Work-Life Guide for Crazy Busy Moms

This is a test post based on being underwhelmed by blogger. My guess is more people will find and comment on this post in wordpress vs. the exact same thing on our main blog on blogger.

This week I attended the BlogHerDC conference. It was awesome and some of the takeaways can be found in our insider’s blog. At the conference, I met Heather Chapman who writes the blog: “The Mother Tongue.”

Heather: Do you have kids?

Me: Yeah. Two. 5 and 2.

Heather: Mine are 4 and 1. Any antics there I should know about?

Me: We didn’t leave my son alone with my daughter for the first year of her life.

Heather: That’s probably wise.

Me: A common saying around our house is “No clothes-lining!”

Heather: [Laughing]

Me: Maxwell will run up with his arm out, careen into my daughter, and flip her right over backwards.

Heather: People need to know this. You should write about it on your blog.

Me: But, aren’t there enough Moms writing about crazy kid stuff?

Heather: I think it makes moms feel good to know that other people have crazy lives.

Me: Really?

Heather: Yeah.

So – inspired by Heather: The totally NOT women’s leadership oriented blog post about a typical crazy day in my life. I am not really sure what people can learn from this, but, here goes:

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To follow along you will need:
1. A lofty goal
2. A box of Teddy Grahams
3. SPANX
4. A wrinkled piece of clothing
5. A plant (or other life form)
6. A good sense of humor

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1. A lofty goal. Here is how the day of October 13, 2008 started: I prepared to go to the BlogHerDC conference to promote the launch of the Hot Mommas Project case study competition. Here was my lofty goal on this particular day: Get out the door and go to this conference. In my robe, after being woken up by various little people, I make the error of just “real quick” logging in and seeing if the Hot Mommas Project sign-in process works.

Frequently asked question: Will I need an alarm clock for this step?
No. You will not, I repeat NOT, be needing an alarm clock. Little people will wake you up at something beginning with a “5”.

2. A box of Teddy Grahams. Checking the Hot Mommas Project site”real quick” turned into – hmmm – about 1.5 hours. I utilize a box of Teddy Grahams to subdue one of the two loud, feisty little people that live in my house during this time.

FAQs: Is there a certain preferred flavor of Teddy Graham? Is there a certain time of day the Teddy Grahams should be served?
Unquestionably, Chocolate Teddy Grahams are preferred. Bonus points are issued if the Teddy Grahams are served at a completely inappropriate time. Example: Here is Lilah eating Teddy Grahams…for breakfast…on the floor of my bedroom.

3. SPANX. Despite the extreme delays I face due to the “real quick” Hot Mommas Project login test, I spend a good 12 minutes searching for my SPANX upon which I have developed a clinically-diagnosable dependence.

Frequently Asked Question: Could I search aimlessly for a DIFFERENT item (other than SPANX?).
Certainly. Car keys, blackberry, or another item are acceptable replacements.

Pictured here is a 2 week-old pile of clean laundry in which the SPANX were ultimately uncovered.

4. A wrinkled piece of clothing. As I was on “Mission Critical” finding my SPANX, I made an unfortunate discovery balled up in the laundry bin: The shirt I intended to wear to the conference. It was embarrassingly wrinkled. Ironing was clearly out of the question, since I had taken a sacred vow of no-ironing.

Frequently asked question: Is it possible to wear a different NON-WRINKLED piece of clothing thus adhering to the sacred vow of no-ironing?
I will not even dignify that question with a response. Clearly, you are at the wrong place my friend. For non-wrinkled clothes wearers and prepared, organized moms please click here or here. Students click here.

Pictured here is said wrinkled shirt which is under attack by my daughter Lilah “the picker” Frey.

5. A plant (or other life form). In preparing the Hot Mommas Project case competition launch I had been neglecting myself for sometime. For some, personal care is a regular, steady routine. For me, it was a distant dream. Today was no exception!

Here are the ferns that have died by my hand. Sometimes at night, when it’s very quiet, I think I can hear their little fern screams.

This is, I figure, the worst case scenario if my personal grooming continues in a downward descent.

6. A good sense of humor. As I mentioned in our insider’s blog this past week, saying things in a Napoleon Dynamite voice is a good and practical technique I’ve personally found incredibly helpful for getting through each and every day.

Pictured here is Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder). Credit IMDB Photo.
Frequently asked question: Could I imitate a DIFFERENT voice as a helpful technique for getting through my day? Acceptable replacements include:

The little kid from the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom

Rosanne Rosanna Danna (Saturday Night Live – Roseanne Rosannadanna on Smoking)

Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #12: Search Engine Optimization and Link Love

The Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition has launched (what is this? See our blog brief.) Now, it’s time to get the word out. One of the ways to do that is search engine optimization and other social media tools. Lessons learned from BlogHer DC yesterday are the subject of this post.  It took a while getting there, however.

