Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category
I love Bloggers who do reviews. I am a firm believer in the power that comes from their voices. We have done several blog review campaigns for our Dapper Snappers kids belts and I would say that I have loved about 96% of them. Some have fallen short which prompted me to write a blog about how to write a successful blog review. Generally, we only do a blog review as a campaign, and not individual random blogs. However, if a blogger takes the time to research our product and contacts us and if the blog has good traffic, then it makes sense for us.
So, as a manufacturer of a product, I thought I would put together a list of do’s and don’ts for Bloggers who are contacting companies for a review:
- DON’T use a canned email. Be personal and at the very least, mention the name of the product. For sure don’t include a line that says, “I would love to promote your company and/or product”. Really? Please be specific.
- DO include your website with a link somewhere in your email. I know that one sounds like a no brainer, but we have had some who haven’t.
- DO proofread your email. Ok, I know I am no literary scholar (is that an actual thing?) and I have typos in my blogs, but when you are pitching a company, just take the extra two minutes to make sure your email reads well and makes sense. Here is an example of a sentence that needs some work, “I am growing my blog as much as possible with followers, so with that being said I would love to review one of your products of choice or something that you had in mind vise versa.”
- DO a mini review when pitching the company. Explain why you feel the product is a good fit for your blog. “I have a tall skinny 3 year old who needs a belt, but I’m afraid that it will get in the way of potty training, so I would love to see if Dapper Snappers is the answer I’m looking for to solve this problem.” Show the company that you know about their product.
- DON’T underestimate the power of your stats. Prior to choosing a blogger, we look at site stats, Alexa rating, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc. Companies are in this for the exposure and they are most likely going to choose bloggers with great numbers. I know that’s not fair to newer, smaller bloggers, but we also have to get the most bang for our buck (sending samples out does actually cost us).
Good luck when pitching that company for reviews, I hope this helps!
Ok, so it’s been raining in the sunshine state for about 5 days now. I’m not complaining, because we desperately need it, but the kids are going a little stir crazy and I’m afraid that if it’s raining tomorrow (Saturday), the kids will have a huge case of cabin fever. So, while I should be working here at the kids belts office, I am actually looking for things to do with with them on rainy days, besides shoving them out the door to play in the rain.
I found some great ideas on Real Simple and a few other sites. I’ve pulled together my favorites for you!
- Have an indoor scavenger hunt. Hide stuff around the house and make clues leading from one thing to the next.
- Build a fort. You’d be surprised how long a good fort will entertain them! Use couch cusions, or dinning room chairs and sheets, get creative!
- Make a drive-in movie. This one takes a little planning ahead, because you need cardboard boxes big enough to hold your children sitting down. It’s also a time killer because they get to decorate their own “cars”. Then have them pick out a movie to watch!
- Make up your own board game. Come up with a completely original game complete with pieces, tokens, and board or combine other games together to make a new game!
- Get artistic! Use dry erase markers to let your kids decorate the windows and add their own sunshine. Have them draw what they would like to be doing outside!
- Have your own fashion show. Have the kids create their own outfits from their closet, mixing and matching. Then let them make their own accessories with things from around the house.It’s so neat to see how creative they can be!
- Hide-n-seek with at twist. Much like the original game, one player counts while the other one hides, but when the one who’s “it” starts hunting, the hiders get to move around trying not to be seen!
- Get out in the rain. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! I remember playing in the rain when I was little and LOVING it! As long as it’s not thundering or lightening, go for a walk, or a bike ride, or better yet, set up a slip-n-slide! Go splash in some puddles. Let your kids see you “breaking” the rules!
Hope those help you beat the cabin fever that come with being stuck in the house for days as the second flood comes!
Happy Earth Day from all of us here at the kids belts office!
In honor of this holiday (is it really a holiday? Shouldn’t someone be giving me gifts or something?), here are some simple tips on how to be more green.
- Flip the switch: Yep, just turn of that light when you leave a room. Also, if you have a room that gets great natural lighting, don’t turn on a light at all! (Bonus tip: change out all of your light bulbs for those low energy ones that last forever and save money, too!)
