Bloggers Pitching a Brand Series – Laying the Groundwork

So you’ve started a blog! Being a blogger is tons of fun! Whether you’re writing about your life in general or a specific niche, me thinks we can all agree there has to be a passion for the craft or we’d all go cra-crazy quickly. As I sit here typing away I can easily remember how jazzed up I was in the early days of blogging, what power there is in sharing my thoughts and dreams here in my little spot on the web. Eventually my blog developed and I found that my inbox was becoming jammed with opportunities to review products but unfortunately not the products I would have chosen. Somehow I don’t feel the need for a moustache trimmer..but that’s just me. I decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns and pitch brands I’d really like to work with.

Having the idea to pitch brands is good and all but it’s worthless if you don’t know how. There is an art to it which is unique to each and every blogger but perhaps I can help shed some light into pitching for the newer bloggers out there with my Pitching A Brand series. This is the first of the series, which will help you with the groundwork bloggers do before the actual pitch is sent.

Pitching a Brand

6 Tips To Prepare for Pitching a Brand

Know Your Own Brand

Before you begin seeking out opportunities with brands you need to have a hold on who YOU are. When I say YOU I mean your brand as it is seen outwardly. Take stock of who your brand is today, at this EXACT moment online before you even develop a strategy.

If you’ve decided you’re becoming a “Healthy Eating” blogger and REALLY want to work with health-based brands you’d better look the part with your online interactions. Photos of you mowing down on fast food via Instagram aren’t going to help your pitch. Perhaps you want to slant this to your advantage, how about a “Life Change to Healthy Eating” as your brand focus instead?  If you indeed are making changes to your brand, get them underway before you begin pitching so that people can see and validate your voice.

Google your blog name and take a look at what you find with fresh eyes. Imagine you’re seeing your brand for the first time, what do you think it’s about? This is actually a good practice for seasoned bloggers, sometimes we aren’t in touch with our outward impact simply because we’re immersed in our brand’s activities.

VALUE your voice!

If you have readership, you have power! Each and every person on social media/blogging has the opportunity to create a buzz with their followers and you simply must understand the power of that. Bloggers should know who their readership is and what they’re interested in, this will help you to choose which brands to pitch.

Know the Brand You’re Pitching

My advice to bloggers who are just starting out is to look around your home and choose brands which you already use. Get yourself online and check out any campaigns they’ve done in the past and see if your blog is currently a fit for their brand personality. By getting to know the brand on social media, you’ll have some insight on what they appreciate in a campaign and can asses whether or not you have the ability to deliver the quality of work they expect.

Clean Yourself Up

Before you pitch your brand, take the time to get it your blog looking the best it can! Make sure your design is sharp and fully functional. Clean up any broken links, update your About page, replace any photos of poor quality, ensure your avatar is consistent across your social media platforms and all are linked together and current. Make it simple for people to find you and put your best foot forward wherever you are online.

Establish a Rapport

Assuming you’ve chosen a brand you’d like to pitch, get online and begin interacting with them. Unless you’ve already been conversing with them directly, you’re a stranger to them. Why not write a blog post about your favourite product from the brand or chat about it on Facebook or Twitter.

Brands receive copious amounts of pitches and you need to set yourself apart by showing you are an existing customer who values the products/services. This should come from a place of authenticity and be a simple interaction which genuinely reflects how you feel. Don’t waste time with a few tweets if you really have no interest, believe me it shines through!

Think Outside of the Box

If you’re going to pitch a brand you’ll need to know who you are, what you’re capable of and what sets you apart. This is the time to think outside of the box and brainstorm something unique for the brand you’re seeking to work with. Take your time with this, have a look at what avenues there are to choose from (Vine, Instagram, Pinterest) and find an angle which suits your readers expectations while giving the most bang for the brand’s buck!

 

Establishing yourself as a trusted blogger who works with brands takes time and energy. It’s a system which has failed when bloggers or brands aren’t clear on their abilities or expectations. Taking some time to ensure you are ready for taking on a campaign will make a world of difference, you’ll have the confidence to send your pitches to those brands you dream of working with.

Stay tuned for my next post in the Blogger Pitching Brands Series where I’ll outline how to develop a solid pitch.

Food Bloggers Of Canada 1st Conference ~ A Resounding Success #FBC2013

When I heard that Food Bloggers of Canada would be hosting their very first conference this Spring I felt a sense of excitement. While some may not consider me to be a true blue “Foodie” I am a food lover and am very proud to be the Chicken Farmers of Canada Health Ambassador which of course involves researching and blogging about food. Thankfully, the fine folks at Chicken Farmers of Canada decided to send me to the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference and I eagerly packed my bags and drove to the conference with my friend and conference roommate Christine from Life On Manitoulin.

