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Dead Rabbit Sundaes

melting-chocolate-bunnyWhen my little sister and brother and I were young children, my single mother struggled to make ends meet and we didn’t have a lot of extra money for luxuries like sweets.  Her idea of a great dessert was a bowl of instant white rice with maple syrup poured over the top.  Or sometimes, Mom would mix powdered sugar with milk and a drop of red food coloring and spread it onto graham crackers.  But each spring, we looked forward to a very special sugary treat.Our neighbor a few doors up the block was a traveling candy salesman.  Each year after the Easter holiday was over, he would present my mother with a big bag of leftover foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies.  Oh what joy!  We knew it was time again for “DEAD RABBIT SUNDAES!” My sister, brother and I would sit at the kitchen table with a pile of chocolate bunnies in front of us and we’d begin carefully peeling away the foil wrappers.  The naked chocolate rabbits would be piled up into a large metal bowl. Mom prepared a make-shift double boiler of the metal mixing bowl propped over a saucepan of boiling water.  She gently placed our painstakingly peeled rabbits into the bowl and we all stood watching wide-eyed as the rabbits slowly melted and grotesquely distorted.  “They are dying!” my little sister would scream.  Of course it wasn’t all bad because we knew what was to come!   Mom used the spatula to swirl around the melted chocolate rabbit mixture until it was smooth and creamy.  When it was melted to perfection we’d dish up our bowls of vanilla ice milk (the cheap ice cream-like product they sold back then) and Mom would pour on the warm, aromatic chocolate.  Then it was time to dig in! Almost forty years later, my siblings and I still fondly reminisce with Mom about our “Dead Rabbit Sundaes”.   I don’t know if any other dessert could every measure up to that memory.Other ways to reach.

This is another wonderful guest post from my friend Maryann. Maryann lives in Littleton, CO with her wonderful husband, their two fabulous (most of the time) teenagers and a large assortment of lovable pets. She is currently interviewing artists for her upcoming book.  Her blog is www.artists.50interviews.com.

MaryannWEBSITE: www.CreativeMarketingCafe.comFACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/maryannswartzLINKEDIN: http://www.linkedin.com/in/maryannswartz

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Why Newbie Bloggers Should Attend Blog Conferences

Please welcome Tamara as our fabulous PR Mondays guest poster today! She has some wonderful insight on conferences for you. This summer I am planning to be at the following conferences: EVO, Savvy Blogging Summit and BlogHer. I wrote a beginners guide to BlogHer last year.Let me know if you are going to any of those and please leave some wonderful comments below with your own advice to newbies or questions/thanks to Tamara!

Tamara is the voice behind The (Un)Experienced Mom and Blog Conference Newbie. In addition, she is the co-creator of Our Mommyhoodwhere motherhood meets bloghood! If she’s not online chatting or connecting others, she’s probably working out, sleeping, or changing a poopy diaper.—————————————————————Why Newbie Bloggers Should Attend Blog ConferencesWhen people first get into blogging, it usually starts off as a casual hobby. Some people post when they can while others start off posting daily. But no matter how often you write, the realization that blogging is a bit addicting and can require a lot of time eventually hits us all.In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve learned a lot about the craft. There are blogs for every hobby, topic, or stage in life. There are personal and professional bloggers. There are even blog conferences. I was actually very surprised to learn just how many blog conferences there were. Before I created Blog Conference Newbie, I figured there were a handful of conferences at most. But I have since realized that in addition to the bigger conferences such as BlogHer and Blissdom, there are newer conferences emerging each year, many of which are specific to a blogging niche.What I’ve also realized since networking with newer bloggers is that many assume that these blog conferences are only for experienced bloggers or ones who are making money from blogging. My own experience and those that other bloggers have shared with me proves this point: blog conferences are beneficial for newer bloggers.Still unsure if you should spend the time and money to attend one? Let me explain why I believe you should.

  • Connections: Blogging is not just about writing; it’s also about connections. So many of us enjoy reading others’ blogs and get excited when others comment on ours. While it’s easy to make connections with bloggers online, you’d be amazed at just how much stronger those connections become when you meet those people face-to-face at a conference. Even if none of your online blog friends are attending, I can assure you that you will still walk away with those real-life connections. At Blissdom this year, I roomed with someone I had never met before. I felt comfortable enough to be her roommate without having met her and am so glad I did. Not only are we great friends now, but the two of us met three other gals that we are now close with as well. When a large group of blogging women are put together under one roof, you’re guaranteed a good time and new friendships.
  • Knowledge: Of course, one of the main reasons to attend a conference is to learn, and blogging conferences are no different. The couple of days you’ll spend at the conference will be jam-packed with useful tidbits, helpful hints, and downright important information. Many conferences educate bloggers on topics such as finding your passion, utilizing social networking platforms, monetizing, increasing readership and traffic, and how to write creatively. Don’t want to earn money off your blog? Only blogging for fun? You can still learn a lot from a conference. For instance, the Casual Blogger Conference is geared towards those who blog as a hobby. In addition, many of the conferences offer various tracks, focusing on the topics you find helpful; you can pick and choose which sessions are a fit. Writing, business, photography, and creating communities are common tracks. There is something for everyone at these conferences.
  • Confidence: Attending Blissdom this year renewed my confidence. My confidence in my writing, my purpose for blogging, and my passions in general. The mix of having a weekend away to focus on myself and spending time with those who understood my hobby are what impacted me the most. I think most new bloggers feel very anxious leading up to the conference they are attending and start to question why they are even going. But once there, they realize that this was actually one of the best decisions they made. There really aren’t words to describe the blog conference experience other than fulfilling, fun, and fabulously rewarding.

