Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -Marilyn Monroe

This quote sums up what I’m feeling right now.  Sweet Phenomena is a good thing.  I’m proud of what I’ve created.

That said, I feel like it’s not really where I want it to be.  I feel like it’s started to fall apart.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I tend to throw myself into things backwards:  I get excited, start something, then learn along the way, and polish it.

Someone at Blissdom mentioned that there was nothing wrong with that because otherwise, I might talk myself out of doing new stuff.  Yep, that’s what I’m going to tell myself.

I started Sweet Phenomena as a way to document our homeschooling life.  Well, I never thought I’d still be homeschooling.  And, I don’t create my own curriculum and resources, so it’s difficult to just blog exclusively about homeschooling.

Every once in a while I have a moment of homeschool blogging genius, but it’s not something I’m passionate enough about to write exclusively about it.

Or wait, no that’s a lie.  It’s too broad.  I feel I need to narrow my focus.

I started doing reviews and giveaways and thought that would be fun.  Get free stuff?  Sure.  Give stuff away to my awesome readers?  Sure.

Don’t get me wrong, I love doing giveaways for you guys.  I still plan to offer them from time to time.

I still plan to do reviews.  One: I’m a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew for the remainder of 2012.  They’re reworking things over there a bit, and I’m really looking forward to making that a quality part of Sweet Phenomena.

Two: there are items out there that I think work well with homeschooling.  I will, however, be more selective about what I review.  I’m doing too many right now and it’s cutting out all the creativity and fun.  That’s not what I want.

It’s time for Sweet Phenomena to fall together into something better.  But what’s better?  Find out tomorrow!

 

Post-Blissdom Blues

That’s probably not the best title for this post, since I am thrilled to be back home with my family!  But, you just can’t deny the fact that going from dressing pretty, learning about/talking about/breathing blogging, dancing, and room service back to cleaning, errand running, and stuff is a bit hard.

I miss the great ladies I met. I miss the buzz that was in the air. I miss all the learning. I miss being able to say “I’m on WP and use Thesis” and knowing that people would understand. I miss all the tweeting!

But, there’s one thing that helps me put it all into perspective:

I found my Bliss.

I had five days to sit and gain better perspective of myself and where I’d like to be headed both professionally and personally.  I have ideas.  I have worksheets {the branding and you session was deep man}.  I have an awesome book to read.  I have new friends.  I am excited.

I plan on doing a complete Blissdom wrap-up post, but I wanted to share a few pearls of wisdom I took away:

  • Do not compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
  • Determine what your core values and strengths are, what your goals are, and this personal realization will guide everything you do, both personally and professionally.
  • Always hydrate while dancing for three hours.
  • The floor at the Gaylord Opryland is one of the most comfortable places to sit.
  • Push yourself outside of your comfort zone and you’ll be rewarded.
  • Just go up to people and introduce yourself. Nine times out of 10 they don’t bite and you’ll be so glad you did.

OK, that’s all for now.  Look for my Blissdom re-cap and some great new stuff here on Sweet Phenomena soon!

 

i.am.blogger

i.am.bloggerThere’s been a lot of talk recently among bloggers about moving to self-hosted WordPress. I know quite a few bloggers that have “lost” their blogs this week on Blogger.  So not cool.

This has caused many to bite the bullet and make the switch.  For what it’s worth, it’s really not as scary and expensive as everyone thinks it is.  And, for what it’s worth, you really, really, really should make the switch sooner rather than later {it’s easier to make sure everything transferred over/is linking correctly, you can work on getting that Alexa rank down, you won’t lose all your hard work, so many reasons!}.

Twenty70 Hosting

 

I just recently learned about this company, and I have to say, I wish I had known about it before.  Here are a few of the great things about Twenty70:

  • It’s woman owned -  I’m all about supporting the ladies.
  • It specializes in WordPress hosting with servers optimized for WordPress – Specialization like this rocks.
  • They own their own servers - Yeah, again, this rocks.
  • They’ve provided partial and full conference sponsorships over the past two years - I love that they support bloggers!

Kelly really works to create a bond between herself and her clients, which is way more than you can expect from other hosting companies.  And want to know what’s really awesome about Twenty70 hosting right now?

They’re offering the i.am.blogger hosting package, which gets you:

  • $5/month WordPress hosting
  • Free domain name for life
  • Transfer assistance
  • cPanel control panel {love cPanel!}

That’s it:  $5/month.  No contract.  No “pay for five years at $5/month”.  Just $5.  Per month.  You can do monthly or yearly billing.  Again, this is awesome!