- Tap water: Did you know that the bottled water industry sold 8.8 billion gallons of water in 2010, generating nearly $11 billion in profits and the energy required to produce and transport these bottles could fuel an estimated 1.5 million cars for a year. According to treehugger.com 1500 plastic water bottles are used EVERY SECOND!!! Wow, all that just to have someone else fill up a bottle for me and slap a label on it. Make a commitment to make this small change: Fill up your own water bottle! Yes, it is that easy!
- Peddle Power: No, not “flower power”, peddle power. Try to start eliminating one car trip a week by riding your bike. Headed to the store down the street for a few things? Ride your bike instead of turning the key. It’s a small change that can add up!
- Be a Bag Lady: Bring your own bags to the grocery store or farmers market. You eliminate the waste of plastic or paper bags, plus some stores, like Target, give you 5¢ off your total for every bag you use. Bonus!! Save the Earth and save money!
- Up-cycle: This one is my favorite. Instead of buying new and getting the same thing that everyone else has, go thrift shopping! Get something gently used and make it your own with a new coat of paint, or a coat of furniture wax. Same goes for clothes. I have been to thrift stores where the clothes on the racks still have the original tags! Bring it home and wear as is, or add your own touch, change up that t-shirt into a tank. Pinterest has tons of ideas on up-cycling clothing!
There you have it, now start hugging some trees and make everyday Earth Day, after all, it’s the only planet we’ve got!
Does that image look familiar? It should, I used it when I blogged on my kids belts blog about “Magic Mesh“. Well, I did it again… I got sucked into the “As Seen on TV” section again. This time for a book, “Who Knew? 10,001 East Solutions to Everyday Problems”. I know, it’s a very wordy title, but an attractive one non the less.
I did get a bit distracted by some of the other items in that section…
Who buys this stuff?? Oh wait, I do! Well, at least some of the cooler ones. I’ve never bought any of the ones I listed here, at least not that I’ll admit in public.
That’s enough goofing off, back to the book with the ridiculously long title.
Despite the silliness that is “As Seen On TV”, this book has some great tips! What I like is that the tips are short an sweet. There is no extensive reading. Thank goodness, cause who has time for reading?? Here are a few samples of their simple solutions:
- Freshen Shoes
Get rid of nasty odors by sprinkling salt in them and leaving them overnight. The salt will absorb moisture.
- Light Candles without burning fingers
To light hard-to-reach wicks at the bottom of jar candles, use an uncooked strand of spaghetti. Light the end of it, then use it like a fireplace match.
- Makin’ Bacon?
Always rinse bacon under cold water before frying — it will reduce the amount the bacon shrinks when you cook it.
- Dryer Lint
Instead of throwing away lint you’ve cleaned out of your dryer’s screen, use it as kindling for your fireplace. It lights quickly and can be stuffed places paper can’t.
- Worry-Free Carving
To quickly and easily sanitize a cutting board, rub salt into it with a wedge of lemon.
Last week, in my kids belts blog, I shared with you that I am on a spring cleaning kick. After I posted that blog, I got to thinking, I should share with you some tips on how I tackle my spring cleaning. I’m not saying that my way is the only way, but it is the right way…
5 Tips for Tackling Spring Cleaning:
- One room at a time – I know that sounds simple enough, but I know from experience that it’s easier said than done. I was a wanderer… there, I admit it. I wandered. I would start in one room find something that belonged in another, head to that room and see something that needed to be in another room, so I’d take it there and it would just gone on and on like that with me circling the house and completing nothing. Now I focus on one room at a time.
- Clear the floor first – if you can’t navigate the room safely, you aren’t going to accomplish anything. Clear the floor first, put shoes back where they belong, throw away old coloring books and broken crayons. Remove anything else from the floor that doesn’t below in the room.
- Clear the furniture of debris – remove toys, papers, mail, clothes. Here’s the tricky part… throw stuff away. Actually look at what those papers are, is that mail junk, am I going to wear those clothes again? Make a decision and deal with the items appropriately. Now, clean out from under those couch cushions….
- Rearrange furniture – Did you know that rearranging your furniture is the cheapest way to redecorate? Just try moving that couch over there and put the recliner in that corner. It’s magic! The room looks totally different! (Plus moving the furniture, makes it to where you have to clean under it!)
