Blogging Mom, Get Your Gravatar On!

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If you check out the comment area of Mom Blogger Pro (and many other great blogs) you’ll notice that the blog theme has been set up to display a photograph of the commenter.

Have you wondered how it is that they are able to do that and how the heck you can get your pic to show up when you leave a comment?

It’s done automatically with Gravatars.

A Gravatar is a ‘Globally Recognized Avatar’.  An Avatar is simply an image used to represent you on the internet.

I think having a Gravatar set up is great for developing your web presence.  I love seeing smiling faces in my comment section and I love know that the blogs I comment on will sport my face for everyone to see.

To create your own Gravatar you will start by getting a photograph of you saved on your computer.  Don’t worry about it being a headshot or and don’t be concerned about size.

Now to go to the Gravatars website.

You’ll create your account based on the email address you use when you’re leaving comments on blogs so enter that first.  You will receive an email from Gravatars to confirm this address.  The next step will be to set up a username and password and upload your photo.

Once your image is uploaded you’ll be able to crop your photo just the way you like – hit save and you’re done!  Now this image is associated with your email address and anytime you comment on a Gravatar enabled blog, you’ll see it next to your comment.

Why not try it out right now?  Show us your Gravatar!

Obtaining Free Products for Review – It’s Easier Than You Think

Have you ever wondered how blog owners acquire all of the nifty products they decide to review? While many of these items were purchased by the blogger, many were given to them by the manufacturer or vendor.

This happens one of two ways. First, the blogger is contacted by the vendor, who has visited the blog and feels that their readers would enjoy learning about the product. Or, better yet, the blogger contacts the manufacturer and requests a free product!

To try this yourself, draft a short letter of introduction showcasing your blog. Make sure that you also include your mailing address and phone number.

Send it to vendors, requesting a SPECIFIC product that you feel your readers would be interested in. Many bloggers will tell you that they have better luck asking for a specific product, instead of requesting a product in general.

These vendors realize that product reviews generate a ton of interest. So, many are happy to send out a complimentary product in hopes of making additional sales.

How To Buy A Domain Name for your Mom Blog

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Here are some tips for choosing a good domain name:

  • Go with .com – most people are going to remember .com. Domain names that end in .net or .org for instance, may be easier to find than domains that end in .com, but if you have a different ending, you could end up losing customers.
  • Spell things correctly – if you want to name your blog “sewing by Susie” and it’s already taken, don’t misspell words on purpose (example: “sewing by sue-z”). Misspellings are hard for your customers to remember, and if they type in the correct spelling of the domain, you may end up sending them to someone else’s blog.
  • Don’t hyphenate-if you want to name your blog “photography by paula” and it’s taken, don’t hyphenate it (example: “photograpy-by-paula). Again, customers may not remember the hyphens and end up somewhere else.

Take your time – it may seem like all the good names are taken but they’re not ;)

When you buy your domain name you can enter a public or private registration. Public registrations will be visible in the whois.com directory. The whois directory allows people to type in a website and view the owner’s personal identity. If you do not want your personal information shown, choose private registration (this will usually cost a little bit extra).

You can register your domain anywhere they’re sold. You will be registering the domain for a single year or in terms of multiple years. The cost for registration varies from company to company. By they way, Mom Webs offers domain registration when you sign up for their hosting – but you don’t have to register your domain with them to use their hosting.

After you have selected the term of your registration (such as 1, 2 or more years) and decided if you want public or private registration, you only need to enter your billing info and complete your purchase.

As you can see the steps are really simple. So, if you’ve been hesitant about buying a domain name for your blog, wait no more!

You Can’t Spend Your Way To Success

Most mom bloggers, even pros who are making an income are NOT the type of person who gets addicted to spending on their business so I know many of you will be able to relate to me when I share my early ‘uber low spending habit’!

Still, even in our world, there are those who get caught up in all the hype and end up overspending.  Please DO share this video with others!

Blog Week Webinar Series at MomWebs: January 7-13th

If you were thinking of starting a blog in the new year, there is no better time than now to start. MomWebs has put together a great even next week to help get started in 2013 with a bang!

Join MomWebs for Free Power Packed Blogging Webinars at 1:00 pm Eastern – January 7-13th

  • Monday: Creating Content & Building Traffic for your Blog
  • Tuesday: Choosing Themes & Plugins for your Blog
  • Wednesday: Using Audio & Video on your Blog
  • Thursday: Creating Profits for Your Blog
  • Friday: Open Blog Marketing Q& A

During these sessions, they will introduce you to some great blogging pros:

Tracy Roberts, a professional mom blogger & affiliate manager, uses her experiences to leverage opportunities to make more money while being a work-at-home mom.  She has created several products & participated in many product launches for herself and her clients with great success.  With a sense of what works for particular target markets, she has put her focus on helping other bloggers and product owners understand and profit from their own target markets.