I know a couple of bloggers that use Twenty70 hosting and love it.  I’m in the process of talking with Kelly about hosting for my stuff right now!

Let me know if you decide to go with Kelly, and if you have any questions!

True Confessions:  OK, I must confess:  I did write the post for a chance to win $100 spending cash at BlissDom.  I have not personally used Kelly’s service, but really do know bloggers who sing her praises to anyone who listens.  I am also really talking with her to see what I can work out for my stuff, because I really like the way she deals with customers and the great service she offers!

 

Sweet Social Media – The Duds

I’ve made it no secret here on Sweet Phenomena that I am compensated {in one form or another} for certain things, be that sponsored posts, paid opportunities, product reviews, advertising, etc.  I enjoy bringing you guys information about products and services you might not have known about, I enjoy getting to try new things, and I enjoy making a bit of spending money.

While some of this is accomplished by networking, through social media groups, and other means, a good majority is done by direct pitching.  This can be both fun and nauseating, at least for me.  You’re putting yourself out there, hoping that a business will see the value you’re offering, but primed for them to say no.

I have no problem with a polite “No, thank you.”  As a matter of fact, I welcome it.  If your business can’t {or doesn’t want to} work with me, please just let me know.  My feelings won’t be hurt, and I can move on.  And, it’s just plain courteous.

I went to college, I took business classes in high school, and I was taught that you always respond to a personal email.  I’m not talking the emails that you know have been sent to about 500 other folks, but one that has been specially crafted for you.

It annoys the crap out of me when I pitch a business and they can’t even take the time to respond to me.

Story Time

 

In November, Vince and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary {yay for us!}.  We never had a honeymoon, and ten is a pretty big milestone in the world we live in, so I thought it would be nice to really enjoy ourselves and celebrate.

Being a blogger, I of course thought, “I should find a few places and pitch them!”  The outcome would be two-fold:  we could get to take a fun little trip and the business would get social media street cred.

I was offering a two month social media package that consisted of a variety of things such as promotion on my blog, social media mentions, and other stuff, tailored to their business, for the duration of the year.  And I really wanted to do this right:  I offered to conduct interviews with chefs, PR folks, owners; I offered a blog series complete with separate posts on each aspect of their location; I truly wanted this to be something that properly showcased what they had to offer.

After all, you guys know if I love something, I let you know.  I get excited about it!

Pitch #1 went to Barnsley Gardens Resort.  I fell in love with the place, just from the website.  It had history, wide open spaces, a spa, outdoor activities, something for both of us.  We could relax, learn, do things together, and we’d both enjoy it.

I put together the email and sent it to their Director of Marketing {as per their Media Center page}, Sharon Ordono Cohen.  Then, crickets.  Nothing.  Still, to this day, nothing.  I would think that a company that has a specific section on their site set up as a media center, with the contact information of a marketing director, and all the special awards they’ve won, would at the very least take the time to reply to an email.

They didn’t.  Now had they done so, I’m pretty sure we still would have gone to the resort.  If we hadn’t gone for our anniversary, we definitely would have visited some time in the near future.  Because of this one small thing, they have lost at least one potential customer for life, and who knows how many more because of the fact that I have let people know how little they thought of me to reply.

I know I’m not a big-shot blogger.  I know I’m small potatoes.  But I am a person, and was a potential customer, which means I deserve respect as does anyone else.  They didn’t give me that, and that’s a big no-no in business.  Their marketing director should know that.

Did the Next Place Get it Right?

 

Um, no.

Next up is Bittersweet Cottage & Suite.  I found them when I decided I wanted to visit the Asheville, NC, area.  We were actually just going to book a few nights there, so I began conversing with one of the owners, Matt Clark, via email.  I had a few questions about the place that I needed answered before booking.  He  was prompt about getting back to me with answers.

Again, being the blogger that I am, I decided to pitch Matt.  I put together a social media promotion {similar to Barnsley, but again, tailored to Bittersweet} and emailed it to him.  I never heard from him again.  That’s right, the man who had promptly replied to my other emails  never sent me another.

As in the case of Barnsley Gardens, if he would have simply let me know they weren’t interested, I would have booked the trip anyway.  I would have told the countless family members we have in NC about them.  I would have eventually stayed there, and if I had loved it, I would have told you guys without being compensated for it.  Yet, just like Barnsley, they’ve lost a potential customer for life.

