It's a good idea to do some maintenance on your Pinterest boards from time to time. If you delete a blog post, make sure you take down the pin on Pinterest so that it doesn't keep getting re-pinned. </p> <p>Before you pin content to your own boards, click through the pin to make sure it works and that the information is correct or better, something you would want your business or blog associated with. </p> <p>Many times I've found that links don't work, or that I don't really agree with the author's viewpoint in their post. Bottom line, if you've got the time to cruise Pinterest, take the extra couple of minutes to check and make sure the pin works because if all I'm getting from you are constant issues, I'm out.</p> <p>So there you have it. My professional advice on how to avoid the top four common user mistakes I find most on Pinterest. <b>What issues do you run into that drive you crazy</b>?</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Work/Life #blogging #Pinterest #PinterestTips Thu, 23 Jul 2015 16:37:17 +0000 ShirazInMySippyCup 2112491 at What Is Your Blogging Goal? <!--paging_filter--><p>Since I first <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">began blogging</a>, I've had this dream. I knew what I wanted, where I wanted to go and how I planned on getting there. </p> <p>For me, blogging was an outlet but it also had potential to allow me to do something I loved without sacrificing time with the people I love. Still, it hasn't always been a dream others could understand. When I would say "This could be it!"about my blog career, they only saw the dream and not the reality.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="This Could Be It" /></center></p> <p>Proving that your dreams can be reality isn't always easy.</p> <p>It takes determination and, most of all, confidence in what <i>you</i> see (that others may not always grasp). When you have a dream it can be hard to make someone else see what you see, understand what it means and believe that it can come true.</p> <p>I have come up against this so many times as a blogger. First I had to convince people that I was doing more than venting online. My site was <em>not</em> just an online journal - my words meant something and for some were actually important. </p> <p>Next came the part where I had to show or almost <em>prove</em> that I wasn't just throwing money at a wall. I was investing in a business that had true potential. All of this was time consuming and at times point-blank frustrating.</p> <p>Why was I proving my dream, my goals, and my passion to others?</p> <p>It wasn't until I came to a point when I stopped trying to justify what I was doing and just did it that I started to see the results. I didn't work to give my dream validity anymore. Instead I focused on making it a reality.</p> <p>That's when things started to pay off. The small things started to matter. I made connections, found support, created an impact and started to see true growth. </p> <p>Suddenly the nay-sayers -- the ones who thought I was doing nothing but wasting time, money, and effort -- began to see that maybe this little dream of mine could actually be something.</p> <p>In other words, my dream was becoming a reality.</p> <p>I felt it. I began to see my hopes and plans coming into focus <strong>in real life</strong>! </p> <p>Last week I went to my very first <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">BlogHer conference in New York City</a>. The fact that it was in my hometown and I'm getting ready to celebrate my 2 year blog anniversary makes me feel like things are beginning to come full circle.</p> <p>One of my goals when I started was to make it to <a href="">BlogHer</a> and be able to pay for the registration through my blog profits. I was so excited when that happened. </p> <p>Making my dream a reality was so much less about what others think and so much more about what <i>I</i> do. I needed this for me, not them.</p> <p>So yeah, this could be it... This thing I love -- blogging -- is my dream come true, and I no longer want to prove it to anyone but myself.</p> <p><b>What dreams have you worked on making a reality? Has it been easy or difficult</b>?</p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">TheMrsTee</a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer Conferences # blogging #blogger #blogging conference BlogHer 2015 Wed, 22 Jul 2015 00:56:15 +0000 MrsTee 2124682 at The BlogHer Conference: One Starfish at a Time <!--paging_filter--><p>This moment defines BlogHer '15 for me. I looked down at my hand and my ring wasn't there. IT WASN'T THERE.</p> <p>I immediately flipped out, tossing everything out of my bag and crawling underneath the table. But here's the thing. No one sat there and watched, but only one person at the table knew me before I sat down with my plate.</p> <p>In other words, a bunch of strangers helped me search for my ring. Two people looked around the top of the table. A woman turned on the light on her phone and held it out while <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Journeywoman</a> crawled on the floor beside me, calmly repeating that we would find it.</p> <p>And we did. It had apparently fallen into my bag when I went to pull out something.</p> <p>And that's BlogHer. You keep running into that impulse throughout the conference, whether we're talking about lost rings or getting someone to connect you with the right person to make your dream project a reality.</p> <p>You meet up with people you know or you sit down next to people you never met before, and you immediately find yourself in a supportive environment. It is immediately collaborative. You will find people who will help you look for your ring, or you will find people who will champion your project. And it's all part of the same story.</p> <p> </p><p style="text-align: center;">*******</p> <p>There were so many good keynotes. The conference kicked off with the brilliant and moving #BlackLivesMatter keynote. It's really hard to summarize the talk into a quick paragraph, so instead I will focus on a single moment.</p> <p>At the end of the keynote, Patrisse (one of the founders of BlackLivesMatter) led us in the chant done at every BlackLivesMatter event: It is our duty to fight for freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but out chains.</p> <p>We started with a whisper, then spoke the words in a normal volume, and finally shouted the words. It was a really powerful sound.</p> <p>The one that made me dive for my iPad and take the most notes was the one with Shireen Mitchell and Brianna Wu. Such smart, articulate women. My brain is still churning around everything they said.</p> <p> </p><p style="text-align: center;">*******</p> <p>My mother made Gwyneth Paltrow choke up. So here is the story. My mother once heard that Bruce Paltrow took Gwyneth to Paris so that her first experience in the city would be with a person who loved her completely. And my mother wanted me to have the same experience. She didn't want me to throw away my first Paris experience on a backpacking trip. She wanted me to go to the city in love -- whether that was romantic love or familial love. Just love.</p> <p>Elisa told Gwyneth the story during the keynote, and Gwyneth filled in her end of the story. I didn't think to record it for my mum until it was half-over. This version cuts off the first part which gives you the context where Elisa told Gwyneth my mum's story, but SheKnows got the rest of it (thank you, SheKnows!):</p> <p><center><iframe src="" width="420" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></center></p> <p> </p><p style="text-align: center;">*******</p> <p>I got to hang out a lot with Journeywoman from <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Pages, Stages, and Rages</a>, whom I've read for years and years and years. It was amazing finally getting to be in the same room with her.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Melissa and Journeywoman" /></center></p> <p>And I got to meet <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Hopeful Luna</a>, too, but realized we didn't take a picture until I had sat down for the next session and couldn't find her again.</p> <p>That is one of the best parts about BlogHer, walking around and meeting people face to face that you've been reading for years. I've said it before but I'll say it again. It feels a little bit like falling into Wonderland.</p> <p> </p><p style="text-align: center;">*******</p> <p>There's this game, Wishbringer, where there is a seahorse dying on a wharf. If you toss the seahorse in, you can solve a different puzzle later in the game. In other words, the action makes a difference.</p> <p>Soledad O'Brien told a similar story about starfish. The sea washes in millions of starfish, and they're dying on the sand. A little boy goes down the beach, tossing as many starfish as he can back into the water. A man stops him and points out that it is an impossible task. So many starfish will still die regardless of how many he tosses in. It doesn't make a difference.</p> <p>The boy looks at the starfish he's holding and says, "It makes a difference to this one."</p> <p>And that's sort of the point of BlogHer, too. You go and realize you can make a difference for another person. You can connect them to someone else or help them with their project or just give them positive feedback so they continue to use their voice. And you get that back, too.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Does it solve the problem for ALL the women who are inadvertently and purposefully silenced online? No. But it makes a difference to <em>this</em> starfish, and I like to think that my actions make a difference to other starfish.</p> <p>That is BlogHer -- the conference and the site -- making a difference one starfish at a time.</p> <p>I'm back. I'm recharged. I have a bit of a BlogHer Hangover this morning; that feeling when you thud back to reality and you're wondering how to take that energy and run with it. But yeah, it was a really really really good conference this year and I can't wait to see what's on the plate for BlogHer '16.</p> <p><b>What was your experience at the conference?</b></p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer Conferences Brianna Wu conference recap gwyneth paltrow Shireen Mitchell soledad o'brien BlogHer 2015 Tue, 21 Jul 2015 15:10:13 +0000 Melissa Ford 2125747 at Your 2025 Blogging Time Capsule <!--paging_filter--><p>Have you ever considered what your last blog post will be? </p> <p>Just recently while sailing on a transatlantic ship during the night, while the waves were pounding the boat and we rocked back and forth in our beds, the question on my mind was this: If we were to sink, my very last blog post would be about waiting in LaGuardia airport, using the $7 a day internet. </p> <p>It would be a final snapshot. But really, is that what I want to go out with? Paid internet? No. Definitely not.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Our online world is becoming an archeological dig of stories and timelines – life captured post by post. Your last blog post will be the first thing future explorers discover of your story. </p> <p>So, with that in mind, here is an idea far less morbid than the thoughts I had on that boat: What if we used well established hosting databases like WordPress and YouTube to create our own personal online Ten-Year Time Capsule?</p> <p><b>Your Challenge: Create Your Own Time Capsule Blog Post.</b></p> <p><center><img src="" alt="time capsule" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Adam Bartlett</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>It is now 2015. Using your blog, write and schedule a post that will launch in 2025. Consider giving it a hashtag like #2015TC in the title, so when it launches it can be easily searched – <i>if </i>hashtags still exist!</p> <p> <h1>The Basics</h1> </p> <p>You need a blog account that won't quit on you, even if you a) abandon it or b) stop paying for personalized domains.<br /> This essentially translates into a <i>type</i> site. </p> <p>My personal blog currently wears its name as, but even if I stop paying for that redirection and URL, the WordPress site would not disappear ( Anyone subscribed via a widget will receive an update of a new post, regardless of my URL.</p> <p>The final basic need-to-know for a time capsule blog post is: don't shut down the site even if you stop using it.<br /> A warning: This may not work with self-hosted websites, <i>unless</i> you continue hosting/caring for that website, but they do break easily without maintenance. So, keep that in mind.</p> <p> <h1>Your Tools</h1> </p> <p>Use big databases that do not shut down abandoned or inactive accounts. I've contacted <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Automattic</a>, the folks behind, and had it confirmed that your account will remain online and available as long as you own it, and don't close the account. </p> <p>Nice! If you use a different platform, do consider confirming with that provider.</p> <p>YouTube is also a great resource. You can record and post a video today, adjust the settings so that no subscribers are notified and only those with a direct link can access the video – and voila! Your Time Capsule Blog Post can now include a video message no one will see until 2025, even if it is posted live tomorrow.</p> <p>There are also time capsule services online, if you like the idea but don't want to do a post. These appear to be largely paid services, but a quick search of "Online Time Capsule" should bring in some options. </p> <p>But my guess is that as a blogger, you'll want subscribers to receive your 10 year time capsule to their inboxes, and what better way than a blog post?</p> <p>At this point, you've either jumped right into this challenge OR you are wondering: "what can I put in my online time capsule?"</p> <p><i>Um... your ideas are needed! Share in the comment section below this post</i>. In the meanwhile, here are some ideas I've pulled from time capsules in the offline world...</p> <p> <h1>Start with the NOW</h1> </p> <p>While we might find the idea of 2025 fascinating, people in 2025 probably feel equally fascinated about you in 2015. Here are some topic ideas:</p> <p> <ul> <li>Fashion trends, because in ten years you'll probably think that outfit you're wearing is hilarious.</li> <li>A day in the life: tell your story, what is your world? What do you do as a daily ritual? Start with the small details, and loop it into the big picture.</li> <li>Your goals, dreams, and projects. Share what you are working on right now. What are you up to that excites you?</li> <li>The world at large and your take on it. Perspective is a fascinating thing. There are many big moments in the world happening all around us. Share some that standout to you, and give your perspective on this in a few lines. Will your thoughts be the same in ten years? Will your values change? Will you have been right or wrong?</li> <li>Capture the buzz – what is trending on Twitter today? What headlines were on the front page? What's the latest gossip at the water cooler or street corner?</li> </ul> </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p> <h1>Predict the Future!</h1> </p> <p>In ten years . . . will robots take over the world? Will the European Union still exist? Will we have a mission on Mars? Will everyone have a chip embedded in their brains so we no longer need smartphones? Will the 9-5 work day still exist?</p> <p>Will the word feminist be seen as a good thing or a bad thing? Will there be a vaccine for cancer? Wild, wacky and insightful predictions go here. </p> <p> <h1>Share Your Wisdom</h1> </p> <p>Have a secret recipe? Why not schedule its public debut for 2025? Want to give advice to the next generation? Schedule it in for 2025! Feel the need to confess your love for all those in your life? Share it in 2025 (and maybe let them know today, since you love 'em today as well).</p> <p>If your 2015 post <i>was</i> the last post, what would you want to say? Use this as your lead, and you'll create a great time capsule.</p> <p>This post is also a great opportunity to create a quick webcam video, and upload it to YouTube. In ten years, not only can folks read your story again, they can hear and see you. What a gift to them.</p> <p>Remember, if you want to be found by others playing along, don't forget to use the #2015TC and #BlogHer tags.</p> <p>Happy time-capsule making!<br /> ~Catherine</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools DIY # blogging final blog post time capsule Mon, 20 Jul 2015 12:58:31 +0000 CatherineTheWriter 2114937 at 6 Things to Do After a Blogging Conference <!--paging_filter--><p>If you’ve ever been to a blogging conference, you’re probably familiar with the term “conference hangover.”</p><!--break--> <p><center><img src="" alt="" &lt;</center /></center></p> <p>You spend a couple of jam-packed days soaking up new information and connecting with new people. While blogging conferences are fun and informative, "restful" and "relaxing" are not usually adjectives people use to describe their experience.</p><p>I'm back from #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us, tired but excited and full of ideas about how to do ALL THE BLOGGING THINGS I learned about. Since I didn’t have my usual vegging out time over the weekend, I’m also a little bit bleary-eyed and suffering with the “OMG, how do I get back into my routine” kind of mentality.</p><p>Here’s a list of six things to do in the hours and days immediately following a blogging conference that will keep the momentum rolling forward and help you get the very best out of your conference experience:</p><h2><center> Organize Your Notes and Photos</center></h2><p>Whether you took notes the old-fashioned way or used a computer, go back and reread them within a few days of the conference. Something you scribbled down while you were furiously trying to keep up with the great stuff the presenter was giving may not make sense if you read it next week.</p><p>I take notes by hand, but I like to go back later and type them out. I can expand on thoughts and ideas that I had while taking notes (because I still remember) and I can also reorder things and more effectively organize them into topical lists.</p><p>I also like to go through all the photos I took during the conference. I delete the fuzzy, out-of-focus photo fails where everyone’s head was chopped off. I pick out what I might want to save for future blog posts, what might make a good stock photo for something completely unrelated to the conference and which pictures I need to tag and share with the cool people I interacted with at the conference.</p><p>I constantly snap pictures over the course of a weekend conference. Sorting through them quickly may jog my memory about important stuff, like why I thought it was so important to take seven pictures of my nachos. </p><p>Take a minute to save, tag and delete – and don’t forget to appropriately name the pictures you save for future use. Hint: Name the nacho picture something like "nacho picture."</p><h2><center>Make a Plan</center></h2><p>You should walk away from a blogging conference with information you can use to make your blog better. If that’s not the case, something went wrong.</p><p>Maybe it wasn’t the right conference for you, or maybe you were snoozing during the lectures, but your conference hangover should be accompanied by excitement over how you’re going to apply the cool stuff you learned.</p><p>When I was refining my conference notes from my last conference, I made a list of stuff I wanted to do … it’s a really long list because I learned a ton of cool stuff. I reorganized the list into different categories, such as tech know-how, social media, writing, and sponsorships. My plan of attack right now is to work on a couple of things a day so that it’s not overwhelming.</p><p>If you have something on your list that might have big impact, prioritize it so that you do it first. For example, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re going to want to remedy that quick. And look at me sounding all smart and nerdy. Ha!</p><p>But seriously, the amount of information you get at a blogging conference is overwhelming. If you try to implement all the great stuff right away, you’re probably going to burn out or drive yourself crazy.</p><p>Make your plan and do a couple of things each day. Today, my tasks are to contact two companies I’ve done sponsored posts with through an affiliate and see if they’re interested in partnering with me directly and to check out Periscope … although I think I need more social media like I need more shoes in my closet. Oh, that’s just silly. <em>Of course </em>I need more shoes. Duh.</p><h2><center>Connect</center></h2><p>I came home with a stack of business cards and names/social media handles of people I wanted to connect with scribbled throughout my notes. Hopefully, that’s anyone’s conference experience because part of the process is connecting with other people.</p><p>Go through your cards and notes and make sure you’re following the people you connected with on their social channels. Send a tweet their way with something like, “I met you/heard you speak at #BlofHer15, looking forward to following you/loved what you had to say.” Social media can move fast, and you want to establish that you connected through a particular conference.</p><h2><center>Evaluate Your Business Cards</center></h2><p>If you don’t have cards made, now is a great time to get on that. You can check out <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Moo</a> or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Vistaprint</a> or work with a local printer, like I did (hint: potential sponsorship opportunity.) The online printers usually have great specials ... I like supporting a local business but I paid a little more for mine.</p><p>When you’re looking through your collection of blogger business cards, do you see a design or format that particularly catches your eye? You can get great ideas on what type of info to incorporate on your card or get a recommendation on where to order from.</p><p> You’ll want to have a good supply of business cards on hand for your next blogging conference, so make sure you reorder if you depleted your stock.</p><h2><center>Thank the Sponsors</center></h2><p>Putting on a blogging conference is no joke. Organizing and funding a blogging conference takes a lot of effort, but saying thank you is easy. In today’s social media driven world, you can easily run down how to contact the sponsors who made #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us more affordable. Reach out. Thank them.</p><h2><center>Save the Date</center></h2><p>Often, the following conference is announced toward the end of the conference. If so, mark your calendars so you can attend next year and build on what you learned.</p><p> If the specifics aren’t firmed up, chances are there is a Facebook group or a website you can reference to get updates.</p><p>So, hopefully these are post-conference tips you can use to help you get the most out of your experience. Do you have a tip not listed? Don’t be shy, leave it in the comments!</p><p>For more of my writing - funny parenting stories and essays about chin hair&nbsp;- check&nbsp;out my&nbsp;blog&nbsp;<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Ripped Jeans and Bifocals</a> and make sure you're following me on&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Facebook.</a> Thanks for reading!</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 Career Travel Work/Life BlogHer Conferences #blogconference #blogging #social media BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Sun, 19 Jul 2015 13:00:00 +0000 JillR 2107699 at #BlogHer15 Goes Out Big With 'Selma' Director Ava DuVernay & Melissa Silverstein of Women in Hollywood <!--paging_filter--><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Ava DuVernay</a> is best known as the director of <cite>Selma</cite>, her film account of the historic 1965 voting rights campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As #BlogHer15 drew to a close, founder and editor of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Women and Hollywood</a> Melissa Silverstein sat down with Ava in a fireside chat. On the agenda: the intersection of race, gender, art and history.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>Ava's resume preceded her. She's the executive producer and director of <em><a href=>For Justice</a></em> and the co-creator of a series with <strong>Oprah Winfrey</strong> called <em><a href=>Queen Sugar</a></em>. And she directed an episode of <a href=>directed an episode of <em>Scandal</em></a>.</p> <p>Ava is interested in stories, particularly the stories of black people's lives. "Women have been trained to ask for what we want instead of taking it. We've been indoctrinated in a culture of permission. It's true for women and it's true for people of color. But that time has passed," she said. "I'm really interested in illuminating the magnificence of the lives of black people."</p> <p>The relevance of 'Selma' joined the current national conversation about race -- Ava noted 'Selma' was in the editing room when Mike Brown was killed and #Ferguson unfolded on our televisions and across our social media.</p> <p>Speaking of social media, Ava uses Facebook like a journal and considers her presence on social media to be a conversation that she's having rather than a promotional tool. Ava compared her project <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">African American Film Releasing Movement</a> (AFFRM), to the attendees of #BlogHer15: Experts Among us blogging and creating online. </p> <p>Though AFFRM had previously put out only films by black filmmakers, Ava continuously reiterated her commitment to exposing the voices of all people of color plans to expand into other diverse films. (Follow <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">@affrm</a> on Twitter.) </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>On success in her career, Ava said: "No one has all her eggs in one basket. Diversify, but stay true to your interests. If you really look at the people you admire, they don't all do one thing. It's okay to do more than one thing as it relates to the blog, as it relates to your own business. You don't have to choose," she said. </p> <p></p><p>Ava closed with saying she's noticed her male colleagues dabbling with virtual reality cameras. "If they have it over in the corner, then I want to do it," she said.</p> <p>And we look forward to seeing what Ava does next.</p> <p><i>To follow the #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us Storify of the social media response to the keynote, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">click here</a>.</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 Sat, 18 Jul 2015 23:26:52 +0000 Rita Arens 2123732 at Introducing the Work of the 2015 Voices of the Year Featured Honorees <!--paging_filter--><p>They're here! Read on to explore the amazing work we featured at #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us Voices of the Year.</p><!--break--> <p><center><img src="" alt="Denene Miller, VOTY honoree for Meditation on Jahi McMath" /><em>Denene Miller</em></center></p> <h2><center>Short-Form Video (one minute or under)</center></h2> <p>Deva Dalporto of <a href=>My Life Suckers</a> for "Male Pattern Blindness."</p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p>Liv of <a href=>Unbelievably Human</a> for "The Face of Suicide"</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <h2><center>Long-Form Video (between one and five minutes)</center></h2> <p>Imani Nicole Miller of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Imani Miller</a> for "Perfection".</p><p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p>Marcy Light of <a href=>Marcy L</a> for "101 Things in 1,001 Days."</p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p>Samantha Futerman of <a href=>samfuterman</a> for "Twinsters."</p><p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <h2><center>Impact</center></h2> <p>Daisy Eagan of <a href=>Daisy Eagan</a> for "<a href="">Ben Brantley is asking for it.</a>"</p> <p><center><iframe src="" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p>Feminista Jones of <a href=>Feminista Jones</a> for <a href="">#NMOS14</a>.</p> <p><center><iframe src="" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p>Jen Venegas of <a href=>Skinned Knees</a> for "<a href="">I Am Not Your Fat Friend</a>."</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Jen Venegas, VOTY honoree for I Am Not Your Fat Friend" /><em>Jen Venegas</em></center></p> <p><center><iframe src="" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p>Kate Stayman-London of <a href=>Ladies Against Humanity</a> for Ladies Against Humanity.</p> <p><center><iframe src="" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <h2><center>Written Work</center></h2> <p>Christine Hanolsy of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Trudging Through Fog</a> for "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Rights and Privileges</a>."</p> <p>Denene Millner of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">My Brown Baby</a> for "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Meditation on Jahi McMath, Brain Death, Compassion and a Black Mother's Love</a>."</p> <p>Fiona Grugan of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Coffee Is Black</a> for "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Joys and Perils of Dating When Deaf</a>."</p> <p>James Oliver, Jr. of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">'trepLifeDad</a> for "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">After Eric Garner, What Am I Supposed to Tell My Son?</a>"</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="James Oliver, Jr., VOTY honoree for" /><em>James Oliver, Jr</em></center></p> <p>Jill Robbins of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">In the Powder Room</a> for "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Shit Not to Say to Adoptive Families</a>."</p> <p><b>Congratulations to all! Be sure to check out our <a href="">full listing of the #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us Voices of the Year honorees.</a></b></p> <p><em>Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel <i><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">THE OBVIOUS GAME</a></i> & the managing editor of</em></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 Voices of the Year Fri, 17 Jul 2015 22:57:59 +0000 Rita Arens 2115441 at How to Become a Twitter Rockstar at the #BlogHer15 Conference <!--paging_filter--><p>So, you're ready to take BlogHer by storm. You have your ticket, your room, and every single outfit and pair of comfortable shoes that you own packed into one carry-on and your one personal item. </p> <p>However, the single most important tool that you will carry in your arsenal will be whatever you tweet from. Believe me, tweeting is practically an Olympic sport at the conference.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="twitter" /></center></p> <p>You'll sit down in a session or a keynote, and notice that fingers float, poised over keyboards in anticipation of the first words to be uttered from the speaker of the hour.</p> <p>If you're a first timer at the conference, but one who has followed the BlogHer hashtag (this year's hashtag is <b>#BlogHer15</b>) and noticed that tweets and retweets come in at the speed of light, and wondered if there are robots in each room transcribing every single word that is being said.</p> <p>You'd almost be right.</p> <p>Those wonderful people are what we like to call Tweetmasters. They have cornered the market on being able to pay attention to the sessions that they are in, while also retweeting great content from other sessions and also following all of the new friends that they are meeting. </p> <p>It sounds intimidating, but I promise with the right tools you too can be a tweetmaster, padawan.</p> <p>In order to be a tweetmaster, you do have to have the right tools. Some folks prefer Tweetdeck, and others prefer Hootsuite. I won't tell you which I prefer because it's like choosing between Nikon and Canon or Mercedes and BMW. It's just personal preference. </p> <p>The joy in these platforms is the fact that you can have multiple columns open and set to your specifications. During conference time I like to set my columns up to the showcase tweets only from the conference hashtag, and to see who is speaking at all times. </p> <p>Now, be aware, side conversations can and will happen. You can jump in on those at any time, don't be shy! It's how you meet friends! Get in there and talk up a storm. </p> <p>It's one of the great things about Twitter. Before you know it, you'll be meeting new friends, and finding new blogs to read, and feeling fulfilled.</p> <p>The key to live tweeting the conference sessions and keynotes is to know that your thoughts have to be less than 140 characters, and retweetable. You want folks to retweet your tweets so that you can reach their followers and so on. </p> <p>It's how you build community, AND how you help speakers and keynotes get their message out to the folks who may not be in attendance, or taking that nap in the middle of the day. The content is beneficial long past the conference, so you want to provide clear and concise thoughts in a tweetable fashion. </p> <p>Remember, to add the #BlogHer15 hashtag as well so that you can be found. Don't start your tweets with an "@" symbol because only those folks following you and the person your are speaking to or about will be able to see it. </p> <p>Retweet content that stands out to you, and content of other sessions that you couldn't make it to. It really does help in the long run.</p> <p>You're probably going to pick up new followers. Virginia DeBolt had a great post yesterday on <a href="">how to organize those new followers</a> (and follow them back) on the fly while you're at the conference.</p> <p>Following the conference hashtag and retweeting is the BIG thing. Following those who follow you and interest you is a plus. You'll be connected with people nationwide, and maybe a journey to friendships with people that you wouldn't have known to exist outside of your blogging niche.</p> <p>Most of all, we want you to have fun, and be comfortable enough to reach out for help and guidance if you need it. If you need me, I'm the lady that will probably be dancing and tweeting about it. Find me and say hi!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events Live Tweeting tweeting Fri, 17 Jul 2015 12:58:44 +0000 Houseful Of Nicholes 2118278 at SheKnows Media and PRI Prove Journalism About Women's Lives Is a Good Publishing Model <!--paging_filter--><p>I'm excited to announce that <a href="">#womenslives</a>, a social news incubator by <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Public Radio International</a> (PRI) and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">SheKnows Media</a>, BlogHer's parent company, has confirmed that:</p> <ul> <li>Excellent hard-news journalism and storytelling about women,</li> <li>When introduced to women by women via inclusive, quality social conversation, </li> <li>Develops audience, and </li> <li>Drives a measurable return on investment for participating publishers. </li> </ul> <p>In other words, #womenslives are a good publishing model. Read on! </p> <p> <h2>Results</h2> </p> <p>From February 3 to June 30, 2015, the SheKnows Media-PRI social news incubator amplified global hard-news reporting on women and girls from PRI's <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Across Women's Lives</a> initiative. We married PRI's stories to engagement with SheKnows Media's community, and tracked our success via SheKnows Media's proprietary technology platform, Momentum. </p> <p>It worked. During those 120 days, working with just <strong>one percent</strong> of our expert voices to share quality hard-news storytelling, our incubator exceeded our goals for the entire year. Specifically, by sharing a daily story with 240 women invited from the 21,000+ social media influencers who create content and conversation to our community guidelines in Momentum&mdash;we achieved:</p> <ul> <li>100,000,000 social media exposures of the #womenslives hashtag</li> <li>18,000,000 unique people reached by the #womenslives hashtag in Twitter alone</li> <li>16,000 Tweets using #womenslives by all Twitter users</li> <li>240 incubator experts = 1% of SheKnows Media Social Influencers</li> </ul> <p><em>Source: Momentum, TweetReach</em></p> <p> <h2>Getting Results</h2> </p> <p>When President and CEO of PRI, Alisa Miller, and I set our partnership goals, we hoped to reach ten million unique people across digital media this year. We achieved that goal before the first 90 days. </p> <p>At a time when PRI's headlines are in heated competition for digital users, this incubator succeeded by applying the same techniques SheKnows Media uses to create, amplify, and deliver content marketing campaigns for top brands every day: </p> <p> <h3>Step 1: Create more great stories that include the voices of women</h3> </p> <p> <h3>Step 2: Generate women-led, quality social media conversations about these stories</h3> </p> <p> <h3>Step 3: Track these social conversations about content, and use those insights to evolve</h3> </p> <p> <h2>Here's what we did: </h2> </p> <p> <h3>Step 1: Create more stories that include the voices of women and girls</h3> </p> <p>Creating more stories that include the voices of women and girls was PRI's call to arms. At UN Week last year, President and CEO Alisa Miller declared her initiative <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Across Women's Lives</a>:</p> <p>"The goal of Across Women's Lives is to address a huge, pervasive problem in the news media: women are literally missing in huge percentages from the news. In fact, the news media features women only 24% of the time in any way, and only six percent of news stories highlight gender in/equality or issues," Miller said.</p> <p><center><img src=" " alt="only 24% of news stories feature women in any way" /></center></p> <p>"And when women are seen and heard, we are often shown as objects or victims," added Miller. "The news doesn't reflect the reality of our world, and this distortion damages everyone! It's completely unacceptable." </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="news bias about women" /></center></p> <p>"We at PRI are committed to changing that ratio. To tell stories about women and our role in the world&mdash;and engage women, and everyone in in new ways," said Miller. "Our goal is to tell and share important stories that increase conversation about the crucial connection between the status of girls and women in the world and progress in improving health, education and economic development."</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Across Women's Lives" /></center></p> <p> <h3>Step 2: Generate women-led social media conversations about these stories, using our community guidelines</h3> </p> <p>I was inspired by Alisa's vision, and committed to helping journalism about women reach the powerful listeners public broadcasting needs to reach to retain sponsorship and grow audiences via social media: Women. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="women are the majority of Internet users" /></center></p> <p>Women are the majority of Internet users, and we use social media more addictively than do men. What's more, since 2012, BlogHer surveys have confirmed that the person most influential to a woman in social media is likely to be … another women in social media. So&mdash;if you are building anything online, from a business to an audience, it's possible that the most powerful advocate you can have is a woman. </p> <p>We were confident in our ability to amplify #womenslives because we had two key ingredients: a massive community of women who have a record of loving the news. This community has consistently placed a priority on discussing current events without being hateful or harassing, which our community guidelines prohibit (it kills conversation between women, who will leave the conversation, and that's bad for our publishing business. <a href="">More here</a>.) </p> <p>We also had a robust technology platform, the above-mentioned Momentum, to track all the third party-verified engagement for this campaign, from page views on blog posts to tweets.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Momentum, the robust tech platform developed by SheKnows Media" /></center></p> <p>In fact, we know from Momentum which of our experts regularly amplify hard news&mdash;even though they might be known for (or even famous) for their opinions on food, parenting, DIY, fashion and beauty. Those predictive analytics are how we chose experts for campaigns. </p> <p>So that's how we chose our experts in Momentum: We invited 713 people with a demonstrated interest in hard news journalism. Of these invitees, 392 women participated. Of these 392 women:</p> <ul> <li>345 joined a private Facebook group where PRI and SheKnows Media editors shared and discussed one new piece of PRI journalism each day.</li> <li>Most experts blogged #womenslives on their own websites: This community generated 240 posts about the #womenslives initiative. </li> <li>Another 240 experts also created at least one social "tout"&mdash;our code word for all social activity, be it a Facebook share, a tweet, a pin, etc. Of this group, 63 percent created five or more such touts."</li> </ul> <p>That last bit&mdash;that 63 percent created five or more such touts&mdash;is particularly notable. A few paragraphs ago, I noted that by sharing a daily story with one percent of experts&mdash;240 women, out of the 21,000+ social media profiles by women who create content and conversation to our community guidelines in Momentum&mdash;we achieved 100 million social media exposures for #womenslives, and reached 18 million people.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>I know, I said that already. So now I can confirm that the data is actually even better than that: It was basically two-thirds of one percent of our experts, those five-or-more touters, who drove a distribution campaign that would retail at about $1 million in order to generate these results in premium content development and guaranteed social amplification at scale. But our experts took on this assignment out of love, and of a belief in public broadcasting and the stories of #womenslives. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="When experts advocate" /></center></p> <p> <h3>Step 3: Track these social conversations about the content and learn what works</h3> </p> <p>By collaborating with experts who already had experience leading quality conversations about great storytelling, our social news incubator partnered with leaders online, leveraged the trust these experts have developed with their readers to drive engagement, and developed a brand in #womenslives. </p> <p>Meanwhile, Momentum tracked this engagement via our proprietary, real-time interface, verified by third-party performance data. As a result, we confirmed that PRI's fantastic storytelling reached the far-corners of the women's internet. Here's a great example from March: </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="What happened?" /></center></p> <p>On March 24, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Moxie Beautiful</a>, one of our Facebook experts who is perhaps best known for her excellent style advice, happened to share a #womenslives story about WWII veterans.