Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's a Dog's Life Part 2

After you started your personal blog have you or have you been tempted to start a blog at work or use some sort of collaborative on-line media like a wiki?

I have actually started several other blogs. One of them is for the Texas Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association (yawn). We use it as a communication tool. I'm the chair of the education department. Yeah, that's exciting. We also have one at work but I don't post to it very often. I use a lot of Google documents. I use it to share docs between other librarians around the state of Texas. We collaborate on papers mostly. Because I am a university faculty member, we live under the publish or perish rule. Thus I am starting an electronic journal about digital librarianship. I'll be the editor and contributor. So I use a variety of social media tools to do my job.

Do you feel blogging has changed your writing style?

Blogging has changed my writing style. I think more about what the reader wants to hear than want I want to say. Combining the two is always in the back of my mind. I want to make my topic interesting to my readers but I don't want to talk down to them. They are some of the smartest people I don't know (or know). The last thing I want to do is make them feel silly. I mostly try to introduce them to things that they might not have heard of or to talk about historical events that they may not know all the details about. Then there is the food. I hadn't started out as a food blogger but that seems to be where I go. I cook a lot, I'm older than most of my readers, and I have a lot of cooking/housekeeping/home managing know-how to pass along. I'm everyone's mom but in a kinda of cool way. It's sad really but I'll take what I can get. I love the people that read my blog. I've connected with so many of them that I feel invested in them and their families in about the same way as I do my own kids. I want to pass on any information that will make their lives easier.

Have you ever thought of approaching stores that cater to vegetarians or health food stores or pet care stores to do product reviews?

I haven't thought too much about approaching stores that cater to vegetarians or health food stores. Probably because I've been so busy it hasn't really occurred to me. Plus, I'm not sure I want to buy into that whole blog for money thing. I do a lot of contract work so blogging is just a fun thing for me. Fun in a commitment kind of way. Safeway/Randalls just contacted me about linking and blogging for them but I turned them down for now. I'll probably be blogging for them if the offer is right and I can do it my way. It is very important for me to feel that I am honoring my vegetarian values. I guess I do blog for one vegetarian group. I do a meatless Monday blog and I encourage my readers to go meatless one day a week. It doesn't matter to me which day they do it. I feel it is very important that each of us do our part for the environment, for animals and for our own health by going meatless one day a week. Joey from John Hopkins uses my recipes and features my blog on their website periodically. So maybe that is selling out but I don't think so. I'm not getting paid for it. This is not to say that people who do make money from their blog are evil capitalist pigs. They are not. They have just found a place that works for them. It just doesn't work for me.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's a Dog's Life

Short Interview with Michele from It’s a Dog’s Life

Michele’s Short Blog Bio:
My life is an open book. Just a very short and very boring one. I am a librarian in Houston, Texas. I tend to be a bit neurotic, math impaired, and admittedly lazy. I like old stuff such as furniture, postcards, and of course books. I collect cookbooks like they were going out of fashion. As if! I quite possibly like my glass of wine a little too much and have taken an admittedly unreal interest in everything vegetarian

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because I took a social networking course for my job. One of the assignments was to start a blog. What you see is what I started. I didn't start it so that I could have a voice in anything.

Did blogging for you become something different than you thought it would be when you started? Did it evolve?

It become something totally different then what I thought it would be. I didn't think I would continue to do it after I finished the course. It also evolved into something else again. At first it was all about my dogs. I didn't have much to say about anything else. Next then I knew I was writing about cooking, my kitchen pantry, my travels, etc. Then I started making blog friends and that led to blogging about interactions or things that were brought up at their blog. That is one of the aspects of blogging I like the best; the friends that you make. Some of my blog friends I chat with online a couple of times a week.

I have noticed that you have very little about your family, about you? Is this due to fear of losing privacy or is there another reason?

There are a couple of reasons why I don't blog about my family much. 1. Is they are not little kids. They are adults and have asked me not to say too much. They have jobs and lives that don't have anything to do with my blog and unless they comment (which they do) or say it is okay I usually leave them out of it. 2. We are not very interesting. Or at least I don't think we are.

How do you feel about bloggers who post a great deal about their lives, their children, their spouses?

I get a little concerned with bloggers that are too open with the lives of their children and family. Especially the children. There are a lot of bad people out there and opening their lives up for anyone to see doesn't seem like a good idea. Not only that but employers these days are not stupid. They are on facebook, linkedin, and twitter. They look up blogs. If you have older children, like mine, or a husband on a job hunt it isn't a good idea to blog about them. Do you really think they want you telling them about your latest run it with the law or their last employer? With little ones you need to remember that they are going to be getting bigger. Your blogging about their toilet training may come back to bite you later. I understand that not all bloggers think this way and really that's okay. You need to stay with what you feel comfortable with.

How do you feel about ads, product reviews and other marketing attempts by blogger?

Ads—I don't like them. I don't blog to make money but I understand if some do. To tell you the truth I never click on ads so unfortunately those blogger won't get anything from me. Sorry guys.

