Monday, February 28, 2011

Business at Warp Speed - Get Ready for the New Digital Revolution

All around us, things are accelerating. People, data, and information are all moving faster than ever before, accelerating at a pace that defies our understanding of the world and what is (or was thought to be) possible. 4G speeds, Google Instant, Tweets and check-ins, Facebook sign-ups, mobile device activations, video uploads – everything around us is growing and moving at exponential rates. Consider some of the statistics: in 2008, 300 million people were on social networks. That number is now over 900 million. In 2008 1.5 million people had visited Twitter. Last year over 190 million. In 2008 Google’s Android mobile platform had just launched. There are now over 300,000 Android device activations every day, and that number is growing. (Check out a really fun video showing the growth of Android here.)

And consider what has been happening in Middle Eastern countries of late. Via mobile phones and social networks, information is spreading and people are organizing at rates never before possible, allowing for rapid mobilization of ideas and massive social change.

In this world of constant connectivity, there is no doubt that fast is better than slow. From a consumer standpoint, you reap the benefits directly – connect to friends all over the world on Facebook, video chat with them on Skype, watch videos of the Grammy’s on YouTube, download Eminem’s latest to your iPod, search on Google for the shoes he wore, buy them on online…wait, sold out online?…check your local retailer’s inventory on Google Product Search, have your Android phone give you directions to your local mall, text your friends that you’ll meet them there, check in on Foursquare when you arrive… and on and on it goes, the flow of digital information accelerating at a rate that seems almost unimaginable.

So how do businesses keep up and take part in this digital evolution, nay, revolution? How do companies make use of this acceleration to reach consumers in meaningful ways? How do they change their own behaviors to keep up with the world around them?

Companies should look to get ahead of the consumer and these digital trends by focusing on 4 key characteristics: Google calls them the "4 Be’s"…

Be relevant – Mobile is how the world will connect to the Internet in the future. Mobile will be bigger than desktop in 5 years. Mobile searches grew 500% in the last two years. Mobile is what is relevant for today's and tomorrow's consumer. What is your company’s mobile strategy? Do you have one? Can it scale for the future?

Be found – Search is still the web’s killer app. With the proliferation of information, Search is how people find it and make use of it. Can people find you? Can they find your business and the products or services you offer?

Be engaging – We no longer live in a push advertising world. Consumers want and expect a dialog with companies. Social media like Facebook and Twitter make this possible. Online video has not only changed the face of entertainment but also the way companies can communicate. Companies and brands need to figure out how to be part of the conversation and how to effectively engage users across the entire spectrum of social media. What is your social media strategy? How are you effectively using online video to engage users?

Be accountable – the Internet has made real-time marketing a reality. You can constantly and continuously improve your digital efforts by using powerful analytical tools and the data they provide to make smart decisions. Things like Google Analytics, Insights for Search and others offer more data than ever before. How are you using it to make the best decisions for your company?

Success or failure in these four areas will determine your future. As “screen time” becomes mostly digital, as mobile becomes the norm for the masses, as consumers take more control of the dialog with companies and brands, and as everything becomes more real-time, businesses will need to evolve to keep pace…or run the risk of getting left behind.

Posted by: Seth van der Swaagh, National Industry Manager, AdWords

Gearing Up for S.R.'s Vintage Barbie Birthday Party

I hope that you all had a great weekend. I had a fantastic weekend. I attended a ladies retreat, and I got to meet so many fabulous women. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful Christian women!!!

This week is going to be nothing but planning and scurrying. 
 Saturday is the Big Party day...
not as big as they have been in the past...these parties have been killing me;o) 
S.R. is turning 3 on Thursday....I can't believe it!!
She is having a Vintage Barbie Birthday Party. I have already started getting stuff together. 
Remember when I shared with you my inspiration for the party?
You can go HERE to check it out.
Super-de-duper Caa-ute!
These are some of the decorations that I will be using...I have a vision and I can't wait to see it come to life.....hopefully it will come together ;o)
 These are some of the flowers left over from S.R.'s Butterfly Birthday Party.
Hoping to make some cute center pieces with these again.
Looking forward to sharing the end result with you!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Get Indexed by Google

How can you get your blog indexed by Google in 24 hours? There is a lot of conflicting in search engine optimization information available, especially when it comes to trying to beat the natural ranking systems and having your blog rank high in Google right from the start.  While it’s possible to make a blog and have it indexed almost straight away, most people go about doing so with a poor overall strategy for success.

Ranking high on Google is all about long-term thinking, and going out to win everything in the first day often see you wasting time and opportunity without getting anything in return. However, it’s very much possible to be indexed by Google in 24 hours or less. After you make a blog, just follow these simple ideas and you’ll see your website show up in the search results within a day.