</p> <p>Her community liked it: </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Moxie Happened" /></center></p> <p>24,000 likes, 12,000 shares, and 2,000 comments later, #womenslives had a great week in social media! </p> <p>Candidly, this example is not an outlier — it’s just another day of commentary by the women in our community, who have demonstrated since 2005 that they are seriously interested in the economy, health care, education, social justice, all #womenslives topics. But don’t take my word it — listen to the community: By way of example, I offer up the first minute or so of this video below, where #womenslives and #ObamaTownHall came together.</p> <p><center><iframe width="550" height="309" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p>For the record, and in case you're wondering, this video is all improv: The comments and questions by our experts at #ObamaTownHall were not pre-vetted by me, nor by the Obama Administration (aside: This is why I look a little serious in this video, as emcee to leader of the free world). None of these women is a professionally trained commentator. They are, however, the voices behind their blogs and leaders at their own dinner tables. </p> <p>I've lost track of how many writers blogged passionately in the past 120 days&mdash;indeed, in the <a href="">first week of #womenslives</a>&mdash;about being fed up with news coverage of women today&mdash;as journalists, and/or as consumers, as citizens, as mothers, AND as daughters who feel it's our responsibility to demand better than we are getting. To quote one of our experts about why she participates: </p> <p>"I consider this a privilege, because not only am I now able to voice my opinion on issues that touch my heart, I am also able to reach women who would otherwise believe they are walking that thing alone … Stay tuned, because I'm stepping up on the platform in stilettos and a big stick!"&mdash;Trease, <a href=";">Transparency</a></p> <p>So now … on to phase two. What do you think? Where would you next take #womenslives? What is your story? </p> <p>Thanks, in advance, for your questions, ideas, and recommendations as we seek to change the news conversation about women.</p> <p>Best, </p> <p>Lisa Stone</p> <p>SheKnows Media Chief Community Officer</p> <p>BlogHer Co-founder</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Media and Journalism Feminism News & Politics #womenslives Thu, 16 Jul 2015 20:56:07 +0000 Lisa Stone 2122151 at How Are You Organizing Twitter Accounts and Blogs From the Conference? <!--paging_filter--><p>You're at BlogHer '15! You will have a blast and meet about 5,000 people. The stack of business cards you accumulate will be enormous. Here are a couple of tips to help you keep all those names, faces, Twitter handles, and blogs straight so no one slips through the cracks.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="business_card" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Clive Dara</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Twitter Lists</h1> </p> <p>Twitter lists are easy to create. They provide a way to read Twitter feeds from people according to groupings or interests. You don't even have to be following them. You might have a list of food bloggers or tech bloggers or some other category of Twitter users. </p> <p>When you view the list, you see tweets only from the specific people you added to the list. When someone hands you a business card at a conference, you can quickly add their Twitter handle to a list. That will help you keep names and faces organized.</p> <p>You can create a list and add to it from a desktop browser or from a mobile Twitter app. Let's step through creating a list with a desktop browser first.</p> <p><b>Create a list with a desktop browser</b></p> <p>Sign in to your Twitter account in a browser. Here's mine as an example.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 1" /></center></p> <p>In the menu bar opposite your profile photo, click the <strong>Lists</strong> link. When the Lists page opens, you'll see any lists you subscribe to (you can subscribe to any public list, including your own), any lists you've been added to as a member, and the invitation to create a new list. </p> <p>Once you have lists created, this is where you would find them in your desktop browser.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 2" /></center></p> <p>Click <strong>Create new list</strong>, give the list a name such as BlogHer15, and you can begin adding Twitter accounts to it.</p> <p>When you create a new list, you can make it public or keep it private. If it's a public list, it has a URL and anyone who is interested can subscribe to it. For example, here's one of my public lists: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">womeninwebeducation</a>.</p> <p>To add someone to a list, find their user profile. You can search for their name, or just click on their name if you see it on Twitter. When their Twitter profile opens, click the gear icon by the Follow button to see user options.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 3" /></center></p> <p>Select <strong>Add or remove from lists</strong>. Your lists open up and you check or select the list you want to put the user in.</p> <p><b>Create a List with the Twitter App</b></p> <p>Open the Twitter app.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 4" /></center></p> <p>Touch the <strong>Me</strong> icon at the bottom of the screen to see your own profile.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 5" /></center></p> <p>Touch the gear icon next to your profile image to see Lists on the menu. Touch Lists.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 6" /></center></p> <p>At the top of the Lists page, you see a plus (+) sign. Touch it to create a new list. Give the list a name such as BlogHer15 and decide if it's public or private.</p> <p>Once you have lists built, this is where you would go in the mobile app to read the lists you've subscribed to. This is also where you can see lists you've been added to by someone else.</p> <p>Next, add Twitter accounts to your list.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 7" /></center></p> <p>When you're viewing the Twitter profile of the account you want to add to a list, touch the gear icon to see <strong>Add/remove from lists</strong>. Press Add/remove from lists and select the list you want to use.</p> <p>In addition to viewing lists from a browser or the mobile app, tools such as TweetDeck have options that allow you to add columns for lists to your display.</p> <p> <h1>Organize Blogs with Feedly Categories</h1> </p> <p>Feedly is an RSS feed reader. There are many such tools, and you may already be using one to keep track of blogs you want to follow. The reason I mention Feedly in particular is that it offers a way to organize blog feeds into categories. </p> <p>You create categories yourself, or you can use Feedly's suggestions for categories such as Food, Fashion, Books, or whatever.</p> <p>Feedly has both a mobile and a desktop version, which makes it easy for you to take those conference contacts you made and quickly add blog URLs to the proper categories. </p> <p>In addition, there's a pro version of Feedly ($5 a month or $45 for a whole year) that connects to Evernote where you can write notes or save snippets from blog posts.</p> <p>You can login to Feedly with your Google ID or your Facebook ID.</p> <p><b>Using Feedly on a Desktop</b></p> <p>I logged in and customized my view a bit, which explains the orange. Hope you like orange as much as I do.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><center><img src="" alt="manage 8" /></center></p> <p>At the Home page, there's a menu on the left. It shows you the 3 categories I have so far: Cinema, Culture and Pop Culture. So far I only have a few blogs in each category. </p> <p>When the home page opens, all the unread feeds from everything appears, but I can click on any one of the categories or blogs and see only that. In fact, I can create a category called BlogHer15 and drop every new blog I get into that folder.</p> <p>To quickly add a specific blog, find the search box on the upper right. Type in the URL of the blog you want to add. I typed <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 9" /></center></p> <p>The search brought up the feed from The Culture Mom. Next to the name of the blog at the top you see a button with <strong>+Feedly</strong>. I click that to add this blog to one of my collections.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 10" /></center></p> <p>I select the collection I want. Or I can add a new category.</p> <p><b>Using the Feedly App</b></p> <p>On your mobile device, the Feedly app takes some practice to get used to the way it swipes, but you'll get the hang of it quickly.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 11" /></center></p> <p>It opens with all your unread posts. A menu at the upper left reveals your specific collections and blogs, which you see opened above. At the upper right, there's a magnifying glass. Touch that to quickly add a blog.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="manage 12" /></center></p> <p>The search box opens, where the URL of the blog you want, e.g., can be added. Feedly also suggests blogs it thinks you will like. When the search results appear, you see a plus (+) sign at the top near the name of the blog feed. </p> <p>Touch that plus sign and add the blog to the appropriate collection. </p> <p>If you organize yourself while the person who gave you the card is still fresh in your mind, it will help you remember who you've talked to, what their interests are, what their blog is about, and it will give you a way to keep an eye on their tweets.</p> <p>Then you can concentrate on having a great conversation with the next person you meet.</p> <p>Virginia DeBolt blogs at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Web Teacher</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">First 50 Words</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Old Ain't Dead</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 Technology Business Cards conference Feedly Twitter Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:58:00 +0000 Virginia DeBolt 2108671 at 6 Ways to Enjoy the Conference if You're Going Alone <!--paging_filter--><p>Sometimes I go to the annual BlogHer conference with a group of friends, but then there are other years, like this year, when none of my close blogging friends are going. </p> <p>I mean, there will be people I know there, but they have <i>their</i> close friends there that they want to see. I'm flying solo this year, without a wingwoman, and I'm determined to have as good a time as I would have if I had schlepped 20 people with me.</p> <p>But... uh... if you're in the same position as I am... uh... can we stick together?</p> <p>This is how I get through those conferences that I've attended without friends in tow.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="conference" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Amy Spreitzer Windsor</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Be Myself</h1> </p> <p>I'm an introvert, and I need a lot of down time in order to feel happy. When I go to the conference alone, I don't try to twist myself into someone I'm not just to feel as if I'm getting the most from my time there.</p> <p>It's okay to be yourself. It's okay to be shy. It's okay to skip things that seem overwhelming. The point is to have a good time; not to attend everything. </p> <p>Sometimes, to suck the marrow out of the rest of the conference, I need to just sit in my hotel room for a few minutes and read a book.</p> <p> <h1>Aim for Structure</h1> </p> <p>The events that I have the most trouble navigating on my own are the amorphous ones like the parties. I'm better when the parties have a focus, like the VOTY party where you can stand and listen to more posts, or the evening at the Expo where you can talk to sponsors.</p> <p>My favourite parts of the conference are the panels and keynotes. I'm ensconced in listening, and therefore, there's no awkward standing around and wishing I had someone to talk to moments. </p> <p> <h1>Plop Down</h1> </p> <p>As I said, I'm pretty introverted, but you can usually find a group of like-blogging individuals eating together at lunch and join along. </p> <p>I usually aim for the book bloggers despite not being a book blogger myself. You know why? Book bloggers come with book recommendations! Insta-conversation starter. I can just ask them what they're reading or what they thought of a certain book, and then they take it from there.</p> <p>Thank G-d for book bloggers.</p> <p>So think of a group you would like to hang out with and think up a few ice breaker questions, and then aim for that table at lunch. I promise, no one sits alone at meals. There aren't enough tables!</p> <p> <h1>Talk in Line</h1> </p> <p>You're standing there. It's awkward. So start a conversation. My top five places to start a conversation at BlogHer:</p> <p> <ul> <li>Food line</li> <li>Bathroom</li> <li>Elevator</li> <li>Sitting near you at a panel</li> <li>Sitting next to you at VOTY</li> </ul> </p> <p> <h1>Avoid the Lobby</h1> </p> <p>The lobby is lonely. Like really lonely. I once thought that I'd feel good sitting in the lobby because I'd see everyone coming and going. Surely someone would pause and talk with me. Uh... no. Stick to panels. Avoid the lobby.</p> <p> <h1>Create a Purpose</h1> </p> <p>If you cross-post on BlogHer to my section, I've read your post. I'm always looking to connect with new writers. Even if you haven't posted anything yet that I could push to the front page, I like to connect with dedicated writers because I always have paid posts that need assignment.</p> <p>So if nothing else, look for me! Find me! I'm really short with curly brown hair. There, I've given you a task.</p> <p>But if you don't want to find me (hey, I get it. <i>I</i> don't always want to find me), make up a task for yourself. To meet a certain person, to find 5 new people to read, to connect with a sponsor you want to work with. Sometimes all you need is a little direction.</p> <p><b>What are your best tips for conferencing alone</b>?</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences alone conference lonely Wed, 15 Jul 2015 12:28:46 +0000 Melissa Ford 2118361 at Not Going to #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us? How to Follow Along at Home <!--paging_filter--><p>I'm so sorry you're not going to be able to attend <a href="">#BlogHer15: Experts Among Us</a>. Really, I am. I'm sorry because I know what it's like to NOT be at a BlogHer conference when you really want to be there. </p><!--break--><p>When it seems like everyone you know is there. It's hard. Really hard. The only thing that helped to save my sanity when I wasn't able to attend was to follow along from home, as much as humanly possible. Let me help you get prepared to do just that, it will help -- really, it will.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>I wrote a post last month with a list of <a href="">things people who were attending #BlogHer15 should do before the event</a>. You can do some of those things, too, and it will help you follow from home! </p><p>Get your social media streams set up now so that you can quickly follow the people and the hashtags you're most interested in.</p> <p>Of course you'll want to follow the BlogHer and SheKnows official Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. Along with those, be sure to check out <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">PRI</a>, as well. They're going to be onsite covering the event, too.</p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">BlogHer on Twitter</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">BlogHer on Facebook</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">BlogHer on Instagram</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">SheKnows on Twitter</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">SheKnows on Facebook</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">SheKnows on Instagram</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">PRI on Twitter</a></li> </ul> <p>Here are some #hashtags we know will get play during the event. Be prepared to follow these, or the ones you're most interested in:</p> <ul> <li>#BlogHer15</li> <li>#womenslives</li> <li>#BlackLivesMatter</li> <li>#VOTY</li> <li>#Femvertising</li> <li>#DefiningMoments</li> <li>#KnowMe</li> <li>#Experts</li> <li>#NextGen</li> <li>#HatchKids</li> <li>#ThePitch</li> </ul> <p>Are there <a href="">speakers</a> or <a href="">attendees</a> you're interested in knowing more about? Follow them now and add them to lists on Twitter or Facebook.</p><p> Following what they share from the conference will help you feel like you're there and will give you ideas to think about and topics to blog about. Be sure to respond to things they share and ask them questions -- they may not be able to answer you quickly, but I bet they'll be thrilled to know you were watching and interested, and they'll answer you when they're able.</p> <p>Don't forget to take a look at the <a href="">#BlogHer15 sponsors</a>. Are there any you're really interested in learning more about? Follow them now and watch them during the event. Reply to what they're sharing. Engage with them from home. Make the connection, if you can.</p> <p>Once you have your social media streams set up, take a close look at the <a href="">schedule for #BlogHer15</a> and consider joining in from home. Practice for <a href="">#ThePitch</a>. Blog about the things <a href="">you're an #Expert in</a>. </p><p>Share your own <a href="">#DefiningMoment</a> and your <a href="">#KnowMe story</a>. Start thinking about submitting your work for next year's <a href="">#VOTY</a> -- it's never too early to set this goal for yourself! </p><p>And, of course you'll want to be listening to <a href="">BoysIIMen</a> -- maybe make yourself some awesome appetizers, throw together some cocktails and have your own little dance party. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Periscope it</a>! Create a little dance party at home. It will be fun and it will be the next best thing to being there.</p> <p>After the event is over, we'll be sharing more video, audio from the sessions, and photos on Flickr and Instagram, so keep watching BlogHer and SheKnows for those updates, as well.</p> <p>See you next year, (or maybe at BlogHer Food '15), right?</p> <p><strong>~Denise</strong><br /> <strong>BlogHer Community Manager</strong><br /> <a href=>Flamingo House Happenings</a><br /></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Wed, 15 Jul 2015 11:00:00 +0000 Denise 2107733 at Do You Keep a Blogging Schedule? <!--paging_filter--><p>I laugh when I read the words "blogging schedule." I still feel like I haven't figured out what my blog really is or what it's for or how consistent it will be. Still, I'm very good at sharing my blog posts on all the social media channels to the tipping point of dizzying nausea. </p> <p>When I write on a topic from which I feel even a remote spark, I'm comfortable, but a schedule hasn't jived with me yet even though I'm fond of creating lists and manage a routine regardless of what the clock shows.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="schedule" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Lindsay Turner</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Sometimes, I feel like my blog is merely a means of promoting my work on other sites and publications. I love to write and have branched out from writing solely about my kids, but I don't have a solid focus. </p> <p>I don't want to limit myself or trap myself into a genre which sadly I tend to do and then get dissatisfied and temporarily move on. And I'm always finding things I missed writing about scribbled in a notebook or thoughts I failed to crystallize at the prime moment of discovery. </p> <p>"Why didn't I think of that?!" I bemoan. Or maybe I did, and it's still hiding out on a lone piece of paper in my notebook.</p> <p>My blog cannot be my only identifying factor as a writer. I began this to have an extra creative outlet, participate in paid and volunteer advertising campaigns, and find a community of like-minded writers. But sometimes it does feel like more than those things either separately or put together. </p> <p>Once in a while, I consider hiring a blog designer and elevating it beyond a mere outlet and into a business. Then I second-guess those ideas because it seems like blogs are a dime a dozen these days. But what other choice do I have to be heard and/or read?</p> <p>Although I love writing about my life, feelings and opinions, I feel I'm more a writer than a blogger. Since age 11, it's been a dream that I harbored to be one even though I rarely revealed that to others, and I scared myself a few years before my 40th birthday that I hadn't really given it my best shot. </p> <p>Dabbling in publishing provided a desire to write myself, not just polish up others' offerings. I love writing and think I'd like to delve back into fiction. I also think I would like to be a copywriter because that takes both creativity and structure. </p> <p>From my newly redone resume, I apparently already have completed that type of writing. Right now, I'm in the process of job hunting in a very light way until September when school starts up again, and I really need to hit the pavement and score. </p> <p>I'm considering my options and thinking that, "Yes, a part-time, little-to-no-thought, rote job may suffice, but then again, what have I been doing these past 5 years? Stalling? Biding time before I board the train to back to the grind of work?"</p> <p>I have enough comparable experience for a handful of writing jobs, so why would I take some generic job when I have a modicum of talent to burn and could maybe make money doing it? We could use it for our new house and its new myriad expenses.</p> <p>As much as I'm grateful for being a stay-at-home mom, treasuring the memories I've made with my two yet cringing at the mistakes, it's not all of me. What will I do when they're adults and out in the world? </p> <p>Copywriting could provide me with a good livelihood and the structure I need (granted, if I can find an opportunity and convince a relative to fill in the gaps to watch the kids when I'm still at work or busy working on a project.) </p> <p>Occasionally, I earn a few dollars here and there but not enough.</p> <p>So a blogging schedule is pretty much non-existent for me. I blog when inspiration strikes or I need to vent or I'm promoting the writing I did for someone else or offered up to another place with more of a following which honestly delivers me more traffic than my own blog. </p> <p>I don't want to give up my dreams as a writer, but I also want money to show for it or need to find a position that enables me to continue reaching for the stars or a little stardust and some cold, hard cash to contribute to the bills.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>The writing and editing skills I've developed may be too much to settle for what I get at this moment, but it's all I have. Could I get more out of it? Is what I have to offer enough?</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media #about writing #copywriter blog schedule Tue, 14 Jul 2015 12:42:53 +0000 MBSANOK 2115219 at #BlogHer15 Instagram Challenge: Show Us Your IRL Meet-ups! <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-full-image"> <div class="field-label">Full Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_full_image" width="550" height="550" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>We’ve enjoyed sharing pictures from and interacting with the BlogHer community in the past couple of months via our Instagram Challenges. Whether the challenge was #CourageToday, #Experts, #KnowMe, or #HatchKids/#NextGen, BlogHers <em>brought it</em>.</p><p>We enjoyed those challenges so much, in fact, that we don’t want the fun to end just because our biggest event of the year is beginning. That’s why we decided to extend (and twist!) one of our favorites, #KnowMe, through the duration of BlogHer15: Experts Among Us.</p><p>While everyone has their own reasons for attending a BlogHer conference (read Arnebya’s awesome post about that <a href="">here</a>), what is near the top of most attendees’ list is the opportunity to connect in real life (IRL) with others they have met online.</p><p>That’s where the Instagram Challenge comes in! We want to see and share your IRL meetups at BlogHer15! From Thursday July 16 through Saturday July 18, post a picture of you and someone you’ve met at the conference. Tell us, in the caption, who they are and something you’ve learned about them. Tag the caption with #KnowMe and #BlogHer15, and we’ll repost our favorites!</p><p>We can’t wait to see <em>your</em> conference experience through your eyes. Have a great time, and we’ll see you in New York City AND on Instagram!</p><p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/files/BH15_IG_KnowMe_BH2.png" alt="#BlogHer15 Instagram Challenge: Show Us Your IRL Meet-ups!" width="550" height="550" />&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Melisa Wells</p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">@melisalw</a></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Suburban Scrawl</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 blogher15 Instagram KnowMe BlogHer 2015 Mon, 13 Jul 2015 20:44:45 +0000 melisa 2117507 at How to Podcast Like an Expert <!--paging_filter--><p>These Internet streets tend to get jammed and flooded with millions of ambitious content creators who are vying for attention. Some content creators seek the attention of brands, while others are looking to attract potential customers. With ADD on the rise and an estimated 200 million blogs in the blogosphere, building your personal brand can seem futile and intimidating. So what’s an upwardly mobile woman who is on a quest to build her empire to do?</p><!--break--> <p><center><img src="" alt="How to Podcast Like an Expert" width="548" height="548" /></center></p><p><strong>One word. Podcast.</strong></p><p>In comparison to the 200 million blogs in existence, there are only about 200,000 active podcasts. I would LOVE to say that this disparity means that having a podcast improves your chances of getting noticed online by 1000 %, BUT I’m not in the business of selling lollipops and ‘pipe dreams.’ However, I can say with certainty that having a podcast show increases your chances of standing out and getting noticed as an expert in your niche.</p><h2><center>How to Podcast Like an Expert</center></h2><p><strong>1. Identify Your Brand Message</strong></p><p>Your brand message is the foundation from which all of your content should flow. What does your brand stand for? What is it that you want to teach the world?</p><p>It’s important to have a deep understanding for your brand’s message before you start recording your podcast episodes. More so, identify how your podcast episodes can correspond to your blog posts, videos, as well as any programs or services that you offer.</p><p><strong>2. Set the Tone for Your Brand</strong></p><p>Decide on the type of energy and confidence you want to bring to your audience. Do you want to come across as serious, warm, or snarky? Not only will you convey this tone in your own personality, but in the branding elements of your podcast. </p><p>Don’t underestimate the amount of impact that your podcast intro and podcast cover will have on the tone of your show. Make sure your show's tone compliments how you want to be perceived.</p><p><strong>3. Have a Good Microphone</strong></p><p>In the world of computer programming the term "GIGO" is used often: Garbage In, Garbage Out. There is only so much noise that can be removed in post audio editing.</p><p>Therefore, it is very important that you do your best to ensure that you are recording quality audio with limited interruptions (try not to podcast near the window so that you can avoid picking up cars, dogs, and lawnmowers in your audio). Additionally, having a quality microphone will help your show sound professional.</p><p>Quality podcast recording equipment doesn’t have to cost a fortune. For example, the ATR2100 and the Blue Yeti are two popular microphone models adored by podcasters that can be purchased within a $100 price point.</p><p><strong> 4. Have a Call to Action</strong></p><p>Experts speak to influence their audience into a desired state of action. Determine what you want to gain from people listening to your podcast.</p><p>Do you want listeners to visit your website, sign up for your free eBook, or register for your latest program? Direct your audience to the action that you want them to take when they finish listening to your show.</p><p><strong>5. Promote Like Beyoncé</strong></p><p>Love her or hate her, Beyoncé is EVERYWHERE you look. So should be your podcast show!</p><p> Make sure that you distribute your podcast feed to as many distribution channels as possible. iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Sound Cloud, and now Spotify are all great audio platforms to establish a podcast presence. </p><p>Also, promote your podcast with visually appealing graphics that promote your episode’s topic or guest. Remember, social media staples such as Twitter and Facebook are not the only places to promote your podcast. Incorporate innovative podcast promotion techniques with mediums like Instagram, Periscope, Clammr, and Pinterest in order to drive traffic to your show</p><p>Last, <strong>enjoy the process</strong>. The BEST way to podcast like an expert is to be confident, be yourself, and have FUN!</p><p> So what you want to pull out your own hair when listening to the sound of your own voice. You are in good company. Many people dread hearing the sound of their own voice.</p><p> Grant yourself a healthy dose of grace and patience as you start your new podcast show. You’ll be surprised how much your vocal and interview skills will develop after each episode.</p><p><strong><em>Now go forth, be great, and podcast like an expert!</em></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Brandy Butler</p><p>Vision Activator | Message Syndicator</p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools BlogHer 2015 Career Pop Culture Technology Work/Life News & Politics Entertainment BlogHer Conferences how to podcast like an expert podcast podcasting for women BlogHer 2015 #Experts Mon, 13 Jul 2015 14:00:00 +0000 BrandyButlerOnline 2108631 at 4 Reasons Why You Need to Drop Your Blog Contact Form <!--paging_filter--><p>Contact forms are all the rage on blogs, and I'm sure someone else could write a post defending and praising the use of contact forms negating everything I'm about to say. But this is <i>my</i> post, and my post is strictly in the anti-contact form camp.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Sorry.</p> <p>I should probably clarify that I don't have a problem with contact forms per se. I understand that some people get a lot of email spam, and contact forms help control that spam issue. Contact forms give a person a layer of privacy in that their email address isn't exposed.</p> <p>And I understand why it helps companies and large blogs manage a deluge of messages. But when it comes to personal blogs, the contact form becomes less of a necessity.</p> <p>I appreciate people who post their email address in addition to the contact form. It gives people like me a chance to reach out.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="contact" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Contact Forms Remove Control</h1> </p> <p>Contact forms send a silent message: if you want to talk to me, you need to do so on my terms. Before the person has gotten a chance to say their first word, they've already been exposed to a power dynamic.</p> <p>Let's say that my whole reason for emailing was to take my comment offline because it was emotional in nature and I didn't want it seen by all in the comment section of a post. I am now met with a cold form, archly telling me that if I want to communicate, I need to do so on these terms.</p> <p>Do you think I still want to communicate?</p> <p>In those cases, I usually decide to leave what I was going to say unsaid. It's the equivalent to speaking to someone who has their arms folded over their chest; who wants to spill out their heart to someone who starts out holding them at arm's length?</p> <p>Beyond that, the person isn't going to respond by contact form. <i>They</i> are going to get to email you back and enjoy all the perks of email. </p> <p> <h1>Contact Forms are Difficult to Use</h1> </p> <p>When I'm at home, at a computer, it makes little difference. But on the road, trying to communicate with someone from my phone? Forget it: using a contact form becomes an exercise in frustration.</p> <p>You may point out that I could always wait until I get to a computer. And yes, that is usually possible. Except that once the urgency to speak has passed, it's rare that I will return to a site. </p> <p>If you care about hearing other people's words, make it easy for people to communicate with you.</p> <p> <h1>Contact Forms Make Drafts Difficult</h1> </p> <p>Let's say that I'm writing a message to you and I want to reference a few different posts from your blog and paste the URL. I can't. Or, I can, but I have to open a second window and have your blog open in two different places to do so.</p> <p>Or maybe I'm called away from writing the message because one of my kids has spilled water across the kitchen floor. I have no way of hitting save and returning to the message. Sure, I can leave it up on my screen, but how many times have I lost my work that way?</p> <p>So unless it's a very short message, contact forms present new hoops for people to jump through in order to communicate. It makes me weigh out whether I really need to say these words, or whether I can just let the thoughts go. Usually, I let the thoughts go.</p> <p> <h1>Contact Forms Remove the Paper Trail</h1> </p> <p>So I send a message through a contact form... and then I never see it again. Unless I make myself a copy and email it to myself, I can't reflect back on what I said unless the person responds and leaves my words in the email.</p> <p>For a small conversation, it's not a big deal. But for an emotional conversation, one that may go back and forth for a while, I want to be able to reflect on my words again. </p> <p>I doubt that people who love their contact forms will be swayed by this post, but I do hope that people will consider posting their email address on their contact page above the form so people can choose how they'll communicate. Pretty please? With sugar on top?</p> <p><b>How do you feel about contact forms? Love them or annoyed by them</b>?</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media about me Contact contact form Mon, 13 Jul 2015 12:58:55 +0000 Melissa Ford 2118303 at Useful Blogging Tips For the Summer Slump <!--paging_filter--><p>It's the summer slump time, that time when blogging slows down. Instead of worrying about it, take the opportunity to do other blogging tasks that you have put off or personal/household items you have let slide because you have been blogging your little fingers off.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="summer" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Bridget H</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>1. Take care of housekeeping items such as checking for broken links.</p> <p>2. Update photos on old posts and repin them.</p> <p>3. Make some changes in design elements or add new ones.</p> <p>4. Create evergreen posts to put up during busier times.</p> <p>5. Generate and try out new ideas. Maybe you have always wanted to start your own YouTube videos series for your blog. The summer would be a great time to explore and try that out.</p> <p>6. Comment on other blogs now that you have a bit more time. Comments are always noticed and appreciated. Who knows -- maybe you will make a new friend or connection. </p> <p>7. The summer slow down may be the best time to move hosting or redesign your blog.</p> <p>8. Update your favourite blogs to follow list. </p> <p>9. Rewrite you bio for your blog or other social media channels.</p> <p>10. Try out a new social media channel. If you have hesitated to try out a new social media platform, the summer could be a good time as you could devote your summer to mastering that platform.</p> <p>11. Survey your die-hard readers and find out what they might like to see in the future. You might just stumble upon a great idea that you could then use the rest of the summer to develop. </p> <p>12. Clean up your sidebar images. </p> <p>13. Check all widgets and make sure they are working properly. Fix or remove them and add new ones.</p> <p>14. Make business cards or order some for those summer and fall conferences.</p> <p>15. Reorganize and update your Pinterest boards. </p> <p>The idea with changing anything on your blog during the summer is that there would be fewer eyes on it. If your readers don't like it, they'll tell you. If they like it, then when the readers return from holidays you will have something new, fresh and exciting for them and new readers. </p> <p>If you are like me, summer just doesn't seem long enough. Back to school returns, and I'm not ready for it. But a short break where you step away from blogging can also get rejuvenated and new creative ideas can begin to flow. </p> <p>This summer some of my non-blogging goals are:</p> <p>1. Less time blogging means I can spend more time learning something new. If you have been following the blog you will know that I'm trying to learn how to draw better. This summer, I will continue in this adventure.</p> <p>2. I should have more time to tackle a declutter project that I have been putting off since January such as baby clothes and other miscellaneous baby items. Time to let go. </p> <p>3. I hope to participate in writing challenges to continue to create and generate new ideas and practice the craft.</p> <p>This is one I will be doing: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Teachers Write Camp is organized and hosted by Kate</a> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Messner</a>. It's a great community of writers and it's free. If you join let me know. I love fellow travelers.</p> <p>And of course all of this will in-between some of my other favourite things to during the summer: camp and relax in the mountains and play with my kids.</p> <p><b>What are you doing to beat the summer slump</b>?</p> <p>Cheers,<br /> Bonnie<br /> This post was originally published at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools # blogging #blogger #blogging tips Sat, 11 Jul 2015 00:17:38 +0000 Bonnie Dani 2101932 at How to Raise the Next Generation of Writers and Programmers <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p>My kids both write and program. That's sort of the gist of their lives: writing and programming. My daughter draws and my son plays guitar, but the Venn diagram of their interests overlaps with writing and programming.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="writing" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Denise Krebs</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>The writing part wasn't a huge stretch. My husband and I are both writers. Either they are emulating us or they've actually inherited some unknown writing-interest gene that we all carry. </p> <p>The programming part came out of left field. My husband and I aren't very ... computer science-y. I had to teach myself programming so I could turn around and teach the kids programming because they wanted to learn.</p> <p>Somewhere along the way, it all clicked inside my brain, and now I love computers, too. I teach programming to other people's kids on the weekends, and I <i>love</i> it. I love this Boolean-filled world the kids have shown to me due to their interests.</p> <p>I am 100% certain the interest in programming is genuine just because it comes from ... nowhere. I am about 95% certain that the interest in writing is genuine because I need to account for the possibility that they only write because they think they should be writers on account of being in this family of bookish sort of people.</p> <p>It's hard to know where the line is drawn; where do their interests begin and where do what they think I want their interests to be end? Because kids want to make adults happy; they want our approval. Sometimes they do activities or pretend to like things because they're seeking our approval.</p> <p>How do you know if your kid really likes soccer or if they're just playing soccer because they think you want them to play soccer? Or play piano? Or speak Spanish? Or draw pictures? </p> <p>The fact is, you don't. I mean, not until they grow up and stop doing things for your approval and start doing things for their own happiness. </p> <p>But sometimes you can get a sense beforehand; you catch an expression of pure happiness on their face or you see the way their feet drag, and you just know. Your job as a parent is to listen and adjust accordingly rather than continue to lead your child down a road they don't really want to go if it were entirely up to them.</p> <p>I think always being cognizant of that line is one of the most important things I can do as a parent, to gently nudge my kids towards their own interests. To let them know that it's okay to follow your heart and do things that make you happy. </p> <p>Other people will follow along -- just as I followed them into the world of computer programming -- or they won't, but in the end, they will have spent their time on earth wisely, making themselves happy.</p> <p>I asked my daughter if she writes and programs because she wants to write and program. Sometimes she gets cool opportunities connected to writing or computer science, from dinner with authors to emails with computer scientists to reporting from the White House. </p> <p>Does she really like those adult-oriented events, or is she just doing them because she thinks she's supposed to want to do them?</p> <p>She promised me that she loves writing. She loves meeting authors. She likes going to the White House (mostly because she gets a doughnut afterward before we get on the Metro, but also because it's pretty and she loves American history).</p> <p>But she'd also like to <i>borrow the iPad now, please, because my G-d, mother, you are bothering me with a lot of questions</i>. </p> <p>As long as she still acts like a kid, I think it's all okay.</p> <p>Right?</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Career Work/Life Family interests programming writing Next Generation Fri, 10 Jul 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Melissa Ford 2072606 at 10 Awesome Instagram Tips <!--paging_filter--><p>I was at the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">iRetreat Blogging Conference</a> the last few days and not only did I get to eat the food and see the sights of AMAZING New Orleans, but I also learned a whole hell of a lot.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="instagram" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Ricymar Photography</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>If I had to rank topics in the order of how much I learned, I would put Instagram at the top of that list. The ladies at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">FSC Interactive</a> were full of super terrific information.</p> <p>I like Instagram, it's fun to look at everyone's pictures, and I have a decent following, but it's definitely got the lowest engagement of any of my social media platforms. </p> <p>I've tried to blame this on the fact that it's not my core demographic, but to be honest, I've just never been completely comfortable with how I'm supposed to use it.