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Blogging

#sbww14 part 1

A few years ago, actually, not that long after my surgery; I met this blogger named Jane. I'd been following her blog somehow. (I really can't tell you HOW I found out about her.) Fast forward to the weekend of the Super Bowl, and there was this blogger meet upScreen Shot 2014-02-10 at 9.09.14 PM I had just started working on taking Old Town Suds to market so it was a good time to test out some selling points. I met a few other bloggers and we have all stayed in touch in carrying degrees. But - what spawned from that informal meeting at Caffee Amouri surrounded by uber delicious coffee, was a small business group.

Over the next few months our meeting grew from every so often to monthly to "omg I need a relief from the show schedule let's get wine after the show".  We've become known for our coffee and wine habits. Which later turned into coffee, wine and detox on scrumptious juice habits.

This past summer, our meetings included our husbands. They started to wonder what we actually accomplished at our meetings. Was it just to hangout? (yes) Just to cheer each other on? (yes) Consume mass amounts of cheese? (hell, yes) But from weddings, births of first babies, unexpected loss (be prepared to ugly cry), and huge business wins - we've been there to support each other as we grow our businesses.

This past weekend, we gathered for our first overnight retreat. We'd always talked about doing something but understanding the handbag pockets only go so deep (and I'm rather picky about hotels), we ended up a Housman B&B, otherwise known as my dining room and guest rooms.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 9.50.47 PM

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Time for a Little Change

Things have been a bit slow on the blog the last month. I've been going back and forth on whether to completely redesign this whole site. I finally decided to do a complete overhaul and am excited for the new adventure, the new design and a few other upgrades that will happen with the new site.  So stick with me through the next few weeks as I begin the transition.

What should you expect? Nothing for the next few days. As we get everything up and running, things will remain the same over here for the next month or so. When the new site is ready to launch, you'll be in for a treat! (Though, if you are like me, you only read content in Google Reader so you won't even notice a change, except for more frequent posting.)

Why the change? It isn't because I am disappointed with my current service, in fact, I really do like it. Though, similar to handbags of the past, it just isn't the best fit for me now. I know that in order to grow to where I want to take this site, I need a little change. I also learn best by doing and there is no better way than a full immersion. The last few days I also learned not to tell a web designer that you also want to perfect your skills; especially when you are married to said designer. A - He holds you to it and B - He makes sure you do learn what you set out to learn. I apologize in advance for any errors you experience, those are 100% my coding mistakes. 

Blogworld - Day 2

Day 2 - The last day in Vegas. Thank goodness. Although I thoroughly enjoyed parts of the conference, I learned that Vegas isn't exactly the city for me. By the end, I was craving Alexandria. I wanted to be home. Before I could go home, I still had some things to do:

Understanding Video Formats

John Foster had an awesome example of compression and what happens to your content when you squeeze it down over and over again. He took an advertisement, squeezed it and threw it across the room. Then, someone threw it back. He did this over and over again. Each time, we looked at the quality of the image. Each time it got worse. Surprised? No. But how many of us compress everything over and over again and don't think about it?

The point that stood out to me, based on what questions my community deals with constantly, is define what your target is. You don't need 1080p as your source if you are taking something large down to something for 720. Why bother? Shoot in that and edit from there and there is no need to compress. In the end, you are going to end up with a better product in the long run.

The Rest of the Conference

The rest of the time at the conference was really spent on the expo hall floor. I wanted to learn about several different products and take advantage of the Ford test drives that were going on. Where else can you hassle free test drive a car? So, we really did take advantage of the opportunity.

What we found, by test driving 4 different cars, was we are in the market for a crossover! (BEST part of the conference) It has taken me 1.5 years to talk the other half into something other than a sedan. Thank you, Ford. So, after a bit of independent research back in out hotel room, we decided that we are most likely going to get the Edge.

Why are we sold on the Edge? Outside of the physical aspects of what the car can hold, etc this is why:

Ford BWE Demo of My Ford Sync 

I did cut the video when Joel started explaining what the Twitter API is. I started filming again to get a bit more of the features. The only editing I did was to stabilize the footage.

Pt 2 of our Demo with Ford 

I would think for those of use that are connected to our phones, these features are becoming a necessity. I won't have to look at my Google Maps app to figure out how to get somewhere. I can still place a call and not have to fiddle with my phone and the list goes on. I hate talking on the phone and driving; let alone trying to manage the GPS. As most of my friends know, I get lost very easily in the DC Metro area. I hate leaving Alexandria because I will inevitably get lost. Having my favorite places plugged in ready to go with maps I can update with an SD card is perfect. 

