Keeping Up With The Rheinlanders

Hope you are having a great Saturday! We’ve got another great blogger to introduce you to today….

Melissa from Keeping Up With The Rheinlanders!

Melissa started blogging to keep her very large family updated and soon got addicted to the community! She enjoys trying new products, writing reviews, and hosting giveaways…as well as helping promote other bloggers.

Tell us how you started your blog and site. What was your inspiration?

My friend Summer (My Munoz Family) has blogged for years and while having a Mommy’s Nite out convinced me to try it out! So July 2010 KUWTR began. I really wasn’t expecting much and had only been on Summer’s blog… I soon fell in love with blogging and the community that it brings!! I have made some wonderful FRIENDS… I really had no clue about what a blog could bring to my life!

What’s one area of blogging you still feel clueless about and wish you knew more about?

I still feel clueless about so much…almost everything!!  I don’t even know where to begin!! I am still not sure if I have my stat counter is installed right?? I have some great mentors that help me with everything!!

If you had to give up either participating in memes or blog hops, which would you choose and why?

I would say blog hopsI find that a lot of bloggers do not follow/like back for whatever reason but with memes you have to put thought into them and I enjoy finding out what other bloggers have come up with or what their answers are!!

You seem to have a very active Facebook page. How do you keep readers engaged there?

I try to help promote other fan pages… if I find something that I like I promote it like crazy whether it is FB or twitter (sometimes on my blog)!

What’s been your most successful giveaway? What’s your biggest challenge with running giveaways?

The Tassimo T20 Brewbot(which I still love)~ I had a ton of entries. My biggest challenge right now would be low entries : (

Connect with Melissa on Twitter and on Facebook.

Blogosphere Roundup, 5/13

business 2 blogger

Hello! It’s another Friday Blogosphere Roundup! And it’s Friday the 13th, so don’t walk under any ladders, okay?

Blogging Tips

Writer’s Block. This is a lovely post from Paperstitch with some simple and fun ideas for getting past writer’s block.

20+ Great Blogging Tools. A uber-helpful post from Hongkiat that suggests some tools to improve your blogging and all-things-webby.

Setting Up Your Blog For Product Reviews. Great post at Problogger about things to think about when creating a product review blog.

Social Media

Facebook Users Paid to Watch Ads. Leave it to Facebook…they always keep things interesting in social media!

Facebook Changes Friend Mentions. Apparently, you don’t need to use @ anymore to tag friends on Facebook!

Sources for News-Related Images. Need images for current events? That are free? BlogHerald hooks you up.

Mom Blogging In The News

How Saying NO Can Improve Your Blog. I’ve met Janice Croze from 5 Minutes for Mom in person, and she’s fab and smart. Listen to her. She knows her stuff, as evidenced in this piece at Blogworld.

Mompreneurship. Take a look at this video on mompreneurs on Mommy to Mommy TV.

Evo’11 Initial Speakers Announced. Evo is coming to Park City, Utah in July! First round of speakers was announced this week.

Have a fabulous weekend, everybody!

Blogging Pet Peeves

blogging pet peeves

A few weeks ago, I was reading this article by Deb Ng at Kommein, in which she outlines 25 things about blogging that really bug her. Some of them are pretty obvious, like Captcha codes and music on blogs (ack! They drive me nuts!). But her list is great, because they really are a list of don’ts for bloggers that we should all keep in mind.

So it got me thinking that it would be fun to have just a teensy-weensy venting session here today. It’s your chance to weigh in what your pet peeves are with blogging. Read Deb’s list for some ideas, but I’ll bet you have some of your own as well.

I’ll get this party started with a couple of my biggest blogging annoyances:

1. The person who leaves totally irrelevant or thoughtless comments which scream “I didn’t read this post!”

Hey, let’s face it. I skim posts with the best of them. But I’ve seen some pretty outlandish comments that drive me bananas…like when someone writes a very poignant post about the passing of a favorite pet or relative, and a commenter writes something like:

I wish my dog would die. He leaves hairballs all over the house.

Or, better yet:

How weird that your recently-passed Aunt lived in Omaha. I had a really awesome steak in Omaha in 1994.

Am I the only one that has read comments like this on other blogs?

2. The “I’ve Got Nothing To Say” post.

If you have nothing to say, don’t post. And don’t post a picture of your vacuum cleaner in the hopes of snagging a few pageviews.

3. Using Twitter as an instant messenger service.

Twitter is meant for short exchanges, not an hour-long back-and-forth between two people who don’t include anyone else in the discussion. This is why God created Skype, or the DM.

4. Copying other people’s stuff.

I can count on…10 hands the number of times I’ve seen my content (which is usually on extremely specific topics) dealt with in an eerily similar way by another blogger. BOO!!!

5. Inside jokes.

I’m all for establishing a community with your readers. But when I’m a new visitor to a blog and every post is all about the author’s conversations with another blogger friend and inside jokes, I click away pretty fast.