</p> <p>If I wrote down everything I learned it would be a really long blog post, so I thought I would distil it down into what I felt the most important pieces were (at least to me).</p> <p> <h1>Instagram as a Visual Magazine</h1> </p> <p>Think of Instagram as a visual magazine. Is it appealing? Would you want to look at your own images?</p> <p> <h1>Observe the Rule of Thirds</h1> </p> <p>Imagine your photo in 9 equal sections. Your most interesting aspect should hit a line on the grid not be centered. Did you know there is a grid feature in the Instagram camera? Me either.</p> <p> <h1>Edit</h1> </p> <p>Edit your pictures. Don't feel you have to post in the moment. If your photos aren't all that great take the time to edit them and make them great before you post.</p> <p> <h1>Find Inspiration</h1> </p> <p>Take an "Instagram walk." Beauty is all around you so practice finding awesome subjects and taking awesome shots.</p> <p> <h1>Practice</h1> </p> <p>Take more photos than you will ever need. Instagramming is an art. Practice, practice, practice.</p> <p> <h1>Microblog</h1> </p> <p>Instagram is microblogging. There is a 2200 character limit. I had no idea. I thought it was about pictures, not text, but you can tell a story. You can compose your words in the Notes app and then copy and paste.</p> <p> <h1>Create an Instagram Editorial Calendar</h1> </p> <p>Integrate with your blog editorial calendar or create an entire Instagram editorial calendar. This never even occurred to me. Didn't I feel dumb?</p> <p> <h1>Schedule Content</h1> </p> <p>Schedule your content to post later using things like Latergramme (an app).</p> <p> <h1>Hashtags</h1> </p> <p>Use the correct hashtags. Don't use over 30, but use at least 11. That seems like the current sweet spot.</p> <p> <h1>Re-gramming</h1> </p> <p>Re-gramming – I had no idea this was possible either (so much for thinking I'm social media savvy). There's a cool app called repost. I tried it a couple times yesterday, and it's pretty cool.</p> <p>I hope something on this list was of value. If you have a cool tip or trick to share, leave it in the comments. I'd love to hear it, and I know others would, too.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools #blogging #blogtips #Instagram Thu, 09 Jul 2015 13:06:09 +0000 LainaTurner 2109036 at How Can I Define Myself With Just One Word? <!--paging_filter--><p>I am not one thing, I am many. I am a flower with many petals; I am a pinwheel. I am a doodle of a work in progress.</p><!--break--><p>If you had asked me twenty years ago to define myself in one word, it would have been an incredibly easy task. I was an actor. Classically trained, focused, determined, and set on achieving a successful career on the stage.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <p> I had dedicated much of my life towards becoming that singular word and claiming it felt authentic and natural. When I embarked on real life as a performer, I quickly realized something deeply important: I am not competitive. Being an actor was not going to be the THING for me.</p><p>I took a jump over to the other side of the industry and dove into work as an assistant to a film director. Within weeks if you had asked me to define myself, I would have quickly explained how my job defined me. I relished the long hours, inside information, being two degrees away from celebrity. But after over six years of grueling work and a brain full of useless film facts, I was able to walk away when I needed to.</p><p><center><img style="vertical-align: top;" src="" alt="A PIN-WHEEL OR WHIRLIGIG " /></center></p><p><center><p class="p2">Image Credit: Illustration from <em>The Playwork Book</em>, via <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">The Library of Congress</a></p></center></p><p>Because the bigger defining parts of my life hadn't even happened yet.</p><p>When I was 29, my grandfather died. On the heels of his funeral, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. There was no wavering moment about who would help take care of her. I would do it. I would of course do it.</p><p> It didn't matter that I lived across the country. I would move. It didn't matter that my grandmother was often annoyed or exasperated by me. We could become reacquainted. It didn't matter that I had no idea what being a caregiver meant. I simply knew I would be there for her as she had been there for me and my mother when I was a kid.</p><p>The first several months as a caregiver were shocking. My grandmother was furious at her failing memory, and I was confused about how to offer help without making her feel helpless. For the first time in a very long time I had no idea who I was. Was I a roommate? A companion? A full-time granddaughter?</p><p>Soon a routine was born. I woke up before my grandmother and placed her morning pills in a dish in her bathroom. I prepared her breakfast and helped her get dressed.</p><p> I drove my grandmother to doctor appointments or her weekly hair appointment. I listened to her stories. I comforted her. I sat with her. I read with her. I listened to music with her. I cried with her. </p><p>I gave her care. I was her caregiver.</p><p>For almost seven years, I gave care to my grandmother. She battled Alzheimer's, and I stood beside her, propping her up and helping her face each day. </p><p>Some of the hardest days I have ever known were days as a caregiver. I witnessed the unraveling and decline of a human being, and there is nothing precious about that. I also experienced love, joy, forgiveness, and truth as a caregiver. There are no photo filters on your day.</p><p>Being my <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">grandmother's caregiver</a> led to another defining moment for me: the decision to become a <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">single mother by choice</a>. </p><p>I don't think I ever would have been able to articulate the song and desire in my heart if I wasn't experiencing life as a caregiver. The hows and whys of deciding to become a parent don't always define a person, but for me I know caregiving inspired the desire to parent.</p><p>Wanting to parent led to failing to achieve pregnancy, which led to years where I would define myself as infertile. The world was divided into those who had children and those who did not, and the longer it took me to cross over, the more bitter and brittle I became.</p><p> It worried me. I did not like feeling so out of control and negative. I did not like having such a duality to my life: nurturing and loving granddaughter / <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">angry and self loathing infertile.</a></p><p>When I did finally achieve a successful and viable pregnancy, I became defined by something else: <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">poverty</a>. </p><p>My family had an unexpected and complete loss of income, and we went from stability and security to food stamps and WIC. My mother, who also contributed care for my grandmother, was the breadwinner of our family unit, and she suddenly was out of work and without any prospects. </p><p>For way longer than we would have liked, we existed thanks to the kindness of friends and assistance from government programs. Being poor shaped every moment of every day.</p><p>My son was born in the Spring of 2009, and my grandmother passed away six months later. My family eventually turned the corner, and we have been rebuilding our lives.</p><p>If you asked me to define my life now, I would not be able to sum it up in one word. I would ask you to sit down and have a conversation.</p><p>I am not an actor, but I used to be. I am not in the film industry, but oh, the things I could tell you!</p><p> I am no longer my grandmother's caregiver, but I will always consider myself a caregiver. </p><p>I successfully gave birth to a healthy son, but I still weep over the struggle it took for him to get here.</p><p> My family is no longer on food stamps or WIC, but that doesn't mean I am not terrified we might be on it again. I am the sum and collection and intersection of so much.</p><p><em>Dresden blogs about single parenting, plaid, and benevolence at&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link"></a> and tweets about needing more coffee at <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link"><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">@DresdenPlaid</a></a></em><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"></a></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 Grandparents Caregiving Work/Life Family BlogHer Conferences caregiving Foodstamps infertility BlogHer 2015 #KnowMe Wed, 08 Jul 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Dresden 2104812 at 3 Things That Make Me Want to Keep Reading Your Blog <!--paging_filter--><p>I've been really establishing my little empire lately (finally <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"> following my own advice</a>) and deciding what I like and what I don't like in the blogs that I read. I've discovered the things that work and the things that don't.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="3 Things" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"></a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I read a LOT of blogs every day. Sometimes, I click off before even reading a single thing because I know, based on description or pictures or design, that I won't return to that blog over and over. It just doesn't catch my eye or we don't click. </p> <p>And that's okay! Obviously not everyone is going to love the pink watercolor header that I have and won't always adore everything I have to say. I'm totally alright with that. I refuse to let my people-pleasing ways follow me into the blogosphere. </p> <p>So instead of touching first on why I DON'T follow your blog, I thought I'd make a post on why I DO follow your blog, and why I love it.</p> <p> <h1>Easy to Navigate</h1> </p> <p>It's clean, organized, and all the images are full-width in your posts. Plus, the sidebar isn't chock-full of things that clash. </p> <p>I wrote a post a while back of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">my favorite Wordpress themes</a>, and it was partially inspired by some really stressful blog themes I'd encountered that day.</p> <p> <h1>Easy to Comment</h1> </p> <p>I cannot express to you how much I hate commenting on blogs that don't have <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Disqus</a> anymore. It's easy, I'm always signed in, and I don't have to be a Blogger member. </p> <p>I really dislike using my Google account to comment because I always have to sign in and Google+ doesn't have a clear link to my blog, so it does nothing for my blog community. In addition to that, I don't like using Google+ in general.</p> <p>If you don't use Disqus, I highly recommend obtaining it. You can simply go to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a> to install it on your blog.</p> <p> <h1>Your Personality Shines Through</h1> </p> <p>When people merely blog about other people or post bland, single line quotes, or in the case of Tumblr, only ever repost things, I have no idea who you are, even if I spend an hour on your blog. </p> <p>I want to hear YOUR thoughts and YOUR dreams. I want to see YOUR world the way YOU see it. That's important to me. <em>Because you're important to me.</em></p> <p><b>What are your three things that make you want to keep reading a blog</b>?</p> <p><em>Read more on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sincerely, Bugs</a></em></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Entertainment #blog sponsorship # blogging #blogging tips Wed, 08 Jul 2015 13:43:16 +0000 AlexandraDobrov 2110305 at Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Evening at the Expo <!--paging_filter--><p>Apple Watches as hot door prizes, cute animals, free food, opportunities to network with brands who want to work with you with <em>no</em> distractions pulling you in many different directions: It must be Evening at the Expo at <a href="">#BlogHer15: Experts Among Us</a>. On <strong>Thursday July 16 from 6-8PM</strong>, we're dedicating two hours for you to take your first lap around our two-floor Expo Hall and meet and greet our sponsors.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Evening at the Expo at #BlogHer15" /></center></p> <p>Evening at the Expo takes place after our <a href="">just-announced special keynote</a> on Thursday afternoon , featuring an appearance by two of the co-founders of #BlackLivesMatter, <b>Opal Tometi</b> and <b>Patrisse Cullors</b>, along with <b>Melinda Gates</b>, Essence editor-in-chief <b>Vanessa De Luca</b> and Public Radio International CEO <b>Alisa Miller</b>, and right before our <a href="">community parties</a> kick off.</p> <p>We announced <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">a lot of cool sponsor activities last week</a>, so there's a lot of special sparkle happening at the Evening at the Expo that won't be happening on Friday and Saturday?</p> <p> <h2>Special One-Night-Only Door Prizes!</h2> </p> <p>We start with a few amazing door prizes that you can only win on Thursday night: We will be giving away three Apple Watches, and a grand prize of $1,000 cash.</p> <p>Uh huh. You don't know which you want more, do you?&nbsp;</p> <p>Here's how it works:</p> <ol> <li>You'll <strong>drop your business card</strong> with the nice volunteer holding a fishbowl (or hat or some such container) on your way into either floor of the expo hall. Yes, you can drop it on each floor.</li> <li><strong>At 7:30PM</strong>, listen for our announcements of the winners over a global PA system on both expo floors! We will also share on social.</li> <li>You will need to skedaddle to the SheKnows Media booth to <strong>collect your prize by 8PM</strong>.</li> <li><strong>You MUST be present and pick up your prize in person to win</strong>. Squeeing not required, but encouraged.</li> </ol> <p>Besides our general door prizes, many other sponsors, including <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Baskin Robbins</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">gameit</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Garden of Life</a>,&nbsp;<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">GoGo Squeeze</a>, and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";siteId=je6NUbpObpQ-Bb9w_cwws9PvUNaBkPnjCA" class="external-link">Netgear</a>, will be giving away prizes on Thursday evening, too.</p> <p> <h2>Snacks!</h2> </p> <p>You'll savor delicious treats from sponsors like <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Canadian Lentils</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Modern Table</a>, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Dunkin Donuts</a>, and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Good Health Snacks</a>, AND we'll be hosting a spread for attendees of Evening at the Expo ourselves. Making a meal at the Expo? Not uncommon.</p> <p> <h2>Suite Fun</h2> </p> <p>In addition to the Expo, we'll have <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"></a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sears Connected Solutions</a> up in their Suites on the 44th floor, hosting our attendees during Evening at the Expo. They'll have exclusive giveaways of cool stuff like headphones and Rokus, and Sears is actually giving *everyone* who tweets from the suite a pretty handy kitchen appliance! And of course the suite fun continues into the night, with the <a href="">community parties</a> in the suites from 8 to 11PM.</p> <p> <h2>Cute Overload!</h2> </p> <p>Yes, you will have the chance to play with some adorable cats and dogs at the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">ASPCA</a>,&nbsp;<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Pets Add Life</a>, and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a> booths.</p> <p> <h2>Last but not least: Time to Strategize!</h2> </p> <p>The best part of Evening at the Expo is knowing there are two more days to follow. Make your laps, get a first look at all of our sponsors, and take part in the special activities they have planned for that night. As you scope everything out, you can mentally bookmark the folks you want to re-visit later in the conference for more in-depth conversation and connection. You can mark them as Favorites in the conference mobile app, and keep track of them that way. (<a href="">Download the app here</a>, if you haven't already.)</p> <p>My recommendation: Once you've bookmarked those favorites&mdash;especially if they are brands with which you'd like to work&mdash;make sure to do your research, and come back to them sounding savvy and on point.&nbsp;</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Evening at the Expo at #BlogHer15" /></center></p> <p>Okay, now that I have your attention, just a couple of other housekeeping notes:</p> <p><strong>Note the Expo Hall's Hours and mark your calendar:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Thursday, July 16: 6-8PM</li> <li>Friday:10:30AM-1:00PM and 2-4:30PM*</li> <li>Saturday: 10:30AM-12:30PM and 2-4:30PM*</li> </ul> <p>* Sponsors may schedule individual appointments during off hours on Friday/Saturday, but the hall itself will not be generally open.</p> <p> <h2>A Note About "Official Events":</h2> </p> <p>Two years ago, <a href="">I wrote this post </a>, which highlighted a very real issue we (and many other conference organizers in our space) face: Unofficial events, otherwise known as "outboard" events, otherwise known as <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">a parasitic business practice</a>. That post explains exactly why the price for bloggers and social media influencers to attend #BlogHer15 is so low: Because our official sponsors foot more than half the bill to host you, so your conference ticket only costs less than half as much as it otherwise would. Our sponsors are our partners, but more than that: They're the ones who support the entire community. By being a #BlogHer15 official sponsor they help every single attendee, and we cannot thank them enough.</p> <p>So take a minute and look for the #BlogHer15 logo or words about being an "official" sponsor&mdash;and then thank them, if you feel so moved.</p> <p>Brands, agencies, bloggers, influencers, publishers, bloggers, winners, photographers, media companies ... we're all one big, healthy ecosystem, and we all come together Thursday night 6-8PM at Evening at the Expo!</p> <p>Can't wait to see you all!</p> <p>And yes. <strong>tickets are still available <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">right here</a>.</strong></p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>Elisa Camahort Page <br />BlogHer Co-founder<br /><a href="" class="mailto-link"></a><br /><em>My <a href="">BlogHer profile</a> truly shows you everything I do online...Check it out!!</em></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Tue, 07 Jul 2015 19:06:00 +0000 Elisa Camahort 2113234 at How to Annoy Your Facebook Friends in 9 Easy Steps <!--paging_filter--><p>I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I am growing increasingly tired of the constant commercial that is Facebook these days. </p> <p>It seems like I can't sign on to my News Feed anymore without being blasted with before and after pictures (eww, panties! Why are they ALWAYS in their panties?), pictures of "free" luxury cars, and invitations to Facebook parties. I like my friends, and I like Facebook, but can I just say it? </p> <p>Enough is enough! Please just stop!</p> <p>In light of my current frustration with Facebook, I present to you 9 simple steps to annoy your Facebook friends.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="facebook" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Peter Markham</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p><b>Step 1</b>: Send a friend request to every person that Facebook suggests you may know. Never met them in person or even heard their name? No problem. Facebook said you might know them, so they obviously are just waiting to be your forever friend on Facebook.</p> <p><b>Step 2</b>: Immediately add all of your new friends to your super-exclusive Facebook group. Don't have a Facebook group? No problem. You can create one.</p> <p><b>Step 3</b>: Inundate your new Facebook group with your sales pitch for the life-changing product that they absolutely cannot live without. Post pictures and personal testimonies about Product XYZ. </p> <p>Bonus points if you include a post about how your friend's cousin's best friend's mother-in-law made 6 figures in 3 months just by sharing Product XYZ. </p> <p>Cut and paste all of the same posts to your personal Facebook page. If people aren't reading about it in your super-exclusive group, they can read about it on their News Feed.</p> <p><b>Step 4</b>: When your friends post a status or picture, immediately comment about how Product XYZ can help. It doesn't matter what the original post is about. Product XYZ changes lives! </p> <p>Weird rash on your child's belly? Just rub XYZ on it 3 times a day and it will be cured! Cat run away? Product XYZ will help! Marriage in trouble? XYZ to the rescue!</p> <p><b>Step 5</b>: When your friends ignore your constant sales pitches (because they will), start sending private messages. Bonus points if it's in a group message to your entire friends list.</p> <p><b>Step 6</b>: Invite your entire friends list to your Facebook party. They can "party" in their jammies and you don't even have to clean your house or buy food. How great is that?!? Cut and paste your sales pitch from your Facebook group and personal profile onto the event page.</p> <p><b>Step 7</b>: Continue to post about Product XYZ approximately 742 times per day for the next 2-3 months. See your Facebook friends list dwindle as people unfriend and block you.</p> <p><b>Step 8</b>: Realize that Product XYZ is not the right product for you (i.e. you didn't get rich fast enough).</p> <p><b>Step 9</b>: Sign up with Company ABC and repeat steps 1-8.</p> <p>So, there you have it. How to annoy your Facebook friends in 9 easy steps. Now, before you get upset with me and accuse me of not being supportive, please hear this. </p> <p>I am in direct sales. I have been for almost 6 years. It's how I'm able to be a stay-at-home mom. I respect and support ANYONE who is trying to make a living and provide for themselves and/or their family. I really do. I just feel like there is a much better way to go about it. </p> <p>What happened to the personal touch? Or building relationships? If you want to have a Facebook group to promote your business, then go for it! Just ASK people if they would like to be a part of it before you automatically add them to the group. </p> <p>Want to post about your product on your personal profile? Awesome! Just limit how many times a day you post about it. I still want to see pictures of your cute kid, or pets, or beach trip. I bet your other friends do, too. </p> <p>It is possible to have a thriving business without being a spammer. Give it a try. I think you'll like the results.</p> <p>Just please remember this: If your picture involves panties, JUST SAY NO TO POSTING IT!</p> <p><i>This post originally appeared on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sarcasm Spoken Here</a>. Like it? Follow me on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Facebook</a>.</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media direct sales Facebook humor Tue, 07 Jul 2015 13:06:20 +0000 Sarcasm Spoken Here 2100335 at Networking for Introverts at #BlogHer15 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-full-image"> <div class="field-label">Full Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_full_image" width="550" height="366" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>Are you an introvert getting ready for <a href="">#BlogHer15: Experts Among Us</a>?</p><!-- break--><p>While crowds can be overwhelming for introverts and extroverts alike, the annual BlogHer conference is well equipped to support all personality types and make this your best BlogHer ever!</p> <p><center><img src="/files/business_card_exchange.jpg" alt="Networking for Introverts at #BlogHer15" /></center></p> <p>I'm not an introvert, but sometimes I think I might be raising one. It's still too soon to tell, as she is only six and is the somewhat-confusing outgoing type of introvert, if one at all.</p> <p>I am all the way at the extrovert side of the personality spectrum, so it has taken me a bit to adjust to raising a kid with introvert tendencies. Over time, I've realized that these two personality types are really just about energy. Though she and I might both be the life of the party, she will need quiet time at home after, and I often want to keep the party going because I have a bit of an enthusiasm problem.</p> <p>With the right planning and self-awareness (which introverts are known for), introverts can have an incredibly successful #BlogHer15 and leave just as exhausted as the extroverts. Because everyone will be exhausted after three days of networking, friends, parties, and content. Introverts certainly won't be alone in that.</p> <p><center><h2>Travel Days Are Draining</h2></center></p> <p>Travel is draining for even the most frequent traveler. For introverts, this exhaustion is often intensified. Plan for that; plan to recharge. Arrive early to the hotel and hide out for a bit.</p><p>You will have plenty of time to meet up with friends and meet new people. You don't want to start the conference overwhelmed. Start slow. Recharge first; recharge often.</p> <p><center><h2>Let Your Business Cards Do The Work For You</h2></center></p> <p>Planning ahead to network efficiently is a good tip for anyone, but especially introverts. Business cards with all your information and even a one-sheet media kit can help you start a conversation or even save you from a conversation you need to step out of by offering to take it online where you may be more comfortable. At a blogging conference, you are not alone in feeling more comfortable online. This is always okay.</p> <p><center><h2>Be a Planner</h2></center></p> <p>While extroverts can float around absorbing the energy from crowds and sessions, introverts need a plan. After a recharge, you'll want to use your energy wisely.</p> <p><a href="">The #BlogHer15 app</a> can help you plan your schedule with the breaks you need. Sitting at the front of a room for sessions will allow you to meet other bloggers without the impact of a large crowd.</p> <p><center><h2>BlogHer Speed Dating Is an Introvert Requirement</h2></center></p> <p>Introverts hear "speed dating" and may want to run back to their hotel rooms. It's okay. We know. BlogHer Speed Dating is for you, I promise.</p> <p>This year, we've moved Speed Dating from two giant circles of business card exchanges to smaller round tables for a more intimate discussion of expertise. Here, you will share your expertise, exchange cards, and meet other bloggers who may end up being your friends for life.</p> <p><center><h2>You Don't Have to Be In the Crowd to Work the Crowd</h2></center></p> <p>Because there are so many people at BlogHer conferences, introverts can make time to be alone without feeling alone. You will not be the only one hiding in your room to get a few minutes to yourself, and you can use this time to network online.</p> <p>No time at <a href="">#BlogHer15</a> is wasted time. Twitter is a great way to connect with other #BlogHer15 introverts, brands, and friends.</p> <p><center><h2>Know Your Limits and Stick to Them</h2></center></p> <p>As an enthusiastic extrovert, I sometimes push my introvert friends beyond their limits. I just get super-excited. About everything. They love me for it until I've convinced them to stay at a party too long or won't ever stop talking.</p> <p>Know your limits and don't let an enthusiastic extrovert push you too far. If you start to feel overwhelmed, find the time and space to recharge your energy so you can be more present when you're ready to come back. That's way better, anyway. We all want your best self.</p> <p>The annual BlogHer conference is a space for introverts and extroverts to network, be inspired, and be their best selves. <a href="">Download the app</a>, connect on Twitter and in the <a href="">Official BlogHer Facebook group</a>, and make a plan to make this your best BlogHer yet!</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 Career Work/Life BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Mon, 06 Jul 2015 19:15:31 +0000 lifewithRoozle 2112511 at What You Need to Know to Think Like a Pop Culture Expert <!--paging_filter--><p>Pop culture writing is one of the things that drew me to sharing ideas on the internet. Web forums devoted to interpreting movies like <em>Mulholland Drive</em> or <em>The Shining</em> led me to early television show recap communities. By the time the Internet was collectively enduring <em>Lost</em>, I knew I had found my people.</p><!--break--> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /><br /></center></p> <p>Entertainment writers and pop culture sites gave me daily watercooler experiences, insider information, informed critiques, and access to other engaged viewers who liked to talk about what they watched. These pop culture experts inspired me to hone my own personal expertise that had already been nurtured by a love of the art of television and movies, a reliance on media to buoy me during dark times, and a belief that pop culture is an avenue into greater societal and personal understanding.</p><p>We are what we eat, after all, and these days we consume screens more than anything else.</p><p>I finally gave in and started my own blog during the years when I needed a place to park some thoughts on a random Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr. film, <em>Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus.</em></p><p> I’ve written for a number of sites since then, including serving as Entertainment Editor here at BlogHer. Along the way, I’ve learned two key things about using your expertise as a pop culture writer. One is super easy, and the other takes some thinking, planning and experimentation.</p><p>The easy tip is to make sure you watch and read media outside of your habitual interests. By the time we are adults, even the pop culture fans who think they have diverse interests have preferences and ruts. </p><p>Maybe that’s fine and good, and maybe your preferences bolster the way you have become an expert in Disney villains, Star Trek or contemporary prestige TV. But looking outside of your faves will only bolster your expertise because it will give you comparison examples and inspiration, and it will give you a richer lay of the land. </p><p>It’s also essential to know that you have been exposed to some movies and television shows because of all sorts of things, including your race, class, income and educational level as well as the disproportionate attention mainstream media gives to the stories of straight, white men. </p><p>Give yourself access to the stories, characters, franchises and formats that resonate for others, and your own underlying expertise will be enriched with nuance, perspective and the beauty of cultural diversity.</p><p>That’s easy. Seek and enjoy. Done.</p><p>The second tip requires a bit more thought. The most important thing that expert pop culture writers do is have clarity about their intentions. All too often, newer writers are all over the place because the topic is so broad, and this dilutes their currency. </p><p>There are many different ways to approach any given pop culture topic, and the best thing you can do is write with intention toward one of these formats. You might tell me that you want to write about <em>Orange is the New Black</em>, for example, but that doesn’t tell me how you want to explore this topic. Do you want to inform your readers, review the newest season, or write a think piece using OITNB as a jumping-off place?</p><p>Taking time to figure out your motivation and the best use of your expertise is the best thing you can do. Let’s look at some examples using OITNB so you can see what I mean.</p><p><strong>Inform Your Readers</strong></p><p>Editorial that focuses on informing readers is valuable content, and it allows you to be an expert without being a critic. If you are writing informational pieces about OITNB, this could be anything from updates and trailers about new storylines to interviews with writers or actors to information about the Women’s Prison Association charity that is supported by the show.</p><p>Or you might branch out but still stay focused on information, like using your OITNB expertise to write about television shows fans might like in between their binges.</p><p><strong>Tip for Info Experts:</strong> If this type of content is up your alley, you’ll want to get on lists to receive press releases from Netflix, follow the show’s stars and showrunner on Twitter, and set some Google Alerts. Feed your expertise, and then package and share it. Information experts are essential in our loud, busy word.</p><p>Any information that helps your readers fan their fandom flames and/or decide what to watch, when, and how to watch it is super helpful given our contemporary media glut.</p><!--pagebreak--><p><strong>Review and Program Commentary</strong></p><p>Reviewing adds another dimension to pop culture writing. Deploy your expertise to assess the quality of a program or to discuss its relative merits and shortcomings. Ask yourself what the show was trying to accomplish and what its audience expected, and take it from there.</p><p>For an episodic show like OITNB, you could look at the entire season, or you could review each episode in order. With commentary pop culture writing, you are applying your knowledge to an attentive viewing of the material, and then discerning what matters to you or to other viewers. Make a case that is interesting!</p><p><strong>Tip for Reviewers:</strong> Experts tend to watch their subject matter at least twice before doing reviews: first to experience it as a viewer, and second to research, to double check your memory of what happened when, to observe more, and to transcribe quotes or examples. You might also need to grab some screenshots.</p><p>By watching a second, third or subsequent time, you’ll gain a facility with what elements contributed to successes and failures, and you’ll move beyond your personal surprise, fear, dislike or delight in something and into a defensible opinion that will be more interesting to your readers.</p><p>Reviews can be focused on the bad, the good, or a bit of both. Maybe you want to tear into horrible plotlines (I agree with you if you think Season 3 had way too much Caputo.) Or maybe you want to elaborate about the changes in a character arc (Pennsatucky, for example.) </p><p>Some shows led themselves to thematic reviews. (Like how does the way Season 3 handles issues of race compare to the critiques it earned on that front in Season 1?) You also might want to compare OITNB to another show about prison (like <em>Wentworth</em>) or another related dramedy (like a contrasting class-based show such as <em>Girls</em>) to describe and elaborate on how it met its goals and audience’s needs as a television show.</p><p>Overall, when writing reviews, consider your biases or other points of view, have confidence in your opinions about quality or the direction of the show have value, and back your opinions up with solid examples that illustrate your point.</p><p><strong>Recap the Action</strong></p><p>Recapping is a specialized form of reviewing that tends to include a lot of information and expertise about the world of your show, and then usually includes your own reactions as a viewer. You can recap an entire season, or (more commonly) go episode-by-episode.</p><p>Recapping is a big commitment! It tends to take even the quickest experts several hours to recap an episode of a one-hour show. Some fans read multiple recaps after an episode, and some read recaps INSTEAD of watching shows because recapping is a cool artform of its own.</p><p>You need a deep knowledge of the show’s previous seasons/episodes and canon. If you make a mistake on the spelling of Big Cindy’s name or if you forget the context of the chicken’s appearance in Season 1 when you are writing about it in Season 3, your readers will let you know their displeasure. Post consistently and reliably, though, and you can stretch the form to work with your voice and point-of-view.</p><p><strong>Tip for Recappers:</strong> Keep a style sheet in Google Doc or other notebook that includes character names, timeline milestones, links to wikis and info pages, and anything else that will make your job easier.</p><p><strong>Cultural Analysis</strong></p><p>My favorite pop culture writing explores the societal trends below the surface text, takes note of trends in media, or searches for messages in a show’s popularity. </p><p>You need to possess an expertise in analyzing the text (plot, characters, themes, format, presentation) of pop culture, and then take it at least one step deeper into meaning. This is one of the most magical uses of pop culture, because it allows media to serve as a shared vocabulary into the important issues of our time.</p><p>For example, OITNB Season 3 delves into varying stories about the hardships of motherhood for women in prison and explores their various reproductive issues, choices and outcomes. </p><p>Why are these stories relevant to lives of women now? Are the portrayals accurate or not? What does it mean for these types of stories to be told? What can OITNB prompt us to discuss or understand about class and race as it relates to motherhood?</p><p>If you are creating cultural analysis, you don’t need to recount blow-by-blow accounts of the show. You probably won’t be concerned, either, with talking about things like the quality of the acting. Save that for your reviews.</p><!--pagebreak--><p>In cultural analysis, the issue comes first, and you’re going to use OITNB as your entry point, your lens and as your examples. You also might want to weave in real statistics or outside information (for example, that the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that at least 11% of children with mothers in prison will need services from the foster care system.)</p><p><strong>Tip for Analysts:</strong> Take your time. There might be a rush to publish for news, reviews or recaps, but your expertise will shine in contemplative pieces if you actually give yourself time to research and contemplate. </p><p><b>Tributes and Reflection Think Pieces</b></p><p> A special sub-category that marries analysis, review and recap is the tribute. These think pieces often are published at challenging times like celebrity deaths or show finales, or at celebratory times like in award show season or when a special honor is bestowed. What makes them unique is that you try to pull the lens far and away to look at your show or topic in context with its entirety and the context around it. </p><p>Why did OITNB matter, you might ask yourself? What did they do first, better, or different? Why will people care five or ten years from now?</p><p>You might look back at an entire season of a show and comment about what made it your favorite or gave it cultural impact, or examine the choices made in the finale as it links to the whole. You’ll likely delve into what makes the loss particularly poignant.</p><p><strong>Tip for Tribute Writers:</strong> Curate your thoughts. It’s tempting to honor your entire expertise while shining a light on every last detail of a show, finale or career, but readers can’t take that all in, at least in one piece. Select highlights and examples that make your point, and consider a series if you need room to cover lots of information or ideas.</p><p>You will cross and mix these areas many times over as you find the right mix of information, review and analysis to convey your expertise. It’s a blast to find your voice and add to the media about your favorites. </p><p>Pop culture is also serious business. We all swim in wave after wave in rough seas and storms of media content that shapes and reflects us, and pop culture experts provide essential services. While everyone can add to the conversation, getting out of your own viewing ruts and making some intentional choices will guide your work if you are called to write about pop culture with authority.</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 Pop Culture Entertainment BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 #Experts Mon, 06 Jul 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Deb Rox 2108225 at Her Story is the Game of Summer <!--paging_filter--><p>If you are a self-proclaimed lover of the podcast Serial, you need to get yourself to the app store STAT and download <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Her Story</a> by Sam Barlow. </p> <p>This interactive fiction video game casts you as a fictional Sarah Koenig, accessing a 1994 police database to search for clues about a murder.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><iframe width="550" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p>A woman's husband goes missing. She's interviewed by the police 7 times. The videos are transcribed and tagged with every word said in the clips, making the clips searchable in the database. </p> <p>The game starts you out with the first search term -- murder -- which yields 4 results. You watch those videos, taking notes on things you notice, and then search for new videos by typing in search terms. </p> <p>If there are more than 5 results for a search term, you'll be told how many videos exist but only be able to access 5. You will need to reach the other videos via different search terms. If there are under 5, you'll be able to see all 5 at once. </p> <p>New videos are marked with a little yellow eye, and a video log hidden under the database screen (just slide it out of the way and you'll see other apps you can access on the desktop including a clock and note and the aforementioned video log) will tell you how many you've seen...</p> <p>...and how many more you need to find.</p> <p>Josh and I are fairly obsessed with this game, more than I was with the podcast Serial. Maybe it's because I always felt a little uncomfortable looking forward to an episode of Serial. Those were real people and there had been a real murder. </p> <p>This is fiction, and it goes down a little easier. Josh and I walk around the house, breaking out in some of the woman's speeches. (Yes, doing an awful British accent at the same time.) We'll jot down search terms we want to try that night. We'll hypothesize on what we know... and what we don't know.</p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Washington Post</a> calls it "one of the best I have played so far this year."</p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Entertainment Weekly</a> begins, </p> <p> <blockquote>I didn’t know what to expect jumping into Her Story, but it was certainly not for the game to instantly ensnare me with its central mystery and never let go. After starting up the game, I found myself buried deep in its story, hours passing in what felt like minutes before I came up for air.</blockquote></p> <p>And the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Los Angeles Times</a> says, </p> <p> <blockquote>When "Her Story" reaches its conclusion, generally after a couple of hours of digging deeper into the video clips, how the player feels about the main character will depend entirely on which videos were uncovered.