Category Archives: about blogging

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en route to blogpodium 2014

12th September 2014

So I am en route to Toronto today for tomorrow’s BlogPodium conference.  It’s an amazing Canadian conference for design + lifestyle bloggers, organized by the fabulous Jen Flores.

I have been going to Blogpodium since the very first ½ day event as part of the Interior Design Show in January 2012. I remember being so incredibly nervous. I came in, almost peed my pants when I realized there was a red carpet area to have my photo taken (How do I stand? Do I have something on my teeth? Is my hair frizzy? Do I look like a huge loser here by myself?), and then proceeded to sit solo in the audience with people chatting all around me. About halfway through though, I started chatting with Laura Collins, and suddenly felt way more comfortable. A few more chit chats later that evening (with Britt, Tanya, EJ, etc), and I felt like I had known these gals for ages. They were fun, easy going, we had lots of similar interests (surprise surprise!), and lots of them didn’t really know many people either.

For a bit of fun, I looked back at my photos to see what I could find. Here we are, circa Jan 2012.

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via my daily randomness

And then the next one, later in 2012. Maybe this one was more formally the “first” BlogPodium? Anyhow, I was super nervous all over again. However, like the first event, I started chatting with some gals at my table and quickly relaxed.

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And then there was last year – a totally different story for me. I was only 6 weeks post giving birth to my baby girl, but still determined to go. With major anxiety, I left Maya at home with her super capable Dad. It looked a little something like this…

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I packed up my breast pump and headed off to Toronto. My first night away from this munchkin. Look at those skinny minny legs and socks falling off the feet!

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Admittedly, I felt like I wasn’t totally relaxed last year (pumping breastmilk in the public washroom, anyone? Ha!), but I still so enjoyed the event.

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Even won a prize from The Home Depot! 2013-09-21 11.32.12

And now today, leaving my girl again at home with Dad, but with MUCH less anxiety this time. Except for deciding what to wear. Think I’m going to go casual this year with jeans, boots, and black tee.

Every year I go, I take away new information, a renewed motivation, so much inspiration, and the best part, new friends. Can’t wait!

Also – Did you catch my hair colour changes? Blonde to dark brown, and now to ombre (okay, mostly blond) again. Apparently I can’t make up my mind.

Are you a blogger going to BlogPodium? Say hi, if you are. Can’t wait to meet you! What are the rest of you up to this weekend? Any big plans?

xo

the blog

27th January 2014

Happy Monday, you guys! So I wanted to take a time out and chat with you for a sec about the blog. When I first starting writing it in 2010, we were fresh first-time homebuyers and doing project-after-project to transform our house, bit by bit. 4 years later, lots of DIY projects and room makeovers, plus a wedding and a baby, life has changed considerably. These days, I am at home looking after our baby girl and weekends are dedicated more to family time than knocking out the latest DIY. While I still have lots of crafty ideas up my sleeve for the next little while, it takes me longer to get ‘em done. We are also heavily in the midst of scheming up our 2nd storey addition to this wee abode — the drawings are done, the structural engineer is reviewing things, contractors are being met, and once the quotes are in we will be meeting again with our mortgage guy to see if we are going to be able to swing it this year. So projects in the current house, unless they are of a portable won’t-get-demo’d nature, have come to a bit of a standstill as we wait and see.

Having said that, and while I have been figuring out this whole parenting gig over the last few months, I have wondered about writing a few more personal posts on “life stuff”, in addition to the usual DIY/home posts. I know I already post the monthly update about Maya, but I was thinking about sharing some of my fave baby products (and things that didn’t really work for us), tips on being a pumping mama, maybe even maya’s birth story, etc. Just a little smattering of more parenting-related stuff, among the home/DIY/design bread and butter. After all, this blog is an “online diary” of sorts for me, so it seems weird not to chat about some of the stuff that my life seems to be all about right now. I know the blogs that I follow religiously are the ones that have a lot of the personal life story woven in to the overall ‘theme’ of the blog.