There are obviously other reasons to attend a blog conference and I honestly could write another couple of pages worth. However, the purpose of this post was to provide you with some food for thought and encourage you to at least consider attending a blog conference this year even if you are a newer blogger.The next obvious thought after deciding to attend a conference is “How do I pay for it?” followed closely by “How should I prep for the conference?” I invite you to head over to Blog Conference Newbie to read tips on these topics, as well as how to save money on your blog conference trip and what to expect while you are there. In addition, the site offers a list of blog conferences, need-to-know dates, and interviews with conference coordinators themselves. Blog Conference Newbie is your go-to-guide for all things blog conferences, whether you are a new attendee or not!And please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter also. I enjoy helping newer bloggers with general insights or blog conference-related topics. You can connect with me on Twitter (@unxperiencedmom) or by adding the #ConferenceNewbie hashtag to your tweet.

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PR Monday: Blogging To A Niche Audience

PR Advice for Mom Bloggers

I have been busy interviewing lots of amazing bloggers who monetize and work with PR well over the last week (in between being sick, house hunting with my mom and attending services). So, I am THRILLED to have Rachel back with us this week talking about her AHA! Moment in how to stand out from the crowd.

There are hundreds and hundreds of mommy blogs out there, blogs filled with griping, blogs filled with humorous stories, blogs filled with delicious looking food and recipes.  There are so many blogs out there.  How can we make our blog stand out?This is the question I asked myself for a number of weeks.  I worked on my layout, on my fan pages, on interaction… and then I realized I missed the point!  What will make my blog stand-out from the masses is finding a niche and building in it.To do this I first have to ask myself, what am I interested in?  What would be the easiest thing for me to write about.  I obviously picked my kids, that is why I am a stay-at-home-mom, right?  Now in the realm of kids – that’s a really big market of moms who are also interested in “kids”.  How can I narrow down the field of my “niche”, all mommy bloggers have kids!  Can I limit it by age range?  How about by a special circumstance (like raising a child with food allergies or step-children, etc)?  Can I narrow my focus in my presentation style (ex: mommy-goof ups, or expert tips, or photo documentation)?  Once you have an idea of your niche or what the purpose of your blog is going to be you should come up with several search-able phrases that fit your niche.  I like to think of myself as a blogger to moms of preschoolers.  The search-able phrases that I came up with are: “Fun learning activities” or “learning activities for preschoolers” or “preschool arts and crafts”.  Now is the fun part.   We get to figure out if people even care about that niche.  It is one thing to create a niche about “learning activities for preschoolers” but if no one wants to read it, I might as well just keep a private notebook at home, rather than maintain a public blog!To find out if your niche has any value, check out the Keyword tool from Google Adwords.  It is free!  Type in your key phrases and add the cost per click (CPC) function.  Then look, are people searching for that phrase?  My keyword phrase “learning activities for preschoolers” is rarely ever searched and when it is the CPC is low, meaning it is not a valuable term for me to be investing my time and energies on – I probably won’t be able to find advertisers willing to sponsor my posts.  I can change it to “kids learning activities” or to “preschool learning games” and suddenly people are actually looking for the information.  For me, I blog so people can read it!  By tuning my blog towards a niche market I am able to get traffic that is looking for what I have to offer and will hopefully come back as I fulfilled their informational need.The final step, once you have figured out what niche would interest you and what phrases you would target, is to come up with 50 potential posts.  Just brainstorm and fill up a notebook sheet.  Are you having problems coming up with 50 ideas?  Well, maybe you should change your niche to something more interesting to you.  Happy blogging!Rachel is mommy to three preschoolers and blogs about their learning adventures, fun kids activities and tips that help her keep her sanity at Quirky Momma.  Have any blogging questions?  Feel free to contact her via twitter @quirkymommasite