</blockquote></p> <p>It is so good. I predict this will be the game of summer, and that Twitter conversations will soon revolve around search terms and Her Story murder discussions. #HerStory -- mark my words.</p> <p><b>Are you playing? Want to trade search terms? <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Here are mine</a> if you're stuck</b>.</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Entertainment her story Sam Barlow video game Mon, 06 Jul 2015 12:58:43 +0000 Melissa Ford 2111604 at Don't Let Perfection Stop You From Blogging <!--paging_filter--><p>I've been working really hard at my blog for over a year now. I write, I post, I research topics. I do the whole Google Adwords thing. I do what I'm supposed to do to grow my blog readership. </p> <p>Like most bloggers, I do sometimes fall into that horrid blog envy trap. You know the one that has you trolling other sites late at night and wondering why your blog isn't as popular or slick as theirs. Your eyes dilate and you get sucked into the void of envy.</p> <p>"Her blog gets more traffic."</p> <p>"Her blog looks better."</p> <p>"She's a better writer than I am."</p> <p>That's a no win situation that can make you spiral downward. Blog envy doesn't help your blog. But no, blog envy isn't what's ruining my blog.</p> <p>Trying to be perfect is killing my blog. Here's how the craziness of perfection is choking the life out of my blog and maybe yours.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="perfection" /></center></p> <p><center><br /> <i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Pink Sherbert Photography</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Does this sound familiar?</p> <p> <ul> <li>You don't post more often because each post must be perfectly timed, funny, touching, and profound. You rewrite way too many times to try to get there.</li> <li>You take photos of products, sunsets, yourself, and never use them because they aren't good enough.</li> <li>You write out lists of ideas you think would be helpful, funny or that your readers need to know. These ideas never make it into a post because later you think they don't measure up.</li> <li>You get scared that people won't find your content good enough/smart enough/funny enough/whatever in the hell enough.</li> </ul> </p> <p>You get the idea. What's killing our blog is some crazy insane need to be perfect.</p> <p>And what is perfect?</p> <p>Who's holding that yardstick to see if you measure up? Are the blog police going to come and arrest us all for dangling participles and grainy photos?</p> <p>Perfection is killing my blog before it can mature. Is it killing yours, too? We have to stop this habit. NOW.</p> <p>The only way to stop the perfection paralysis is to take more chances and risk being seen as imperfect. Here's my solution. I'm going to start writing blog posts more often. Maybe the posts will be profound. Maybe they will just be OK. Sometimes they'll probably downright suck. </p> <p>I might even use some of the kinda crappy photos that I take with my iPhone. Pictures that aren't glossy and perfectly lit.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="grainy photo" /></center></p> <p><center><br /> <i>See? Crappy grainy photo. Perfection is so totally averted</i>.</center></p> <p>I'm realizing that blogging is different from writing. Blogging isn't about trying to write the great novel. This isn't a novel and not a single person will ever confuse me with Austen, Bronte, Fitzgerald or Angelou.</p> <p>You see things and you comment. Then you repeat that. Sometimes people pay attention to what you've just said. Sometimes they ignore you and change the radio station.</p> <p>Blogging is in the moment. And moments are never perfect. And, obviously, neither is my blog.</p> <p>I hope that sharing my bad blogging habit helps you determine what bad habit is keeping you from blogging more.</p> <p><b>If you suffer from the paralysis of perfection, how do you overcome it? Do you have another bad blogging habit that's holding you back? How do you deal with it</b>?</p> <p>Share what you've done to work through your worst blogging habits!</p> <p><i>xoxo-Rosie </i></p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" title="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media blogging basics blogging getting started Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:29:51 +0000 rosemondpc 2102514 at #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches: Black Twitter Demands Answers <!--paging_filter--><p>Since the murderous acts of terror (which left nine Black people dead) at the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Emanuel AME Church</a> in Charleston, South Carolina two weeks ago, six Black churches in the South have burned.</p><!--break--> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>While some are debating whether these incidents are “random,” many in the Black community believe that these occurrences are in direct response to the removal of the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">confederate flag</a> from several state buildings and the threat of removal nationally by many activists. Given that this spate of church fires have only been at predominantly Black churches in the South, it seems clear that the events are connected. Right?</p><p>Fires have happened in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. The most recent church burning happened just last night in Greeleyville, South Carolina at <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Mount Zion AME Church</a>. This is the second time this church was burned down as members of the KKK attacked the church in 1995. </p><p>That these churches are all concentrated in areas with known affiliations to hate groups and historical racism should raise red flags to officials and investigators that these are not random events. So far, <a href=";utm_medium=social&amp;;utm_campaign=buffer" target="_blank" class="external-link">three of these events</a> have been confirmed as arson.</p><p>The most unsettling aspect of these recent acts of terror is how little the news media has discussed it. While it has been mentioned on the major networks here and there, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent show of concern for the blatant racism these incidents depict.</p><p>America has a long <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">history of church burnings</a>. And, these acts are meant to intimidate, exclude, and control Black people who often use churches for fellowship, activism, and social action. </p><p>By setting Black churches ablaze, racists are sending the same message they sent decades ago: “You are not one of us. Stay in your place.” This isn’t random. It never has been. Frankly, our inability to face that is yet another reason why it continues to happen.</p><p>Twitter has been reacting to these events for the past few weeks using the hashtag <a href=";src=tyah&amp;vertical=default&amp;f=tweets" target="_blank" class="external-link">#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches</a>?</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">White supremacy is a cowardly social structure White supremacists are cowards-afraid to live among other people <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches</a></p>&mdash; MichaelaAngela Davis (@MichaelaAngelaD) <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Define terrorism: Me telling my mother not to attend church this Sunday <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches</a></p>&mdash; BlackGirlNerds (@BlackGirlNerds) <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Will we need to wait until the number of black churches burned ascend to double digits!? <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches</a></p>&mdash; Darnell L. Moore (@Moore_Darnell) <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">When will you call upon those burning black churches to cease like you did the CVS in Baltimore? <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">@FoxNews</a></a> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">@CNN</a></a> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#WhosBurningBlackChurches</a></p>&mdash; Bearded Adonis (@kidnoble) <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Breaking: African American church in S.C., burned to ground by KKK in 1995, is on fire. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p>&mdash; UnTold Media (@UnToldCarlisle) <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Don&#39;t insult your black friends by offering sympathy. We&#39;re not looking for pity. We want justice. Resolution. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">#WhosBurningBlackChurches</a></p>&mdash; Keith White (@Keethers) <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">July 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>The general sentiment here is that these acts are likely due to terror and racism and the place where they intersect. So, it goes without saying that rooting out the actors behind these events is extremely important. But there is more to it than that. While the initial question is important, it is also vital that we ask: <strong>when is America going to care? And, when are we going to do something about it?</strong></p><p>Those questions remain unanswered. Sadly, until we at least try to address them, the church burnings will likely continue.</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Current Events Race & Class News & Politics Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:29:46 +0000 JennMJack 2110351 at How to Think Up Writing Topics For Your Blog <!--paging_filter--><p>It's no secret that when it comes to blogging that content is key. The whole goal of having a blog is that someone will read it. To get people to your blog there has to be something worth reading. In other words, what's in it for your readers?</p> <p>If you're anything like me, you tend to wonder why anyone would want to read anything you write because nothing seems all that entertaining. But then I tend to be my own worst critic.</p> <p>Because I want to make my readers happy, I spend a lot of time putting together my editorial calendar. This is to make sure that what I'm planning on writing about people will find entertaining and informative.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="write" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Lady Ro</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I try to do the following each week:</p> <p> <ol> <li>A personal post. About me, my life, the kids, you get the picture.</li> <li>A helpful post. Whether it be about blogging, social media or writing. Just something that contains information that may help someone else.</li> <li>A food post. Not because I'm some awesome cook (pretty much the opposite), but I do enjoy cooking and I find it fun to try new things and blog about them. This is actually the one area that when I started blogging I never thought I would be doing. But I love it.</li> <li>A post about something I've done or tried. I guess this also falls into a personal type post but rather than just a personal essay type thing this post actually contains information. Whether it's useful or not, only you can be the judge.</li> <li>Then I end the week with a Fab 5 Friday post, which contains 5 of my favorite post from the week or I spotlight another writer or blogger. This gives me a chance to share and give back to other great bloggers.</li> </ol> </p> <p>This list of blog post types is fairly consistent year round. But then I do mix it up here and there depending on my overall monthly goal and theme. </p> <p>For example, March is about travel, so I will probably write some of the personal posts with a travel theme in mind and one or so of the helpful posts of the month will be on travel.</p> <p>April is going to be about spring so I can brainstorm how spring topics can fit into the type of posts I want to write.</p> <p>Knowing this is my basic line up then makes the job of coming up with specific post content that much easier. Plus people know what to expect and they can look forward to what's coming.</p> <p>There is no one right way and this schedule of mine isn't set in stone. I can change it up any time a mood strikes me but it helps me to plan better and not have to scramble at the last minute trying to figure out what to write.</p> <p><b>How do you plan your posts</b>?</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools # blogging #blog tools #writing tools blogging Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:46:19 +0000 LainaTurner 2105154 at 6 Easy Tips for Updating Old Blog Posts <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p>I recently made some major changes to my blog. Some of the major changes happened behind the scenes, as I migrated my blog from to a self-hosted site.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>It was a change I put a lot of thought into and planned for a long time. But the changes weren't all behind the scenes. I changed the design as well. I went for a cleaner, simpler, more polished site.</p> <p>Before making the switch to a self-hosted site, there was very little brand consistency to my posts and images. For each individual post, I would choose an image and go with it. There were no color, styling or size consistencies with my graphics from post to post. </p> <p>One of the major changes I wanted to make when switching to a cleaner, more professional site was to add that consistency that my blog has been missing. Now, each graphic is similarly styled and has style elements in common with my overall blog design.</p> <p>Here's the problem, though. Out of a total of 230 blog posts on my site so far, only a dozen or so newer ones match my new aesthetic. As daunting and time consuming as it sounds, I've begun going through all 200+ blog posts to update the style. </p> <p>While I'm on each post, I run through a checklist to make sure they're updated for not just the aesthetics, but that they're an even better post with more relevant and high-quality content.</p> <p>Today I wanted to share with you all the checklist I run through on each blog post to make sure it is absolute best fit for my blog.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="update" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Tyler</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Image</h1> </p> <p>Is it pinnable? Is it high-quality? Is it the proper width for my blog? Are they styled to match the general aesthetic of my blog? These are the questions I'm asking myself when updating post images. </p> <p>Some of the images on my older post are bad. For so many reasons. They're a terrible size, they're blurry, they're low quality, etc. They're images that I would personally <i>never</i> repin on Pinterest from someone else's blog. So why would I expect people to repin them for me? </p> <p>With the crazy amount of traffic possible from Pinterest, it's important to make sure each post has an image that can perform on Pinterest. So far, updating images has been my priority, since that's the first thing people will see on each post.</p> <p> <h1>Content</h1> </p> <p>A lot of my older blog posts are really short. I committed to posting everyday Monday through Friday, but I really just wasn't able to come up with quality content five days per week when I first started. Instead I would use really weak filler content. </p> <p>Honestly, a lot of the posts are less than 200 words. Since I would like to be able to drive new traffic to those posts, it's important that I have content worth reading. </p> <p>I've also had days where I've rushed to write a post and haven't even attempted to proofread it. That's still one of my biggest blogging downfalls. I'm going to be carefully reading each post to correct any spelling and grammar errors.</p> <p> <h1>SEO</h1> </p> <p>Now that I have moved to a self-hosted blog and have a plugin that helps me with my SEO, I actually have a better understanding of SEO for driving traffic to blog posts. Since migrating, I have seen a significant increase in search-engine traffic. </p> <p>Now I want to make sure my older posts are optimized for search engines as well. The plugin I use is WordPress SEO by Yoast.</p> <p> <h1>Categories and Tags</h1> </p> <p>My categories were kind of all over the place in the earlier months of my blog. This is something I started trying to rectify several months ago, but it's still a work in progress. </p> <p>First of all, I had way too many categories. I probably had 30! I've been working to put posts into much more general categories and breaking them down from there if necessary. It's really cleaned up my site!</p> <p> <h1>Checking and Adding Links</h1> </p> <p>I add links to other relevant content from my blog. I update links that are broken. I also add affiliate links where appropriate. I used to feature far more products and clothing than I do now, but didn't start using affiliate links until earlier this year. I have been adding affiliate links to older posts that feature these products.</p> <p> <h1>Call to Action</h1> </p> <p>None of my older posts include a call to action anywhere. They don't ask a question from my readers or really give them any reason to comment. I've been adding a call to action at the bottom of each post that gives readers something to respond to directly in a comment, hopefully encouraging them to comment more often.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><b>What do you to do update old blog posts and hopefully drive more traffic</b>?</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools blogging traffic Wordpress Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:00:37 +0000 Very Erin 2103947 at I Found the Path to Get Girls to Code <!--paging_filter--><p>“You cannot be, what you cannot see”</p><!--break--> <p><center><img src="" alt="" </center /></center></p> <p>When I ask girls what they want to do with their lives, they tell me they want to change the world. But when they think about working in computer science, they don’t feel included in that world. </p><p> They think of a nerdy guy at a computer, typing away. Women make the majority purchases, post on Facebook more, Tweet more, but aren't working in technology. It's very simple: We can't out-innovate unless the people who are using our products are building our products.</p><p> Having women on tech teams builds better, more innovative products that people will actually want to buy. But how can we hope to for a more equal playing field when we don’t yet know what that looks like? In order to change the landscape we know, we must first defy the cultural perception of what a computer scientist looks like, and we have to start young. </p> <p>At <a href=>Girls Who Code</a>, we not only teach the technical skills girls will need to pursue 21st century jobs, but we expose girls to technologists who are changing the world. We help girls build the confidence they need not only to be successful, but to change the culture in a traditionally male-dominated industry.</p><p> We believe that to close the gender gap in technology, we have to inspire girls to pursue computer science by exposing them to real-life and on-screen role models. </p><p>We engage engineers, developers, executives, and entrepreneurs to teach and motivate the next generation. Our guest speakers, mentors, and instructors are leaders in their fields, working in positions our girls aspire to attain. When they’re are exposed to computer science, we’re not just igniting their passion, but they’re finding they’re really good at it, too.</p> <p>Girls Who Code started as one summer-intensive program &mdash;teaching 20 girls in 2012 &mdash;to now teaching more than 10,000 girls between our Summer Immersion Program and Clubs by the end of 2015. </p><p>We have programs embedded in the nation’s leading technology companies. We have programs in community centers, libraries, and in homeless shelters. We have a Girls Who Code Club on a Native American reservation. </p><p>Girls all over the nation are creating apps that give back to their communities. We had a student design an algorithm to detect false positives in breast cancer screenings &mdash;that was really powerful. </p><p>One girl built a mobile app to help homeless youth find shelter. </p><p>One alumni, Helen, came to Girls Who Code with no background in computer science. She was passionate about solving world hunger and intended to study international development. After our program, she realized that if she wanted to change the world, technology could help her achieve her dream. After founding a Girls Who Code Club at her high school in Staten Island, she’s now studying computer science at Brown. 90% of our Summer Immersion Program alumni are majoring or planning to major in computer science or closely related field.</p> <p>What I love about teaching girls is that when you teach one girl she’ll go on to teach others. Ninety-two percent of our Summer Immersion Program alumni have taught another girl how to code. When they graduate from our programs, they know they’ve learned something special. They leave understanding the value of sisterhood, which they will benefit them in college and in their careers. </p> <p>Girls Who Code is aiming to reach a million girls by 2020, and we're thinking big. I envision a Girls Who Code club at every public library, in every school, in every community center. I want every girl from the prom queen to the bookworm to have access to this skill set and confidence in their ability to succeed in it.</p><p> I want young girls across all sectors to not feel excluded from the jobs they’ll need to be successful just because we live in a world that hasn’t seen what that looks like yet. </p> <p>These girls are on fire. They just need the spark. </p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Science BlogHer 2015 Career Feminism Technology Work/Life Family News & Politics BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Reshma Saujani 2100793 at He Kept Saying, "Just Stop. You're Ruining Everything." <!--paging_filter--><p>You never forget the first time you're confronted in the workplace by an undeniable feeling of ickiness. Sometimes that ickiness directly follows someone telling you that you're not okay how you are.</p><!--break--><p> For me, it was my boss, and he was asking me to stop talking about mental illness. Not just in general, but specifically, he wanted me to stop talking about mental illness and how I experienced it. </p><p>I had been talking with a coworker, explaining my first book and how challenging it was to write, and my boss walked over and said, <em>Leah, I'd be more comfortable if you wouldn't talk about that at work. And you might want to think about not talking about it at all.</em> He further explained he was just concerned for me and how I would be perceived.</p><p>At the end of the day, this is an easy one to talk about. Who cares what an old boss thinks? The real stuff around my heart center is much harder to share. </p><p><em>We are all the walking wounded</em>, as Dean Koontz once wrote. This world is a hospital ward and everyone is doing they best they can. I do really believe that.</p><p>But when someone wants you to simply cease being who you are because you make them uncomfortable and they fear you'll make them look bad, I want them to, well, I don't know … try harder to be better. Make your Best Bestier, please. </p><p><center><img src="" alt="hallway" /><br /><em>Image: Public Domain Image via Pixabay</em></center></p><p>Twenty years ago, my then-husband would ask me to just stop. <em>Just stop</em>, he'd say. <em>You're ruining everything.</em></p><p> And it was true. I was ruining everything, but there wasn't a way to stop. I didn't know then that the only way Out was Through and I had to keep going. People will eventually reach their destination, leaving trashed cities and entire civilizations destroyed in their wake.</p><p> By sheer determination, I extricated myself from that relationship and moved forward, which sometimes felt like two miles backward and seven miles sideways before regaining a few hundred feet over uneven cobblestone streets, every footstep won like finishing a marathon. </p><p>I was sick in both body and mind since the age of four. All kinds of body ailments followed by depression, anxiety, and a bingo-card full of other things. When I married my then-husband at age seventeen, I wasn't in love with him, but I was pregnant and it seemed to make sense. Not the most auspicious beginning. </p><p>By the time things were well and truly falling apart, we'd put almost fourteen years in, trying to patch over patches of patches, but the seams just kept unraveling. I was experiencing many forms of mental illness and I wished more than anyone I could just stop. </p><p>Thinking how our kids, then ages 8-14-ish, must have felt through that time really pains me. Their mom has a mental breakdown, flees to a different state, goes in a mental hospital, and when she comes out a few months later, their dad is already engaged and telling them to call <em>her</em> Mom. Like she's a new, better, Real Mom. The old one is broken and needs replacing and let's just all pretend that she doesn't exist. </p><p>I can't imagine how hard that must have been for them. Did my ex really not understand how that would feel to them? I have to think he didn't. He must have thought he was doing the right thing. I hope. </p><p>I was out of state for less than three months trying to find my head, during which time entire lifetimes happened. It was practically infinity. </p><p>He moved with them to a different city and put them in new schools, away from their friends and support system. Our children stayed with and grew up with him. He repeatedly told them that I was unsafe. <em>Unstable. Crazy. And you don't want to be like her, right?</em> </p><p>Two years later, my husband and I moved nearby where they lived, then to a place in the same town, then right down the street. We moved into these huge houses we couldn't afford, but the kids wouldn't even think about living with us in one of the many unoccupied bedrooms I kept ready "just in case" because that would go against their father.</p><p> I was unwilling to drag them through a court process and sometimes I wonder if I should have, just to prove to them how much I wanted them with me. My heart kept hoping they would spontaneously decide to live with me on their own and one day they'd stroll through the front door, dropping bags and boxes and backpacks full of school books and declare they saw through his angry, twisted words and wanted to move in. </p><!--pagebreak--><p>He repeatedly told the kids that people don't change. <em>Your mom will never change, people don't change,</em> he said. I think about what that message says to them - <em>You can't/won't ever change.</em></p><p> It's total crap. The only thing people do is change. Over and over, change is the constant. If you can't change along with them, you get left behind, where you yourself change and get more bitter.</p><p>Keeping your perception of someone in a box on a shelf in your head, taking it down to peruse so you can get angry or feel sad every so often and then carefully placing the lid back on before sliding it back on your brain shelf is not going to help you see how people are changing. It's only going to tell you who they were, according to you, for one slice of time however many years ago. </p><p>This is a recipe for old, bitter, wrinkled people who raise their fists to the heavens in anger when the paper is thrown on the grass instead of on the mat. Or a recipe for people who die young of cancer and heart attacks because of the build-up of black ick in their hearts. Or it could be a recipe for meatballs. I don't know. I'm not a chef. </p><p>Even more than all of that, I care that the way he spoke and continues to speak about me to them, with his head shaking and uttering the word <em>Crazy</em> under his breath, has made it nearly impossible for any of them to want to be like me. Being like me is the worst thing that could happen.</p><p>But they <em>are</em> all like me in lots of ways. One has my eyes. One has my creativity. One has my gentleness. A few got my empathy and compassion. A couple got my sense of humor. And they are all made of fifty percent me whether they want to be or not. Whether he makes them feel bad about that or not. </p><p>And now the kids are adults. Some of them are having their own kids. And some of them have their own brushes with mental illness and wow, that's got to be the very worst of all the worsts, because now they are like me in this one major way and it feels like a failure. </p><p>A big, fat, failure to be like their mom.</p><p> A failure to experience mental illness of any kind. </p><p>You better just buck up and act like nothing is wrong. Better to numb yourself with whatever is handy for your entire life and pretend you're okay than ever admit you might need help. Medication and doctors are for wusses. Just stop. </p><p><em>Why can't you just stop</em>, I imagine him asking them. </p><p>Mental illness is not a character weakness any more than having high blood pressure or migraines is a character weakness. It's simply faulty chemicals which play havoc on your emotions and body systems. </p><p>Hopefully, if this is one of your issues, you're surrounded by people who encourage you to seek out the many ways of physical and emotional healing that are available. Because, Friend, things, and you, can change.</p><p>When you can't accept who you are and what you're feeling, you get more ill. When you can't use your voice to talk about it, you get more ill. </p><p>When you have to try to prove to others that you really, seriously feel bad on the inside where they can't see it, you get more ill. When you have to pretend you're something you're not, you get more ill. And when people see you as always ill and never changing, you get more ill. </p><p>Life is this delicate balance of embracing what is, what we can see, what we feel, what we know, and being able to visualize what could be and what we want for the future. I had to fight so hard to become well and happy. I had to fight for every single inch of smile and every tiny patch of joy. Hardly anyone believed it could happen. It was an uphill battle and maybe because of that, I enjoy it all the more. </p><p>My wish for the world is that we could leave room for change for anyone. Believe they can be better. Help them be better. Watch them fail or fall for the 115th time and still hold that space for them.</p><p> But then someone goes and kills innocent, beautiful people while at worship or someone flies a plane into a building and I understand why not everyone holds that Changing Space for others. It's all that destruction to good people that happens and sometimes, you are so very weary of waiting for someone's Best to get Bestier. </p><!--pagebreak--><p>Once I reached the summit where my joy was waiting, I realized I could have had it at any point along the climb. That is what I try to teach others now. </p><p>You don't have to wait to feel happy. </p><p>You don't have to wait to feel like you're good enough.</p><p> You are perfectly imperfect right now. You just have to choose to see it that way. I've had some more battles the last few years, but because I know that secret, they haven't felt much like battles at all. I insist that things not only can, they <em>will</em> change. </p><p>Things will keep getting better. I might get sick. Someone close to me might die. There will be a natural disaster somewhere. My husband could lose his job. But things will keep getting better anyway, and I'll still be really happy because I decide to be. </p><p>Happy and Joy are states of mind. It means I look for the gift, no matter what's happening. It's kind of a game now. I believe the Universe wants to bring gifts to me in every situation and my job is to find them. And so I do.</p><p> I didn't believe in God for a long time because I was hurting so much and in so many ways, but He found me anyway and told me He believed in me. (He is a He to me, but you can call your Higher Power anything you want and that's fine. I think the important thing is that we have some kind of foundation we can draw help, support, and power from when we need it.)</p><p>We do such a bang-up job of sabotaging our own happiness. We've got those internal critical voices that sound like our parents or exes at their worst, plus all the nonpositive energy that exists on this earth bumping up against us at every turn. Some nights I'm just plain exhausted by the time I crawl into bed after a day of trying to see who people really are and could be and finding the joy where there doesn't seem to be any.</p><p> But I'm happy and I'm changing a little bit every day. If you hope to be a better version of your own Self tomorrow, I'll try to hold that space for you. </p><p></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Mental Health BlogHer 2015 Wellness Career Food Gluten-Free Health Work/Life BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 #KnowMe Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:00:00 +0000 leahpeah 2107008 at Connect With Other Bloggers With July's NaBloPoMo <!--paging_filter--><p> So what is the NaBloPoMo theme of the month?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><div style="text-align: center;"> <h1> CONNECT</h1> </div> </p> <p> Hopefully you're going to <a href="">BlogHer '15</a> on July 16 - 18 in New York City. This is my seventh (or is it eighth?) BlogHer conference. Each year, the sign up form asks what I hope to get out of the conference, and every time I say the same thing: I want to meet the people I read face-to-face.</p> <p>I want to find new bloggers to read. I want to have conversations with random strangers while waiting in line for the bathroom. I want to grab the arm of the person sitting next to me at VOTY and laugh hysterically (or cry...).</p> <p>Okay, so it's a checkbox, so I don't get to write all of that, but if BlogHer would just give me a blank space and let me go wild, that's what I'd say.</p> <p>I love blogging, but you have to admit that even with comments and Twitter conversations and Facebook, it can feel a little lonely at times. Almost like everyone is farther away than just the computer screens between us. So I love the conference because it's a chance to physically be with the people I read or to meet new people that I start reading after the conference.</p> <p>So this month, we're talking about connections. If you're not going to the conference, that's okay, too. We're talking about all kinds of connections: what makes you read a post (or not), the glue that holds your family together, and whether you're more of a big crowd or one-on-one sort of person.</p> <p> The theme and writing prompts, as always, are there as a guide if you want some structure to your month, though you can always sign up for NaBloPoMo and chart your own path.</p> <p> <center><br /> <img alt="June's NaBloPoMo" src="" /></center> </p> <p> If you've never joined <a href="">NaBloPoMo</a>, this is the time to do so. It starts July 1 and runs until July 31. Just make the commitment to (1) blog daily for the month (nothing more to it than that!) and (2) to support your fellow NaBloPoMo'ers by reading a handful of the other blogs on the blogroll. Cheer them along and they'll cheer you on too. You can <a href="">sign up for July's NaBloPoMo</a> until July 5th. You can <a href="">grab the official badge here</a> and upload a link to the badges you make.</p> <p> It's as simple as that: <span style="font-weight: bold;">post daily on your own blog. That's it</span>. You can get fancy and cross-post your blog posts onto the NaBloPoMo site. If you need daily inspiration, bookmark the <a href="">NaBloPoMo prompts page</a> for July, which already has all the prompts for the month posted so you can plan ahead.</p> <p> NaBloPoMo is what <span style="font-style: italic;">you</span> make of it. At its core, all you need to do is post daily on your blog. The point of NaBloPoMo is not to be restricted by the theme, but instead to either take it or leave it. If you'll do better blogging every day based on what's happening in your world, throw aside the daily prompts.</p> <p> <b>Sign up for July's NaBloPoMo and get ready to connect.</b></p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media NaBloPoMo connect nablopomo theme Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:58:38 +0000 Melissa Ford 2106773 at 4 Steps to Take Before You Monetize Your Blog <!--paging_filter--><p>If you want to put ads on your blog or work with brands, there are four things you need to do to prepare your blog before you monetize.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="money" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Pictures of Money</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Clean It Up!</h1> </p> <p>Brands want to work with clean, professional blogs. If you have two sidebars filled with colorful buttons and a myriad of links, most brands are going to move right on over to the next blogger. I try and keep everything super clean on my blog. I have one big ad on the sidebar and then important links. What you <i>don't</i> need:</p> <p> <ul> <li>Repetitiveness - you shouldn't have your blog categories on your main menu and in your sidebar. It just looks cluttered!</li> <li>Meta - if you're on Wordpress then meta is automatically going to be in your sidebar. Get rid of it because you don't need it, meta is only taking up precious space!</li> <li>Archives - if you have an organized menu, the archives aren't really necessary. People are more likely to want to do a targeted search based on the categories on your menu rather than aimlessly hoping to find something they are interested in while looking through your archives.</li> <li>Recent posts - this is controversial, but in my opinion instead of showing your recent posts, you should be showing your <i>featured</i> posts. This is going to get people looking at your best content rather than your most recent. You should be super proud of all of your posts, but sometimes you write something that's special and you should showcase it!</li> </ul> </p> <p>What you do need:</p> <p> <ul> <li>A clean menu - try to keep it to no more than 10 categories. (And even that is pushing it.) If you hover over some of the categories in my menu, a sub-menu will drop down. I write a lot about college in general, and a lot about studying. Instead of giving them their own place on my menu, I put studying under college.</li> <li>A picture - brands want to work with bloggers who make a connection with their readers. It is a lot easier to connect with somebody who has a face! So put yours out there and you will look a lot more personable!</li> <li>Links to your social media - blogging is a very social job, you want your readers to be able to find you!</li> <li>A subscribe option - subscribers are a blogger's best friend! You want your posts to end up in as many mailboxes as possible, so start building a subscriber list now!</li> </ul> </p> <p><b>The Takeaway</b>: Your blog should look clean and be easy to navigate. A reader who stumbled upon your blog for the very first time should be able to find what they are looking for with no problems.</p> <p> <h1>Necessary Pages</h1> </p> <p>There are a few important pages that you are going to want to add under your main menu before you monetize. There is a certain standard for established bloggers, and you will see all of the really big bloggers have these same pages.</p> <p> <ul> <li>About me - these are awkward to write, I know. But they are so important. Remember when I said brands want to work with bloggers that connect with their readers? It is so much easier to make a connection when you paint a picture of who you are for your readers through your about me page.</li> <li>Contact me - if you want to work with brands, they are going to need a way to reach out to you. On this page you should have your email address and all relevant social media.</li> <li>A privacy policy - this one is going to help you cover your bases legally. If you are monetizing you are required to have one, but it's not a bad idea to add one even before you start making money.</li> <li>Work with me - this one is the most optional, but I do recommend it! This is where you get to brag about yourself. Put your page views and following count here so brands get an idea of who it is they are working with.</li> </ul> </p> <p><b>The Takeaway</b>: There are unwritten (and written, too) rules about what professional bloggers need on their page. If you want to look professional and be taken seriously it is important to have the pages listed above.</p> <p> <h1>Quality and Quantity</h1> </p> <p>This is the one topic that gets debated over and over again in all of my blogger groups on Facebook. Should bloggers be focusing on quality or quantity? And the simple answer is that bloggers should be focused on both.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><b>Quantity</b>. You can write the most amazing, high quality posts paired with breathtaking photography and pristine formatting and it literally isn't going to matter if you are only posting once every 2 weeks. </p> <p>If you want to make blogging your job you are going to have to treat it like a job. Set aside time to pump out these amazing posts at least once a week. More if you really want to take this seriously.</p> <p><b>Quality</b>. If you have to choose between quality and quantity, I guess you should choose quality, but really you shouldn't be having to make that choice regardless. </p> <p>Blogging for a hobby and blogging for business are two very different things. If you really want to monetize, you are going to have to buckle down and post high quality posts consistently. I know it's hard to pump out blog posts sometimes, but like anything else, it gets easier with practice. </p> <p>Posts used to take me hours to write and photograph. Now I can get a post out in an hour and a half on a good day. I've gotten better at expressing myself and putting my thoughts down through consistency and practice.</p> <p><b>The Takeaway</b>: Blogging for profit is hard. Anyone who tells you it isn't is lying. But it is also rewarding and completely worth ever ounce of stress that comes with it. Make it a point to write at least one fantastic article a week. But try to write more! </p> <p>A quick tip is start a series on your blog so that coming up with something to write about will be a lot easier.</p> <p> <h1>Social Media</h1> </p> <p>In high school I loved social media. Now that I'm a blogger, it's the bane of my existence. I hate having to care about numbers and work on growing my following counts. </p> <p>I wish numbers didn't matter, but they do. 99 times out of 100 if you work with a brand they are also going to want exposure on your social media. If you only have a total of 78 followers across all social media that isn't going to look good! But how do I grow my numbers? </p> <p> <ul> <li>Be active. Try to post on all of your social media at least one time a day. You might look at me and call me a hypocrite, but I'm working at this too! Twitter and Facebook are the most important to be active on, but you should work on all of them!</li> <li>Don't be controversial. If you want to maintain numbers, keep your controversial opinions to your personal accounts. I have unliked about 20 blogger's pages on Facebook this week due to hateful commentary on Caitlin Jenner. Yes the Freedom of Speech applies and you can say what you want. But think before you type. Blogging for profit is a numbers game, and you don't want to put that in jeopardy over something petty.</li> <li>Be engaging. Ask questions and start a dialogue with your readers! Connecting is so important. I have made some really awesome friends through social media!