Blogpodium, The Business of Blogging : Part Two

After all the fun Nancy and I had leading up to Blogpodium, it was exciting to finally arrive at the event.

Held at the Arcadian Loft in the Simpson Building, it was an ultra chic location. Jennifer and Lindsay, the organizers of the event, truly outdid themselves.

 It was a flawless afternoon, full of information, socializing and food!

Nancy and I finally met the representatives, Amanda and Nelson, from Aya Kitchens, our generous sponsors who flew us out for the weekend. We pinched ourselves the whole time we were there, enjoying every minute. 

After a chat with Amanda and Nelson and a few photos, we sat down to listen to the key note speaker, Nicole Balch, of Making It Lovely. She is an inspiration to all, from a girl who started a blog to just share with her family the transformation of her home, to now a world famous blog and one that generates her family income.

After her inspiring talk, our attention was turned to a panel of Canadian "experts", Lindsay from Little House Blog, Christine from Bijou and Boheme,  Cheryl Kozoriz from Gluckstein Home and Laura Muirhead

Cheryl, Laura, Lindsay, Christine and Leigh-Ann

With witty and charming Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault {Benjamin Moore Colour Expert and Cityline Expert}, as moderator, the questions and answers where about everything we would want to know about the business of blogging. Incredibly informative and enlightening.

Here is what I came away with from both Nicole's talk and the panel's discussion.

*Nicole didn't start entertaining the idea of advertising until she hit 10,000 page views per month, which was about a year after she started blogging.

* a combination of boutique ads {esty sellers or bloggers} along with larger ads designated to larger businesses is a good mix

*Rotate your ads to give all your advertisers equal exposure

*working with an Ad agency, such as Federated Media, a middle man that connects the advertisers with the bloggers. It can save you time, as they package the ads tailored for your blog. The negative aspect is that you need to sign a contract, usually 1 year minimum and there can be delays in pay, up to 120 days.

*Sponsored posts are another way to bringing income, it can be set up like a commercial, "This post is brought to you by...." but the general consensus among the Blogpodium attendees that sponsored posts should be kept to about 2 per month.

*Another indirect source of income is receiving product for review. 

* Don't be shy in approaching companies in porviding product in helping your current projects. Explain in a brief email, who your are, your blog, why you would be a good fit, and how you would use their product. Nicole, had a majority of her furnishings in her home provided that way!

*A great way to start out is to offer ads for free, then once your blog grows and you generate interest you can offer ads at reasonable rates.

* increase your rates as your blog grows

*Rates can be calculated based on approximately $3 CPM {Costs per 1000 page loads per month}. 

*Treat your ad space like a newspaper would into two parts; above the fold vs. below the fold. Those above the fold should cost more {those that are on top of your blog, the part that you see when you load the page without scrolling down}

From the Brand and PR Perspective, this is what they are looking for from bloggers:

Authority: How well informed are you, your niche and how professional are you
Context: How does your blog and the content relate to the brand
Engagement: What is your following, your comments, social media links
Reach: Your stats, how are you involved with the various social media outlets

I came away with my mind reeling. 

I am on the fence about advertising on my blog. But the time I take to write, sometimes it is tempting to get compensated for that. I have approached and been approached by PR companies and brands to use product for projects. So far, that is the only form of compensation I have had. 

After the session we had a meet and greet with various vendors present at the event. It was thoroughly enjoyable to connect with many of the companies that I love and a few that I was introduced to.

 Myself, Lindsay, Jennifer and Nancy

 Vanessa {Decor Happy}, Nancy, Myself and Sundeep {Designwali}

 Lindsay and Jennifer.

We were overwhelmed with the generous swag we received from the various vendors. My arm ached by the end of the evening from the weight!

What I want to know are your thoughts on the idea of advertising.

Are you taking advertisers on your blog? 
What have you learned from that? 
Or if you aren't interested, why?
Your two bits, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Come back tomorrow as I share what we did Saturday night and Sunday  - more exciting stuff!

XO Barbara

Blogpodium Highlights: Part One

Peeps, I am back!

Did you miss me?

Sorry it has been quiet on the blog front. I am still getting over the lack of sleep and time change. Hard to come back to reality after 4 days of pure fun!

I saw, experienced and heard so much that I can't wait to share with you. 

Today I'll share part of my weekend highlights, I did so much that I broke it up into a few posts!
Next post will be about Blogpodium itself and what I came away with, then I'll finish up the highlights.

Lots of good stuff.

I had the most amazing travel partner, Nancy from Marcus Design. We both won the Aya Kitchens Blogpodium Bound contest. Thank-you Aya for this amazing opportunity.
I couldn't of asked for a better travel partner in crime.

Nancy and I left at the wee hours of the morning {woke up at 3:45, had to be at airport 5:30}.