Does that sound okay to you guys? For those of you who only pop in for the house and DIY posts, I get it if you’re not super interested. If you use a reader like bloglovin, then you can just come pay me a visit when it’s a post you’re interested it. We cool?

xo

Thanks again for visiting this little corner of the internet. I love the community of blogging and I want to give each of you a big hug for popping in and spending a few minutes with me! Seriously… xoxo to all of you. Hope you’ll stick around for the ride!!

blogger conference numero deux

1st October 2013

So I told you guys how I went to BlogPodium last week… well, I’m at another blogger conference in Toronto this week! It’s funny how things like this end up being one right after the other. I’m at the LINK 2013 conference put on my SheBlogs. I’m having a great time connecting with other Canadian women bloggers and learning about working better with brands, being social media savvy, and growing the blog. We’ve had a chance to hear Jeanne Beker, Bob Blumer, and some fabulous bloggers speak.

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Arriving into Toronto. Takes a little longer to get here now with a baby in tow!

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Jeanne Beker (from Fashion Television) giving a keynote presentation

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my little lady in a big hotel room!

This time I’m here with Maya, and brought my Mum (ie. Nana) here with me to look after the baby during the day. Thank goodness for lovely grandmas!

I’ll be back to the regular programming here on the blog later in the week… have a good one, you guys!

canadian home trends feature

7th August 2013

It’s always such a sweet moment when my blog or any project of mine is featured somewhere online, but seeing shout-outs in print totally get me giddy. In the most recent issue of Canadian Home Trends magazine, the editors mentioned a few of their fave blogs — including this old blog of mine! I’m totally flattered to be mentioned alongside a few of my sweet blog pals – JenTanyaAmelia, and Shannon.

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A big thank you to CHT magazine! You can check out a preview of the latest issue here (the blog mention is on page 10): http://digital.canadianhometrends.ca/previewsummer2013/. There are loads of great articles and eye candy galore!

getting in touch

10th July 2013

I had had business cards made several years ago for the blog, then some for my etsy shop – both using the budget-friendly vistaprint and both designed by me. They were fine, but it had become annoying to have two separate cards. Plus, I had put my phone number on my original cards, which I now wanted to take off (email addy was all that I needed), and neither card actually had my name as the main header.

So when one of my fave stationary shops owned by one of my fave bloggers – Penny Paper Co. - was having a big sale on her calling cards a few weeks ago, I knew it was time for an upgrade.

When this arrived on my doorsteps a few days ago, I was like a kid on Christmas. Look at how cute the packaging is?! Love in all the little details.

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I chose the vintage floral design (check it out here), which had me falling for it’s simplicity and sweet, timeless look. Lindsay was amazing at making sure the card looked just the way I wanted it before printing, and the whole turnaround and shipping time was crazy quick. The quality is really great – no flimsy paper here. I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out! DSC_0365-edited

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The other bonus? They totally match my wallet (and nails, apparently!). It seems I have a thing for peach?!
DSC_0379-editedSo thank you Lindsay for the lovely product and great service! Guys, be sure to go check out Lindsay’s shop. It’s full of all things cute.

Have you guys had calling or business cards made up? Do you use them for your small business, or for when you meet new peeps? I know with the age of email and internet it’s easy to find people, but there is something really lovely about a calling card I think. 

FYI – I was in no way compensated to write this review or given free product. I was just genuinely thrilled with how much I love this product!

blogiversary survey results

12th April 2013

Happy Friday, guys. We have a winter storm going on here in Ottawa today (snow in April? COME ON!), and I have a brutal head cold to boot so am at home sick. I think I’m going to sleep the day away, and hopefully wake up tomorrow to a head that I don’t want to chop off and sunny, warm weather.

So remember that survey that I asked you guys to fill out over the blogiversary week? Well, I have finally compiled the results. And guys, it was SO amazing. So many of you filled it out, said such lovely things, and gave me some great ideas about how to ensure that the blog is giving you readers what you’re looking for.

So here goes.

