Say it loud, say it proud…IZEA

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In March of 2007, I made a decision that affected me and this blog-I joined PayPerPost. I found not only a way to earn money from blogging, but also a community of people who supported and encouraged me. The CEO of PayPerPost, Ted Murphy, then combined PayPerPost, Zookoda (which provides a subscription email service), SocialSpark (social networking and paid blog opportunities), and the Blogger’s Choice Awards (among others) into one organization called IZEA. I have always been proudly outspoken about being a “Postie”, and now I have an amazing opportunity to become an “IZEA Insider”.

As an Insider, I would spread the word about IZEA products and services, give feedback to the company, work to help grow and strengthen the community, and help with products and new innovations. How cool is that? I would get my own “crew” of bloggers to lead, too! I want new as well as current bloggers to know that IZEA has sites and services that can help all of us grow and improve.

Why would I make a good Insider? Well, for one thing, I LOVE to talk to people. When I get excited about something, whether it’s a new site or a new product, I talk about it on my blogs, on Twitter, on IMs with my blog pals, wherever I can. In the three years since I started this blog, I have used commenting, memes, blog carnivals, and both online and in-person events to tell people about myself and this blog. I’ve also joined a whole lot of social networking groups (I’m probably even forgetting a few!):

SocialSpark
Facebook
Twitter
MomBloggers Club
MomCentral
Parent Bloggers Network
Team Mom
MyBlogSpark
TwitterMoms
BlogHer
MomLogic
PoshMamas

The first blogging-related event I attended was the BlogHer conference in San Jose in 2006. I was SO nervous, but meeting the bloggers whose writing I had been reading turned out to be incredible. I got hooked on spending time with other bloggers! And I had the incredible opportunity to pose for a photo with the closing Keynote speaker, Ariana Huffington. Listening to her speak about the importance of facing fear was a life-changing moment for me. I came home, bought my domain, and started thinking of myself as a professional blogger.

When I went to BlogHer 2007 in Chicago, I had the privilege of meeting two PayPerPost/IZEA employees, Robb and Joe, who were manning the PPP sponsor table. We hit it off right away and had a cocktail together the first evening, and the second day, they let me sit at the sponsor table with them for a quick photo. They then mentioned meeting me in a blog post, which was a big honor.

The next event I attended was in November, 2007, when I was honored to be asked to participate in an event in Memphis, Tennessee. General Motors flew me out as a member of the press (!) to take part in their Chevy Malibu Drive event. I met Chris Barger, GM’s Director of Global Communications Technology, shared a dinner table with 2008 Chevy Malibu Project Manager Jim Brown (who got a crash course in blogging from me after he asked me exactly what a blog is), and had the Vice President of GM North America as my passenger during one of the test drive legs. It was an amazing opportunity to learn how word-of-mouth marketing can influence the purchasing of products, and I got to drive some really cool cars!

In April, 2008, Blue Suit Media invited me to be in their first group of “Disney Mom Bloggers”. I was invited to Disneyland in Orlando where I spent two days with a terrific group of bloggers getting wined and dined and treated to all kinds of VIP access to the parks. Disney was interested in hearing what Moms thought about their new Budget Family Suites, and what they could do to encourage more families with young kids to visit the parks and stay. It was an incredible weekend and the connections I made are impacting my work to this day. I still help Blue Suit Media with blog campaigns and joined the Mom Bloggers Club after meeting Jennifer James from the MomSalon. And had a lot of fun!

July 2008 was a busy month for me; first I went to BlogHer 2008 in San Francisco. I volunteered to help with the Barnes & Noble bookstore, which entailed coordinating with the blogger/authors who had books they wanted to sell, getting the list of books together for the B&N rep, then helping set up the space and finally, helping with both sales and book signings. I still had time to have fun at the conference, including getting to party with the ladies of Kirtsy at Guy Kawasaki’s house! I passed out about 250 business cards, and when I got home, began working with both Leapfrog and VTech on product review campaigns. I am more than happy to spread the word about my love of their toys!

(me and Guy Kawasaki)

Then on July 28-29, I flew to Cincinnati, Ohio for the Pampers Mommy Bloggers Event. It was a short visit but packed with amazing opportunities. We toured the Proctor & Gamble Archives (which are not open to the public), had a delicious dinner, then spent the next day at Pampers Headquarters where we participated in a panel discussion with several Pampers employees, toured the facility, saw how diapers are made, watched Pampers being tested alongside another leading brand, AND, met the President of UNICEF North America. It was truly an honor to listen to her speak about the work UNICEF and Pampers are doing to wipe out tetanus in developing nations. The people we met there were so excited to have us there, and to have us help spread the word about the campaign. Here’s me with “Mr. Whipple” in the P&G Archives:

