Live Blog: Growing the Good Economy Together with Sara Hopson

This session was presented by Sara Hopson of Daily Feats.

Sara – Hi Guys.  We can talk way more since the group is small.  This is Shannon and she is going to help us today.  I’ll do a quick introduction.  I’m Sara Hopson I’m a marketing and social media professional for Daily Feats.  I’m passionate about health and technology’s ability to help you back to health.

We’re here to talk about your vision and how to grow the good economy together.  I gave you an overview from what I’ve learned and how to realize your vision.

At Daily Feats, we are passionate about helping people eat healthy, work out, and pay less for health insurance.  If you live healthy you should get rewarded for it.

This summer we’ve been honing in on that vision as a company.  It’s all about breaking a bit challenge down into little pieces, about making it personal, about coming across authentic, and about being accountable.  Making it larger than you.  I’ve been inspired this weekend by the outpouring of sharing.

Attendees: Nellie (Brooklyn Active Mama), Aliah – (The Get Fit Diva), Martinez (300 Pounds and Running), Mary (Minutes Per Mile), Mary (Ask Mary RD), Elaine (Eating by Elaine), Dr. Barbara Downes (Downes Health), Tim (MidPack Runner), Kelly (No Thanks to Cake), Hillary (The Big Weight), Melissa (Run, Eat, Lift), Amanda (Fit Approach), Amy (Fat Girls Can Run).

Sara – A little more about my background.  I live in Boston, as does Shannon.  I have a background in education.  I have only been in marketing for a year and a half.  Everything is a learning process.  It’s good to look at your blog and brand as a learning process.  It would be awesome for someone to volunteer and say why they started blogging and what their initial vision was.   Anyone?

Amy  – I did blogging professionally before the 2000s.  Early 2000s I was working for a magazine.  My boss was very innovative and wanted to do the internet thing.  I created the first ever blogger program in the electronics manufacturing world.  I trained 8 engineers how to blog and be personal and passionate.  All 8 were invited to conferences and were published in international journals.  If you can make software sexy, what else can you do?  I started several blogs including a family craft blog.  When I started my own journey, I was out running one day.  I was close to 300 pounds and I started running at 250 pounds. first time running in daylight.  A woman told me “you’re looking great” but I really heard “fat girls can’t run.”  This crazy fat girl was living in my head.  What if I created a blog and allowed this crazy person in my head to say what she wanted.  I say the things that women want to say to themselves.  My best post ever was “Sex while running”  – how do you get through that last .75 of a mile before you get home?  I think about sex.  Having that fantasy gets me through that last mile.  I got into blogging saying the things people would not say.

I met some women in a café and we were talking about blogging and social media.  I told them I have a blog and Twitter.  I told her the name and she dropped her coffee.  “You’re Fat girls can run?”  You’re the reason I did a 10K.  Sharing my goofy stories was powerful enough to change someone’s life.

Sara – before you move on.  Were you at Amy’s presentation?  She did a great presentation on branding I’d like to piggyback on; a lot of concepts that are very important.  What was the process you used to hone in on the funny stories and your fat girl voice?  I set up a number of blogs and have had a difficult time in hitting my stride.

Amy – I’m a marketing person, right.  I flip this woman off and I’m talking in my head like a crazy person.  I think “that would be a really good title for a book.”  How do I get a book deal?   I could start a blog.  I struggled for a few days with the concept.  Did I really want to be known as the “fat girl”?  Before I bought the URL I really had to come to terms with the “fat girl” title.  The technical definition of fat is carrying more weight than the norm.  Doesn’t mean I’m worthless or lazy.  I had to journal all of this out and be OK with being called fat girl.  It took about a week for me to decide to buy the URL and start the blog.  Everything has to be brand appropriate on my blog, though.  I don’t use it to talk about knitting.

Sara – You actually made a point on the sheet about MVP – minimum viable product: The blog that can get a readership with the lowest common denominator of content.  You have a lot going on – it’s difficult to choose what’s really appropriate for the blog.  Do you want 5 posts a week about different things or hone in on one topic?  It’s important to think of key things you want people to see on your blog.