Pictured here: My shower running.

White Noise Machine

White Noise Machine

Rather pathetically, I am in my bathroom typing so I don’t wake up my husband. This is pretty indicative of the weeks/months I’ve been having which is detailed in a different post for those schadenfreude-inclined individuals.

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INTERLUDE

[Blog Themesong “Everybody’s Got Their Something” by Nikka Costa Plays. Check out on PANDORA…my new love]

Monday October 13, 6.52 a.m.

Location: Inside my head, in my house in DC…Which is – as my son says – “In the world” and “not make-believe.”

Today, the Hot Mommas Project Case Study competition launches. I am getting ready to go to BlogHer Reach Out Tour in DC to promote the competition.

Last and this weekend were a severe flurry of emails between Dave our developer, Achin on our team (see earlier post), our testers, and me. Now, we take the BETA site live and wait for complaints, hopefully some praise. 

7.52 a.m. Now it’s time to go to the conference with Esther. We’ll see how it goes. Wish us luck.

8.48 a.m. The BlogHer conference started 18 minutes ago. I still haven’t left the house.

[Music stops]

……..Flurry of emails. Flurry of emails. Flurry of emails……..

…….Fix sign in process at http://www.HotMommasProject.org………

[Music starts again]

10.02 a.m. I am finally at the conference. I walk in directly from the garage into a really exciting environment.  Cool exhibitors and SWAG.  Tons of friendly, smart women. What’s not to like?

10.15 a.m. Attend a killer presentation on “Online community building as a natural promotional tool” moderated by Elisa Camahort Page. All panelists amazing. They ask for social media success stories from the audience.  I am called upon:

“My name is Kathy Korman Frey and I run a women’s leadership called ‘The Hot Mommas Project’ housed at the George Washington University.  We started a blog just over a year ago, and got on Twitter this summer. The increased interest we’ve received due to this foray into social media led to funding for our venture. With that money, we built a software program where women come online and tell their own story to serve as role models for women and girls around the world. We actually are launching TODAY.”

The entire room, filled with hundreds of people, claps. Yay.

12.30 p.m. – I exit presentation and look at my blackberry. We just got our first hate mail.

[Music stops]

12.38 p.m. – I get another email from a SUPER POWER interactive education guy who has agreed to be a judge for us.  (We are not revealing our judges until after the beta, but, I am psyched and so is the team!)

[Music starts again]

12.38-8.30 p.m. – I attend the rest of the conference, meet some amazing people, get fabulous reactions to the project, Esther and I hand out every last case competition postcard. We wrap up the night being interviewed by @dcconcierge for a cool women’s telecom blog and we also hear from @yoga_mama that she’s already started her case.

END INTERLUDE

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FINALLY…THE SOCIAL MEDIA AND SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION TAKEAWAYS or, as I like to call it, “A list of everything I’m doing really badly.” Is badly a word? Geeeeezzz this blogging and reading and writing thing is soooo complicated! (Said in Napoleon Dynamite voice).

(Note: I am trying to be cool and load a Napoleon Dynamite clip using www.killerclips.com, but, WordPress is like the Gestapo w/ foreign HTML so, my apologies if it’s screwed up. Use “Napoleon Dynamite” link above. Is worth it.)

TAKEAWAYS:

From Charlene Prince Birkeland at Yahoo’s Shine Magazine:

1. How to organize your site/blog. Think – Usable, clean, organized, one click away. What does this mean? No clutter. All key items “one click away” not buried.

2. Research key words. Do this at www.freekeywords.wordtracker.com. Use key words strategically in headlines and in your posts. What does “strategic” mean? For example if 1500 searches coming in for your term, you know your post will get buried/lost. The lower you go (e.g., 300, etc.), the better the chance you’ll have at winding up at the top of search results. Use the words in categories and tags. Tag photos. Rename photos (vs. “IMG5762139”) and put on Flickr so there is a better chance of it showing up in a search.

3. Know your current audience – I am not sure how to do this. I seem to have missed/zoned this part of the presentation.  From the earlier panel moderated by Elisa Camahort Page, I picked up the following:

– Poll your users (BlogHer has used Zoomerang, Micropoll, and Survey Monkey). Your blog company may offer a polling function, too, for free. One audience member suggested Google Forms as the “the stupid easy lazy way to do it.” More on Google Forms.

