Guest Post on Art Camp for Women – Top 10 Reasons Every Artist Should Blog

I’ve got a fun new guest post up over at Art Camp for Women today! ACFW is a fabulous organization – you should absolutely check them out if you’re looking for incredibly fun camps in gorgeous Colorado. The owners of Art Camp for Women were one of my very first Blogging with Beth clients, and it’s been wonderful seeing them expand and grow their offerings and their wonderful website and blog.

The guest post is called The Top Ten Reasons Every Artist Should Blog.

Also, a HUGE congratulations to Lorri Flint and Lori Wostl, the co-owners of Art Camp for Women, for their mention in the February issue of Oprah magazine. They were included in a wonderful article in the magazine about self-expression. Congrats, ladies!

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My Guest Post at Problogger!

I’m absolutely delighted to announce that my first Problogger guest post, 7 Reasons No One Reads Your Blog (Except Maybe Your Mom) was published this morning.

Progblogger.net is one of the biggest blogs in my niche, so this is HUGE! I’m over the moon.

Want to show your support? Here’s what you can do:

1. Please comment on the post. Thoughtful commentary and exuberant enthusiasm are both welcome.

2. If you’re on Twitter, please retweet this post for me. Remember, you can follow me at @bethjhayden.

Thanks so much, everyone!

Beth

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A Royally Cool Blog

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey - The Royal Wedding will take place here! Sweet!

I stumbled upon an unexpectedly cool blog this week. It’s called The Royal Wedding, and it’s the official site of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, which is happening event in London on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Whether or not you’re interested in the Royal Family of England, this blog is still a good example of how to build a cool site around a big event. The blog features regular updates about the wedding (in a “Latest News” section), photos and videos of Westminster Abby and the bride and groom, a slide who of the procession route, and even links to Like the wedding on Facebook or follow news of the event on Twitter using the hashtag #rw2011.

I personally love the idea that the PR department of the Royal Family decided to include a blog in their efforts to build buzz for the wedding. Can you just picture THAT meeting??

And the royal PR department is smart to do this – polls in the UK are indicating that the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is doing wonders to increase support of and interest in the Royal Family, and by creating blogs about big (BIG!) events like the wedding, the media folks for the Royal Family are making the Queen and her family look cooler, hipper, and more likeable than they have in decades. And that translates directly into even MORE good opinion poll ratings.

The blog is well thought out and well executed, and it makes the Royal Wedding look like an event you’d like to attend (or watch, for the mere mortal Americans who need to watch from afar.)

Contrast the uber-cool Royal Wedding blog with the official website of the British Monarchy.  While the official site does feature a YouTube video, which is a step in the right direction, it feels decidedly stodgier than the wedding blog. There’s lots of great information on the site – and lots of pictures – but there are far fewer ways to connect.

I must admit, the blog convinced me – I’ve got my calendar marked for April 29, 2011, and I’m going to watch the whole affair!

So if you’ve got an event coming up that ties in to your business or your personal blog, consider starting a new blog (or creating a special section of your existing blog) to put up special occasion content. Then publicize the heck out of your event using that new content. People love parties and events, so take advantage of that with your web strategy. You’ll be royally glad you did.

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Introducing Beth’s Blogging Byte!

This week, I started doing something I’ve been wanting to do for YEARS – I starting sending out a weekly blogging tip to my mailing list. It’s called “Beth Blogging Byte”, and if you’re on my list, you’ll see it every Wednesday in your inbox. Each issue of the Blogging Byte will give you a specific action to take that will make your blog or social media presence better. Most weeks, this content is ONLY going to be available to the people on my mailing list, so if you’d like to make sure you get these actions, please sign up for my list here. When you sign up, you’ll also get access to my super-awesome Blogging with Beth Library, which includes advice on blog post ideas, using RSS on your site, and traffic-building!

This week, though, I’ve decided to share the Blogging Byte content with you, so you can see what you’ll get when you sign up for my list. If you like this article, please retweet it or share it on Facebook!

This Week: How Being Vulnerable Can Make You a Better (and More Successful) Blogger

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the TED conferences. The TED events are a global set of conferences, formed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading,” and there are over 700 presentations and talks you can view online at TED.com. One of my all-time favorite TED talks is a presentation by researcher/storyteller Brene Brown. Here’s her incredible talk about connection, vulnerability, and what it means to be human.