The conference was held very close to my home at the Hockley Valley Resort. I have spent a fair amount of time at Hockley, both working in the ski shop for 4 years in my youth and enjoying skiing and golfing at their facilities. I expected Hockley to deliver a luxury weekend filled with great food and accommodations and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

When we arrived at Hockley the power was out due to an ice storm but the hotel staff were friendly and things were still running quite smoothly. We met up with fellow conference attendees in the lobby and eagerly began getting to know one another. There seemed to be a sense of community in the air; as if we were all interconnected by our love of all things food and the excitement of being at the inaugural conference.

A Cocktail Reception You Say?

Friday evening we officially registered, proudly donned our lanyard which identified who we were and received a copious amount of swag from the sponsors of FBC2013. After depositing the swag back in our room Christine and I set out for the Sponsor Cocktail Reception to meet the event sponsors and sample their wares. As you can imagine I was hesitant about a “cocktail” reception and initially couldn’t find a non-alcoholic beverage available.

In typical Julie style, once I had given the amazing Heather Travis from Canadian Beef a hug hello I immediately asked if she knew where I might find a drink. She smiled at me and pointed to the rows upon rows of champagne glasses filled with what looked like deep red and white wines. I must have looked puzzled as I stammered..”butttt wait, those are non-alcoholic?”

Food Bloggers of Canada Conference

Heather confirmed that this was indeed a non-alcoholic choice and I quickly made my way over to investigate..hmmm looks like alcohol, doesn’t smell like it and my-oh-my it doesn’t smell icky syrupy like most other bottled non-alcoholic drinks. I sipped this Champanade cautiously only to exclaim far too loudly “Holy cow this is actually good!”

Yes, because I’m that classy.

That’s the moment when I met my soul sister Carly from Tree of Life who was representing the fine cheeses, crackers and non-alcoholic drink choices of the event. From the moment I met this woman we didn’t stop laughing and she was right when she promised me that this conference would shock me when it came to the quality of choices in non-alcoholic drinks.

I may have been seen carting around more than one bottle at a time, but I blame that entirely on Carly who repeatedly insisted I try another. Cough….

The reception was wonderful, each attendee had the opportunity to speak with the brands and begin establishing connections if they chose. There were many gasps as foodies recognized each other from online communications and I may have invaded the personal space of more than a few of my Tweeps.

Food Bloggers of Canada Conference Day 1 Dinner

As one would expect at a Food Blogger Conference, the dinner was divine. A prime rib which was soft like butter, a lovely Yorkshire pud and potatoes and veg to match…this girl was impressed. Pair this with some delicious beverages and a table full of new friends and some pre-existing (Like my darling friend Julie from Dinner With Julie who I know will thank me for this photo) and it was a fine meal indeed.

Food Bloggers of Canada Conference Dinner

Say It Like It Is

The Keynote speaker was David Leite whom I’d had the pleasure of spending time with earlier in the afternoon. David is the creator of Leite’s Culinaria which is simply a must read for anyone who has ever tasted food and has an appreciation for the written word.

It struck me that David’s manner is the same whether he was chatting with me in the restaurant or in front of a hundred people giving a keynote. He is engaging, welcoming, opinionated and down right humorous. The key points I took away from David’s keynote were:

  • To blog successfully you must love the written word, language matters.
  • Use only one exclamation mark per post…are you sure David???!!!
  • Reading your work aloud allows you to connect with the voice you’re writing with, is it the authentic you which you want to convey.
  • Find your passion and write about it, if you are writing about something other than what you love you will fail.
  • Every comment deserves a response, leave non behind.
  • Always bring your business cards to conferences…David may have forgotten his.

KitchenAid Malt Shop…why YES please

The organizers of FBC2013 may scored a brilliant move with this event, combining bloggers with authentic milkshakes prepared by KitchenAid was slick. We are a KitchenAid family, all of our appliances are KitchenAid and while I could gush about them for hours I’ll leave that for another post and simply say it was a blast.

Food Bloggers Canada Conference KitchenAid

Sessions Jammed With Information

The sessions at the conference were jammed with valuable information which took me years to learn. Due to the size of this post I shall just tell you to head to the Food Bloggers of Canada page to read the Tech notes and HERE for a fantastic breakdowns check out My Daily Randomness.tree of life

There were two sessions which impacted me hugely; the photography session with Robin Sharp, Adele Hagan and Julie Van Rosendaal has equipped me to take better shots to share here, almost making me feel embarrassed of my past photos.