4. Montior

What do you monitor?
1. Page views – How many. What are most popular?
2. Time spent – How much time? You want people to get lost in your site.
3. Search terms – What terms are bringing people to your site?
4. Links (and reciprocate with link love) – Who is linking into you? Remember to reciprocate and give some “link love” meaning post on their blogs).

How do you monitor? Use a mix of the below:
Google Analytics
Sitemeter
www.haveamint.com
Stats from your pubisher’s tool (e.g. “stats” button on WordPress)
Blog ranking sites (Here are a few: http://www.blogrankings.com/, http://technorati.com/pop/blogs/, http://www.blogpatrol.com).

5. Publish

Think about publishing in new venues like:

BlogHer (not sure about dudes here)

Web circles – considered an oldie but goody (some competitors listed too)

Shine – Cannot figure out how to publish there at quick glance, but, they said you can publish there.

Boing boing – I looked this up and am not sure in what context it was mentioned, but, here is a funny Boing boing post called “Iran: You Suck at Photoshop.”

Don’t forget LINK LOVE and to post on other blogs when they post on yours…and so on…and so on.

If you get “the opportunity” with millions of hits, remember that you have a window of time. Keep the content coming, and keep it fresh, to hold onto those new readers.

6. Don’t “Spray and Pray.” This was not in the Yahoo presentation, but, is useful.  Flipping the Funnel by Seth Godin talks about social media marketing.  It is not about the MOST eyeballs, it is about the BEST eyeballs. Well, actually, it is about MOST – but the way you get there is by having ambassadors, fans, etc. willing to endorse your cause/product/idea/thoughts/words. “Find your 1000 true fans, have them make asks on your behalf…Tell a friend, put a widget on your site,” was the advice of a panelist. “People trust each other, not the media.”  This is essentially the social media hybrid version of Malcom Gladwell’s connector, maven, and salesperson concepts from The Tipping Point.

SUMMARY:

Summary of tools used commonly by bloggers/social media folk: Blogging (wordpress, typepad, yada yada), Twitter (here I am on Twitter. Here is Esther. Here is Achin. We are currently peer-pressuring Kaitlyn – stay tuned.), Facebook (here is Hot Mommas Project on Facebook), Friendster (not on this), Flickr (not on this, yet), Ning (for creating communities) some YouTube (not on this) and video stuff mentioned, but have a feeling that is in a bit of an “early adopter” stage. Some LinkedIn – not a ton. Then, do all that other stuff mentioned above (meaure, monitor, link love, etc.) and then use the below to try to keep your brain from exploding.

TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN FROM EXPLODING:

In a panel led by the authors of 50SomethingMoms and SarahandtheGoonSquad we learned about the following:

1. In Google Reader – Star article at top left corner to save for later

2. http://www.zotero.com – Good for academic research and tracking citations

3. http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=browser_toolbar_download – Linked in Toolbar for Firefox

4. http://www.yoono.com/ – Gives you access to Facebook, Twitter, etc. all at one place.

5. http://www.digsby.com/ – Another tool a blogger just spoke about (learned about it from her son. cool.).

6. http://www.rescuetime.com – Analyzes your internet usage each day. Eek! You can set timers, goals, alarms.

7. Organize yourself/make the world smaller – With tools like StumbleUpon (and other social bookmarking tools like, e.g., del.icio.us) as well as Twitter search.

8. (I added this) Use www.Alltop.com to see blogs by area of interest. Check us out at www.moms.alltop.com.

P.s.

Net squared (an initiative of TechSoup.org) helps nonprofits with all of this stuff. Always check out @Kanter with respect to this field.

P.s.s. As I mention almost EVERY FREAKING TIME – Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan) and Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) are good folks to monitor re: all things social media. In this realm there is also Shashi. We can’t forget our man Shashi (Shashi Ballamkonda). He took the picture here of the three of us.

Shashi Bellamkonda

Esther Leff, Kathy Korman Frey, and Shashi Bellamkonda at BlogHer DC. Photo Credit: Shashi Bellamkonda

P.s.s. Here is Kimberly Wilson at BlogHer.

Kimberly Wilson at BlogHerDC

Kimberly Wilson at BlogHerDC

She is an ORIGINAL Hot Mommas Project Case Protagonist (the ones published before we opened up this competition).  She has a yoga/clothing/publishing empire but is super chill and unassuming. We love her. Check out www.hiptranquilchick.com for more.

PARTING THOUGHT:

Among other things, The Hot Mommas Project needs to do a better job of: Posting more freqently and doing link love.  So, those are a couple of goals.  Shorter posts would help me accomplish this. Feel like I’m writing a book here.