If you haven’t seen this video yet, please take a few moments and watch it now. It will change your life. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to watch it. I’ll be here when you get back.

Okay – assuming you went and watched it – I want to talk about why Ms. Brown’s discussion on connection is so important for bloggers. It’s important because I believe the greatness and popularity of a blog are in direct proportion to the ability of that blogger to be vulnerable in her writing.

Want an example of the kind of vulnerability I’m talking about? Read this post by one of my current favorite bloggers, Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Girl.

I’ll practically guarantee that unless you have a heart of stone (and I know you don’t, dear readers), you will moved by this post. Yes, it’s sentimental, and yes, she’s really putting her emotions and her baggage out there for everyone to see. And that is what makes it GREAT.

Ree Drummond is not afraid to write from the heart. And writing from the heart is the reason The Pioneer Girl has landed two book deals. It’s the reason she been on the Today show many, MANY times. And it’s the reason that her blog receives several million hits a month. She is coy about publishing her traffic stats, so I don’t have exact numbers. Suffice it to say that The Pioneer Girl makes a very nice living from her blog.

Writing from the heart is what connects you with your readers, and it is what will keep them coming back to your site again and again and again. They come back because they like YOU and want you to be vulnerable in your writing. So give your readers what they want. It will be good for you, too.

Here’s your action for this week – Be vulnerable on your blog. Write a post about something a little more personal than you normally do. Share something with your readers that they don’t know about you. And yes, business bloggers, this DOES include you, too! Your business is about YOU, and your customers do want you to be open and vulnerable with them.

After you’ve completed this week’s task, post on Facebook with your success!

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Congrats to Andi O’Conor, Award-Winning Blogger!

Westword Award LogoCongratulations are officially in order for one of my recent clients, Andi O’Conor, who won the Westword Web Award for Best Personal Blog of 2010 for her blog, Burning Down the House. Andi lost her home in September’s Four Mile Fire in Boulder, Colorado. Nominations for the Web Awards were reviewed by a panel of judges as well as the Westword editorial staff. Click here for photos of the awards ceremony and a full list of winners.

In October, Andi and I worked together to create a beautiful WordPress blog for her so that she could publish her poignant, moving essays about loss, love and life. Andi’s blog has caught on quickly, because anyone who has been through a wrenching loss can relate to her experience, and her blog audience is growing larger and larger each month. Some of Andi’s blog posts quite literally take my breath away.

Here’s a review from the Westword judges:

“A touching, incredibly well-written blog by a woman whose house has burned down twice — once at the age of twelve and again in the Four Mile Canyon fire earlier this year. No persona, just enthralling entries from a rare perspective.”

Andi, I’m honored to have been a part of your incredible blogging journey. Thanks for letting me build you an online house to write in!

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Looking for Unique Gift Ideas?

One of my favorite bloggers, Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz.com, has written a fabulous gift guide for 2009.  Naomi's mission in life is to help little businesses by providing top-notch advice on marketing, social media, product launches and the like.  If you run an itty biz or would like to start one, I highly recommend checking her out.  She's also funny as heck – I often literally laugh out loud when reading her posts.

Back to her gift guide – Naomi includes lots of suggestions of gifts from small businesses owners and artists, like Tricia McKellar, whose spectacular photography prints would be a terrific gift for almost anyone on your list.  I particular like her "Through the Viewfinder" series and will probably end up buying some of her prints for myself! 

There's also beautiful stuff for your home (plus stationary and jewelry) at Bailey Doesn't Bark.  Is that a catchy, memorable name or what?? 

You can check out the rest of Naomi's gift sggestions here.  A word of warning – Naomi often includes curse words in
her posts (used appropriately, I think), but if that's something that
will offend you, you may want to look elsewhere for small business
advice.  But in my opinion, you'll be missing out!

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The Art of Nonconformity

One my favorite blogs these days is little gem called "The Art of Nonconformity" by Chris Guillebeau.  His blog is all about finding your own path, starting an online business so you can break out of a 9-5 cubicle life, and international travel.  What astounds me about this guy is that everything I've read so far on his site has been TOP quality.  Well-written, painstakingly edited, and carefully thought-out.  Even the graphic design on his blog is beautiful.  Clearly, Chris is very careful about everything he puts into his online presence, and it shows.

