Entries Tagged 'blogging' ↓

The Great Big Name Drop Post 2010 Style

I’ve spent the past few days in Las Vegas, a surreal version of life. There’s a whole lot of glitz, sparkle, and glam but don’t look too close or you may notice the veneer, and the carefully placed marketing.

Does that take away from the fun?

Heck no. I’ve enjoyed seeing fancy hotel suites and being treated as though I’m a VIP, but it’s not real. I get that. Do I mind the occasional free drink or schmoozing? Not one bit, it’s fun.

This list isn’t complete, there are several more names I need to add, as I internally match names with contact info, but so far I’ve had the pleasure of meeting or catching up with:

Angel Djambazov

Annabel Candy


Dave Griner

Dave Taylor

Howard Greenstein

Jeffrey Powers – who says I have a familiar face. Uh huh

Jordan Cooper aka NotaProBlog

Kelby Carr

Lucretia Pruitt

Ryan Hupfer of iSocket (on a side note, my kids call my sister Aunt Teppy)

Ryan Wynia

Shawn Christenson aka The Canadian

Srini Rao

There’s still a lot of fun to be had, sessions to attend, and people to meet and then time to kill in the airport. Hopefully I can squeeze in another trip to In and Out.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog Project part 1

With blogging, as with anything I try, I picked it up toyed around with the idea for a moment, and jumped right in. Back in January, Problogger, Darren Rowse, offered his ebook / workbook 31 Days to Build a Better Blog at a decent discount. I picked it up, having no idea how overwhelming writing my own book while running Home Ec 101 solo would become.

Since that time, the pdf file lingered on my cluttered desktop, reminding me of money I threw away.

I’ll get to it, really. At least that’s what I’ve been telling the guilt inducing gif.

About a month ago Srini Rao of The Skool of Life and BlogcastFM mentioned he was looking for some partners to work through the program. As there’s nothing like accountability to get my butt in gear,  I jumped at the chance. Ami Kim of 40 Days to Change also joined in the project. Aside from the accountability, I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with people outside of my usual circle.

Life being what it is, Srini became busy with BlogcastFM, so Ami and I are joining in with Angela England for the Build a Better Blog Challenge.

There’s always room for improvement, right? Not every day is going to be relevant to my work on Home Ec 101 and some days are skills and tips I’ve already put into practice over the years. The project will still help me find areas I need to strengthen. My goal isn’t to turn Home Ec 101 into a cookie cutter site, rather it’s an exercise to determine where I need to focus.

Here’s the rundown of my first week with the project.

Day 1 – Elevator pitch

I worked on this a few months ago when I redesigned the header of the site. While “What you wish your mama taught you” captures the essence of what I’ve been doing, I feel like a fool saying it out loud. After mulling it over I came up with Real skills for real people with real lives. Repetitive? Of course, it emphasizes that I want Home Ec 101 to stay grounded and focus on people who have to worry about their budgets and can’t spend $14 lb on Wild Alaskan Salmon twice a week. Those people have Martha and those people can have set designers and food artists. I’ll continue to do the best I can with what is available.

Day 2 – Write a List Post

I write list posts all the time, I had a little fun with this one. There’s some twisted part of me that enjoys working in random geek culture references wherever possible. Let’s face it, home economics is not the most riveting of topics, if I get bored, I can’t expect anyone else to hang around and read it.

Day 3 – Promote a Post

I’ve installed YOURLS to create a url shortener with the my domain, but I’m having trouble getting it to work. Until that happens I have disabled automatic tweeting of posts upon publishing. Instead I’m doing it manually and trying to maintain that balance of promotion with actual conversation. I enjoy Twitter too much to only use it for self-promotion.

Day4 – Analyze a Top Blog

(or 2, ’cause that’s how I roll)
Did you know Smitten Kitchen and I have similar counters? From there I get a reminder to focus on the technical aspect of good photography. I’m learning. With every meal I learn a little more, even if it does become tedious. I could slow posting to increase interaction in the comments, but I’m not sure that’s a direction I want to take. My site isn’t solely focused on one topic. Perhaps, I should look into better content navigation through subdomains. It’s something I’m rolling around.
Lifehacker gives me the urge to jump all in, to go big or go home. It makes me want to bring on more writers, like Brian and grow through pure content creation. Is it doable? Yes, but the workload is hugely intimidating.

Day 5 – Email a Blog Reader

Easy peasy. Definitely a reminder that I need to do this more often. Heck, I just need to be more responsive period.

