It takes a lot to make me spontaneously burst into tears. Last Friday, I had to get up and leave the State of the Momosphere session at BlogHer because I felt the tears coming, and come they did, before I even left the room. Why? Because when I feel as passionate about something as I do about this topic, it hurts me to hear it put down by people who don’t have actual experience with it at all. That’s right, I’m talking about PayPerPost. PayPerPost was the only paid blogging site invited to be a sponsor at BlogHer ’07, and do you know why? To paraphrase Lisa Stone, it’s because they are the only one who pays bloggers what they are worth, pays them on time, provides excellent customer support, and provides exceptional community support. But the words PayPerPost spoken at BlogHer were the equivalent of admitting that you enjoy poking yourself in the eyes with sharp needles. The topic of monetization was brought up at the session, and the moderator (Jory Des Jardins, one of the BlogHer founders) asked a question along the lines of “so, what shouldn’t you do for money?” Chris Jordan-a blogger whom I feel a friendship with and whose writing I really enjoy-said “you shouldn’t write for PayPerPost!”. I felt like I had been stabbed in the chest. I turned around in my seat because I knew my roommate Liz was standing behind me, and I just looked at her, and she looked at me, and then I turned back around, folded my hands, and concentrated on breathing deeply. Meanwhile, the session was continuing with more discussion about how bloggers of color do not generally get approached to place ads or write reviews, and a woman standing behind me made a joke about how she would be happy to accept laundry detergent. Jory asked something along the lines of “what products wouldn’t you accept?” and someone yelled out “Swiffers!” It’s well-known here on this blog that I got started writing product reviews after I wrote a post titled “I Love Swiffer, yes I do”, and was contacted by a P.R. firm in nearby Ann Arbor who was doing an online campaign for a new design of the Swiffer Sweeper. They asked me if they could send me one in exchange for my writing about it on my blog, and I was thrilled. Someone read something I wrote, and liked it enough to want to hear my opinion on something else? That was pretty damn cool. So. I’m already feeling the pressure of three months of trying not to apologize for becoming a paid blogger- actually, the term at BlogHer was “professional blogger”, then I’m hearing someone make a negative comment about them. Because I had been to Speaker Training, I knew that the “rules” for panel discussions said that if someone made a negative comment, the moderator was supposed to ask for the opposite opinion. Hands were flying up all over the room and I was in the very back, and it wasn’t likely that I was going to be able to get called on. The discussion was continuing, and I was sitting there feeling this big bubble of emotion rising in my chest, and I suddenly knew I had to get up and go call my husband. I was walking to the door and the wonderful Busy Mom was standing there, and she asked me if I was okay. As soon as I opened my mouth to say “no, and I need to call my husband”, the tears burst forth. I walked out into the hallway and started shaking with sobs. And then I got his voicemail and had to leave him a sobby message, which just made him worry. I walked down into the Sponsors Exhibit Hall, and Liz called me and said “stay right there, we’re coming to you”. Having her and Dana want to come find me and make sure I was okay made me feel so much better. They wanted me to go right back and talk to Jory, but she had already left. I was able to speak to Lisa Stone on Saturday, and that’s when she reminded me that Chris had the right to her opinion, and that panelists are free to speak on any subject related to their session, and I totally agree. I’m not angry with Chris Jordan, if she doesn’t like PayPerPost, that is her opinion. What upset me is that the comment was made, and about a sponsor no less, and no one stood up and made a positive comment in response. Including me. I wish I had just jumped up and said “hey, wait a minute”, but I couldn’t. Liz from Mom-101 also mentioned PayPerPost in her panel session on Saturday, and here’s what I think bloggers at her level don’t understand- she might be selling BlogAds, she might be getting paid for focus groups, and to write on other sites, but bloggers at my level generally are not. In a year, I might be at that level and then I might not be writing for PayPerPost any more, I don’t know. But to say that I am devaluing myself as a blogger because