Most of you are gals. Like 99% gals. No big surprise there, I guess. But thanks so the 1% of fellas who filled out the survey! And over 85% of you are between 20 and 39 years old.

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Most of you live in North America, but I was happy to see that there were some international readers, including folks from Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and even one from Cape Town, South Africa! survey2

The majority of you own your houses, but there are a good number of renters checking in too. I think because a lot of my projects are so budget-friendly, they are renter-appropriate. Hopefully that’s the case!survey3

This next question was really great. It was neat to see that so many of you enjoy the project tutorials, before and afters, and room makeover posts. Those are definitely the ones I like writing the best, so that’s great! And house tours really got a good review too – I need to do more of those! If you guys are local and have a house/apartment you think I have to crash, write me (thesweetestdigs@gmail.com). Even if you’re not local, feel free to send in photos of your pad for a house tour! survey4Then I asked a couple of open-ended questions and got some really fabulous feedback.

For new post ideas, some of you suggested:

-Things around Ottawa (“store crashing”, events, fave neighbourhoods, etc) and similarly, more Canadian content
-More posts abut my thrift store, vintage finds
-More posts about my own design work for other folks (I don’t do this too often – but when I do, I promise to post about it as long as I have their permission!)
-More product reviews — things from local stores that I have purchased and loved or not loved.

Other feedback included:

-More posts about me, my pregnancy, and just personal stuff in general. I was pretty flattered to read this comment from so many of you! One of my blog new year resolutions was to get more personal, so I will definitely keep trying to do this. You saw yesterday my latest bump watch photos, and I’ll keep ‘em coming for sure. Although I promise that this won’t morph completely into a baby/parenting blog — the project pace might slow down somewhat with a newborn, but I am very much committed to keeping this as a design/DIY blog. Heck, it’s what I love doing and writing about!

-Some of you don’t like the monthly recap posts. I started doing those about 6 months ago, and I have actually found that it’s really nice to summarize the highlights of the month. If anything, at the end of each year I’ll have a really nice “yearbook” of sorts. So for those of you who find them boring, just skip ‘em! No hurt feelings :)

-A lot of you mentioned that you liked how my projects use easy-to-find materials and are usually totally budget friendly (and “skill” friendly). I know sometimes the big renovation posts aren’t as accessible to everyone, so I will always try to maintain a nice balance of those “big project” posts with lots of easier, realistic projects.

-Better tagging of my posts so that archives are easier to find. This is one of those tricky things. I try and tag my posts with as much detail as I can, and always put them into the appropriate “category” (which you can see on my sidebar)… but it’s not the best solution. Things like DIY projects and house tours get their own pages (see up in the main header bar), but the others can get a little lost. I’ll keep my thinking cap on about that one!

So awesome guys. This was really so helpful for me and there are lots of great ideas to incorporate. And the oh-so-sweet comments you left for me gave me tons of encouragement and motivation. So not to make this into too much of a cheesefest, but I love you guys! Thank you so much for popping in here on the regular and making my little corner of the blogosphere such a happy place.

Now go out (or stay in if you’re in this snowy Ontario weather right now), and enjoy the weekend! Have fun!

 

the resolutions

4th January 2013

I haven’t ever been one to set major resolutions at the beginning of each year. I think because I set goals and make lists throughout the year (this girl LOVES a list!), sitting down at the beginning of each year and writing out resolutions just hasn’t done it for me.

Plus, I wrote down a bunch of goals and things to do in my 30 before 30 list that I’m still working on hammering out. Better take another look at that bad boy. Here’s a resolution: I’d like to be halfway done that list by the end of the year. Time to get crackin’.

This year, I thought I’d throw a few things down on paper…. er, blog.

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When I started the blog, I focused solely on decorating/inspiration/DIY tutorials. Since then, I have started to branch out a little more and write about other random stuff (whether it’s travel, things you might not know about me, our quirks and traditions, etc) and you lovely folks seemed to dig it. This year – more of the personal stuff. No, I won’t be starting posts with “Dear Diary,” or get too cheesy up in here, but let’s get to know each other a little more. What do you say? Anything you want to know about me? Would you be down with filling out a reader survey?

