BlogHer 2017 Recap

Last weekend, I attended the mother of all blogging conferences: BlogHer 2017. Lucky for me, it was being held in Orlando, just a little over an hour away from me. I have always wanted to attend this conference, but plane tickets plus conference pass plus hotel was just not in the cards, so I was pumped when some of those things ended up being taken care of!

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I arrived on Thursday to the beautiful Hilton Bonnet Creek. I LOVE this hotel yall. It was my 3rd time staying here, and it was just as beautiful as ever.

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I had the opportunity to have snacks and drinks with some blogger friends and some of the marketing team at Bonnet Creek, and it was a great way to kick off the weekend!

Thursday afternoon was registration, and my roommates arrived just in time. We heard Chelsea Clinton speak, then got checked in. 

With 2500+ bloggers trying to check in, the line was super long so we waited awhile before doing so. I went to the expo by myself after this, and compare it to the first day of a runDisney expo–a little crazy!

Then it was time for the Princess Cruise event. They are rolling out new technology similar to a Disney Magic Band but way prettier and more advanced. You can tap a screen and it will tell you how to get to the pool with the fastest route considering traffic flow on the ship.

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I was pretty wiped out after that since I still had my cold, so I went to bed. The next morning we were up bright and early for the 7:30 newbie breakfast we had registered for. Imagine our surprise when we got downstairs and the line was well over 100 people long. We waited a few minutes then were told the breakfast was full to capacity and we would have to go to regular breakfast. Huh? We REGISTERED for this…why were they not checking names?! I was really irritated by this and it sadly wouldn’t be the last time this happened to people over the weekend. We got breakfast and headed in to the breakfast keynote, which was WAY more political than I was anticipating at a blog conference.

We then had our first breakout session, then lunch, then another breakout session. But let me backup. I was eating lunch with a Disney friend of mine, and he asked me if I wanted to meet Serena…Well, duh! So I ran off after him to the backstage area where we hung out for a few minutes before she took the stage. It was amazing! I was slightly starstruck and on a high the rest of the afternoon.

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I ran over to another special event with HP, and then back for the afternoon session. The session rooms were super crowded as they did not have enough chairs so I had to sit on the floor. Not a huge deal, but just thought planning would have been better for the amount of people there.

After this, we were on our own for dinner. There was an event that night my roommates and I decided to skip, and instead we ubered to Disney Springs for dinner and drinks and had a blast.

My food was very good and I will definitely be back again.

We had a happy hour I was invited to that we attended next, so we ubered to a different hotel for it and met some more great people, and had yummy drinks and snacks.

We were all tired after that so we got in our PJ’s, made some drinks and watched TV in bed. Adulting is hard.

The next morning we had to pack up all of our stuff since we were checking out of the hotel, so we brought it all to our cars before breakfast. We ate, had another keynote (Gabby Reece and Laurie Hernandez!) and then I had another special event called “speed dating”. I had 90 seconds to talk with 6 brands and see if they wanted to work with me. It was super nerve wracking but also fun.

I went back into the expo after that was over because I had some time before lunch. I grabbed a mashtini from Bob Evans (yum!) and met with a couple more brands.

After lunch I had a meeting with another brand, so I missed part of the keynote but came back to see Carla Hall and Cat Cora speak.

Then we went to our last session which was by far my favorite. I am implementing things I learned as we speak, and can’t wait to do more! I decided to not stay for the closing party so I could get back to Tampa and help my husband with Emma Kate, but I was also too worn out to stay up late then drive home.

I had a blast getting to know my roommates more and also meeting other bloggers and brands. That in itself was worth it to me.

So to recap BlogHer:

Things I loved: Meeting new bloggers, hanging out with my roommates, meeting with brands, a couple of the sessions and special events. The host hotel was amazing.

Things that were just OK: variety of food. At breakfast there was no protein which made me sad. Some of the sessions didn’t have space/seating and were more surface level teaching than I would have liked.

Things I didn’t like: Being turned away for an event I registered for. This happened again later in the weekend for a special movie screening some people attended as well. Way way way too much political talk. And it was very obviously one sided. Was not a fan. Teach me about blogging! teach me about networking!

Would I attend again. It depends. If it was in an easy to get to location and my friends were going as well as great brands/sponsors, I would go again. I would just skip some of the keynotes and things I know that I’m not going to be a fan of hearing.

If you have any questions let me know, I would be happy to try and answer.

 

5 Things Friday XXV

Hey guys! I haven’t done one of these in awhile so I thought it would be fun for this Memorial Day weekend Friday.