So that’s my short list. I could go on until Friday. Okay! Weigh in. What’s your biggest blogging pet peeves? And remember – play nice in this sandbox. Don’t point fingers at individual bloggers!

FTC Disclosure Guidelines for Bloggers

FTC Guidelines

If you’ve done any amount of working with brands, hopefully you know that the FTC has issued guidelines as to how and when a blogger is required to disclose a relationship with, and what has been received from a brand, particularly when doing reviews and giveaways.

But if you don’t know about them, or you’re new to blogging and plan to work with brands, this post is for you. It’s really important to understand what is expected of you when you write a post for which you’ve received compensation or free stuff.

It’s pretty simple: you must disclose in an individual blog post if you have a relationship with a company or advertiser that includes the payment or exchange of money, free product or the like. A “blanket” disclosure covering your entire blog does not suffice.

I’ve seen blanket disclosures on a lot of blogs and it’s a dangerous practice if it’s the only disclosure provided. Why? Because not all readers are going to see a blanket disclosure. If a reader comes to a new blog for one specific giveaway, they need to see the disclosure about the brand relationship in that post. It’s for the consumer’s protection, as well as the blogger’s. It helps maintain a level of trust between author, reader and brand.

You can read the full text of the FTC’s Disclosure Guidelines. It’s important to point out that these are just that – guidelines, not laws. You can’t be thrown into jail if you don’t follow them. But it’s good business practice to do so, for the reason I explained above.

A better read, if this is the first you’ve heard about disclosure guidelines, is to read the FTC’s FAQ sheet. This will answer a lot of questions you may have about the hows, whys, whens and wheres of disclosing relationships with advertisers or brands.

The FTC also released a series of 30-second videos answering some general questions about how the guidelines apply to bloggers that are worth watching if you’re new to the review and giveaway game.

So if you’re doing any sort of compensated post or product reviews (for products you didn’t purchase on your own, it’s a great idea to familiarize, or review the guidelines just to make sure what you’re doing is not impairing the relationship you’ve built up with your readers. Even the best bloggers can unintentionally overlook a disclosure.

I hope this helps some of you just starting out in working with brands. Have a great week of blogging!

DC Princess Q – Saturday Spotlight

Hello, hello! Let’s get right to it today. We’ve got another great blogger lined up for you to meet.

We’re going off the beaten path to meet a young blogger who’s engaged to be married today. Our spotlight blogger is:

Berrak from DC Princess Q!

I love her badge, BTW!

You have an unusual blog name and tagline (The World Is My Jester). Share the deets on how you came up with both.

Princess Q. was a nickname I was given a few years ago when my  URL was “QuelloNascosto” on Myspace. (Back when Myspace was actually full of quality blogging.)  Quello became my handle, and it just escalated from there.  I’m often called PQ by friends, even if they’re my bridesmaids.  The ‘DC’ part is because I’m a D.C. native & I love it.  My tagline: The World Is My Jester is something that I came up with in the last year because as a April Fool Baby, I always find something to make me laugh on a daily basis.

You have a lot of cool freelance writing jobs. Tell us about them!

I’m currently a Community Management Associate on Brazen Careerist, where I write blogs related to Gen-Y, job hunting & being a student.  It’s a great community and I love being a part of it.  I also recently began reviewing Android Apps for Appolicious, which is a ton of fun.  I get to try out new apps, and share their pros & cons with the community.

Tell us one tech tool, application, or resource that is crucial to you.

My Android-powered phone.  It helps me stay connected on the go, and with the apps that I use, it also helps me stay organized as I juggle being a freelancer & a student.

Talk to us about what sorts of blogs you love to read and what makes a great blog to you.

I read everything from lifestyle blogs like my own to industry related blogs.  Since I’m now planning a wedding, my reader is starting to get filled with wedding-related blogs, specifically ones with inspiration boards & DIY tips.  I like being able to relate to the author, and be inspired at the same time, whether they’re sharing a personal story or their insight on being a professional.

Do you ever get blogger’s block, and how do you overcome it?

I’ve been blogging since 2003 and blogger’s block happens all the time.  Sometimes I get to the point where I feel like my life is boring, or there is nothing new to report, which happened a lot when I was unemployed. Depending on my mood, I may completely step away from blogging for a few days or I free-write to see what comes out.  Once I start writing, it usually begins flowing.  The best way to overcome blogger’s block is removing the pressure the best way you can.

Thanks to Berrak for giving us a fresh perspective on blogging today.  Connect with DC Princess Q on Twitter, or say hello to her over on Facebook.

Blogosphere Roundup – 5/6

Hello! Welcome to the blog roundup for the first week of May!

Blogging Tips

3 Common Copyright Mistakes. Blog Herald outlines the copyright issues you should be aware of as a blogger. Important info.

Content is Not King? A guest poster at ProBlogger tries to bust 2 common myths of blogging: one about traffic, and one about content.

Stuff that Makes Your Blog Look Bad. Copyblogger says there are a few things that can tarnish how people see your blog.