</li> <li>Engage with others. If you see another blogger tweet out a question - answer it! Social media is all about being social!</li> </ul> </p> <p><b>The Takeaway</b>: A social media following is so important in growing your blog and connecting with your readers. More often than not brands are going to check your numbers before agreeing to work with you!</p> <p><i>Like this post? See more at my blog, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mostly Morgan</a>!</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools monetization Mon, 29 Jun 2015 12:58:53 +0000 Morgan Timm 2097491 at How to Publish Your Book on Kindle <!--paging_filter--><p>Have you been thinking about publishing a Kindle book but just haven't gotten around to sifting through the forums, the FAQs and all the rules about formatting!?</p> <p>When I first looked into Kindle publishing about four years ago, I found it all confusing -- the pricing structure, the ISBN numbers. Hey, I didn't even own a Kindle!</p> <p>Well, when I went back to it this year, I realized how wrong I was. Amazon has made the whole process quite user-friendly, and now I realize I should have been publishing on Kindle years ago.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>So, first of all, why should you publish on Kindle?</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="backup" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Yosomono</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Authority</h1> </p> <p>Whether it's a book, a Kindle short, a downloadable PDF, a magazine article, or any other information product, publishing will give you "authority."</p> <p>You might not think you're an authority on anything right now, but if you start thinking about your interests, the things you like to talk about, the things people ask you about... these are the topics you should write about. Of course you can publish fiction, but for the purposes of this post, we'll be talking about non-fiction.</p> <p>Let's say, for example, you've been growing roses for years. As soon as the weather is warm you're outside with your pruning shears. At night you're outside with your watering can. You know every type of rose. </p> <p>You're the go-to person for beautiful flower arrangements. Your Instagram feed is full of photos of your rose garden. Most likely you blog about roses and gardening.</p> <p>Guess what? You know more about roses than I do. And more than most of the people you meet. You certainly know enough to teach us a thing or two. Do a little bit more research and add that to what you already know and you wind up with "authority."</p> <p> <h1>Build Your Platform</h1> </p> <p>Your Kindle book and Amazon Author page will bring people to your blog, your social media accounts and your mailing list.</p> <p>The more books you write on your topic -- i.e. History of the Rose; Rose Gardening without a Green Thumb; Feeding Your Roses; Roses for Beginner Gardeners -- the more you exposure you get and then the more followers on your blog, your social media and your mailing list.</p> <p> <h1>Royalties</h1> </p> <p>With Kindle Publishing you can earn up to 70% royalty on sales to customers in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, India, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and more. </p> <p>If you enroll in the KDP Select program you can earn more money through Kindle Unlimited (paid subscription) and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library (KOLL, a benefit to Amazon Prime members). Royalties are deposited monthly directly to your bank account.</p> <p> <h1>No Fees to Publish</h1> </p> <p>You don't need to own a Kindle to publish a Kindle e-book, just as you don't need an actual Kindle to read one. Readers can <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">download the free Kindle App</a> to read their books on their phone, tablet or computer. </p> <p>Writers (publishers) can download the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";docId=1000765261" class="external-link">Free Kindle Previewer</a> to see what their book will look like on any device before they press the publish button. There is no fee to publish on Kindle unless you decide to hire an editor or a book cover designer.</p> <p>Okay, so how do you get started?</p> <p> <h1>Pick Your Topic</h1> </p> <p>The first thing you need to do is choose a topic. The more specific you are with your topic, the more chance you'll have of being found under the Amazon Category system.</p> <p>Let's use the rose book as an example. Go to and click on Kindle e-books. Look at the category hierarchy on the left side of the page. You can find books about roses via several different routes. </p> <p>As a Kindle Publisher, you will have the opportunity to categorize your book under two main headings. For example you might choose to go with these:</p> <p>Kindle Store&gt;Kindle e-books&gt;Crafts Hobbies Home&gt;Flowers&gt;Roses</p> <p>Kindle Store&gt;Kindle e-books&gt;Gardening &amp; Landscape Design&gt; Flowers&gt;Roses</p> <p>You would not want to leave your final category at Flowers. By drilling down through all of the subcategories to Roses you're giving your book a greater chance of being found. Your rose book will be found under Books, Crafts Hobbies Home, Flowers<b> and</b> Roses. </p> <p>This way you're multiplying your potential visibility rather than restricting it since it will be found in all four categories.</p> <p>Another advantage of choosing a very specific category is that you will have fewer competitors than if you had left your book in the broad category. The person who simply writes a general book about flowers will get lost while your rose book has a much better chance of becoming a bestseller since it only has about 500 competitors.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p> <h1>Set Your Length</h1> </p> <p>Your Kindle book should be as long as it takes to do justice to your topic. Some Kindle books are very short -- 24-40 pages. Others are longer. Personally, I'd rather read a short book that gives me the information I'm looking for rather than a long book that is repetitive and full of fluff.</p> <p>I suggest that you write your book using Microsoft Word or Open Office. You'll want to use the default settings in your document. Do not use tabs or the space bar for indenting paragraphs. Do not double space between paragraphs. Set these formatting rules up before you start by using Page Layout. </p> <p>Remember to insert page breaks after each chapter (or section). In the end you will be uploading an HTML file to Amazon. If you keep your document clean, you will have clean code when you save your document to HTML. </p> <p>You can check and see how it looks with the free <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href=";docId=1000765261" class="external-link">Free Kindle Previewer</a>.</p> <p> <h1>Upload Your Book</h1> </p> <p>Set up your account <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">here</a>.</p> <p>Be sure to read the long but very informative FAQ. You'll see that you'll have a choice of whether or not to join KDP Select.</p> <p>If you choose to publish through the KDP Select program you are giving Amazon exclusive use of a piece of digital content for 90 days and in return you receive five days (any five you choose) to make your e-book available for free, and you also get paid for any of your e-books that are lent through the Amazon Prime library. </p> <p>You can read more about KDP Select<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"> here</a>. Elsewhere online many indie authors have written about the pros and cons of the program.</p> <p>The rest of the form is self-explanatory. You'll be asked for the title and subtitle of your book. It's important to add a subtitle to help with keywords for searching.</p> <p>You'll be allowed to enter up to seven keywords or keyword phrases of 25 characters or less. Test these words at Amazon by typing them into the search bar one letter at a time and watch as prompts appear with words Amazon thinks you might be looking for in the search field. This will show you what most people are using to search for your topic.</p> <p>A great way to look for keywords is to use <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">a keyword search tool</a>. Find phrases that are searched 500 – 10,000 a month. </p> <p>But make sure your keywords are applicable to those searching for books. You can always change your keywords and experiment with what works best.</p> <p> <h1>Pricing and Promotion</h1> </p> <p>There are two basic royalty structures in Kindle Publishing. Books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 receive a 70% royalty while any other price will give you only 35% of the list price.</p> <p>It's easy to see why the $2.99 price is the best place to be. The buyer will be attracted by the low price, but you'll still receive 70% of the purchase.</p> <p>Ideally you've started promoting before your publication date. You've already announced your release date to your blog followers. You've tweeted, FB, IG'd and G+'d.</p> <p>Once you publish you can build your Author Page on Amazon. There you'll have a chance to link to your books as well as a brief bio, photo, and links to your website or blog.</p> <p>Need more help? <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sign up for the newsletter</a> to get the scoop the upcoming Kindle Publishing e-course.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Kindle e-book publishing Publishing on Kindle writing for amazon kindle Fri, 26 Jun 2015 13:27:37 +0000 Catherine Shefski 2097069 at 60 Simple Ways to Grow Your Blog in Under an Hour <!--paging_filter--><p>If I've learned one thing about blogging, it's this: Blogging is a long term game. It's thousands of tiny actions that, when put together, make a huge difference. </p> <p>It's not just about writing blog posts and hoping that people will like them. It's about learning from your readers, building relationships with other bloggers, sharing your stuff, and on and on.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>And it can feel really overwhelming when you look at the big picture. Blogging takes a lot of time. So it's easy to get discouraged, to throw your hands up and go, <i>I can't do all of this.</i></p> <p>But you would be surprised at how much you can do for your blog in a short amount of time. You don't need 5 hours. You don't even need 1 hour.</p> <p>Sometimes, all you need is 5 minutes to connect with another blogger or share your post.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="clock" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Gunilla G</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>15 things you can do to grow your blog in one hour</h1> </p> <p> <ol> <li>Write an outline for a blog post. (Or write the whole post if you are a fast writer.)</li> <li>Create an editorial calendar for the next month.</li> <li>Edit your "About Me" page.</li> <li>Create a new free gift for your readers.</li> <li>Write an email newsletter.</li> <li>Schedule <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">social media posts to go out for the week</a>.</li> <li>Interview a reader to see what she really cares about.</li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Create a survey</a> for your readers.</li> <li>Research <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">places to guest blog</a>.</li> <li>Listen to a podcast about improving your blog.</li> <li>Brainstorm 15 blog post ideas.</li> <li>Participate in a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Twitter chat</a>.</li> <li>Set up an opt-in box for people to join your newsletter.</li> <li>Set up a giveaway on your blog using the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">King Sumo giveaway plugin</a>.</li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Create an infographic</a> for one of your blog posts.</li> </ol> </p> <p> <h1>15 things you can do to grow your blog in a half hour</h1> </p> <p> <ol> <li>Write a guest blogging pitch email.</li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Create a branded image</a> for one of your blog posts.</li> <li>Write the introduction for a blog post.</li> <li>Edit and improve one of your old blog posts.</li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Research</a> and ask to join 5 Pinterest group boards.</li> <li>Schedule pins to go out with <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Tailwind App</a>.</li> <li>Do keyword research to see what people want to read about.</li> <li>Do some "forum stalking" on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Quora</a> and in Facebook groups for post ideas.</li> <li>Optimize for SEO by installing the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Yoast SEO plugin</a> and writing meta-descriptions for 3 posts.</li> <li>Pitch podcasters to get interviewed.</li> <li>Send out emails asking people to contribute to a "roundup post."</li> <li>Email a blogger you respect letting them know they've improved your life.</li> <li>Go on a photo shoot for your blog around your house or neighborhood.</li> <li>Update your Facebook or LinkedIn profile.</li> <li>Record a YouTube video to go with one of your blog posts.</li> </ol> </p> <p> <h1>15 things you can do to grow your blog in 15 minutes</h1> </p> <p> <ol> <li>Compose 5 tweets to go out after your blog post is published.</li> <li>Add a Call to Action at the end of a blog post.</li> <li>Comment on 3 blogs you love.</li> <li>Write down 3 post ideas in <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Evernote</a>.</li> <li>Have a short conversation with another blogger on Facebook.</li> <li>Do an informal poll on Facebook asking people what they are struggling with when it comes to your blog topic.</li> <li>Post your blog post into a Facebook blog challenge and then comment on others.</li> <li>Add your blog post to a link party.</li> <li>Change the colors in your blog to better reflect your brand.</li> <li>Install the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Use Any Font plugin</a> and choose a custom font for your blog.</li> <li>Checking your Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from and thank anyone who has linked to your blog.</li> <li>Adding social share <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a> to your blog.&nbsp;</li> <li>Improve a blog post headline using the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">CoSchedule Headline Analyzer</a>.</li> <li>Submit a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">blog post tip on the SITS Girls</a>.</li> <li>Republish a blog post on LinkedIn Pulse.</li> </ol> </p> <p> <h1>15 things you can do to grow your blog in 5 minutes</h1> </p> <p> <ol> <li>Write a "<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">click to tweet</a>" for one of your blog posts.</li> <li>Retweet a blogging friend's post.</li> <li>Answer a question in a Facebook group.</li> <li>Tweet about one of your blog posts.</li> <li>Write a comment on one blog post you like.</li> <li>Repin 3 pins to group boards on Pinterest.</li> <li>Respond to a comment on your blog.</li> <li>Post an inspirational quote on Twitter or Facebook.</li> <li>Subscribe to get updates of an influencer's blog (so you can be the first to comment later).</li> <li>Share a blog post in a LinkedIn group.</li> <li>Add some people to a Twitter list of VIPs you want to connect with.</li> <li>Update your Wordpress plugins.</li> <li>Make a backup of your blog.</li> <li>Ask for feedback in a Facebook group.</li> <li>Tell yourself how awesome you are for blogging.</li> </ol> </p> <p>The next time you have a few minutes to spare, instead of using them to play a game on your phone, do one small action that will build your blog. You would be surprised at how quickly those little actions add up.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><i><br /> Daniela Uslan is a blogging strategist who writes about how to blog with clarity, confidence and focus at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>.</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools blogger blogging blogging tips Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:54:33 +0000 Daniela Uslan 2097038 at Go to #BlogHer15 for Your Own Reasons <!--paging_filter--><p>You’ve got your ticket. You’ve got transportation. You have a roommate. You’ve chosen shoes! You’re ready.</p><!--break--><p>And then you see comments or posts from non-bloggers and bloggers alike floating around calling blog conferences nothing more than “mommy’s time away.” The conferences aren’t “real” conferences. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>Here’s the thing, though: No one else can determine what "real" is for you. Own your reasons for coming and don't let anyone shame you into limiting your enjoyment (because there is learning, but there's also fun. There is no rule against that. Even financial conferences have parties).</p><p>Let’s talk about some of the reasons bloggers go to conferences (and tips for each):</p><p>1. Networking. Maybe you want to work with brands or monetize your blog with ads or reviews. BlogHer’s expo is just the thing for you. You get to talk to brand representatives, mingle with like-minded people. Download <a href=",d.aWw">the app</a> and check the #BlogHer15 hashtag on Twitter if networking is your purpose.</p><p>2. Community. Many of us have never met in person the bloggers we “know” online. The conference is a wonderful way to meet in person, to deepen friendships. Look for people you already know, but be willing to venture outside your self-imposed circle. Talk to people who write about things you know nothing about.</p><p>3. Speaking. You submitted a topic and it was accepted. You better work! Your name is on the agenda. Network, build your community, and be ready for the questions.</p><p>4. Becoming better at/learning more about something. Are you new to blogging? Do you want to write better, learn about photography, find out ways to use your voice online to help causes? Be prepared to take notes; learning happens in the sessions, but also in the halls.</p><p>5. None of those; mind your business and give me your drink tickets.</p><p>Figure out your reasons and be done with it. Don’t feel bad about it and don’t let fun shaming limit your enjoyment. The opportunity to have fun is in everything we do.</p><p> I dance in the grocery store. Just because it happens doesn’t mean that’s all there is to it or that I didn’t go there for more important reasons. I bought kale while I was there. Don’t unfriend me.</p><p>I’ve been attending BlogHer since 2012 when I went as a VOTY reader. In 2013 I got to introduce VOTY readers. In 2014 I was a panelist at HealthMinder Day and a co-presenter in the Grammar Lab. In 2015 I’m going to learn about changes in publishing and the importance of telling our own stories.</p><p>I’m also going for the community, absolutely.</p><p>Our online presence is important and vital. Our voices are needed and respected. The conference, filled with experts espousing on tracks and topics like breaking stereotypes, building self-esteem, gaming, social media, and moving from blog to book, has timely and useful information, tips, and tricks. And yes, it’s all imparted with parties also <a href="">on the agenda</a>.</p><p>Listen, there are fun tramplers everywhere, enjoyment detractors. Don’t let them make you question your purpose. Is it networking? Are you a speaker? Are you new to blogging? Do you want to create relationships with brands? Are you going solely because you haven’t seen your first blog friend since last year? Whatever your reasons, own them, and let no one tell you that your attendance isn’t valuable.</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Thu, 25 Jun 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Arnebya 2096637 at (Kickstarter) Help #ProjectDiane Use Data to Solve Tech’s Diversity Problem <!--paging_filter--><p>Join the Kickstarter campaign to support #ProjectDiane, a recent initiative launched by digitalundivided documenting intersectionality in tech.</p><p><!--break--></p><p>&nbsp;</p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center><p>&nbsp;</p><p>When I started <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">digitalundivided</a> in 2012, we set out to identify, train and support diverse female founders of tech-enabled companies.</p><p>We knew that it was going to be an uphill battle, but we didn’t find out how deep the problem was until we started to build out our <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">FOCUS Fellow program</a>.</p><script src="//" type="text/javascript"></script><div id="ooyalaplayer" style="width: 540px; height: 360px;">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript">// <![CDATA[ OO.ready(function() { OO.Player.create('ooyalaplayer', 's0N250dTre2j_Qj490laLYCmCOW2yCYc'); }); // ]]></![cdata[></script><noscript>&amp;amp;amp;lt;div&amp;amp;amp;gt;Please enable Javascript to watch this video&amp;amp;amp;lt;/div&amp;amp;amp;gt;</noscript><p>If start-ups led by diverse women founders don’t receive funding, they have a more difficult time growing into successful, robust businesses. If diverse women’s businesses can’t grow, they can’t exit (i.e. sale their company via an initial public offering or be purchased by another company).</p><p>The lack of successful exits means that there are virtually no diverse women venture investors to then turn around and invest in and advise the next group of diverse women founders.</p><p>This cycle creates a pattern, which makes it nearly impossible for diverse women to be successful in this space. One of the key ways to disrupt this pattern in tech involves using the power of data to communicate the problem as well as the solution.</p><p>It’s obvious that diverse women founders not only need exposure, but they also need the spotlight placed on creating opportunities for funding and further success. #ProjectDiane aims to do just that.</p><h2>What Is #ProjectDiane?</h2><p>digitalundivided’s <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">#ProjectDiane</a> disrupts pattern-matching in tech start-ups by identifying black women founders of tech-enabled companies and enriching the diversity of the current tech pipeline by collecting and utilizing data to build programs that grow the number of start-ups led by these founders.</p><p>Launched in February 2015 from an idea by one of our FOCUS Fellows and founder of the SaaS mentorship platform MentorMe, Brit Fitzpatrick; the initiative itself is named in honor of Diane Nash, an unsung heroine of the Civil Rights era whose brilliant tactical mind led to several of the movement’s major victories -- including the march in Selma.</p><p>Ms. Nash’s courageous fight for equality inspired us in a time where diverse women in the overall tech community grapple with “similar but not the same” treatment from the larger start-up community.</p><h2>How You Can Help!</h2><p>On June 1st, you have the chance to be a part of the movement. You can help highlight the challenges of intersectionality and support black women in tech through supporting our <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Kickstarter program</a>.</p><p>Your contributions will help us to produce a documentary highlighting intersectionality in tech through the lives of five black women tech founders and digitalundivided.</p><p>Help us #disruptthepattern. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Support our Kickstarter</a>!</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 Race & Class Feminism Technology Work/Life News & Politics BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 #KnowMe Wed, 24 Jun 2015 19:12:40 +0000 KathrynFinney 2087259 at Announcing The Pitch, Live at #BlogHer15 on Saturday Morning <!--paging_filter--><p>This morning <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">SheKnows Media announced</a> a new corporate initiative called <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">The Pitch</a> that will come to life Saturday morning at <a href="">#BlogHer15: Experts Among Us</a>, and then continue online, serving our mission of women inspiring women.</p><p>If you're a <em>Shark Tank</em> fan (and I totally am) you are going to love this keynote!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>But First: What is The Pitch?</h2><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Pitch is an original video series that offers women entrepreneurs a comprehensive, cross-platform program to help them share their message with the full audience of the SheKnows Media family of properties, including our aggregated 80 million web visitors and even greater number of social followers.</p><p>SheKnows Media created The Pitch to help close the gap between the number of businesses owned by women versus men and accelerate the growth of women-owned enterprises across the country, which are already increasing at a rate of 1.5 times the national average.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>How Will The Pitch Come to Life at the Conference?</h2><p>&nbsp;</p><p>We're giving six inspiring entrepreneurs the main stage and letting them pitch live to a panel of equally inspiring women business leaders, who will give them live feedback. Then you, the attendees, vote for your favorite. This all takes place on Saturday morning during the opening keynote. The winner gets to claim her victory during the Closing Keynote—you know, sharing a session slot with none other than <a href="">Ms. Ava DuVernay</a>!</p><p>And if you're just a bit inspired to start working on your Pitch and getting mentorship, feedback, and support? There will be a Pitch video area in our SheKnows Media booth in the Expo Hall, where you can give it your best shot. And there is a Writing Lab on Friday afternoon, led by none other than <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Levo League</a> CEO Caroline Ghosn, who has signed on to help you create "The Perfect Pitch: In 30 words or 30 seconds".</p><p>As The Pitch continues as an initiative, we'll work with the women in our community to help you take your passions to the next level, and get direct mentorship and then broad distribution of their big ideas!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>So, who's on tap to Pitch Saturday July 18 at #BlogHer15?</h2><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><center><img src="" alt="SheKnows The Pitch at #BlogHer15 - Pitchers" /></center><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li><strong>Luvvie Ajayi</strong>, Founder and Executive Director, <strong>The Red Pump Project</strong></li><li><strong>Majora Carter</strong>, CEO, <strong>StartUp Box</strong></li><li><strong>Courtney Macavinta</strong>, CEO, <strong>The Respect Institute</strong></li><li><strong>Meghan Martinez</strong>, Founder, <strong>Keasy Lock</strong></li><li><strong>Christine Souffrant</strong>, CEO and Founder, <strong>Vendedy</strong></li><li><strong>Tanya Van Court</strong>, CEO and Chief Sower, <strong>Sow</strong></li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><center><img src="" alt="SheKnows The Pitch at #BlogHer15 - Judges" /></center><p>&nbsp;</p><p>And our esteemed panel includes:</p><ul><li><strong>As MC: Courtney Nichols Gould</strong>, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, <strong>SmartyPants, Inc., plus:</strong></li><li><strong>Jesse Draper</strong>, CEO,<strong> Valley Girl, Inc.</strong></li><li><strong>Kathryn Finney</strong>, Managing Director, <strong>digitalundivided </strong></li><li><strong style="line-height: 1.5em;">Ali Pincus</strong><span style="line-height: 1.5em;">, Founder, </span><strong style="line-height: 1.5em;">One Kings Lane</strong></li><li><strong>JJ Ramberg, MSNBC’s</strong> “Your Business” host</li><li><strong>Mimi Vald</strong><strong>é</strong><strong>s</strong>, Chief Creative Officer, <strong>I am OTHER</strong></li></ul><p>Thinking about what you'd pitch? By the time this keynote is done, you will be ITCHING to get going, get pitching, and get further with that big idea than you thought you could.</p><p>That's all a part of our plan.</p><p>So. Lay it on me. What will you work on in our Pitch video booth?&nbsp;</p><p>Elisa Camahort Page, BlogHer Co-founder<br /><a href="" class="mailto-link"></a><br /><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">@ElisaC</a> on Twitter and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">@ElisaCP</a> on Instagram</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 Career Work/Life BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 Wed, 24 Jun 2015 14:11:18 +0000 Elisa Camahort 2100484 at How to Easily Redirect Permalinks on Your Wordpress Blog <!--paging_filter--><p>Evergreen posts continue to bring in traffic, week after week. The best way to make your posts evergreen is to redirect permalinks. Here is an EASY guide on how and why to do that.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>When I started blogging, I didn't make sure my permalinks utilized the post name. Fixing that now has been kind of a pain in my neck.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="redirect 0" /></center></p> <p>By using the post name, your posts remain relevant no matter what the date is. The only sites that actually need to have dates in the URL are <i>news</i> sites. That's it. The rest of us need to be evergreen.</p> <p> <h1>What are the benefits of being evergreen?</h1> </p> <p>Firstly, having those dates in the URL is kind of a turn-off for some readers. If I'm looking for the solution to a blogging problem, I want something that was published <i>recently</i> so I know it works. </p> <p>You can update your old posts to make sure the information is up-to-date (<i>you should really be doing that, by the way</i>). But if a reader sees that 2012 was the publishing date, they likely won't even give your post a read-through to see if you updated it. They'll assume you didn't and pass you over.</p> <p>Secondly, not having dates in the posts means you can <i>republish</i> old posts.</p> <p> <h1>What is republishing?</h1> </p> <p>There is a lot of confusion over how republishing works. Most people hear that word and think it means to re<i>post</i> something. <i>Absolutely do not repost your old content</i>. </p> <p>What republishing really means is this: you find an old post that could use a little love (or one that you think your new and growing audience will enjoy) and update it -- change the photos if needed, add new information, edit grammar, etc. </p> <p>Then you change the publishing date, press "OK," and then "Schedule/Publish."</p> <p>Like this:</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="redirect 1" /></center></p> <p><center><img src="" alt="redirect 2" /></center></p> <p>This is useful for multiple reasons:</p> <p> <ol> <li>It's an easy post. You update old content and then republish it as if it's new content. That's way easier than building a whole new post from the ground up.</li> <li>It's a great way to cycle old content back through your blog and get <i>your best</i> content seen by more people.</li> <li>When you republish, it will be sent out through your RSS feeds again. So, once again, news eyes on old content.</li> </ol> </p> <p>Republishing is a GREAT reason to make sure your posts are evergreen.</p> <p>I realize that it sounds lazy to just churn out old posts, maybe you even feel like that's cheating. But it's actually extremely beneficial to your readers <i>and</i> to you. Instead of leaving up old, outdated posts, you make them relevant and timeless. </p> <p>Being able to republish that post is a huge incentive to do that. </p> <p>(I know that before I was able to republish, my list of "Posts to Edit" was long and constantly growing. Now that I can republish, I'm trying to get as many fixed and updated as I can. Since most of those posts were written before anyone knew this blog existed, a lot of it is seen as "new content" by most of my readers.)</p> <p>What often happens when someone new visits your blog is this: they see your old post on Google or Pinterest, think it looks interesting, and they click on it. </p> <p>If they read through that post and decide that it's outdated and useless (for example, a post about how to best utilize Facebook in 2012 isn't going to be very helpful in 2015), they're not going to click on anything else on your blog. They'll just leave.</p> <p>Updating and republishing that post keeps those old posts on your blog, but keeps them relevant. Plus your subscribers will get to see that it's been updated.</p> <p> <h1>How do I make my posts evergreen?</h1> </p> <p>As I said above, the best way to keep your posts evergreen is to remove dates from the URL. This is easy if you're setting up a new blog. All you do is go <b>Settings --&gt; Permalinks</b>, click on <b>Post Name</b> and then <b>Save</b>. Done!</p> <p>I'm willing to bet the majority of people reading this are not NEW bloggers, though. Or at least not new enough that there are no posts on your site yet.</p> <p>So how do you fix your permalink structure without breaking your site?</p> <p>This is something I put off for months--MONTHS--because I thought it would be <i>such</i> a pain. I thought, "It's going to take me HOURS to set this up and then you know what? I'll probably wind up breaking everything. None of my links will work and I'll have to undo everything, if it even CAN be undone."</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>All of that was incorrect. Fixing my permalinks was SO easy. It took me less than five minutes.</p> <p>All you need to do is set up redirection.</p> <p> <h1>How to set it up:</h1> </p> <p><b>Step 01:</b> As I said above, go to <b>Settings --&gt; Permalinks</b>, click on <b>Post Name</b> and then <b>Save</b>.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="redirect 3" /></center> </p> <p><b>Step 02:</b> Now go to your FTP and find the <b>.htaccess</b> file. Make a copy of this file in one of the folders on your computer. And then make a <i>second</i> copy in another folder. The first copy is so you have the original in case something goes wrong with the edited file. <i>Don't touch the first copy.</i></p> <p><center><img src="" alt="redirect 4" /></center></p> <p><b>Step 03:</b> Using your favorite text reader (I use Notetab Lite, which is free), open the .htaccess file (the one you intend to edit).</p> <p><b>Step 04</b>: Now go to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Yoast's Redirection Helper</a>. Type in all the relevant information:</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="redirect 5" /></center></p> <p><b>Step 05:</b> Click "Generate Redirect" and it will give you a short code. Highlight it and copy it.</p> <p><b>Step 06: </b>Go back to your text reader. Paste the code <i>at the top</i> of the .htaccess file.</p> <p><b>Step 07:</b> Save the file. Go back to your FTP. Drag and drop your new .htaccess file so it replaces the old one.</p> <p><b>Step 08:</b> Give it a moment to save and then <i>check your site</i>. If it didn't work and your site crashes or something, just go to the folder where you put the <i>original</i> copy of the file (the one you did <i>not</i> change) and drag and drop it into your FTP.</p> <p>If that doesn't work for you, I don't know why it wouldn't. However, there are apparently lots of plugins that will do this for you, but I found them tedious. And I don't want a bunch of plugins bogging down my site when I can just fix the problem with a bit of code.</p> <p>I was so surprised by how easily this worked that I actually thought I was <i>imagining</i> that it was working. But no! All of my URLs are now clean and date-free. Yay!</p> <p>If you've been putting off setting up your 301 redirects, stop! It was so easy to do and the end result is so worth it.</p> <p> <h1>FAQs About Redirecting Links</h1> </p> <p><b>Will this affect my Pinterest pins?</b></p> <p>NO. Redirection means that, no matter where people are coming from, when they go to the old URL they will be taken to the <i>new</i> URL. So your social media links are <i>fine</i>.</p> <p><b>Will the number of pins/shares disappear?</b></p> <p>NO. The number of pins or shares is NOT connected to your blog's URL. It is connected to that pin. Even if you <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">changed the URL on the pin itself</a>, the number will still be there. It will also not change if you use a sharing plugin like Shareaholic. The shared post will simply redirect to your new permalink.</p> <p><b>Where is my .htaccess file?</b></p> <p>I use an FTP client called Filezilla. So, for me, I just open the FTP on my computer, go to my blog's folder, and the .htaccess file is tucked away in there. If you're not familiar with FTP clients, you can access those files from your host's FTP. </p> <p>The location can vary depending on your host, though. So if you have trouble finding it, I would recommend contacting Customer Service. (You could also potentially Google it.)</p> <p><b>I use, will this fix work for me?</b></p> <p>No. You can't edit files in free Wordpress. This tutorial was made for self-hosted</p> <p><img alt="" src="" height="52" width="175" /><br /> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools permalinks tutorials Wordpress Wed, 24 Jun 2015 12:58:32 +0000 diybudgetgirl 2097237 at Everything You Need to Know About Business Cards for Blog Conferences <!--paging_filter--><p>Blog conference season is in full swing, and now is the time to think about those business cards!</p><p><!--break--></p><p>&nbsp;</p><center><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-19685" src="" alt="Blog Conferences and Business Cards" height="294" width="400" /></center><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Are you planning to head to some blog conferences this year? There are so many coming up – several <a title="BlogHer Conferences" href="" target="_blank">BlogHer conferences</a>, <a title="Bloggy Boot Camp for Women in Social Media" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Bloggy Boot Camp</a>, <a title="Mom 2.0 Summit" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Mom 2.0 Summit</a>, and <a title="Type-A Parent Conference Atlanta" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Type-A Parent</a>. Whether you are a seasoned blogger or a newbie, your online presence likely changes at least slightly from year to year, and it’s never to early to think about how you want to present yourself on your business cards.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><center><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img class="alignright wp-image-1385 size-medium" src="" alt="BogHer '12 Business Cards" height="271" width="300" /></a></center><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I have learned a lot over the last couple of years about what really does need to go on the card and what doesn’t. A couple of years ago I had fully branded cards, which means I had my image, my logo, and some graphics from my website/social media accounts. I also had a description of who I am and what I do. You can see those here.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><center><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" rel="attachment wp-att-87207" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><img class=" size-full wp-image-87207 alignleft" src="" alt="staples business card summer 2015 72" height="427" width="250" /></a></center><p>&nbsp;</p><p>As you can see, I have two blogs, and I really felt like I needed to explain my “dual identities.” One side was for Elaine Griffin Designs and one was for <a title="The Laine List" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">The Laine List</a>. Branding my blogs and not myself was a branding mistake for me from the beginning, and one that I have worked to correct.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Now while I don’t think there was anything fundamentally wrong with these cards, I have made some changes based on my branding as Elaine Griffin, as you can see here.</p><p>Which leads me to the first question.</p><h3>What if I have two (or more) blogs?</h3><p>Well, you can go a couple of ways here, and the main question you should ask yourself is: “What are my goals for this conference?” Are you marketing yourself? One blog? Two blogs? List the blogs you want to market. If you are going to more than one conference, you might have different goals for each conference, and you will want to tailor your cards to each conference.</p><p>I have decided that no matter what conference I attend, I am going to market both of my blogs. Here is my new card, with all of my info on the front, so people can take notes on the back.</p><h3>What should I put on my cards?</h3><ul><li>Your name. Okay, this *seems* obvious, but I think it could be easily overlooked.</li><li>Your logo. Please tell me when you created your logo, that you had a high-res version created for printing! If you don’t have a logo, choose a nice Google font and go with it.</li><li>Your picture. When you are surrounded by 5,000 faces, it’s great to give people an opportunity to remember yours.</li><li>Your blog URLs. Again, I think this could be easily overlooked.</li><li>Social media. My personal choice would be my Twitter handle and Facebook page, because I have put the most energy into them, and they are the sites I interact with best. My advice? Pick the social media you are most likely to engage in regularly.</li><li>Contact info. Email address is an obvious must. Phone numbers can be good when you are trying to network with brands especially, but a lot of people aren’t comfortable with that. I say if you aren’t comfortable with it, skip it. There are a ton of ways people can get in touch with you.</li><li>White space for people to jog down a few notes about you. This is probably the number one thing that helped me remember details about the people I met.</li></ul><h3>Where can I design my cards?</h3><p>Of course you can pay someone to <a title="Logos and Branding Elaine Griffin Designs" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">design your business cards</a>. You can also utilize free services such as <a title="Canva" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Canva</a> and <a title="PicMonkey" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">PicMonkey</a> to help you with your cards. Just make sure you check the printer size specifications before you spend time designing your card. <em><strong>Believe it or not, print sizes are not universal!</strong></em></p><h3>Where should I get my cards?</h3><p>I can recommend a few places. <a title="Vistaprint" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Vistaprint</a> has never done me wrong. <a title="UPrinting" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">UPrinting</a> has a decent quality card. My far and away favorite, though, is <a title="MOO" href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">MOO</a>. A little pricier, but oh so worth the money! Unfortunately, sometimes we put this off until the last minute, and we don’t have time to wait for shipping. (Sheepishly raises hand). In that case, go with <a href="" target="_blank" class="external-link">Staples</a>! You can place your order online and pick them up in a couple of hours. I’ve done this the last two times I needed cards, and they were great!</p><h3>How many cards should I order?</h3><p>There is no right answer to this question, but I think part of the answer to this goes back to how many conferences you will attend and what your goals of each conference are.</p><p>Are you using the same card at several conferences? Get a lot!</p><p>Are you targeting your message toward one blog? Get fewer.