I will take $15.00 to write 200 words is just plain wrong in my opinion. I am not so high up in the Blogosphere that I can say no to $15.00. In a post today, Liz mentions getting small items in exchange for reviews, like when Hass MS&L sent me a free roll of Bounty Paper Towel when they were doing the One-sheet challenge. I had a LOT of fun writing that paper towel review over on MomReviews, and I always need paper towel. Plus, sometimes it’s paper towel, and sometimes it’s a free 10.5 inch portable DVD player. You take the reviews for the products that interest you, and you say no thank you to the ones that don’t. Also, no one was saying anything about Parent Blogger Network, for whom I also work, and that probably would have made me cry too! Those are free samples, although there is often compensation in the form of cash or an Amazon gift certificate as well, for which I am VERY GRATEFUL. I have bought CDs, DVDs, and a cool Dora the Explorer toy for Kaitlyn with my PBN money. I LIKE doing reviews, and I LIKE getting stuff in exchange! That being said, I did do a lot of hard thinking this weekend about what kinds of reviews I will do. To raise the money I needed for BlogHer, I pretty much took any opp I could get through PayPerPost as long as it paid well (by “well”, I mean it paid $8-$20). I wrote about whatever the topic was, and I did it for the money. After spending a lot of time at BlogHer talking to two of PPP’s sales directors, Joe Vaughn and Robb Leeland, I realized that PPP doesn’t WANT me to take opps just for the money. When they say “Get Paid to blog about the Things You Love”, they mean it. They want you to only take the opps that are for something you think your readers will want to learn more about. With that in mind, I will be trying to only take opps that relate to parenting and to helping us all with our blogging. That’s not to say that you might not see something different once in a while, but I am definitely NOT too good to take a $25.00 opp or more, that is a LOT of money in our household. I also cried Saturday night when I found out that I had missed getting my photo taken with Elizabeth Edwards at the cocktail party. She had to leave to catch a plane while I was sitting in the shuttle bus on Illinois Ave, stuck in traffic. I had run back to the hotel to drop off the twenty million tons of sponsor gifts I was carrying, and I thought it would be a quick trip there and back. I was wrong. Her assistant Tracy said to me “oh, she wanted to meet you!”, and I burst into tears. Again. Next year, I’m skipping the Mommyblogger session, and shipping all the sponsor stuff home via Fedex. There’s only so much stress I can handle.
You all remember that I took my husbands big-ass camera to BlogHer, right? His Canon 10D with the 50mm lens and a sun shield to keep out glare? And it weighed, I don’t know, 25 pounds? Yeah. All weekend people kept saying things like “wow, that is a serious camera”, and you know what I was doing? Accidentally turning it OFF with my thumb, and then thinking the batteries must have died because it wouldn’t turn on. I have much to learn.
I took a 1 GB card with me, so I didn’t need to download it at all while I was there. But I should have, because then I would have realized all the people I didn’t get a photo with, like Tracey from PictureThis, who helped me get comfortable with the camera at Speaker Training. Or Sarah, from Sarah and the Goon Squad, and Devra from Parentopia, who were everywhere all weekend and yet not once did I think to actually photograph them. So I’ll be trolling Flickr looking for photos to grab and add to my Flickr set (with permission, of course). Next year, I’ll just make a list.
So, who did I meet? Let me introduce you to my roommates first. I had no idea what it would be like to share a hotel room with three other women who I barely knew, but I’ll tell you this-it was fantastic. We just clicked, and truly enjoyed each other’s company. This is from Saturday night, having dinner on the Navy Pier together:
- I can teach new bloggers to start their own WordPress blogs.
- I can hail a cab.
- I can craft a t-shirt!
- Chloe from “Project Runway” is the same height as me- four foot eleven and three quarters
- I CAN say thank you!
- I should have drank more water.
- Cosmopolitans (the drink) are yummy!
- Pina Coladas are yummy too
- I do need a blogroll.
- If I take my iPod, I should take the headphones.
- Cute sandals can mean cuts and blisters-next year, take tennis shoes.
- I need to take a promotional gift next year.
- Affiliate badges should only be for products I really, really love.
- An un-conference is a very groovy thing.