1: Submit your blog to Google

Obviously you’ve got to submit your new blog to Google before it can be indexed. Some free blogging platforms will submit your blog for free, while others, especially self-hosted blogging platforms, require you to do it yourself. Either way, it’s an easy 5-minute job that can be done alongside other, more time consuming tasks. Use the Google webmasters tools to verify your site. Here’s how:

Step 1: Go to Sign in using your Google Account or create an account if you don’t have one already.

Step 2: Add your blog site by clicking the “Add a site” button. Then type in the domain name you wish to add, and click “Continue”.

Step 3: Once added you will need to verify that you own this site. This can be done one of two ways, Meta Tag or Upload a HTML file. The Meta Tag way is, by far the easiest.

Step 4: Meta Tag verification. This method requires you to add a piece of code to your header.php file. Copy the Meta Tag code Google has asked you to copy to your blog site.

Step 5: In your WordPress dashboard go to “Appearance”, then “Editor” using the menu tabs on the left hand side.

Then click on Header (header.php) on the right hand side to open up the header template. Find the tag highlighted, and BELOW it “paste” in the verification Meta tag Google has given you.

Step 6: Then scroll down and click on “Update File”

Step 7: Go back to the Google Webmasters Tool website and click “Verify” and Google will confirm that you own the site.

Step 8: After verifying, Google will display a confirmation page.

2: Submit your blog Sitemap to Google

If you are using WordPress, install the Google XML sitemap plugin that creates a sitemap of your blog that searchengines can read.You now want to add your blog’s sitemap. This is how:

Step 1: Site Configuration

From within the Google Webmaster tools website, click on the domain name you have just added and it will open up a Dashboard for your site. On the left hand side menu, click on “Site Configuration” and then “Sitemaps”.

Step 2: Click “Submit a Sitemap” and enter the name of your sitemap. It should be sitemap.xml

It will take a few hours for the sitemaps to be analyzed and added. Then you can return here and make sure there are no errors, see how many URLs are being indexed and the time that Google last visited you. Even without the sitemap you will begin to get a list of the top search queries that your site is being found for, incoming links to your site, and the keywords that Google thinks your site is optimized for.

By verifying your site and adding your blog’s sitemap, you are telling Google your blog has arrived and it will quickly be indexed.

3: Get posting on forums

Get your blog link in your forum signature and start posting it on as many forums as you can. Of course, spamming is never a good long-term idea, but some smart, relevant forum posts are a great way to bring in new SEO juice and links for your new blog. For some reason, Google tends to prioritize websites that are generating links already, so get out there and create as many as you possibly can for your new blog.

4: Use social bookmarking to generate links right away

Social bookmarking services are a great way to generate links to your new blog in record time. From simple community bookmarking websites to the giants of the web, submitting your website to social bookmarking services like StumbleUpon, Digg and Twitter can help you generate powerful, natural linkbacks. Log on and “favorite” your blog, and be sure to encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.

5: Install SEO plugins for your blog

Most blogs will come with a SEO pack available, and Wordpress has a free one for download if you’re having trouble optimizing your blog. Search engine optimization is absolutely essential for generating blog traffic, and without putting time and thought into your SEO efforts it’s easy to lose what could be a great opportunity. Even though we’re focusing on short-term SEO speed, it’s good to think long-term right from the beginning. Download and use the All-in-one-Seo-Pack plugin.

Check out my video to optimize your All-in-one-SEO-pack plugin set up: How to use the All in one SEO WordPress plugin to your advantage

Five ideas that take hardly any time will ensure you get you new blog seen and indexed by Google within 24 hours.

Friday, February 25, 2011

MagnetStreet: From real estate to bridal customers, lessons learned . . .

[Cross-posted from the Google Retail Advertising Blog]
In 2005, MagnetStreet, a custom magnet developer, was 80% reliant on its Real Estate customers. Although Real Estate customers kept MagnetStreet employees busy from August to November, the rest of the year was stagnant. In order to resolve this staffing and seasonal production slump, to acquire new customers and to expand its product portfolio, MagnetStreet looked to Google and its suite of free tools.

MagnetStreet realized they were not utilizing an SEO or SEM strategy. So they leveraged Google's Keyword Tool to learn more about terms such as “magnets” and “promotional magnets", and how they could expand their keyword selection to be in front of actively searching magnet customers.

David Baird, Vice President of Marketing at MagnetStreet, was surprised to find out that “save-the-date wedding magnets” stood out as keywords of rapidly growing interest. This new product keyword trend spurred an information-gathering project that started with understanding what a save-the-date magnet was, and ended with a solution regarding how to enter the wedding market.

MagnetStreet was also pleased to learn, via Google Trends and Insights for Search, that this new venture revealed an interest peak in January, with a more consistent level of interest throughout the year than the real estate market. These Google tools also offered geographic data that gave MagnetStreet the opportunity to intelligently market to the local areas that showed the most interest in their product suite.

