Gearing up for Bliss

4 10 2011

There are only 9 sleeps until Blissdom Canada! Okay, well ten sleeps if you don’t include the Kick-off Reception Thursday night.

Like many of my fellow attendees, I am soooo looking forward to this conference. Perhaps you’ve seen us tweeting about it for the past year? 😉

For those of you who don’t know, Blissdom Canada is a two-day conference for women who love blogging, social media and other digital media goodness. It’s all about networking and learning. And fun!

Last year’s conference was the first of its kind in Canada, and I was lucky enough to win a ticket. It was an amazing experience. I was all Ooh! Gee! Wow! at every session I attended. (For real…I could gush on and on.)

Light bulb moments galore

I came away with a broader understanding about how to find my voice, my niche, my twist. I learned something else important too. That when it came to writing for my blog, I was letting fear hold me back. Fear of failure, fear of sucking, fear of expressing too much of myself.

I learned that these other women who joined me at the conference all faced the same fear at one point or another. But here they were sharing these amazing personal stories of success and community, and yes, of failure too.

Giddy-up, I’m ready to go!

This year I’ve already planned what I want to get out of the conference.

Here are my goals:

  • talk to other attendees about migrating to a self-hosted blog – how they did it, where to start, etc. (I’ve been sitting on my own domain for months!)
  • figure out how I want to work with brands and PR
  • ditto on monetizing my blog (I don’t think I do but I want to learn more about it before finally deciding)
  • discuss digital media trends with other attendees – video, mobile and more – I love it all!
  • find my tribe(s) and network with women interested in the same topics as me (specifically, lifestyle blogging, social media, technology and writing)
  • see the screening of Missrepresentation!
  • meet and reunite with women i’ve talked to on Twitter who are all looking forward to this conference for different reasons – and learn what those reasons are

For those of you attending Blissdom Canada for the first time, you are going to be amazed at how inclusive the conference is. People are warm, friendly and genuinely interested in getting to know you.

From the speakers to the attendees, there is this openness, this willingness to help you grow. It’s sounds so corny but I guarantee, you will find the experience inspirational.

And if you’re shy, well just read Sara’s post here and Sharon’s post here to realize you’re not alone, and that others will be feeling the same way as you.

For the record, I’d love to chat with you so please say hi. And don’t be surprised if I walk up and say hi first. 🙂

See you in TO!

Photo credit to

Give your iPhone photos some ColorSplash

28 09 2011

I just downloaded a new app called ColorSplash that converts your images to black and white and then lets you select a certain element to keep in colour.

It’s simple to do and fun.

I took this picture at the Carp Fair last Sunday. A gorgeous day to go to the fair!

A giant gourd makes a great seat! A ‘gourd’ time at the fair…ha!

The app comes with great tutorials too and with a $0.99 price tag, is a sweet deal. Go check it out!

Six Word Fridays: love

22 07 2011
Mel Gallant tweeting

Tweet, tweet...

The truth: I love social media

Not for the tools or gadgetry

Although that does play a part

It’s for the connections I’ve made

The people who have enriched me

The opportunities to build/contribute something

Greater than myself; supporting my communitySix Word Fridays

Participating, engaging, learning, sharing – yes, yes

All those trite, over-used expressions

Are really, truly…what I love

This Six Word Friday post is inspired by the Social Capital Conference – Ottawa’s first social media learnathon – and one that I am fortunate enough to be speaking at tomorrow. Can’t wait!

For more Six Word Friday goodness, visit Good stuff there.

* Photo credit to sylc on Flickr. Thanks Simon! 🙂

5 Reasons you should participate in a Twitter chat (or two)

19 07 2011

Twitter chats are a great way to connect and engage with others, especially if you are new to Twitter and looking to build your network.

Even if you are one of the seasoned Twitterati, these chats offer tremendous opportunity to make new connections and sustain existing relationships (you never know who you might know in a Twitter chat!)Twitter-Chat

For those of you who don’t know what a Twitter chat is, it’s basically a virtual meetup held on Twitter centred on a common subject. You follow the conversation via the hashtag for the chat.

Some of my favourites are #socialchat (Mondays at 9 p.m. ET, #tweetdiner (Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET) and #PR20chat (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET). To be honest, I haven’t checked in to #PR20chat in a while but it’s not for lack of interest!

Pick a chat, any chat

There are tons more – these are the three that interest me the most. A really nice guy named Robert Swanwick created a Google doc that you can review to find a Twitter chat of interest – and to add your chat to should you decide to create one of your own.

You can use Twitter clients like TweetChat or TweetGrid to aggregate tweets related to the chat, which makes it easier to follow and respond to other participants. These clients also auto-tag your tweets with the right hashtag which is convenient since it ensures your tweet gets included in the chat stream without you having to remember to type it out.

