#FLBlogCon 2014 Florida Blogging Conference

This past weekend I attended FLBlogCon 2014 the Florida Blogging Conference for bloggers throughout the state to learn more about blogging and social media.

I discovered FLBlogCon early in 2014 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

FLBlogCon 2014 Florida Blogging Conference

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 Coffee Kitchen 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

Lots of SWAG

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!

11 tips to consider before you make your own website

Today there are so many ways to make your own website and establish an online presence, below are 11 tips to consider 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 customer’s 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!

Eleven reasons to be your own boss

Below are my eleven reasons to be your own boss! I worked in the business world for someone else for over twenty years before taking the leap into being self-employed. Although some days I feel like a starving artist, overall these are my top reasons for working for yourself.

  1. I don’t dread Monday anymore. For years it was TGIF and Monday Again, but over the years I began to dread Monday more and more. It started on Sunday, so enjoying the weekend ended up just being Saturday.
  2. Don’t have to punch a time clock or fill out a time sheet, so I no longer have to worry about being on time!
  3. No longer have the feeling of being trapped. I used to feel immensely trapped and stifled in the system of working for someone else, I felt like I was not living up to my full potential.
  4. I can exercise anytime I want, which leads into …
  5. Make my own schedule. I have a daily routine I follow, but it can be changed, unlike the difficulties of following someone else’s schedule.
  6. Drink the BEST coffee! Starbucks Dark blends are my favorite
  7. Take a power nap if I want. I don’t do this often, but if you didn’t sleep well the night before having this option is great!
  8. No more dry cleaning bill. I don’t know about you, but when I was shopping for work clothes, all the outfits I liked had “Dry Clean Only” on the label.
  9. No longer get stuck in traffic. There is no traffic between my bedroom and my office, thank goodness!
  10. Daily cash flow (most of the time)
  11. I get along great with the boss – cause that’s ME!

Comment below and tell me what your reasons are or what they would be 🙂