MagnetStreet continues to use Insights for Search to help them expand into new markets, discover additional product offerings, and to inform design, staffing and media decisions. They have expanded into selling wedding invitations and programs in addition to various occasion invitations and announcements.

When looking back at his business’ success, Mr. Baird credits Google’s tools with helping him to make smarter, low risk decisions and giving him the opportunity as a small business owner to compete with Big Box players.

Click here for more information on this success story.

Posted by Keri Overman, The Google Retail Team

Going Google across the 50 States: Kentucky window manufacturer leaves desktop software behind

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from Steve Stepp, IT Manager of Sun Windows, a manufacturer of high quality windows and doors serving Owensboro, Kentucky and surrounding areas. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google cloud calculator.

Sun Windows is a family-owned business that dates back to the 1930’s when V. E. Anderson, Sr. invented and built storm windows in his garage at night and sold them door-to-door during the day. Today, Sun Windows is run by his grandson, Frank Anderson, and offers an expansive product line of high quality, energy efficient windows and doors with a focus on customer service.

The window and door business is seasonal, following trends in new construction and peaking in summer. At the height, we have around 120 employees made up of about 80% production workers who manufacture the products, and 20% office staff and outside sales who use email and other office software regularly. Keeping everyone connected and communicating effectively is one of my main goals.

We originally used a local provider for web hosting and email and there was a lot of downtime when email just wouldn’t work. I’d get phone calls from individuals throughout the company and would have to contact our email provider about once a month. Adding to this, we received significantly more spam than good email. Sun Windows even got flagged as a spammer because all our emails went through the local provider. We’re a small company and everyone wears a lot of hats so these issues took up a lot of time I didn’t really have.

I used Gmail at home and had even set up Google Apps for my personal website so I knew about its robust spam-filtering and other great features. Given all the email problems we were having at work, I decided to switch the company to Google Apps and have never looked back. The amount of spam in our inboxes is almost nothing and having web-based email accessible from any Internet connection is a big plus for everyone. At the time of the switch, I hadn’t even considered the added benefits of other products like Google Calendar and Google Docs.

After setting up email, we quickly created shared calendars to keep various departments organized, track company events and schedule customer visits for the field service unit. Then we slowly started to use Google Docs. Most people in the company were familiar and comfortable with desktop office software but once they realized the power of collaborating and sharing documents online, almost everyone switched to Google Docs. Production line supervisors use a spreadsheet to track labor hours at the plant, and sales reps create and share customer presentations. We’ve also moved existing documents over to Google Docs which we use to store files of any type.

Now when new computers are purchased, I don’t renew our Microsoft® Office licences. The company saves money but even more importantly, I save time in administering licenses, installations, security patches, and training. Google Apps has been one of the smartest decisions I’ve made for Sun Windows and I continually look for new ways to take advantage of it to improve how we work.

Posted by Steve Stepp, IT Manager, Sun Windows

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Guest Posting over at Infarrantly Creative

Hey Guys! Just wanted to give you a heads up. I am guest posting over at Infarrantly Creative today. I made a knock off version of Ballard Designs' Pruvost Plaque.

To see how I made it, head on over and check it out!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My New Addition

 Is this not the sweetest face you have ever laid eyes on? This is Scosche(pronounced sk-oe-sh) The hubs surprised me with this little bundle:o)
  And when I say little, I mean little:o) 
The hubs actually named him Scosche because he is so tiny.
He is four months old, and we are now in the throws of house training. Yuck! We are making sloooow progress.
 He is a little snuggle bunny, and I love it:o)
 Scosche is a BOY, and this will be the only time you see this sweet face with a bow on top of it. He looks a little mad doesn't he?:o)
He was actually squinting, but we'll pretend that he's scowling;o)
This was my BEAUTIFUL and DELICIOUS birthday cake. It's a Vera Bradley Cake. 
When we got home from picking Scosche up, there were a lot of people at my house waiting to surprise me:o)
 It was a GREAT birthday. The hubs did a wonderful job of planning the entire day. Turning 30 couldn't have been any better!

Tips and tricks for Travel advertisers

In 2010 people researched their travel options more frequently, for longer periods of time, and on various online channels. This is good news for Travel marketers because you now have more opportunities to reach customers -- and many of these channels can help you more effectively promote your businesses. With marketing tools like YouTube and display ads, Travel marketers can actually show images of their destinations. For example, Hawaii’s official travel site showcases amazing beaches and palm trees on their YouTube channel. Don’t these videos make you want to take a trip to Hawaii?

