December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

Growing Your Blog Is Easier Than Ever, Or So You Thought

There seems to be a misconception that growing a blog happens overnight. I entered into the blogosphere towards the end of 2008. At that time I had not jumped on any social media platforms. In fact, I had no idea what social media was or how it worked. I see and hear many people say, “I’m starting a blog and going to make a lot of money in a couple months.” I shake my head and think, “If you only knew.”

Blogging

I’m not going to tell you that people do not grow a blog quickly, as some do. In all reality, most bloggers learn skills and then find themselves marketable. It is work. For some reason, people think that bloggers lead a glamorous life of hanging out in the kitchen in pajamas all day, while building a following through the use of social media. It does not happen that way. Trust me, if you are only focusing on social media and not making real face to face connections, you will not be successful in this world of blogging. When you put yourself out there in your community, I can guarantee you will make connections that will be life changing, in a good way.

Social Media Thrivent

You may or may not like what I’m going to say, as this is a reality check for anyone in or wanting to enter the blogosphere.

BLOGGING IS WORK

If you are going to be successful growing your blog, you need to be present. This means you need to be writing, making videos and sharing through social media. You also need to be out networking to help you build the base of of your business. Nobody has ever said that building a business is easy, and I’m here to tell you that it is not.

BLOGGING IS ABOUT PEOPLE

Bloggers share their experiences to help people. If people weren’t around, there would be no audience. When conversations occur, business begins to flourish. When you offer a solution to a problem, your business will grow. People will find you, they will look up to you and respect your opinions. Write, make awesome videos, take great photos and share your passion. People will get to know you and relationships begin to form. Again, it’s all about the people, it’s not about you or social media.

books and blogging

BLOGGING IS NOT ABOUT LINK DROPPING

I see way too many new bloggers thinking that dropping links everywhere is going to take them to the top. It’s great to share content that others write, but what I see happening; is that bloggers are not focusing on the people. They seem to think that a blog will grow overnight through the use of social media. When you combine social media and meeting others in real life, that is when your blog will grow. Again, it’s called work.

When you become the expert in your arena, wonderful things will begin to happen with your blog. The time you have spent building on relationships, the social media breakfasts you attended and the networking events you invested in will take your blog to a new level. These ladies in North Iowa have been my inspiration to work harder every single day.

Sky Deck Bloggers

I can also tell you, that success looks different for everyone and it will look different from what you set out for it to look like. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be part of a business that is a media sponsor at the Women In Travel Summit in Milwaukee. This opportunity came out of face to face connections, it did not come from link dropping or staying in my kitchen 24/7. I met Lisa of The Walking Tourists, in person, and have not looked back since.

Lisa and Sara

Do you want to grow your blog? The best advice I can give you is to connect with a blogger that inspires you and meet up in person. Your blog and your life will be on a path that will take you to a level you never imagined to be possible. Think big and work hard! If I can do this, anyone can.

Angie and Andy

My Three Biggest Takeaways From The Global Leadership Summit 2016

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Global Leadership Summit in Clear Lake, Iowa. It was a couple days filled with excitement and “my people.” Have you ever felt like you needed time to be with the people that really understand you? If your answer is yes, make it happen today or tomorrow! I always feel re energized when I am surrounded by like minded people. There were three big things from these two days that stood out for me and I thought I would share them with all of you.

ADD VALUE TO PEOPLE

This one really hit home with me, as I find that it’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking “that” person doesn’t need anything. Fact of the matter is, we all need friends, support and people that believe in us. When we add value to people, we all win.

DON’T TALK ABOUT DOING SOMETHING- DO IT

Ever have a brilliant idea? We all do at different times and we often talk about it and fail to act. When we do something we actually have an opportunity to be a ripple and make positive changes in the lives of those around us. Sounds pretty simple, right? The next time I find myself talking about doing something I am going to take a long hard look at how I can bring it to fruition.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH DREAMERS

When I surround myself with people that want to dream with me, I find that lots of amazing things begin to happen. Bishop T.D. Jakes said, “If you can accomplish your dream on your own, your dream is too small.” Boy, those words hit home with me. I hope the fellow dreamers in my community are ready to dream big, because my mind is spinning with lots of awesome things.

Global Leadership Summit

If you want to connect with like minded people I would encourage you to attend the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club. We meet the fourth Wednesday of every month in the Heritage Room of First Citizens National Bank in Mason City from 8:30- 10:00 a.m.. There are many dreamers and connectors in attendance that will help move you and your business to the next level. If you have an interest in social media, you will find value in attending. And if you are reading this post, you are interested in social media; so plan now to attend. Blogs are a part of social media and help people make new daily online connections.

I would encourage you to plan to attend the Global Leadership Summit in 2017 at a host site near you. Stay tuned to the website for speakers and be ready to be inspired to make a difference in the lives of those around you. If you attended the 2016 Global Leadership Summit, I’d love to hear what your biggest takeaways were.

*Thank you for Clear Lake sponsors for providing me with a Media Pass.