Bye- bye Vancouver.

Hello Toronto!

 First up. 

We met up with the uber talented Tim Lam from Design Maze. He has become a such a great friend. Look what I won on his blog giveaway!! 

An Alanna Cavanagh {you can read my interview with her here} limited edition tea towel from the Hudson's Bay Co. The tea towels sold out in a matter of minutes. But Tim had my back - now I have one too! 
We went for lupper {that's lunch and supper} at Bannock, where they serve Canadian comfort food.

Then Nancy and I popped into The Bay to take in some Dwell Studio loveliness.

This quaint church was tucked in between our hotel and the huge mall next door.

 Nancy and I were quite dismayed at the carpet choice of the hotel. Seriously folks.....a much needed design intervention.

That night we headed to a local watering hole, South of Temperance, to meet up with Beatrice from The Crafty Bee and Lindsey from Recreated.

The next morning Nancy and I hit Queen Street West, the ultra hip shopping strip of Toronto. Our goal was to end up at Designer Fabrics, the fabric store made famous by Sarah Richardson.

Who did we accost outside? But the fabulous Michael Penney. Former design editor at House and Home, designer who worked with Sarah Richardson's Sarah 101 show, and now opened up his own shop Penney and Co.

I think he didn't know what to make of our overly excited hello to him! He was kind to give us directions to West Elm, the next stop on our shopping tour!

Me as giddy as a silly school girl.


 After drooling at Designer Fabrics we made our way to West Elm, which we sadly don't have in Vancouver, yet.

Hello West Elm where have you been my whole life......

I couldn't leave empty handed. Both Nancy and I bought a set of Turkish towels, for guest use only we agreed. Too luxurious to use for everyday grubby hands.

We quickly rushed to the subway {and got lost along the way} to visit the fantabulous Meredith Heron and her studio. It was such a honour to be invited to come.

Loved every square inch.

These chairs were amazing, loved the pinstripe upholstery on the front.

That chandy was to die for, funny story behind that one. I exclaimed to Meredith that I had helped unwrap one just like that when I worked as an assistant for a local designer and friend, Karla. It was incredibly heavy and too big for the space and she had to order a new one and get rid of the too-large one. Well, Meredith said it was that one - Karla had sold it to her! What a small world!!

I loved these chairs, they are similar to my kitchen chairs. But I like Meredith's better. The detailing on the legs is brilliant!

Then after spending a while with Meredith, enjoying a glass of chilled white wine, talking to her and her assistant, Nancy and I rushed back to the hotel in the heat.
We had dinner plans at Teroni's, organized by Jen and Lindsay for all the out-of-town bloggers. That is when I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to the key note speaker of Blogpodium, Nicole Balch from Making it Lovely.

 I ended up going back to the same watering hole with three other bloggers after dinner, the fun Gabrielle Savoie, Vanessa Sciotte and Beatrice. 

Then it was off to bed to get ready for Blogpodium.

Come back tomorrow as I share my day at Blogpodium, the people I met, the things I learned and the fun I experienced.

Then the next day, I will share the rest of my trip's highlights. The fun continued right up until the flight home!.

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh?: Jodi Bueckert from The Simply Inspired Home

So excited to have a "neighbour" blog gal pal visiting this week!

Please give a warm welcome to...

Jodi Bueckert from The Simply Inspired Home

She is 

I met Jodi through my sister. The funny story is, Jodi was my garden plot neighbour when we were both members at a garden cooperative. We took turns watering our garden plots but hadn't met until about a year later my sister mentioned, "Oh, did you know Jodi has a blog?" I took a look at her blog and was blown away by her and her husband's talent. Sure helps to be married to an amazing photographer!

Jodi is one of those people who walk the talk. She and her husband truly live intentional lives, giving back to society in many ways. She is always involved in some charity work through her church and community. Truly a beautiful women inside and out!

The home Jodi shares with her husband Darryl from Darryl Bueckert Photography is equally as gorgeous. While their family only lives in a townhome, they make use of every square inch, creating beauty in every corner but it feels like a mansion.

I have been in their home and am amazed at their handiwork, their home lovingly renovated and designed by both. It was thoroughly inviting, comfortable, beautifully styled and classy. I see a great future for Jodi and her design business.

Here are some snapshots of her amazing talent. 

All photos are taken by her husband, Darryl Beuckert.

Her niece's bedroom makeover.

  Darryl and Jodi know how to throw a party. 

Ehem, cough, cough.. I make a mean sangria Jodi! 

Homemade drumsticks at said party. 

Mmm...did I ever tell you Jodi, how much I love ice cream?

Their living room library nook area. Can you believe these are Billy bookcases from Ikea?

Her gorgeously layered and styled living room.