As soon as I found his site and discovered his amazing content, I signed up to get blog updates from Chris via email.   I really, truly look forward to getting emails from him about new blog posts, and I when I do get one, I literally drop everything I'm doing to read it.  His content is that good!  If you find the subject of his blog appealing, I urge you to download and read his "Guide to World Domination".  This e-book was rocket fuel for my business motivation!

So here's my challenge to you for this week:  When you find a blog that you LOVE and follow religiously, write down everything you love about that site, and include EVERYHING, right down to what you like about the design and layout of the site.  Pay special attention to the content of the blog posts, and write down specifically why you like them.

Then apply those ideas to your own blog.  Or add them to your wish list for your future site!  You can find models for all kinds of great things when you spend time reading blogs.  Sites like "The Art of Nonconformity" are popular for a reason – what these bloggers are saying is interesting and engaging to readers.  How can you engage and interest your readers with passion and flair?

What are YOUR favorite blogs, and why do you love them?

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How a Blog Connected Me to an Eight-Year-Old Boy on the Other Side of the World

On August 24th, I discovered the extraordinary story of the Kopila Valley Children's Project when my friend Rebecca posted a link on Facebook.  I was immediately enthralled by the story of Maggie Doyne, an young American woman who started a home for kids in Nepal after visiting the country and recognizing a BIG need that wasn't being filled.  Maggie says:

"I was trekking through the Himalayas in war-torn Nepal, where I began to meet hundreds of orphan children. I fell in love with their bright eyes and beautiful smiles, but was shocked to see them barely surviving without the most basic things that I had grown up with as a child.

As I shared my dream to build a safe home for these children, with my hometown in Mendham, NJ, I was astounded by the outpouring of support. This past year, I officially opened the frontdoor of Kopila Valley Children's Home, built brick-by-brick, by me and the local community in Nepal. There are now 28 children living in our home. We have been able to enroll eighty children into school, facilitate life-changing operations for children in need, and create a village outreach program to improve schools in remote areas. I truly believe that if every child in the world is provided with their most basic needs and rights—a safe home, medical care, an education, and love, they will grow to be leaders and end cycles of poverty and violence in our world."

The day I saw Maggie's blog and discovered her story, I e-mailed her and asked if I could sponsor one of the kids in her house.  I am delighted to report that as of September 6th, I am now sponsoring an eight-year-old boy named Ansuraj, who has bright eyes and a smile that goes for miles (Maggie sent me a picture).

Maggie is also helping Ansuraj correspond with me over email, and there are just no words to describe how cool that is.  

And then tonight, I visited Maggie's blog again (she publishes regular updates about what's going with the Children's Home, including her recent attempts to try to buy land for a new school).  Her latest post was all about how she had to travel to a nearby city for her yearly audit by the Nepalese IRS, and it was a funny story about how she and the treasurer of her school's board triumphed over red tape with the help of a kind-hearted official.

And I was reading along thinking how cool it was that she didn't have to sit in a hot auditing office for five hours going over annoying paperwork. And I kept reading.  Then Maggie told the story about what the kids in her school were doing when she got back from the IRS office.  They were flying kites. 

And all of a sudden, there was Ansuraj, the little boy I'm sponsoring, right smack dab in the middle of this great story – he was actually the HERO of the story – and I was just overcome with how incredibly cool it is that Maggie and Ansuraj are in Nepal and I'm in Colorado and I'm sitting here in my living room reading this story about something that happened YESTERDAY at this school on the other side of the world.  I didn't have to wait six weeks for a letter in the mail.  I didn't have to receive a note via passenger pigeon or messenger or any other mode of transportation that would've taken 1000 times as long.

I got to read about it right here on my tiny little computer screen with just a few clicks of the mouse. FOR FREE. I can read it, my readers can read it, and everyone else who wants to feel inspired and realize how lucky they are – and how much a difference one person can truly make in the world – can read it.  Maggie became a global publisher the day she started writing her blog, and her readership is now growing exponentially, every time someone passes on a link to her site – just as I'm doing here. People all over the world can read regular updates and how her kids are doing and what adventures they're having, from our LIVING ROOMS.

That is the power of blogs.  Maggie's blog made it possible for me to find her story, write to her, sponsor a child so that I can contribute to making sure he has food, clothes and school supplies, and then read a marvelous, inspiring story about that child.  Powerful, powerful stuff.