So why are we most likely going to get the Edge? Because we are waiting just a bit. I want to see what the 2012 models look like, and to be honest, our current car will suffice for a bit longer. (Really longer than I want to admit.) But, that doesn't mean I don't want the Edge now! 

I should also note, the only thing I got from Ford through the conference was a USB key chain; just like everyone who went to their booth.

Final Thoughts

This had been one interesting event. I have learned a lot about me and where I want to take this blog. Partly, through insights from @Squarespace about the future of the platform and how maybe the changes I was looking to make design wise may need to wait. I also learned that I am not a Vegas kinda person. I beg, beg all tech conferences to move to San Francisco. I will gladly play a higher ticket price if that is what it takes.

For those looking to attend Blogworld next year, this was a very entry level event. I was really there for the expo hall because it was much better than SXSWi's trade show. If you are new to blogging, it is worth it. If not, you should look for events in your local area to attend. All-in-all, I am glad I made another trek West. Being able to see friends and make new ones is always worth it!

Blogworld - Day 1

It is Friday in Las Vegas, the city that really doesn't sleep. And I thought NYC had the hold on that statement. It seemed like most people were going to be when we were getting up at 7 am.

The best part of the conference for me so far, has been the expo hall. There are a lot of products and services I have been wanting to learn more about. The best place for me to do that is here. I am kinda excited to try out a few new toys when I get back to DC.

Networked Nonprofit

Session! Have been slow coming for me. I did catch a the end of an awesome session that Beth Kanter was a part of with Clare (@hope140) from Twitter. It wasn't anything too new for me personally, but they did provide some nice tips for organizations.

"We make many mistakes; social media is forgiving if you are real"

It is simple for nonprofits to excel in twitter; just follow Clare's 5 steps: T.W.E.E.T.

Target - you can't get anywhere if you don't know what your goal is and you need to customize your account accordingly. I am so tired of the standard twitter background that is everywhere. At least pick another option that they have. Even better, would be a background with your logo and contact information on it. Then, serve as an information source and personal face to the organization. It is social for a reason, so get out there! But, no matter your goal, customize, customize, customize

Write - Tweet! Get your worlds and thoughts out there. See what works! If it doesn't work, change your strategy.

Engage - Get people interested in what you are saying. Jump in in conversations. Favorite tweets and retweet. Engage with your followers. My biggest pet peeve when organizations don't do this!!

Explore - Search! Search for when people are talking about you and the issues that you are connected to. That is how people notice you. Good way to do this? Influencers. Develop relationships with key influencers, media, etc to eventually help promote your cause/issue.

Track - If it is working, then you need to learn how to simplicity. Depending upon your job, so it takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to manage your tweeting.

The Biggest Test

I cannot believe I am about to post this, but we test drove a Ford today. Thanks to the TWiT, Joel hears about Leo's car with Sync all the time. Since Ford is a major sponsor here, we decided to learn more about sync and to see if it does what we are looking for.

Ford Flex Test Drive

The main thing is that we want to be able to control our iPhone's through the car and have an integrated navigation system. Both of which we saw could be accomplished through their demo of sync on the show floor. So I signed us up for a test drive. Yup, I am a sucker. If it is well made and does what I want it to do, then I am sold.

Tomorrow we are going to test drive the Edge which is another car they have. The Flex, although rather nice, is just way too much car for us. Joel wants the Focus, I am pushing for something bigger. The Edge may just be the compromise we need. Plus, it has the new sync features in it that I want to demo.

The Future of Blogging Platforms

This panel was interesting to me because, well, I am trying to decide if I want to stick with Squarespace. Do I pay for a designer or do I totally switch? The facilitator is the head honcho at Woopra, which I love.

Future proofing your blog. The constant battle of staying up to-date. It is something that I am currently struggling with day in and day out. What should I be doing, especially when I feel my current platform isn't giving me the support it feel it should.

The best and worst part is the session never covered that. It did lead to a very interesting conversation with John Foster afterwards. We met John way back in '08 when visiting San Francisco and loved bumping into him during the session. Our conversation revolved around who actually owns the content on a blog if it isn't self-hosted. That really made me reconsider using WordPress and our server. Then, a Squarespace rep came over to talk to use because he recognized us from our many twitter "conversations". What he said about V6, which will be (fingers crossed) rolling out shortly, is making me rethink everything. I don't have the best answer yet, but I have a feeling I should wait it out and see. I am very intrigued by what he had to say (which I can't share here, sorry!).

With that, I will leave you with the quote of the session: "We'd do file management as well as SharePoint does the blogs" Sachin Agarwal