Elaine – I didn’t know anything about blogging – I’m cooking healthy things and people ask what I’m making.  It was a lot of me emailing people recipes.  It got time consuming and I wanted one place to post my recipes.  That was where I got the idea of blogging.  Then people wanted to know why food is good for you and why you should eat in a certain way.  A lot of recipes are allergy friendly.  I’ve learned how to work around standard recipes and keep taste and flavor.  I started cooking healthy because I work for a corporate wellness group and one contest was a recipe makeover challenge.  Our RDs took a very unhealthy recipe and turned it into a healthy recipe without sacrificing flavor.

Sara – I think it’s cool how you mentioned the allergy things.  Carving out a niche is something good.  You become the go-to person.

Martinez – my story is different.  I played football in college and worked as a corrections officer in Michigan.  I moved to CT and started grad school.  I started blogging as I was working at the Men’s Warehouse.  I was at the largest size.  I was always on my feet working 16 hours per day and earlier this year I got a bad pain.  I saw specialist and went through PT to figure out what was going on.  I got no answers.  I had 4 months of cortisone shots.  The specialist told me the only way to was lose weight.  Maybe you should get some running shoes and start walking.  I’ll do you one better – I’ll start running, and then start blogging about it.  A week later, I seriously thought about it.  I stated on July 1st – I ran, then I bought a domain name, and put up a blog post.  I put everything up about the day.

Sara – A lot of us that grew up with IM or Livejournal – we’re familiar with these things.  How did you tell your friends and family about the blog?

Martinez – I just read some research that men don’t like to talk about weight loss.  They don’t talk about their spare jelly roll.  It’s not masculine.  I wanted to do this differently.  I started blogging about weight loss.  If I’m going to do something, I just go out and do it.  I had a support network for blogging; I just had to start doing it.  I started telling some people at the university about my blog – just check it out.  Then it started to get big.  People encouraged me to keep going.

Kelly – I started mine diffently.  I was very secret.  It was MY journal.  I always liked to write but didn’t keep a paper journal very well in the past.  I thought if I write this, I have to lose the weight.  I came up with the name and went from there.  I’m on Jenny Craig and wanted to share my story.  Slowly I started posting on the Jenny Craig forums about my experiences and my blog posts.  People liked it and I was shocked.  I had amore weight to lose and they were impressed with my story?   It was just this year I came out on Facebook as a blogger.  You don’t always realize the honesty and truth you reveal is the truth about what everyone has went through.

Kelly – Negative experiences?  Not really.  My work doesn’t know.  I just started a new job and don’t know them very well.  I’d be curious how people handle this in the workplace.  There’s a lot that’s very honest that I share.  I don’t’ know that I want my boss to read things about how weight loss affected my skin.

Tim – I started with a blog – I was a theater major and then did video game programming for years.  I went from being on stage to getting no attention ever.  I purchased the URL and everybody knew about it.  It was “pay attention to me” time.  That’s a little to schizophrenic to post everything all the time.  Not everyone I knew was into running and blocking.  So I had to determine what I really wanted to share.  I started MidPack runner and wanted to get the right audience and build the right brand.  I started working for a fit club and moved to Boston.  A big selling point on my resume is that I work in the fitness community.

Sara – Anyone else with thoughts on that?

Aliya – I run several blogs.  I work in PR and marketing.  I have a professional site that I run.  I also run additional things for marketing and PR.  I have to be careful what I post.  I started my blog posts cautiously, posting photos of food.  Now I am embracing my clients may find me so I post more positive personal things on my blog.  My clients can see I’m transforming myself for the better.  I landed a fit ness client because he was inspired by me being active and involved.  At first I didn’t want people to see the real me and what I was going through.  I’m more comfortable with things now and I’m doing productive things.  I’d be curious if anyone has had any bad experiences.

Amy – A really old story.  Getting back to LiveJournal.  I had one that was completely private, assumed name, assumed email.  I talked about off-color things that I did not want associated with my personal name.  There was someone I met in the professional world who KNEW that persona.  I had to speak with him that these two do not cross.  It’s a personal decision to make if you want to publish these things.  I’m of the opinion that you keep this separate from your professional life and anonymous or you make it a part of your professional image.  I have made AMY part of my social media identity along with Gingersnap .  If you’re concerned about your boss finding something, don’t write it.  Something created can never be uncreated.