The Publishing panel with Dianne Jacob, Charmian Christie, Emily Richards, Julie Van Rosendall and Corey Mintz  was a wealth of infromation for anyone who is considering publishing a book, whether an ebook or in print. It was a realization that it IS possible for anyone to become a published writer if they want it badly enough and are willing to work for it.

I would like to thank all of the speakers for opening my eyes anew. I feel refreshed by your words, energized by your enthusiasm and honestly plugged back into the reason I began blogging in the first place. I’ve fallen in love again because of your inspiration!

Mocktails Please!

One may not expect a blog with the name SoberJulie to be the first attendee they meet at a Foodie conference but it sure felt like they’d planned the Saturday evening festivities just for me. We had enjoyed a lovely dinner and moved along to the Campbell’s Late Night reception where what to my eyes did appear but a dazzling Mocktail bar!!!

With sweeties and treats these Mocktails made my night. I can’t tell you how it lifted my heart to see how conscientious the conference organizers were when it came to each and every detail such as this one. It may not seem like much, but the Mocktail bar option meant something to myself and the other non-drinkers who attended.

Food Bloggers Canada Mocktail Bar

Food For Thought

The Food Bloggers Conference was one that I’m grateful to have attended. The organizers Mardi, Melissa and Ethan and their team of volunteers managed to blow me away. They assembled the perfect blend of speakers, the right brands, a variety of activities all in one luxurious location to present each of us with a weekend to remember.

As I sit and ruminate over my learnings it strikes me that my vision for my blog has become even clearer than it was. I will continue to share my journey, hoping to inspire others to lead a healthier, more enriched life. When it comes to food here on SoberJulie I will share recipes which are simple, nutritious and tasty…and now the photos will hopefully have improved!

To my fellow attendees, thank you for opening yourselves and allowing me to pick your brains, share a laugh and create some memories with you. I will warn you that you now have a reader who is sure to be asking questions and tweeting at you regularly!

Preparing for Blog Conferences

In the blogging world there are many opportunities to attend blog conferences all over North America. As a wife and mother living with chronic pain I often end up watching from afar as my friends attend these fabulous events jammed with learning and networking opportunities. Frankly I’d love to attend them all but my family comes first and as last weekend showed I’m often not physically up to it.

Thankfully the very first Canadian Food Bloggers Conference is taking place a mere 10 minutes from my home at Hockley Valley Resort this coming weekend and Canadian Chicken has graciously offered to send me as their Health Ambassador. This is very exciting for me, not just because it’s a weekend which will have ah-mazing food but because I am actually staying at the resort.

One of my first jobs was as a ski rental shop attendant at Hockley Valley, in fact I worked there for 4 years in various positions during ski season. So to go and stay at the resort and relax is something worth looking forward to. I may actually go early in the afternoon just to sit in the lobby sipping a GREAT cup of coffee which I know they serve.

Most blog conferences take place over a few days and include learning sessions and interactive showrooms where bloggers and brands can connect and we can learn about upcoming products and campaigns.speakingnew

Blog Conferences are always something I look forward to, it’s shown to be an amazing opportunity to connect with brands but more importantly to see my amazing online friends face to face and catch up on all that’s been happening with them. I’ve been fortunate enough to be both an attendee and speaker at blog conferences and feel that they have value in each aspect but one really must weigh out the reasons for attending and choose the best conferences for their brands.

One factor of attending a blog conference must be taken into account, the preparation stage. This isn’t simply about choosing your attire, a blogger should also be considering how their blog will function while they’re away, how they’ll present themselves to brands etc.

Preparing Your Blog

  • Blog Housekeeping – You are going to be introducing your blog to some people for the first time. Take some time to do a basic clean up of your blog. Focus on your About page, de-clutter your sidebar and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward with your most current information.
  • Schedule Posts to go live during conferenceWhether you arrange guest posts or write a few before you leave for the conference, you’ll need to keep your blog active while you’re away if you care about daily traffic.
  • Pre-write posts for after conference – If ever you’ve attended a conference you’ll understand the term “Post-Conference Exhaustion”. Following a blog conference you will be tired and filled with new ideas you want to explore. By pre-writing posts you’ll allow yourself the time to do this.