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I never went to business school or took a commerce class, but I’m definitely an entrepreneur at heart. I had all kinds of little businesses when I was younger (lemonade and brownie stand, anyone?), and that passion has re-surfaced recently with my little etsy shop and even this blog (I have started to monetize a bit over this past year). In 2013, not only do I want to continue to focus on etsy and the blog, but I also have big plans of launching another business. Something that’s been in the works for a while. Clue: it involves collecting and decorating. I’ll spill the beans sometime before February. Promise!

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There is a ton of stuff on the ‘house list’ for this year. Somehow, no matter how many things we finish, the list never seems to get shorter. How does that happen?! Things we’d like to accomplish over the next 12 months include creating a much better storage/laundry area in our basement, replacing the interior doors in the house, landscaping, deck-building, getting drawings done for the second story idea (we like to plan and dream!), turn the garage into a more functional space, and tons of other small stuff (like room tweaking, which is constant in this pad). And who knows when we’ll throw in a whole room makeover in for good measure.

 

Daniel and I set some other personal goals too. Things like doing sports/exercise class/gym at least 3 times a week consistently (it’s the consistency we have an issue with!), eating more “clean” (cutting down on processed foods, sugars, etc – we’re pretty good in this department already, but there is always room for improvement), and adding to our savings account (safety net, peeps!).

What about you guys? Do you set resolutions? Why or why not? Lived up to your 2012 resolutions? Set any for 2013? 

2012: year in review

2nd January 2013

Happy New Year, guys! Did you have a wonderful holiday? Full of family, friends, food, and cheer? I definitely did. Hubby, my parents, and I all jetted off to St Lucia for a week of total relaxation. Lots of sun, eating (OMG… a LOT of eating… my jeans are feeling a little snug!), reading, and lazing about. It was exactly what we all needed after a pretty hectic fall. I totally unplugged (no cell phone, internet, blogging, nothing!) and it was perfect. More on our holiday in a few days.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to do a little bit of reflecting on 2012. It was definitely my best year yet on the blog. Lots of renovations, projects, and other fun posts. Here is my best-of round up.

Fave 4 Head-to-toe Room Makeovers

#1: Our main bathroom which we gutted and re-did, thanks to gift cards and monetary gifts from our wedding. Best present ever. That bathroom still makes me totally happy every morning when I go in to shower.

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#2: Early in the year we did our $200 kitchen makeover. We painted the oak strip cabinetry, added hardware, and tiled the floor with peel ‘n stick laminate. A super budget makeover which totally changed the room. It is a great “for now” step until we can gut-and-reno in there.

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#3: I had so much fun decorating my friend’s condo (my first “client”!) from start to finish. He loved it, and so did I!

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#4: Definitely the most fun and colourful project of the year was the nursery I decorated for two of my best pals. And the best part? Meeting their little guy, Sawyer, when he made his big entrance on Oct 1st. It was love at first sight.

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Top 7 DIY’s of the Year

Oooh this one was tough to narrow down. Since DIY projects are the meat and potatoes of this blog (and one of my fave things to do in my spare time… obvy), I had quite a few to choose from. Here is a mixture of big and small projects… most of which involve paint (but who’s surprised?).

#1: My painted chevron ceiling was definitely my fave DIY project of the year. And that entryway has since been further updated with a minty mirror, narrow shelf, and thrifted light fixture.

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#2: The two tone dresser that we moved into the dining room has really made the room feel bigger and is amazing for storage.

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#3: The bedroom tweaks like our upholstered headboard, TV gallery wall, and two tone closet doors were a fave for sure. Our bedroom is one of those rooms that seems to be always in progress, but it’s getting there.

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#4: The hallway of frames has definitely added some interest and fun to this little space in our pad. I know I have said it a million times, but I still love me some IKEA Ribba frames.

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#5: A quirky and fun project this year was my triangle stamped cake stand. Plus it gives me an excuse to bake cupcakes.

