Standing Out in the Blogosphere

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on May 4, 2012

Last weekend I had the great honor and privilege of speaking at the first ever Titus 2:1 Conference. Almost two years ago, my Twitter friend Cheryl had a vision and responded to God’s call to put together a blogging conference for Christian homeschool moms. After much praying, planning, and preparation she pulled together a wonderful conference!

Cheryl asked me quite some time ago to be a keynote at her conference and speak to these busy blogging women on the importance of connecting with brands and how to go about it. I have decided to share with you just a small portion of what I spoke about. I’ve edited my notes so as to appeal to a broader audience, but the key points are the same across the board.

8 Important Things To Do To Get Your Favorite Brands To Notice You

Find your niche – I know we’re all bloggers, but what can you add to your blogger title? For me focusing on “Big Family Fun” sets us apart from the norm. We are an anomaly to most. It’s okay to be eclectic and not box yourself in to a specific niche, but what is your voice saying? God created us all individually, with unique characteristics and interests. Focus on yours.

Be yourself – Authenticity is a must in blogging, as it is life. Be the same you online as you are offline. People can see through fake, so be sure you stay true to your voice and stay real.

Be personal and approachable – Are you active on Twitter and Facebook? Are you available to your friends and followers? Is your contact information in a prominent place on your blog? Respond to tweets, DMs, and messages. Build those online social relationships. You never know where a relationship may lead.

Get yourself out there – Go to blogging and social media conferences. (I’ll be at EVO and BlogHer this summer – Let me know if I should look for you!) Attend local tweetups and social media events. Seek out media opportunities. Make sure you are seen.

Invest time, attention, and money to your blog’s design – Pretty up your site and let it reflect who you are and what you love.

Be professional and stay away from drama – Carry yourself with confidence and always be prepared with business cards and an “elevator pitch.” Don’t be afraid to speak out, when in disagreement, but speak your mind in love and with grace and avoid the stuff that doesn’t matter.

Sing your own praises without being arrogant – Make yourself known. Putting together a kick-butt “About” page and media kit is uber important.

Don’t be afraid to make the first move – Write that pitch. Send that email. Make that phone call. Don’t ever believe the lie that you are not “big” enough.

It’s easy to feel like we are little fish in such a big sea of bloggers, but you can stand out!

What do you do to get your favorite brands and companies to notice you?

photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via photo pin cc

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I’ve Lost My Bloggy Groove, But I Want It Back

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on February 1, 2011

*Long post ahead. Please bear with me and stick it out until the end… I have a couple of questions for you.**

I’ve been keeping a web log – aka blogging – for almost six years. I began writing online mainly as a way to stay in touch with one lovely friend who moved far, far away. This friend begged and pleaded with me and, after nearly succumbing to the excuse that I had not the time, I logged on to homeschoolblogger.com and chose the username and blog ID YoungMommy.

Occasionally I would talk about products and services that I loved, but I wrote mostly about what was going on in our family, life with four kiddos (all under the age of four), my pregnancy with baby #5, our homeschooling and travel adventures, and anything else that struck my fancy. Poems, short quotes, personal stories and pictures graced the virtual pages of Organized Chaos.

Never did I imagine that, after only a few short months, not only did my beautiful friend check in often, but I had many consistent readers and would eventually be sought out by companies to help create buzz around their products. I snagged the handle YoungMommy on Twitter and thus began my venture in to product reviews and the new world (for me, anyway) of social media.

After much thought, and a few reviews on Organized Chaos, I made the decision to begin From Dates to Diapers – A blog that would house my product reviews, details about contests that I found around the blogosphere, and perhaps even host a contest or two of my own. After all, I didn’t want to inundate my Organized Chaos readers with “a bunch of commercials,” since they were, in fact, reading to hear about the next brilliant thing one of my kiddos said and not to hear about the diaper ointment I was using.

A couple of months went by. Many blog posts were written on both Organized Chaos and From Dates to Diapers. More than a few diapers were changed and a only few dates were enjoyed. I realized that keeping up with two sites was near impossible with my commitment to quality and dedication to my family. So I made the decision to merge the two blogs. And, now we have From Dates to Diapers as you know it.

You’ve seen me through two more pregnancies, rejoiced with me over the birth of Noah and the birth of Timothy, heard about birthday parties, vacations, bad days and good. I’ve shared our school schedules and lamented with you over the fact that I am so not crafty and hate to cook. You’ve seen bits of blog trips, squeed with me over meeting celebrities and faithfully watched my appearances on news programs.

I’ve blogged because I love to write, I love to talk about my family, and I love the connection I have with other women on and offline. It’s been fun these last five-and-a-half years and I have met some amazing people… people who have become some of my best friends. I am indebted to you for making From Dates to Diapers what it is today!

My love for blogging hasn’t changed, necessarily, but now I feel stuck. These last four months have been spent enjoying my new little baby and watching him grow and interact with his siblings. My older kiddos and I have had long days of school and spent lots of time just being together. Even though most of my writing took place after my kiddos were in bed before, I guess you could say that I got out of the habit of spending time virtually composing my thoughts mainly because I needed every bit of sleep that Timothy would allow me.

But, while I was spending almost all of my “free” time catching up on sleep, I fear many of you gave up on me. I know I could publish a post about what we did on any particular day, I would still like to write out Timothy’s birth story for posterity, and I have a plethora of products I need to write about, but I’d love to hear what you want to see and read here on From Dates to Diapers in the next few weeks. Do you have any pressing questions for me? Something you’d like for me to talk about?