Tell us a bit about your background? Your education? Has design always been in your blood?

Design has always been in my blood. In grade school, while others were loving Hamlet, I was designing my own floor plans for homes I would build one day. It was always about creating homes with layouts that really flowed well, although I probably wouldn’t have used that terminology back then in Grade 4/5. You could find me at home day after day drawing, drawing, drawing...

Before becoming a Mom, I worked as a bakery manager and stayed in that field for about 9 years. Pastries, wedding cakes, were my creativity in those days, but the one thing it really taught me is the value of someone else’s Money. I was in charge of thousands dollars of product that wasn’t my own I felt it was still very important to treat the inventory and to control it wisely. The lessons back 9 years ago has really enforced values in my business today. I help and guide my clients with a variety of ways to spend their money in the best possible way for them and their situation.

I know you didn’t start out as a designer but how did you come to embracing design full - time?

I didn’t start as a designer full time. I knew I wanted to start a design business eventually, so at first I started my design blog as a way to get my design voice out there. When something that comes naturally to you and you want to share it with others, getting it across in coherent words is another task to master. I let you know when I get there.

Darryl (my husband) and I both share the responsibility of raising our kids while one of us is working. So I guess I’m part time Mom and Part time a designer. My little Man will be entering Kindergarten this fall so as much as I will miss my little buddy, that will open more opportunities, and a more balanced schedule I’m hoping!

How would you describe your design style?

My design style is first of all classic, uncluttered, fresh, and a bit of modern, traditionalism and mid century all mixed in. I think over the past few years my style has changed drastically, and will always evolve over time as I change and my family changes.

How long have you had your blog? What made you decide to start writing a blog and what have you enjoyed the most about blogging?

I have had my blog for about a year and a half. Although most of the time I really don’t see myself as a really great blogger, unlike you Barb. Like I said above, I started writing to just get used to talking about Design in a different way. Up till I started blogging and trying to write, design was all inside of my head. Most of my design ideas still haven’t really been brought out of me, and it’s only through clients and for my own home design do they really come about in the best way!

I really have loved meeting our group of Individuals that are a part of our Design & Lifestyle Blogger West Group. Eventually my family and friends do tire of talking about all things Design, but in our group we could go on forever. I have You Barb to thank. It was you that invited me to the first luncheon and ever since I’ve grown friendships. Even though we don’t all see each other very often, there is a real common bond that can’t be described.
I love people coming to my blog when I do write. It makes me feel like I’m just not writing to no one and a part of something big, but in a small way!

Where do you see your design business heading? Where do you it to be in say, in next 5 years?

It really is my desire to create a business that is grounded in my Mission phrase. Intentional Design = Intentional Living. Design for me always has to have Intentionality to go with it and Intentional Living will always follow. I really stand behind that. I believe that our homes are a gift, and being intentional about the money that we spend in our homes will always result in a great life.

In the future I see a team that works with/for me to provide home owners with outstanding and creative design. I also see working from the ground up (new builds) when it comes to projects. Building has been in my blood for 9 years now and it’s not going away anytime soon. This will take sometime to get there, but with hard work, PATIENCE... hopefully I will reach my Goal. If not, then at least I tried. Better to try, then to sit and watch the world go by.

Giving back to people is always important to me. I really want to create a successful design Business that is always available for projects in need. There are so many deserving opportunities out there, and if I can bring joy/help to someone with my talents then thats made my day. Designing helps put Food on the table for my kids, but my job is not only about making money.

What tips do you have for anyone thinking of taking that brave step to start their own design business?

Whether it’s a design business or really any business I would want them to know how much work is involved. Both of us work every night on something to grow our business and I we love it. The art of starting your own design business is by creating rooms from start to finish with all the elements in between. If you can show that in a photo portfolio then you’re on your way. Lastly be really patient with yourself. It all takes time, and I still have to tell myself that everyday.

If you could meet anyone or do anything who or what would it be?

I really would love to meet Tommy Smythe and Sarah Richardson. They are a dynamo pairing. They are the masters of working in high end and low end that’s for sure!

You and your husband, the talented photographer, Darryl Bueckert, make a great design team. Is it always smooth sailing? Who makes the design decisions in your home? Any tips for couples for work together?

While Darryl is indeed a really talented photographer, he has such a great design sense when it come to building as well. We’ve been doing major renovations in our home from tearing down walls, installing hardwood, building tables, to the outdoor kitchen that we installed about 3 years ago. We’ve really worked hard in our home together and we make a great team. What one lacks the other makes up for. Darryl is obviously the builder, and I provide the design ideas, while Darryl’s the one to tell me if something isn’t going to work structurally. Fortunately for us, we both Love Design the same amount and we rarely tire talking about it, although there are moments that Design takes a back seat for Darryl next to Photos. We make the decisions in the home together and Darryl speaks up when he feels he needs to.

