Monday, November 7, 2011

I Moved...

Hi Everyone!

I have moved!  OK, well I didn't, but my blog has...

Please follow me over at my new blog home, WordPress:


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Start Up Biz Q&A

Ah, how I love #startupchat on Twitter! It has become a weekly ritual of mine, taking place every Wednesday at 2:00pm EST. It is such a valuable resource, and a great way to network as well. If you are a new start-up, or even an existing business, I highly recommend joining the chat, as well as following all of the contributors below, very wise people.

Yesterday’s chat was particularly appealing, an open Q&A where you could ask whatever was on your mind. It was interesting to see how many people were interested in some of the same topics. Twitter chats can be a little tricky to follow, so I did my best to group the responses by a particular question.

I'm just starting a new business and wondering if I should get a separate checking account?

• the answer is YES, you should have a separate way to keep track of your tax deductible expenses so you don't confuse with personal $.
• Financial and tax laws can be tricky and it's worth it to get an accountant to help you. Claim deductions, etc.
• Opening credit cards are good to get rewards, but I don’t typically recommend you get them for a line of credit.

@PhyllisNichols Also make sure you get a tax ID number, and keep track of everything!

@GoodiesForGifts Re: Expenses, I was told it does not matter what u use, as long as you are keeping track! It is vital

What government grants/ sources are the best for woman owned business?

@startupprincess Be very careful with grants. Some have restrictions on what they can be used for and when.

@WinGrants The NSF Small Business Innovation Research Program Grant gives special consideration to WBEs:

Name 2 other social media networks besides Twitter, FB, & LinkedIn to be on as a female entrepreneur?

@startupprincess We typically only use Twitter, FB and linked in. But I also recommend using video and having a youtube chan.

@GoodiesForGifts Foursquare is a great way to network locally when used correctly. I know video is great for SEO, BTW.

@KCbakes Social Media is essential, but don't take on more than u can handle. Idle/inactive accts make your biz look idle/inactive.

What is the best way to increase SEO without hiring a professional?
• Look at the keywords people are using to find you, and use those words in blog posts and text.
• Update your content frequently through your blog. Search engines are looking for what's fresh.
• Have keywords in your header. Above the URL bar it says Your company, add other keywords.


• Get other sites to link to you. Use relevant keywords. Find them with Googles Adwords Keyword tool.
• Submit to relevant directories. Find blogs in your niche and write posts for them, link to your site in it.
• If you need DIY SEO help, hit me up on Twitter/email. I'll give you pointers.  Check out my website:

What were the steps that led up to landing that first BIG client?
• Don't be afraid to start small. Big clients come. Share your successes & attract big clients with results.
• Also note that branding and good websites go a long way. Invest there. Build your email list, and prime clients.
• Good press also helps land big clients. Get your name out there in the media. Magazines, newspapers, TV.

@ParijatDesh Network! Get to know big players in ur field. Show them concrete examples of success & what u can do for them!

@KCbakes research! Know the field you're in and learn who the big players are. Knowledge can earn you great respect.

What's the best way to get that "big article" to spotlight you? To help the chatter going about you & your biz?
• Networking. Get to know the journalist and figure out how to pitch in a way that is timely and unique.
• Don't be afraid to start small with local papers and smaller blogs. Good press spreads even if reach is small.
• Make your own blog interesting and relevant. Be your own press to start, if you need to.
• Have a fact sheet ready. Press often asks for it, and it's a good exercise to have your 1-sheet in your brain.


• We've had success being guest writers on other sites. Helps drive traffic from ppl who are interested in what we do.
• Social media buzz really helps too. Ask for RTs & shares.

• hire pr or write some press releases
• PR firms are great for finding "your story" and promoting it.
• network & learn who contacts are at local papers. Many local papers will pick up if it is a story, not a sales pitch.

• Write about topics people outside your industry are curious to learn about; something that positions you as the expert
• write about topics folks in your industry will rally around

@PhyllisNichols Sign up for HARO alerts (free) way to submit info for articles/interviews.

Is a PR agency necessary or can we write our own press releases just as effectively? If so, how do you write a press release?

• “The Pitch" is key. Pitching is reaching out to a specific journalist with unique story.
• Pitching is preferred. It's more unique and makes the specific contact in the media the focus.
• A press release is generic and is sent to everyone. A pitch should be customized for the specific media outlet
• A pitch also is unique, timely and appropriate to their specific audience. A pitch to one outlet will be different.
• Include brief info and bullet points on your business or product.

