Crissy Says

My BlogHer Weekend Wrap Up

Welcome To BlogHer10
Welcome To BlogHer10

This was a big weekend! And this is going to be a big post. So bear with me. I have a lot to say (and show you). On Thursday, August 5, I flew to New York City with my friends Beth & Lish to attend BlogHer. In a word, it was amazing. But I know you want more than one word. So, here we go with more deets!

When we got to the hotel (The Hilton New York) we were greeted with a Welcome To BlogHer10 sign. The lobby was also full of women. Check-in wasn’t scheduled until 3pm and women were arriving well before noon. There were shrieks and sounds of enthusiasm as women met up with their friends from all over the globe. The majority of these women met each other online – and here they were in person. That in itself is a big deal.

View of New York City from 27 Floors Up
View of New York City from 27 Floors Up

We were lucky enough to get an early check-in around 1pm. We were on the 27th floor. This is what New York looks like from up there.

That night, the three of us went to the Etsy headquarters where we participated in the Crafty Blogging Panel, along with Amy Schroeder, Rachel Johnson and Tonya Staab.

This was definitely the highlight of my trip. And I know it is not BlogHer related, per se, but it was an awesome experience! We had a live audience of people who came in person, as well as those who watched from the Etsy Labs

Etsy Headquarters
Etsy Headquarters

online. The panel was more of an open discussion than a “lecture” – with lots of audience feedback and questions. It was like a great conversation – all about business & blogging!

Friday morning was the official kick-off to the BlogHer Conference. I wish I had taken more pictures of the breakfast, both  keynotes, sessions, and expo. But there were so many people, so many things to do, and so much going on that I kind of forgot to stop and capture it. Sorry! But I can tell you about it!

The breakfast was sponsored by Tropicana, and they did an awesome job! There were many items to choose from, but I opted for a ham and egg croissant, fresh fruit, coffee and juice.

Busy New York Morning
Busy New York Morning

Bruce Jenner was there, pouring juice and taking pictures, and even though I’m a fan of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I didn’t go up and talk to him. Like I said – lots to do and too little time!

The first session I went to was about the FTC guidelines. I learned some surprising facts. I was under the impression that the FTC could fine bloggers who didn’t comply, but I was told that wasn’t true in the session. They also stressed that these were guidelines, not laws.

My First New York City Hotdog
My First New York City Hotdog

After that, we had lunch, which was an awesome display of sandwiches, salads, fruit, and various desserts. We also roamed around one of the Expo halls for a little while. BlogHer is known for its swag, and yes, there was lots of it. LOTS of it. Two expo halls of it, plus a swag bag at registration plus room drops.

It would be impossible to write about every single piece of swag that I got, but I will go over some of the highlights:

Beth and Lish setting up the CheeseburgHER bed
Beth and Lish setting up the CheeseburgHER bed

Proctor and Gamble really outdid themselves and created a “Proctor and Gamble House” which you could walk through and learn about their products.

They gave out samples of Tide and Downy in the laundry room, demos of an easy to attach Pur filter attachment, had an interactive demo of a man sneezing through a regular tissue and then showed how the Puffs tissue couldn’t be sneezed through. There was also a room with Febreeze and Swiffer samples. I received a new type of NoticeABLE from Febreeze that does not need to be plugged in.

The CheeseburgHER Bed
The CheeseburgHER Bed

After I got home yesterday, I set it up in my living room. I had to leave for a little bit, and when I walked in my door, I noticed the scent and how nice it smelled. But it’s not overpowering and doesn’t make my eyes water when trying to watch TV.

P&G also handed out a gift bag with lots of beauty items, including a Venus Razor (I tried it today and it does make shaving your legs easier), as well as full size samples of Secret and Oil of Olay products, which I haven’t tried yet, as well as a nice size sample of their Eukanaba kitten food for Franny.

The Quickie booth featured The Real Housewives of Orange County star Tamra Barney. I love me some Real Housewives, so I did stop by to talk to her for a moment. Ecco was giving out pedicures but I didn’t make an appointment in time, and Propel had chair massages, but again, I was too busy going to sessions, so I missed out on that, too.