Final Thoughts

 

I know that I won’t always get what I want when it comes to blogging, or life for that matter.  I know that businesses are cutting costs and have to make tough decisions everyday.  What they did five years ago, they might not be able to do now.  Perhaps they’re already working with a blogger, perhaps I don’t have the numbers they need, there are many reasons that this wouldn’t have worked out for us.

That’s not the point.

Whether you can make something work or not, you always respond.  You give people that courtesy.  And that’s the issue I have with these companies.

So, if you’re a blogger looking to work with companies, just keep this in mind:  everyone doesn’t play nicely in the sandbox.  It’s just a fact.  Nice thing is, though, you can always come to your piece of internet real estate and let the rest of us know…

I’m happy to say, for every sorry experience, I probably get five good ones.  Most companies realize the value of what we do.  They are looking for a mutually beneficial relationship, and working with them is a pleasure.

Next week, we’ll talk about a few of my faves!

Blissdom Bound Baby!

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Creative Kristi DesignsYes, woot woot!

*dances around the room*

I’m still excited, it hasn’t worn off since I bought that ticket {thanks Dear!}.

Despite the excitement, I’m experiencing what many of you seem to be experiencing: sickening nausea over the fact that I don’t really know anyone.

I did meet Anne from Not a Supermom at BBCATL in October and enjoyed eating lunch with her, and she’s going, but I still don’t know her you know?  So, I’m pretty freaked out about the thought of walking into a room full of a ton of folks…

This is one of the reasons I think this Ice Breaker thing is a great idea; I’ve already found several bloggers I can’t wait to meet!  I’ve been slowly making the rounds, and finally got around to writing my post up.  I’d like folks to get to know me too!

Who Am I?

 

  • I’m a 30 year old mom and wife.  I’ve been married to Vince for 10 years, and we have a nine year old daughter, Babydoll.  That’s me down there.  We don’t have a recent family pic, or I’d post one.  There are pictures of all of us sprinkled around the blog though.

  • I couldn’t stand animals till I got my fur-babies:  Princess {a fluffy white cat} and Winston {a fluffy white dog}.  I’d seriously maim people for them.  For reals.

  • I’m a homeschooler.  We’re about as far from the homeschooling family stereotype as you can get:  we did not plan to do this {you can read more about that here}, we don’t do it for religious reasons, we don’t limit TV and video game time {so long as work is done}, and I don’t make my own curriculum.  But, we’re enjoying it so we stick with it.
  • I’m a perfectionist and I’m OCD, and it doesn’t serve me well.  Perhaps the only way these traits serve me is that I don’t like to fail and I throw everything into what I do.
  • I’ve worked as an accounting assistant, office manager, parking office assistant, cake artist, pastry chef, bistro cook, and freelance writer.  Oh, and now I’m a blogger and social media marketing assistant.
  • I love almonds and chocolate.  Together.  The only way to go yo.  Oh, wait.  Add caramel to that.  Freaking sweet.
  • I love food.  I love cooking it.  I love eating it.  I love reading about it.  I could totally do nothing but spend my time with food and be OK.  Well, as long as my family was with me…
  • I met my husband in junior high.
  • I can’t stand having messy hands or dirty socks.  Like, I’ll eat bacon with a fork because I can’t stand having stuff on my hands…  Or, I’ll change socks multiple times a day because I can’t stand the sight of stuff on them.  It’s an OCD thing; like I really “feel” it…
  • I totally *heart* planners.
  • I love my house and I like to go outside and stare at it.  That happens when you have to wait years for something…
  • I love computers, gadgets, technology, and gaming.  LOTRO FTW.
  • I love sparkly, glittery, pink stuff.

What is Sweet Phenomena?

 

  • Um, a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  Seriously, I tried the whole niche thing, and eventually found it didn’t work for me.  I’m not an uber-homeschooler, and I can’t constantly blog about that.  You’ll find posts about homeschooling, life, product reviews, giveaways, ending domestic violence, and anything else I feel like slapping up here.
  • Ending domestic violence is something I’m passionate about and something that I “officially” embraced in October here on Sweet Phenomena.
  • This is my creative outlet.  It may not be perfect.  It may not be done “correctly.”  It may not make sense to anyone else but me, but I love it.  I truly enjoy being here.
  • Here on the blog, I write the way I talk.  Yes, I really do use these words and phrases.  Ask folks that know me.
  • I am never completely happy with the layout/design.
  • It’s pink because I think pink is the most uber color ever.

There is, of course, a ton more to both subjects, but I’d prefer not to bore you.  Look for me at Blissdom, I’d love to meet you and discuss this more over chocolate.  Or lemon drops.  With chips and queso…  Or a steak…