Three New Year’s Success Strategies For Your Blog

Strategies for blog 2015

The New Year is upon us and it’s time to think about your blog and your goals for the New Year. I have never been much of a New Year’s resolution person, but I can tell you that it’s important to develop a strategy for success when it comes to you and your blog. Many folks blog as a hobby and several blog to make money. No matter the reason, you will feel better about things if you set some goals and try to meet them. After all, doesn’t everyone feel good when they can reflect upon a success story?


The easiest way to meet new people and be inspired is to attend a blog conference. Yes, there are conferences for bloggers. Two conferences that I would highly recommend would be Type A Conference and Bloggy Conference. This is where I have met some of my best friends and some of the most inspirational people on the planet. And you know what? Here is where you will surround yourself with people that “get'” you. How cool is that? Need a little financial help getting yourself to a blog conference? Find a sponsor and make those travel plans now!


Local does matter! Join your local Chamber of Commerce and dive in. This is one of the simplest ways to meet new people in your local business community. Volunteer for an event or two and I do think you will be pleasantly surprised. Is there a social media breakfast club in your area? If there is, attend asap! If not, start one.


Let’s face it, even bloggers need a break now and then, as bloggers are human. Never apologize to your readers. For example, if you need to take a little break from blogging, that’s your choice. Your blog is online and always available. I often see bloggers take a little break and come back with, “I am so sorry…..,” really? There is no need to apologize when in fact several of your readers may have never noticed your absence until you brought it to their attention.

Most importantly be yourself online and I can guarantee that you will have great things come to you. It’s ok to check out what other bloggers are doing and ask questions. Bloggers can be your best resource when it comes to growing your blog. Chances are good that they may have the same questions you do or have had the same question in the past. When you do your thing you will have the most success.

Make 2015 your best year yet and embrace change. Step out of your comfort zone and I think you will be pleasantly surprised as to where your blog will take you. Tell me…. What are your goals for 2015? I’d love to hear about them.


Balancing Social Media And Life- Yes, It Can Be Done


Social Connections Connecting


Social Media is a large part of all of our lives today and it can be challenging when it comes to finding that perfect life/social media relationship. For those of us that work in social media, we do spend a fair amount of time on social media. Therefore, it’s very important to remember to walk away from social media so you can get out and live your life. Chances are, if you work in social media, you may also be a blogger. If this is the case, what will you write about if you never step away from social media? I have three tips that will help you get a better grip on your involvement in social media.

  • Limit yourself to a limited number of minutes of personal social media time throughout the day. One simple solution is to set an “old fashioned” kitchen timer near your computer. Once you find yourself immersed in your personal Facebook page, set the timer. For me, Pinterest is still the biggest time sucker. I am a visual person and I find it extremely difficult to manage my time while on Pinterest. The “old fashioned” kitchen timer has been a time saver for me. I allow myself 10 minutes and when the buzzer rings, it’s back to work.
  • As evening closes in, I make it a point to shut everything down at a certain time. For me, it is often 11:00 p.m.. After that time, I am in bed and getting rested up for the next day’s fun!
  • Plan ahead if possible. If you know there is a special family celebration coming up, plan accordingly. Be sure you are not working on social media while you and your family are celebrating. Social media can instantly turn a family celebration into a not so fun event. Be respectful and step away from it. Hey, if I can attend our extended family Easter Celebration without social media or a camera in tow, I know you can too.

Donna Hup of DonnaHup.Com is an avid blogger. Donna strives to keep her work days on social media from “9 to 5”. She has embraced Hootsuite, which is a handy scheduling tool for folks that work in social media.

Social Media is something that we are all trying to muddle our way through. With new platforms popping up all around us, it seems once we have one conquered, there’s a new one to learn. Most of all, choose the social media platforms that work well for you, use those and use them well.  Most importantly make time for the people around you. Those relationships that you have built online are real. When you take the time to nurture those online relationships and turn them into real life relationships, you and your business will grow.