Product reviews— This is interesting. I have just been asked by Safeway to review a sale and to post about their 2 hour turkey deal. I turned it down. I don't eat meat. I don't judge those that do but I encourage my followers to at least take one day off from eating meat. How could I encourage friends to go out and buy a turkey when that is the last thing I would do in person. I told the thank you but no thank you. I did leave open the possibility of blogging about something later without meat. By the way, I am blogging about this tomorrow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not Smashing, But Polishing the Glass Ceiling.

I hate to blame the victims, but really…what else can you do when Mom Bloggers accept less than what their blogs are worth? But this is MORE than just a mom blogger issue when moms gratefully pick up the scraps of marketing money such as gift cards and coupons from MAJOR corporations who benefit A LOT from the Mom Blog PR. This is woman issue.

Women in general, at least of a certain age, tend to accept less, actually OFFER to accept less, AND take on more responsibility than men. I find it at work, I find it in homes and I find it at the schools. Of course, the place I hate finding it the most is in my own personality. But, since I am a woman of a certain age--I do have that tendency to step in and do the f*cking job just to get it done… But now more than ever I have been actively stopping myself, not for my own good but because of my child. SO like a mother-Right?

Before motherhood, If you were taking something away from me, I would not necessarily stand-up for myself. But now, god help you and any close family members you have if you even try to take ANYTHING from my child. Motherhood does that to you—you find a strength. Your children are your strength.

It is easier for me now to think –this unfair pay raise is taking money away from daughter and I will not stand for it. Or this system where high powered women are standing behind folding tables selling cupcakes is stupid and I am not going buy into this women volunteer ethic. Take my money, not my dignity. Scowl all you want PTA mom—You tell me--where are the fathers in this equation?

For me it is not JUST money or time , it is about showing my daughter how to stand-up for herself—at home, while in school and when she goes out into work world. This world would not run without women, but for some reason we continue to sell ourselves short.

Take a look at this great blog post by Mom 101 who talks about the large corporations using mom bloggers and the effect it has on all bloggers.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oh Baby..."Monetize My Blog"

I have been tempted, like JGH of Nyack Backyard, to press the “monetize my blog” button on the Google blogger program many times. But when I talk to other mom bloggers, whom I respect, they seem to view it as something cheap and dirty like having some tawdry affair….that the whole PTA is aware of it…

I would like to say that I have resisted until now because of some high personal standard, but that would be a lie. I have never pressed the button because I am too lazy and I was not sure if I wanted feminine products or constipation remedies advertised next to my posts. But for the sake of this class and research for my fellow mommy bloggers—I have decided to sell my soul, and “monetize” on my personal mom blog, Lazy Mom Café.

It is actually a lot of guilty fun…just like what (I can ONLY assume) an affair would be like. Since I did not want to let Google decide what I am advertising—I went through Amazon since I LOVE books and I have never had a bad experience with the Amazon. The child helped with recommendations. It was a wonderful family, consumerism moment.

Blogging is sort of a guilty pleasure which, for me, serves two purposes—first as a creative outlet and second and more importantly—to annoy my husband. Both activities are deeply satisfying. And if I were to make money off the blog that would just be frosting on the cake.

So check out my personal blog and if you plan to order anything through Amazon—just click through my site! For Christmas Gifts—think Lazy Mom Café!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't Worry Your Pretty Little Head....

I heard the report while driving home from the city last night…on NPR, of course, about the new recommended guidelines for mammograms starting at age 50 rather than 40. And they mentioned that the risk factor of having yearly mammograms outweighs the benefits. The first thing I thought was…OMG I have been having mammograms for years now …I will not go into how many, but needless to say—I have had A FEW yearly mammograms and I am dying…perhaps literally…. to know WHAT are the risks?!!

1. squeezing your breast between pieces of cold hard metal actually causes cancer???
2. the radiation from the X-ray increases the risk of cancer?

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY outweigh the benefits of early detection of cancer?

Finally…like they are a Fox news show rather than NPR, they tell us…

Apparently it is the ANXIETY of having the test is the “risk.” And my response to this finding is: WHAT THE F*CK?!!!.

Are we in Victorian England where I may need someone to fetch my smelling salts. PLEASE tell me that this is NOT what this team of highly respected “health care professionals” came up with. AT LEAST MAKE SOMETHING UP. I mean REALLY—we are women who deal with much bigger stresses than this ritualized torture and frankly the mammogram is one of the least stress producing tests because they tell you right then and there--you are good to go or perhaps—we want you to come back in 6 months just to check something. For heaven sakes! The anxiety of the test is a “risk factor?” If that does not have the Health Care Industry bribes written all over it—I don’t know what does? We must protect women from the “stress of the test” and save ourselves millions of dollars at the same time….oh…and a few women out of a thousand will die…but the stress. Oh the horror.