- I am very proud to be part of PayPerPost.
- I am also more excited about blogging than ever.
- I want to start two more blogs plus a directory.
- I took too much stuff. Hotels have stuff. So do stores.
- Next year, I’ll have to ship home all the sponsor gifts.
- I can’t wait for next year!!!
I’m in the process of editing the 200 photos I took and I’ll get them uploaded to Flickr as soon as I can. If you haven’t already been to my Flickr page, it’s http://www.flickr.com/photos/table4five/
Other upcoming features on Table for Five: a better list of links to sites I think you should be visiting, a better blogroll, and probably a new site design with better definition between the sidebar items. Also, the ability to subscribe to my blog as a newsletter, through Zookoda.
AND, most importantly: After spending a good part of last Friday talking to Robb Leeland and Joe Vaughn from the PayPerPost sales team, I have been planning a new strategy in regards to accepting both paid blogging and paid product review jobs on this site. You will be seeing a lot less posts about sites or products that do not relate to either parenting or blogging, although if it’s really a lot of money, I might make an exception, because the fact is, this is my business now. I have accepted the fact that I am, indeed, a professional blogger. Not every blogger is, and that’s fine. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t write because I truly enjoy it; I definitely do. But when I can combine an enjoyable post topic that also informs you, my readers, about something you might be interested in, with monetary compensation, then everyone benefits.
So, photos are coming, as well as lots and lots of posts about the terrific bloggers I met (So many, and all so fabulous), what I did in Chicago, and more thoughts about blogging. I received dozens of products that need sampling and reviewing over on MomReviews, and I’ll talk about all the yummy food I ate on MomCooks.
I know from my stats and dashboard info that there were a lot of readers checking in over the weekend, and I do apologize for there not being anything new to read here! It was so weird, I was at a blogging conference, we had free, lightning fast Wi-Fi in every room, and I barely had time to even turn my laptop on! You are all SO terrific, thank you for coming here to Table for Five!
I miss you guys so much!! I am having so much fun here in Chicago at Blogher! This morning is my session, Starting a Hosted Blog. Yesterday I went to sessions about Weight Loss blogging and to the State of the Momosphere. Just WAIT until I tell you about what happened in the State of the Momosphere session-suffice it to say, I left the session crying. Oh yes, I did.
BUT, let’s talk about positive subjects right now. We have been running nonstop since Thursday morning, there’s barely a minute to even sit and rest. I can’t believe I’m at a blogging conference and this is the first time I’ve had a chance to write a blog post! We are staying at the W Lakeshore Hotel, which is SO nice, and our conference sessions are at the Navy Pier. If you’ve ever been to the Navy Pier, we are in the very, very last building all the way at the end. It’s a beautiful view, but I don’t even get a chance to go outside during the day!
They have provided us with so many wonderful amenities to make our day easier. We have a breakfast, a lunch, a snack, and appetizers during the evening cocktail party, plus we have an Internet Cafe with bottled water and a man making espresso and lattes. So we really don’t need to leave at all. The meals are all sponsored, for example, Google is sponsoring the breakfast we are having right now. And during each meal, there are sponsor gifts on the table for us to have. It surprises me how many people don’t want the free gifts, so I’ve been scooping up extras for myself
Yesterday I walked through the sponsors area, and filled a huge messenger bag with all kinds of goodies. AOL has a new site called body.aol.com, and they have a video blog area set up where you can make a short video, which is fun. Scrapblog is here with a background you can stand against and put on funny hats, and then they take your photo, which I totally did, and it’s so unlike me to be that spontaneous, but I’m just caught up in the moment here.
I was thrilled last night to run into three bloggers who were among the first reader/commenters I ever had, way back when I was on Blogger. We talked about how even though we might not read each other’s blogs every day any more, when we get together, it’s like a natural automatic connection. So thank you Nancy, Dawn, and Jen, for finding me at the cocktail party and making me feel so loved and appreciated. And thanks for introducing me to Bobita, who is the most unbelievably crazy, wild, and unique person I think I’ve ever met!