Are you challenged with trying to find the perfect balance between life and social media? If you are, I’d love to hear how you are addressing the issue. It seems everywhere I go, that’s the number one question!

North Iowa Bloggers Are Online Influencers

There’s a new term that has crept into the world of blogging the past few months and it’s online influencer. It is true, the North Iowa bloggers are online influencers. The cool thing about the North Iowa bloggers is the fact that they each have their own unique blogs and they each have their favorite social media platforms. So, you may be asking what exactly is an online influencer?

In my words: An online influencer is someone who has a loyal following online and is a go to person for a particular topic of interest. There ya go, that’s my definition of an online influencer. The North Iowa Bloggers are a core group of bloggers that support each other. They go to different events together and showcase their experience online. They write about the experience on their blog, they post on Facebook, they Tweet, and they also post to other social media platforms such as Instagram. Each blogger shares their authentic experience with their readers, as no two bloggers will walk away with the same experience. That’s the beauty of blogging, each blogger is able to share their voice.

You may be asking, “I’d love to share my business and/or event with the North Iowa Bloggers, how do I do that?” You can comment right here on this post and I will get in touch with you and make things happen. And yes, this may be a seen at your place of business, lots of things happening here!

Bloggers at Barrel


The North Iowa Bloggers ate a great meal at The Barrel Drive In in Clear Lake and several posts were written! They also danced the night away with KCMR Radio in Downtown Mason City this past summer. And once Fall rolled around, they visited Enchanted Acres near Sheffield, Iowa. And just a couple days ago they visited Hoover’s Hatchery while Iowa’s Lt. Governor, Kim Reynolds, stopped to visit.

Bloggers at Hatchery

The Bloggers of North Iowa are busy and yet they are ready and willing to help your business online. These bloggers are online influencers, as they know how to drive traffic to your website and give you additional visibility online.

I can tell you this, this group of North Iowa Bloggers are all online influencers and can help you grow your business. They are not afraid of hard work and they want to help you tell your story!





The Four Doors And And Your Online Resumé: Your Blog


Bloggers at Bloggy Con



I recently returned from a speaking engagement at Bloggy Conference in Sandusky, Ohio. I talked about how your blog is your online resumé. I shared with attendees how I had built a business out of my blogs, by building relationships online and then following up offline. The event was a great success and I was honored to have met so many awesome bloggers that are sharing their stories to inspire all of you!

A friend of mine, Beth Ann of It’s Just Life, Finding the Ordinary in the Extraordinary, had recently given me the book; The Four Doors by Richard Paul Evans.

The Four Doors Book


I read it after I returned from my speaking engagement and can say that I honestly hope I left a positive note with all of the people I met at Bloggy Conference. I have tried new things, I have stepped out of my comfort zone, and I do want others to succeed. It’s not about the money, it’s about people. Blogging is all about relationships and once those relationships flourish, that’s when your business flourishes. This book, just reinforced that what I was doing is a GOOD THING!  Thank you, Beth Ann, from the bottom of my heart!

If you are afraid of leaping forward, being imaginative, or even hard work, can I ask? Why are you doing what you are doing? Life is too short to do something you do not enjoy and are not passionate about. Richard Paul Evans’ book, The Four Doors, just reinforced that what I had shared at Bloggy Conference was from the bottom of my heart.

My life has been blessed with challenges, new experiences, a supportive husband, two young adult sons that are two of my favorite fans, a great extended family, and the opportunity to work towards success. In order to move forward, it is true; you often have to give and work hard. We’ve all heard the saying, “It is better to give than to receive.” Make that your mission and see where life takes you.

In the world of blogging a lot of folks focus on the numbers. I have never focused on the numbers and I know my banking/accounting friends are cringing right now;  but for me the number of followers I have do not matter. What matters is when I have a new “follower” and they are a true friend- a connection has been made!

So, tell me, have you read the book, The Four Doors? If not, I would highly encourage you to read it. I do believe it will reinforce that you are doing what you need to be doing or be the kick in the pants that you need to change things around.





