Melissa Ibarra

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    • Member Type(s): Expert
      Communications Professional
      Media - Freelancer
      Media - Broadcast
      Media - Print Journalist
      Media - Student Journalist
      Media - Web-only/Blogger
      Media - Other
      Other
    • Title:Online Community Services Specialist
    • Organization:ProfNet
    • Area of Expertise:Social Media, News Reporting
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    The Blog Blog: September 2015 Blogger of the Month

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015, 1:50 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)



    Every month, I highlight one successful blogger on The Blog Blog. By “successful,” I mean someone who has been blogging for at least three years and has seen their audience engagement grow significantly. For this month’s feature, we have Preeti Moberg.

    We conducted the following interview with Moberg:

    1) What is your name and title?

    My name is Preeti Moberg. I am the founder of Blue Mango Weddings.

    2) What is the name and URL of your blog?

    The Big Fat Indian Wedding: thebigfatindianwedding.com
    The Big Fat Jewish Wedding: thebigfatjewishwedding.com

    3) Which audience does your blog cater to?

    Each blog provides wedding inspiration catered to couples in niche markets -- South Asian weddings and Jewish weddings, respectively.

    4) What inspired you to create your blog?

    When I was planning my own Indian wedding, I was shocked by the lack of resources online to help me along the way. After a bit of research, I eventually learned that there’s just not much information for ethnic niche couples in the mainstream wedding blog market. With this in mind, I started writing about my personal experience of planning my own Indian wedding. Other South Asian couples found it to be a useful resource and we started seeing growth! Today, we are seed funded by an incubation company.

    5) What makes your blog so unique?

    While we do focus on wedding inspiration for our niche markets, we feature celebrations from all budgets, styles, and locations. We want every couple in our niche markets to visit our blog and find something relatable that they will save for later.

    6) What is your ultimate blogging goal?

    Our eternal blogging goal is to be the go-to blog for our niche markets! We aim to be a one-stop resource for all things wedding for South Asian couples and Jewish couples.

    7) If you could choose one piece of advice to give to new bloggers, what would it be? Have you made any mistakes and learned from them?

    Who hasn’t made mistakes? I, for one, have made tons of mistakes! What I’ve learned from the mistakes in my past is to always keep moving forward and to never stop believing in myself. You would be surprised by the power of a positive attitude.

    8) How successful has your blog grown to become versus when you first started it? If you could provide simple metrics, that would be great.

    The growth of our blog has been phenomenal. Initially, we were the “newbie” on the wedding blog scene, but over the years, we have grown to become the second largest wedding blog in the South Asian wedding market.

    9) How does blogging benefit you?

    Not only does blogging provide a wonderful outlet for creativity, but it has also helped me build meaningful relationships within the wedding community. Through my blogging experience, I’ve been able to increase the amount of conferences and speaking engagements in which I am a part of.

    10) Any other interesting stories or information you would like to provide?

    It all goes back to our wedding. My husband is Swedish and I’m Indian, which means when it came to planning our wedding, we had no idea what to do! At the time, we were trying to plan a wedding in India from our home in Sweden. I don’t think I need to tell you how crazy and confusing that could get. Growing up, I was raised between two religions and cultures, while my husband was raised Lutheran. We truly ended up with our “Big Fat Indian Wedding,” with sixty friends flying in from all over the world for our seven-day wedding extravaganza!
    I’d have to say that it was this whirlwind wedding experience that drove us to develop and grow the wedding blog.

    11) Which blogging platform did you use in the beginning, and what are you using now (e.g., WordPress, Tumblr, etc.)? If applicable: Why did you switch platforms?

    Initially, I started out using Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr as a way to reach couples. At the time, those were the social media sites to be a part of. As time went on, it became clear that Pinterest and Instagram where the places to be, so today our focuses are on Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr.

    12) Do you make a living off your blog, or is it just a hobby?

    I make a living from my blog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t cherish it as much as a hobby.

    13) How do you feel about paid advertisements?

    Blogs are businesses; they are publishers. There shouldn't be problems with paid advertisements – it’s a win-win situation.

    It’s great to find inspiration through the success of others. If you feel you make a great candidate for next month’s “Blogger of the Month,” please feel free to email me at melissa.ibarra@prnewswire.com.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    The Blog Blog: How to Become an 'Infopreneur'

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 2:18 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)




    “How to Become an Infopreneur” -- that’s the topic we tackled during yesterday’s #ConnectChat featuring Andreea Ayers, CEO and founder of Launch Grow Joy. Writers are constantly looking to earn extra money on the side, or even make a living working from home full-time. One way is through freelance writing for various publications. However, another way to generate income is by using one’s expertise to become an “infopreneur.”