@FlackList Depends on your needs. It's not really about press releases but knowing how to pitch and who to pitch.

@ParijatDesh a personal story attached to the pitch really helps.

@GoodiesForGifts Pitch a story to bloggers too. Many are always looking for guest bloggers.

I hope to see you at the next #startupchat!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday Muse-Day

Yes, yes, today is Wednesday, but yesterday I was sidelined by a very bad migraine. I vowed never to miss a Tuesday Muse-day, so here it is, just one day late.

Winter holidays are upon us, and I'm so excited to start seeing new cake pop designs emerge.  Today's muse, Lil' Cutie Pops, has been unveiling sneak peeks at her White Christmas Collection, and its easy to see why I'm a big fan...

I'm not even sure where to begin.  What perfection, it almost looks like a toy! The level of detail is simply amazing.  His rosy cheeks, arched eyebrows and that little mustache... not to mention the cheery snowman in the background!

Here's another shot from Lil' Cutie Pops' White Christmas Collection... look at that gingerbread house!  This is one of those cake pops that is simply too pretty to eat :-)

But let's not get ahead of ourselves, there is a very important holiday coming up before Christmas, and that is Thanksgiving!  I don't know about you, but it is personally my favorite meal of all time.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing... I could eat it every day.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as well... cooking in the hot kitchen, the windows fogging up, ahhh, I'm getting homesick & hungry just thinking about it! 

Wait a minute, where was I... ah yes, Lil' Cutie Pops :-)  Holiday charm is not lost here... it's incredible how two little dots and a curved line can give such delightlful expressions to their people pops!  The wings on the turkey, to the gold buckle on the pilgrim's hat... the beauty is in the details folks.

Make sure you "like" Lil Cutie Pops on Facebook, and check out their website too.  You never know what design will come next - and I promise, whatever it is, you won't want to miss it!  (I'm still swooning over their Halloween entry in our contest last month).


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Muse-Day

Happy Halloween friends!  Halloween is just around the corner, and friends of mine are STILL asking for costume ideas.  I must admit I'm not that much help in this department... when I was little, my costumes were pretty basic; a witch, a vampire, something to do with a rainbow wig, and one year I was Roger Rabbit, which involved one of those plastic masks that made your face hot every time you breathed.

Speaking of my childhood, Mary Poppins was one of my all-time favorite movies.  To this day, I can still recite most parts of it.  And last year, my Mom and I saw Mary Poppins on Broadway (ah-mayyy-zing!).  Remember the Jolly Holiday scene? 

Well needless to say, I was swept up in nostalgia by the Mary Poppins halloween costumes I saw today on Make It Love It and just had to make it today's muse!

Does it get any cuter?

Ashley created the most amazing costumes for her kiddos... Bert, Mary and one of the penguins from the Jolly Holiday scene!  For all you DIY'ers, she even put together a step-by-step photo tutorial to show how she created them!  Her talent absolutely blows my mind... these aren't just costumes, these are hand-crafted pieces of wearable art that her children will be able to cherish for years to come.  The detail and workmanship she put into these outfits... wow... just, wow! 

Ashley is quite the wiz with her computer too!  Check out this amazingly adorable video she put together to tie everything together... Bert & Mary are so charming, and her little penguin with that squishy plush belly is pure sunshine.

Since we're talking about costumes, look at this costume I randomly came across. It made me laugh so loud, I had to share...

Are you and/or your kiddos dressing up this year?


Friday, October 21, 2011

Thriving During the Holidays

A couple weeks ago, I told you about a Twitter chat I attended called #startupchat. I found it so informative & inspiring that I set up a weekly email reminder for every Wednesday at 2:00pm EST so that I didn't miss a chat.

This week's topic was How to Thrive During the Holidays.  I launched KC Bakes in April, making this our first holiday season, so I was excited to see what topics would come up.  And yet again, I saw so many great tips, thoughts and ideas!  Here are some of my favorite tweets from the chat...

@TesaRaeCreative Outlining a strategy that can become tradition year over year, something that customers can look forward to.

@BusinessPrtnrs sending out aN E-blast to customers about your offerings for the season incl coupons in adv

@GoodiesForGifts mail chimp is great for sending out email blasts.