Today I saw that Marissa Gagnier over at Thoughts of a Ninja already wrote a great post on Why you should attend a Twitter chat. Marissa also outlines her favourite chats (thanks Marissa, I’m going to check those out!) and some of the benefits brands can get from participating. Emphasis on the word participate:

I think there is a lot of potential here for brands to really connect with their customers. Not only will they gain followers on Twitter, but more importantly – you can have real, meaningful conversations with people around a common theme.

This is great advice for brands and a reminder that social media is about engagement, not broadcasting/selling how great your product/service is – at least not all the time.

Do it! Do it! Do it! (seriously, how can you resist the Do it! chant?)

So in kindred spirit to Marissa’s post, I offer five reasons you should participate in a Twitter chat of your choosing:

1. Networking
Twitter chats are a great way to find new people to follow on Twitter, especially since you have a shared interest in common! It also enables people to discover you – which can help you build a following.

And since it is the quality of your followers – not the quantity – that is important, Twitter chats helps you to connect with others in ways that are relevant and meaningful.

Relevance = the secret sauce of social media success!


Also, be sure to follow up with participants after the chat to sustain the connection.

2. Learning & Sharing
Twitter chats enable you to debate, question and share ideas with others who are passionate about the same topic as you! So dive in and comment. A lot.

Don’t be shy. If you have a question or don’t understand – speak up! Chances are someone else in the chat wants the answer too.

p.s.: Often Twitter chats include a series of questions (Q1, Q2, Q3 etc.) that the host shares, along with the Twitter chat hashtag. You then respond with A1, A2, etc and the associated hashtag. Word of advice: when disagreeing with someone’s opinion in a Twitter chat, be polite or you’ll quickly find yourself ignored or blocked.

3. Build your personal brand
Twitter chats are a great way to demonstrate your expertise and build awareness. Reasons 1 and 2 are how you do it. Nuff said.

4. Gain story ideas
Twitter chats can be another source of inspiration for your next blog post, video, podcast, etc. Whether it’s varying points of view, a great quote or a new perspective on your subject of interest, Twitter chats can have you swimming in content generating heaven!

5. They’re fun!
It doesn’t matter if it’s online or face to face, when you get together with people who share the same interest as you, it’s fun! Twitter chats usually last 1 hour and you won’t believe how the time flies!

So there you have it. My five reasons you should join in on a Twitter chat. There is some Twitter chat etiquette that I should point you to. Nothing too dreary – just a few points to make the experience enjoyable for you and everyone else.

Now spill…what Twitter chats do you participate in? If you don’t currently participate in a Twitter chat…is your interest piqued? 

*#TwChat image via Robert Swanwick | Secret sauce image via Crowded Ocean

Social Capital Conference – the place to be July 23rd

25 05 2011

I have the great fortune to be a part of the Social Capital Conference taking place here in Ottawa on July 23rd.

Whether you dabble in social media or live and breathe it, @SoCapOtt promises to be a full day of learning and networking covering a wide range of topics and trends related to both business and personal use of social media. Here’s how the organizers describe it:

It will be a place to hang out with like-minded people who GET what your love of social media is all about.

Aside from the learning and networking I’ll get to do, what I’m really excited about is that this conference provides the opportunity to celebrate Ottawa’s thriving social media community.

Ottawa is using social media in creative, innovative ways and this conference provides a unique opportunity for us to to learn from one another on how to be better at it, to contribute more value and to strengthen our ties to this community and beyond.

And we won’t have to travel to an out-of-city conference to share our successes and learn from one another!

The conference features an awesome line-up of speakers from the Ottawa social media community – and I’m not just saying that because I’m one of them. 😉

The cost is $75 for the day which I think is a steal for the number of panel and single-led sessions,  roundtables and more being planned. (Not to mention, you will be fed.)

Go check out the conference website and seriously consider purchasing a ticket if you haven’t already.

July 23rd. University of Ottawa Campus. It’s the place to be.


PeerIndex is neat. So is #SocialChat

3 05 2011

Last night I joined in on the #SocialChat weekly Twitter chat for the first time. I asked a question here and there but mostly lurked in on the conversation.

Led by Alan K’necht, #SocialChat takes place every Monday at 9 p.m. EDT.

Last night’s topic was on PeerIndex – ever heard of it? Similar to Klout, PeerIndex scores your social graph.

According to the website, a PeerIndex profile gives you:

  • PeerIndex: a measure of your online social capital
  • Topic fingerprint: a snapshot of what you talk about
  • Topic resonance: how much other people find what you share valuable
  • Comparisons: compare yourself to your friends and peers

Huh. But when asked last night what makes it different from Klout, PeerIndex founder Azeem Azhur said:

“PeerIndex is derived from what other people say about you, not what you do yourself.”

Thus it’s the quality of people who connect with you that counts…not just the quantity. PeerIndex identifies what topics you tweet, and how much interest your tweets garner by your followers. Read the rest of this entry »

All ‘’

11 01 2011

Have you checked out yet? It’s a site that allows you to create a customized web page to aggregate all your online profiles/content on one page.