Day 6 – Learn from Top Bloggers

Excellent reading and a reminder to never stop learning.

Day 7 –  Write a Link Post

I will schedule one for later this week.

A Venting of Sorts

We all get a little crotchety, right? A year in the blogworld is 7 years in real life, right? This makes me old and gives me the ability to randomly vent.

There are a few things that immediately turn me off of any website:

  1. Bug-eyed cartoon women – I find them infantalyzing and as I often have a hard enough time being taken seriously. It may be irrational, so be it. Don’t worry if this works for you, there are plenty of people out there who find the drawings cute and endearing. You can’t please everyone.
  2. Auto-play music or video. ‘Nuff Said.
  3. Sparkles, unless they are ironic sparkles.
  4. Content comprised solely of useless memes that require one word answers or no effort.
    Participation in memes doesn’t bother me, it just annoys me when there is never any original content. (For the record I love memes where people show off projects, so I’m biased in that regard).
  5. People who take themselves too seriously.
    Yes, yes, I’m a hypocrite. Noted.
  6. Blogs that only exist to talk about rebating and couponing. This one is another it’s not you, it’s me.
  7. Slow page loads (I can say that now that I fixed my own. Thanks Jared.

Now #getoffmylawn unless you have a few peeves of your own.

Also, thank you  Malia for the inspiration, not for being guilty of the offenses.

Random Bits & MLM Schemes

I am finally coming around to uncoupling affiliate sales and multi-level marketing in my head. For some reason I had the two concepts linked and refused to even investigate affiliate sales.  Now that I have finally educated myself and understand the concept it makes a lot more sense and has lost the skeeve factor.

For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, multi-level marketing plans are often linked to pyramid schemes. Of course no MLMer will ever say that, they’ll skirt the issue and explain how it’s nothing like a pyramid scheme, but here’s what it comes down to. With MLM (remember Amway?) a person not only works to sell products but to recruit other sales people and in return gets a percentage of that new sales person’s cut.

A ridiculously over simplified example. Joe invents Company X and sells products 30% over their cost. Joe keeps all 30% either as profit or to reinvest in Company X. Joe meets Bob who agrees to sell the product at the same price as Joe. Bob gets 20% of each sale either as profit or to reinvest in his version of Company X; Joe gets that missing 10%. Bob of course wants to be like Joe and have people under him, so he recruits people who each get 15% and Bob gets 5 and Joe of course gets 10.  In the real world it’s much more dynamic than this and people move up and down according to how many people are under them and where on the feeding chain they currently swim. Yes, it’s nothing like a pyramid scheme, I get it, you said that already.

I am uncomfortable with this concept and feel it falls into a morally grey zone, especially when naive, new sales people are goaded into  pressuring friends and family to buy products they may have zero interest in through guilt  or a desire to help them succeed. It doesn’t matter if the products are superior or not, if I’m emotionally blackmailed into a purchase, I do not gain a favorable impression of the company.

So, that’s MLM what are affiliate sales? With affiliate sales or at least what I’ve seen so far (and anything outside of this will probably make me drop the whole idea) is I place advertising for a product on my site or newsletter. If a reader clicks through and makes a purchase, I as the referrer, get a cut of the sale. The cost of the product is the same whether they came through my ad or not. I’m ok with this, it doesn’t feel as manipulative. Now, there is always emotional manipulation in marketing, but this doesn’t seem to put anyone in an exploitive position. I could be wrong, but my highly attuned guilt radar is not sounding.

Over on Home Ec, I’m slowly adding some affiliate ads to the site. Most of these will go to old posts that receive a lot of search engine traffic that doesn’t necessarily stick around. The ads will be for products related to the search, appliances under appliance repair, fabric under crafts, kitchen gear I love, etc.

Other random things:

I’ve really gotten into listening to podcasts lately, whether playing chauffeur, doing the dishes, or folding laundry, they keep my mind occupied.

Here are a few I thoroughly enjoy:

Spycast – Run by the International Spy Museum, this podcast is endlessly fascinating focusing on espionage intelligence. I also happen to just enjoy Peter Earnest’s voice.

Stuff You Missed in History Class – I picked this one up on a recommendation by James. I never would have called myself a history buff, but these short shows pack a lot of information that would be useful the next time I play Trivial Pursuit. I’ll still fail the pop culture category.