    An infopreneur is someone whose business is gathering and selling electronic information (“information” + “entrepreneur” = “infopreneur”). Some infopreneurs even eventually quit their day jobs to take on this self-managed role writing blog posts, consulting with clients, creating online courses, publishing books, speaking at events, etc.

    In case you missed our chat yesterday, here is a recap:

    First of all, how did you go about deciding what type of information you wanted to sell?

    It was something other entrepreneurs were asking me for. I had a successful t-shirt business and others wanted to know more. People were emailing me asking how to market their t-shirt business, so I created online courses around that. I basically listened to what my audience was asking for and created that. 

    What are some things you should keep in mind while planning an online course? #ConnectChat

    Some things to keep in mind are:

    • how long your course will be (how many modules/lessons)
    • how much time you have to create it
    • how you will deliver it
    • what support *you* will personally offer to members
    • how you will market it
    • who your ideal student is
    • how you will deliver your course (live video/lessons vs. pre-recorded)
    • what type of worksheets to offer along with the content
    • whether you will be on video or just your voice with slides
    • how long your course will run
    • how much to charge
    • if admission to your course is ongoing, or only for a limited time

    Have you had any prior teaching experience? And is this type of experience necessary?

    I didn't have any teaching experience before creating this course, and I don't think it's necessary to have experience. But it does help if you have a list of questions that you go into the course with -- if you already have an audience. If not, think about the questions you would want answers to if you were to purchase a course around that topic.

    What type of programs/services/apps did you use to create your online course?

    • Wishlist Member to password protect the course materials
    • Camtasia for Mac to record my screen and voice at the same time
    • Infusionsoft for my shopping cart and to charge members for admissions to the course
    • social media and my own email list to promote and market the course
    • affiliate marketing partners to help me spread the word about the course
    • OptimizePress to design my own sales pages when I first started (now I use a designer to design my sales page and members area, but that is not necessary to do when you first start).

    How do you know how much to charge people for your services as an infopreneur?

    It really depends on:

    • how long your course is
    • how much you will be involved in supporting members
    • how long your videos are
    • how many lessons you have
    • if it's a text-only course, or if it's a live course

    For example, I have charged anywhere from $47 to $1997 for my courses. For $97 my members got 5-6 video lessons and no personal support from me. For $1997, my course had 30+ videos, over 20 worksheets, support from me through our closed Facebook group. The more content and personal support your course has, the more you can charge.

    What do you think is key to getting an audience to trust your advice?

    I think the best thing is to establish trust *before* you launch your course by providing free and relevant content.

    After your clients make a payment, which platform do you use to share your course videos -- live and pre-recorded?

    I use Wishlist Member to deliver the content, along with hosting the videos on Amazon S3. Some other platforms are Memberium, OptimizePress, MemberMouse, Wistia or Vimeo. I've also seen other infopreneurs use Facebook video and groups to deliver their course content. They were closed Facebook groups.

    Other than through online courses and books, how else can an infopreneur generate revenue?

    You can also generate revenue through:

    • speaking opportunities
    • live events that you organize
    • promoting other infopreneurs' courses as an affiliate (where you receive a percent of sales)
    • having a blog or a podcast and getting sponsors or advertisers
    • creating a membership site and providing weekly or monthly live Q&A or trainings

    How do you go about charging people you know or your friends?

    Great question! You can either offer them a special price in exchange for their feedback on your course, or you can let them know that you put in X # of hours in your course and you have to charge everyone the same price. But interestingly, most people who end up paying for your course will not be people you know. I am a huge fan of charging what you are worth *regardless* of who is actually purchasing your programs. 

    Which do you prefer: live web courses or pre-recorded videos, and why? Also, which has proven more success?

    I prefer pre-recorded videos because you can share more info that way and your members can watch it in their own time. Also, I think you can also offer a live Q&A with your pre-recorded courses to answer any questions your members have. With a live Web course, people might feel like they are missing out if they can't attend live.

    With pre-recorded videos, you can also break things down into bite-sized videos (10-15 min) to make it less overwhelming for your members. But with live Web courses, you have to cram a lot of info into one or two hours and it can get overwhelming for people. I think that you can also charge more for a pre-recorded course, because you can share a lot more info. 

    What is the *biggest* problem you’ve ever run into as an infopreneur?