@suchimistra Email only as often as you have a great idea that helps your customer.

- Plan an Open House and get to know your local community and find out how you can support them! 
- Networking should be a KEY part of your marketing plan in any season. Even if it's local.

- Network at local business groups. Get to know the key players in your local market and branch from there. Be strategic with gifting.
- Send some free gifts to key players in social media that will give a shout out.
- Consider a daily or weekly campaign for specials. Be creative, plan NOW and campaign.
- Add value RIGHT now to your clients and customers and thank them for their business, keep your name top of their minds.

@Tweetsweettooth we give away things that don't 'cost' anything, copy of free ebook, evaluation of their social media package.

@dotjenna Plan social media content in advance, write Holiday related articles now. Schedule posts with

@TiafenConsult I plan to send New Year greetings to my clients. Most cultures celebrate the new year :)

I contributed some tips as well that got retweeted a few times... @KCbakes
- I ran a Halloween cake pop contest, it attracted 200+ new fans on FB that have remained on as fans afterwards.  I promoted it thru our FB page & Twitter. The contestants were main driving force bc they needed the votes.
- For B2B marketing, you could you do some version of a business card raffle? enter biz info, one lucky winner gets a prize.
To avoid burnout during holidays - be conscious of ur eating! Malnutrition weakens immune system, hard to sustain energy/focus.

Then I had this idea, really on a whim, and it got a huge reaction...
- Include business card magnet in with shipping. People will post it on their fridge... that way your brand is present.

My good Twitter buddy @Mustlovepopcorn from @BDKettlecorn actually ordered magnets that day! :)

I hope to see you at the next chat!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Muse-Day

Halloween is rapidly approaching, which brings to mind all things scary and spooky.  Today's muse is scary, but not in the way you might think.

For some reason, making decorated sugar cookies absolutely terrifies me!  I had a really bad experience attempting to make royal icing one time, and I think it scarred me.  But after seeing these quirky Halloween cookies, I may have to give them a second chance.

Check out these vampire fang cookies by Sugarbelle's!  I saw them posted by Baking cakes, and its good that pictures are worth a thousand words, because their post was in Italian :)

There are so many things I love about SugarBelle's cookie tutorial.  She writes like she is speaking right to you, so it reads more like a conversation, which makes it so much easier to follow.  She also gives you tips that she has learned along the way in her baking journey.  I always feel that baker-to-baker tips are much more valuable, because they are speaking from experience.

Also, her photography is awesome!  Each picture is crystal clear, allowing you to get the full impact of her subject.  Look at her adorable kiddos having fun with their vampire cookie pops. 

Humorous Fang Cookies (L-R): Fangs with a gold tooth, Lady fangs, Mustache fangs

These vampire cookie pops are so much fun because you can add little details to make each one unique.  Imagine how much fun these would be as props in an impromptu photo booth at Halloween party... then you can eat the prop!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Muse-Day

Whenever I'm surfing around the web and I come across really cool ideas, I bookmark them into my "Inspirations" folder under my Favorites.  It's the perfect little collection for me to choose my Tuesday Muse-Days from.  So while I was perusing my folder today, I couldn't help but notice that a lot of them are from one of my favorite blogs, Love from the Oven

Aesthetically, Love from the Oven is very pleasing to the eye. It's clean design makes it easy to scroll through and catch up on the latest posts.  Also, all of Christi's content is situated in nicely organized columns, which makes this occasionally-OCD heart go pitter-patter.  And her photography - wow!  It is so inspired, focused and bursting with color. 

I could go on and on, but today's muse is not her blog itself (even though it could be), but rather one of her recent Halloween blog posts which ties in nicely with our push-pop post from yesterday. Check out these beauties... Halloween Brownie Push Pops!

Isn't she a genius?!  Look at all of those fun, bright colors! And see what I mean about the photography? 

At first glance, one might think a treat of this calliber is something you could only find in a fancy bakery, but they are actually really easy to make!  However, before I share the link to her tutorial for these treats, just take a moment and marvel at all the layers of sugary goodness... don't scroll too fast, you don't want to miss a sprinkle!

Diet-shmiet, I would not even hesitate to eat that entire thing in 20 seconds take a few lady-like nibbles of this confectionary cylinder of yumminess.

If you want to impress the pants off of your friends and family, here is Christi's awesome tutorial: Halloween Push Pop Peeps!