We saw travel bookings pick up in 2010 and we’re expecting this trend to continue into 2011. This is the year of reaching your customers at every phase of the research process -- and compelling them with visual imagery. We’ve included our recommendations for doing so below:

Seasonality: Spring break travelers don’t start researching their options in March. Our research shows that the average traveler spends almost two months researching travel options before booking. As such, we suggest using Insights for Search to see when certain destinations are on the rise -- you can plan your search ad campaigns based on this seasonality. For example, searches for ‘hotel cancun’ actually peak in January.

Search: Our research shows that 78% of travel transactions involve research on a search engine.* In fact, the average traveler searches eight times prior to booking. In addition to timing your search ads campaigns with proper search seasonality, we recommend taking advantage of new search formats. For example, if you are advertising a destination, you can create a free listing on Google Places and include detailed information and pictures.

Content pages: Rather than consulting travel agents, consumers are turning to online reviews, videos, and blogs. This means consumers are more engaged and involved in the research process -- it also means you have more opportunities to reach them as they research their options. The average hotel booker, for example, conducts 20 research sessions on multiple sites prior to transacting.* What’s more, ad inventory on these sites is generally less competitive than search: The median Travel advertiser’s cost per acquisition on the Google Display Network is 2% less than that on search.** You can even measure the impact of your display ads using Campaign Insights.

YouTube: 81% of all travelers who watch online videos do so on YouTube. And the number of travel-related online videos has increased dramatically since 2009. Video is a compelling way to showcase travel destinations -- If you are marketing a destination site or a hotel, we recommend shooting video footage (it doesn’t have to be high-budget or flashy) and uploading this content to a YouTube Brand Channel and promoting this channel on your website. From there, you can explore advertising options to drive additional traffic to your channel.

Mobile: Personal travelers more than doubled their usage of mobile devices for travel purposes in the past year.** Research also shows that among travel consumers, purchase intent is five times higher on mobile ads than on desktop ads.*** New mobile ad technologies present a fantastic opportunity to reach these customers when they’re ready to actually take the leap of booking their trip. In particular -- and for Travel advertisers who do not have mobile websites -- we recommend enabling the Click to Call option, which allows customers to call you directly from their mobile phones.

The possibilities are endless -- and if you reach a customer at various phases throughout the research process with compelling messages and images, chances are he or she will be more likely to book with you. Have fun this year!

*Data from a ComScore Behavioral study.

** Data from an Internal Google study.

*** Data from an InsightExpress study.

Posted by: Sarah Travis, Team Manager, AdWords Travel Team

Monday, February 21, 2011

And the Winners Are....

I am officially 30, and I am already feeling the pains of old age;o) 
Anyway, you don't care about my just wanna know who won, right?
The winners were randomly selected using

And the winners are....
The gift card goes to:
The Loops

The Shampoo Gift Set goes to:

And the Books of the Bible goes to:

Grateful Gramma 

Thank you all for your participation! I'll be in touch with the winners.
I plan on having a great day today...
as long as the gravel in my kidney decides to stay put:o)
Have a great Presidents' Day!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Expert from Blogs

How can you use blogs and social media to become a recognized expert? As recently as a few years ago, college graduates entering the job market were almost exclusively reliant upon other people to help them become established experts in a given field.  Someone who wanted to be an authority in the political campaigning business, for example, needed to first get hired by a political consulting company in order to gain the experience and credibility to market himself as an authentic expert.

The road to becoming a recognized authority in a field has changed greatly since the advent of blogging and social media.  With little more than a working knowledge of a specific niche, a blogger can transform himself or herself into an industry expert by publishing helpful content, building social media communities, and practicing some search engine optimization fundamentals.

Here are five helpful tips and tutorials for using blogging and social media to make yourself a recognized expert in your chosen field, regardless of your age or experience level.  Just remember: building a successful and widely-followed online presence can take some time, so make sure you practice patience and consistency on your way to becoming an authority in your niche.

1. Choose as Specific a Niche as Possible, and Put the Keywords in Your Domain

The more specific you can be in the field you choose, the faster you’ll find success and attention from your colleagues.  If you want to become a recognized expert in the niche of relationship advice, for example, drill down further and get more specific: concentrate on relationship advice for women, and you’ll be able to attract a super-targeted audience that is more likely to respond favorably to your content and take you up on calls to action.

Once you’ve settled on a specific niche, purchase a domain name that includes some of your targeted keywords.  For the above example, getting a domain that includes the keywords “women,” “relationships” and “advice” would be ideal.  Including targeted keywords in your domain name is one of the best ways to get your site to rank highly in the search engines for relevant phrases . . .which will send you loads of web surfers who are interested in what you have to say.

2. Start Publishing Original Content Immediately, and Write Every Day

The faster you start publishing original content on your new blog, the faster it will get indexed in the search engines and start bringing you traffic and attention.  While it’s good to take some time to research and polish your articles, make sure that you are publishing something new several times a week.  Remember: the stuff that you publish today might not be read by anyone immediately, but it will get a lot of attention a year from now when it has lots of authority in the search engines.