- Dust/Clean the room from top to bottom – literally, in that order. That way the dust settles on the stuff you haven’t dusted, yet. Eventually, it lands on the floor and you vacuum/mop it up!
Hope that helps you tackle your spring cleaning!
If you don’t live in Florida, you might not get it. I know I didn’t truly get it until I moved to Florida, from Oregon to pursue my kids belts dream. Yea, that was a big change going from the land of no sunshine to the land of never-ending sunshine (except for the daily 3:30 rainstorm that lasts about 30 minutes).
So, in my extensive knowledge of hurricanes and preparedness, I have scoured the internet to find some of the tips to keep you prepared and some that just seem silly…
Tips for Hurricane Preparedness
1. Decide now who will be responsible for your water supply. You do not need bottled water from the supermarket. Have containers on hand to hold tap water. You’ll need enough for drinking, bathing and to flush the toilet. Ok, that’s a good tip, water – check. I won’t dehydrate and I can still use the loo! However, here is the last part of that tip. The bathtub is a good place to hold nondrinking water. Use caulking to seal the drain. Hmm… Ok, I guess if you are in a situation that severe that you need to caulk your bathtub, you may have wanted to evacuate. If you didn’t evacuate, and the storm has caused such havoc, you should probably drive until you find a hotel that wasn’t damaged.
2. If you plan to evacuate, do not count on going to the airport and flying out. If the hurricane moves quickly or develops suddenly, there will be no planes available. Duh, I mean really? I don’t want to fly when the weather is nice, let alone when there is a storm a-brewin’. My assistant (who is a native Floridian, yes they do exist) says that if you are going to evacuate, leave early enough to beat the traffic. She has evacuated for 2 separate hurricanes, one in which they left in plenty of time for and hit no traffic and the other took her on a 12 hour trip to Ocala (which is only an hour and a half from where she lived).
3. Decide where you will park your car(s). A garage is best; right next to the house is second best. Plan to move your boat early. Got it, car in the garage, boat in the… uh… boat parked… uh… wherever boats go. People die in every hurricane trying to save their boat. Do not let that happen to you. Ok, geesh! I’ll put my boat up before the storm, now that you have terrified me into thinking that I will die from a horrible hurricane/improperly stored boat disaster. Wait, we don’t have a boat, sweet! I have narrowly escaped that tragedy!
4. Pets are not allowed in evacuation centers and shelters. Only animals such as seeing eye dogs are permitted. Darn it, do you think our cats would pass as seeing eye cats? I can strap a leash on them, but I don’t think they would be very convincing as I am dragging their lifeless bodies across the floor because they are boycotting said leash.
5. Listen to the forecast. This one should probably be number 1 and as simple as it sounds, it’s a biggy. I have to say the last tropical storm that came through, I had no idea about until I was talking to someone and in passing I said “Wow, with all this rain, you’d think it was a tropical storm”. Boy did I feel silly when the person said, it is. Pay attention to any warnings and determine whether to evacuate or ride out the storm.
All jokes aside, hurricanes are serious and should be treated as such. Be safe and take all of the necessary precautions. I pray that everyone in the path of Issac stays safe.
I have lost 6lbs in a week! How awesome is that? I know that the first few lbs are water weight, but as my kids belts assistant tells me, “Don’t belittle your progress! 6lbs is still 6lbs regardless of where it came from!” She’s right… I know it, why is it so hard to be proud of an accomplishment? Instead of saying “I only lost 6lbs and most of that had to be water”, why can’t we train ourselves to think differently and say “I lost 6lbs! Isn’t that great!” I digress…
I have always struggled with my weight, I’ve been up, been down, been in the middle and now working on down again. I want to get it under control before it becomes a health risk. So, on my health and weight loss journey, I have pick up tips here and there that I thought I would share with you. These are so easy, but the calories really add up! There are 3,500 calories in a pound, so if you can cut 500 calories a day, that’s a loss of 1lb a week!
15 Easy Ways to Cut Hundreds of Calories a Day
(Adapted from Spark People’s 50 Easy Ways to Cut Calories)
- Substitute 3 oz. of turkey sausage for a serving of pork sausage. Save 120 calories!