1.) Me, Bobby, and Emma Kate are headed to Orlando on Sunday and will be hitting the Disney Waterparks (her first time at a water park!) We will be going to Blizzard Beach because I hear that is the most kid friendly of the two. I can’t wait! I haven’t been to a Disney Waterpark in YEARS.

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2.) While we are in Orlando we will be staying at the Wyndham I-Drive, which is the official hotel for International drive. I will be posting pictures and Insta stories on Sunday and Monday, so stay tuned!

3.) I attended a Carnival Cruise Lines event yesterday at Port Canaveral, and will be posting a blog post about it soon. We were on the Carnival Liberty for a couple of hours, eating hamburgers!

4.) You may have noticed I am finally back to running! I haven’t done anything over three miles, but my leg is feeling better and better. I still have to foam roll and stretch really well, and don’t have 100% range of motion when I squat or lunge, but I have no knee pain!

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5.) Recently we tried out FitLife foods, which has locations here in Tampa, and delivers meals right to your door. You get to pick what meals you want and when you want them delivered, and they just show up! Some of them tasted pretty good, and some were honestly pretty bland and needed some serious salt and pepper. I enjoyed not having to think/worry about what I was going to eat for dinner as a busy working mom, which was the main/huge draw for me. I just knew we had meals in the refrigerator, and so that stress hanging over my head was gone, plus I didn’t have to go to the store as much. But, the one downside for us/Bobby is that the portion sizes were too small for him. He eats a lot and works out a lot and would need 2-3 “meals” for one meal, and that gets expensive quickly.  I may give them another go the next time he is out of town and it’s just me and Emma Kate, because I truly enjoyed the convenience! If you haven’t tried it out I say give it a go one time!

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Blog to Business at Food and Wine Conference

Good morning! I have some fun news to share today. I will be speaking on a panel at the amazing Food and Wine conference next month in Orlando, Florida!

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I am super excited, as it has been awhile since I have attended and spoken at a blog conference. I love that I live in a place now where I don’t have to travel far to attend fun things like this!

My session will be on Sunday, and you can check out my speaker bio here. The panel I am speaking on will be discussing turning your blog into a business, and how to handle/balance it all with everything else going on in life. I will be speaking with three other great influencers, and I can’t wait to share my journey!

If you are looking to attend the conference, you can still sign up.

Why would you want to sign up? Well, first of all, because it is being hosted at the gorgeous Rosen Shingle Creek resort in sunny Orlando, Florida.

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I mean how gorgeous is this place?

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There are going to be some GREAT sessions with awesome speakers, I am already planning out who and what I want to see. Also of course, don’t forget about the amazing FOOD that will be there! I can’t wait to share my experience with you through social media, but I do hope some of you will sign up and join me at the conference!

QOTD: Have you ever attended a conference like this?

The Best Blogging Resource Tools To Make You Money

I have been blogging for a long time now, but am a perpetual student. I literally learn new things every day, and that is what I find so fun and fascinating about blogging and social media. I have been lucky enough to make money from my blog over the years, but have recently stepped up my game to make my blog even more profitable. I feel like there is plenty of space for everyone in the blogging world, and didn’t want to keep my methods to myself.

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So, I decided to create a Resources page for my blog, giving you the best blogging resource tools, and pin it up in my menu bar for easy access. When you click that link, you will be taken to a page that lists out (and links to) many of the tools, programs, and websites I use to keep my blog running smoothly. I will constantly be updating it I’m sure, but it’s a great start for someone not sure what they could do to take their blog or social media accounts to the next level.

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RELATED: Get my FREE Social Media Manager Checklist

While I won’t go through every single one here as the descriptions on my resources page are pretty straightforward, I did want to gush a little about my new favorite. If you subscribe to my email list then you already heard about this (and are hopefully using it!)

I have recently been loving using Link in Profile for my Instagram account. (<—Affiliate link) For years, whenever I had a blog post I wanted my Instagram followers to know about, I would post a relevant photo, tell everyone to go to my profile and click the link to be taken to my blog post. That’s definitely a great thing to do and a way to boost traffic, but I got frustrated with having to go in and change that link every single time I wanted to redirect it to a new post. With Link in Profile, you don’t ever have to do that again (Halleluiah!)

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You have ONE link that is forever in your Insta profile, and when people click it, they are taken to a page with all of your photos that have links associated with them. From there they can choose what blog post to go to. (Below you will see my most recent Instagram photo that has a blog link attached to it. On this page you can scroll down and see more photos and click more links!)