Don’t worry about writing extremely lengthy posts on your blog unless the topic makes it completely necessary.  Blog posts of  250 to 500 words are just fine for helping you rank for targeted keywords in the search engine and attracting lots of new visitors.

3. Set Up Social Media Channels and Make Them Easy to Follow

Thanks to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can connect with other people in your field and start driving traffic to your blog much faster than you could before.  When setting up your new site’s Facebook page, Twitter account  and LinkedIn group, remember to use your most important targeted keywords in the titles and URLs, and provide detailed descriptions and links back to your blog.

Building communities and followers on social media sites can take time, so be patient as your audience grows.  Be proactive in searching out to other people in your niche and inviting them to join your social media channels, and make sure that your blog includes very visible icons that link to your profiles.

4. Research Relevant Keyword Phrases and Write Posts on Those Topics

A lot of new blogger's struggle with ideas for new posts, but there’s no reason why you should ever wonder what to write about next.  To become a recognized expert in your field, you need to write about what people are searching for online – and that’s easy to figure out.

Helpful resources like the Google Keyword Tool allow you to enter a keyword phrase and see dozens of related phrases that web surfers are using to search for information in your niche.  Soon after kicking off your blog, make a long list of the most searched-for phrases in your vertical and save them on your desktop.  Whenever you run out of posting ideas, grab one of the phrases off your keyword list and write a post about it.

5. Be Aggressive in Building Relationships and Relevant Links

Even if you’re optimizing your new blog for targeted keyword phrases and writing posts about topics that people are searching for online, you won’t get any competitive rankings in the search engines unless you get some links pointing back at your website. The best way to do this is naturally, by building relationships with other industry blogger's and webmasters who will want to share your best content with their readers.

In addition to building links through professional relationships, there are other ways to increase your inbound link count: website directories, article marketing, reciprocal links and guest blog posts can all produce valuable links if done correctly.

Just remember that relevancy is key to the value of a link, and make sure that the pages linking back to your site are at least  loosely related to your topic.

Going Google across the 50 States: Tennessee media firm fights back on spam

[Cross-posted from the Google Enterprise Blog]

Editor's note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from Rex Hammock, Founder and CEO of Hammock, a content and custom media firm in Nashville, Tennessee. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google cloud calculator.

At Hammock, we develop and manage a wide array of content, helping our clients engage with customers to increase loyalty and extend the length of the relationship. Since I founded the company 20 years ago, our work has expanded from print newsletters and magazines to include a range of digital media, such as websites, blogs, event media, and more. We’ve grown to 20 full-time employees and have developed a network of over 1,000 freelancers across the country. Technology has played an important role in what we offer our clients and how we work together as a team.

A couple of years ago, when our Technology Director left the company, we decided to experiment with using an outsourced solution for networking and systems so our internal technology staff could focus on development and creative duties. The experience gave us confidence to outsource other parts of IT so when the email server became unreliable and couldn't filter spam as well as our personal Gmail accounts, we started researching alternative solutions. With the help of an external IT service, we unplugged the email server and switched to Google Apps.

Fixing our spam problem – which Gmail has done amazingly well – would have been enough to make the switch to Google Apps worth it. We did a cost analysis per employee, however, and keeping servers in-house for just email would have been more expensive than the entire suite of Google Apps. Plus, adding calendars, contacts and documents, all of which sync nicely to our smart phones, tablets, and home computers has changed the way we work for the better.

Collaborating across our expansive network of contributors is critical and most of us use Google Docs for sharing and updating documents. Spreadsheets have also helped us manage our own newsletter subscriptions – a Google form is embedded on our website to collect information from individuals who want to receive our newsletter. Information from the form is imported directly into a Google spreadsheet that we access internally.

The ecosystem around Google Apps is helping us further meet our unique needs. We use Manymoon, a 3rd party application from the Google Apps Marketplace, to help with project management and it has resolved a number of workflow issues. Manymoon is a little like an in-house social network where, instead of setting up pages related to your favorite club or cause, you set up project pages where you can consolidate information and track progress. Because Manymoon integrates directly with Google Apps, it’s easy to add Google documents, calendar entries and emails related to a project.

For some people in the company, there was a reluctance to give up traditional desktop applications. However, it has been easy for me to evangelize Google Apps internally and I think we'd all agree now that the switch has had a positive impact on how we work.

Posted by Rex Hammock, Founder and CEO, Hammock

Giveaway #3..Little bit of the Inspired Word

The Bible is our go-to for anything and everything that we need. We are a family that is focused on the Lord. He has given us so many wonderful blessings, and we praise Him everyday, thanking Him for His goodness. Over the past year, I have really consumed myself in the Scriptures, and have enjoyed my renewed love for God. The pages of my Bible are no longer stiff, but are soft from being used so often. That's a really good feeling, isn't it? Soft Bible pages.
The hubs really enjoys reading "The Books of the Bible" version of the Word. It has no chapters or verses. It's reading the Bible as it was letter form. It seems to take the pressure off of running to the Bible for answers and allows you to just read and feel inspired.