The latest event I attended was October 3rd, 2008 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, sponsored by MomCentral and Feld Entertainment, who produces both the Ringling Bros. Circus and the Disney on Ice shows. We met for brunch to talk about how we could use our blogs and websites to spread the word about the upcoming circus shows, then were treated to a performance of Disney On Ice’s “The Incredibles” show. The best part was that I got to take my daughter, who got to “help” me review the show. Here I am with Abbey from MomCentral:

What I hope I have shown is that I understand the importance of marketing not only my blogs but myself as a representative of those brands. As an IZEA Insider, I would also finally be able to attend IZEAfest and do a cake plow with Ted! I might even get to go to BlogWorld in Las Vegas next year, which would be an amazing opportunity as well. I think I would be an asset to IZEA as one of their Insiders, and I hope they choose me for the job. Thanks for reading!

edited to add: I just wanted to show those of you who aren’t familiar with Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA, just what a fun guy he can be. Here he is in his Tooth Fairy Halloween Costume-

Now THAT’S the kind of boss I want to have :)

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween! For those of you with kids, are you ready for today? My kids each have a costume, I bought some candy, and my friend Kelly is taking the kids out at 6:00 when trick or treating starts in case Chris isn’t home by then. They got a trial run last week when our grocery store had a Halloween Walk:

That’s Antonio on the right, he’s my next door neighbor’s great grandson, then Nathan as Superman, Ryan as, um, Scary Guy with Axe (?), Nathan’s best friend Forrest as Batman (we couldn’t find the mask), and then in front, Kaitlyn as a bundled-up-for-the-cold princess ballerina. The wearing of the Prissy Poofs tutu and the crown I bought at Disneyland was her idea, the turtleneck, sweatshirt and sweatpants were my idea. It gets COLD here when the sun goes down! I still think she looks cute :)

I hope all of you have a safe and happy Halloween!

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Win prizes in the Decrypt and Drive contest

PKWARE, the inventor of the .zip standard, is giving away a non-commercial use license of SecureZIP Express and the opportunity to win great prizes in the new “Decrypt and Drive” contest! With SecureZIP Express you can compress/decompress and encrypt files that you store or send. Compressing files is a great way to save storage space, especially on thumb drives and CD’s, and we all have files we should be securing! The software also includes a digital certificate so you can exchange files securely with others without using passwords. Only the person the file was encrypted for can open it when you use a digital certificate.

The software is fully licensed for non-commercial use and has no toolbars or spyware! For years, PKWARE has given free .zip software away and wants as many users as possible to receive the benefits of SecureZIP. PKWARE is also giving away great prizes including a Honda scooter, bicycles, Wii games, gas cards, and more! Visit www.DecryptandDrive.com to play the game daily and/or download the free software. You need to have SecureZIP, and the digital certificate it installs, on the computer you play the game from. You can also get SecureZIP Express at www.securezip.com Good luck! Hope you win something cool!

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What’s Your Baby Formula?

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Got parenting insights to share? Can you gussy up a onesie or build a crib on your own? Have you decorated a nursery on a budget or tamed a toddler? If so, MindBites would love for you to create a video to share some of what you’ve figured out with fellow parents!

The Baby Formula Contest is seeking how-to videos related to babies ages 0-3 years and parenting. Anyone with something to teach about babies in this age range (or pregnancy) is welcome to enter for the chance to win all or part of $1500 (in time for the holidays)!. Entries should be in an instructional format and 6-20 minutes in length. To get an idea of what kinds of videos they are looking for, visit the MindBites Children & Parenting page to see other videos from parents like you!

The deadline to upload a video is November 17th, and winners will be announced on December 2nd. Prizes include a $1000 Grand Prize and a $500 People’s Choice Award! All the videos are free to view on the site during the contest for voting purposes. Users can vote once per week until November 14th, and then daily until November 28th.

On top of all that, the contest is benefiting Any Baby Can, a non-profit supporting the families of underserved children. Any Baby Can provides a wide range of services and education to help the youngest, sickest, and poorest children and their families. Although I am NOT in any way helping to choose winners for this contest, I’m sure lots of you reading this have a video camera and can pass on some parenting wisdom, so if you make a video, I’d love to have you come back and leave a comment with your link! Have fun!

Almost Three

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In less than a month, Kaitlyn will be three. And yet sometimes, I catch an expression on her face and see the woman she will become. Look at this face:

I want to keep her right where she is right now, making up silly stories and jokes, carrying around five blankies at once, tucking her dolls into a makeshift cradle and singing a lullaby to them in her highest-pitched voice. I don’t ever want her to know about the horrible things that happen in the world. I want her life to be rainbows and cotton candy and ponies. I want her face to look like this, all the time:

That’s not so much to ask for a parent, right?

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