Earlier this week, I drove down to a suburb of Detroit to see my friend Bethany Nixon. If you read my site regularly, you’ve seen her name before, and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen lots of convos between me and her (@bethanylouise).
Beth is the owner of Reware Vintage, and she is also a member of Handmade Detroit. She is also about five weeks away from giving birth to her and her husband Dan’s first child. Yes, Beth is a busy lady. And did I mention that her and Dan recently bought a new house?
I hadn’t been to their new place yet, and I’ll admit that I was a little nervous about driving there. I’m a worrier. It’s in my nature. My middle name really should have been Worry instead of Sue. I looked up directions online and asked Beth if they sounded right. I asked about traffic and all kinds of other stuff. She said “You’ll be fine.” She was probably thinking “Oh, shut up.”
And, so I headed out for the drive. I was armed with a present for Roy (Beth and Dan’s soon-to-be-born son), an Iced Cap from Tim Horton’s (for myself), and told OnStar where I wanted to go. It was very easy. The directions were clear and I did not get lost. Although, I did call Beth while driving, because OnStar told me to take a different exit than the online directions did. However, the route OnStar said to go was actually much easier than the online one, so I’m really glad I had OnStar to lead the way.
Now, if you watch the video, you’ll see what the present was… It was 3 handmade bibs – made by my friend Amy of MadeWithLuv. I had a great visit with Beth. We had lunch and talked and talked, and then talked some more. Even though we were talking about everything under the sun, I came home with tons of business ideas. I can’t help it – I always get so inspired and motivated when I hang out with her!
I left her house around 5, just in time for rush hour in Metro Detroit. But I tell ya, driving around in a new car, and listening to the XM made it a hell of a lot easier to deal with the traffic!
All in all, OnStar made delivering Roy’s present very easy. I can only hope that Beth’s upcoming delivery is just as easy!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
Motown celebrated it’s 50th Gala on Saturday, November 21. I read that it was a star-studded event and the attendees had a good time, but I wasn’t there, so I can’t tell you anything about it. I was in Detroit, but I was at The Majestic Theater, taking part in the Detroit Urban Craft Fair, which is organized by Handmade Detroit. I can tell you a few things about that…
It was a very good time. I had planned on taking pictures during the event and did manage to take some during set-up the night before and very early on Saturday morning. But after the ball started rolling, that plan ended. I had an Indie Biz Chicks table set up in the lobby, a separate area. I did manage to take some quick trips onto the sales floor throughout the day, but didn’t end up doing any filming. Thankfully, the DVX team had set up a live blog and participants were able to post pictures, video, and on-the-moment reports.
If you have never been to a large indie craft fair, definitely go back and look at the blog. It is hard to imagine what one of these events looks like until you see one! Thousands of people came out for the event – the sales floor was literally packed all day, from 10am – 7pm.
It was great to see so many people buying local, and supporting indie businesses. i3Detroit, Provo Craft, and Mariah from Yelp Michigan had make and takes set up, allowing people to get their craft on while they shopped and socialized with friends (and there was a cupcake car).
Trust me, when it comes to putting on a craft fair, Handmade Detroit knows how to bring it. The vendors who came in from out of state were amazed at the turn-out. But as Michiganders know, our state embodies the DIY spirit. We have been a pioneering, innovative bunch for a long time. As you can see from pictures and posts from the DUCF live blog, Michigan is still home to many awesome, creative entrepreneurs. Yay, us!
One of the biggest annual DIY events in Detroit is less than two weeks away! The Detroit Urban Craft Fair will be held on November 21 at The Majestic Theater. The event is free to attend, is family friendly and will run from 10 am – 7 pm.
The event is put on by Handmade Detroit, and these ladies KNOW how to throw an awesome craft fair!
There will also be a Tweetup on November 20 at The Majestic Cafe from 7 – 9 pm.
Indie Biz Chicks will be at BOTH events, so come out and say “hi” to me and my Handmade Detroit friends!
Please help me spread the word about this by posting this on Twitter with the hashtag #DUCF. Thank You!!!
I’ve seen a lot of websites. I’ve seen some great ones, and I’ve seen some terrible ones. Everyone has their own opinion of what a “great” website is, of course. But I can tell you that, for me, there are several things that great websites have in common.
Instead of just writing out what I think, I decided to show you! I took some screen shots of some of my favorite websites and wrote in some notes about why I liked them. You’ll notice that they are all different types of sites with unique designs. But they do share a few things!