Blogs are important, and they are a powerful medium for communication and change in our world, so please don't let anybody tell you that blogs are just "online journals" or any other such nonsense. Blogging is changing the world – one hyperlink, one post, one child, and one kite-flying story at a time.  

If you'd like to donate to the school, please go to the school's How You Can Help page. And thanks to Rebecca Self of XpatAdventures for passing along this amazing story. 

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Gluten-Free Resources

Some of you who know me personally may have heard that I recently went on a completely gluten-free diet due to some health problems I’ve been experiencing.  I’ve been gluten-free for about eight weeks now, and it has helped my overall energy significantly, and is making a pretty good dent in the health issue that prompted the diet change in the first place (which was/is severe joint pain).

I’ve got a number of requests recently for a list of gluten-free resources and blogs, so I decided to go ahead and write a post here about it, especially because many of these resources are in the social media realm, anyway, so it fits in nicely with the topic of this blog and my business.  Any of you who would like to add some more gluten-free resources, please add them to the comments and I’ll update this post with the new additions.

My gluten-free investigation actually began with a wonderful book that I had the sheer luck to stumble upon in my public library.  It’s called “Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food that Loves Me Back, and How You Can Too” by Shawna James Ahern.  It’s a marvelously written memoir/foodie book by a woman who was diagnosed with celiac disease, and it includes lots of great inspiration on how to fall in love with cooking (cooking in general, not just gluten-free cooking).  If this book doesn’t make you want to put on an apron and start whipping up sautes and soups, I don’t know what will.

Imagine my delighted urprise, though, when I finished the book and THEN discovered that the entire thing was based on a wildly popular, long-standing blog called Gluten-Free Girl.  Shawna’s wonderful blog is now one of the first ones I check in my RSS reader every day. Side note – everything, and I do mean everything, I have made from the recipes in Shawna’s book and blog has been mouth-watering-ly delicious.  This woman actually made me love beets.

Resources for learning about gluten intolerance, celiac disease and the health problems that some folks experience when eating gluten:

Celiac.com – One of the biggest websites for celiacs.  Great information here even if you haven’t been diagnosed with celiac (I haven’t been).  Particularly useful is their lists of safe and unsafe ingredients, which you can find links to on the front page.  Gluten hides in so many products that I take this list to the grocery store with me now.  They also have a terrific monthly newsletter with lots of great news and recipe ideas.

Enterolab – This is the only lab in the country where you can order tests for gluten sensitivity and immune response to gluten.  This site is quite dense with information but it’s worth your while to dig into it.  TONS of eye-opening info here for me.

My favorite GF blogs, with great information and recipes:

Gluten Free Gobsmacked

The Whole Kitchen

Books and Other Ideas:

I have learned a an absolute TON from the “Gluten-Free Living for Dummies” book, which is written by Danna Korn. Yes, I like the Dummies series a lot. :)

If you’re local to Denver and Boulder, you simply must check out the to-die-for gluten free goods sold by Melissa, the owner and head pastry chef of Sweet Escape Pastries in Longmont.  I would never have been able to make it on the gluten-free diet without her pizza crusts.

Ancient Harvest Corn/Quinoa Spaghetti – the best GF Pasta I have tried.

Living Without Magazine – Although I find their recipes a little lacking, I *love* the resources and stories in this magazine. I find their online GF quick-start guide particularly helpful for the newly-diagnosed folks out there.

Farmo Pasta – Another really good pasta company. Their Fusilli is great for soups and stews.

The Cooking Light Gluten Free Cookbook – I haven’t actually purchased this yet, because I just found out about it, but I’m a huge fan of Cooking Light and I’ll bet it will be AWESOME. Let me know if you buy it and try it out.

Thanks so much for reading this post, which I know is of a more personal nature than most of my posts so far.  Here’s to your health!

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Beautiful Snapshots from Santa Fe

A blogger recently registered for one of my teleseminars, and I followed a link in her email signature back to her beautiful blog, Bird's Eye View.  Elsa Kendall take breathtakingly crisp, clear photos of her life and home, like the one she posted on New Year's Day.  Keep reading and you'll find yourself wanting to visit her and her funny cat in Santa Fe.

She also makes pretty amazing jewelry, which she sells at her Etsy Shop.  

Check out Elsa and prepare to be wowed. 

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