North Iowa Bloggers Are Online Influencers

Over the course of the last year, I went from knowing one other blogger locally to now knowing several. It’s no secret, that Social Media Breakfast has opened the doors for a lot of businesses in North Iowa, bloggers included. The bloggers in North Iowa do get together on a regular basis and of course, they recently met while I was out of town. The really cool thing about this event was the fact that they still included me in in the event. Yes, that is how #FlatSara came to be.

Group Photo


Beth Ann Chiles of It’s Just Life, organized the get together at her home. Several bloggers attended, as well as #FlatSara and Lay’s Potato Chips! You may be asking, “What on earth does Lay’s Potato Chips have to do with a blogger gathering?” In case you didn’t know, bloggers are considered online influencers. The bloggers of North Iowa participated in a scientific study of Lay’s Potato Chips! They were the taste testers of the bold, new flavors that Lay’s Potato Chips has rolled out. The best part of all of this, they did all of this on their own, as in Lay’s Potato Chips did not provide them with product or information. This is a creative group of bloggers and they all reside in North Iowa.


Chip Voting


Bloggers are online influencers and I do believe you will see by reading their posts, that the bloggers in North Iowa are honest and real! They are not out to fool their readers and they want to be known as genuine people. Many folks do not understand how bloggers work, what they are about, and how businesses can work with them. The easiest way to find out how to work with one of these bloggers is to ask them! A simple way to reach out to them, is to read their blog and follow up with them through the contact form on their blog.

Lay’s Potato Chips comes out as the winner of this event! Look at all the press a small potato chip received from a little get together in North Iowa. The bloggers of North Iowa are creative and would love to show you how they can help you grow your business. And just in case you want to know what new flavor of Lay’s Potato Chips you should be investing in, read up!

Katy Flint of Learning As I Go Along : Me & All Of My New Friends

Amy Hild of Modern Rural Living: Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” Taste Testing With North Iowa Bloggers

Donna Hup of DonnaHup.Com: Lay’s Do Us A Flavor Chip Tasting & Voting Party

Beth Ann Chiles of  It’s Just Life: It All Started With A Chip

Jeni Flaa of Jeni Eats: North Iowa Bloggers Taste Test Lay’s “Do Us A Favor” Flavors


Take a glance at the other blogs that come right out of North Iowa. The best part about this, is the fact that all of these bloggers are sharing their passions with all of you. You will see that each blogger is unique and has something different to bring to the table.

Joy of Living Life Joyfully 

Debbie of Debbie’s Midwestern Kitchen

Laura of All Things Travel

Val of Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids

Emily of  The Koob Triplets

Bryan of Psuche Running 

Sara of Travel With Sara and All In An Iowa Mom’s Day

If you own a business and are thinking of reaching out to new people, consider working with a blogger in North Iowa. You will find that these people are genuine and do care greatly about North Iowa.

*A Thank you to Beth Ann and Amy for letting me use their photos for this post!


How To Prepare For A Blog Conference

Blog Conference season seems to be kicking into high gear. If you are a first time attendee you may be asking yourself, “What have I gotten myself into?” Well, let me tell you this, if you utilize the tools you are given while attending, you will have a lot of success when you return home. How do I know? I’ve attended several blog conferences and have made life changing connections when it comes to building a business.

Bloggy Conference


The first thing you will want to do is make sure you have the correct dates written down. There’s nothing like finding the incorrect date when you go to print out a boarding pass for your flight. Take note of the transportation to and from the airport to your final destination. It’s not uncommon to have to rent a car or pair up with a few blogging friends and pile in a cab. Before the cab driver pulls away, confirm your final destination and the approximate fare to your final destination. Most hotels that hold conferences do charge a daily parking fee, so plan accordingly.

It’s also important to make sure that you are setting a positive tone. Engage through social media with conference sponsors, as this is a great way to begin new relationships. This is not the time to go online and complain about every little detail about the upcoming event. A lot of time and money have been invested by sponsors to put forth a great conference. Should you have a complaint, take it off of social media. This is the time when a private e-mail is necessary.

