7 Things I’m Bringing to BlogHer’14

The tenth anniversary of BlogHer starts on Thursday. Being that it’s my 4th blogging conference, and 2nd time attending BlogHer, I’d like to share my thoughts with you on what to bring to a blogging conference.

This time, I don’t have to fly anywhere, or drive out of town. Luckily, BlogHer’14 is in San Jose — right in my (new) home town.

I try not to get too worked up, overwhelmed or anxious over the thought of a blogging conference. I’m going this year, to meet some local bloggers to become friends with, to chat with a handful of brands I’d ideally like to work with, and enjoy the experience.

Comfortable shoes1. Comfortable shoes — so important. I think that’s pretty self explanatory as you’re going to be on your feet for most of the days at the conference, so wearing something you can easily walk in, for hours. That, or bring a back up pair of flats.

nancy-button22. Business cards — No doubt you’ll be exchanging business cards with new blogging friends and of course, brands. I’m bringing my buttons, want one?

3. Battery charger — You don’t want to run out of cell phone, or camera battery!

4. Camera — I’ll be using my BlackBerry Z10 for taking pictures.

5. Dressing in layers is key — I tend to get warm and cold easily, especially in conference rooms if you’re attending sessions. Places like that tend to crank the a/c. Clearly I like to be overheated and dress warm at all times.

6. Gum — I like it when my breath smells nice at all times.

clutch7. Cash — Never know when you want to grab a quick bite outside of the sponsored meal times.

Bonus tip: Heard this one from my friend Jessica. Bring pre-filled out personal information (name/blog/twitter or even street address) for dropping into raffle/door prize boxes.

Ideally, less is more. Most likely you’re going to be carting around your expo tote bags filled with samples and goodies all day, so make sure to do multiple trips to your hotel room to drop it off. Of course, those coming from out of town would probably want to bring your laptops/ipads etc, for blogging on after you get back to your hotel room. However, last time I went to a blogging conference and stayed at a hotel, I didn’t update my blog until I arrived home.

And that’s it. I’m stoked about McDonald’s being the sponsor for the closing party on Saturday night. HOOOO Boy. Love me some McD’s. Remember that time the marketing rep for McDonald’s Canada said I was their biggest fan? He was 100% accurate on that.

Questions for you:

Are you going to BlogHer?

What’s your favourite fast food restaurant?

Have you met another blogger in person?

Continue Reading

Taking blog photos indoors

Let’s face it. Photos add interest to one’s blog. If I see a volume of text on one’s website without photos, I’m less inclined to continue reading more than one or two posts. Simply out of visual boredom.

I rarely take my blog photos outside, and prefer not to use artificial light. I’m here to help you how to make the most of your time, and tell you my tips I’ve learned along the way.

Know when and where to take your photos

When I worked, I took blog photos on the weekends for the upcoming week. My balcony was the only place that had decent light so I worked between 11am − 1pm. I’m not working now, but I still only take blog photos once a week, and try to get it done within an hour. At our new place, the perfect time of day for photos like these are between 1pm − 3pm on the upstairs landing.

Make your photos visually interesting

Clean up your area before you photograph. Garbage in the background, dirty plates, stacks of paper, it doesn’t add much to a photos appeal. You don’t have to style your images as they do in magazines, but have fun with what you’re photographing. Be unique, take photos from different angles.

Use a backdrop

When you see that I have a plain white background in photos, it’s because I’m using a painters canvas as the background. Something more cost efficient but not as durable, is plain white printer paper. You could also grab a colourful placemat, a piece of wrapping paper, or even books.

Edit your photos

If you’re stuck inside with artificial light, try your best to light your subject with light bulbs that don’t have yellow undertones. Then go into Photoshop and play with the layers. Here’s an example of a photo edit before and after.before-after-poutine

Hope these tips help you out!

Continue Reading

Branding and Blog Re-Design

Surprise! My blog has a completely new look.

out-with-old-in-with-newOut with the old, in with the new.

For the past 8 years, I have had the same template on my blog. I thought if it wasn’t broke, I shouldn’t fix it. I loved the design and it worked well for me. Thing is, new people visiting my website didn’t seem to think so. Nobody knew what ‘spiffykerms’ was all about, let alone how to pronounce it.

In a community blogging thread over at Facebook, a friend notified us all about this free website analyser called Peek User Testing. A person visits your site for the first time, films their 5 minute visit to the site, answering 3 questions. First being their first impression. Two, describing their experience. And lastly, if they’d be back.

I can’t stand listening to the first video of my website being reviewed. I entered my website in twice, and both times the new visitors could not tell what kind of site they were visiting. The users equally suggested branding, proper navigation and an about page that was more of what the blog was about — not who I was. Mind you, I did tweak my about page to cater to both.

Upon watching the two videos, I became apprehensive of their reviews. I inarguably cursed on them a few times but it was evident to take the constructive criticism and change spiffykerms.com for the better. Second guy had some valid points to offer, without sounding condescending.

Hence, the branding and blog re-design of spiffykerms! What do you think of it all? Definitely cleaner, and easier to navigate through, right?

Finally I decided to go through and submit my blog for a final review after the re-design. Not impressed by what this woman had to say about my site for the first few minutes. The name sounds crazy and looks obscene? Therefore, she doesn’t know if she wants to continue reading? What?

I can’t win.

Not everyone will like what you have to offer, I understand that after 3 not so positive reviews. Is all this site for criticising? Or do they ever like a website they visit.

The turn-around for getting your site analysed on Peek User Testing is around 2-3 days. Think you’re ready to give your website a try?

This is clearly not a sponsored post. Thought I’d let you in on why I decided to randomly revamp my entire blog.

Continue Reading