    The biggest problem I've ran into is not knowing whether your course is going to sell as you expected. In one word, the "fear" that holds you back when you think "what if no one signs up or buys this?" But if you believe in yourself and if you create something that fills a need *and* if you market it well, people will buy. Also, the technology is always changing, so keeping up with tools/apps is important too.

    And for our last #ConnectChat question: If you could offer one more *major* piece of advice to aspiring infopreneurs, what would it be?

    Your course will not be *perfect* the first time, so don't wait to launch it until you think it's perfect. Launch it anyway and through feedback from your students/members you can improve it as you go along.


    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    Upcoming Twitter Chat: “What Makes a Successful Blogger?"

    Thursday, June 18, 2015, 12:30 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    “What makes a successful blogger?”

    That’s the topic we’ll tackle for our next Twitter chat (#ConnectChat), featuring Bryce Gruber, co-founder of TheLuxurySpot.com.

    Many bloggers dream of seeing their Web stats skyrocket out of nowhere, but although every blogger wants this, most have no idea how to achieve this. Is this type of success something one must work hard towards, or is it merely a string of good luck? (Perhaps a combination of both?) Maybe there is no exact science behind a successful blog, but there sure are ways to boost one's chances of success.

    Writing is only half the battle of a blogger -- marketing is the other half. How has Gruber marketed herself to reach where she is today? From working for a beauty company to now making appearances on television, Gruber has been through quite the journey in her path towards success. Now, she is one of New York's most popular lifestyle editors.

    Gruber will be available to answer your questions and more during the chat, which will take place Tuesday, June 23, from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT on Twitter. To follow the chat or ask Bryce a question, just follow the #ConnectChat hashtag. We’ll start the chat off with a few questions for Bryce, but you can jump in at any time with your own questions.

    About Bryce Gruber

    Bryce Gruber is the Founder and Editor of TheLuxurySpot.com, frequent television host for network news, and contributor to Yahoo, Today.com, and a variety of other digital and print publications. She got started in the business during her first pregnancy when morning sickness and hormones told her clearly, "just do what you love, it's the only way." What she loved was writing, creating, and generally lending a fun approach to the beauty and women's wellness industries.

    Since she got her start in in New York in 2008 she has toured the globe with her brand, worked with top publishers and brands, and had the opportunity to share a lighter, funnier approach to life with her millions of readers and followers on her website and social media. When she's not writing the stuff that people are thinking, she is a mom to three sassy little kids and a wife.

    Check out her pages here:

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/brycegruber

    Instagram: instagram.com/brycegruber

    Twitter: twitter.com/brycegruber

    The Luxury Spot: www.theluxuryspot.com/

    The Blog Blog: How to Be an Organized Blogger

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 10:30 AM [General]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    how to be an organized blogger

    How to Be an Organized Blogger

    In the midst of organizing your life, let alone your bedroom or kitchen, being an organized blogger is probably the last thing on your mind. However, a few tweaks in your blogging routine may yield better results. Also, once you are in the flow of things, productivity seems almost effortless. 

    So how can I be an organized blogger? 

    1. Designate your workspace.

    Whether it’s in a café or inside your own home, designate a consistent work area. Think about where you produced your greatest blog posts and stick to writing there on a regular basis. If where you blog is inside your house, renovate that space so it optimizes your productivity. We tend to get too comfortable inside our own homes, so simulate an office-like environment. For example, face your desk away from all distractions (e.g., the television) and place it by a window or in well-lit area. Also, keep your workspace free of clutter for a peace of mind. 

    2. Set up a Google Account. 

    Google has never failed me thus far. I use Google for four things: Gmail, Google+, Google Calendar and Google Docs:

    Gmail: Create a separate email account just for blogging purposes. This will separate any blog-related emails from the clutter of your personal life.

    Google+: The more social networks you are a part of, the more places you can promote your blog. For me, the demographic of mommy bloggers on Google+ is huge so it works in my favor.

    Google Calendar: I’m a huge fan of Google Calendar because it’s so versatile. The calendar can sync from your computer to your phone. In other words, you can edit your calendar wherever you can access a Web browser, and it will automatically update your phone’s calendar. Most calendar apps also allow users to import their Google Calendars as well.

    Furthermore, certain emails I receive and websites allow me to import events straight into my calendar through the click of the link -- and inputs all the relevant information (event name, time, place, etc.).

    Google Docs: Google Docs is a great way to stay organized. You can edit text documents and spreadsheets for your own purposes -- perhaps to log your blog revenue, expenses, blog ideas, etc. Furthermore, if you have a team of bloggers, Google Docs is the way to keep your team on the same page (pun intended). When I used to freelance for a news publication, all the contributing editors would pick potential news topics off a Google Document, placing our names next to the topics we wanted. In addition, there is also a Google Docs app that allows you to edit these documents straight from your phone.