Rascal Flatts

Tips For Getting Ready For Your First Blog Conference

Your first blog conference is on the horizon and you may be asking yourself, “What have I gotten myself into?” Relax. The fact that you have purchased your blog conference ticket and made the commitment to attend is hurdle #1. You are on your way to ramping up your blog.

Blog Buttons

Business Cards

Business cards are important. They are often the avenue that a conversation begins with someone. You may be in a loud room when you meet someone and not be able to talk. By exchanging business cards, you can continue the conversation once the conference is over and you are in a quiet place to gather your thoughts. I will admit it, business cards can float around for a while, but they are important. I personally love it when I can ask someone for their Twitter handle and BOOM- we are connected!

Facebook Groups

Most conferences have a Facebook group where attendees can enroll. Here is where you can often make arrangements to share a cab or even find a room mate while attending the conference. Often times there are attendees that decide where to meet for dinner, as reservations are often needed. By interacting in the conference Facebook Group you will also know some of the attendees before you actually meet in real life.

Be Flexible

Most blog conferences have a schedule listed on their website. Look it over, but be prepared to be flexible. Often times you will find that a session you want to attend is just not what you were looking for. Be open to changing your schedule up and attending a session that you did not think would be a good fit. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you will more than likely walk away with more knowledge than you ever imagined.

Blog conferences are a great way to meet others with the same interests as you. They are also a way to learn how bloggers are monetizing their blogs and what types of businesses bloggers are working with. By going to a blog conference with an open mind, you will learn more and meet more people.

And you just never know— Rascal Flatts or some other awesome music group may show up! A note about this photo: I went to Blissdom and did not know these other conference attendees before this conference. I met Robyn, 2nd gal from left, through the Blissdom Facebook Group and we were room mates. I met the other ladies through the conference and we have stayed in touch, ever since.

Rascal Flatts

If there is one thing that I have learned in my 6 1/2 years of blogging that it is OK to change things up now and then. My path has not been A to Z. Heck, it’s been from C to S and from Z and back to P. Take a ride off the beaten path and your blog will thank you!

So… tell me. What was your first blog conference experience like? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Blogging

How To Make Time For Blogging While Working A Full Time Job By Guest Blogger, Katy Flint

Katy blogs over at Learning As I Go- check her blog out. She is offering tips on managing your life, as she has managed to find balance in her life. Hopefully her tips can help you out.

Wife, Step-Mom, City Clerk, Norwex Independent Consultant, Jamberry Independent Consultant, social media manager, & blogger!  Woofta!  That’s a lot of titles and that doesn’t include those other ones like aunt, daughter, daughter-in-law, friend, etc.  I’m a busy lady!  I’m going to be honest and say that my busyness is my fault and no one else’s.  I work full-time, have 3 side jobs and family responsibilities because I chose that life.  But, here I am and this is how things are going to stay because I love them all and really have no desire to give up any of them.  So, how do I manage to do all the jobs I do, take care of my family, and be a blogger?  Well, here are a few things that I’ve learned:

1.  Schedule Time – Yes, schedule time to blog.  Sounds silly I know, but if you don’t you’ll always be too busy doing dishes, cooking meals, folding laundry, or doing your full-time job.  I try to schedule about an hour each Sunday to focus on my blog and social media.  I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but if I’m focused and not interrupted, I can knock out quite a few posts and schedule quite a few “shares” (See #2).  I also use my lunch hour at work quite a bit because I’m never interrupted there!

2.  Schedule Posts – This applies to your blog posts themselves, but also to your social media accounts.  Using the schedule feature on Facebook pages or Hootsuite is a great way to have things posting when you’re super busy! It’s an easy way to look like you have it all together when you really feel like you’re falling apart! 😉

Blogging

3.  Don’t Beat Yourself Up – It’s true!  If life gets uber hectic and work is extra demanding, don’t beat yourself up because you don’t have time to write and post!  It’s ok!  The world is not going to end, no one is going to be mad (they might miss you), but most people understand what its like to work full-time, be a wife & mother, and how crazy that can get.  No one is going to criticize you for focusing on work and family first!

Learning As I Go Cover Photo

Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging: Guest Post By Blogger Katy Flint

Are you new to blogging or considering starting a blog? Katy Flint started blogging over at Learning As I Go, a little over a year ago and she offers her advice to newbies. Be sure to follow Katy on Twitter and Facebook to stay in the loop! Thank you Katy for sharing your wisdom with all of us, it is much appreciated.

It’s been a little over a year since I started blogging. Honestly, at this point, I barely remember my life before blogging. I barely remember a life before “I’m going to blog about this!” or “Don’t eat yet, I need to get a picture for the blog” or “I can’t wait to tell the North Iowa Bloggers about this!” What a wonderful adventure it has been since then! Have I hit the blogging top yet? Nope! Am I going to? Who knows! Has the road been smooth and without hiccups? Not at all! I’ve learned a few things in the past year and here are 5 things I wish I had known when I started blogging!

Learning As I Go Cover Photo

 

Start a List – if there’s something you want to blog about, but don’t have the time…write it down! You’ll either come back to it and it’ll be great or the moment will pass and it’ll weed itself out!