It’s a great way to present your personal brand online in a creative way, with links to your blogs and/or websites and to your profiles on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr and Twitter. 

I created my page back in the Fall but I played around with the design for a while before *officially* launching it two weeks ago.

I like that you can upload a photo or image to your page or select from a number of provided background images.

You can play around with the page design, including font choices, background colours and positioning of your bio.

What’s also cool is that gives you statistics via your account dashboard (still in beta) about your page – like how many people have visited your profile, where they’re coming from, and what they do on your page. If you link your page to your Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook profile, it will also give you information about your activity on those sites. Read the rest of this entry »

I need me some Wheaties

1 12 2010

I’m always amazed at bloggers who write and publish every day. Not a couple of posts a week. Every day.

I average about two posts a week, although this week I also did a guest post for Kids In the Capital so – hooray! – three posts this week! *double fist pump*

Typically though, my two posts consist of a weekly contribution to the Six Word Fridays blog meme and then another post about whatever comes to mind.Wheaties for Bloggers courtesy of officialpsds[dot]com

Being a part of Six Word Fridays is fun because I get to create a post on a set topic and share it with a community of bloggers doing the same thing.

The other post is fun too because it’s me sharing a view-point, experience or story.

But I’m struggling to up my blogging ante. Not because I don’t want to write more – I do! It’s finding the time, which I know translates into making the time. Sigh.

Kind of like making the time for fitness – you need to incorporate workouts and cardio into your weekly routine – make it part of a healthy lifestyle.

I guess I’m not eating enough of my ‘Blogging Wheaties’ to really be able to push through to the next level. I’m trying though.

And I’m curious how other bloggers do it. When do you blog? How do you make the time?

aiming to suck less

2 11 2010

I learned a lot at the Blissdom Canada conference last week. Namely, to suck less at writing. And I’m going to do my best.

At the first Canadian social media conference for women there were sessions and dialogue centred on blog writing, monetization, working with brands, blogging for social action and more. Here are a few key points that struck a chord with me.

Find your voice, your niche, your ‘twist’

  • create great content and you’ll rock; this means taking risks, being controversial, being authentic
  • find your voice – it’s OK if you haven’t discovered it yet, but get started on the journey (writing lots and reading other blogs will help)
  • seek mentors to emulate (aka: read lots of other blogs)
  • change up your writing style (not your voice) – shake it up with prose, top tens, subtitles, photos, videos, etc.
  • while the story may have been told before, the twist is you; your viewpoint, perspective and experience

Be mindful

  • be mindful of yourself – know why you’re online, what your goals, priorities, principles are
  • know in advance how you will deal with negative comments (especially the vicious ones) because you will receive them
  • develop your personal brand; it’s important – know your identity and create content around it
  • be mindful of your audience – who are you writing for anyway?

De-clutter (cleanliness=less sucking)

  • edit your work. Then edit it again. Go away. Come back. Do more edits. That’s how you’ll become a better writer; that’s how you’ll become a content creating Ninja (ker-plow!)
  • go with a simple, clean design to make your blog inviting; people want to see you, not all the flashy ‘blog jewellery’

Cut yourself some slack

  • as busy moms/women, we can’t be everywhere; quoting Kathy Buckworth, “We’re not Mrs. Brady. Besides, she had a maid.”
  • it’s not so much about work/life balance as it is simply a matter of ‘being’ where you need to be
  • there’s a reason there’s an off switch; you really do have to take  a break from blogging

Creating change in the world

  • social media can be used as your voice for change; it enables you to create room for voices that haven’t been heard
  • even if your audience is small, your voice is powerful to them and offers encouragement
  • be kind (on Twitter, on  your blog, in real life); it goes a long way
  • be inclusive; don’t alienate new readers by talking in jargon or with inside jokes

Don’t do it for the money

  • it’s really hard to make money off your blog so blog because you love writing, not because you want the cash
  • that if you’re looking to work with brands, go to the small- and mid-sized businesses in  your neighbourhood/that fit  your niche
  • don’t wait to be pitched; find brands that are already open to the mom/women blogging market and pitch to them
  • know in advance what is and isn’t for sale on  your site

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend Blissdom Canada. I met so many interesting women who are doing wonderful, amazing and powerful things through social media. It truly was inspiring. I left wishing the conference could go on forever, and through Twitter and other blog recaps, I guess it will.

I’m motivated to keep writing until I find my voice. To take the risk of sucking, but to try to suck less.

my journey to Blissdom starts with Tanner

24 10 2010

Through luck of the draw (literally), I’m attending the Blissdom Canada Conference in Toronto next week.

The Blissdom ticket was part of a prize pack I won for donating to the Tweetathon for Tanner, a fundraiser held for a deserving boy a couple of months ago via Twitter. The tweetathon auction raised $30,000 to help Tanner’s family renovate their home so that Tanner, who is dying from Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, can live at home in the final year or so that he has left.  Read the rest of this entry »