I have tons more to write about and lots of photos, but I’m losing my battery power so I have to stop. I miss you all and I want to know what is going on with all of you!! Love ya lots!!
So, I started packing today, and so far my list looks like this:
Extra Memory Card
Toiletries bag full of travel size everything
Smaller bag for my purse with more toiletries
Small notebook for jotting down the URLs of people who don’t bring business cards
Comb, brush, hairdryer
List of everyone I want to meet and their cell phone number
What am I forgetting?
I feel so sorry for my family, because the closer it gets to BlogHer, the more of a basket case I become. I can’t sleep, I have no appetite which is not typical for me at all, I have so many things to do yet I can’t finish any of them. And I leave the day after tomorrow-gaaaaahh!
And then? In what was surely an evil plot to make me even more stressed out? Comcast had an Internet service interruption today, and I lost my Internet connection for FOUR HOURS. Four PEAK blogging hours, people. And I couldn’t just go take my laptop to the coffee shop for free wi-fi, because Kaitlyn was napping. They are out to get me, I tell you.
I did, however, have a lovely and very, VERY long phone call with Tree of Thought by Thought, a new WordPress blogger who actually took me up on my offer and called me to ask me some questions. Thanks to her phone call, I have run into my first snag-she was describing what she was seeing on her screen, and it looked nothing like what I was seeing, which we finally figured out was because she uses a Mac. I have no idea how those work, so if someone in my session on Saturday needs help and they use a Mac, we’ll just have to improvise.
I have written my first post designed to be read by the bloggers attending my session on Saturday, it’s called Getting Started #1- Getting your blog out there, and it’s all about how to burn a Feedburner feed. It’s challenging to go back and write out, step by step, how to do things that I already can do, but I hope I am explaining it well and that it makes sense!
I’ve been storing up Kaitlyn’s words as they become part of her vocabulary and not just a one-time imitation of a sound. She has actual words now, and not only that, she has phrases, people. You don’t know how badly I wish I had been blogging when my boys were toddlers, because I have absolutely no memory of anything other than their very first words-Ryan’s was “bottle”, Nathan’s was “cookie”.
As you know, Kaitlyn’s first word was “hot”, which we at first thought was just her imitating what we would say to her when she got too close to the stove. Much to our surprise, “hot” has also become Kaitlyn’s way of telling us when her diaper is wet, she grabs the front of it and says “Mama, hot”. Her other single words include “fish”, “bus” (her word for her wagon),”moon”, “BobBob” (for SpongeBob, of course), and our least favorite, “hey”.
Most toddlers learn to say either “no”, or “mine”. Kaitlyn just says “hey”, as in, give me that back, it’s mine, or as in, that thing that you have? I want it. When she really means it, she says “hey, hey, HEY”, which is funny if you ever watched Good Times as a kid.
Today Chris and Ryan were gone all day visiting friends, and at one point Nathan asked me where Daddy was, as in, what the heck was taking him so long to get home. Kaitlyn picked right up on that, and started saying “where is…dada? where is…dada?” It was so cute!
But by far, my absolutely favorite thing that she says comes from her favorite TV show, Dora the Explorer. Kaitlyn loves to watch Dora, because she LOVES Boots. Her second word after “hot”? “Boot”. So when she realized that there was a character on the show NAMED Boots, she was swept away. I have about a dozen episodes saved on the DVR, and she watches them over and over. If you’ve had the pleasure of watching Dora (grin), you know that the Map sings a song- “I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map”, etc. etc. ad nauseum, and that the song ends with him sort of yelling the word “map”.
One day, Kaitlyn is watching Dora, and I realize she is saying something quietly, so I listen, and she is singing the Map song, like this: “I am map, I am map, I am MAP”, but rather than yell the last word, she is sort of growling. I have it recorded on my camera and I’ll try to post it, because it is the cutest. Thing. EVER.
Tell me you wouldn’t want to give this child anything she ever asked for, ever.
Yeah. Me too.