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A Pink Frosting Birthday

A Pink Frosting Birthday

We really lucked out with the weather that day.   When the rain began, I worried it may ruin our backyard birthday party.  Our daughter Stella and friends were celebrating her third birthday, and she was quite ready for cake.  Soon the sun burst out and a brilliant rainbow arched above.  Parents pulled out cameras and snapped away.  The rain dried up as fast as it came.  Cake eating could commence!Stella, the birthday girl, was proudly wearing her favorite lacy, pink Barbie dress and couldn’t have been more excited to notice she matched the Barbie cake I had so painstakingly crafted that morning.These kinds of baking projects always look easier than they are.  The inverted 8 cup measuring glass produced a gorgeous skirt-shaped cake.  Unfortunately, Barbie only sank up to her thighs in the soft white cake mound.  It turned out to be easier to make another cake than to cut off Barbie’s legs.  I know, because my husband and I tried!  Needless to say, wire cutters, pliers and a steak knife weren’t up to the task of rendering a shorter Barbie.  I then hastily prepared a small cake to place on top of the first cake.  It was soon trimmed to size and set into place.  I frosted the cake around a carefully positioned Barbie.  The pink of the frosting matched Stella’s dress to perfection.  White frosting was stuffed into the cake decorator to embellish Barbie’s full length pink skirt with garlands and rosettes.  Two big puffs of frosting were applied to her ample chest and Barbie was ready for her birthday debut.The sun was shining and it was time for cake!  I picked up Stella and plopped her upon the picnic table.  Her plump, little, bare feet poked out of her lacy pink skirt.  The Barbie cake was ceremoniously placed in front of her and her proud smile was caught on film for a cherished family memory.The little pink dress is now tucked away in my daughter’s scrap-box of mementos.  That home and big backyard are just a memory too.  It’s still there; it just houses another happy family now.I’ve made many cakes and enjoyed many rainbows since that day.  But that particular day with my family, including both a rainbow and a cake, remains one of my favorites.

Hey all–have been super sick this week so not much energy to post. However, my friend Maryann has an awesome story to share! Hope you all love it as much as I did!

Maryann lives in Littleton, CO with her wonderful husband, their two fabulous (most of the time) teenagers and a large assortment of lovable pets. She is currently interviewing artists for her upcoming book.  Her blog is www.artists.50interviews.com

Other ways to reach MaryannWEBSITE: www.CreativeMarketingCafe.comFACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/maryannswartzLINKEDIN: http://www.linkedin.com/in/maryannswartz

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PR Mondays: Blog Frog

Can you believe that it has been a whole month of PR Mondays already? In January we concentrated on getting your ways to get exposure to your blog and we have one more awesome article for you on that from Holly. I have been busy interviewing PR reps for major companies and for the rest of Feb I will share their thoughts directly with you. If you missed any of the Jan posts make sure to go back and get your blog ready!

By Holly Hamann, 1.30.2010holly@theblogfrog.comWhat is BlogFrog and how did it all start?Every wonder how BlogFrog got its start?  I’m delighted to be guest blogging for Barb and I thought I’d share a little bit of background on what BlogFrog is and how it all got started.BlogFrog is the brainchild of Rustin Banks, who developed the beta product in 2008 during nights and weekends while still a full-time engineer at a local Aerospace company.  Banks said he got the idea from his wife, a casual blogger who used her blog to keep their friends and family updated.  There was no simple way for blog authors to have real discussions with readers and interact on their blogs. “A blog might have thousands of like-minded readers but what if I want to ask another reader a question or share my own blog content?” he used to ask his wife, Tara.

Rusty recruited me to help build the company and launch the service to the blogosphere. In early 2009, we both quit our jobs to run BlogFrog full-time.  Within months, BlogFrog’s social widgets had struck a chord with mom bloggers, who have become the company’s largest market.People often ask us why women and mom bloggers have become such big fans. Our social features really resonate with them because women are inherently community and service oriented.  Women and moms tend to be more social online than men and also tend to form stronger online relationships.There are 120,000 new blogs created every day and the total number of people engaging with blogs is expected to reach 150 million by 2012 (source: Technorati).  Every person has a unique story to tell and people are gravitating to blogs as a way to share what they know.  The social web is evolving from large, single-destination social sites to an integrated network of millions of smaller, niche blogs, all connected by a common platform.  Our vision is to be the common social platform that connects all blogs.By cross-pollinating content within a single network of blogs via the social widgets, BlogFrog helps bloggers increase exposure and traffic for their blogs.So how exactly does it work?BlogFrog serves both bloggers and blog readers.  Blog authors can add widgets to their blogs that let them see who visits their blogs (the Recent Visitors widget) and they can let their readers interact with each other by adding a community (Community widget).  The Community widget lets readers ask each others questions, see each others’ blog posts, and each other’s content from social networks like Twitter.  You can see what these widgets look like here:

BlogFrog has quickly grown to over 25,000 members, making it the largest, integrated network of mom blogs on the internet. The network grows because whenever a member visits another BlogFrog blog or community, their profile picture and blog URL shows up for all visitors to see. So the more BlogFrog sites and communities a member visits, the more exposure their own blog gets.  You could also call this “viral growth”. BlogFrog has taken off as the best way to create a way for blog readers to interact.You can learn more by visiting BlogFrog!

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