    3. Fill in your blog calendar.

    First and foremost, think about when you are most productive (which day and what time of the day). From there, fill in your blog calendar. Although they say to post every day, for some people this is unrealistic. For beginners, fill in around 2-3 blog post topics a week. Aside from blog topics and the frequency of posts, there are other things to consider when filling in your blog calendar. You must think about how to allot your time when: editing your posts, finding graphics, editing graphics, taking breaks, promoting your blog posts, checking and responding to emails, analyzing Web statistics, etc. 

    4. Keep your blog calendar in sight.

    Out of sight, out of mind -- so keep your blog calendar in sight! Anytime you have a break in the day to think, think about your blog. On my Android phone, I used to keep a monthly view of my calendar right on my wallpaper through a widget. Now that I have an iPhone, I do not have that capability. However, I do keep my calendar shortcut right at the bottom of my screen.

    My favorite calendar app is Jorte. I like Jorte because of how the calendar looks visually. I keep my calendar on a monthly view (I hate weekly/day views) with the text of my headers visible on each day. I basically prefer seeing a large overview of my calendar. You can also add animated icons on special days.

    5. Take advantage of “read later” options.

    Have you ever come across an article on the Web or Twitter, only to realize you don’t have the time to read it at the moment? And when you do have the time to read it, you’ve already forgotten about it.

    Well, luckily there an app where you can store articles you come across in one place so you can read them later. The app is called Pocket, and it allows one to save articles from the Web, desktop, or even Twitter -- yes, Twitter! I come across interesting articles often on Twitter -- especially during work hours when I don’t really have the time to read them. When I’m commuting on the train or waiting around for a friend, that’s when I’ll open my Pocket app and read these articles. 

    6. Take notes.

    Don’t just read articles, take notes. Write down your feelings. I feel like the best blog post ideas start by simply writing -- writing down anything actually. Personally, when I start writing, my ideas just flow from there. I even write keywords down, eventually forming an outline.

    My favorite app for this is Notability. This app even allows you to record voice notes while typing at the same time. Each sentence or phrase you type marks that part of the recording, so you can listen to specific parts of the recording by clicking on certain words you typed. You can also add images into your notes, sketches, etc. It’s helped me a lot during lectures in college, and continues to help me now as a blogger.

    7. Keep your blog visually organized and consistent.

    Keep your blog organized visually. Keep your blog posts consistent in format -- consistent fonts, headers, format, etc. If you don’t have a logo by now, create one and place it where needed. Also, if you post your own videos, try to keep a consistent intro containing your logo -- this gives off a very professional look and feel.  

    In your blog posts, break up long paragraphs if you can and insert more images. Use bullet points or numbers to make information easier on the eyes. Clean up those blog posts! 

     8. Categorize your blog posts.

    New bloggers often fail to categorize their blog posts. Categorizing blog posts makes navigation so much easier, especially when using platforms such as WordPress. It can also help you with your editorial calendar, e.g., spreading out different types of blog posts throughout the month and perhaps helping you come up with ideas based on your category.

    9. Designate an area to store your log-in information.

    Nothing is more frustrating than wasting time trying to figure out your password, only to reset it and forget it again. Write down all your websites, log-in usernames and passwords. Keep it *safe* in one place to use as a reference.

    If you feel really insecure doing this, what I do is I slightly scramble the passwords (consistently, and to all of them), or I’ll codename the websites so if ever it falls into the wrong hands, they still can’t use the information to log in. 

    10. Take advantage of folders.

    Cleaning and organizing your computer can be as tedious and time-consuming as cleaning your own bedroom. Store all your blog drafts, images and notes in labeled folders. I keep a folder with my blog name or idea on my desktop. Inside, I have sub-folders that contain the date and blog post name. For example, my folder on my desktop would say “The Blog Blog” and a subfolder inside would say “2015_06_17 Blog Organization.” If you format your folder names like this, your computer will automatically keep these folders in chronological order.

    If you’re not a fan of organizing your folders by blog posts, you can also keep separate folders by type: all your images in one folder, drafts in another, notes in another, etc. 

     11. Take advantage of drafts.

    No one ever said you have to publish your posts right after you create them. Take advantage of your “draft” option when you blog. This way, you can take your time with your posts -- really edit and perfect them. You can also work on blog posts at your leisure, or even keep a number of posts queued. 