Cindy Bidar is a WordPress developer and online project manager specializing in tech issues. Her ability to troubleshoot problems in WordPress and a variety of other scripts makes her a valuable asset to any team. She enjoys designing systems to save her clients money, while ensuring the integrity and security of their websites. Cindy is co-owner of SafeWP.com, a community designed to help website owners master the skills they need to keep their web properties safe from malicious hackers.

Courtney Chowning is a tech geek who has been working in the IT industry for over 12 years.  She started blogging in 2006 and immediately got hooked.  Once she discovered WordPress, she fell in love with it.  Courtney has built a business providing WordPress technical support and teaching others how to use WordPress to create blogs and websites that get traffic and make a profit. Courtney is also the founder of Faithful Bloggers, a community for Christian bloggers.

Lynette Chandler is a geek who loves marketing. While working as Marketing Executive in the corporate sector, she began applying technology to her work and soon became good at fusing the two together. As a natural progression, she became the marketing technology go-to-gal when she struck out on her own. Today, Lynette continues to assist clients and is actively developing tools that help businesses grow. She also trains freelancers so they too can provide technical support services and get paid well doing so. Learn more from Lynette by following her blog at TechBasedMarketing.com/

Desiree Peeples is a mom, published author and blogger, and teaches individuals and small businesses how to integrate social media into their promotion and marketing strategies. She worked in traditional broadcast media as a reporter for almost ten years before moving her skills to the online space.  She is the creator of MommyReporter.com and RunningOrganized.com and has a passion for online video blogging.

Blog Week is open to everyone interested in know more about blogging!!  Make sure to take full advantage of blog week!!!

Ready To Get Out Of That Rut And Finish Something?

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Are you feeling stuck in a rut? Maybe, just a little unmotivated or don’t really know what your next steps should be? Are you comfortable where your business is and where it’s going?

These are some questions I’ve been asking lately as I plan for 2013.

Evaluate

As I reflect on this past year, I’ve realized a few things. First, I’m committed to seeing my business succeed. Second, there are many areas where I need to step out of my comfort zone so I can grow as a person and as a business. Third, I need to choose fewer business models to focus on in the coming year to laser target my energy.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Even so, we can reflect, evaluate and tweak our business to always be moving in a forward direction.

Motivate

Kelly McCausey of Solo Smarts recently aired two podcasts and a mastermind group session on the topics of getting out of your comfort zone, finishing projects you start and being the source of information for your customers.

Grab a cup of your favorite brew and listen now:

No matter where you are in your business, these are very powerful audio sessions that will motivate and inspire you.

Challenge

Kelly is also offering a session called the Stretch Yourself Challenge. This is for those of us who provide awesome services and need to get the word out. We all need to get more buzz for our business and this challenge is a good place to gain some direction and light a fire under our behinds!

I learned a little saying once that helped me have the courage to get out of my comfort zone and create a better reality for myself – “fake it till you make it”. Those words may sounds as if you are a fraud but the real intent is to go ahead and try to do something that you may be fearful of at first but the more you do it the more real it becomes. This is how you s-t-r-e-c-h yourself.

Sign up for the Stretch Yourself Challenge. It might be the best thing you do for yourself this year!

Grab You 2013 Blogging Calendar

My friend Lynette Chandler has been producing the most awesome Blogging Calendar for several years running now.  I’m so pleased to tell you that the 2013 Blogging Calender is ready for downloading right now.

It’s full of holidays and seasonal reminders.  Print it out and use it to keep your blogging fresh all year long.

 

It’s Time to Get Familiar with WordPress

WordPress

Learn WP Fast is a new program that I’m really excited about. I’ve been using WordPress for awhile now but definitely don’t know all the ins and out of it. Courtney Chowning, the Learn WP Fast creator, knows WordPress like the back of her hand and wants to share her knowledge. She’s offering 3 levels of training – beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Its no fun running into problems and not knowing how to fix them. Then having to search around for answers to the problems is a time waster or if you don’t have the time to get it figured out for yourself and have to hire someone then its a money waster. Its important for us bloggers to be in complete control of our blogs. That’s why I recommend taking Courtney’s Learn WP Fast.

Learning WordPress on your own is, of course, doable but why would you want to take all that extra time and effort when this program offers the main things you need to know to run a successful blog. I consider myself at the intermediate level now but as a beginner I didn’t know diddly. I was intimated by, well, everything about WordPress.