What else are these specialist planning to protect women from. How about seat-belts…they really rumple women’s clothing….How many women actually die in car accidents anyway…compared to say the EMBARRASSMENT of showing up rumpled. Perhaps GM and Ford can get together a group of specialists to study this and make some “recommendations.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Barnacle

I learned the other day in class from a marketing maven that there is term for shoppers like me: Barnacles. Barnacles are people who mainly shop the specials. I don’t MAINLY shop the specials—but I do buy very little in the way of processed food and I do always stock-up on the specials.

I always wondered about that—before we have a party I buy all sorts of junk food—potato chips, hot dogs, sodas and candy and when I do this type of shopping the coupon machine at the register spits out tons and tons of coupons. But now as I am checking out with my vegetables and fruits and old fashioned Quaker oats—no coupons…nothing!

What they are trying to do by not giving me coupons is to encourage me to shop elsewhere. They want to eliminate me from their customer base like a sailor wants to scrape the barnacles from the bottom of their boat. I am a drain on their store because the specials are often sold for a loss by the store in hopes that once you are in the store you will buy more. Is there any wonder why Americans are fat?

I just have one message for those marketers—I don’t even use your stinking coupons! Go market to the stay at home mommy bloggers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Marketing, Monetizing and Mr. Clean.

Below is a guest post from fellow mom and fellow blogger, JGH, of Nyack Backyard.

So far, I’ve resisted any temptation to click on the word “monetize my blog” on my settings page in Blogger. It’s not that I don’t want to make money, it’s just that I don’t want to start thinking of my blog as a business. I’m afraid that the minute I do, the feelings of obligation will begin and it won’t be fun anymore. I’d want to add more gadgets, and more ads and maybe even sell a few things, and then before long, the blog would be one big commercial venture. And although some of my favorite blogs have advertisements, I probably wouldn’t follow one that is devoted solely to reviews.

Wouldn’t it be fun if blog marketing worked the opposite way? Wouldn’t it be nice if Trader Joe’s noticed how many times I’ve praised their Dixie Peach Juice on my blog and sent me a case of it? Why didn’t Mr. Clean notice when I praised his Magic Eraser Sponges? I can always use a few more of those.
My friend once said something nice about a local nursery that got printed in the paper, and they sent her a gift certificate. Now they’ve got her and several of her friends as customers for life. That’s what I call cultivating a local audience!

Every once in awhile I’ll get an email from someone asking me to review or link to something in exchange for being entered in a raffle. I’m sorry. There is no way to know what my chances of winning are, or how many are entered, or even if the drawing is rigged. I guess I’m just not that trusting. I’d probably respond better to the idea of product reviews on my blog if I was offered something for free that I could really use, like a cordless chainsaw or woodchipper, video camera or hardy kiwi vines! I think I could make a good case for any of these products. But the odd things that I’ve been offered haven’t been on my wish list, and now that bloggers must disclose the fact that they’ve received freebies to review, I’d be wary of looking like a sell-out.

There is one kind of marketing that I do participate in, though. It’s called “oblivious” marketing. The Lazy Mom informed me just recently that when someone clicks on one of the books listed on my sidebar, they are directed to and Amazon page where they can purchase it. I hadn’t known that. I’d be surprised if any click throughs result in a purchase, but if they do, shouldn’t I get a cut? How do I sign up for that? I could really use that 17 cents.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Demise of the Alpha Mom

So what happened to the Alpha Mom? There was so much chatter about her on-line a few years ago and now…nothing. Perhaps they were tired of us “Beta Moms” making fun of them. Perhaps when they sold out to companies who wanted them to “review” their products that put them in the dog house with other moms. Or maybe it suddenly dawned on them—that no one REALLY cares what they think of fruit roll-ups.

For me it was a lazy Saturday afternoon in Riverside Park, Hippo Park to be exact, when my own disgust of the Alpha Mom first began. My sister and I were sitting on a bench as we watched our children run wild through the child’s park of hippo statues. The hippos were at various stages of emerging from the soft playground surface. We were sipping iced coffees—a mom staple, and the children had more Oreo on their faces than in their stomachs. It was one of those perfect NYC days.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a clipped English accent announced: “Veggie Puffs!?” and large cellophane bag full of seaweed green balls was shoved into our faces. Harshing my mellow with this fish tank smelling “all-natural organic snack” the woman popped herself down next to us to tell us all about the health benefits. The children charged over to take a look, which was all they needed to turn up their cookie smeared noses, and ran back to play on the hippos. My sister, who eats nails for breakfast, grabbed the offending bag from Ms. Know-it-All. Scanning the contents—she said: “I would NEVER feed this crap to my child…god knows what they put in it—they could easily get salmonella from this so called “organic” snack.

The mother took her malodorous smelling bag back over to her Baby Einstein enhanced son. We sipped our coffees, my sister lit a cigarette and we watched our cookie faced children do dangerous balancing acts on the life sized hippos while other Alpha Moms called out to them to be careful and called to their own children not to follow suit.

If you cannot be good Alpha Mom—at least be a good bad example.