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It’s awesome, super easy to use, and a great value for the price. During the free trial, I saw a huge uptick in traffic being referred from Instagram to my blog. (YES I said free trial! What are you waiting for?) It’s definitely been a game changer and time saver for me.

You will find links such as this on my resources page that can be a game changer for you, too. As always, feel free to email me at [email protected] if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!

 

PS- Can you take 10 seconds and fill out a poll for me? THANK YOU!

QOTD: What tools would you add to my resources page?

7 Year Blogiversary

Well, with all the moving madness I am a little late, but did you know that I have now been blogging for SEVEN years?!? Looking back, my blog has evolved so much over the years, and it is truly my baby. I have put so much time, love, and many tears into my little corner of the world, and I thank you for taking this journey with me!

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Our first big race expo. Training for the runDisney half is what inspired me to start blogging.

For those of you who may have been here since the beginning, you will remember that this blog started out as Running With Sass, a running/training journal to hold me accountable. I had never blogged before and had zero idea what I was doing. (Heck, there are still days I have no idea what I am doing!) The blogging world has changed so much and some days it’s hard to keep up with all of the “new things” going on with blogs and social media, but I do love it and hope to do it for many more years to come.

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First half marathon

I realized as the years went on that I loved this community, the other bloggers, the readers, and the support. I love encouraging others and helping people, and am so thankful for all of the doors that blogging has opened for me. Heck, Bobby’s new job all came from a connection I never would have made if not for blogging! I owe my little blog so much, and I owe YOU my readers so much! Thank you for hanging in there with me through thick and thin, good times and bad.

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I can’t wait to share our new Tampa adventures with you in 2017 and beyond! Cheers to another year. XOXO.

5 Tips for Starting a Blog

Good morning! I have been getting a ton of questions lately about starting a new blog or how to improve your current blog. One of the main questions I get is “can I even blog?” The answer is YES! That’s what is so great about it. Anyone can blog, it’s YOUR words, your stories, you make the rules. You may know my blog started out as a training journal for running and morphed into so much more. I am by no means an expert, but as a 6+ year blogger, I do have 5 tips for starting a blog I wanted to share with you.

5 tips for starting a blog

1.) Don’t pigeon hole yourself with your domain name. My blog started as running only, so the name “Running With Sass” completely fit. However, after three years I was itching to branch out and blog about other things, so I had to go through the painful process of switching everything over to Through Heather’s Looking Glass which was quite a pain! If you know for a fact all you will ever blog about is running, or crafting, or whatever it is that is getting you to start a blog, then that’s fine, however…six years ago I didn’t think I would want to blog about other things, so it *may* be a good idea to do a  semi-generic domain/blog name to give you more freedom.

2.) Pick a platform. I started out on wordpress.com (My blog was runningwithsass.wordpress.com) I soon paid the extra money to have the “wordpress” part taken off, and after a year of blogging I went self hosted on WordPress.org. This allows me to be a part of blog networks, get paid for posts, etc. Some people use and love Blogger, but I am definitely a WordPress gal and think it’s very user friendly, and it is not very expensive. I am NOT great with technical stuff, but was able to easily navigate WordPress.org, and use Bluehost for my web hosting, and WordPress through Bluehost is FREE, and they offer technical support.

Click the picture below to check out Bluehost.


3.) Get involved on social media So you didn’t realize that starting a blog also meant juggling social media accounts did you? Of course, you don’t HAVE to use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, but they will greatly help grow your blog. Not only do I suggest joining them, but be ACTIVE on them, and don’t just talk about yourself. Actually interact. Also, comment on other people’s blogs. No one likes “that girl” who gets tons of comments but never interacts with the audience. It makes you seem un-relatable and not a real person. (Note: I’m not saying you should have to respond to EVERY comment, but some interaction is nice!)

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4.) Don’t compare. This is a biggie. A lot of new bloggers will look at blogs that have been around for years and immediately want to be like them, with the same number of followers, pageviews, etc. Very few people became an overnight success, so put in the hard work and your blog will grow, evolve, and change. You are at a different part of your journey, and everyone has to start somewhere.

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5.) Use Live Writer. I am a PC gal, and this is not available for Mac, but I use Windows Live Writer to draft and upload all of my posts. I remember when I first started using it, I was so mad I had been wasting so much time actually composing posts in WordPress all that time! Picture placement and adding links is so much easier in live writer, and then you can publish or schedule a post to go straight to your blog. Super easy, and a great blogging tool.