Conference Supplies

  • Business cardsThis is the single most important thing you can bring with you to a blog conference. You will be meeting many people for the first time and you want them to be able to find you once the conference is over. Try to ensure your business cards match your brand, use the same colors, logos and include all contact information which is pertinent.
  • Smart Phone/Pen & Paper – At my first conference I lugged around my laptop and dslr camera, expecting to take copious amounts of notes and lining up the BEST quality photos. The reality is I ended up dumping the load in the corner and using my smartphone. It’s easier to jot down information by hand and tweet out the important information via my smart phone which happens to have an excellent camera.
  • Power cords and chargers – My biggest pet peeve is a dying battery! Most conferences understand we’re all digitally connected and provide outlets or charging stations so bring along those chargers and cords.
  • Bags for Swag – Whether it’s extra room in your suitcase or an empty bag, be sure to leave room for swag. Conference swag can be bulky and usually worth leaving space for!

Networking Pre-Conference

  • Conference Hashtag: Most conferences will have an active hashtag on Twitter where attendees and presenters can get to know one another. Open a column in Tweedeck or Hootsuite to keep up on the pre-conference activity.
  • Twitter list – A simple way to find and follow attendees of the conference is by using the list created by your conference organizer.
  • Reach Out! – Social media is all about relationships and you have something in common with every tweep who is chatting about the conference. Don’t be shy! Reach out and join in the conversations.
  • Make a list of your “Must Meets” – Conferences are busy places and if you don’t have a list of people or brands you want to meet you may overlook them. Make a point to go meet the people or brands you’ve been wanting to connect with, again don’t be shy and remember to make a GREAT first impression.

At the Conference

  • Dress comfortably – Flats are worth the fashion loss!
  • Bring breath mints – Garlic breath isn’t pretty
  • Take notes – Both during sessions and on the back of business cards, make notes to remind yourself of details of conversations you’ll want to remember.
  • Maximize Breaks – Take time during the breaks to connect with people on your list. When possible catch a rest to reflect on the conference up until that point. This will allow you to be in the moment and not get swept up in the busy atmosphere.
  • Give them something to remember you by – Be your brand! As a blogger you’ve created a brand which had better be authentic, be that brand and leave people with a solid impression to remember you by.
  • Be brave – Go up and introduce yourself proudly. It may seem like everyone knows one another but they don’t and remember you’re worth meeting!

How about you, do you have any tips which you could share?

 

A Busy Week Ending With BlackBerry Z10 Launch in Toronto & Flo Rida

It has been a very busy week here, one which ended with the BlackBerry Z10 launch party in Toronto.

Monday began with my announcement of the Zerona Canada #RapidInchLoss twitter party, this is something I’ve been working on and am very excited that we have 2 grand prizes worth $2900 available to be won.

The week continued with Mother Nature showing herself as wacky, we had some really warm days which caused all the snow to melt followed by a huge snow story…booooo!

Wednesday morning had me writing a piece that has created a murmur of appreciation, thankfully man people agree with my sentiments of supporting one another which I wrote about in Mommy Bloggers Remember Your Etiquette. Unfortunately with the good comes the bad and there have been a few remarks which were carefully not directed towards me in an obvious manner in public….but they truly proved my point.

On Wednesday night I attend the Black Berry Z10 launch party with Telus Canada in Toronto. It was a launch party to be remembered!

Blackberry Z10 launch

Photo courtesy of My BitsAndBleeps

I was interested to see what BlackBerry was bringing to the table. I am a former BlackBerry lover who reluctantly moved towards other options when I felt BlackBerry’s technology wasn’t keeping up.

My first impressions of the new BlackBerry Z10:

Photo courtesy of Telus

BlackBerry Z10 hits the mark with the look and feel.

The BlackBerry Z10 has come from behind to the level of other popular devices, it’s sleek-looking and quick to respond with the touch screen. The images upon the screen are clear and sharp, there is no hesitation (which I’ve hated in other devices) when I was moving between the apps, browsing and home screen. The Z10 fit perfectly within my hand and I was comfortably able to use it with just one hand.

BlackBerry has increased their Apps

The number and type of apps available for the BlackBerry have officially increased. There are over 70,000 apps available which suit my needs well. Keep in mind that I’m not an app freak, if you are looking for specific apps you may find them missing but there are alternatives available.

The truth about typing on the BlackBerry Z10

For people like my Husband with “thick fingers” typing on a touch screen has been something to be avoided in the past. BlackBerry’s new Z10 may not be the first choice, but in April of this year they’re releasing the Q10 which has a fully functional push keyboard.

For myself the touch keyboard on the BlackBerry Z10 is a snap, it responded well and the predictive text function was a handy feature.