You may be noticing changes being made to the sidebars here at Table for Five. The credit all goes to Kevin at BloggingTips.com, who took a personal interest in my blog and in making it better. Well, what he really said in his original email was that my sidebars were too damned cluttered with crap, and I needed to clean them up. But in a much nicer way than that.
And he’s right, it was getting too crowded. It’s so tempting to want to grab every single badge from every single site and just keep cramming them in there one after another. But after a while, it becomes like the dozens of billboards on the highway- you just don’t see them anymore. So I’m trying out using more text links to sites I think are useful or might make me a few dollars in affilliate sales, and less flashy badges.
As always, the opinion that matters the most to me is YOURS. You come here, you take the time to read and to comment (well, at least some of you do, I’m talking to YOU, John), so I want to know what you think. You are welcome at any time to give me feedback on anything you see here, as long as it is polite and constructive. Please don’t comment or email me to tell me “ur blog suks”, because I have delicate baby feelings and it will make me cry.
I am feeling extremely discouraged with my weight loss efforts. I started a Good Carb diet back in June, and right away I lost five pounds, and I thought I had finally found my “magic” answer. But then I started cheating- a handful of chips here, a hamburger bun there- and the weight started coming back on. Is it really possible that the only way for me to lose weight and keep it off is to never eat processed carbs? Do you know how hard that is to actually do?
The only time in my life that I have ever had success losing weight was when Ryan was one, and I asked my doctor for help. He prescribed me Phentermine. One little blue pill every morning before breakfast, and the weight just flew off me. I’m not kidding, I lost 35 pounds in five months, because I had so much energy, all I wanted to do was exercise. I would wait for Chris and Ryan to go to bed, and then at 11:30 at night I would do a step aerobics workout. And it made my mouth dry so I drank tons of water, and the weight just fell off.
So I’m feeling really tempted to use Phentermine again. I am just so sick and tired of being fat, and of having these carb cravings that I can’t seem to control. There are natural, herbal pills at places like GNC with names like “Phen-Lean”, but I never know if the herbal ones really work. It’s not that I don’t want to reduce my caloric intake, and I’m willing to exercise, as long as the weight comes off and stays off. Feel free to share your opinion about this in the comments!
Edited to add: The award for Best. Comment. EVER. goes to my friend “Jean-Luc Picard” a/k/a Graham, for saying this: “Do you really need to lose a lot of weight, Elizabeth? You seem alright to me.”
Graham, you are very, very sweet. But yes, I really do need to lose a LOT of weight. I am five feet tall, and weigh somewhere around 170 pounds. Most weight charts say I should weigh between 118-124. I’d be happy to get down to 140.
It is 2:26 p.m., and my Harry Potter book has STILL not been delivered! I am going nuts! The boys and I went to Barnes and Noble last night for their book release party, but since I bought the book through the special offer I wrote about in this post here, where one dollar of my purchase was given to Save the Children and The Global Literacy Project, I resisted temptation and didn’t buy it then. I figured it would get delivered at least by late morning. But my mailbox, is empty.
We just got back from seeing Order of the Phoenix, and let me tell you- if you haven’t seen it, and you’ve been thinking at all about seeing it, GO. Log off your computer, and drive immediately to the nearest movie theater. I guarantee there’s a show about to start in no less than thirty minutes (unless it’s the middle of the night where you are, in which case, see it as soon as the theater opens). It is, without a doubt, the BEST movie not only in the Harry Potter series, but one of the best action movies I have ever seen, EVER. You will be holding your breath during the fight inside the Ministry of Magic.
And so I wait. I watch out my living room windows for the mail truck, and I wait. The email I got from Amazon.com said the book would be delivered today. I imagine that for the postal service, today is a little like Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day all rolled into one. I sympathize with the plight of the mail carriers having to lug all those books up to people’s doorsteps, really, I do. But I WANT MY BOOK!
Really, it’s fine. I’ll be fine. I suppose I’ll just keep writing paid posts and uploading photos to Flickr and try to not think about it. My book. My precioussssss….DO. WANT.
Edited to add: The book came at 5:00 p.m. Do you think it would be rude of me to take it to dinner with my Dad and my family?