It’s time for me to find my bloggy groove again.

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Mom Bloggers and Big Brands

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on November 14, 2009

I don’t make a habit of addressing articles in which I’ve been quoted, but I’m making an exception here. There is a story on the front page of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times – Blogging moms wooed by food firms – and I’ve allowed Ray to post his thoughts. Please weigh in and let us know what you think!

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Do you think Tiger Woods’ endorsement of Nike or Buick diminishes his name or their brands because he’s paid millions of dollars to pitch them?

Is Kelly Ripa less credible on Live because she’s paid to promote Electrolux? Does that make Regis a better person?

Of course the answer is “No.” But oddly, when it comes to mommy bloggers offering a positive comment about a product after they’ve had a chance to visit a brand’s operation in Los Angeles or New York, some cry foul. They say moms have been compromised and aren’t to be believed.

But the truth is just the opposite.

Take my wife for example. Christine will only talk about products, brands or services that she enjoys and trusts personally. If she doesn’t like it or if it fails in some way, she won’t talk about it. In fact, she has put together boxes of products to donate to Goodwill after deciding not to endorse them for one reason or another. You’ve never heard anything about these products from her. That’s because she’s decided not to brand bash – this site is all about our family and what we like and enjoy, not what sucks. For that, she gets criticized by some.

Most mommy bloggers do not get paid to post their opinions on products (and my wife is no exception), however consider this – Wisk laundry detergent recently invited Christine, all expenses paid, to New York City for a couple of days so she could learn about their product. How fun would that have been? But since she’s sold on Tide (no offense to Wisk, which I’m sure has a good product) and she uses it on the bazillion loads of laundry our family churns out each week, she turned Wisk down. And this is only one such example.

Why is it that there seems to be one standard for mom bloggers and another for celebrities who endorse products? In my way of thinking, the mom’s are, if anything, more credible than the celebrities. Does Tiger really drive a Buick? Does Kelly Ripa really cook her own meals? Does Oprah really love Butt Paste?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that real moms with real families blog and talk about the products they use and love.

One other thing to consider, just as celebrities wouldn’t associate their name with something dubious, neither would most mom bloggers. I know Christine certainly wouldn’t.

On a related note, I do have to say that sometimes I wish she would rip on some products that deserve to be criticized heavily… Think water bottle you’d take to drink at the gym and change nothing. Now give to the kid in the back seat, because you don’t want to stop to let him go to the bathroom. Do you think at some point that someone might get a mouthful of something unpleasant?

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Why all the Bloggy Events?

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on May 5, 2009

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Yes, I have been on quite a few sponsored trips in the last few months and I am hearing all sorts of questions about them. The question that I hear most often is “What are the benefits of these events for the company and/or the blogger?”

Well, first let me touch on what I see companies gain from these events. I have been to events where I felt like I was watching a great big infomercial, with products pushed at me the entire time we were together. But, I have also been to great events where it has been more of a relationship-building, learning experience.

The ROI (return on investment) for the company hosting the event may be the knowledge gained from talking to real moms (Campbell’s), establishing a focus group or word-of-mouth marketing team (Frito-Lay’s Fab 15), finding the perfect spokesperson for an upcoming campaign (J&J), or simply just creating awareness about their products, services, or current campaigns (Stouffer’s and Disneyland Resorts and Walt Disney World). The benefits may include buzz that is created around the trip or, more importantly, it could be just about creating new friendships or maintaining existing relationships.

Second, what are the benefits for the blogger attending? Relationship building, by far! The connections that I have made, both with other bloggers and with the company hosting the event, have been priceless. Because of these connections I have formed life-long friendships, have consulted with companies, become a campaign spokesmom, and even become one of Walmart’s ElevenMoms.

Another question that I am asked fairly often is how I seem to be invited to all these events and blogging trips. I’ve been asked if I’m part of an “exclusive club” or even been accused of being a part of a “clique.” That makes me sad! These trips are not “cliquish” in any way, nor are they a result of my relationship with Walmart. Believe it or not, I was invited to brand sponsored events even before I became one of the ElevenMoms!

It is important to understand that each event that I have been invited to has been because of a relationship I am forming with folks in that particular company, because a company found me through an article or my online involvement in areas aside from my blog, or because I was recommended by another attendee. It is not because I whined, begged, pleaded, or even asked. I don’t believe in weaseling my way in, pretending to be anyone’s friend, in hopes of a free trip. Instead, I have built relationships, both online and off, and it happened to pay off in ways I never expected!

If you are wondering how you can be noticed by companies planning events, take a look at what my good friend Lori Dolginoff, from Johnson & Johnson, recommends. “As a blogger you should take advantage of opportunities to get yourself noticed in a positive light,” she says. Join online communities, enter company brand contests (like the Big Bubblin’ Stars Contest), engage in positive conversations, and attend blogger conferences (like BlogHerLori will be there and she loves hugs!). Make new friends, both online and off.

Are you staying neutral in the blogosphere? Do you engage in positive conversations about brands and products? Are you a key influencer, both online and off? Are you likeable, approachable, and friendly? If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are pretty great that you will be invited to an event, or two. Please let me know when you are… I want to jump up and down with you!

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I’m in Austin for SxSW!

March 14, 2009

. Not sure if I told ya’ll, but thanks to Walmart and Johnson’s Baby I am in Austin for the HUGE, and wildly popular, South by Southwest (aka SxSW or SouthBy) conference. I’m not sure I can really call it a conference, but I digress… I am attending the Interactive track with 17 of my [...]

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