</p><p>Another thing to consider is how aggressive you see yourself being in terms of giving out cards. I know at my first conference, I brought home a ton of cards that I had planned to give out, just because I was too shy to offer my card. Now, get outta my way, ’cause I’m gonna give you my card, whether you want it or not!</p><h3>What else do I need to know?</h3><p>When you order your cards, it is important to order non-glossy cards. Glossy cards are hard to write on with some pens, and may even smudge, making all that pretty white space useless. Also, go with the standard-sized and shaped cards so they don’t get lost in the shuffle!</p><p>As far as using your cards at the conference, I have a couple of tips. First, keep some in the pouch of your conference lanyard for easy access. Second, if there is a speed dating event, it will be cray-to-the-zay. It’s okay to take a second to step back and jot a quick note about the person you just met. Believe me, you are going to want to do this. Although the speed dating events are generally rather short, you won’t remember anyone you met. It’s that nuts.</p><p>There you have it, everything you need to know about designing, ordering and using your cards at blogging conferences.</p><h4>Do you have any questions or special tips about business cards and blog conferences?</h4><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 Career Work/Life BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Tue, 23 Jun 2015 21:21:01 +0000 Elaine Griffin 1222941 at How to Create Quality Videos Using Only Your SmartPhone <!--paging_filter--><p>Beautifully shot videos with a GoPro or DSLR are all the rage these days. But what if you only have your SmartPhone on hand and still want a beautifully shot keepsake video? Not to worry!</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Google's latest 'Photos' app can make videos with music, effects and splicing, all from your phone. In fact, Google does it all for you!</p> <p>I have been documenting and creating tons of videos with my family using the 'Google Photos' app. It's easy to use and I don't need any other equipment besides my SmartPhone. This is a perfect way for me to document Will's life moments and milestones. A must-have app for moms, in my opinion.</p> <p>Wondering how to get started? Follow the quick tutorial below!</p> <p>1. Download the 'Google Photos' App.</p> <p>2. Backup all of your photos to this app. <i>Note: this may take a little bit of time, but will be well worth it. Also, 'Google Photos' offers unlimited storage!</i></p> <p>3. Start filming all of your favorite moments. <i>Note: I have found that my best videos are made when I take a bunch of short clips rather than one long clip. This allows 'Google Photos' to create a better video.</i></p> <p>4. Once you have the footage you want, go into you 'Google Photos' App. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="video 1" /></center></p> <p>5. Select the '+' sign in the top right hand corner of your screen. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="video 2" /></center></p> <p>6. Select 'Movie' from the menu. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="video 3" /></center></p> <p>7. Select the photos and videos you would like 'Google Photos' to include in your video.</p> <p>8. Click 'Create' in the top right hand corner of your screen. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="video 4" /></center></p> <p>9. 'Google Photos' will create the entire movie for you! <i>Note: You are able to edit the video as well if you are unsatisfied with Google's creation.</i></p> <p>To watch my videos that have been filmed with my SmartPhone and edited with the 'Google Photos' app, subscribe to my <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">YouTube Channel</a>.</p> <p>For more posts like this one visit my site, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a></p> <p>Sarai Hansen<br /></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Photography DIY Google Photos App Tue, 23 Jun 2015 13:41:45 +0000 Lavendersblush 2082307 at How To Write 13 Blog Posts a Week <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><!--break--><p>For the past eight months, I've written 10-13 blog posts and articles a week. No, I'm not crazy or torturing myself. I just love writing.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>I write 3-4 times a week on my personal blog <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I'm Not the Nanny</a>, another 2-3 times a week on my book blog <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">From Left to Write</a>, and freelance at various places on the web. </p> <p>I get to do something I enjoy while earning income from it. It's a win-win.</p> <p>Recently a friend of mine asked how I was able to write so often. While loving what I do makes it more fun, producing that much content week after week can be very challenging. I've learned a few tricks that keep me productive without getting burned out. </p> <p>(That's not to say there aren't times I take on too much and get burned out, but that's another post.)</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="13 posts 1" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Write Everyday</h1> </p> <p>You thought I was going to say something magical, didn't you? Nope. When I started blogging, I hated hearing this advice. I fought it with every fiber of my nonconformist being. </p> <p>Once my youngest started preschool, I sat my butt in my in my comfy office chair four mornings a week and started typing. This is my only uninterrupted time to write so I try not to waste it.</p> <p>Writing everyday isn't easy. Some mornings I can't type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. Other days, I bang randomly on my keyboard, hoping that inspiration would flow from my fingertips. Whether it's banging or tapping, eventually the words flow into some cohesive ideas.</p> <p>I don't write everyday, but I do write every weekday. Sometimes I pull out my laptop on the weekends late at night if I'm feeling particularly inspired.</p> <p>I've trained myself to write every morning so I feel odd when I don't sit at my desk with a cup of coffee. Which leads me to the next tip.</p> <p> <h1>Establish a Routine</h1> </p> <p>Even though my office is down the hall from my bedroom, I get dressed every day. I make breakfast and a cup of coffee in my favorite mug before walking it into my office. Office might be too fancy since our apartment floor plan calls it the breakfast nook. </p> <p>I wake up my computer and do a brain dump in my calendar. (For more on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">brain dumps, see #3 on this list.</a>)</p> <p>Then, I write.</p> <p>This routine trains my brain and my body. I know that when I sit down with my cup of coffee, that it's time to write. My morning routine may vary depending if the kids have school that day, but sitting down with my cup of coffee is my signal.</p> <p>I write best in the morning, so I've created a positive routine for that time of the day. If you write best in the evenings, maybe you can treat yourself to a small piece of chocolate as you sit down to write. Whatever it is, pick something that makes you feel good. </p> <p><b>You'll start to associate this good feeling with writing.</b></p> <p><center><img src="" alt="13 posts 2" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Start a Swipe File</h1> </p> <p>In marketing, swipe files are a collection of scripts and sales letters. Borrow that idea and apply it to blogging. Writers need a file of article topics and blog ideas. </p> <p>When I have no idea what to write next, I pull up my swipe file. For example, when my friend Abby asked how I managed to juggle blogging and kids, she gave me the idea for this post. I added it to my swipe file.</p> <p>No matter what my original idea was, I try to make the idea more specific. Instead of "spring makes me happy," I write down "<i>5 Reasons Spring Makes Me a Better Mom</i>." Instead of "my favorite books to read," write about "<i>Why I Love These Beach Reads and You Will Too!</i>" </p> <p>Same ideas, but more refined. Once you starting thinking about your topics in this way, you'll see ideas everywhere!</p> <p>My version of a <b>swipe file lives on </b><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><b>Evernote</b></a>, a free notetaking app. It lives on my smart phone, and I use the web version on my desktop. That means I have access it whenever an article idea pops in my head. </p> <p>I have to capture my ideas right away or they'll disappear. Because I write for different websites on different types of topics, I keep different swipe files for each site for easy reference.</p> <p> <h1>Create an Editorial Calendar</h1> </p> <p>What is this mythical <b>editorial calendar</b> that keeps coming up as blogging advice? It just means planning out when you want to publish each article. </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>For the sites where I freelance, I have the same deadline every week. I know that every Monday, I need to turn in an article. I write the due date on my calendar or add it to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Asana</a>, a free online project manager. </p> <p>(Need a planner? Here's a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">list of planners I love</a>.)</p> <p>For your own blog, decide how often you want to publish. Once, twice, three times, daily? Once you decide on the frequency, pick the specific days you will publish and stick to it.</p> <p>If you want to get even more specific, <b>allot specific topics to certain days</b>. For example, on Mondays you write about an adventure from your weekend; Wednesdays could be a recipe; Fridays, you share your favorite things. </p> <p>I've tried this method but it doesn't work for me, though I try to publish one food-related post each week.</p> <p>You can also create <b>monthly themes</b> to guide your topics. Whatever you decide, sit down once a week (or once a month if you're more organized than me) and plan out your posts for the entire week (month).</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="13 posts 3" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Unplug at Least One Day a Week</h1> </p> <p>Writing as much content as I do isn't easy. I could easily sit at my computer all week, trying to write. But I don't. Writing is hard work, and we need to allow our brains to relax. I take the weekend off and unplug from social media as much as I can. </p> <p>I read, binge watch <i>House of Cards</i> until the wee hours, nap (much needed after a Netflix hangover), or <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">bake</a>.</p> <p>Go out and live life so you can something to write about come Monday!</p> <p>I know you've heard all of this before. These are not new tips or ideas. You've probably read other articles with similar tips. Why? Because they work! The key is trying them out on a consistent basis and adjust them so they work for you and your life.</p> <p>There's no magic pill for writing 13 blog posts and articles a week. Make writing a priority and it will get done.</p> <p><b>What tips would you add to this list?</b></p> <p><i>This post <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">originally appeared on I'm Not the Nanny</a></i>. </p> <p><i>Thien-Kim wishes she got paid to nanny her own children. She blogs about the fusion of Asian, African American, and southern culture in parenting and food at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I'm Not the Nanny</a>. She is the head book nerd at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">From Left to Write</a>, a virtual book club community for bloggers. As if she wasn't busy enough, she's also launching <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Bawdy Bookworms</a>, a subscription box meets virtual book club for smart women who read sexy stories.</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools blogging freelancing writing tips Mon, 22 Jun 2015 12:58:12 +0000 thienkim 2094475 at 5 Easy Things You Can Do to Be a Blogging Success <!--paging_filter--><p>I've always believed that what you put out in the world will come back to you, and I try to keep that in mind in my personal and professional life. I just don't see the point in putting out the negative. </p> <p>One place doing the right thing pays off in spades? Blogging. In my 5+ years of blogging, I've learned a lot, but the number one thing is that community is SO important.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Being part of a community is the best part of blogging: making new friends, collaborating on opportunities, and just being part of this crazy little (big) world. If you're a positive influence on that community, it comes back to you in the best ways. So what are the right things to do when it comes to blogging?</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="success" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Comment and Reply</h1> </p> <p>Commenting on other blogs is the best way to build community. You learn about others, they learn about you. I've had many, many comments that have turned into conversations and friendships. </p> <p>In addition, every comment you leave has the opportunity to link back to you. A lot of Wordpress blogs have comment luv, which shows your most recent post, and Blogger allows you to have a profile (even if you're on WordPress) that you can have your blog link in. </p> <p>It allows the blogger you've commented on an opportunity to learn about you, but it ALSO is an opportunity for other commentators to find you too! </p> <p>Along with commenting comes the responsibility of replying, and I'm a big believer in replying for the same reasons I comment. No one wants to feel they're talking to a wall. You can respond within your blog (like I do), but many bloggers I know respond via email. </p> <p>Even a simple "thanks" shows that you've read a comment and appreciate it. I don't know about you, but when bloggers respond to me, I come back. When they don't, I don't. Simple.</p> <p> <h1>Help Others with Sponsored Posts</h1> </p> <p>We all work hard on our blogs, and when we get a sponsored post, we want it to be successful. Many, many people just click out of these sponsored posts and you know what? That stinks. We work hard on those. We want to do well so we can get more of those - because that helps us all keep blogging! </p> <p>So when you see a sponsored post, read it. Click on the links in it. Comment on it. See a tweet about it? Hit that retweet button (it literally takes a second). Not only will you find cool products and services, but that blogger will remember your support and come back to support you in return. </p> <p>It ends up helping you in the long run, and it's so appreciated!</p> <p> <h1>Read Something You Love? Share It</h1> </p> <p>This took me a while to figure out, but once I did - wow. There are things I read that I love and agree with, but obviously weren't written by me or posted on my blog... but that absolutely does not mean my readers wouldn't love it too! </p> <p>One of the best places to do this is on Facebook. When you share another blogger's work on your Facebook page, you can tag their page in your post. By tagging them, you get access to both your likes and their own. </p> <p>That increases engagement on BOTH your pages, gets eyes on the post, and may garner each of you a few new likes you might not have gotten before. It takes just a few minutes, but the payoff for the time is great, and plus it reminds others to do the same thing. </p> <p>Also, in sharing things that you're not getting paid for and just love, your readers know you're being authentic... and that increases engagement, too. It's a win all over the place.</p> <p> <h1>Follow Through on Promises</h1> </p> <p>This is a massive pet peeve of mine. A while back, I was big into sponsoring other blogs and ran my own sponsorship program. One thing that drove me crazy? When the people I sponsored didn't deliver on what they were promising! I hate not getting what I've paid for. </p> <p>One of the reasons I shut my sponsorship program down is exactly that - I couldn't deliver on everything I wanted to offer, and I don't overpromise things. </p> <p>For me, it's under promise and over deliver. It's a phrase I learned at a company I used to work for, and it's stayed with me since because it's SO true. Do what you say you're going to do, and people will respect you - and come back to you time and time again.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p> <h1>Offer Knowledge and Advice Freely</h1> </p> <p>It's the best when people share their knowledge, and the worst when people hoard it. Some of my favorite bloggers are ones that share what they've learned and have a thirst to learn from others. </p> <p>Blogging is still a new industry, and we're ALL learning. Blogging changes every day, and it'll continue to do so. The more we share, the more we learn and grow from others. </p> <p>If someone asks me a question, I do my best to answer it, and I'm always reaching out to others when I see them doing things I love. Most will share. The ones that don't? Well, I may not be coming back to them. </p> <p><b>Anything I left out? What do you do to live well on the Internet?</b></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools blog tips blogging Fri, 19 Jun 2015 14:04:04 +0000 BeingMrsBeer 2090479 at 10 Tips and Tricks to Make Your Food Photographs Delicious <!--paging_filter--><p>Remember, you eat with your eyes first. These are my tips, tricks, and equipment recommendations for taking great food photographs for your blog.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="chocolate" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Camera</h1> </p> <p>While you can always use the camera on your phone, if you want to get into photography of any sort, you'll need to outfit yourself with a camera. </p> <p>I began when I was 16 in a photography class at my high school with a film SLR. There, I learned old-timey darkroom skills, as well as just how annoying non-digital cameras can be. I have two in my basement, both family "heirlooms," that I never use. Nevertheless, they did teach me how to use SLR technology.</p> <p>For digital, I began many years ago with a Canon Rebel and kit lens, which is how most get into photography now. Today, I use a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Canon EOS 6D</a>. It's my pride and joy. I recommend starting out with something like a Rebel to learn how DSLR cameras function. </p> <p>The benefits of a camera like the 6D include (to name just a few of the dozens): infinitely less time spent in photoshop, full-frame viewing, more control over the uncontrollable (light, speed of subject, etc.), and quick capturing/no blur without a tripod at a higher aperture setting.</p> <p> <h1>Lens</h1> </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="lens" /></center></p> <p><center><i>50mm lens (left) VS 105mm lens (right): Different looks. 50mm more "dreamy," 105mm always slightly sharper (my preferred look)</i>.</center></p> <p>The correct lens in food photography is everything. Food photography tends to look best using a 100mm to 105mm lens (macro) and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">50mm</a> lens. </p> <p>Going back to the camera, these lenses will react different in say, a Rebel (my training DSLR) versus a 6D (my current DSLR). I use a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens for Canon SLR Camera</a> lens for closeups, overheads, and when in a pinch, as a portrait lens. </p> <p>The photos taken with my 105mm lens will always be slightly crisper than with my <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard &amp; Medium Telephoto Lens</a>, as well as giving it an entirely different overall look. </p> <p>The 50mm lens is wonderful for overhead shots or action shots of cooking in the kitchen. It creates that classic "creamy" look to photos. Yes, there are $50 versions of this lens available, but having purchased one many years ago, I can tell you that it's not worth it. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">This is the 50mm lens</a> I have now (I use this as my everyday, life-shot lens too).</p> <p> <h1>Tripod</h1> </p> <p>A tripod will allow you to take sharper photos, action shots, or get the camera in a position that the human body is incapable of. I always prefer to hold my camera when I shoot, but I'm trying to use my tripod more. Slow learner, I guess. (Do as I say, not as I do.) </p> <p>I'll use my tripod for timed action shots of my cooking, like when I'm chopping food. I recently purchased a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB</a> and am just tickled by its multitude of functions.</p> <p> <h1>Memory Card</h1> </p> <p>Get a proper one, please, or you'll risk having work deleted. If you've lost a client's work because of a faulty memory card, that wouldn't be good, to put it lightly. I use <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Lexar Professional</a> cards. </p> <p> <h1>Light</h1> </p> <p>I use exclusively natural light. This means when and where I shoot are dependent on the season and time of day. If I'm shooting in my house, I use my sunroom, because, well, it's a <i>sun</i>-room. I prefer the afternoon light, around 2 to 4PM (and 4PM is cutting it close in the winter). </p> <p>If it's a shooting day, I'll need to make sure I have food prepared and ready to go at that time, otherwise, it won't get done. In the fairer weather, I'll use my back deck with indirect sunlight and maybe a lens hood. </p> <p>Using a flash or direct sunlight can make food look unappetizing and greasy. Natural, indirect light is your best friend for the perfect food photograph.</p> <p> <h1>Food Styling Props</h1> </p> <p>I have a lot of my family's old dishes, utensils, and serving vessels, as well as new one's I've acquired over the years from birthdays and Christmases. Depending on the food, as well as the mood you're trying to create, you'll want your props to be inline with this. </p> <p>If I'm going rustic, I'll use pottery and wood. If I'm going clean and simple, I'll generally gravitate towards stark white dishes.</p> <p>For surfaces, try beat-up boards, a back deck that needs re-staining (ahem, like I do...), well-loved baking sheets with natural patina, coffee tables, linens, potato sacks, crumpled brown bags––there's really no rule to the surface you shoot on.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>If you want the surface to be part of the photo, you'll need to increase the aperture and, preferably, use a tripod.</p> <p>To source a lot of my food styling props, I'll head to antique markets. Last week, I found gorgeous, hand-thrown pottery bowls for $4 dollars a piece––score! </p> <p>In addition to this, antique and flea markets are excellent places to source kitschy props like old glass milk bottles, jars, rusted egg beaters, wooden utensils, and oxidized silver serving ware. </p> <p>These appendages, scattered in the background of a food photo, give that little something extra, without taking away from the star of the show: the food. </p> <p>If you're worried about tetanus, just don't actually <i>eat</i> with your rusty antique market finds––leave them as props only. When I'm feeling particularly indulgent, I'll go to Crate &amp; Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, and independent kitchen shops. </p> <p>My dream date includes wandering these stores for an entire afternoon with a large pistachio gelato in-hand: utter bliss *angelic harp music in background.*</p> <p> <h1>Blur </h1> </p> <p>In many shots, food really does look best with a touch of creaminess to the photo. To achieve blur, focus on the portion of food you want to stand out (e.g. look for the "perfect" golden brown piece of squash to close in on), lower the aperture (2 to 4.5), and manually adjust the lighting in your camera to avoid overexposure (smaller number = wider aperture, which means more light seeps in).</p> <p> <h1>Shooting Angles &amp; Ingredients</h1> </p> <p>This is dependent on the client, but if you're shooting for your own blog (with unlimited space), go crazy. On <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><i>Yummy Beet</i></a>, I like to start with some ingredient shots, as well as shots during the actual cooking process. </p> <p>Not only do these "working" shots add character to your blog post, they can also be instructive, lending a visual cue to your recipe directions. </p> <p>When the recipe is complete, begin with an overhead shot, followed by a shot to the side, a shot with the food partially enjoyed, a shot with a human (very "in" right now), and so on.</p> <p>Like the food itself, food photography has trends. Photos of hands cupping a bowl with the subject dreamily blurred out, action shots of drizzling oil, "food porn" shots with ingredients melting(?) out of the centre––these are all so hot right now. </p> <p>Food trends will appear online and in print magazines before you see them in cookbooks, which can take years to come together. Or, vice versa, a specific cookbook's photography may just ignite a food photography trend in the online community.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="cauliflower" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Composition</h1> </p> <p>Colour, texture, temperature. People are more likely to make a recipe if that recipe has a great photo attached to it. (Okay, this hasn't been studied, but I bet it's at least partially true). </p> <p>Luckily, real, fresh food loves the camera with its array of colours and textures. If something looks flat and unappetizing (I'm looking at you, mushroom soup), a garnish will really draw the eye in and elevate the dish. </p> <p>The above photograph of cauliflower looked like a giant human brain in a dutch oven until I added its garnish. Greens (fresh herbs, lettuces, etc.) are my go-to, as I'm never without them in my bowl anyways. </p> <p>Garnishes (all edible, please, and preferably listed as an ingredient; see previous photo of soup) make a dish sing, sparkle, and pop. (I didn't intend for that to sound like a cereal commercial, really.) If you're shooting hot food, allow the steam to settle, or you'll fog up your lens. Also, steam will dull the look of the food.</p> <p> <h1>Photoshop</h1> </p> <p>Yes, the food you see in cookbooks, online, and in magazines is photoshopped. When I first got Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor 12, I went insane. I was a wild child. Everything needed editing. Everything. I way, <i>way</i> over-photoshopped my photos. </p> <p>Learn from my abominable editing mistakes. Like I said in the Camera paragraph, a good camera will allow for a quick trip in and out of Elements. Currently, I just do a bit of RGB colour, midtone, and brightness corrections. Or, I'll use Elements to add text and/or a watermark. </p> <p>I could write an entire blog on photoshop, but I have neither the time nor drive to do that. However, you're in luck––there are people that <i>do</i> have the time and drive. Google those people. I recommend researching as much as humanly possibly if you want to get the most out of Elements or any other photo editing program. </p> <p>I'm still learning techniques on that program and will likely never know its full reach. If you don't like or understand computers or technology, you will (likely) not like or understand photoshop. But fear not, there are guided photo fixes in Elements! You can correct a photo with the click of a button. Computers are just the smartest.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p><i>See hundreds of examples of food photography on my vegetarian food blog, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Yummy Beet</a>. Along with writing my upcoming cookbook, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><i>WHOLE BOWLS</i>(Spring 2016)</a>, I'll be doing the photography. And, you can see hundreds of examples of food photography on my vegetarian food blog</i>. </p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Food Technology food photography Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:53:57 +0000 YummyBeet 2080102 at Get Inspired to KonMari Your Home with the Life-Changing Magic of YouTube <!--paging_filter--><p>If they gave out report cards for housekeeping, I would not get an A in organization. I love organization in principle but I find attempts to do it completely overwhelming. If you add in that my brain tends to remember where objects are in relation to other objects, moving and reorganizing <em>all the things</em> puts me on the fast track to having a meltdown. But I keep trying. So when I started seeing Marie Kondo's <cite>The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up</cite> appearing frequently in my social media streams, I decided I really needed to check out the whole KonMari method.</p> <!--break--> <p>I listened to the audiobook over a weekend while I worked on some DIY projects. After I finished the book I was really tempted to dive in, but I also knew that I had way too much going on at that moment. The KonMari method is a process that takes months—she actually recommends six months to do it start to finish. I also have my own process, which involves finding out as much as possible about things from people who have done it. Right now that means scouring the internet for people talking about the KonMari method.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Get Inspired to KonMari Your Home with the Life-Changing Magic of YouTube" /></center></p> <p>I love blogs, and there are lots of bloggers talking about the KonMari method, but it was YouTube that sucked me in. Want to watch a book review? YouTube has it. Want to watch someone clean out their closet? YouTube! Want to watch a whole series of videos as someone applies the KonMari method to their entire house? Yep. You can see it onYouTube. Here are just some of the videos I found on YouTube. Come join me in my KonMari YouTube madness.</p> <p><h2>Jennifer Ross</h2></p> <p>You can start by watching Jennifer Ross's Book Nook video where she <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">discusses <cite>The Life-Changing Of Tidying Up</cite></a>. But what really inspired me to seriously consider the KonMari method was her clothing purge video. Yes, it's a long video but I found myself really inspired to clean out my own closets after watching it. She's doing a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link"> series of KonMari-inspired purging videos</a> and they will make you want to clean out <em>everything</em>. </p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p><h2>Lulame Azele</h2></p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Lulame's video</a> was one of the first KonMari YouTube videos I watched. She doesn't video the process but I loved listening to her talk about it. She tried a few different ways of getting rid of her clothes and highlights the pros and cons of the things she tried. I've never found the other socks either, Lulame. </p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p><h2>Martha Henry</h2></p> <p>Paper is one of my pain points. I find it completely overwhelming. Marie Kondo says we don't need most of what we keep and suggests that most people only need three folders for all their papers (yes, you read that right). I don't think I can quite get away with only three folders, but <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Martha's video</a> pointed out one of my biggest pitfalls. Like her, I always try to purge and organize <em>at the same time</em>. That is a KonMari no-no. She also offers some great health tips for getting through the process.</p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p><h2>A Young Mum</h2></p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">A Young Mum</a> read Marie Kondo's book and was inspired to tackle her whole house. She's recording it all and going through it in the KonMari recommended order. I'm seriously impressed with her commitment to the process. You'll find yourself nodding along with her as she finds half empty bottles of lotion or wonders how the heck something ended up where it is not supposed to be. You'll also see her occasionally get frustrated with the process, which is refreshingly honest. Organizing is never fun all the time (unless, perhaps, you are Marie Kondo), no matter how enthusiastically you start. </p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><h2>The Gold Project</h2></p> <p>I just started watching <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">The Gold Project's</a> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">home organization series</a>. What I love about Kristin's closet clean out is that she mentions she has recently moved not once but <em>twice</em> and cleaned out her closet for each move. You would think that she wouldn't have many items left that she wants to toss, right? Wrong. She still ends up tossing almost 100 items of clothing. So if you are thinking you can skip a step because you just organized one of the topics, be ready to surprise yourself. </p> <p><center><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p><h2>Sophie Helyn</h2></p> <p>Ever wondered what happens when a BookTuber applies the KonMari method to their bookshelves? Then you want to watch <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Sophie Helyn's videos</a>. She hasn't (yet) set up her KonMari videos as their own series but you can find them all by searching for KonMari within her channel. That book you've had for five years, haven't read, and you really don't <em>want</em> to read? It's time to let it go.</p> <p><center> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center></p> <p><strong>Have you read <cite>The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up</cite>? Are you trying the KonMari method in your home?</strong></p> <p><em>BlogHer Community Moderator Karen Ballum also blogs at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Sassymonkey</a>.</em></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Home & Garden DIY Work/Life konmari marie kondo Wed, 17 Jun 2015 14:59:57 +0000 Karen Ballum 2093814 at 10 Simple Tips to Improve the Way You Send Emails <!--paging_filter--><p>No one really teaches us how to use email, which means that we sometimes don't use it very well. A healthy mailing list unsubscribe rate is less than 0.5%. </p> <p>What if your unsubscribe rate is higher? Or maybe you find that people don't respond to your emails in the way you were hoping. Here are 10 simple ways to improve your email etiquette.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="email" /></center></p> <p> <h1>1. Think Before You Send It</h1> </p> <p>Think about what you're sending before you send it. Ask yourself if the message belongs in a private email to an individual, or whether to include other people on the email. </p> <p>Some messages that need to go out to a lot of people are better sent to your mailing list instead of sending dozens of individual emails. Also check the recipient of the email before you send it.</p> <p> <h1>2. Don't Add Unwilling Recipients</h1> </p> <p>Nobody wants to be on a mailing list they didn't request, so don't add a person without permission. If you do add someone accidentally, or if recipients eventually want to be removed, don't make it difficult for them. </p> <p>If you can do it yourself, do it immediately. If you use a mailing list client, give clear instructions on how recipients can remove themselves.</p> <p>People already receive enough emails willingly. A mailing list shouldn't feel like a punishment!</p> <p> <h1>3. Timing Is Everything</h1> </p> <p>Send emails in the morning, when people are first opening their inboxes — between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. — and when they check their email again after eating dinner, but before they go to bed — between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">According to reports</a>, Tuesday and Saturday both have high open rates.</p> <p> <h1>4. Be Consistent</h1> </p> <p>It's a bad idea to become known as an extremely persistent mailing list, because too many emails can desensitize or annoy recipients, and therefore hurt open rates. Commit to sending emails either weekly or bi-weekly, and then everyone on the mailing list knows when to expect messages.</p> <p> <h1>5. Use a Brief Subject Line</h1> </p> <p>Think of your subject line as an elevator pitch — it should be brief and capture attention so your audience will want to find out more. Make sure all of your emails -- whether they are individual emails or mailing list emails -- use the subject line.</p> <p> <h1>6. Use an Appropriate Message Length</h1> </p> <p>Too long and you'll lose interest. Too short and your email could seem pointless. Observe how many paragraphs your email contains. Readers lose interest when they initially see <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">too much text</a>. </p> <p>Essential information should be included at the beginning, where people are less likely to start skimming.</p> <p> <h1>7. Organize Dense Text</h1> </p> <p>Have a lot of updates? Use bullet points in order to direct readers' eyes to a list. Breaking up text will be easier on the eye, and it'll be less taxing to read the entire email.</p> <p> <h1>8. Avoid Excessive Stylizing</h1> </p> <p>Using bold or italic text for headings or to highlight important information, such as deadlines and meeting locations, is a good idea. Highlighting entire paragraphs is not. The same applies to brightly colored text, especially on non-white backgrounds, and non-standard fonts that are hard to read.</p> <p> <h1>9. Say No to All Caps</h1> </p> <p>While not everyone associates all caps with yelling, it isn't necessary in an email when you could achieve the same effect with bold or italic text. Shut down the urge when you have it, no matter how important something is.</p> <p> <h1>10. Consider Context as Well as Audience</h1> </p> <p>Assume the people on your mailing list don't read all the emails you send, and that there may be people who don't know what you're talking about. The same goes for emails that you send at work or at home: make sure the person is in the loop before launching into an idea.</p> <p>If you're bringing up a previously discussed topic, summarize that topic in one sentence for those who missed it before. You should also offer to bring individuals up to speed in a separate conversation.</p> <p><b>Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.</b></p> <p>Frederique is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Women Love Tech</a> founder and publisher - unique lifestyle technology digital magazine for women.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools # blogging #tips #blogger#nablopomo #email Wed, 17 Jun 2015 13:16:16 +0000 WomenLoveTech 2075248 at 7 Tips to Nail Your Own Headshot <!--paging_filter--><p>In this age of social media and blogging, everyone should have at least one great headshot. Throw it on your blog, your Facebook account, your Twitter avatar, your LinkedIn profile: anywhere people want to connect a face to the name. </p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>My husband is in the business world and pleads with me to save people from their own bad avatar. I wish I could be an avatar fairy waving my magic wand over everyone's tiny picture. I could wear a big poofy skirt and a great pair of heels... I digressed, back on topic. </p> <p>Having a professional headshot can go a long way to your overall career image. I know this isn't realistic for everyone. Let me give you a few pointers if you choose to do it yourself rather than hire someone else.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="headshot" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Tip 1</h1> </p> <p>Think about what part of your personality you want to convey. Are you serious? An out of the box thinker? Energetic? Then look in the mirror and try some different facial expressions to convey that. Choose a few to try out.</p> <p> <h1>Tip 2</h1> </p> <p>Next, find an area that is well lit but not in direct sun. Outside is best because the color of indoor lights can make your skin look funky.</p> <p> <h1>Tip 3</h1> </p> <p>Take a couple of test shots to see what the background looks like. Make sure the background is very simple and not competing for attention in the photo.</p> <p> <h1>Tip 4</h1> </p> <p>Never, yes, <i>never</i> use flash from your phone or a camera's pop up flash. If you do, I promise the end result won't be that great.</p> <p> <h1>Tip 5</h1> </p> <p>Remember, a headshot is exactly that, a picture of your head (and maybe shoulders). Avatars are so small and people want to be able to connect with you, but if your whole body is in the picture, your beautiful eyes get lost.</p> <p> <h1>Tip 6</h1> </p> <p>Dress (at least the upper half of you) and do your hair/makeup like you would for an interview.</p> <p> <h1>Tip 7</h1> </p> <p>Don't forget, a smile can go a long way!</p> <p>Shannon</p> <p></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Photography Career DIY #professional women avatar headshots BlogHer University Tue, 16 Jun 2015 17:04:58 +0000 sbairdphoto 2056891 at JoAnn Crohn Gives Tips for Traveling With Kids <!--paging_filter--><p>JoAnn Crohn of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><b>Whimsicle</b></a> recently appeared on the Phoenix CBS affiliate morning news to give parents tips on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">how to travel with kids</a>.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="JoAnn Crohn" /></center></p> <p>Julia Arnold, who blogs at <b><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Frantic Mama</a></b>, was published in two recent anthologies -&nbsp;<i>Clash of the Couples: A Humorous Collection of Completely Absurd Lovers' Squabbles and Relationship Spats&nbsp;</i>and&nbsp;<i>Only Trollops Shave Above the Knee: The Crazy, Brilliant, and Unforgettable Lessons We've Learned from Our Mothers.&nbsp;</i></p> <p>Carol Johnson, who writes <b><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">I Didn't Lose a Husband I Gained Closet Space!</a></b> recently reached Featured Columnist status at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>.</p> <p><i>BlogHer Publishing Network members -- do you have news to share? <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Click here to share it</a>. Or check out all the <a href="">BlogHer Publishing Network member news</a> in the series.</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer Publishing Network News JoAnn Crohn BlogHer Network Member News Tue, 16 Jun 2015 12:58:32 +0000 The BlogHer Publishing Team 2092696 at Have You Experienced the Internet Outrage Machine? <!--paging_filter--><p>Amanda Palmer recently had an article in the New Statesman about the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Internet Outrage Machine</a>. </p> <p>You know the one. Someone writes something online: They put out a thoughtless tweet, trying to be funny; or a business tries to capitalize on a hashtag; or they write a blog post that rubs everyone the wrong way.</p> <p>And then the Internet piles on that person, flipping out.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="backup" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Patrik Nygren</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Okay, that isn't really fair. There are also sometimes well-written, heartfelt responses; explanations for why the words or images were taken so poorly by the general public. But more often than not, there is a stream of snarky, hate-filled commentary peppered with a few death threats.