My Plans For Blog Domination – an Undated Annual Blog Planner

My Plans For Blog Domination

I’ve been blogging here at Shopper Strategy since 2009 and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Have I made a bundle from my blog? No. Have I earned enough to keep me doing it for over 8 years? Yes I have! And of course there are other benefits, like getting to interact with awesome people online and having the privilege of trying out new products before they go widespread.

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Getting Ready for BlogHer

BlogHer Logo Carved From Ivory Soap

In less than three weeks I’ll be heading to New York City for the annual BlogHer conference and I’ve been excitedly making all sorts of preparations.  This is the 8th annual conference and the third year that I’ll be attending.  Each year I learn so much and take away such great ideas for my business and blog that I spend the remainder of the year looking forward to the next conference!

The best thing about being able to attend social media conferences like BlogHer is that I get to meet such wonderful people who really “get” me.  When you work (and live) online like I do you often find yourself interacting more with computers than with people and I always look forward to this opportunity to meet people with similar passions in real life.  I’ve had the great joy of “meeting” some terrific people online and love getting the chance to meet some of them in person.

I’ll be staying at the historic Hilton New York with my friend and colleague Jerri Ann of as roomie, and I can’t wait to see some of my good friends like Heather from Inexpensively, Heather from InGodsEconomy, and Jenna from MadeMoreBeautiful.

This year I’ll be arriving a day ahead of time and plan to do more sightseeing that I was able to do last time it was in New York.  Having already been there before I was able to pick up a few money saving tips for visitors to NYC.  Last time I paid $40 plus tip for a taxi from the airport to Manhattan, this year I’ve reserved a luxury sedan in advance for a much better price!  The fee for a luxury car from Dial7 is just $36 and I used coupon code ua03122 to take $5 off of that.

I wrote in advance to the Live With Kelly show and I’m super excited that I have tickets to be in the audience on August 2nd!  I’ve really been wanting to go to Battery Park and see the Statue of Liberty and venture out a little further than I did last trip so I’ve also bought a hop on hop off 72 hour pass for the Grayline Double Decker sightseeing tour buses.  It’s a neat deal where you can get on or off during any of the many loop tours of the area for one low price.  The 72 hour ticket is normally $64 but you get $5 off when you book online.

This trip would not be possible without my generous sponsors whom I cannot thank enough!  I’m privileged to have Murphy USA as my gold sponsor and they have covered my hotel accommodations.  I am honored to be a contributor to The Smarter Driver, a sister site to Murphy USA and I’m grateful for their continued support!

Other sponsors include the best brother in the world who took care of the airfare (thank you Mike!) and UPrinting who provided me with some awesome club card flyers!  I’ll be sure to bring you an update when I get back.


Whoohoo – I’m Bound for Blissdom!

L to R - my mom, Heather from, Kay Lynn from Bucksome Boomer and me.

I enjoyed the Blissdom blogging conference last year so much that I’ve really been looking forward to this year’s conference – and now I’m on my way!  I’m taking my mom with me and we’re driving up to Nashville for the weekend.  I’m super excited to have the opportunity to watch a live Dave Ramsey radio show and take a tour of Financial Peace Plaza.  I’m also thrilled to be attending a meet and greet dinner tonight with a bunch of fabulous frugal bloggers and I can’t wait to see some old friends, make some new ones, and share the pictures with you here and on the Facebook page.


Still Catching Up After Mom 2.0 Summit!

The Mom 2.0 Summit was not my first blog conference, but it was by far the busiest and I feel like I’m still catching my breath!  It was a wonderful problem to have so many exciting panels to choose from during each time slot, although it made it difficult at times to decide where I really needed to be – the panelists were top notch and the topics were widely varied, covering everything from Video, Multimedia and Monetization: How video Can Realistically Raise Your Visibiity and Credibility to Connected or Disconnected: How is Social Networking Affecting Your Relationships?

Despite the hectic pace of the conference, there was a really laid back vibe that was nice and likely attributable at least in part to the “Big Easy” New Orleans location.   The staff at the Ritz Carlton were super and the hotel was absolutely gorgeous.  My mom is also a blogger and I enjoyed bringing her with me to the conference and taking her to Cafe Du Monde for her first taste of beignets.  We never get to go anywhere together without the kids so this was a great treat for us, as was our walk through the French Market where we bought the obligatory alligator and mask souvenirs to bring home.

We had a great time visiting with some old friends, making some new friends, and even meeting some old friends “in real life”!  The brands that sponsored and were present at the event were also terrific, and they’ve sent us home with so many awesome gifts for the kids that I don’t think we’ll be able to live up to their expectations next time!  A special thanks to Dr. Pamela Georgeson and the people from Claritin for talking with us at greath length about our children’s allergy issues, and to Almond Accents for the most scrumptious flavored almonds ever (I’ve hidden what I had left from hubby who has been inhaling them) and for the kids’ favorite conference souvenir – these adorable aprons (that I still can’t get two of the kids to take off).