 The Books of the Bible is a presentation of Today's New International Version in case you  were wondering.
It's easier to read that some of the older versions of the Bible. 

So here's how to enter:
You have to be a follower of Fussy Monkey Business....and that's it!
You can enter as many times as your little pea-pickin' heart desires:o)
I hope that you all have a wonderful Friday. We have a play date today and we are really looking forward to it!!
Make sure to enter the other giveaways I have going on right now.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Baby Burp Cloth Tutorial

Today's post is a little later than anticipated. I have had a busy day today, but a good day. Hair business is picking up, so crafting is coming in spurts right now:o)
Yesterday I went to Target to get S.R. a new bike helmet. It HAD to be a Disney Princess helmet. That girl is all about some princesses. Everything is "princess." However, she is still my little tomboy. She will roll around in the dirt and muck with the best of them:o) I wouldn't have it any other way;o)
Anyway, I decided to walk the ENTIRE store just to make sure I didn't miss any good sales. I ran across this stack of towels. They were $6 for the whole set. I thought these would be PERFECT to make burp cloths out of. They are lint free and super soft. 
We have like a bajillion babies being born at the church where we attend...really, a bajillion. It seems that there is a baby shower every week...think I'm, no..really.
So I am always in need of a baby gift, and I am all about quick and easy. I am sure that you are as well, so here is a quick tute on how to make your own burp cloths.
 These towels measure 16"x18.5" so I can get 2 burp cloths out of one towel..score! That means 20 burp cloths!!
These two fabrics were left over from some other projects. It's always a good idea to have scrap fabric lying around. Ya never know when you may need to make a burp cloth:o)
 I started by cutting the towel in half lengthwise.
 Each one is 8" in width.
 I then cut the scrap fabric to the same size as the towels.
 I wanted to personalize them, so I monogrammed the baby's name on each one. I then stacked the printed fabric on top of the towel. Next I grabbed some wide double fold bias tape. This stuff saves so much time. I always have several packages on hand.
See that nasty cut on my hand...told you the hair business was good. Hazard of the trade:o}
 Sandwich the two fabrics betweens the tape.
 And guys know that I hate to pin, but in this case, it makes things go a lot smoother. Especially around the corners.
 Stitch all the way around the inside edge of the tape, and make sure to catch the tape on the backside as well.
Didn't this turn out cute?
 I monogrammed one of the towels, but I think it looks a little messy, so from now on, I'll just do it on the printed fabric:o)
Easy peasy right?
So if you go to church with me and you are expecting a baby, you know what you will be getting from me in the near future;o) I've got plenty of towels to go around!!
If you haven't entered the giveaways yet, you have a few more days.
Hoping to get one more giveaway up sometime tomorrow. Go
HERE & HERE to enter.
Oh yeah, if you haven't noticed by now, you can subscribe to get emails of post updates. Just look on the left side bar.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Advertisers save time and uncover new keyword ideas with the Opportunities tab

[Cross-posted from Inside AdWords Blog.]

If you're a small business, time can often feel like your most valuable and most constrained resource. While youíre doing everything you need to do to keep your business up and running, important tasks like AdWords account optimization can fall to the bottom of your to-do list.

Knowing that time is a key factor for all AdWords advertisers, we created the Opportunities tab to provide you with automated and customized keyword, bid, and budget ideas. Here are two stories of advertisers who used the Opportunities tab to find new keywords quickly and easily.

Fitness Singles
Chris Mattioli founded Fitness Singles, a fitness-focused online dating website in 2003. With Chrisís dedication and some help from AdWords, he has grown his business to over one million global members today.

Like many small business owners, Chris wanted to improve his AdWords performance, but didn't have a lot of time to work on his account. When Chris discovered the Opportunities tab, he knew it was a good fit for Fitness Singles, since it allowed him to uncover new keywords quickly and easily.

Chris scans the keyword ideas in the Opportunities tab regularly to find terms related to fitness, online dating, and singles. He's found many ideas that are similar to the keyword combinations and variations that are in his account, but that he may have accidentally overlooked. He's also found completely new relevant keywords to include in his campaigns. In one instance, Chris saw terms such as promotion code and coupon among his keyword ideas. From there, he decided to add a number of discount-based keywords to his campaigns. Chris says, "The Opportunities tab can often find new keywords that are relevant our ads and that don't currently exist in our account. It also helps you identify new keyword areas--even when you thought you had it covered."
Ryan Bailey, President and Co-Founder of, describes his company as a full-service agency rather than a travel directory. "We have a rapidly growing client base of two thousand-plus and a business model that gives our clients turnkey marketing and advertising support."
While part of a large company,, runs as a small business and keeps its operations small and scrappy.