Beginner Level

This program offers instructions on how to use:

  • The dashboard
  • Gets you familiar with creating posts
  • Uploading media (such as photos)
  • Approving comments
  • Creating tags and categories for your posts

Intermediate Level

At this point I’m interested in using templates and customizing my theme to satisfy my constant need for tinkering with the look of my site so the intermediate level works for me. This level covers:

  • Using templates
  • Customizing themes
  • Troubleshooting problems
  • Backing up
  • Upgrading your site

Advanced Level

For experienced users wanting to delve into the techy side of things, this level covers:

  • Different aspects of coding, including PHP and CSS,
  • More advanced theme customizations
  • MySql Database usage

Each level is just 1 hour per day for three days. If you decide to take all three level courses its only a total of 9 hours and can save you a ton of time and money when you run into problems later.

If this sounds good you’ll want to hurry because the first course starts this Monday, November 5. Sign up for Learn WP Fast.

Fun, Funky & FREE WordPress Blog Themes

Simply Sweet Theme

A good WordPress Theme will make your life easier as a blogger. You will want to identify what is most important for you, such as having a blog that features photos or one that has preset widgets or maybe you want an Adsense ready blog. Whatever you decide would be most helpful for you there is probably a free theme out there for you.

Below you will find 5 fun and funky free themes that appealed to me:

Paper Craft (Dream) by Templatelite

My favorite features: support forum, custom menu, automatic thumbnails, compatible with most browers and SEO ready.

Adelle Theme by Bluchic

My favorite features: Social Media sharing, custom menu, preset widgets, responsive layout design (not sure what this is?).

Minimatica by One Designs

My favorite features: view modes (photoblogging gallery or classic blog view), audio, video and podcasting capabilites.

Bluebird Theme by Diva Themes

My favorite features: customizable widgets, footer widgets and customizable menus.

A Word to the Wise When Using Free Themes:

I was very impressed with EZ WordPress Themes. They have lots of categories to choose from with lots of various themes to choose from. But, when I went to download an awesome theme I was so disappointed. The download page went to another website that would allow me to either download for free or pay for additional features (that should normally come with the theme). Then, it actually popped up with two unsavory websites. This deterred me from trying anymore to download the themes. Free themes are very nice but just be careful when downloading.

The following theme is free but requires Genesis Framework to run on (a child theme):

Simply Sweet by Auxano Creative

My favorite features: simplified blogging design, landing page and threaded comments.

Copy Blogger published How to Find a WordPress Theme that Works that will help you decide what elements are important for you and help you find a StudioPress option that will work for you. StudioPress isn’t free but they are reasonably priced and as with most premium themes offers free updates and support which can be invaluable when problems arise.

My favorite WordPress theme (which is not free) that is build on Genesis Framework by StudioPress is:

Modern Blogger by StudioPress

My favorite features: custom header and background, 6 layout options, featured images, and threaded comments.

This is a premium theme which means its not free but its so worth it.

If you already have the Genesis Framework you can purchase premium child themes separately pretty inexpensively. Like this Modern Blogger theme is only $24.95 (but you must have the Genesis Framework for it to work). If you don’t have the Genesis Framework you can purchase it plus this premium theme for $79.95 which is very reasonable for a great WordPress theme.

What’s your favorite WordPress theme and why?

Ideas for Growing Your Blog This Fall

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Blogging can really take on so many ideas. A lot of what you write about is who your intended audience is. I recently discovered many women bloggers sharing both their life and business through their blogs. I know, I lead a sheltered life. But anyhow, I love the idea! Many of them are about children, daily living through personal triumphs and sometimes sadness but above all they are sharing their lives with us, the world.

Blogging, in my opinion, is definitely a learned skill and attitude can make or break you.

Let me share a few good examples of ideas these bloggers are using to grow their own blogs and hope you will be able to take some great ideas and put them to work for yourself.

Engage Your Audience: Encourage your readers to comment by asking lots of questions and always, always respond to them. Here’s some more great tips from Audra Michelle of Rediscovering Domesticity.

Network with Blog Hops: What’s a blog hop you say?: I’ll let Jessica McCoy of At Home, Take 2 explain.

Blog with a Purpose: By defining what you want to accomplish you will be able to blog with a purpose. I love that phrase. Ashley Stock of Little Miss Momma has some great pointers to share. The main focus being knowing what you want and following your heart to help you network which in turn will grow your blog.

Humor Sell: Everyone needs a laugh so sprinkle in a little humor and people will be back. Check out this simple recipe from Zachary W. (aka mszdub) at Raising Colorado . Its funny! And its a perfect example of how to put a smile on my face.

