#FLBlogCon 2014 Florida Blogger Conference

FLBlogCon14

FLBlogCon2014 Florida Blogger Conference

This past weekend I attended FLBlogCon 2014 Florida Blogger Conference for bloggers throughout the state. I discovered FLBLogCon earlier this year and signed up so that I could learn more about writing a blog. I have been blogging for several years but never really considered myself a blogger until I realized that my blog content worked in conjunction with my website, and in some cases totally separate.

If you have started a blog or are thinking about it, I highly recommend this conference for Floridians!

Mayor-Jacobs

Orange County Mayor Jacobs gave a welcome speech to the FLBlogCon

The day was extremely interesting and filled with knowledge of all kinds, held at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. The Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs stopped by to give us all a big welcome and then the conference began with a motivating opening keynote speech by Ted Murphy, CEO of Izea.

There were a large number of speakers on a wide range of topics which covered:

  • Starting and Growing a Blog
  • Content Creation (writing, photography, etc)
  • Different Social Media Tools & Strategies

I took three pages of notes on different ideas to grow my blog, ways to integrate my blog content with sponsors, I made some great connections and new friends. I was really surprised at the number of sponsors and the huge amount of support for the blogging community.

Barnies CoffeeKitchen supplied the much needed caffeine to start the day, and an awesome lunch was provided by Tijuana Flats! A big thanks to them for providing food selections for us vegetarians!

Hunger-Hero

Hunger Hero T-shirt and Award from Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

I was really delighted to learn that my recent blog post about holding an online food drive to help fight hunger: Hungry for Beads or Hungry for Food? was selected as the winner of a really cool Hunger Hero T-shirt and dinner for two by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida!!

Ford-Swag

Lots of great SWAG from Ford and other sponsors

Everyone walked away with lots of information and a big blue SWAG bag filled with goodies from Southern Ford Dealers, Brighthouse, Juice Plus+, Florida Dairy Farmers Association, MuskIt, Body Check Journal, and lots more!

Do you write a blog? For entrepreneurs, have you considered how valuable an online blog might be to your small business?

Let me know what you think!

Hungry for Beads or Hungry for Food? #FLBlogging4good #floridamilk

Hungry for Beads or Food

Hungry for Beads or Hungry for Food?

We bead jewelry artists may be hungry for more beads and jewelry findings, but many people are just hungry for more food! We joke about never having enough beads, but can you imagine not having enough food to eat like fruits, vegetables, milk or eggs?

What does hunger look like?

The face of hunger is unsuspecting and could look just like you or your neighbor. Right here in Central Florida there is an astonishing number of children, adults and elderly people who suffer from hunger due to a job loss, being homeless or on a low fixed-income. So many people are one paycheck away from any number of disasters that would cause them to not be able to feed themselves or their children.

How You Can Help Fight Hunger

I know you have seen food drives run by grocery stores, the local post office or the boy scouts but did you know that you can set up and run a Virtual Food Drive online?  The Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has created this online tool that anyone can use to run a food drive to support those in need of a good meal. Illustrated examples in the grocery cart show just how far a few dollars can go when donating through Second Harvest.

Virtual Food Drive shopping cart with easy online checkout

Organizing a Successful Food Drive

Organizing a successful Food Drive takes a lot of planning, volunteer work, and storage room to collect and disburse in the community. Many people would like to help but either don’t know how or do not have the time or manpower to run a food drive effectively. This really cool virtual tool at the Second Harvest Food Bank Website is easy to set up and manage and has the potential for greater participation through the wide reach of the Internet. Some great ideas for who can hold an online food drive include:

  • Individuals
  • Families
  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Groups & Clubs
  • Small and Large Businesses

Virtual Food Drives can be promoted on websites, blogs, email newsletters and different social media sites to generate interest and excitement about helping the community. Go to the Second Harvest Website today to learn more about starting an online Food Drive or donate to an existing drive to help fight hunger.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is a private, nonprofit organization that collects, stores and distributes donated food to more than 550 local non-profit feeding partners in six Central Florida counties: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia.

My Calling Making Prayer Beads and Rosaries

It is time to tell this story, believe it or not, about my calling: making Prayer Beads and Rosaries. I truly believe I was called to make Prayer Beads and Rosaries and perhaps others have experienced this same calling. Those who have been called may be able to relate to parts of this story.

Many years ago I began a spiritual relationship with God when He saved me from addiction to drugs and alcohol. I had been raised in the Protestant Church, so I had basic religious instruction, but it didn’t really mean anything to me until I began my recovery. I had a specific spiritual experience and once I was on the sober path I began opening my mind to seeking and finding out more about God’s purpose for me, learning to ask for direction at all times, and how to listen for His instruction. This was a very personal relationship that I didn’t share with too many people, I just went about my life in recovery and was blessed to have a renewed interest from childhood in beads and beading as a replacement for my destructive obsessions.

Being of an entrepreneurial mindset AND obsessive, I began buying and selling beads and jewelry findings, and also making jewelry to wear and share with family and friends. This became a little side business and pretty successful. I had a website and an ebay store that provided additional income. I was looking at my website one day and thought “what else could I add” to my current selections, then out of nowhere a voice in my head quietly and firmly said “Prayer Beads”. What a great idea, but I really knew nothing about Prayer Beads, since they were not used in the churches where I grew up. So I started to learn and educate myself by looking up the different types of prayer beads and how to make them, such as Catholic Rosaries, Anglican Prayer Beads, etc.

It took me several years to put this divine idea into action, and even though I still sell beads, and make other types of jewelry, making Rosaries and Prayer related pieces are my constant and consistent thoughts. I would like to say that every set of beads I make are inspired, and maybe in some way they are, but all are meticulously created and infused with my loving intentions.