Tips for couples who work together? I would say that to work under the same roof, or even in the same room you need to have patience with one another, and always RESPECT what the other person is trying to create or do. Darryl has been been my biggest fan when it comes to my Design business. He knows that it is a fuel that I need for my soul and he helps around the house (and with the kids) so much even though he is crazy Busy too! We also rely (and expect) on our kids to help around the house. This is their home too and they are responsible to keep it as orderly as one can among our crazy life. I always tell my kids that if they pick up after themselves and do their part, then that’s more moments that we can spend as a family instead of cleaning. Even though I love to clean!

I think life is also about Balance and that is something that we both still struggle with, so I let you know when I get there.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Hmmm free time? Well, with kids (7 year old and a four year old) + life + 2 home based businesses we don’t really have too much. If you were to peek into my life on the weekend you would us on the couch with a cup of Joe looking at books with our kids, you probably would find us working in our yard with the kids, trying to take up tennis at the moment, and starting the next “project” in our home that will eventually need completion. We love camping and hiking in the summer with our kids, and Sunday Movie night is always encouraged!

How do you manage to balance your life and blogging, or is that something you have yet to master?

I have yet to really master it. I doubt I ever will. Even though my blog is an extension of my business, I can’t let it hold guilt over me. I want so badly to be able to post 4 times a week, comment on everyones blogs, but with my life right now it’s just now feasible . That sounds like an excuse, but I’m first a Mom, Wife, and a designer for my clients. As soon as you feel guilt, then you know you’re not heading in the right direction.

What are your views on the role of Canadian design? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style, the way we design and decorate our homes? If so, what do you think sets us apart?

I think Canadian family Homes are really trying to bring Family together instead of apart. Lasting relationships, Great eating areas to accommodate Family Dinners, and so forth. It’s about great design that works and not just Great design. Great rooms to accommodate cooking, and dining, instead of shoving your family or guests into a separate dining room while you cook.

Thank you So Much Barb for including me in your Series!

Very Honored!

Thanks Jodi. I am truly honoured to have met you! You and Darryl are an inspiration to me! 
I am so looking forward to seeing you unveil your next project! As always you don't disappoint.

XO Barbara

Blogpodium Bound!

Today my peeps I am flying on a jet plane heading to Toronto, Canada with my blogging buddy Nancy from Marcus Design to paint the town red AND to take part in Blogpodium!

Woot Woot!

If you remember, we both won the Aya Kitchens Blogpodium Bound contest, where our winning kitchen designs scored us a plane ticket, hotel and ticket to Blogpodium!

We are both excited to FINALLY meet bloggers we have become friends with over the past year or so! Weird to have a connection with an internet "friend" that you have never met. My kids are always mocking me, "Mom, don't you know you aren't supposed to meet people on the internet?" 

What a bad example I am......

Anyhow. I am off. 

I will tweet, post pictures on Instagram AND on my Facebook page while I am there. And next week, I promise to share my weekend re-cap with you

Adios! Ciao! Au revour! Na shledanou!

****Come back tomorrow though, my latest "So Canadian eh?" will be visiting****


XO Barbara

Patio on the Brain

With a summer fast approaching, I have been busy working in the garden, pulling out weeds, transplanting overgrown perennials and planting flats of petunias to add pops of colour in the flower beds.

But one area of our yard that has me feeling blah is our patio area. 

Most of you know we are renting, but we also have a postage stamp of a back yard.
 In Virginia we had a 1/2 acre but here, a postage stamp yard. 

Our patio is a concrete pad with not much personality. I have purchased tall black planters and added boxwood to give some height on the corners. But our patio set has seen better days. I hate the thought of getting rid of it, but I can't find patio cushions, at a great price or my style {yes, black and white striped} to replace the smelly ones we currently have. 

Can you believe replacing 6 patio cushions will run me at least $250? 
And the cushions I have come across remind me of my grandmother's sofa.
 Not exciting in the decor department.

Also all the patio "sets' I come across that don't cost a gazillion dollars are "yawn" - boring.

So I am trying to think outside the box. 

Here is my idea for our patio.

A few resin wicker chairs from Canadian Tire. Only $50 each {and they go on sale periodically}

I'll use them with our current table until I can find or save up enough for a gorgeous teak table.

Then of course my back yard would have to have some black and white stripes in the form of a fabulous patio umbrella from Pottery Barn. { A little out of my price range, but a girl can dream}

Then add my blue and white Chinese garden stool and an outdoor rug from Martha Stewart to add that feeling of inside out!

Now if only the sun would come back! I am tired of all the "wet" coast rain!

Tell me, what is on your deck/patio?

XO Barbara