- Top your whole grain bagel with 1.5 oz of fat-free cream cheese in lieu of regular. Save 108 calories!
- Prepare your coffee with 4 oz. of fat-free half and half instead of regular half and half. Save 88 calories!
- Eat a medium orange instead of drinking 12 oz. of fresh orange juice. Save 106 calories!
- Spread your whole grain waffles with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup instead of 1 tablespoon of margarine or butter. Save 110 calories!
- Order a skinless chicken breast instead of chicken with skin. Save 102 calories!
- Choose a slice of thin crust pizza over thick crust pizza. Save 106 calories!
- Add vegetable toppings to your pizza order and say no to pepperoni. Save 100 calories!
- Forget broccoli cheddar soup. A 7-oz portion of vegetable soup is better. Save 119 calories!
- Skip the 5 oz. of Alfredo sauce and eat a whopping 7 oz. of marinara sauce. Save 129 calories!
- Try either cheese or croutons on your salad—not both Save 72-116 calories!
- Enjoy 5 oz. of chocolate milk instead of 5 oz. of a chocolate milkshake Save 110 calories!
- Split a 20 oz. bottle of regular soda with a friend. Save 120 calories!
- Drink 1 cup of diet soda instead of 1 cup of regular soda. Save 97 calories!
- Swap a 12-oz. glass of whole milk for skim milk. Save 96 calories!
Dapper Snappers has become a pretty well known name. Granted, we are not as big as say Graco or Chicco, but our kids belts are sold in over 300 stores across the US and in 14 different countries. I think that is pretty impressive and to think it’s only been less than 4 years!
In the last 4 years I have been through quite a bit and one thing that I am passionate about now is helping other moms get started. I have put together a small list of tips for helping Mompreneurs and I want to share it with you!
6 Tips for Helping Mompreneurs
- Support: Find a supportive community of like-minded individuals. There are websites dedicated to Mompreneurs (www.mompreneursonline.com), there are Facebook groups and discussion boards. It’s nice to have a place to bounce ideas, share concerns and vent your frustrations.
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on and so on…. There are so many social media sites out there now, that it does seem a bit overwhelming, but look at it this way, it’s free advertising. If it’s too daunting to keep up with all of them, choose a couple and do them really well. If you have a product with pictures, Pinterest should definitely be on your list! Pinterest is a great way to get others to spread the word for you. Use unique photos that link to your site and set up boards that show off your company’s personality.
- Support Other Mompreneurs: Now that you have your social media platform going, use it to help promote other mompreneurs. Do a “Follow Friday”, where you promote other mom business on your twitter feed, facebook status and on your pin boards in Pinterest.
- Blog About It: Blogging is another free way of advertising (why do you think I try to write a blog a day?). It helps increase your SEO (if you are using your keywords) and it keeps your content fresh. Blogging also gives you an opportunity to talk about other mom products and businesses.
- Blog Campaigns: I have written about them before (here and here), but blog campaigns are a very inexpensive way to get people talking about your product and to drive your SEO. If you don’t have time to run your own campaign, there are even services that will do it for you (RunMyBlogCampaign).
- Honesty: Looking back at #1, be honest and share your success stories and horror stories. As you do this other will share with you and you all can learn from each other. These women are there to support you and vice versa. We all need honesty, whether its about a product design, packaging, marketing material, whatever the case may be, just be honest because lying by omission is still lying.
The one thing that I have found since starting the kids belts business is that advertising is expensive and it’s very hard to track the ROI (Return on Investment). I used to do Google Adwords. Really it was a waste of money. We weren’t getting any more sales than without it. The difference came in running blog campaigns.
Did you know that only 27% of searchers will even click on a Pay Per Click ad? The others look at organic searches and don’t pay any attention to the ads. I know. I’m one of them. So then you have to look at how many of that 27% actually translate into sales. Do the math. What are your keywords? How many people are searching for those keywords? What is 27% of that number? Of that number, how many will buy? (Hint: don’t think optimistically. Be realistic.) Word of mouth is still some of the best advertising out there. Blog campaigns work, at least they have for me and Dapper Snappers.
