Niche Parents '13 (Pics Included!)
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Let's call September the Month of the Conference, shall we?
For three out of four weeks in September, various MomsRising staff members, including myself, traveled all over the country to talk about food and healthcare. Both of these campaigns are timely as the USDA passed new nutrition standards for snack foods in schools and October 1st, 2013 marked the first day of the Health Care Marketplace Exchanges.
Photo from left to right: me (in pink) with the bloggers who were present at our food panel at Niche Parents '13 -- Danyelle Little, Publisher of the Cubicle Chick; Brandy Butler, Publisher of Be Lovemade; Monifa Bandele, Director of Food and Nutrition at MomsRising.org; Gina McCauley, Founder of the Blogging While Brown conference; dream hampton, a journalist, filmmaker and fellow with MomsRising.org; and Renee Ross, Publisher of Cutie Booty Cakes blog.
We interacted with two key communities poised to gain a lot from the new food and health care rules: African Americans and Latinos. First stop for me? The Niche Parents '13 conference in Hollywood, Florida, where I sat on a panel with two co-workers, dream hampton and Monifa Bandele, on food and health, and then spoke about the marketplace exchanges at a martini bar.
The Niche Parents network, by the way, is a community of bloggers of color. Danyelle Little (pictured on right), founder and publisher of the Cubicle Chick blog is one of the amazing people we met at the conference. She gave an inspiring keynote on leveraging your blog to do good.
Little had a compelling story: After she lost her job, she downsized her home, and decided that she wanted not only to make money but to make a difference. She says it is important for children to see their parents make a difference in the community.
She offered the following advice, including how to combat negativity on Twitter and the blogs, which she cross-posted at her blog:
* When you give back and do social good on your site, there may be blowback and negativity in regards to comments. Do not feed into drama.
* DRAMA should = Do Right—Always Manage Anger. Do not feed the trolls. Do not give them power.
* Ban the term “haters”. Calling them that gives them the power. Take back your power and do good with it.
* Organize a tribe and have them help you with your social good campaign or movement.
* Give back on your blog. Dedicate at least one blog post per month to social good.
* Do not be afraid to speak out. You may lose 1 follower but gain 15.
* Use your social good to build bridges.
* Get local and get offline. Social campaigns are great. But going offline to help is where the magic happens.
* CHANGE THE GAME. Do something that hasn’t been done before. Put a new twist on an old idea.
Photo on right: the amazing Brandy Butler, founder and editor-in-chief of the Be Lovemade lifestyle blog.
Next stop? A panel on a small, but growing minority: dad bloggers. There are some key differences between mom and dad bloggers: moms tend to work together, while dads see each other as competition. Dads tend to swear more on their blogs, which can keep them from getting consulting gigs.
But they also face a lot less competition than mom bloggers, therefore have more opportunity. Latino dad bloggers are especially in high demand.
Also, dads are speaking up as they did in response to a Huggies commercial portraying them little more than glorified babysitters. Photo from left to right a few top dad bloggers or brands that love them: Ben Floyd, publisher of the brand blog Fluencr; Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of TimetoPlayMag; and Manny Ruiz, publisher of Papi Blogger.
Simplicity is a winning formula. Laura Fuentes, Chief Mom of Momables, discussed the keys to her success managing a community that pays to receive tips for healthy school lunches. (I posted her advice below the photo.)
• Momables focuses on school lunch menus. Never veers from that.
• Use google analytics to see what people are reading and follow their behavior
• Tweet old posts (just remove the original publishing date)
• It costs money to make money. You don’t want to be cheap if you are charging for your content. Make sure that the photos, for example, are of professional quality.
• Fuentes pays someone to read her e-mails so that she can respond to people and create blog posts around what the community wants. She does have the resources to pay someone to do this and sent her assistant to BlogHer.
• Has a substantial list – 36,000 paid subscribers! -- and monetizes it in other ways as well. She once worked with Honest Kids – the sip up company -- to create a fruit cup with their juice. She also posted a column about it on the Huffington Post, where she is a contributor. She received 9,800 downloads in the first week. “This was a successful campaign for Honest,” she said.
• She emails people at 5 pm on Sundays. Her open rates are highest on Sunday night.
• Consistency is key, she said. And if you’re promoting a product it must fit. For example, she considered whether Hilton was a good brand to sponsor her site, and she decided, “Moms need a vacation.”
• No one wants to be a reader, they want to be a part of a community. Use the term “community” to describe your readers.
• Created a separate blog, Super Glue Mom blog, so people would get to know her. She writes about her own challenges like her kids are picky eaters, which is why she has to be creative. She has three kids. She also uses Super Glue Mom blog to publish content that doesn’t fit in Momables.
• The importance of analytics: total users are x and my uniques are y. “Know your stuff!”
• For bloggers who want to work with brands, attend conferences and follow up wih the PR rep of that company. Tell them, “I met you at xyz conference and I have attached my month’s metrics. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.”
• She always sends a summary of how well a campaign did to the brand sponsoring her.
• Nurture relationships with people you are meeting and build a list.
• Fuentes uses Twitter to connect with brands
• The importance of the elevator pitch: When she tells people what she does, she says “I help people make lunches. My website is Momables."
That evening, MomsRising hosted a cocktail party that included the presence of 52 bloggers from the conference. The purpose of the get-together? To discuss the marketplace healthcare exchanges.
It was a personal and fond moment for me because I grew up a half hour from the venue in North Miami and my family was uninsured after my father lost his job. As a result of medical bills related to my baby sister's premature birth, my parents were forced into bankruptcy. This had repercussions for years to come, including my parents' ability to pay for our college educations.
Here is a photo of me in between two rockstar women: Dariela Cruz, a graphic designer in San Diego, CA and publisher of the Mami Talks blog; and Blanca Stella Mejía, a local bilingual blogger who is the Community Manager of Microsoft Fuse Labs.
The next morning, with the teacher who publishes the Mommy Teaches blog, Eileen Carter-Campos:
And from left to right: I am standing next to Letty, the writer and social media consultant behind Bella Vida by Letty. In front of us from left to right are Claudia Krusch, Publisher of the Trendy Latina; Amiyrah Martin, a freelancer writer and publisher of Four Hats and Frugal; Nicole Morgan, publisher of Sisters from Another Mister; and Danyelle Little of the Cubicle Chick.
Finally, how could I be in south Florida and not visit with childhood friends? I was terrible about taking pictures, but managed to snap one of my dear friend Enjoli and her two precious boys. Missing from the photo: Enjoli's sister, Tiffany, who came to the cocktail party the previous night. She, by the way, runs the Pansy's Garden Breast Cancer Foundation, in honor of their mother's memory. The foundation raises funds and awareness for screenings and services for low-income women with breast cancer.