Onto the Entertainment at the Launch

While standing in line waiting to check into the event there was an undercurrent of excitement as people realized who the surprise entertainment was. I kept hearing folks whispering about Flo Rider being in da house….and of course I didn’t mention that I hadn’t a clue who this was.

blackberry launch

It wasn’t until this striking beast of a man took the stage and began his first song that it hit me. I LOVE THIS GUY! Flo Rida was amazing, he brought energy to the room that actually had us looking away from our screens and moving to the beat.

Blackberry Flo Rida Partyblackberry z10 Flo Rida

I was very grateful to have attended the BlackBerry Z10 launch with Telus, it was an education and FUN evening filled with laughter, celebrities and friends.

Blackberry Z10 Domiblackberry z10 party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do look forward to sharing more of my impressions after I have a chance to use the device which is being sent to me next week.

Mommy Bloggers Remember Your Etiquette

The World of Mommy Bloggers is vast. With differing topics, backgrounds and dreams we come to you and lay it out for the world to see. With platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google + available to us what we write lives on and often precedes us.

There is power in this; power which we can choose to use for our purposes or misuse if we happen to overlook it. The life of a blogger is often a busy one, balancing family and life responsibilities while managing bloggy things can be difficult to say the least. We do our best simply because we love blogging.

As one blogs over time, streamlining their brands it becomes a part of who they are. For many people they’ve finally found their life’s dream, perhaps their identity?

Cue the glittery stars and uplifting music as we picture a woman becoming empowered.

Mommy Bloggers Aren’t All The Same

Here we have our hypothetical empowered woman who is engaged with the online community, let’s call her Rita. Rita has amassed a network of contacts with fellow bloggers and brands. Rita feels confident in her circle and works every day/night to populate her blog with fabulous content for her readers and even runs giveaways to give her fans a chance to win.

Let’s just say that Rita is a friendly, warm person who works hard and leave it at that. One day Rita hears that there is a list being sold by a PR firm which includes blogger’s information. The list includes what she considers private information such as a home addresses, phone numbers, numbers and ages of children etc.

Let’s leave Rita for a moment and head over to another hypothetical blogger who we’ll name Blanche. Blanche has also worked diligently to build her blog’s audience and establish relationships with brands. When Rita hears about the blogger info list being sold she’s not surprised. In her mind we all are open to having our information out there when we choose to be active on the internet.

We have two very different points of view, now as bloggers one would think we could agree to disagree without stooping to bash one another right?

What Happens When Mommy Bloggers Disagree

Well in a perfect world bloggers wouldn’t feel the need for the mean girl mentality to come out, alas we don’t live in that world.

One would also think that a blogger realizes that their words precede them, and can be misunderstood if not carefully thought out.

Back to our scenario. Rita goes online and conveys her dismay with her information being public. She writes something like “Cannot believe XX company has sold bloggers private info, #prfail”.

Blanche reads this and many other posts and tweets from bloggers who are aghast. She is very irritated, thinking to herself “What the heck did these people think when they put their addresses online?” Blanche sees value in her name being passed to other PR agencies for business purposes and isn’t worried about them having her addresses.

Mommy Bloggers Scream

So what does Blanche do? Well she begins responding in a positive manner, stating that this isn’t a unique practice and that such lists have been sold for years. Blanche points out the value in PR companies having information etc. Feeling quite good about sharing her view she is surprised when people don’t get it. Instead of seeing and agreeing with her views they continue stating that they felt it was an invasion of privacy and talks of litigation are being initiated.

Truly irritated Blanche continues to respond but her online tone has changed. She’s now presenting herself as condescending with comments along the lines of “Mommy bloggers wonder why they have a bad name. Tantrums about PR lists maybe?” or using words like “Ridiculous” and “Get Over It”.

Let’s put ourselves in Rita’s shoes for a minute, what do you think she thinks of Blanche’s response or anyone else who reads these comments for that matter?

Mommy Bloggers Slamming Each Other Is Unattractive

In the end, irrelevant of the topic I happen to believe there is NO value in slamming someone else to make my point. By being negative on a personal level we’ve essentially negated the value of our perspective.

I would find it very difficult to become enlightened by someone who was calling my worries ridiculous. Rather than choosing to become offensive with my comments couldn’t I make my point in a constructive way?

This happens all the time in the world of bloggers, we see people who have differing views bashing each other unnecessarily. There are even bloggers and brands who are taking screen shots of one another, covertly saving and sharing emails and private conversations; compelling evidence in order to protect themselves in future if necessary.