    Summer is coming up -- a perfect time to increase productivity and improve your blogging routine.

    Happy blogging!

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.

    9 Facebook Tips for Bloggers

    Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 2:06 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    9 Facebook Tips for Bloggers

    Without Facebook, my blog would be nowhere near where it is today. Every time I check my blog stats via WordPress, Facebook is always the number one referrer of traffic. Think about it -- even the majority our parents are on Facebook these days. Depending on your demographic, Facebook could be a major way to boost traffic towards your blog. The "mom" demographic happens to be huge on Facebook, hence why it works well for my blog -- and who knows, maybe it may work for yours too!

    1. If you haven't done so already, create a Facebook fan page.

    This way, you give your Facebook friends the option of having your blog posts constantly in their face (or not). Some people (even if they love you) simply aren't interested in your interests. 

    For example, if you blog about parenting, but your best friend doesn’t have any kids, chances are he/she will not want to read a blog on parenting. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote your blog posts on your personal Facebook page at all. Select your most worthy/successful posts to share on your personal page. 

    2. Make sure your “About” page is clear.

    Who are you, and what is your purpose? This should be obvious to a viewer upon landing on your page. A brief summary of who you are and what you do should be included in your About page. Also, your contact information should be visible as well: email, social media handles, etc. Don't forget to provide your main website/blog URL too.

    3. Make sure your cover photo is sized in the right dimensions.

    For the record, Facebook cover photo dimensions are 851 px by 315 px. Nothing bothers me more than seeing a Facebook cover photo that is either too small or too large. The cover photo is the first image people see when landing on your page -- so make sure it’s in the right dimensions. Luckily, there are also services for this! Canva and PicMonkey already have default settings for Facebook Covers as you can see here:


    In addition, your cover photo should be a high-res image. The more professional your photography looks, the more professional your blog appears to others. 

    4. Speak in a conversational tone.

    Always write in a conversational tone on Facebook. Sound like you’re my friend! After all, Facebook is a social network of “friends.” Crack a few jokes here and there, or simply be friendly. Think of it as either entertaining or enlightening your friends at a party. 

    5. Engage in conversations. 

    Not only should one sound conversational, but also engage in actual conversations as well. Ask questions in your posts. (All-Star Tip: It’s even better when the question is in a graphic too.) Spark conversations! Don’t forget to reply to all your comments too. You never know when replies or other comments will spark additional conversations. There are always people reading, whether you are aware of it or not.

    6. Post visuals and videos -- always!

    Facebook is all about images. It’s a very visual social network. Try to attach a video or picture to each post. This especially helps your post pop when someone is scrolling down their newsfeed and comes across your post.

    7. Be consistent with your posting schedule.

    Spread your posts out. Post everyday if possible, but don’t post five posts within five minutes. Also don’t post too little -- you don’t want your viewers to lose interest or forget about your blog. Be consistent with your posting times if possible. Personally, I find posting in the morning between 8-9 a.m. to be most successful. Perhaps people are checking their Facebook when they wake up or while settling into work at their desk. I also find posting at night from 8-9 p.m. to be successful as well. For me, this is a time I check Facebook because the baby has been put to sleep, I’ve already ran errands, eaten dinner, etc. I'm sure other mothers have similar schedules. 

    8. Join similar Facebook groups.

    Chances are there are other Facebook pages similar to yours. Join them. You never know when other posts may inspire or spark an idea for your blog. Also, engage in conversations within those groups, since they are people who relate to you and are within your niche. If possible, you can even promote your blog and social media in these groups. However, don’t SPAM them with your blog info. 

    9. Look for blogger networks via search engines and join them.

    Sometimes these networks also have Facebook pages where members post and swap social media handles or promote their blog. The best part about this is that when you link your fan page, there is "like" button automatically included -- an instant call-to-action. Here is an example:

    Here is one of the networks I'm part of called "Mom Bloggers Club." They often post "Facebook Hop" posts, where people link their Facebook fan pages. As you can see, it's easy for people to like my page, since the like button is included right there. 

    You can find many blogger networks online, but make sure your blog is polished and ready for review. Most blogger networks have to approve your blog before accepting you into their network. 

    Furthermore: Network, network, network! Leave comments under what other people post as well. Conversations can start anywhere. 

    Good luck with your Facebook fan page! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below or email me at melissa.ibarra@prnewswire.com

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. All you have to do is fill out a quick form telling us what you’re looking for, your deadline, and how you want to be contacted, and we’ll send it to the appropriate experts in our network. The best part? It’s free! Get started here: Send a query.


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