Want more of a step by step guide to setting up your blog plus more tips? Enroll in my FREE e-course now! 

QOTD: New bloggers- did you find this helpful? Veteran bloggers: What would you add?

Congrats to the winners of my eBook giveaway! (Please email me at [email protected]) You can see who it is on the Rafflecoptor widget on my birthday blog post.  If you didn’t win, you can go pre order my eBook now! You will receive the eBook on Wednesday.

It’s My Birthday & a Giveaway

Hola friends. It’s my birthday! It’s my birthday! Birthdays have always been big in my house. Cake, presents, and even eating out of the special birthday plate. (What, you don’t have one?) Today is a VERY special birthday though, because my baby, my eBook that I worked super hard on (and may have cried over a few times) is starting it’s pre sale today, like as in you can pre order it RIGHT NOW!

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ok…. so what are you waiting for? I’ll be here when you get back.

A couple of notes about the pre order just to make sure we are on the same page (pun intended). 1.) Your card/account will not be charged until the 20th, which is when the book will be delivered digitally to your inbox. 2.) The price of the book will go up on the official launch day which is the 20th of July. So don’t miss out on pre sale pricing!

This is my very first digital product, so I will admit I am a little nervous. I really hope you will love the eBook and will be able to sense the effort, time, and love I put into each chapter. I feel that my blog is a platform I use to reach others, and I hope to encourage, inspire, and motivate with The Average Girl’s Guide to Living an Above Average Life.

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I wanted to give the opportunity for two of you to get the eBook totally FREE, since it’s my birthday and all. (Please note, don’t let the giveaway stop you from pre ordering. If you win and have already ordered, I will refund your money via paypal!) Please follow the directions below and good luck! The contest runs from now through July 16th. I will announce the winner Monday morning here on the blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The technical side of this eBook would not be possible without two very special and encouraging people. Katy built my landing page and sells a host of products and services that any blogger would find helpful. Abby (and Donnie) created the Book Boss program that made me feel like I could really actually do this, and I can’t believe it’s finally here. be sure to show them some love!

QOTD: No question today, just go check out my pre sale page and have a great July 13th! It’s a pretty good date if I do say so myself.

More eBook Information

Hey guys! We are getting closer and closer to the launch, and I am getting really excited to share more eBook information with you! I wanted to share more of it with you today so you will know what is coming. My tentative plan right now is to have a week long pre launch period. That way, you can pre purchase the book at a special price. Then, I will have the actual “launch day”, and pricing will go up a little bit. That day is also when my pre sale buyers will get their copy delivered to their inbox!

I also wanted to share with you the table of contents for the book. If you are a VIP on my e-mail list, then you already got to see the table of contents. Don’t worry, you can sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already and be the first to see new things, too!

I worked really hard on how to break my eBook down into sections and chapters that flowed together. I wanted everything to make sense!

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Next week, I will be sharing an excerpt from the eBook with my subscribers. I will also be posting here on the blog a little bit more about the content and why I chose to write about what I did.

One more thing. If you are interested in helping me spread the word about my eBook during the presale and/or launch by a blog post mention or social media post, please send me an email at [email protected]. I would give you a graphic, hash tags, and even talking points if you would like so there is minimal work on your part. (of course if you want to say more you are welcome to do so!) I would so appreciate your help. I hope to be able to inspire and help as many average feeling ladies as I can, and you can be a part of that! Get excited, it’s almost time!

QOTD: What section are you most excited to read? What books are you reading this summer? What is your favorite eBook written by a blogger? 

My Big Secret

If you subscribe to my e-mail list, then you already heard the revealing of my big secret. I have been hanging onto this for several months now, and it has been driving me crazy not being able to share it with you. I have felt like I was a liar, and being deceitful, even though the reality was I just wanted to get the ball really rolling before I spilled the beans…

I have almost finished writing an eBook.

Yes! I have felt the call to write something more than just my blog for many years now, but I would always stop trying because all of the technical “stuff” got me frustrated. I would get bogged down in logistics and how sales would work, how I would publish my eBook, and then of course…would anyone read it?

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Thanks to a well timed and awesome e-course by Abby from Just a Girl and Her Blog*, I was able to really dig in, get to writing, and get help with the technical side of things. I kept it a secret for a long time because I felt like if I said it out loud, it meant that I really had to follow through. I know all of you would hold me accountable, which is awesome but equally scary.  So I waited until I was in the (current) editing/formatting stage to break the news, because it’s coming out SOON. Yes, I plan to launch in July. That’s next month in case you aren’t keeping track.