Blog About Your Passions – be it food, exercise, family, crafts, etc. Whatever your passion is, blog about it. Don’t worry about if someone else will like it, you’ll find an audience.

It’s OK to Feel “Off’ – Sometimes you feel like blogging and sometimes you don’t! Sometimes the ideas and posts flow from your fingers like a river and other times you feel like a river during a drought! It’s ok! If you’re not feeling it, don’t blog! It’ll come across that way.

Have Good Pictures – learn how to take good pictures! It doesn’t matter whether you use a cell phone camera or an expensive camera, just take good pictures and learn how to edit them! Good pictures will get more attention!

Find An Easy “Out” – because there are those times you don’t feel like blogging or because there’s times you won’t have time or you won’t feel inspired…find something that is easy to post! For me, it’s Wordless Wednesday! It’s quick and simple to post and helps fill gaps when my writers block or busy life gets in the way!

Blogging has blessed me immensely and the blogging community is such a supportive one! If you’re thinking about it, take the plunge! Good luck!

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?

PLAN TO ATTEND A CONFERENCE

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!

ATTEND LOCAL NETWORKING EVENTS

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.

NEVER APOLOGIZE

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.

 

North Iowa Blogger Meet & Greet January 6, 2015: 1:30-3:30 P.M.

The North Iowa Bloggers have been very active throughout 2014 here in North Iowa. They are gearing up for an exciting 2015 and would like to meet you! On January 6, 2015, from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m., you can meet the North Iowa Bloggers in the Band Festival Room at the Regional Commerce Center Downtown Mason City. 9 North Federal is the exact location and these bloggers would love to show you what they do.

 

North Iowa Bloggers Sampling Oreos

 

Maybe you have always wondered what a blogger does and how they can help you with your business? This is an opportunity to find out more. I have personally worked with Jacqui McPhillips of Tuckaway Shores  and she has this to say, in regards to bloggers.

“In my capacity as both an owner of a small hotel management company and as a member of the marketing committee for the Florida Superior Small Lodging Assn., I have worked with travel and life style bloggers for the past 1 ½ years.  Without hesitation, I can state that I believe that working with bloggers may be one of the best ways a company can economically brand themselves.  I view exposure on a bloggers’ site and through their various social media platforms as kin to word of mouth advertising, which has always been the best forms of advertising/marketing.”

Bloggers offer a “new” way of marketing and many business owners in North Iowa are not aware of what a blogger can do for them. The North Iowa Bloggers would love to meet you! If you want to get to know the bloggers a little better, “Like” their Facebook page and see what they are all about.

Bell ringing

 

Take the time now to plan for January 6, 2015. The North Iowa Bloggers want to meet you and learn more about you. And you never know, you may find that new “spark” that you have been searching for you and your business. 2015 looks to be an exciting year in North Iowa and the North Iowa Bloggers are ready to help you along the way!

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Bloggers Are Professionals And Should Be Treated That Way

If you are a blogger, you know that bloggers are often not taken seriously. Many people think that it’s OK to use the term “Mommy Blogger.” Well, let me educate you. 99.9% of bloggers that I personally know, do not appreciate being called a Mommy Blogger. Women spend a lot of time and money building up a blog, while educating others on topics of their choice. And by the way, there are men, such as Adam Sommer, of Visit Fly Over Country, that have embraced blogging and are very good at it.

For those of us in the blogging industry, we consider ourselves to be professionals and wish to be treated with respect. As a blogger that writes about travel and living in Iowa with my family; I have always despised it when someone labeled me a Mommy Blogger. I learned to roll with the punches, as it seemed trivial. But you know what? It’s really a slap in the face to women that blog and have built some really nice, reputable businesses with their blogs. And yes, that is what happened to me.

Bloggers need to step up their game a little bit when it comes to professionalism. When we present ourselves as professionals, others will be less likely to use the term Mommy Blogger. If you are running around with a baby on your hip while meeting with a brand representative, let’s just say; it’s not doing bloggers a favor. This welcomes the term that I cannot stand. If you happen to be meeting with a brand representative of baby supplies, it would probably fly. But, in all reality, professionalism matters.

Bloggy Conference
Bloggy Conference 2013: Photo By Brad Crooks of www.trippingtheglobe.com

The first thing a blogger needs to do is get out of bed in the morning and get dressed! When you dress the part, your productivity level will rise. For some reason, many folks think that bloggers spend all day hanging out in their pajamas while writing away. Well, for successful bloggers, that is simply not the case. The bloggers that are going places are out networking, meeting people face to face, and working on new strategies to move their blogs forward.

Let me introduce you to two young Moms that blog. Debbie shares her passion for food and fitness at Debbie’s Midwestern Kitchen, while Val of Corn, Beans, Pigs, and Kids focuses on all things related to agriculture. They do a wonderful job of incorporating their families into their blogs and I do know they hear the term “Mommy Blogger” on an occasional basis. We need to change that, as these are two great examples of bloggers that are writing great material and inspiring others! Can we call these bloggers business professionals?

If we all, as bloggers, start treating ourselves as professionals others will see us as professionals. If you are a blogger, what do you call yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, because bloggers are the ones in the trenches and growing businesses with their blogs.