They all have clean lines, are un-cluttered, provide clear navigation, feature complementary colors, and easy to read fonts. These things combined make for a very aesthetically pleasing website. And when your website looks good, your visitors will stay longer, and your chances of making a sale increase!
My friend Bethany Nixon made this awesome Pretty In Pink Record Notebook for me! Beth is the owner of Reware Vintage, a member of Handmade Detroit, and a contributor to Indie Biz Chicks. Yes… she’s a busy girl!
I think my new notebook rocks! And I wanted to show it off. You should grab one – they are a bargain at only $15. And, hint, they make great holiday gifts! You can browse her selection of record notebooks by clicking here.
I’m a Michigan girl and I love to promote cool stuff happening in my state. This weekend, Ferndale is hosting The DIY Street Fair.
As they say on their website, ” The DIY Street Fair is a free 2-day, 3-night event in Ferndale, Michigan where local artists, crafters, businesses, groups and organizations, musicians, restaurants, brewers and others who live and work with a do-it-yourself ethic converge for one big celebration. The event showcases the immense creative energy, independent spirit and innovative talent that can be found throughout the area.”
You can check out the music on the main stage (featuring one of my personal favorites, Lucero, as well as some of Michigan’s best, including The Hard Lessons.) The music is free, but don’t forget the self-produced and/or self-released CDs and merch from the acts will also be for sale (so buy some!).
You can get some early holiday shopping done – or buy things for yourself in The Marketplace, which features 80+ local artists, crafters, & entrepreneurs. There is a Beer Garden featuring Michigan crafted beers, as well as Restaurant Row, where local chefs will be cooking all day long. If you have children, you’ll enjoy the family-friendly Kid Zone, featuring musicians and street performers, as well as hands-on projects kids can enjoy.
Carey Gustafson, who was featured in yesterday’s CraftBoom! crafter profile, helped organize the event. She will be holding down the Handmade Detroit booths with Lish Dorset. Next to them will be the Reware Vintage booth, featuring Beth Nixon, one of the CraftBoom! crafty profiles from a couple weeks ago. I’ll be helping out at the Reware Vintage booth all day Saturday – so if you are in the area, come out and meet all of us!
“How Blogging Changed My Life” – Guest post by Lish Dorset
Blogging changed my life in a big way in that it totally changed my career path.
When I started Michigan State 10 years ago, I was pretty positive I was destined for a life of print magazine editing, becoming famous for running a world-famous indie music magazine, marrying the lead singer of Blur and living in a multi-million dollar loft in Brooklyn. Did I mention this was all going to happen by the time I was 25?
But when I was 25 I found myself editing blogs instead of magazines, learning how internal combustion worked and day-dreaming of a smallish apartment in Plymouth, Michigan.
Just a few years out of college the decline of the newspaper industry went in to full stride and I quickly found myself looking for not only a new job, but a new career. I definitely spent my fair share of time online, joining Friendster right after graduation and writing whiny posts over on LiveJournal, but was a qualified to edit blogs? I thought people didn’t edit blogs?!
As I started looking for new jobs I saw a posting for a blog editor in Ann Arbor for a digital-based public relations firm. “I’m qualified, I think?” I convinced myself. A few months earlier I had started helping a friend out with a craft blog launched to promote our craft group, Handmade Detroit. I interviewed for the job and realized that I’d be lucky to get called back as “blog editor” was definitely the new black in terms of job titles. But instead, I got the job and started running blogs for major companies, from cars to insurance providers.
Definitely a lot different than community journalism and DEFINITELY different than running my dream version of Pitchfork.
Three years later I couldn’t be happier. I still work for the same company helping companies with not only blogging, but getting involved with all sorts of online activities. Sometimes I miss working in a newsroom when national (or local, for that matter) news breaks, but I wouldn’t trade my gig for the world.
I also realized that maybe I could still marry the lead singer of Blur… I just need to get him to start blogging and move to southeastern Michigan.
Lish Dorset is a proud member of Handmade Detroit, the crafty gang that brings you the annual Detroit Urban Craft Fair. When she’s not day-dreaming of marrying Internet celebrities (are you listening, Akiva Schaffer?), she’s either busy at work, embroidering swear words on dish towels or trying to convince her friends that Wham! is one of the best pop groups of all time.
Let me just say that we had an absolute blast! It was so much fun to see them in action at their craft fair, and then we had dinner and drinks – and then Olivia opened up the store for us so we could do some shopping!