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#6: I had been meaning to make a mason jar soap dispenser for ages, so was happy when this one turned out to be pretty cute.

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#7: And last but definitely not least was my biggest DIY project of the year – my new harvest table! A big thanks to my Daddio for helping me figure out all of the heavy lifting on this one (and for the use of his workshop and tools!). Plus those spiffy new white eiffel chairs were a total splurge for this year. Love, love, love.

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Getting Bloggy in 2012

2012 was the first year that I participated in a blogger event and poured some real time and energy into my little space in the blogosphere.

I went to my first blogger event, blogpodium (along with the Interior Design Show in Toronto), and to a second blogpodium event in the spring! So much fun to learn some stuff and meet some totally fabulous bloggers.

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Then later in the year, I met DIY blogging’s power couple, Sherry and John from YHL. Swoon!

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I refreshed the blog look in late 2012, as it was definitely time for a little upgrade. There are still a few small tweaks I would like to do, but we’re getting there! I think the overall look is a lot more clean and polished and more ‘me’. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

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I had several very happy moments of blog love this year. Being featured on Young House Love, Apartment Therapy, CityLine, Design*Sponge and other great blogs made me totally giddy. Man I love you guys! Oh, and to cap off the year? A HUGE thank you to Jen from Rambling Renovators who included me in her ‘Great Reads of 2012‘ series. So flattered. Be sure to go check it out!

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2012 stats 

The year in stats. Here are the biggies:

– 157 total posts. That’s pretty much exactly 3 posts/week for the 52 weeks in a year.

– September 6th was the busiest day on the blog.

– 5 posts of the year that got the most views: Project bathroom: the reveal, Pinterest challenge: stenciled curtains, Kitchen makeover step 3: the floors, the DIY files: upholstered headboard, the DIY files: faux capiz chandelier.

– The majority of you lovely readers are based in the United States, with readers from Canada and the UK following closely behind.

 

This crazy thing called life: 2012 styles

2012 in life outside DIY projects and house reno’s was pretty fab, too. I opened a little esty shop selling prints and paintings which has been so much fun, started tackling my 30 before 30 list, continued my same 9-5 job in public health here in Ottawa, giddily welcomed several new babies in the family (nieces/nephews/cousins – so fun!), and paid off all of my student loans from doing my Master’s in England in 2010-11 (felt SO good!). Danny and I also celebrated our first wedding anniversary in August and started a few fun anniversary traditions.

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In terms of travel, 2012 didn’t disappoint. I did a girls trip to Nicaragua (totally amazing!), hit up Boston and Washington DC with the hubby, and just got back from a week in St. Lucia. Travel is a top priority for Dan and I – we both love it so much and definitely have the travel ‘bug’- so it was good to get several great trips in this year.

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Well, there you have it. The 2012 wrap up. Here is hoping that 2013 brings more laughter, adventures, and yep, DIY projects!

What about you guys? Have a great 2012? Any favourite moments? Making any resolutions for 2013? 

some cityline love

5th June 2012

So, I have some pretty fun news. I am CityLine’s “Blogger of the Month” for June! If you’re not from the great white north, you may not be familiar with CityLine. It’s a Canadian daytime talk show that covers topics from food, to  gardening, to fashion, and of course, interior design! And it’s pretty darn fabulous. I have been a fan for years and even sat in the audience once (I wrote about it here!), and did a “video question” from home another time! Anyway, you can imagine how totally giddy I was to get an email saying that I was the June pick!

You can read the whole interview here.

I feel totally flattered to be featured, especially as other past “bloggers of the month” include Lindsay from Little House Blog, Sarah Gunn from Yummy Mummy Club, and Christine Dovey from Bijou and Boheme. I’m in pretty amazing company.

A big shout out and thank you to CityLine. You can bet I’ll be watching the show for many years to come!

the business of blogging: blogpodium

29th May 2012

BlogPodium. The event that is quickly becoming one of my favourite things to look forward to. The first one, held back in January (which I wrote about here), was so much fun that I was seriously excited for round two. Well I can tell you, it did not disappoint. A room full of sweet bloggers, some high profile speakers, lots of brand representatives, and so much useful information… it was fabulous! I’ll try to recap some of the highlights of the day here for you.