Remember, first impressions are often the last, so make it a good one! Be yourself, bring a smile and be ready to have fun. Blog conferences are the perfect time to set goals and build lasting relationships. So, tell me. What’s your favorite blog conference? Do you prefer larger conferences or smaller ones? I myself, tend to like the smaller ones, as there seems to be more time to network with others.

Most of all bring a smile, a little bit of spending money, something to write on, and an open mind. Be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone, as this is where you will make the best business connections. After all, you are investing time and money into a blog conference, so make the most of it.


Social Media Is Not A Dumping Ground

Over the course of the past couple weeks I have been approached by a few people to help them grow their businesses. Bloggers specifically need to realize that social media is all about interacting.  If your goal is to grow a business, it is never ok to dump blog posts onto a social media platform and never engage. Social media is sharing, interacting and engaging; it is not a dumping ground!

It’s no secret that bloggers have posts and they are excited to share them. Hey, I get that, as I am also excited to share my work through social media. Did you know that if you never engage through your social media platforms, your chances of growing a business are very, very hard?

Bloggers are gearing up for Fall Conference season and several are looking for blog conference sponsorship. The ideal partnership in any business is through someone you have worked with in the past, present, or future (someone you really want to work with). If you have been using social media as a dumping ground for your blog posts, it’s going to be extremely hard to find a company that will want to partner with you for blog conference sponsorship. This applies to all businesses and anyone using social media, definitely something to think about.

Social Connections Connecting


The easiest way to grow a business using social media is to stop using social media as a dumping ground. Remember the 80/20 rule and stick to it! 80% needs to be sharing, interacting, and engaging with others. And that 20% that often includes the “dumped posts” is showcasing you! Share your pictures, blog posts, life happenings and dreams in that 20%, as this is how you can grow your business. You will never grow by never engaging and interacting, period.When you share the work of others, it will all come full circle. Others will begin to share your work and that’s how social media should work.

I want to see people grow businesses, as I don’t like seeing people spend hours writing blog posts and wondering why they never get anywhere. It’s also important to remember how important those real life relationships are. Technology is wonderful, as it does allow us to connect with new people on line. I can tell you that from experience, if you take the time and invest some money in a conference related to your business; your business will grow. It’s through the interaction and new people you meet that your business will start growing at lightning speed.

When you return home from a conference, continue to engage, interact and share things through social media. Do not return to your old ways of using social media as a dumping ground. Once you learn how to apply the 80/20 rule, your business will grow!

Social Media Connections at Breakfast


Oh yeah and then there’s that local social media breakfast club that I started, talk about amazing! Our June meeting was sponsored by UdderlySmooth and Everalbum, two companies that are growing and appreciate the work that we are doing to expand on social media in North Iowa. And I can tell you this,  it’s through social media that my relationships with these two companies has grown and been a positive experience for all of us involved. Engage, interact, and share- make things happen- social media can rock your business today!

Tell me- Have you fell into the trap of using social media as a dumping ground? If so, how did you turn things around?


Connections Are Vital To Growing a Successful Business

All because of blogging, Social Connections, LLC came about. My passion for connecting others and helping businesses grow is what I love to do. After all, who doesn’t like to be a part of something grand, right? I know I sure do!


Social Connections Connecting

I have met many leaders in the blogging industry over the past five years and it’s through their dedication that I was able to see myself in a leadership role. North Iowa is where I reside and I love that local folks are embracing social media and are grasping the idea that social media does matter. There is a lot of work to be done and I look forward to being a part of the positive changes that social media can bring to North Iowa. Social media reaches far beyond North Iowa, as it allows us to connect with folks all around the world.

Businesses and bloggers are working together 24/7. It’s through these partnerships that amazing things can happen! I am continually asked, “Where can I learn more about social media?” I can tell you that Social Connections, LLC, is planning several events that will help business owners understand and better utilize social media. There are also several events all around the world where you can meet industry leaders and learn a lot of information!