</p> <p>There's a lot I disagree with in Palmer's article, and there are three (or really, probably even more if I were more creative) ways I could respond with those criticisms. </p> <p>I could click away and not mention them at all. (A valid use of my Internet energy!) I could write my own post, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses in her arguments. Or I could ignore anything positive in the article and just write, "This SUXXXXX" on Twitter.</p> <p>A long time ago, I think the collective Internet with option A or B. But now, I pretty much only see Option C.</p> <p>Palmer recounts a usual conversation with her husband, Neil Gaiman, that she goes through before posting something that is possibly controversial:</p> <p> <blockquote>"Honey, your blog defending this person’s honour is really noble but if it kerfuffles, do you have time to deal with the three days of Twitter and Tumblr backlash?"</blockquote></p> <p> <blockquote>"Not really, I’m insane with deadlines."</blockquote></p> <p> <blockquote>"Oof. Then don’t post it. You don’t have the time or energy to kerfuff this week."</blockquote></p> <p><i>If it kerfuffles</i> is the phrase that I kept thinking about because I often will call my husband over to read a post before hitting publish. "Is this going to piss people off?" or "Is this rude?" or "Will people be upset?"</p> <p>A long time ago, he used to answer, "Of course not!" and I'd hit publish and be done. Now, he's more likely to say, "I don't know."</p> <p>It's just so hard to know sometimes what is going to upset people.</p> <p>Or to know that something is going to get a reaction that is so disproportionate from the original words. I think Palmer knew writing a poem about the Boston bombing would push buttons. A disapproving, "Hey, Amanda, this poem is in poor taste" is expected. Death threats are not.</p> <p>The way we treat each other on the Internet is like when you get a new Barbie for Christmas. At first you play with said Barbie, making up storylines with your friends. But once the novelty of the Barbie wears off, you're just as likely to chop off her hair just to see what Barbie looks like with a mohawk as you are to dress your doll in a new pair of heels.</p> <p>When we were first given blogs and Twitter and Facebook, we treated them with glee, happily reading what other people had to say. Were there trolls who tried to push buttons? Of course. But they were few and far-between.</p> <p>But now, we're like a child who has grown bored with her new toys and has started working through the destructive what ifs. ("What if I shave Barbie's leg with a real razor right down to that bendy plastic piece in the middle?") </p> <p>We've started crapping on the Internet. We've taken our toy and instead of playing with it as intended, we've been throwing it across the room.</p> <p>I don't know if there is an easy answer; how to quell the Internet Outrage Machine. I'm hopefully that we'll hit a collective tipping point and swing back the other way towards helpful criticism. </p> <p>But if we don't, will we drive voices offline? </p> <p><b>I mean, do you feel comfortable writing anything on the Internet anymore</b>?</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media amanda palmer anger Facebook Twitter Mon, 15 Jun 2015 13:56:56 +0000 Melissa Ford 2092466 at BlogHer Strong: Why I'm Headed to My Fifth Straight Conference This July <!--paging_filter--><p>In four weeks, I'll be Conference Strong.</p> <p>I'll be idea-open, inspiration-ready, community-bound, and with my people.</p> <p>If I were the commune living type, I could only be hoeing and raking the carrot patch alongside <strong><a href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: rgb(55, 147, 147);">BlogHer</span></a></strong> people.</p> <p>On July 15th, I will be attending my 5<sup><span style="font-size: small;">th</span></sup> BlogHer conference. For someone who has never been the one to attend conferences, it's an event I can't get used to. The thrill has never worn off, and the excitement about going still makes my stomach quake, but not in a too-uncomfortable, Immodium way.</p> <p>I will be with the faces behind the words I love. There will be new friends to meet who will feel like I've known them for years. I will have the community of a shared language, and of a shared love of the internet connection and the world it has opened up for us. There will be mentors to seek out, mentees to encourage, and peers to swap blogging tales with.</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Alexandra Rosas on the BlogHer Voices of the Year stage at the BlogHer 2011 Conference" /><em>Me, reading on the <a href="">Voices of the Year</a> stage in 2011.</em></center></p> <p>Though everyone attending won't be just like me, we will all be alike in what draws us to BlogHer '15--the validation, affirmation, cohesiveness, and inspiration of a shared passion. We love to blog, and we want to be with others who do too.</p> <p>When you live online, it's hard for our friends and families to understand what we do and why we do it. It can feel isolating, but when you're with people who know what you mean when you talk about editorial calendars or how you've met new people working Instagram into your online life, you feel like you found your planet. Soon, I'll be with those people I can talk hashtag talk with, and we'll connect in a way that texting, emailing, tweeting, and Facebook updates can't come close to.</p> <p>We'll have the thrill of finally meeting friends we've known online and it will feel like we've known them for years. We'll have the chance to thank those who have helped us, and we'll have the time to tell others what their writing means to us. We will all be gathered in one place, we bloggers, and it will feel like friendship.</p> <p>I'll arrive July 15<sup><span style="font-size: small;">th</span></sup> for my 5<sup><span style="font-size: small;">th</span></sup> BlogHer conference in a row. I'll come seeking</p> <p> <em>motivation</em></p> <p><em>encouragement</em></p> <p><em>inspiration </em></p> <p><em>ideas</em></p> <p><em>support</em></p> <p>I'll leave feeling focused, energized, rejuvenated, determined. And part of something.</p> <p>And when I'm back on that plane flying home, it will be with the best takeaway of all.</p> <p>The feeling of pride when I say, I am a blogger.</p> <div style="text-align: center; margin-bottom: 0in;"> * * * <p><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">BlogHer '15 takes place in NYC this July 16-18</span></strong> <strong>#BlogHer15 is the world's largest conference for women content creators.</strong> The most people + the most brands = the most opportunity. It's that simple.</em></p> <p><em>You'll connect with people you may already know, meet new people, see an incredible lineup of keynotes, and leave with new skills and inspiration. To find out more, </em><strong><a href="" target="_blank"><span style="color: rgb(55, 147, 147);">click here</span></a></strong><em>.</em></p> <div style="text-align: center; margin-bottom: 0in;"> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Alexandra </a> keeps a humor blog, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Good Day, Regular</a>, and is a live storyteller. She writes of small town life, raising three boys.</p> </div></div><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences blogher BlogHer '15 blogher conference BlogHer 2015 Fri, 12 Jun 2015 22:58:39 +0000 alexandraRS 2089714 at Taking Selfies After My Divorce Helped Me Figure Out Who I Wanted To Be <!--paging_filter--><!--break--><p><em>By Arianna Jeret for</em></p> <p><strong>There's a BIG difference between learning to love yourself and being a narcissist.</strong></p><p> </p><p> I joined Facebook back in 2007 as a married, working mom. </p><p> I was protective of my personal information. I kept up with all of the privacy updates, kept my wall (now called a timeline) on lockdown for friends’ eyes only and was careful not to post anything that wouldn't jive with the public image others expected me to present. </p><p> Fast forward to 2012. </p><p> Once my ex and I told our children that we were divorcing and made it known to those in our professional lives, I took the leap that anyone who has divorced or gone through a significant breakup in the past five years will recognize all too well. </p><p> <strong>I changed my Facebook relationship status to single.</strong> </p><p> That may seem trite, but it's huge. HUGE. </p> <p><center><img src="/files/takingselfie.jpg" alt="Taking Selfies After My Divorce Helped Me Figure Out Who I Wanted To Be" /><br /> <em>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">infomastern</a></em></center></p> <p> Once my divorce was final, I became increasingly more active on social media. Along with taking more risks with what I was willing to share, I changed my profile picture for the first time in years. Fun! Now that I didn’t have to fit anyone else’s vision but my own, I could play with which pictures. </p><p> How did I want the world to see me that day, week or month? How did I want to see myself? </p><p> Sometimes when I changed profile pictures, I would wondered if people might start to think I was narcissistic. There are so many jokes out there about "selfie addicts", and I was just trying to learn to respect myself again — not disrespect myself further. </p><p> <strong>I knew conceit certainly wasn't the motivation behind my picture changes, so I was curious about others' perspectives on the same phenomenon.</strong> </p><p> According to a January 2015 article in <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Psychology Today</a>, a recent study found that “both narcissism and self-objectification were associated with spending more time on social networking sites and with more photo-editing ... Self-objectification [is usually] associated with low self-esteem, quite the opposite of narcissism, which is correlated with high self-esteem.” </p><p> This study supposedly “confirms” the idea that narcissists post more selfies than the general population, but the study sample was only composed of 1000 men — zero women — making it small and non-representative at best. Both narcissists and those with low-self-esteem (who tend to become their co-dependent partners) love selfies. </p><p> The study didn't specify whether or not the subjects posted the pictures on their timelines or as profile pictures. </p><p> <strong>In my humble opinion, these scientists are missing out on a huge piece of the selfie/self-love equation.</strong> </p><p> When you’ve been in a long-term relationship, your personality and identity shape-shift to fit the couple-mold you build together. Life isn’t only about you anymore. It's about both of you — maybe eventually all of you. That’s just what happens, and it generally plays out in one of three ways: </p><p> <ul><li> The mind-body-soul meld makes you both better people. Not new people — just better-rounded, more satisfied versions of who you’ve always been. These marriages endure for a lifetime.</li><li> Both people remain focused on themselves more than the couple they’ve become. They ask everything from the other, leaving nothing to give on either side. This makes for tremendous friction and frequent explosions.</li><li> Instead of two melding into one, one leeches off the other, demanding and demanding while the other allows their partner to drain them. Eventually the demander needs more than the drainee has left and looks for resources elsewhere, or the drainee realizes they're almost empty and makes an escape.</li></ul></p><p> People in Scenario One are probably not going to turn into selfie maniacs. Those in Scenario Two may, but if so, they probably were before they got married anyway. The demander in Scenario Three is likely too busy demanding from someone else now to bother changing their profile picture much. </p><p> <strong>It's the giver from Scenario Three, most likely NOT a narcissist, whose latest picture change may have you rolling your eyes.</strong> </p><p> Weird, right? Not when you consider narcissists don’t worry about what you think of them. They love themselves and assume you love them too. It’s those of us in the self-esteem-challenged department who worry what you think because we’re not so sure of how we feel about ourselves. </p><p> The first post-divorce photo I used for myself was from a black tie event for my now ex-husband's job. I chose it because I thought I looked pretty, and I wanted to feel pretty. Looking at it today, I can see I did not look happy. Big difference. </p><!--pagebreak--><p> <strong>Then I gave selfies a try.</strong> </p><p> It was fascinating to see if what I had captured reflected my own self-image back to me. This became a simple way to rethink myself on any given day. </p><p> About a year into my selfie progression, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen since my divorce. As we chatted she complimented me on how I good I looked on Facebook. </p><p> She told me that a few of my formerly closest friends, with whom I'd “lost contact” after my divorce, were gossiping about me and how full of myself I was since I frequently changed my profile picture. In particular, they considered one picture of me wearing red lipstick hard evidence of my conceited new persona. She said, “I told them, 'Are you kidding? She deserves some happiness! And she looks hot! Be happy for her!'” </p><p> <strong>I went home and deleted many profile pictures, including the picture with the red lipstick.</strong> </p><p> What a shame. I'd taken some of those pictures on my worst days — when I needed to force myself back into power mode. After getting dressed and put together, I could take a picture, see that I still had it, and remember that I could do better than just survive. </p><p> The next time a friend who divorces or breaks up with a long-term love starts flipping profile pictures, try to remember these three things: </p><p> <ul><li>Maybe your friend is hurting and working on cheering himself/herself up.</li><li> Maybe your friend is feeling especially good about himself/herself that day. </li><li> Maybe your friend is feeling totally confused about who they've been, who they've become, how it all happened and where on Earth they will go next.</li></ul></p><p> (In any case, drop a note to say, "Hi" and ask how things are going.) </p><p> You can never take too many selfies if they help you find peace, and you can never have too many friends offering to help along the way. </p><p><em> Article originally appeared on <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Why My Post-Divorce Selfies Do Not Make Me a Narcissist</a></em></p> <h2>More from</h2> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Is Taking Nude Selfies Even Remotely Safe (or Smart) Anymore? </a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">What Guys Really Think Of Your Selfies</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Strike a Pose: In Defense of Sex Selfies</a></li> </ul> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Divorce Love & Sex Fri, 12 Jun 2015 19:53:37 +0000 2090551 at 5 Essential Tips to Keep You Focused While Writing <!--paging_filter--><p>This is the thing I say to myself most often: "Stop getting sidetracked and just write."</p> <p>As a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">blogger</a>, I know that there are so many traps to suck up my time. It is really hard to avoid some of those tricky situations that often sideline my writing. </p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>I work from home, not only as a blogger but for my other endeavors as well. So I know how hard trying to work from home can be when you feel like you still need to accomplish a list of things for your personal life in addition to meeting a writing quota and your daytime job.</p> <p>However, sometimes you just have to force yourself into a good routine. Being a writer means that you have to be stronger than your Facebook feed or Twitter flow. Here's how I stay on track while working from home.</p> <p><center><br /> <img src="" alt="focus" /></center></p> <p><center><br /> <i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">OUCHcharley</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1> 1. Make a list of your most important tasks.</h1> </p> <p>I actually find it more rewarding to write everything down by hand on paper. Then as I fly through my tasks, I get to cross them off, write notes, and see what's next as the day goes along. </p> <p>You don't have to go one by one. It's often best to tackle the hardest tasks first thing in the morning while you are still fresh and ready to get the day going. </p> <p>I know that if I don't have a good to-do list, my day will be spent wandering about trying to figure out what's next. And sometimes that does take me out into the garden where I get a little sidetracked.</p> <p> <h1> 2. Take away the distractions while you are working.</h1> </p> <p>Yeah, this seems pretty simple. But how many of us have notifications on our phones when something comes up on social media? While you are writing, does your email have pop ups that tease you with what emails you might want to read? </p> <p>Turn off everything that can be a distraction before you start writing. </p> <p> <h1>3. Set your hours and days for working from home and keep them!</h1> </p> <p>Get up, get dressed for your real job, and get to work on time. Know your routine and work with it. </p> <p>I know what days and hours I am best at working from home. So Mondays I always set aside for catching up on emails, making appointments, getting an idea of what my week looks like, and if possible outlining the articles I would like to write for the week. </p> <p>If you know that a certain day of the week is harder for you, work around it. </p> <p>Example: My husband works from home on Fridays and my daughter always has a half day on Friday. So Friday isn't the day that I will schedule to write a big project because I know I will always be interrupted. </p> <p>I made Friday a day for working on my social media connections and wrapping up things unfinished for the week. No starting new lists.</p> <p> <h1>4. Even when you are working from home, work comes before housework.</h1> </p> <p>This is really hard for me. Whenever I go into the kitchen for coffee or lunch, if the kitchen isn't clean and I see housework that needs attention, I have a difficult time not wanting to stop and get those things taken care of. </p> <p>But when I do that, I will get sidetracked and it's hard to get back to work. So you just have to let it go and get it done after you get "off work." You can't do everything at the same time with the same energy. You'll just burn out.</p> <p> <h1>5. Set the mood.</h1> </p> <p>No matter what I am working on, I always set the mood for that project. Cooking, writing, even keeping up with my social media outreach, all have their own playlist. </p> <p>When I am working on a sewing project, I have peppy dance music going that keeps my energy up and I tend to move a little faster. If I am writing an emotional piece I often have a candle burning, some music playing, and a warm cup of tea at hand. </p> <p>You don't have to be limited to working in certain area. Often if the weather is nice, I will pack up and move outside or take in the atmosphere of a local coffee shop to change the pace. Wherever you work, make sure you are not seeking out new distractions only inspirations.</p> <p>Becoming a writer is a choice we make. Working for ourselves, setting our own routines, and driving our own business isn't for everyone. It doesn't take too much effort to change some bad habits and turn around your day to be more productive and even a little more fun.</p> <p><b>What tips or tricks do you use to be more productive while working from home</b>?</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Working Moms Work/Life how to be a better blogger tips for new bloggers work distractions Fri, 12 Jun 2015 16:23:26 +0000 Crysta Icore 2080600 at Don't Forget to Do These Vital Things Online Before #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-full-image"> <div class="field-label">Full Image:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_full_image" width="550" height="366" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>One of the best things about attending a BlogHer event is the connections you make with other attendees.</p><p><!--break--></p><p>It's also one of the most daunting aspects of attending a BlogHer event, particularly now that bloggers come with more than their blogs -- they come with Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, groups and pages, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and LinkedIn, too.</p><p><img src="/files/blogher_13_app_ipad.jpg" alt="Don't Forget to Do These Vital Things Online Before #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us" width="550" height="366" /></p><p>Before you pack your bags and head to #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us, there are some things you can do now to make it easier to connect with other conference attendees and (just as important or maybe more so) to help others connect with you.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>Download the #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us App</h2><p>Once you've downloaded the <a href="">#BlogHer15 app</a>, fill in all of your info so that you're on the attendee list. Take a look at the other attendees every week and start following those you know, those you've heard of, those who seem interesting, those you absolutely must meet in your social media streams.</p><p>You should also make friend requests within the app for those you are particularly close to -- this will help you find your tribe while you're at the conference.</p><p>Finally, look at the Sponsors section of the app and star those that you're really interested in connecting with while you're at the Expo Hall.</p><h2>Join the Going to #BlogHer15 Annual Conference Facebook group</h2><p>Once you've purchased your ticket, you should be added to the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Going to BlogHer Annual Conference group</a>. If you haven't been added, <a href="">Melisa Wells can help you</a> with that.</p><p>After you've been added to the group, get in there, add your name to the various lists linked at the top of the group and engage! The more people you meet before you land in NYC, the more comfortable you'll feel at the event.</p><p>You'll also find more people to add to your social media streams and blogs to add to your feedreader. (You are still using a feedreader, right?)</p><h2>Twitter</h2><p>Take a look at your Twitter cover photo. Does it reflect who you are and what you're about? If not, change it now!</p><p>Are you following the people you want to be following? Clean up your main list.</p><p>Next, create two Twitter lists :</p><ul><li>One for those attendees you are meeting before the event via the Going to BlogHer '15 Annual Conference Facebook group or through comments on posts about #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us or in other social interactions around the event.</li><li>One for people you absolutely want to make sure you connect with while you're at the event. If you know right now that you want to meet people in person, put them in a separate list to make it easier to find them when you're at the event.</li></ul><h2>Facebook</h2><p>Take a look at your Facebook page(s.) How are their cover photos? Are they free from spam? Are you publishing there regularly? Clean up your stream, give your page(s) a little facelift if they need them and make sure you're posting regularly right up until you leave for the conference.</p><p>Start following people (either individuals or pages) whom you know you want to meet while you're at #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us. Add them to Facebook lists so you can better keep up with them at the event and to make it easier to reach out to after you've come home.</p><h2>Pinterest</h2><p>Take a look at your Pinterest account. What are the first three or four boards that appear when someone visits you? If the first board is Valentine's Day ... that might not be super useful.</p><p>You want your most compelling and important right-now boards and topics to appear at the top. You also want to be sure you're pinning regularly.</p><p>There's nothing worse than meeting someone cool at a conference and finding out they haven't updated their social media streams in ages.</p><p>You should also start following Pinners you know you want to meet at the conference. Make the connection today, before you go!</p><h2>LinkedIn</h2><p>Don't overlook LinkedIn! How long has it been since you updated your profile photo? How long has it been since you updated your work history? Your bio?</p><p>All of these are things someone might look at after they meet you at #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us and think they might have an opportunity to offer you. Don't miss out on that opportunity because you haven't updated your LinkedIn!</p><h2>Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube and everything else!</h2><p>If you use a social media platform or a publishing platform and you might mention it at #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us, be sure it looks good, it's been recently updated, and you're following other attendees you're interested in making connections with. A dead YouTube stream is not going to look good if you've pitched yourself as a potential vlogger for their product or campaign.</p><h2>Your Blog</h2><p>Clean it up! Make sure it's spam-free. Make sure your images on the sidebars aren't broken. Make sure it's clutter-free! While you're doing that, consider these things as well:</p><ul><li>Pre-write some posts and schedule them to publish during the conference. A lot of people think they'll blog during a BlogHer conference, because duh -- blogging conference -- but let me just tell you that most people just don't. They're too tired. Too busy. Too overwhelmed. Pre-blog and schedule the posts to go live. (You should also consider a social media scheduling tool if your blog platform isn't set up to auto-post to social.)</li><li>Pre-write some posts and schedule them to publish for a couple of days after you return from BlogHer. You might think you'll jump right back into blogging, but you might not.<p>&nbsp;</p><p>Conferences are exhausting and overwhelming. You've missed your family, and they've missed you. It can be hard to get right back into the swing but you don't want your blog to be stale when people are coming to visit you after they've met you in person at the event.</p><p>You can always change the publish dates on them when you get home if you're ready to blog again immediately!</p></li><li>Make sure your "About" page is updated.</li><li>Make sure your email address is easy to find from your blog. A contact form is okay, but a lot of people hate them and prefer to just plain email you. If you're worried about spammers, write out your email address like this: denise at blogher dot com.</li><li>Make sure the links to your social accounts and the social share buttons on your site are working.</li><li>Be sure your comments are working! In all browsers!</li></ul><p>If you do a little work on your social media streams and online publishing platforms now, it will be so much easier to make connections at #BlogHer15. Now excuse me, I have some streams to clean and some organizing of my own to do!</p><p>I look forward to meeting you at #BlogHer15 and subscribing to all of your beautiful social streams.</p><p><strong>~Denise</strong><br /> <strong>BlogHer Community Manager</strong><br /> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Flamingo House Happenings</a><br /><!--pagebreak--></p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Fri, 12 Jun 2015 15:56:09 +0000 Denise 2084061 at Fancy and Handsome: What We're Wearing to #BlogHer15 <!--paging_filter--><p class="p1">"Put your tie on, Mommy! It's so handsome!" she yells from her room. Even though I just picked up, there are clothes all over the floor. Again. There are always clothes on the floor. Dresses, skirts that twirl, and there should be one pair of shorts in that pile somewhere, but we can never find that one approved pair of shorts. Her clothes don't look like mine. She's six. She's so fancy.<br /><br /></p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/fancy and handsome_0.jpg" alt="Fancy and Handsome" /></center><p class="p1"><br />"What will you wear to New York for <a href="" target="_blank">BlogHer</a>?" I ask as I put on the jean jacket she encouraged me to buy the last time I took her to help me shop. She made me spend a lot more money than I usually do. On myself. She's good for me.&nbsp;</p><p class="p1">"A lot of dresses and my leggings that are shiny and I need to bring my shorts so I can climb that big rock and not get my dress stuck and fall off it."</p><p class="p1">"Right! We need to find those shorts because that rock in Central Park is the best."</p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/oh%20dear%20so%20much%20jumping_0.jpg" alt="Fancy and Handsome" /></center><p class="p1"><br />She's coming with me to <a href="" target="_blank">#BlogHer15</a> this year. We live in Boston, so it's not too far to drive and she's been asking to go since my first time in 2012, also in <a href="" target="_blank">New York</a>.&nbsp;</p><p class="p1">Deciding what to wear is fun for her, but it hasn't always been for me. Though I am a woman, though I am her Mommy, I don't wear women's clothes. I identify as queer and butch and the words "business casual" send me into a panic.</p><p class="p1">&nbsp;</p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/I%20wish%20I%20was%20a%20little%20bit%20taller_0.jpg" alt="Fancy and Handsome" /></center><p class="p1">&nbsp;</p><p class="p1">Thankfully, BlogHer conferences celebrate us for exactly who we are. BlogHer doesn't want any of us to be someone else. Each year, the conference is designed to empower us to embody our identities so we can share powerful stories and change the world. If you're fancy, like Roozle, be fancy. If you're a little butch, be exactly who you are. Be you so we can get to know you better. You are welcome here.&nbsp;</p><p class="p1">&nbsp;</p><center><img src="/files/images/batch/she%20never%20stops%20jumping_0.jpg" alt="Fancy and Handsome" /></center><center></center><p class="p1">See you in New York! I’ll be the one in a hoodie and Converse high tops with the super fancy kid. We’re so loud, you won’t miss us.&nbsp;</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Blogging Events GLBT BlogHer 2015 Fashion Work/Life Style BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Fri, 12 Jun 2015 15:00:00 +0000 lifewithRoozle 2088223 at How Do You Find Your Blog Niche? <!--paging_filter--><p>Every blogger needs to find their niche, an area to hone and pull in their target readership. Finding that niche is not always easy. I have been trying to find my niche for several months. Here are four things I have discovered along the way.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="keyhole" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Kate Ter Haar</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>Your Starting Point May Not Be Your Ending Point</h1> </p> <p>I started out writing about desserts I love to make. The catch is that I am not a chef or trained pastry maker. I have fun in the kitchen making weird concoctions that sometimes turn out great and other times are a complete disaster. </p> <p>Most chefs out there go through that, but they love to create, recreate, recreate, and get it perfect. I'm not like that. I may have the patience to recreate a recipe one more time, but if it doesn't work on the second attempt I toss the recipe and move on.</p> <p>I've also discovered that making recipes day in and day out take a lot of effort and a large grocery budget. Thus, I moved into writing about my thoughts and faith as a stay-at-home wife.</p> <p>The glitch is that my followers liked my desserts and aren't following my other posts as much. One experienced blogger told me to find the "happy place between what I like to write about and what my readers want."</p> <p>Thus, I either need to find a way to love making desserts even more or change my approach to how and what I write about. Something tells me it won't be desserts.</p> <p> <h1>You Won't Fit With Every Blogging Support Group</h1> </p> <p>As a newbie blogger, I started looking for blogging support. I joined free online classes and blogging help groups. What I did not do was pay attention to was who else was joining. Many times these groups are very diverse and other times they are specific to a niche. </p> <p>The groups I joined/followed were filled with stay-at-home moms that love to write about their families and children and homeschooling. First let me say this is not a bad thing. There are some great stay-at-home mommy bloggers. I just can't relate to them.</p> <p>I am a stay-at-home wife but only because the economy turned. I was a professional consultant living the traveling life of a tech consultant. I know nothing about children and homeschooling, and I most certainly don't write about those topics because I have no knowledge of them.</p> <p>What happens is these groups have the other members follow each other. That is great as long as they fit in your writing niche. If they don't fit in the niche you, you'll have a lot of un-followers very quickly.</p> <p>It is important to find blogging support, or tribe, that fits your niche and goals for two reasons: 1) they can give you quality feedback, 2) they can help pull in more of your target market.</p> <p> <h1>Love What You Blog About</h1> </p> <p>In all honesty, I don't wake each day going "Yay, I get to blog!" Since I haven't found my niche, blogging has become a struggle. I love to write, find it fun to make silly graphics and put my thoughts out there. However, I am so focused on what my niche should be that I don't have a direction any more. </p> <p>Many mornings I get up and just groan at the thought of deciding what to put up on my blog. I have a feeling it would be different if I loved what I wrote about.</p> <p>There will always be tasks that are not fun as a blogger, like planning out your blog months in advance, getting the pictures of recipes just right if you don't have the correct equipment, and filtering out spam comments.</p> <p>To tap into the joy of having a blog, you have to write something you love. I heard quite often in the business world the idea that "It isn't work if you love what you do. What do you love to do?" </p> <p>All I can say is that having a blog falls into that same thought pattern. Blogging is work and no fun if you don't love what you write about. I don't think there is a <i>What Color is Your Parachute</i> for bloggers. </p> <p>Maybe there isn't a book because so many bloggers out there have their own version of it on their blogs. They pretty much all say the same thing. Focus on what you love and find where those who love that niche hang out online.</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p> <h1>Don't Give Up</h1> </p> <p>Even though I don't know my niche, I haven't found the right online support groups, and I don't have an all out joy of blogging, I am not going to give up. Maybe I am supposed to write something other than a blog. Maybe I need to have more faith in myself and my life plan. </p> <p>I don't have an answer. All I know is that I do enjoy writing. I had a young adult author (my English professor) tell me in my early years of college that I had a gift in creative writing. I've had family members and friends tell me I write well. </p> <p>Thus, onward I go. I'll find my niche eventually and my audience, whether it is this blog or some other writing avenue. I will keep searching and pressing on.</p> <p>You will, too!</p> <p>~ The Flip Flop Wife<br /> (Original post <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">here</a>.)</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools blogging finding your voice niche Thu, 11 Jun 2015 12:49:53 +0000 theflipflopwife 2065407 at Help! I'm #AddictedtoSocialMedia! <!--paging_filter--><p>Dear Mouthy Housewives,</p><p>I'm completely addicted to social media. I want to be more present for my kids, but I don't want to go off Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all together.</p><p> How do I get more of a balance in my life? Or do I need to just unplug completely?</p><p>Signed,</p><p>Do I Stay (Online) or Do I Go</p><p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p><p>Dear Stay or Go,</p><p>Welcome to the social media addiction club! Tweet us at #lovesocialmedia! Join our Facebook group! And don’t forget to post pictures of you tweeting and Facebooking on Instagram! </p><p>Honestly, these days it’s hard to find anyone who’s not addicted, outside of the Bingo Halls, that is. And inside the Bingo Halls, they have their own addictions, I’m betting.</p><p>Social media is free, fun, fast-paced and interactive! What’s not to love? And sneaking a peek at your phone during some downtime is a great pick me up during a dull playdate. Or a dull meeting.</p><p> Or, anytime, really. So what’s the problem? Who are you hurting when you post a picture and watch the likes accumulate?</p><p>The issue is that if you feel like your social media interactions are taking your time away from your children or making you less present during your time with them, you need to reassess. How many times during the day do you check-in, social media-wise?</p><p> Do you think a quick scan every few hours is disruptive to your time with your children? Or is it more that the quick scan turns into a hour-long session that gets you debating the sociopolitical issues of the day on Facebook while yelling at your kids to “watch another Dora! Mommy’s BUSY!”</p><p>Set limits for yourself. Only you know if the cold turkey approach would be more effective, but I recommend a weaning process. If you check in hourly, switch to every three hours. If you spend an hour on social media twice a day, limit the sessions to 20 minutes. Or commit to check on social media only when the kids are asleep or in school. (I assume you already considered such an award-winning solution!)</p><p>They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. (Although some of the others “they” say it can take up to a year, which seems a lot longer.) </p><p>Be conscious that this is a not going to be an overnight transformation, and acknowledge your social media weaning baby steps. Hopefully, you will be able to find a solution that lets you spend some time on social media while being more present with your children.</p><p><br />Good luck,</p><p>Marinka, TMH</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Family Free Advice Wed, 10 Jun 2015 22:00:00 +0000 Mouthy Housewives 2086658 at #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us Must-Have: The Going to BlogHer Annual Conference Facebook Group <!--paging_filter--><p>You just purchased your ticket to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">#BlogHer15: Experts Among Us</a> in New York City from July 16-18. Now what?</p><!--break--><p> Besides a little bit of actual—and virtual—jumping up and down, you should consider joining the official <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Going To BlogHer Annual Conference group</a> on Facebook!</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>The main goals of this group (which we implemented with great success for the first time last year) include forming connections among attendees ahead of the conference, sharing ideas, and providing a supportive environment that’s moderated by BlogHer staff (my name is Melisa, and I’m your hostess!) in which attendees can pose their conference-related questions.</p><p> We also share all of the conference-related announcements from in the group, often before they are shared anywhere else! </p><p>What we don’t do? Discuss or share posts about things that aren’t conference-related, to keep the page uncluttered and relevant. The group is closed, meaning you have to be added by an admin (okay, me). We invite people by email from our list of conference registrations, which is updated regularly. </p> <p>To facilitate connections, we have documents in the “Files” area of the group where attendees can add their blog URL as well as how to find them on all of the major social media platforms. </p><p>We have a document for newbies, a document for people seeking roommates, a document for people who want to rideshare from the airport(s), a document called “BlogHer ’15 Attendees by State” and one for international attendees as well! </p> <p>Need to reserve your hotel room or find that page where you can get some conference blog bling for your sidebar? We’ve even got a document full of handy-dandy links that will save you lots of time. Just open, and click! We’ve got it all just about covered for you: Truly, it couldn’t be easier.</p> <p>One of the very best things about this group is that the veteran BlogHer attendees are always willing to jump in and reassure our newbies, who are never as alone as they think they are: We have a lot of first-timers in attendance each year, nearly forty percent. </p><p>Our veterans are very helpful with answers to questions about wardrobe, what to do in the expo hall, what the parties are like, and so much more. </p><p>Attendees who live in the current host city are always helpful, too, about topics like parking, places to grab dinner, and touristy activities should you find yourself with downtime. Of course, as moderator, I’m always there to keep an eye on things and to extend a hand to whomever needs some extra assistance. </p> <p>As the conference weekend gets closer, activity in the group increases exponentially, and so do the number of practical tips offered. Here’s a complimentary tip for you, just because you’re reading this post: Did you know that a certain BlogHer employee—cough, cough, Executive Editorial Director Julie Ross Godar—got her maxi dress caught in an escalator a couple of years ago? Always hold the bottom edge of your maxi dress or skirt up when riding the escalator! (Thanks for taking one for the team, Julie!)</p> <p>How to take full advantage of the Official “Going To BlogHer Annual Conference” group:</p> <ol> <li>Add your information to each of the various documents in the group as soon as possible after joining, and follow other attendees who interest you in some way.</li> <li>Take part in conversations whenever possible so people can get to know you. </li> <li>For posts you’d like to follow, click on the gray drop-down arrow in the top right corner and select “Turn on notifications” so you don’t miss a thing. For posts under which you’ve commented but don’t want to follow anymore, select "Turn off notifications." </li> <li>Have fun! </li> </ol> Here’s a completely unsolicited endorsement from new group member (and BlogHer conference veteran) <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Kizz Robinson</a>, left as a comment on a recent post: <blockquote><p><strong>"Wow, being in the Facebook group makes all the difference. Thank you!"</strong></p></blockquote> <p>See what I mean? If you’re going to join us at #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us, you need to be in this group. You can expect an email invitation within a few days of your registration. </p><p>If you don’t receive one within a week—or registered long ago but never received one—just email me at <a href="" class="mailto-link"></a> so I can get you started on all the fun as soon as possible. See you on Facebook!