Headed to the Mom 2.0 Summit in NOLA

Whoohoo – I’m super excited to be heading out today for the Mom 2.0 Summit in New Orleans!  It’s only about a 2 1/2 hour drive from us so I’ve visited New Orleans on numerous occasions, but I haven’t been since Hurricane Katrina hit and I’m anxious to see how much has changed.  The conference is being held at the Ritz-Carlton in the French Quarter so it’s within walking distance of lots of the main attractions.  My mom is going with me as she is also a blogger and I’m planning to take her to Cafe du Monde for some beignets and a trip through the French Market before the conference activities get underway.  She and I have never really had a chance to travel together on our own so I’m thrilled to be able to take her on her first trip through the quarter.  I’m also looking forward to sharing lots of great N’Awlins pictures with you guys and I hope that you’ll understand and forgive me for having to put up with too few posts and too many tweets over the next three days 🙂


I’m On My Way to Blissdom!


Hey guys!  I’m in the car on I-65 right now with my mom on our way to the Blissdom conference at the Opryland Resort in Nashville.  Isn’t it beautiful?  I’ve never been there before but the pictures are absolutely stunning.  I can’t wait to take some of my own to share with you!  We’re very excited about the opportunity to take a couple days away to see some old bloggy friends again, make some new bloggy friends, and oh yeah – we hope to learn something too!  I won’t be making my usual Publix trip and post this morning, but I’ll be back on track with the hot deals for you next week.


Top Ten Favorite WordPress Plugins

Some of you are bloggers or are considering starting a blog so even though this is a little off topic, I thought I’d share with you this post that I wrote today on my work blog.   There are THOUSANDS of available plugins for WordPress that allow users to quickly and easily customize their blogs, so how do you know which ones to use?  This is by no means a conclusive list, but between this blog and my work blog I’ve tested at least a hundred different plugins and this is a list of my top ten favorite WordPress plugins that I rely on daily.  If you use WordPress for a personal or business blog (if not you should read 7 Reasons Your Business Needs a Blog), then you might be interested in checking these out:

After the Deadline

I’m amazed at the number of blogs that are filled with misspellings and grammatical errors and unfortunately I often find myself focusing on these issues instead of the content which might be terrific if I weren’t so distracted by misused and incorrect words.  Nobody is perfect and I make these kinds of mistakes too so I rely on After the Deadline to proofread each post before it is published.  Similar to the spelling and grammar checker in Microsoft Word, this plugin underlines questionable words and phrases after you hit the publish button and allows you to update or ignore them.


Most WordPress themes come with Akismet already included, but you need an API Key to activate and use it to benefit from the spam protection it provides.  Akismet checks your blog comments to see if they look like spam or not.  Comments that appear to be spam are filtered into a different folder so that you can review them separately and easily delete them in bulk.  This is an invaluable tool that will save you tons of time in dealing with spam comments so be sure to turn it on!

Broken Link Checker

This is a neat little plugin that checks your blog for broken links and missing images and lets you know right on the dashboard if any are found.  You can click to check or repair the links from right there.

Google Analyticator

Google Analytics is an awesome free tool that tracks your web traffic with detailed information that you can view when logged into your account.  Google Analyticator is a plugin that allows you to view a summary of that information right from your WordPress dashboard, including a graph of daily visitors, without having to visit your Google account.

Greg’s Threaded Comment Numbering

Visitors to your blog can see the number of comments on each post, but the comments themselves aren’t numbered, nor are they numbered in the WordPress dashboard.  Greg’s Threaded Comment Numbering numbers each of the comments and allows you to choose whether to use sub levels in your comments, which is especially useful if you have lots of discussion among your visitors.  This plugin is a necessity for me on my shopping blog where I host a lot of giveaways so I don’t have to manually count down through all the comments to locate the giveaway winner.

Post Template

If you use the same structure over and over for different posts then you could save lots of time and effort with this Post Template plugin.  For example, if you post recipes often and use the same format repeatedly, this plugin allows you to make a template of that post that you can select from a drop down box to use over and over.  Create as many post and/or page templates as you’d like.  All of the other plugins in my fave top ten are free, but I paid a little under $9 for this one (price is 7 Euros) and it was DEFINITELY worth the money!



The Sociable plugin makes it easy for your visitors to follow you on a multitude of other social media like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, and many others.  This row of links, including any of the icons you choose, will show up at the bottom of your posts – check out the options to print, email and create a PDF that we’ve also included in our Sociable bar below at the bottom of this post.

TweetMeme Retweet Button

tweetmemeIf your blog has an active Twitter community, or if you’d just like to encourage readers to tweet your posts, then you should really consider adding a TweetMeme button to each of your posts.  You can choose the full-sized button like this one or a compact button, and you can even decide whether to put the button at the top or bottom of your posts.  I recommend top for short posts and bottom for long ones.

What Would Seth Godin Do

Named after marketing guru Seth Godin, the What Would Seth Godin Do plugin displays a custom welcome message to new visitors and another to return visitors.  This plugin is useful for showing new visitors how to get around your blog or how to subscribe to it, and/or for giving repeat visitors other useful information.  It displays a box with custom text at the top of any page or post for a defined number of visits – for instance, you can set it to display subscription information and links to your FAQs the first three times a visitor comes to your site.

Yet Another Related Posts Plugin

As the name suggests, there are plenty of available plugins that allow you to display links to related posts at the bottom of each of your posts.  I’ve tried a number of different plugins that do the same thing and the reasons I like Yet Another Related Posts plugin best are because it gives you more control over what content is displayed, its caching system is updated as the site is visited so it performs better on the backend, and the related post links also show up in the RSS and Feedburner feeds.

If you have any favorite plugins that aren’t listed here please share in the comments below!