I have done much reading and have acquired spiritual knowledge of all kinds from different faiths, and know that God (no matter what name you call Him) is constantly “streaming” out love, guidance and direction to everyone… but we have to be tuned to the right “frequency” so to speak, to receive and accept these heavenly “transmissions”. There is so much “chatter” in our world that blocks out this communication from God, but learning to pray and focus the mind on Him is a good way to start listening. Prayer and Rosary Beads are a physical and beautiful tool to use and a remembrance of this important way to communicate with and worship our Heavenly Father.

I am sure that I am not alone in this calling, if you also feel like you have been called I hope you will leave a comment below.

Make Your Own Website

Building-Website

Make Your Own Website

Today there are so many ways to make your own website and establish an online presence, below are 11 tips and things to think about before starting this type of project. Many years ago I opened an online business on EBay and eventually I needed a website, too. I am now on my 3rd website, and through the years these 11 tips have been the most important.

1. Should you hire a Web designer? While you need someone to help with all the technical mumbo jumbo and programming, many times you are better off doing it yourself. My experience with Web Designers has not been good and I ended up doing a lot myself. Today there are many companies that offer websites with templates built right in, including shopping cart software, and ways to accept payment. While these seem OK and a quick way to get started, be cautious about building your website on a platform where you might not have control or be able to move it should you need to change hosting companies. Make sure you can add “plugins” for different functions such as blogs, social media, etc.

2. Domain names and hosting: Match your domain name with your company brand name, if possible. Most hosting companies can help with your domain name registration, but be sure to have a hosting company that has real people available so you can call and talk to someone if you need help. When choosing a hosting company for your website, make sure they are knowledgeable about the software you are using. This is essential if something goes wrong or you mess something up on your website.

Logos

Bead Lovers Korner Logo Variations

3. Branding: Everyone has something to say about branding these days, but to keep it simple just use the same colors, logos, and design in all other areas like social media, marketing materials, correspondence, etc. This way customers are used to seeing the same designs and will know it’s YOU!

4. Website design: Decide what image you want to portray to the world, what kind of customers do you want, what do you want the customer to feel when they see your website? Do you want them to read or buy? Designs can be changed but it is a good idea to think of this ahead of time.

5. HTML & CSS: A lot of websites today come with built in templates and text editors but it’s useful to know and be familiar with a little basic information like how to make bold type, how to make something italic, etc. Many times text editors get all jumbled up with different things and it is helpful if you know enough about the code to clean it up.

Basic html examples:

  • <p> causes a line break and adds a trailing blank line for paragraphs, to end a paragraph use this at the end </p>
  • <br> causes a line break with no trailing blank line if you just want to bring something down one line
  • This is a <b>boldface</b> tag, this is how boldface appears
  • This is an <i>italic</i> tag, this is how italic appears

6. Photos: Invest in a good camera and photo editing program, it really makes a difference to have good quality photos to draw in your customers and keep them clicking. Read up on how to take good pictures, there are tons of good articles available online about photography. DO NOT right click and steal photos from Google images or other websites! If you sell products and use manufacturer photos, make sure you have permission to use their images.

Picture Library

Name Images so they can be found easily

7. Image names: If you are selling products and you have a LOT, be sure to start using a good image naming system so that you can find the pictures both on your computer and in your website back end. I use the product SKU and a short keyword or two since many people can find your items through image ALT tag attributes.

8. Organize products: Do an outline or spreadsheet to help you organize products and use that as a guide when setting up categories on a website. Well organized categories will make it easy for customers to find the products they are looking for.

9. Product descriptions:  This is kind of tricky because most online shoppers don’t want to read a lot of text, but Google and search engines are looking for good content, so descriptions should be short and concise but have enough information for search engines.

10. Security: Make sure your site is secure from hackers and that your customers information is secure, check with your hosting company to see what they suggest.

11. Marketing:  This is a huge subject, but briefly here are some ways to market your products and website.

  • Upload products to Google Shopping, and set up a budget
  • Have a presence in Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
  • Collect customer emails for newsletters and special sales
  • Start a Blog
  • Network in online groups in your industry

Every topic I listed could be an entire blog post in itself, but hopefully this overview will help anyone who is considering starting to build their own website. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Excitement Builds for GBK’s 2014 Primetime Emmys Celebrity Gift Lounge

Excitement is building for our participation next weekend, in association with The Artisan Group®, in an invitation-only luxury celebrity gift lounge hosted by GBK Productions at an exclusive location in Beverly Hills, California, in honor of The 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards Nominees and Presenters. 

Our Chakra Balancing Pendant, made especially for this event, will be included in the swag bags that are given to all attending Celebrities. It is such an honor to be among these Artisans and represented at this event being held August 22-23, 2014.

See the full Press Release here: Bead Lovers Korner Brings Chakra Energy to GBK’s 2014 Primetime Emmys Celebrity Gift Lounge

The Artisan Group Gift Bag

The Artisan Group Gift Bag

Take a look at the other artisan made gifts that will also be included in this Gift Bag by clicking on the interactive digital Gift Guide below.

Gift Idea for the Travel Oriented

Sterling Silver Landmark Beads are a great gift idea for the travel oriented person. Every year billions of people travel around the world on family vacation, business trips, or in travel groups, while others make their living as travel agents or tour guides. Landmark Beads offer a special way for the world traveler to represent travel destinations on charm bead or pandora travel bracelets.

Landmark Beads have a wide variety of popular locations and this year there are five new beads added to the collection: Mount Rushmore, the Milan Duomo, Manneken Pis, Cape Neddick Lighthouse and the Route 66 Sign.

Landmark Beads are compatible with all styles of European Charm Bead bracelets. Made of fine quality .925 Sterling Silver and the hole size is a large 5mm with no threading. Available for order on our website at Bead Lovers Korner.