When does the madness end?

When will we reach the stage where high-school antics cease?Mommy Bloggers Unite

I’m calling out to you bloggers to man up and get in the ring with your big girl panties on. Bring with you your talents, your gifts, your quirks and have confidence. With this confidence add a bit of compassion, professionalism and insight to human behaviour.

I guarantee you this bloggy world is quite small, when we’re viewing someone in a poor light let’s keep it to ourselves and if necessary present our opinion in a dignified manner which can be respected.

Once again our words precede us and that image/brand we’ve worked hard to establish can be ruined with just one interaction…..because our words leave lasting impressions.

Come on now, let’s have a group hug and bring the integrity back to the craft we all love.

FAB 4 Giveaway Link UP

Alright friends Christmas is quickly approaching and if you’re like me your pocketbook is stretched to the MAX so there’s not extras for me. Instead of jumping around the blogosphere looking for giveaways to enter, you’ll be happy to know we’re putting them all in one place from now on!

fab4 giveaway linky

Sober Julie, Life on Manitoulin, This Lil Piglet, and Mommy Matter are bringing great Canadian friendly giveaways all in one place! This will be a weekly feature to make life easier for us all.

If you have a Canadian friendly giveaway on your blog, feel free to link up!

Mark this page on your calendars folks, we will be brining you the BEST Giveaways every Monday!!



10 Tips for Preparing for a Blogger Conference With Anxiety

For many people social events are something to look forward to but they are also something which bring about worry. These people aren’t rare, there are many of us who experience panic in busy locations, stressful situations and many other reasons.

I suffer from anxiety.

I’ve written about my anxiety quite a few times here, sharing the dark place I end up at if/when a panic attack occurs. I’ve also shared some Tips to Stop an Anxiety Attack hoping it could help someone else. For people like myself the easiest thing to do would be to avoid anything that could bring on anxiety. It would be easier to just stay home, safe in my little cocoon and not face the worry.Sober

I’ve had periods where I couldn’t leave the house, where the threat of anxiety was enough to immobilize me but these days I refuse to stay huddled in fear like that. I force myself to leave my house as often as possible, even if it’s just to walk up the road. At least once a year I attend blogger conferences which are a true feat for me.

This week I’m attending a blogger conference, this means that I’ll be staying in the city (a very busy place) for 2 nights, I’ll be surrounded by people, meeting and greeting and even speaking on a panel. As I’ve told people in my life about this, they’re often shocked. They know how uncomfortable situations like these can make me and can’t understand how I do it.

It’s simple really, I had a GREAT psychologist who taught me how to handle things like this in my life. As long as it’s not a regular thing I know that I can enjoy myself….but also realize that I won’t be experiencing the conference fully as others will because my limitations won’t allow me to.

These days I prepare for events, and by this I mean that I prepare my experience based upon the terms which my health actually allows.

Ten Tips For People With Anxiety Attending an Event

  1. Support – I have a fabulous support system at the conference. I’m fortunate enough to have people who will attend events with me and be my shoulder in situations in case I need them.
  2. Location – The hotel where I will stay is close to the conference which means that I can leave to have a rest when necessary through the day. I do plan my day around my exhaustion which generally hits after a short time of concentrating.
  3. Transportation – By arranging my rides before the conference, I remove the stress. I’ve arranged a ride into Toronto with someone I trust as a driver, I’ve also arranged rides to and from events during the conference weekend.
  4. Communication – I’ve learned how to say no. I have accepted that I cannot attend each and every festivity I want to and people really don’t mind when I say no thank you. I also know how to communicate to my support team how I’m feeling in case I need help.
  5. Medication – Being up to date with my meds is key, if my pain levels rise too quickly it will have an overall negative effect.
  6. Exit Plan – Whether it’s at the conference, an evening event or anywhere else I always have an exit strategy. I have rides secured at the other end of a phone and there are no recriminations if I do leave.
  7. Quiet Locations – At each function I find quiet spots to regroup. These might be a ladies room, a hallway, a closet…..wherever I can just BREATHE in private.
  8. Acceptance – By accepting I have this limitation doesn’t mean I expect it to happen. It does however empower me, by getting to know my body I can often predict when I need to leave and call it a day.
  9. Recovery – Events like these have an effect upon me, my energy will need to be restored over the days following so I try not to schedule anything in.
  10. FUN – I go in with a good attitude, looking forward to connecting with others and having a great time……

I know that I will have a wonderful time at ShesConnected this week, even if I am unsure how my anxiety will be. All I can do is prepare in advance and take it slow, knowing that I’ve prepared for my worst-case scenario…….