Be a Guest Blogger: Last on my little list but certainly not least is guest blogging. Finding similar blogs in your niche to be a guest blogger on will put you out in front of people who would have otherwise never been exposed to you. Crissy Herron of Indie Biz Chicks covers this along with a couple of other great ways to grow your blog.

There are so many ways to gain exposure to your blog but these are some good ways to get started.

What methods do you use to grow your blog?

Great Free Plugin For Blog Post Series

Check out this short video demo of a very cool plugin that is saving us a lot of time here at Mom’s Talk Network.

Thanks Nicole for showing us a great time saver!

Check out Nicole’s Blog CPR here.

Is Attending a Blog Conference in Your Future?

Did you know that there are very specific blogging events like Bloggy Boot Camp, Savvy Blogging Summit and BlogHer? Each of these events showcases workshops lead by successful bloggers in their industry generally applying to all levels of blogging skills. One of the best parts, in my opinion, is having a chance to network with others bloggers you would normally never meet in person.

Our friend,  Brandie of Spoon and Saucer, is a food blogger who recently went to the International Food Blogger Conference in Portland, Oregon. This was her first time attending a foodie blog conference and she loved it.  She experienced stuff like wine tasting techniques and pairing, food photography, and even pig butchering.  Check out her full report here.

I personally would love to attend a blogging even such at the Bloggy Boot Camp because they offer workshops in the subject matter I’m most interested in like, vlogging, social media and writing excellent content. Not to mention its in Las Vegas!

What sort of blogging event would you like to go to?

How to Add Text to Your Photos in Gimp 2.8

Capture - Open Photo

So you’re already using cool pictures to spice up your blog post but why not make it more original by adding text. It’s easy to do with the free graphics program, Gimp 2.8. Gimp allows you to create text or imaged based graphics within the program itself and you can also import your own photographs to edit.

Install Software

You can get Gimp 2.8 here. Once you’ve downloaded the software, install and you will be ready to proceed to creating your original images. [Read more...]

Learn How To Move From Blogger To Self Hosted WordPress

This is a guest post from Courtney Chowning.

I will admit it, when I first started blogging I started with Google Blogger. It was the only blogging platform I knew about. But it didn’t take long for me to discover WordPress. Within two months of starting my first blog, I moved from Google Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress blog and I haven’t looked back.

I understand how a new blogger can be reluctant to invest money in a domain name and web hosting as WordPress requires, especially if they are just checking out the blogging world or starting a blog as a hobby. Regardless of why you blog though, the most important aspect of using a self-hosted blogging platform like WordPress is that you actually own your blog and content. By using WordPress I have total control. I’m not giving some third party, like Google, complete control.

Just because you want to have total control of your blog doesn’t make you a control freak.

Once you have been blogging for a while, it becomes a part of your life and it makes sense to want to be able to design it, modify it, and access it when and where you want to. Using the self-hosted version of WordPress gives you that control and ensures you that you can create a blog that is 100% unique and you.

Another advantage to hosting your blog yourself is that it means your audience won’t have to remember a long domain name and you can choose any URL you want. When you’re hosting your website on a blogging platform like Google you are given a domain like this: http://yourdomainname.blogspot.com. By going this route your domain name can present challenges to your blog readers.

One challenge is that your blogging host may deny the domain name you wish to you for a number of different reasons; including the possible that someone else already has the name. It can be very confusing to have a domain name not match the name of your site. For example, if your blog is named A Place to Blog, but the domain aplacetoblog.blogspot.com is already taken and you choose yourname2012.blogspot.com instead, readers are not going to remember how to get to your blog. Your blog name and domain name should match. It’s also hard to remember a long domain name and a pain to type the entire thing into a web browser. (Yes, you can use your own domain with Google Blogger, WordPress.com, and other hosted platforms, but often times you have to pay extra to do so.)

Depending on why you blog this next hurdle is a biggie. Many hosted blogging restrict what you can do on your blog, especially if you are trying to make money. Many don’t allow affiliate promotions and they don’t allow you to sell ad space or participate in PPC to make money. Host it yourself and you can sell or promote whatever you want on your blog.

Do you want to move from a hosted blogging platform like Google Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress blog? What’s keeping you from doing so? Is it the money for hosting, the technical knowhow, or lack of time? Join me on July 24, 2012 in a live workshop where Iwill show you how easy it is to move from a hosted blogging platform like Google Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Get More Views On Your YouTube Videos

youtube button

youtube buttonYouTube is the most popular video host site online for many reasons. Check out these statistics straight from their press page:

  • Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month
  • Over 3 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • In 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or around 140 views for every person on Earth
  • 100 million people take a social action on YouTube (likes, shares, comments, etc) every week

If you don’t have a presence on YouTube you are missing out!

[Read more...]

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