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools Blogging Events BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Wed, 10 Jun 2015 20:43:25 +0000 melisa 2088444 at How Do You Know What Your Blog Readers Want? <!--paging_filter--><p>How often, when it comes to blogging, do you think about what your <i>audience</i> wants? Most of the time, when we're blogging, we're writing about what <i>we're</i> feeling about something, an important issue facing <i>our</i> world. </p> <p>But is that what your core audience wants to read?</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="balance" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Yuri Samoilov</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>It's great that you can analyze your statistics and see what works. Facebook and other forms of social media also provide a lot of useful feedback. But, if you're like me and you've been blogging for a while now and your statistics are not where you'd like them to be, then you'd have to look at your material.</p> <p>I like to write about a variety of things. I am a passionate person. And when a subject comes to my attention, I just can't wait to blog about it. I can't wait to discuss this and hopefully, people will read it and I want it to start dialogue. </p> <p>But when I'm not seeing the readership I want to see, I have to wonder: am I writing the types of posts that people want to read? Am I writing the posts that people will gravitate to on my blog? </p> <p>I know that I can't expect deep engagement on every post. But there are ways to get each post to perform better. Where there's a will, there's a way. </p> <p>I have to make sure that I am giving myself more time to write. Before I post, I need to make sure that I am delivering work that I can be proud of, that will increase readership. </p> <p>It needs to be something that you're proud of because if you're writing about something that <i>you're</i> not passionate about just to get readers, you've already lost!</p> <p>A main thing that I've learned, even when I'm excited about a subject, is that I need time to develop and figure things out before I post. And that's my problem, not just in posting, but in life as well. </p> <p>But I will work harder on it and get better! That's the whole point of writing. Each day pen goes to paper or fingertips goes to computer, it's another chance to learn and get better.</p> <p>Step by step.</p> <p>All in good time.</p> <p><b>How do you balance delivering what you think the audience wants to read with what you want to write</b>?</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media # blogging #blogger #blogging tips #blogger #traffic #wordpress Wed, 10 Jun 2015 13:22:29 +0000 Velvet S. 2065515 at Danielle Reeves Creates an Unofficial Disneyland Activity Book <!--paging_filter--><p>Danielle Reeves, who blogs at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><b>Busy Mom's Helper</b></a>, recently launched her first project - an "unofficial" Disneyland activity book.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="Danielle Reeves" /></center></p> <p>Laura Beth Love of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><b>Dishfunctional Designs'</b></a> new book, <i>Alchemy: 24 Jewelry Projects Using New Soft-Solder Techniques</i>, is now available in bookstores.</p> <p>Angie, who writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><b>The Caswell Clan</b></a>, published her <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">first post on Mamalode</a>.</p> <p><i>BlogHer Publishing Network members -- do you have news to share? <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Click here to share it</a>. Or check out all the <a href="">BlogHer Publishing Network member news</a> in the series.</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer Publishing Network News Danielle Reeves BlogHer Network Member News Tue, 09 Jun 2015 12:58:25 +0000 The BlogHer Publishing Team 2084981 at I Want You to Get to #KnowMe at #BlogHer15 <!--paging_filter--><p>When <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Kimberle Crenshaw</a> accepted my friend request on Facebook, I squealed and posted the screen shot on Instagram.</p><!--break--><p>I was so excited that the woman who gave us the term “<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Intersectionality</a>” was now my friend … on Facebook, at least. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="My hope is that you understand why I won’t extract any part of my identity to fit into any all-inclusive idea of solidarity. If there are any groups or movements that seek to erase any parts of my identity for the sake of being “all” anything, I’m not interested.&mdash;Feminista Jones" /></center></p> <p>I first learned of her work several years ago, and I am glad to see that more people are using the term in conversation and putting the idea into practice, even if they are not completely aware of the roots and history. Crenshaw maintains that each category of one’s identity plays a key role in defining one’s unique womanhood, and when we work to liberate all women, we must be inclusive of all of the things that make us who we are.</p> <p>I want you to know me and know that I’m a Black, queer, feminist, working mother. It took me a long time to come into a full love and appreciation of everything that makes me who I am. </p> <p>My hope is that you then understand why I won’t extract any part of my identity to fit into any all-inclusive idea of solidarity. If there are any groups or movements that seek to erase any parts of my identity for the sake of being “all” anything, I’m not interested.</p> <p>I tend to think long and deeply about various intriguing topics, and when I’m passionate about something, I articulate my points of view emphatically, intelligently, and directly. I am, for example, passionate about the lives and experiences of Black girls and women around the globe.</p> <p> This does not mean that I don’t care about men or women who are not Black; I simply focus my attention on us because we’ve long been <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">denied our claims</a> to womanhood and Blackness as the full human beings that we are.</p> <p>I talk about what I know. I was born in the inner city of New York City to unwed parents, like many Black children. Though they were married when I was still young, they divorced shortly thereafter. </p> <p>I went to public school until my mother realized it wasn’t cutting it, and busted her butt to put me in private school and keep me there. When she passed in 2007, I realized the greatest gift she gave me was in sacrificing so that I could have the best education possible.</p> <p>My first experience with sexual assault happened when I was four and the most recent was when I was 27. I began experiencing street harassment at age 11, and I’ve been involved with more than one man who has been abusive towards me. The more I opened up to other women, the more I realized I was not alone, and that these experiences were entirely too common.</p> <p>Through blogging, I found a way to connect with readers who were either Black women themselves, or who might want to learn more about Black women’s experiences. I began writing about sex and sexuality as a way of helping me work through my own negative experiences, and as a way to help other women find liberation and healing in a safe space that allowed them to be who they were.</p> <p> I also struggled with reconciling my own sexual desires with all of the bad experiences I’d had, and sharing my stories helped me understand that X didn’t necessarily cause Y, but if it did, I shouldn’t feel ashamed for things over which I had no control.</p> <p>I’ve come to be known as a <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">storyteller</a>. It is through sharing my stories that I’ve been able to connect with thousands of people around the world. The more open I am, the more opportunities I have to work with people who, like me, want to make the world a better place.</p> <p> It isn’t always easy, as there are those who want nothing more than to <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">silence me and women like me</a>, but I remain steadfast and do what I can to take care of myself.</p> <p>Whether it is through creating a global hashtag like #<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">YouOKSis</a> to help support victims of street harassment or writing pieces about Black women’s experiences with <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">domestic violence</a>, I believe I’m doing my small part to facilitate conversations that foster understanding and create valuable learning spaces. </p> <p>I can’t and won’t apologize for centering on Black women and girls, because most people do not value us enough to make our unique issues primary focal points. I <em>will</em> invite all those who are interested in learning more to join in the conversations, read my work, and support my efforts to raise awareness about our experiences.</p> <p>When the least of us are free, only then will we all truly be free.</p> <p>This July, SheKnows and BlogHer will present <a href="">#BlogHer15: Experts Among Us</a>, for which I am on the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">advisory board</a>. We are committed to continuing the conversation about the importance of practicing intersectionality in our feminist work. </p><p>Yes, we want all women to be liberated. We will not see that happen, however, if we continue to ignore how one’s various identity categories shape one’s daily experiences as a woman. The <a href="">Storytelling Builds Bridges: I Want You to Know Me</a> track at #BlogHer15 is aimed directly at this conversation. Each session in this track is designed for women who identify in traditionally undervalued categories to share their own stories, and for you to listen, receive, understand, discuss. </p> <p>The sessions focus around stories from <a href="">women of color</a> and the hashtags we've created to address racism (a panel I'm on myself), <a href="">LGBT women</a> and their experiences, <a href="">women talking about mental health issues, and </a><a href="">women living with special needs</a>, whether they have disabilities themselves or are parents of special needs children.</p> <p>I urge you to go: The panelists are phenomenal; these conversations will be excellent and interesting. Knowing people better, learning about people's lives, is the very first step toward change. </p> <p>And with this post, we're also launching a series of #KnowMe conversations on <a href="">BlogHer</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">SheKnows</a>, so that you can hear the stories of a wide range of people … and tell your own, too. Stay tuned for more, and I urge you to listen and share your own. </p> <p>I look forward to meeting you online and at #BlogHer15, and learning more about who you are and how we can build bridges to a better tomorrow. </p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 Race & Class Feminism News & Politics BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 #KnowMe Mon, 08 Jun 2015 17:58:03 +0000 FeministaJones 2072635 at Did You Become Obsessed With the Duggar Coverage on Social Media? <!--paging_filter--><p>By this point in the news cycle, I have read about 3582 articles and tweets about Josh Duggar. </p> <p>I never gave the Duggars much thought before this point. I mean, I knew about the show because I read <i>People</i> magazine cover to cover (as we all should), but it was all buzz relegated to the back of my brain. Sort of in one eye and out the other.</p> <p>But since the news of Josh Duggar's actions exploded onto social media, I have been inundated with links to click and tweets to consider. A topic that would have slipped out of my mind upon closing a magazine is now popping up every single time I sit down to read something else.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>And, yes, I end up following most of those links. And, yes, I have spent a lot of time reading and thinking about the Duggars.</p> <p>Which begs the question: is social media making us obsessive?</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="Duggars" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: Brad Loper/TNS/</i></center></p> <p>In the past when events bubbled up into the news, I would discuss them with a person or two but always hit upon others during my day who had other topics they wanted to discuss. My thoughts about the news ebbed and flowed: I would think about it one hour and be off the next.</p> <p>But now, Twitter and Facebook and blogs have made it feel as if the conversation never shuts off. There is always someone out there throwing up a link, stating an opinion, bringing up a theory, or commenting on the newest facts. </p> <p>Which is a great thing, on one hand. We're thirsty for information or discussion. I've read some amazing, cathartic posts that have stemmed from processing the situation with the Duggars. </p> <p>It can feel, at times, like an Enlightenment era salon in an infinite coffee house, where the conversation keeps flowing. The online worls becomes a place where we're constantly challenged to think or have our feelings affirmed.</p> <p>But at other times, it can feel as if we're circling a drain of information, about to slip down it when we look up at the clock and realize that we have spent two hours reading about a person we don't really care about in any other context. </p> <p>It's not just the Duggars. I will often get sucked into the topic du jour and realize that something that would have naturally slipped out of my mind hasn't because it keeps getting brought up throughout my day. If I'm online, and I'm always online due to work, it's being discussed.</p> <p>According to Google dictionary, an obsessive thought is one that "preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind." Does it count if the intrusion is manufactured? If it keeps intruding on the mind simply because it's constantly in front of a person's eyes? </p> <p>I mean, unless they go offline.</p> <p>I don't think there is anything to do about it except be mindful that social media is like an always running water faucet. When you're thirsty, it's great. But when you're satiated or feeling bloated with water, you need to take your mouth away because the water is never going to turn off.</p> <p><b>What do you think? Do you find you become obsessed with certain topics due to social media? What are other news topics that have held your mind because they keep popping up in your Twitter stream</b>?</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Movies & Television Entertainment Duggar family Jim-Bob Josh Duggar michelle Mon, 08 Jun 2015 12:58:12 +0000 Melissa Ford 2084963 at Should You Blog About Your Kids? <!--paging_filter--><p>There are so many poignant, important blogs I could write right now about the struggles and triumphs of my children as they blossom into full-fledged big kids. </p> <p>I have words of comfort for other parents. I have tales of trials and tribulations. I have questions about how to handle these phases now that my kids are old enough to fully and loudly voice their opinions about my parenting.</p> <p>But I can't.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="hands" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Rosino</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>Every time I try to write about something we're going through, I have to stop. It's gotten too private. Things that would have easily gotten a pass for me to write about when the girls were babies or toddlers, I'm no longer comfortable discussing. </p> <p>Not because we have anything to be ashamed of, but because my girls are more than just extensions of myself. And I feel like they have the right to their quirks, oddities and behaviors. That they have the right to work out their personalities in some semblance of privacy.</p> <p>And since any reflection of my parenting will inevitably involve them, I've really stopped writing. I don't know if it's the right decision, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. And given the topics on which I've written before I came to this conclusion, it may already be too late.</p> <p>At any rate, my children can read well now. Anything I type down can be easily digested by their eyes and minds. And blogging necessitates a removal of self from the situation which is fine to require of myself, but unfair to ask my six year olds to attempt. </p> <p>There is no 'greater good' here other than the healthy development of my kids and their psyches and safe spaces.</p> <p>So, to all the essays, blogs, articles and ideas I have floating around, I apologize for letting you grow stale. I'm sorry I'm letting you dry up in the recesses of my mind rather than typing you down. I'm sorry that it turns out you're not so important after all.</p> <p>My kids have always been my number one priority for as much and as often as I fail with them. What started out as a way to better myself as a parent to them has become, as they age, a forum that feels exploitative and crude.</p> <p>I'm not saying all mommy bloggers must stop writing, far from it. I'm simply saying I'm not a good enough writer right now to transcend the privacy issues I'm seeing with every single blog idea I have today.</p> <p>Maybe someday I'll do better.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media SAHMs Family blogging parenting privacy Fri, 05 Jun 2015 16:08:07 +0000 parentwin 2065680 at Better Summer Screen Time: Books and Websites for Engaging Kids <!--paging_filter--><p>Every year, I put together my own mini summer school for my twins because I'm mean. Wait, no, it's because I see summer as a time to not only get ahead and set up a strong start to a new school year, but also as a time to work in all the supplemental pieces that fall by the wayside during school.</p> <p>For us, that is computer programming.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p>Our school does Hour of Code, and the kids spend time in the computer lab. But their screen time in the classroom consists mostly of using computers for word processing or Internet research.</p> <p>What about Booleans? What about variables?</p> <p>The fact is that we're not really preparing our kids for the jobs of tomorrow. Well, I mean, we <i>are</i> in the sense that writing and math will still play a huge role in their success in the future. But kids need to be exposed to programming at a young age so they see that it isn't a scary, confusing thing.</p> <p>And I say that as someone with <i>no computer science background</i>.</p> <p>Yes, everything I teach my kids I taught myself. I'm only a few steps ahead of them, squeezing in lessons at night. I'm not particularly comfortable with computer science, but I've found amazing resources that can help even a writer like myself learn Javascript, Python, and Ruby.</p> <p>So here are the books and websites I'm recommending to get your kids started this summer. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="coding" /></center></p> <p> <h1>Books</h1> </p> <p>I've long been a fan of <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">No Starch</a> books; namely, their kid-friendly series. Let's face it, I will likely never understand the books aimed at my age group, but the kid-friendly ones? Those are the ones I use to teach myself and the twins new languages.</p> <p>They've gone a step beyond with their latest book: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><i>Teach Your Kids to Code</i></a>. It's exactly that: a parental guide for helping your child learn Python, no prior computer science experience necessary.</p> <p>The book is set up with short lessons that you can do with your child, coaching you on interesting things you can point out depending on the age of your child. By the end of the first day, your child will know how to make their own Mad Libs-like game using Python.</p> <p>And it only grows from there with turtle graphics and game making. Kids can learn basic programming ideas that cross languages such as variables, strings, and conditionals. The writing is simple and straightforward making it a pleasure to read and easy to understand.</p> <p>It's so straightforward that you could easily hand this book to a child in upper elementary school or beyond and have them teach themselves. A win in my book when it comes to summer activities.</p> <p>(Sidenote: While you can get their books at any bookstore (online or brick-and-mortar), they offer a 30% discount coupon on the site under the coupon code: COOLKIDS.) </p> <p>Other No Starch books I can recommend: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><i>Javascript for Kids</i></a> (this was the book that made programming click in my head), <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><i>Python for Kids</i></a>, and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><i>Ruby Wizardry</i></a>.</p> <p> <h1>Websites</h1> </p> <p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Blockly</a> is a fantastic resource not only for teaching concepts in coding but also for introducing the idea of drag-and-drop programming.</p> <p>The games are pretty self-explanatory, though they definitely become easier once your child understands how the blocks snap together to make a program. They're aided by the sound effect of Lego-like blocks clicking together so they know when the blocks are working together. </p> <p>They are given tasks to complete, with each level getting progressively more difficult. Best of all, kids can use the button in the top right corner to check their answers and get feedback when they think they're done.</p> <p>The next step over from Blockly is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Tynker</a>, another drag-and-drop site that teaches programming and allows kids to build their own projects. Tynker additionally comes with its own app for the iPad so kids can continue playing on the road.</p> <p>Lastly, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Scratch</a> is the best of both worlds: programming and social media. One part project making and one part socializing with other kids over programming, this MIT-run site is brilliant. And I don't use that accolade lightly. </p> <p>Kids can get started with building their own drag-and-drop programs quickly, or choose to peruse the site and play other people's projects. </p> <p>In fact, playing other people's games is an important part of the process, and their code is always accessible so kids can learn through example. Equally as important, they can connect and learn from other programming kids in a somewhat controlled environment.</p> <p><b>Any resources you'd like to add to the list for parents looking to use the summer months to tackle programming</b>?</p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>*I requested and received a review copy of this book from the publisher, <i>No Starch</i>.</p> <p>Melissa writes <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Stirrup Queens</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Lost and Found</a>. Her novel about blogging is <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Life from Scratch</a>.</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Family coding kids programming summer learning Thu, 04 Jun 2015 12:58:24 +0000 Melissa Ford 2081400 at How to Promote Your Personal Brand … Minus the Ickiness <!--paging_filter--><p>Just be cool, man. </p> <p>J.B.C.M. </p> <p>#jbcm</p> <p>And that includes not getting all weird about your personal brand. Ugh: "Personal brand." My fingers feel a little itchy and sticky just typing that phrase, but we've got to talk about it, or else more excellent and worthy people are gonna sabotage themselves and test the patience of their nearest and dearest. </p> <p>There's no shame here. Very few people come straight from the womb possessed of the skill set to package themselves elegantly, and there's a certain amount of trial and error involved. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="BlogHer University: How to Promote Your Personal Brand Without Feeling Icky by Kat Kinsman" /></center></p> <p>The good thing is that you have plenty of social media tools at the ready for you to get your message out to potential customers and fans. The pitfall is that on many of these platforms, your closest connections may end up feeling like they're being treated as a fan base. Your friends and family are (ideally) already rooting for you to succeed, but you can't expect them to like, favorite, and share every post and event. That'd be like them expecting you to show up at their job and applaud every safely installed electrical breaker and balanced expense sheet. </p> <p>It's fine to share things you're especially proud of, but on friend-based networks, consider starting a separate presence for your business to minimize the obligation and burnout. </p> <p>And speaking of that alter ego—tread carefully. Your brand is you, but you are not your brand. It's a subtle distinction, but there's a huge difference between walking up to someone at a conference and saying, "Hi, I'm The Churlish Cross-Stitcher." (Really? Your mama named you that?) and "Hi, I'm So-And-So and I write as The Churlish Cross-Stitcher." One comes off as "I am here to promote at you!" and the other, "I'm a person, and I have this particular interest. Let's connect." </p> <p>It's understandable why someone would feel like they could or should disappear within their brand. It's monstrously awkward to have to promote yourself, and might feel easier to hide behind the carefully constructed avatar. But it's also one-dimensional—and if the person you're meeting doesn't care about it, you're not giving them a chance to care about you, or vice-versa. It's scary as heck to let yourself be human and vulnerable to new people, but it also gives them permission to let their guard down, too, and share their story. </p> <p>And speaking of generosity: It goes a looooooong way. Once you've sweated and struggled to build your platform, it might be tempting to stand on top of it and constantly broadcast your message: photos, new writing, events, products. You've earned it, right? </p> <p>Sure, and yay, you, but it doesn't take long for it to get awfully echoey up there—and lonely, too. </p> <p>You probably didn't climb there by yourself, so consider extending a hand and helping other excellent people get their time in the sun as well. That might be linking to their work, sharing their posts and events and generally helping them signal-boost whenever you can. There's a good chance that they'll do the same for you—but it's also just an awfully cool thing to do, man. </p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University Wed, 03 Jun 2015 22:07:51 +0000 KatKinsman 2081710 at Forget SEO: 10 Better Reasons to Blog <!--paging_filter--><p>You've probably come across posts listing reasons people and businesses should blog. SEO, branding, etc. Those lists are practical and have useful advice around building an audience.</p> <p>But here's the thing: the very best blogging I've ever encountered has had nothing to do with brands or being seen or newsletter growth or client acquisition. The very best posts I've ever read have been from the heart, and have beautifully touched upon elements of life too easily missed.</p> <p>With that in mind, here are my top ten reasons why blogging really matters.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="heart" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Daniel Zimmel</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p> <h1>You keep the moment</h1> </p> <p>Maybe you still avoid cracks on the sidewalk, and that makes you think about protecting your mother? Or maybe a song someone sang to themselves in the grocery line makes you wonder why we don't all sing aloud? </p> <p>We live in a world of tiny, yet revealing, reflections. Along with the big wins and losses, there are the cracks of wonder in daily life that will disappear if not captured. We're the keeper of the moments, people.</p> <p> <h1>Emotional release</h1> </p> <p>Everyone's reason for sharing stories is different, but I am betting we all find some release in putting emotions into the concrete form of words. </p> <p>Personally, it's my 2 AM still-can't-sleep coping method. It started about five years ago when I suspected a very bad health diagnosis, and while the tests were being run I <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">turned to blogging</a> (rather than telling family members) about my concerns. </p> <p>For me, it was the only way I could share without worrying about scaring others. There's therapy via your keyboard: it's called blogging.</p> <p> <h1>Those who get it</h1> </p> <p>Felicia Day is one of my online heroes, and she's putting out a book this summer called, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"><i>You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)</i></a>. </p> <p>When you blog, you find your people. Or they find you. Somehow – through the magic of posting, hashtags, forums, keywords and search engines, we find each other. And suddenly, you're very unique and strange experience is no longer so isolated. There are those who get it! </p> <p>And even better, once you find each other, you can trade notes. Weirdness is awesomeness online!</p> <p> <h1>Experiments are allowed</h1> </p> <p>I love that through blogging we try new personas. Not to say everyone who blogs has multiple personalities, or is a spy living under multiple aliases carrying a purse full of wigs and three different tubes of lipstick depending on their character (though I'd definitely add that spy's blog to my RSS feed).</p> <p>What I mean is that blogging is a safe place to try new ideas. We can test what we want to become in our life and in our businesses. If your readers love you, they'll love your growth. Your blog is your space. Experiments are allowed.</p> <p> <h1>Poetry without borders</h1> </p> <p>I don't easily get poetry, and I don't often write it. But, there are no borders when it comes to blogging – and if you feel the urge to write a poem, then your blog will be there for you. </p> <p>It's nice to know you have such a supportive space, where even some random maybe-this-rhymes poem is welcomed with open arms and many "likes."</p> <p> <h1>The human experience</h1> </p> <p>This is what I LOVE most about blogging. It's the human moment. The moment you'd never admit to anyone in person, and yet somehow you'll write on your blog. </p> <p>Maybe it's about picking your nose, the aftermath of birth, problems in the bedroom, uncontrollable gas. Maybe it's about how you can't handle life, even though everyone else makes it look so easy. </p> <p>Posts like these – these confessionals – are the purest moment of blogging. It's when we not only drop our guard, but reveal some serious truth.</p> <p> <h1>Confessionals = empowerment</h1> </p> <p>Leading on from "the human experience" is, of course, empowerment. Everyone has a bit of truth to share. There are many things that need to be said: good things, hard things, subtle things. </p> <p>Whether you realize it or not, your writing has power, and through that you become empowered. Simply telling your truth is often enough to start a conversion online. </p> <p>Then, it can go as far as you want it to go – blog for a bigger forum, become an expert (yep, just by sharing your thoughts on a blog!), go to conferences, sit on panels. I've literally witnessed blog posts impact huge organizations to rethink their strategies.</p> <p> <h1>So much love!</h1> </p> <p>I'm not saying you should blog just to get comments (there's probably a business article somewhere out there, though, if you are looking for that). I'm just saying, it's a lovely feeling. </p> <!--pagebreak--><!--pagebreak--><p>You'll need to give a little to get a little via commenting, and that is fun in itself. Through blogging, I've made some awesome online friends, and they've been there for me in moments when I needed those who get it.</p> <p> <h1>More than 140 characters</h1> </p> <p>We are writing about life, and readers are want that commonality. In my opinion, use however many words you need. Why not? Is blogging really about conversion all the time? And if so, it that real blogging or just ad copy? <i>(Eep! WHAT IS "REAL" BLOGGING?!)</i> </p> <p>When you drop the numbers and just think about the post's voice and storytelling, quality follows. A blog gives you space, and lets you unwind a story. That's a lovely thing in this world of short-attention span marketing. This leads me to my final point.</p> <p> <h1>More revealing than a drunken selfie</h1> </p> <p>Reading back on old posts is like looking in a very revealing mirror. You'll be surprised, you'll finds weird things, you might cry or laugh, and you'll definitely see yourself better. Writing is a private self-examination despite the public forum.</p> <p>That's why I reckon the best blogging online doesn't worry about metrics, or readability or SEO – the best blogging is often indirect and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">from the heart</a>. It is powerful and raw. </p> <p>The writer will find a resolution within those words, and the readers will experience those emotions in turn.</p> <p>There you go: ten forget-the-metrics reasons to blog. Now, what did I miss in this list? Do you mix blogging from the heart with blogging for the metrics, and if so, how do you rock that? Any great examples of bloggers breaking the "rules" and doing amazingly? </p> <p>(<a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Jenny</a> is one, I reckon. Though maybe she's an SEO wizard behind the scenes. That could be very possible.)</p> <p>Over and out.</p> <p><i>If you want to check out my blogging cred, or just enjoy a nice story, I'm over at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>, and also over at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link"></a>. Expect rambling, audio, and snippets of life.</i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Tips, Tricks & Tools #about writing # blogging #blogger #blogging tips Wed, 03 Jun 2015 14:28:08 +0000 CatherineTheWriter 2063541 at Join Us for BlogHer University's Getting Ready for #BlogHer15 Class in June! <!--paging_filter--><p>It's nearly here, ALREADY: The big <strong><a href="">#BlogHer15: Experts Among Us</a></strong> conference in New York City is just six weeks away … and counting. Did you know we're <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">The world's biggest celebration of women content creators</a>? That's right. <em>We're kind of a big deal. </em>.</p> <p>And we know that the key to going to a conference as wonderfully diverse as BlogHer—with so much to do in a few short days—is having a game plan. Every year, we share all sorts of ways for attendees to prepare for the event. This year, we're bringing our best wisdom to you as a BlogHer University "course."</p> <p><center><img src="" alt="BlogHer University Getting Ready for #BlogHer15" /></center></p> <p>Each Monday and Wednesday, we'll post our best tips to help you show up feeling SO READY FOR THIS. You'll find ways to boost your social media presence before you get there. You'll learn how to create killer headshots, About pages, and business cards. And you'll discover ways to connect with fellow attendees before, during, and after the conference.</p> <p>Each Friday, we'll host a different What to Wear post. We couldn't limit ourselves to just one, because conference style is as individual as you are. We've asked four people to share their best ideas for clothes they feel comfortable and confident in—and we want to hear yours, too. </p> <p>And then at 1PM Eastern time each Friday, we'll host a Twitter conversation so you can ask questions and get more tips. Just follow #BlogHerU to join in.</p> <p>If you're still not registered, you're still invited! A lot of what we'll share is just plain good social media advice, and we'll aim to give you the best possible sense of the conference, so that you'll be inspired to register … and if not for this event, then the next. </p> <p>And then in July, BlogHer University will teach you how to make the most of the conference itself, from panels to parties to much-needed down time to ideas for when you get home. Stay tuned for the best conference crash course ever!</p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 BlogHer University BlogHer PRO School Tue, 02 Jun 2015 22:20:39 +0000 Julie Ross Godar 2080653 at LISTENING: My #Defining Moment at BlogHer 2009 <!--paging_filter--><p>I sat in the dark and listened. An audience of hundreds and hundreds of bloggers communed together in silence, seemingly riveted, as each speaker read their blog post on stage. </p><!--break--><p>One after another, writers stepped up to the podium and read their own words into the microphone, igniting bursts of laughter, swells of tears, and paroxysms of applause. Reverence for the written word resounded in that hotel ballroom, as much from the chosen Community Keynote speakers (now “Voices of the Year”) as from those of us bearing witness to their stories.</p><p> After days of meeting and mingling with bloggers of every ilk, I finally felt at home among these parents and writers knit together by the love of sharing words online. I'd found my people. </p> <p><center><img src="" alt="" /></center></p> <p>Up until this moment at BlogHer 2009 in Chicago, I vacillated between feeling not enough and feeling too much—not enough energy or time to take advantage of all the people, parties, & sessions, yet way too much freedom and stimuli for an exhausted mother accustomed to staring down 18-hour days of solo child-wrangling while my husband traveled for work.</p><p> I had only blogged for several months before attending my first BlogHer, and I'd never spent four consecutive days away from my then two-year-old and five-year-old. Identifying as a “humor blogger,” I anticipated meeting my online peers and idols as much as I desperately wanted to impress them. </p><p>Given the circles of dedicated writers I had surrounded myself with online, it took me by surprise that many bloggers I encountered at BlogHer held a wide array of reasons for their presence online vastly different from my own. I met entrepreneurs building a brand and monetizing their websites, travel and fitness gurus, political and social activists, even bloggers with a razor-focus on coupon-cutting and cost-savings. </p><p>I attended red carpet events, became acquainted with my first swag bags, and had hours on end to eat, drink and dance the night away among new friends and intimidating blogging veterans. My intellectually starved mind and exhausted body bounced between elation and panic, excitement and overwhelm, speed-networking and slow-sobbing while devouring room-dropped chips in the deliriously comfortable hotel bed. As I listened to the Community Keynote live-storytellers I felt electrified, yes, but also finally at home. </p> <p>The BlogHer Community Keynote of 2009 proved a #DefiningMoment for me—not only because it planted the first seed of an idea for <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER</a> but also because it helped me begin to understand why my blogging obsession felt like so much more than a hobby. </p><p>What I didn't know then was that live-reading event served as the catalyst for the next chapter of my life as a business owner and project leader, and also began a process of personal development that would help me shift my insatiable quest for outside validation and comparing myself with others toward a path of service to those “others” and their stories in tandem with my own.</p> <p>BlogHer's 2009 Community Keynote ignited in me a mission of self-expression that allowed me to still get a laugh in the spotlight, yet also expand my purview toward something longer-lasting and ultimately equally if not more fulfilling. </p><p>Through blogging and LTYM, my goals expanded beyond giving voice to my own words online into helping serve people offline with what I considered the best of the blogosphere—the combination of voice and witness for honest and diverse stories of humanity in a community setting in order to experience commonalities we might never know otherwise.</p><p> In making room at the microphone for people who might not normally be heard and supporting each other through the process, I began to see the profound power that claiming our voices and making room for the voices of others can have in expanding perspectives, providing validation, and ultimately strengthening community. </p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media BlogHer 2015 Career Work/Life BlogHer Conferences BlogHer 2015 Defining Moments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 14:00:00 +0000 AnnsRants 2073547 at How to Overcome Your New Blogger Fears <!--paging_filter--><p>I have been struggling. Struggling with whether I know enough to blog, whether I'm good enough to blog, whether I can achieve the goals I have floating around in my head. Today I'm saying STOP. I'm sitting with my insecurity and I'm letting it go.</p> <p>Instead I'm reminding myself of what I can do to keep moving forward, to keep enjoying <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">this new space I've created on the web</a>.</p> <!--break--><!--break--><p><center><img src="" alt="typewriter" /></center></p> <p><center><i>Image: <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link">Marco Tedaldi</a> via Flickr</i></center></p> <p>I will work on what is energizing and motivating for me in each moment, and encourage my left-brain to let go of its need for order.</p> <p>I will remember that I am not perfect so my posts don't have to be either.</p> <p>In fact, I will embrace imperfection.</p> <p>I will remember that this is my space on the internet so I can write about what I want, when I want. There are no rules saying I have to follow a schedule. I can use my schedule as a guide and then add, cancel, move things around. Nothing is written in stone.</p> <p>I will remember that while this blog is primarily about <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">mindfulness</a> and <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">memory keeping.</a> I am a human being with many interests, many thoughts, many ideas. I can share any or all of those things here in this space.</p> <p>I will write.</p> <p>I will not let my fear of failure, my fear of not knowing, my fear of imperfection, my fear of not being good enough win the day.</p> <p>I am courageous and strong.</p> <p>Especially if courageous and strong means putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.</p> <p>Especially if courageous and strong means continuing to put my creativity and energy out into the universe in an open and honest way.</p> <p>Especially if courageous and strong means sitting with and loving who I am, no matter the imperfections and no matter the mistakes, in every moment of every day.</p> <p><b>What are you currently struggling with</b>? </p> <p>Thank you for reading. I am grateful for you.</p> <p><i>This post was inspired by my daughter. We are working on getting caught up on her <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Daisy Girl Scout petals</a> before the end of the school year. The red petal represents being courageous and strong. My daughter can proudly remember her own times of being courageous and strong. I want to be an example of courage and strength for her too. Follow my journey at <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="" class="external-link elf-add-back-link">Mindful Memory Keeping</a></i></p> <div class="og_rss_groups"></div> Blogging & Social Media Wellness blogging insecurity writing Tue, 02 Jun 2015 13:05:40 +0000 Mindful Memory Keeping 2077190 at