How do you prepare for big events if you experience anxiety?

You Won't Believe The Prizes – Ultimate Blogger Contest #SCCTO

The countdown is on, in less than a month I’ll be at the ShesConnected Conference in Toronto and I’m getting very excited!!

This will be a weekend jammed with learning, connecting with Brands and my online friends. This year I’m going to concentrate on the content seminars, of course I’m interested in all of the sessions but for me the focus has turned a bit and I want to bring my blog back to it’s content writing roots.

Knowing where you want to bring your online presence is a wonderful place to start to build but for those of you who are just starting out ShesConnected will be a place where you can find all the answers you have. Whether we’re seasoned bloggers, business owners or newbies there’s something for everyone in the packed agenda.

ShesConnected.com recently announced that they’re holding a giveaway, I honestly cannot believe the prize…it’s just plain amazing!

Ultimate Blogger Contest

VIP to Canada’s Top Social Media Conference for Women

The winner receives two free tickets to the 3rd Annual ShesConnected Conference (Canada’s top social media conference for women). It will be twice the fun to share with your bestie as you participate in the conference tracks, mingle and after parties meeting women of all ages and writing genres.

A New Laptop Computer

We are also providing the winner with a new laptop. No we aren’t kidding and you don’t have to share your new laptop with anyone. That prize is just for you!

Custom Designed WordPress Blog

You will receive a professionally designed custom WordPress Blog (with one year free web hosting!). We’ll help you create a style and theme that will make your blog stand out.

Custom Twitter Background

We’ll provide a custom Twitter background that matches your new blog theme.

Blog Training

No matter what your level of blogging activity is (new user to advanced pro-blogger) you will receive hands-on training from one of our blogging experts to fast track your blog and build audience.

Social Media Training

Get some face time with and social media mentoring from Donna Marie Antoniadis, one of Canada’s top women in social media and Forbes 20 Best-Branded Women On Twitter Donna will share her secrets to getting the online exposure you want by effectively using social media.

Professional Head Shot

Every blogger needs a professional head shot. You will get full one-on-one session at the conference

Business Cards

You’ll need these for the conference! Professionally designed business cards with your custom blog and Twitter design theme will have you looking great in October as you learn more in our exciting tracks and network with women bloggers from across Canada at the social media event everyone will be talking about.

Media Kit Post Card

You’ll need these for the conference! Professionally designed media kit that fits right on your post card!

This prize package is fantastic, come on folks enter…..I’d love for one of my readers to win!

Fill out my online form.

Don't Niche Me In

When I began blogging I wrote about recovery and amusing things which happened in my day. As time as passed I’ve branched out to include products I dig, inspiration I’ve found and more. Writing has become an outlet for me as well as a way to connect with all of you fabulous folks out there!!

The day I became sober I decided to shed my per-conceived notions about people and the labels we so readily apply to ourselves and others.

I was a label-lover. Whether it was brand name clothing, titles at the office or a social group I belonged to…..I allowed the titles to define who I thought I was. It was comfy all cocooned in the safety of the box I identified with but underneath…deep inside of myself I wasn’t satisfied. In the end the titles didn’t work…..they didn’t cover my entire self.

In reality I am so much more than a label, title or in the blogging world “niche”.

niche

 ~ noun, adjective, verb, niched, nich·ing.

  • pertaining to or intended for a market niche; having specific appeal: niche advertising.

Sober Julie Doing Life won’t ever fit into a single niche nicely; that makes it challenging at times when working with brands. Frankly I thought I gave up caring about this the first time someone turned me down for a program because I speak openly about my faith and alcoholism….but every now and again I’m caught off-guard because I’m viewed as being in a niche which isn’t appropriate to a brand’s image.

Ultimately I knew that I was going to run into these situations when I launched Sober Julie Doing Life into the mainstream blog audience. There will always be people who are uncomfortable with how open I am (they love to announce this to me when I’m out and about in suburbia), and certainly there will be brands whose image won’t marry up well with mine.

Thankfully I have found fabulous brands, bloggers and networks I’m connected with and I’m grateful to be associated with each and every one of them.

I’m okay with the fact that I don’t always fit in. Finally at almost 40 years old I can say I’m loving where I am at in my life, with or without a niche.

Why can I hear Whitney Houston singing “I’m Every Woman” right now??

The fact that I’m a size 12 and write about healthy eating may not ever win me the Top Lifestyle Blogger award, but I promise I’ll share cookie recipe at times too.