BlogCastFM – The Up and Coming Blogger Series. I have a narcissistic interest in this one. If you’re not interested in professional blogging, skip it; it will have zero relevance to your life. As blogger / website developer it’s a good reminder of where I need to be placing my focus and sometimes the enthusiasm can help keep me plugging away. The blogging world is so weird with no real definition of what constitutes success. On one hand, I’m “living the dream” with the book deal, but on the other I still feel like a complete nobody.*

*Hush. I get to decide when I don’t feel like a nobody / noob.*

What podcasts do you listen to? Any?

Notes from Blissdom Thursday am

Dan Barber

  • Don’t wing it, know what you want to say.
  • Message points are carefully prepared, concise and memorable
  • Aligned with your brand and objectives.
  • Define your agenda & focus
  • Tell your story,  memorably
  • Your message serves as a life raft
  • Keeps your message consistent.
  • Your messages are your brand.
  • Concise, simple and specific.
  • Memorable, genuine and personal.
  • Strategic – what do you want the audience to do with the message.
  • Be ready for well-prepared reporters
  • No such thing as off-the-record
  • Don’t speculate and never lie.
  • Is there anything else:
    I just want to emphasize my points 1,2, 3 – referred to as a bookending an interview
  • Don’t answer questions on behalf of someone else.
  • Flagging phrase
    verbal cue such as:
    What’s really important
    The real news is

Jessica Smith

  • Relationships matter
  • Media is not the enemy
  • Interviews can be unpredictable
  • Make sure your cause / agenda / focus is apparent / easy to find.

Truly excellent session; I could have used this a couple of years ago. Many thanks to both Jessica and Dan.


I’m walking around waiting for the other shoe to drop. Last week it was the washer and the minivan, so what’s next?

Interrupted to be told:

“Mom I wish I had some super sticky shoes so I could paint the ceiling. You’re going to have to take the fans down so I can’t paint around them.”

Imagination is not lacking in our house.

Somehow I missed the milestone, but Home Ec 101 passed a million pageviews a while back. With Ivy writing full time again our traffic has picked back up to where we are back in our growth pattern. I’m excited by this.

The campaigns that come are of higher quality. We’ll never be a site that focuses only on giveaways, but from time to time they add a little for our regulars that is appreciated.

Coming to a Crossroad

I can see down the road just a little ways and sure enough it forks. 

I think what it boils down to is that I miss blogging for myself.

Medieval Times

I jokingly Tweeted that I was living a scene from The Cable Guy, but Medieval Times was much more fun that I expected. I think watching my kids in awe of the performance truly added too the experience. From the moment they received their crowns, the boys were entranced.



My favorite picture though was Mark with “his blue knight.”


We took our time leaving and as we were walking to the car the gentleman who plays the king happened to be behind the building. Mark began talking to this nice man and we were the lucky recipients of an introduction to many of the horses in the show. I wish I could spell some of the moves the Andalusians performed, but as an adult they were they most impressive part of the evening. One of the horses performed a leap where he kicked to the rear while in the air. I can’t imagine how strong he must be.

This trip has been awesome and I really can’t thank the folks at Myrtlebeachhotels.com enough for the opportunity.

Bits and Pieces

This is to remind myself that yes, they can all be clean and happy at the same time.

Ellie still isn’t walking, but she’s finally sleeping better, which means I’m sleeping better.  As if by magic the blinding headaches I’ve been muddling through have ended. Consequently, I am happier and probably more pleasant person. No comments from the peanut gallery, please. 

As per usual there are a lot of things happening both in the local blogosphere and with Home Ec 101 that keep me busy. Last night Eugene helped organize a meet-up at Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ. The food was good, the atmosphere was casual, the staff was nice, and of course the company was great. I was truly happy to meet Raymond and Larry, both relatively new to blogging, but quite informed about the changing state of media. 

Last night’s conversation did nothing but stoke the excitement I feel about ConvergeSouth. I may have a partner for the roadtrip, which is also exciting.

Ten years ago I didn’t see life outside of the restaurant industry, eight years ago I was double majoring in Biochem and Biology, five years ago I was anxiously awaiting the birth of my first child. The twists and turns of life amuse me greatly.

Disconnected Thoughts

Driving home I heard the German proverb:

Patience is a bitter plant, but it bears sweet fruit.

I’ve struggled through my whole life believing I have no patience, praying for patience, wishing I had patience.  Never did it dawn on me that being patient did not mean feeling a sense of peace while waiting.  I was under the assumption that patience was an emotion rather than an action.

This realization is somewhat disappointing.

Yesterday morning Ivy and I were interviewed by Shaine Mata on his BlogTalkRadio Show.  You can download the file here.  I ended up having a lot of fun and hope to do more.