You need to understand you’re a brand, but your brand is not YOU.  Your brand is worth an amount of money, you’re not worth that.  You need to keep your brand separate.  It’s a personal choice if you identify that you publish this.

Tim – I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to do this.  It’s really how comfortable you are with sharing who you are.  The things we write about are the things we are really passionate about.

Sara – Something Get Fit Diva said a moment ago – When you first found out people were reading your blog how did that change your mindset?  How do you think of your audience as you craft content?

Aliya – I take my audience into consideration.  I did choose who I wanted to invite to see my content on Facebook.  I look at where they’re coming from using Google Analytics and try to cater to my statistics.  People are interested in my weight loss – I want to keep them interested.  I’d like to help other people and share my journey.

Mary – Try not to get caught up in running jargon.  If I say I didn’t track my “800s” – many may not know what this is.  I think it’s usually best to avoid things like this.

Sara – AS you’re thinking of shifting content in a certain direction, what do you think you will maintain?  Are there things in your life that you’re discouraged from posting about based on your readers?

Mary RD – I just blog about what I want to blog about.  I am used to having lots to say about how to eat in America today.  You either like me or don’t like me in my journey or my writing.  I’m at an age I don’t care about what others have to say about me.   They don’t have to follow or read my blog.

Sara – I’d like to talk about what you’ve learned this weekend that you want to do next.  What would you like to implement?  What are your concerns?

Elaine – The YouTube idea is cool and could apply to healthy cooking.  I feel like it could be very helpful but very time consuming.  I’d also have to look good in my videos.  It would change my blogging routine but would be opening up new opportunities.

Sara – Anyone have experience with video blogging?

Tim – it’s more personable but takes much longer to produce; to blog.  I have all the editing software but then it requires a lot of takes, sometimes you are rambling, etc.  It’s interesting but not for me personally.

Mary – I’m a little less advanced than some, but hearing about all the Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, it’s clear there is more than one way to direct traffic to your blog.  As someone on the younger side, I know everyone has Facebook.  If I posted that I had a blog on Facebook, those close to me would find out everything about me.

Amy – My suggestion is to create a fan page from your blog.  I run my page like a business and cross post very rarely from my personal page.  You can keep them separate and distinct.

Tim – To build on that… When I started cross posting running stuff it felt like more of a community.  I started posting to my personal FB feed and started noticing a lot more people that were mentioning running – people I hadn’t heard from in years.

Kelly – The big community that we have – many blog about similar topics.  Twitter parties, guest posts, etc. we can call link to one another.  There has to be a way to work together to add readership.  We’re all trying to help people in our own way.

Sara – the community only grows stronger when the ties are stronger between bloggers.

Amy – I have some experience partnering with other bloggers.  I had mentioned my most popular post.  My second most popular is a guest post about a first 5K.  Find people to hook up with and cross post and share content.  For every 25 pieces of content you produce, 10 should be promoting someone or something else.  I got this out of Fitbloggin last year.  If anyone wants to guest post on my website, let me know!

Sara – I love the 2-4-1 concept.  If the blogs you read – reach out to them and see if you can help them promote.  I signed up for a newsletter called the Mutual Admiration Society.  It’s a means of paying it forward in the community.

Sara – Any other ideas?

Tim – I write a lot more suppository stuff and lose a bit of my personality.  Some of the discussions have made me think I need to put more of my personality into my articles.

Sara – For anyone who has a brand, it’s important to go through some exercises – AMY discussed these yesterday in her session.   A reader should feel like you’re speaking to them instead of just reading an article.

Amy – It’s very important when you’re working in a text-based environment to get your “brand voice” across.

Sara – on the bottom of the page I passed out there are some resources to check out on this topic.  Like I said earlier, we have a Google spreadsheet for you to share all the ideas and information you learned over the course of FitBloggin.  I’ll be sending out an email to all the attendees to facilitate.