I admitted to my email subscribers how terrified I am to actually do this, because I have put my whole heart into this project and would be pretty upset if it did not go over well. However, I am proud of myself for doing something that seemed so, so hard for me. In the end that will be enough. I proved to myself I can do hard things!

Here are some of the details about my eBook. The title is: “The Average Girl’s Guide to Living an Above Average Life.” Tips and tricks for becoming the best version of yourself.

Back when I sent out my first newsletter to my email subscribers, I asked you all to respond with something that is a current struggle. I received a lot of great responses, and the overwhelming theme of them had to do with stress, a lack of time, and a lack of confidence or motivation. I read responses like:

“I am so tired all the time, there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.”

“My house is a MESS, and I lack motivation to clean it.”

“I have a goal of doing XYZ but I am too busy to even think about my dreams/goals let alone have the time to accomplish them.”

“I want to lose weight/eat better/workout more but I lack the confidence and don’t even know where to start.”

Can you relate to any of these? I know I could! It was heart breaking to read, because I could feel the stress, sadness, and longing seeping  through the emails. It reminded me of a time in the not so distant past when I was feeling the exact same way. I had just given birth to Emma Kate, and was really struggling with my identity, my stress level, exhaustion, and a mountain of a to do list. I felt like I would never get through it, so why bother? I’m just a regular average girl who would never amount to a whole lot.

Eventually I was able to come out of the fog, and I immediately started to make some changes that have been beneficial to my family as whole. Do I have it all together? Absolutely not. I still get stressed out, sometimes have a messy house, and definitely don’t feel like working out all the time. However, I have a system in place and have learned a few key tips and tricks. Most importantly, I learned to BELIEVE IN MYSELF. In my eBook I aim to teach you the things I learned, along with personal stories sprinkled in, most of which I have never shared on the blog before (and some laughing at my expense!)

At first I thought no one would really care what I had to say, but then I realized when you find something that you believe works, it just feels wrong to keep it to yourself. I wanted to help other women who have been there and done that in terms of feeling overwhelmed, forgotten, and average. Even if my eBook only helps one person, then it will be worth it to me.

I am thrilled to share with you all how I was able to get my life (sort of ) in order, and reach my full potential. I am still growing and learning every day, but I feel like I am in a really good place. I don’t have an official launch day yet, but please stay tuned! I will be doing a pre-sale with a lower price for the eBook, so you won’t want to miss out on that. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. My VIP’s on that list will be the first to know my launch date, pre-pricing info, and more.

I hope you are as excited as I am, I can’t wait to share my heart with you and prove to you that you are more than average.

QOTD: Have you ever thought about writing an eBook? Do you read eBooks?

*This is an affiliate link. This means if you click through and purchase, a small portion of sales go to me. Of course I would never post a link to something I didn’t believe in or use myself. Thanks for supporting THLG!

Blogger and Social Media Influencer Resource List

As a blogger and social media influencer who has been at it for several years, I feel like I have learned a lot. It’s kind of comical to look back at those first couple of years worth of posts (and cringe a little bit) and also think of the time wasted because I didn’t know about certain tools to help me to do things more efficiently, quickly, or professionally. I know TIME is so precious, and for most people, blogging or using social media is a hobby or job in addition to a “regular” day job. If you are like me, you don’t have time to waste trying to figure everything out on your own. That’s why I created a resource list.

blogger and social resource list

I used to try to edit photos in Paint (bless it) and didn’t even know what a plugin was and didn’t dare touch any of the settings in my dashboard. I posted long long long links on Twitter taking up all 140 characters, and my sentence structure was sometimes hard to read (and still can be when I don’t take the time to sue certain tools to help me!) Writing a single post plus editing photos and writing out social shares used to take me hours, but now I have it pretty streamlined into a more focused effort.

I have learned that having great photos, and making sure your page is optimized for SEO is so important. As is checking that links aren’t broken, and making sure my writing too hard to read. These may seem like little things, but they can make the difference in a reader coming back to your site again, or not. Or it could make them choose to give you a “like” or “follow” or not.

I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did, so I have put together a resource list of ten tools that I use as a blogger and social media influencer that will help you with posting, photo editing, and social sharing. You have heard of some, all, or none, but even if I just teach you one new thing it will have been worth it for me!

Sign up in the box below, and I will immediately send you over a copy of 10 of the resources I use on an almost daily basis. Let me know if you have any questions!

RELATED: Free Social Media Manager Checklist