Pat Palmer, of The Computer Guy, recently attended EntreFest in Iowa City, Iowa, and this is what he had to say about this Iowa event. “It was a great time for entrepreneurs to get together to exchange ideas, learn from experts and to pick up valuable nuggets from the many guest speakers they had at the conference. This was my 7th time and I’m going back next year as well!” This is just one, of several, social media events where you can learn more about the industry.

Donna Hup, of, attended an event that Social Connections, LLC, hosted in Mason City on May 20th and she had this to say, “It was so great to see local North Iowa businesses come together to better themselves and our region.”

And then there was this from the great folks over at UdderlySmooth.  A huge to thank you to UdderlySmooth for offering such a “grand” door prize at Creating The “Buzz” In Social Media

Landon With Udderly Smooth

Bloggers often ask me, “What blog conferences are out there?” Here are a few that are out there and I might add, I have attended most of these or known bloggers that have, and highly recommended these conferences. These are the places where you meet fellow leaders in the blogging industry, connect with brands, and learn about social media.

It is true, when you step out of your comfort zone to learn new things and meet new people, exciting things will happen in your life. The people that I have met while networking at conferences have literally changed my life. The connections I have made, have helped me grow a successful business. If it can happen to me, it can also happen to you.

I challenge you to attend a social media event in the near future. Locally, nationally, or internationally- you will be grateful that you did!

I look forward to seeing you at one of the events that Social Connections, LLC, will be hosting in the near future!

Tips For Finding Sponsorship To Attend A Blog Conference

You’ve decided you want to attend a blog conference and realize it may cost you a little more than your budget currently reflects. So, what should you do? Opt to forget about the blog conference or dig your heels in and find a way to go? If you want to grow your blog and/or your business, I’d suggest you dig those heels in! By attending, you will be a step ahead of the game.

Find Companies You Like

Twitter is a great resource for looking for blog conference sponsorship. Find companies you are connected with and see if they would be a good fit for you. If a company offers a product you enjoy and would like to learn more about, by all means, reach out to them through a private message. If you have never interacted with them through Twitter, you need to start interacting with them before you reach out to them. Companies want to know that you are an influencer and are someone that reflects their company values.

Sara speaking at Cedar Point


The Pitch

A personal E-mail is in order here as you share your blog stats and your reach. Potential blog conference sponsors want to know why they should sponsor you. Let them know about the conference you want to attend and why you want to attend. Then show them how you will showcase their brand while attending the conference. You may offer to Tweet, share photos on Instagram, update to Facebook, and Pin with a hashtag you have mutually agreed upon. Then, when you come home you can offer to write one or two blog posts about their product, in exchange for blog conference sponsorship. Maybe you rock at video- Offer a couple videos on your YouTube channel featuring their company. Show that you are an influencer and something unique to offer them. Between the two of you, a brain storming session could produce something new and exciting! The big numbers are not always important, it’s the fact that you are present in social media. An example would be: You need to interact on Twitter, not have a stream filled with scheduled tweets and NO interaction!

Most importantly, you need to be positive and be supportive of bloggers and brands. Let’s face it, nobody wants to partner with a Negative Nelly! If your Tweets are a little questionable and you are searching for blog conference sponsorship. I’d suggest that you take a year to clean it up and then pitch a company for sponsorship to attend a blog conference.

If you take the time and spend some money to attend a blog conference, your business will grow! By partnering with a brand that you love, it’s a win/win for everyone. And remember, to do what you say you will do. Blog conference sponsorship is an opportunity to show how you can work with others and opens the doorway for future opportunities.

Have you ever partnered with a company for blog conference sponsorship? Did you find the experience to be fun and exciting? I’d love to hear the brand side of this, specifically how bloggers can help brands while attending blog conferences.

Now, go make it happen-  Attend the blog conference of your dreams and grow your business!