On the site, you can 'book your spot' to save your travel information, plan your next trip, and more
click for full size image

Like Fitness Singles, uses the Opportunities tab to find new keyword ideas and save time. Ryan says, "The Opportunities tab provides high-quality keywords--and a lot of ideas we wouldnít have thought of otherwise, which is the whole point! It's great that you can easily scan through the ideas and find hidden jewels and then apply those insights for both keyword selection and site optimization."

Mollie Moore, the company's interactive marketing manager, also used the Opportunities tab to help with a website redesign project in March 2010. The previous version of had dozens of links at the bottom of the page, and Moore was tasked with de-cluttering and limiting these links to the most important content. Looking at the number of keyword ideas associated with a particular theme as well as the traffic estimates for each keyword idea, the team learned that ìthe most effective content sections were top destinations, popular resort types, popular trips, and so forth," says Moore. "We also used ideas from the Opportunities tab to build out our meta titles, descriptions and keywords embedded in the back-end of every page on the site. Using the Opportunities tab, we can reduce guesswork in determining the most effective content."

To learn more about Fitness Singles and and how they use the Opportunities tab, read their full case studies in the AdWords Help Center. You can learn more about the Opportunities tab in the AdWords Help Center or our YouTube video series.

I'm Turning 30 Giveaway Number 2!

I have decided the theme for these giveaways will have a little something to do with me or what I enjoy.
My main occupation is a stay at home mom, but my side job is being a hair stylist. I have a little "shop" set up in the nook of my laundry room. It's the perfect spot to take care of my clients...
..much better than having them flip their head upside down in a kitchen sink;o) 
So for today's giveaway, I have a Redken gift set. This set includes shampoo, conditioner, and a moisturizing mask.
$30 value....30 seems to be popping up everywhere!!lol
Here's how to enter:
1st Entry: Be(come) a follower of Fussy Monkey Business
2nd Entry: Tell me what your favorite service at the hair salon is

That's it:o)

Make sure to enter yesterday's $35 Gift Card giveaway
The winners of all the giveaways will be announced Monday, February 21, 2011....My 30th birthday.

all giveaways are opened to U.S. and Canadian readers only. Giveaways will close Sunday February 20th 9 p.m. CST.

Tomorrow I will share some baby gifts I am making for a mommy-to-be at church.
Happy Wednesday to you all!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Austin Chamber of Commerce Welcomes Google to Central Texas

(Cross-posted from the Hotpot Blog.)

Editor’s Note: Last week we kicked off a local marketing campaign for Google Places in Austin, Texas, to spread the word about all the Google tools business owners can use to connect with customers. Here, our new friend Rebecca with the Austin Chamber of Commerce talks about why Google’s a great fit for the Austin small business community.

Several weeks ago Google called us. They were looking to work with the Austin Chamber of Commerce and Austin’s local business community for a new marketing campaign about Google Places. Google’s been taking a new approach to marketing Google Places, their business listings, and a recently launched tool to help connect customers to those businesses, Hotpot. We were thrilled to hear about their interest in Austin.

Why Austin? Our national recognition as a tech-savvy hub for business development means the city is a natural fit for Google’s initiatives. The Google Places Business Kits will be introduced to the Austin Chamber’s network of business leaders in central Texas. These kits include a sampler of marketing materials that can help businesses get more exposure, get them reviewed online, and get more customers through their door.

Business owners also will have the ability to connect with potential customers through Google’s new rating tool, Hotpot. With Hotpot, people now have the ability to rate and review local businesses and share those opinions with friends. When that person uses Google to search for local places, their search results become more personalized based on their tastes and those of their friends.

At the Chamber, we’re always working to understand the small business climate as we develop our benefit programs. One trend we’ve noticed is the convergence of social and mobile computing, along with the growth of location technology and services. Google Places and Hotpot act as a great set of tools business owners can use to take advantage of these trends.

As small business owners look to expand their market reach, online promotion plays an increasingly important role in both attracting new businesses and retaining loyal customers. Easy access to accurate information online and helpful reviews work toward business stability. Google’s partnership with businesses in our city will support and enhance the opportunities for raising a branded level of awareness to the consumer. Certainly, it will be exciting to witness what happens in the marketplace when Google, with its global reach, meets Austin, whose reputation for innovation and creativity is well-earned. We at the Chamber are forecasting exciting new developments ahead in 2011.

Posted by Rebecca Martin, SVP, Austin Chamber of Commerce

I'm Turning 30....Giveaway Time!!!!

Yep, you read the title correctly...I'm turning 30.
(this baby isn't me...I was born AFTER color photos were invented!!)