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Product Reviews. A good rundown of things to keep in mind – I know many of you write reviews.

Social Media

Facebook Fan Page Best Practices. This is a great little tip sheet from Hub Pages about what to think about with your fan page.

Twitter Acquires Tweetdeck. Shout Me Loud shares the deets. Twitter, please don’t screw up Tweetdeck, okay? Thanks.

Mom Blogging News

Learning from Mommy Moguls. Blogging Pro asks whether all bloggers can learn from mommy bloggers, and why.

Parent Bloggers, Do You Need A Niche? BlogWorld raises the question of niches for parent bloggers.

BlogHer Studies Women In Social Media. This links to a series of several studies BlogHer did on women in social media. I didn’t even see these on BlogHer!

Have a great weekend, everybody! And come back tomorrow for our next Saturday Spotlight blogger!

Scheduled Tweets: Bad or Good?

should you schedule tweets?

On Monday, I showed you how to schedule your Tweets in TweetDeck. But I didn’t discuss whether scheduling Tweets is a good idea or bad idea.

The answer is…yes.

If done correctly and judiciously, scheduling Tweets can be a very powerful organizational tool for your blogging. If done haphazardly, it can be a real annoyance to your readers. The key is to NOT make it obvious that the Tweets are being auto-sent.

Here are a few ways to do that.

1. Mix them up. Let’s say you’re going to be out of town tomorrow and you want to schedule Tweets to promote your blog post while you’re gone. That’s great – a wise use of the scheduled Tweet. Vary the wording of the Tweet each time so it doesn’t feel like a robot is doing your work for you. Remember: no two Tweets should be alike.

2. Pay attention to responses. News flash – people don’t realize your Tweet is scheduled. They think you’re there, and ready to respond. If you schedule a Tweet, you have to still respond to people who interact with that Tweet when you are able. Don’t Tweet into a black hole.

3. Remember that scheduled Tweets don’t replace interaction. I would love nothing more than to set up all of my Tweets at the start of the day and never open TweetDeck again. But those Tweets don’t replace human interaction. You still need to mix in real-time Tweets where you have one on one conversations with people – about topics other than your most recent blog post.

4. Consider the timing. Think carefully about when you’re scheduling Tweets. It does you no good to schedule a Tweet for 3 a.m. – unless you have a readership of insomniacs, that is.  You should have a feel for what the peak times are for your readership and schedule accordingly.

5. Don’t overschedule. I generally will schedule a Tweet about the same blog post no more than 3 or 4 times a day. If I’m out of town, my Tweets would go out at about 7 a.m., noon, dinner hour, and a late (10 p.m.) Tweet to catch my California readers who are still awake.

If I have one blog post covering multiple days, I usually taper my Tweets back on the second day to one or two times. By then, the majority of my readers will have seen the post the day prior, through my RSS feed or Facebook anyway.

I hope these tips help you assess how to use scheduled Tweets wisely. Remember: use it, don’t abuse it!

Scheduling Your Tweets In TweetDeck

Welcome to May, everybody!

Last Monday, we talked about gaining control over and organizing your blog posts by utilizing an editorial calendar. Today, we’re going to talk about being a bit more organized with Twitter. I’m going to show you how to schedule Tweets.

If you haven’t done this before, it will feel both awkward and life-changing! In order to schedule Tweets, you need TweetDeck, Hootsuite, or another Twitter management application. Today, we’re doing TweetDeck only.

How To Schedule Tweets In TweetDeck

Step 1. In TweetDeck, open the Scheduling Window. In the top window where you compose your Tweets, click on the alarm clock icon.

Step 2. An overlay window will appear over your Tweet composition window. Here’s where you can pick the day and the exact time you want your Tweet to be sent out. Simply click on the date area and a calendar will popup, or click the time area to set your time (NOTE: Tweetdeck uses military time, so if you schedule an evening tweet, use this convention). Click Set Time.

Step 3. The overlay window will disappear and where you normally click Send to publish your Tweet, the button now displays at what time and day the Tweet will be sent. Click it to schedule your Tweet:

Step 5. If you start to schedule a lot of Tweets, you’ll forget about when and what you’ve scheduled (trust me). So I keep a column open in TweetDeck that lists all of my scheduled updated. Here’s how you do it. Click on the Add Column button in the upper left corner of TweetDeck.

A popup window will appear with a whole bunch of different choices. Click Core first, then click Scheduled Updates at the bottom of the window.

TweetDeck will open up a column that looks like this, where you can view ALL of your scheduled Tweets in one place.

You can edit a scheduled Tweet or cancel it at any time, too. Just mouse over your avatar on the scheduled Tweet you want to edit. It will give you a wrench icon to edit, and a trash icon to delete. Click which one you want to utilize, and hit save when you are done!

That’s it! On Wednesday, I’m going to talk about whether, and why, you should schedule Tweets in the first place.

Have a great blogging week!