- Go Where They Go I’m sure there are sites similar, but I have always used Tomoson to run my blog campaigns. I really like it because, well, it’s free. But on top of that it’s a place that brings bloggers and promoters together. You don’t have to spend hours searching out bloggers. You can set up your campaign and the bloggers come to you. Tomoson will even do the initial vetting for you based on your criteria. You then have the opportunity to approve or deny the bloggers who have applied. Once approved, you send them the product.
- DON’T PAY You should never have to pay for a review. There are tons (literally tons) of bloggers out there who will review your product just for receiving a sample and maybe offering to give them a prize so they can offer a contest for their readers. I remember the first review I ever had done for Dapper Snappers was with 5 Minutes for Mom. That review cost me $50 and while it was a good review, Dapper Snappers was in its infancy and $50 was hard to come by for us. When I told other mompreneurs about it, they all looked at me like I was crazy for paying for a review. But hey, at the time there were no instruction manuals (still aren’t I guess, that’s why we share our stories!)
- Research Once you have set up a campaign in Tomoson (or whichever site you choose) be sure to research the bloggers who have applied. While it is nice that you have a deluge of bloggers wanting to review your product, some of them may not be a natural fit. We have 3 main criteria that we look at before we research them further; 500,000 Alexia Rating or lower, 500 Facebook Fans, 1,000 Twitter Followers (we even look at the ratio of how many followers they have versus the amount of people they follow). Yes, we look at numbers (gasp!). While we don’t expect immediate sales from blog reviews, we do want viewers (helps with brand awareness) and SEO boosts. There was a recent blog post that asked “Are Corporations Killing Mom Bloggers?” The blog states that when corporations rule out the smaller bloggers because of numbers that they are missing out. While that might be true to a certain extent, as a blogger and a corporation, we not only want SEO with link backs, but we want readers as well. We just want the best for our company.
Once they have met those criteria, we have then take a closer look at their blog. Are they well spoken? Do they use actual photos of the product in use or the stock photos that were provided? In past reviews, did they write more than 3 lines about the product? Is your product a good fit for their site? Do their readers fit your demographics? All of those questions will lead you to how a review of your product will look on their site.
- Give the “Key” Word Everyone with a website has certain “key” words that people use to find their product. For example our big one is “kids belts.” To utilize this group of key words, we need them hyper-linked back to our site. Choose words that fit your product and focus on pushing those words to your site (even in your own blog). If your product is baby socks, then use something as generic as “baby socks” as your key words because chances are, that’s how people will find you on a search engine. When you set up the criteria for your blog campaign in Tomoson, require them to use at least one set of key words in their review.
- Follow Up This is a big one. Just because a blogger has agreed to review your product does not mean that they will hop right to it (some will, mind you, but some won’t). They are people too! Life sometimes gets in the way and some of them may need a gentle reminder. And if their review is lacking, by all means tell them so they can fix it. Make sure they’ve stuck to their end of the bargain.
- Go for the Gold (Customer Service) Make sure that you are timely in not only sending out the samples to them, but if you have offered a prize for a contest, be sure to get that out quickly as well. Remember, this person is reviewing for a living. You especially want to handle them and their readers with kid gloves. (Customer service should be key regardless, but you know what I mean!)
- Be Prepared (to NOT be reviewed) I know that sounds crazy. They applied to review or even contacted you to review your product. You sent them the sample and then…. well, nothing. No replies to emails, no returned phone calls. They just fall off the edge of the earth and you “gifted” them your product. Don’t get discouraged. It happens to the best of us. We have been left hanging by a local newspaper (Orlando Sentinel Moms at Work), Daily Candy, and Chesapeake Family. You will also get double dippers. A Blogger who reviewed your product in the past and then they hit you up and want to review them again. We have had more than a few of those, proceed with caution.
There you have it, my tips for running a blog campaign. It may seem a little tedious, but in my opinion, it has the best return on investment. It doesn’t cost much (cost of product and shipping) and it gets your name out there. I read somewhere (I can’t remember where, of course) that it takes the consumer an average of 17 times hearing/reading/seeing a name brand to build enough trust in the brand to purchase it. What can it hurt to get bloggers to help you out with that?