I received this lovely birthday card from my in-laws yesterday.
The White paper with the smiley face sticker is the ENVELOPE...Crystal "30" W.....My father-in-law is nuts! He will pay dearly;o) 
 This is the inside of the card....can you tell that my father-in-law is a math nerd?
Oh yes, the wheels of revenge are turning:o)
My birthday is next Monday. So I have 6 more days to hold onto my 20's.
To celebrate these 6 days, I will have a few giveaways...not sure how many, so I guess you will have to check back here daily to see what's going on:o)

Today's giveaway:
A $35 Gift Card
 Here's how to enter:
1. Become a Follower and leave a comment, or tell me that you are a follower
2.  Invite your friends on Facebook, leave a comment
3.Most memorable birthday, leave a comment
You can enter until Sunday, February 20th 9 p.m. CST
The winner will be announced on Monday, February birthday;o)
This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian readers only...sorry:o/

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope that you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day! Ours started bright and early this morning:o) I wanted to share the kids' Valentine's cards that they will be handing out.
These are for E to pass out today to all of his little buddies....all 22 of them. 
 The inspiration came from Better Homes and Gardens. These took FO-EVUH  to make, but they are super cute. Who cares that as soon as the little ones take hold of this that they will be ripping this sweet little robot to bits....not me:o} 
 This is the back. I made E write his name on EVERY single one of these cards. He was very unhappy about it. Especially since it was 22 times, but he got it done....btw, I erased the rest of his name for privacy purposes;o)
 Since S.R. isn't in preschool yet, I let her hand out goodies to her buds at church yesterday. She felt so big:o)
For this free printable, head over to Skip to my Lou.
 This is for E's teacher. The inspiration for this box came from eighteen25.
 A look inside
Hopefully you haven't waited until the last mili-second to get your V-day cards in order:o)
Have a good one!!
Make sure to head over to Sew Dang Cute to cast your vote for the Champion of Crafting with the Stars. They brought their A game, ya'll!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rules for Netropreneurs Newbie

Rules for netropreneurs newbie,
It's a great time to be an netropreneur-in the last decade, technology has leveled the playing field and propelled an internet and entrepreneurial revolution. As an netropreneur, you now have more access to information that enables you to make more intelligent choices more quickly. You have an advantage over big businesses in that you're lighter, more flexible, and faster on your feet. You can target new markets more quickly, and you can turn on a dime.

But being a successful entrepreneur requires that you look at the big picture and follow a plan through from beginning to end. Editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine gives some tutorial guidelines that can help you when beginning your own enterprise:

1.Don't Quit Your Daily Job.

Consider starting your business part-time, especially if it's online, while you're working and have a steady income. It usually takes six months to a year to get a business going and you don't want your ability to make your house payment to hinge upon your company being an overnight success. Start with what you can manage, financially and time-wise, and scale up as your business grows.

2.Find Your Niche.

The days of general stores are over. Particularly online, consumers are looking for stores that specialize. You have to find a need-something a specific group of people want, but can't get at the big chain stores-and fill it. A success marketer advises, "You can't compete with the big guys, so you have to find where the big guys aren't and go into your niches."

3.Have an Online Presence.

Even if you're not planning to start an online retail business, consider that the internet can still play a valuable role in your company. Having an online presence eliminates the limitations of physical location and broadens your customer base by, literally, millions. It's also a great tool for promoting yourself and letting people, even in your own area, know that you're there, and what you're doing.

4.Refuse to Quit.

Successful entrepreneurship requires creativity, energy, and a drive to keep going when you fail. Few people realize that before Bill Gates created the extremely successful Microsoft 3.0, he created a Microsoft 1.0 and 2.0, both of which flopped-but he kept at it. And that determination and refusal to give up is what will separate successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful ones. "Arm yourself with optimism to get beyond the 'No' or the trouble. There's nothing

wrong in failure-just don't repeat the same mistake!"

5. Do what you wanna do!

As successful marketers they always said,"experts comes from guilty and Big opportunity comes from a penny" don't let the charges stopping you, you must buy your success even it equals with a single penny or a single dimes. More you spend ,the more you know how to success along the way...

Some Valentines Ideas

Some exciting new for today. I have been featured at Mod Podge Rocks.  Amy is featuring my Damask Drawer Set that I entered in Crafting with the Stars. Pretty cool, huh?

I thought so;o)

Anyway, this is the first year that we have had a Valentine's Day party to participate in. I have been scouring the net looking for cute ideas for E to give as V-day gifts. Here are some of my favorites:

Butterfly Valentine from Skip to My Lou
 Eye Chart Heart Printable from She Wears Flowers
 Teacher Goody Box from eighteen25
 Beary Valentines from Just Deanna
 Shovel Valentines from Just Deanna
Now it's time to get my "Valentine craft on" with the help of my little man.
Hope you all have a great weekend!!