First of all, it was just pretty. The venue was lovely, the decor was perfection, and the food was deee-lish.

The day started out with Nicole, from Making It Lovely.

Since the theme of this particular BlogPodium event was “the Business of Blogging”, Nicole focused on all aspects of monetizing your blog.

Advertisement types: direct sales (small, monthly, boutique ads), through networks (bigger, managed by network), text links (companies usually seeking higher SEO rankings), affiliate links (like reward style, amazon affiliates, etc), google ads (easy to get started with, but don’t pay much), and sponsored posts.

Sponsored posts. After an informal survey, the BlogPodium group seemed to agree that around 1-2 per month is the maximum number of “acceptable” sponsored posts. Too many, and the blog becomes a bit of an advertising wheel. Nicole talked about her one big mistake of posting a sponsored post that was not written by her, but written by the brand. She received quite a bit of backlash and found that it didn’t feel authentic. For all sponsored posts now, she uses a “brought to you by ___” logo at the top of the post (sort of like a commercial at the beginning of a TV show), and is transparent about any free products received for review.

When do you start selling advertising space? Nicole started when she hit around 10,000 page views per month, and began by offering free advertising space to small companies. As her traffic grew, she started charging and the fee went up accordingly. Once she hit about 50,000 page views per month, she began with an ad network.

Placement matters! Above the fold ad placement is higher visibility, so charge more for those.

Ad Networks. Nicole started with Glam Media and Martha’s Circle, and is now with Federated Media. The benefits of ad networks are that you get higher rates, there are opportunities for sponsored posts, the network manages the ad sales, the network brings experience and exposure, and they have a vested interest in growing your blog. The drawbacks can be that the network takes a commission of the sales, there can be payment delays, and that you usually have to sign a contract (1-2 year commitment which is often exclusive).

Graphic Design. “Looking bigger than you are is the best way to get bigger than you are” (Nicole Balch). If you are just getting into blogging, start minimally with a header from etsy or one of your own photos, and then hire a designer for a custom site once you’ve grown.

After Nicole, we got to hear from a group of experts. The panel included Cheryl Kozoriz from Gluckstein Home, Laura Muirhead from Tribal DDB, Lindsay Stephenson from Little House Blog, and Cheryl Dovey from Bijou and Boheme. The panel was moderated by Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault from CityLine.

Some Highlights:

  • Bloggers are trend setters and connectors, and brands are starting to recognize this. Be proactive and reach out to companies and suggest partnerships.
  • Brands tend to look at several main factors: a blogger’s authority (how well informed and professional they are), their context (the blog subject in relation to the brand), their engagement (comments, twitter), and their reach (blog stats, social media reach).
  • Identify where you come from! Brands often want to know where bloggers come from, as they often are trying to target a certain population. So if you’re a Canadian blogger.. say so!
  • How to write a successful pitch: Be brief, com with a plan, know the brand and show you are familiar with it, include demographic info and blog statistics, explain how you are an authority, and explain why you want to be involved with the brand.
  • Readers pick up on it right away when a blogger is looking for money, or is blogging because they love it.

Last but not least was the vendor meet & greet. This was our opportunity to walk around and chat with all the brands that attended the event, and check out their pretty booths.

Some West Elm goodies or Gluckstein Home beauties, anyone?

HomeSense had put together a photobooth. There were tons of fun props (I crowned myself “DIY Queen”), and everyone had a good laugh.

E-J and I hanging out at the end of the day.

A HUGE thank you to these two lovely gals for pulling off such an exceptional day. Jen and Lindsay - you know how to throw one hell of an event! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And one last shout-out to the fabulous brands that sponsored BlogPodium. Check ‘em out!

Beautiful photos from Mango Studios (check out more BlogPodium photos here, here, and here).