But of course, the expo halls and suites are not just there to hand out swag. This is the chance to meet with the brand managers and PR people from these brands. They want to work with bloggers. They understand how much power bloggers have, and they want to be in front of these blogger’s audiences.

New York City At Night
New York City At Night

Yes, there are going to be lots of bloggers who simply write about the swag and the brands are going to get a lot of  publicity. But savvy bloggers go there to begin relationships with these brands and work out deals with them for sponsorships and incentives.

I talked to lots of brand people while I was there, walking around the expo area, as well as at meals. All of them were very nice and asked questions about my blog and what I wrote about.  They were all very enthusiastic and one of them said they had heard about me at the EVO Conference.

However, the PlaySkool rep I talked to was a little less than enthusiastic to speak to me. As soon as I told her that I blogged about business and told her I did not have children, she got a look on her face that clearly said I was wasting her time. I am sure that she went there to talk to mommy bloggers. That makes total sense.

Trenton's Mr. Potato Head Disguise
Trenton's Mr. Potato Head Disguise

But guess what? Just because I am not a mommy blogger doesn’t mean I should be discounted. I have nephews, and I gave my younger nephew the Mr. Potato Head and Play-Doh swag I received from PlaySkool. I might not sit around writing about PlaySkool products on my blog, but I DID post pictures on my Twitter and Facebook of Trenton using the Mr. Potato Head parts to create a disguise for himself.

So,while I don’t have children myself, I am clearly writing about PlaySkool in this post, and I did show pictures of a child I am related to playing with their product. And while I don’t have the most popular blog in the universe, I get a nice amount of traffic, have a very nice sized Twitter following, and yeah, I am known on Facebook, too.

I mean, seriously, where does the PlaySkool rep think mommy bloggers go to read marketing tips? The Wall Street Journal? No. they go to MY site. She should really think about that the next time she feels like rolling her eyes at me.

Sparklecorn Party
Sparklecorn Party

Okay – back to the conference itself! Some of the other sessions I attended were on the topics of intellectual property law, giving advice online, using social media to brand yourself, monetizing your blog, and pitching yourself to PR reps. I can’t really say that I learned something at each session because I am already an experienced blogger who knows how to brand myself and make money with my site. But it did give me a chance to hear other people’s opinions on the subject and hear questions from people who were new to those topics.

BlogHer is also known for it’s parties. I went to several of them, but I must say the highlight was the Sparklecorn party. There was unicorn glitter – and a unicorn cake, courtesy of Charm City Cakes. You know – from the Food Network show Ace of Cakes!!!

Unicorn Cake from Charm City Cake (Ace of Cakes) for Sparklecorn
Unicorn Cake from Charm City Cake (Ace of Cakes) for Sparklecorn

And let me say that they make some awesome cake!! It was a vanilla cake with a layer of peanut butter and jelly between the cake layers and a rich vanilla frosting.

One of the most “famous” BlogHer parties is the CheeseburgHER party. If you Google it, you can read the history and how it got it’s name. This year, the organizer asked my friend Lish to make the CheeseburgHER bed. Beth spent about 10 hours helping her. Here are some photos of the bed getting set up and the finished product, which I think turned out super cute!

Some of the other highlights of my New York City weekend include eating my first New York City hotdog, walking to Times Square on Friday night with Beth, walking to Central Park on Saturday morning, and, just being in New York!! I mean, it’s NEW YORK CITY!! What’s not to love?

Overall, I give my BlogHer weekend a rating of 10 gold stars. It was a lot of fun, I got to meet several people I know from Twitter / the blogosphere in person, I got to meet a lot more that I had never heard of, and most importantly, I got to feel the energy of all 2500 or so bloggers in attendance!

Some of these women are “rock stars” in the blogging world, with millions of readers. Some of these women were just getting started and had 2 readers. Others are somewhere in between. But they are all blogging! Because they WANT to. And that is pretty freaking cool.

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Crissy Says

Crafty Blogging – With Indie Biz Chicks & Etsy!