Today I’m embracing my quirky, unique, edgy self and the blog which goes along with it.  The one thing you can be certain of is that the voice you read here will always be mine….and mine alone.

How about you, are you embracing your “outside of the box” self for all that you are…..or are you finding you’ve hemmed yourself in a bit and are ready to spread your wings past the self-inflicted restrictions?

The Pain Doesn't Stop, Not Even for Oprah

This past weekend I was presented with an opportunity to attend the Oprah LifeClass Tour in Toronto and a Tea with Own Canada the day before. This was once in a lifetime opportunity which I just couldn’t pass up! Friday saw me making frantic arrangements and honestly it was miraculous how it all worked out.

We live an hour North of downtown Toronto, had this have been a few years ago the travel would be a no-brainer but since the accident I’ve been pinned down by anxiety with highway and city driving. Suffice it to say it wasn’t an option for me to drive myself in and with it being the weekend the transit system didn’t run on a full schedule. God presented me with an angel when my friend Janet (@mybestlifecoach) jumped in and offered me a ride and a hotel room to share for the night – how generous is that??

My next obstacle was our children, my Hubby was working on Sunday night so I would need someone to have them overnight…not an easy request to present to friends. With very little effort I found someone, my awesome next door neighbor jumped at the opportunity saying “Are you kidding, you HAVE to go to Oprah!”

There are more ducks which lined up in a row to make this happen but you get the idea that it was slightly miraculous that I was able to attend.

Oprah-DessertThe tea with Own Canada was a lovely event, it was held at the Royal York hotel in Toronto and I had the opportunity to get to know the gracious folks at Own both in Canada and the States. Spending time with others who are fans of Oprah certainly raised the excitement level about going to LifeClass the next day. I was quite good at pacing myself, I was mindful to get up and leave the tea often to stretch my back and positioned myself carefully. Honey, simply sitting in the wrong position sets everything off!

Following the tea a group of us went and enjoyed dinner together, Janet and I managed to meet up with Erica from Women On The Fence for a quick visit and then it was onto bed.

The next morning I was up and out early to head to LifeClass. Thankfully the hotel was less than a block away so I was in my seat within minutes. To say I had a coveted seat would be putting it mildly, I was within 30 feet of Oprah at all times…does that make me sound like a stalker?

OprahLifeClass

The event schedule was packed with 4 powerful speakers before the actual taping of LifeClass. Deepak Chopra was first and provided much food for thought in his unassuming presentation style. Iyanla Vanzant had the audience dancing and laughing as she presented in her upbeat style. The dapper Bishop Jakes took the stage and impressed me with his impersonation of a chicken as he compared them to eagles along our journey. Finally Tony Robbins came out to shock me, who knew that I could get even MORE fired up about my journey of Gratitude than I already am??

Each of these 4 sessions provided breaks in between which found me leaving the room and finding quiet spots or making my way outside to stretch out. With all of the applause it wasn’t far into the first hour when I felt a horrible migraine beginning. Mid-way through Bishop Jakes presentation I was beginning to question whether I’d make it until SHOW TIME.

You see pain is a distraction and it was increasing at an alarming rate through the sessions. Throughout the 4 presentations my concentration waned, my tweets dwindled and my note taking simply ceased.

Once again pain was interfering in my life.

Rather than get angry about it, I implemented the plan I had in place. I refused to allow the pain to stop my enjoyment entirely, I breathed through it and absorbed what I could. Thankfully the episode will be aired on April 30th on Own Canada so I’ll be able to experience it again, but for now I’m glad that I have a positive perspective about this situation.

Instead of focusing upon what I missed of the event, I’m appreciative of what I did receive. This mindset is one which has changed my life, this is the one I want to share with you all.

In the end I did leave the show early, I wasn’t able to stick it out for the entire day as planned, I fell apart in my husband’s arms as I arrive home and have been in bed recovering for the majority of the past 24 hours. This experience reinforced many things for me; that I am unable to perform as I would wish, that pain follows me wherever I go… so many things which could be taken as negative.

BUT I also am aware of so many more positive things which outweigh the previous; the wonderful people I had, the chance to meet, the willingness of others to help, the impact of sharing our stories and how it can benefit others, generosity, love, kindness, compassion, patience…..the list is HUGE.

I assure you, I will be writing about the messages from the show and sessions but today I’m resting…..I’m restoring my strength so that when I do share the insights I’ve gained they will be clear and succinct. For now I’m grateful, for this fabulous opportunity and the people who made it happen!