I have had a secret – for months – and it’s been hard not to share it with you!  Back in February, I begin planning an event at Etsy with my friends Beth & Lish from Handmade Detroit.

On August 5th, my friends and I will be traveling to New York and will be visiting Ety’s Brooklyn headquarters where we will be leading a panel discussion on crafty blogging from 7 – 9 pm Eastern.

If you are in the New York area that day, you can attend the event for free.

If you are not in the New York area – you can watch it online for free!

For more info, a complete list of speakers, and to register, click here.

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Managing Your Biz

Do I Need A Separate Checking Account For My Etsy Business?

I recently had a reader ask me “Do I need a separate checking account for my Etsy business?” The answer is “YES!” And it doesn’t matter if you are selling items through Etsy, one of the Etsy alternatives, through craft shows or your own website, you should definitely have a separate checking account.

For starters, this will help you during tax season. It will be much easier to tally your business expenses when they are limited to once account. This will also help you create a steady income and create opportunities for paid vacations!  For example, let’s say that you need to earn $1200 per month (or $300 per week) to cover expenses, and that you would also like to take a 2 week vacation in the summer and a week off during the holidays in December.

There will be months throughout the year where you earn more than $1200. Instead of looking at that as an unexpected bonus and spending it, keep the extra in your checking account. Each week, pay yourself $300 as normal. Keep stashing the extra amount you earn, and when you have a week where you don’t earn $300, you can use your extra amount to cover that loss. You can also use the extra stash to pay yourself when you are on vacation.

By having a separate checking account for your business – Etsy or otherwise, you will be able to create a much more stable business.

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General

How to Use Etsy or eBay to Bring in More Customers

It is the holiday season and I have been a shopping machine. Well, an online shopping machine! I prefer shopping in my pjs and people stare when I go to the mall like that 😉 One of the biggest trends I noticed this year was people using the Big Sites (where all of the customers are) and using it to their future advantage. I have a few good examples to share with you, and I hope you can use them in your indie biz.

I placed orders on eBay, Etsy and Amazon, all huge sites with millions of customers. The three businesses sold items on these sites and then funneled the customer (me!) to their main sites, so I can continue to buy directly from the in the future.

Let’s start with eBay, I bought my mom a charm for her charm bracelet, the price was great and it came in the mail very quickly. When I opened the package, they had included a note on letterhead (with their online shop address, not the eBay store) and advised me of their shipping policy, their refund policy and ways to contact them.

After they got the admin stuff out of the way, they said “if you liked the merchandise you have just received, we have thousands of other 14kt gold and Sterling silver charms on our website: (website url)”. They know I am interested in charms, so of course I am going to keep the letter or visit and bookmark their site. They have used eBay to get a customer, and then funneled me right to their own shop. Brilliant!

The second example is a purchase I made through Etsy, I bought a few custom necklaces for family members. I haven’t actually received the necklaces yet (and Christmas is a week and a half away – eek!) but a few days after I ordered them, I received a promotional email from the jewelry maker about a sale she was having in her online shop (not Etsy). I didn’t even know she had an online shop, and there were so many more gorgeous necklaces there, than what she was offering on Etsy, I ended up ordering a few for myself.  Something as simple as adding a customer from a “big site” to your email list, is enough to convert them from a random buyer to a repeat customer.

The last example is an experience I had on Amazon; as you may or may not know, Amazon does not handle all of the products they offer for sale (and I am talking new products, not their used section). Companies use the Amazon system (customers and payment), and then they physically pack up the products and ship them to you. I bought some housewares, and in the box there was an instruction sheet, with information about the store and their return policy. I decided to check out the site, and I noticed their prices were less than Amazon, and I have since ordered twice, directly from the shop.

So the lesson here is (yes, I am going to beat you over the head with it), if you sell physical, real life products, it is a very good idea to also list your items on eBay, Etsy, Amazon or all of the above so you can increase the amount of sales you get with their vast amount of customers, but more importantly, funnel the people into your own online shop and make them customers for life.

So get out there and start using the big sites to sell more and sell often!

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