Get to Know Our Speakers Series: Nikki from Chef-In-Training

My name is Nikki and I blog over at Chef in Training. I am a stay at home mom of 2 cute kids; a sassy cute little 3-year-old girl and a darling and charming little 18-month-old boy. They say and do some of the funniest things and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be at home with them. They are my little buddies. I am married best friend and the love of my life. I have a passion for cooking, baking and photography.

By my blog's name, you can probably guess I blog about all things food and food related. From breakfast to dinner, from snacks to appetizers, sauces and beverages... you can find just about anything you are looking for. At Build Your Blog Conference I will be talking more about food blogging and how I turned my hobby of cooking and baking into a business. I will be part of a Q&A panel and happy to answer any questions you have about food blogging and how to be successful at it.

1. Why did you start a blog?

I started my blog about 3 years ago as a way to share recipes with my friends and family. I was a new stay-at-home mom looking for a fun hobby and found a love for being and creating in my kitchen. My blog was an easy way for any of my friends and family to view the recipes. I had originally emailed the recipes out upon request, but it got time consuming. Soon after starting my blog, it snowballed into something much greater than I had first imagined and I started to sees traffic from all sorts of places and people I didn't know personally. It has now turned into a business that I am able to do in the comfort of my own home and has been such a blessing for my family.

2. How long have you been blogging?

almost 3 years 

3. Who is your inspiration? 

When it comes to creating in my kitchen, my mom is who inspires me. She is the best cook/baker I know. In jr. high and high school, friends would come over to my house just for my mom's cooking. She was famous :) She can go out to eat, and if she likes something, she is a pro at recreating it all on her own at home. She really knows her stuff.

4. Hobbies other than blogging?

Of course being with my family. They are my favorite people. I also enjoy sports, especially soccer.  I LOVE to travel and hope to be able to do more of it one day as my kids get older. I also enjoy photography. I still have a lot to learn but the journey has been so much fun.

5. What is one thing you wish you had know when you started your blog?

I wish I would have known how to take a good picture. My early pictures on my blog (because I was only intending to share them with my family and friends) were absolutely terrible. Honestly, I laugh at them sometimes and cringe at them other times.  Taking good pictures is an important part of blogging. They are one of the ways that help set you apart from other blogs out there.

6. Who is your celebrity crush?    

I have two. Hugh Jackman... He is like the man of men. He is just so handsome.
The other would be Ryan Renolds. He is definitely more pretty boy but still so attractive.

I am SO excited to meet all of you at Build Your Blog Conference!  Until then, you can find me at Chef in Training and come follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to keep up updated on my latest posts. 

Make sure to register for the
 Build Your Blog Conference
Saturday, February 16, 2013
 Salt Lake City, Utah

Build Your Blog 2013

Make sure you register TODAY to save $49 when you register.  
(Price increases to $149 after December 31, 2012

Get to Know our Speakers Series: Lindsay from Artsy Fartsy Mama

This week we're highlighting Lindsay from Artsy Fartsy Mama.  She will be one of our speakers at the Build Your Blog Conference and will be talking about, "Blog Design 101: How to make your blog look amazing!"  

I'm Lindsay and I am a lover of all things creative!  Designing is one of my passions, as well as being creative in my daily life.  I blog over at Artsy Fartsy Mama, where I share all of my crafts, recipes, printables, and more. I'm also a graphic designer at  Happy Potamus Designs, and work from home designing blogs, business cards, invitations/announcements, and more!

I'm so excited to be speaking at Build Your Blog Conference in just a few short months! I'm going to be sharing some tips and tricks on how to make your blog look amazing. Today I'm going to share a few basic tips to think about that can really make a difference. Your blog is your brand. You want to be memorable - and for all the right reasons.

There is the old saying, "Don't judge a book by it's cover." While that may be good advice, we still judge books by their covers all the time. The same goes for your blog. You might not realize it, but your blog's first impression can have the effect on others to decide whether to stay or move on. It's important that your blog design looks inviting, but it also needs to be functional and user-friendly. If your readers can easily read your posts and find what they're looking for, it's more likely they are going to come back.

Whether you hire a designer or do it yourself, there are things you need to think about when putting your blog design together:

1. Choose Fonts Carefully

A good rule of design is to not use more than three fonts. I know there are so many good ones to pick from... but try to narrow it down. One main, maybe more flashy font for your header or title, one for titles, and one for text. The titles can even be a bolder version of the text font. Also keep in mind what your blog is about. You probably wouldn't want to use a construction-type font if you were blogging about flower arrangements.

Also, try to not make everything a display font. Mix up display fonts (cursives, fun/flashy, handwriting, etc) with more simple fonts (Century Gothic, Arial, etc) so that the eye isn't fighting to find what it needs to read first. Too many things going on make your blog distracting and hard to read. Keep things simple.

2. Choose Colors Carefully

Another good design rule is to try to keep your color scheme down to 3-4 colors at the most. Just like fonts, too many colors can be distracting. If you aren't sure what colors go together, one of my favorite sites for color inspiration is Design-Seeds. Also think about what colors would go with your brand. You wouldn't expect to see a pink, girly background on a blog for power tools (unless they are girly power tools, I guess!).

3. Make It Your Own

Like I said before, your blog is your brand. You want to be memorable, and have a logo that goes with your blog niche. You also want something that represents YOU. It's YOUR blog. Don't let the patterns and colors that are popular for the moment make the decisions for you on your design style. Nothing wrong with using them if you really love them, but don't feel like you have to just to make your blog fit in. Your content is really the star, but it's nice to bring it all together in a consistent and clean design.

I will recommend to bloggers I work with on their design to make a Pinterest board dedicated to pinning images from blogs that they are inspired by design-wise. Take a look at your favorite blogs and note what you like about their designs (social icons, great header, fonts, colors, etc), and soon you will have inspiration to work from to make a design that's all your own and something that you love.

4. "Above the Fold"

Did you know that you have about 2 seconds to convince someone to stay on your blog? That's an incredibly short amount of time to try to impress someone to stick around. If you haven't heard about the phrase, "Above the Fold", that means when you first open your blog, everything you see before scrolling down is above the "fold'.

It's important to keep your most important information above that line. For example, make sure your page titles (including an "about me" page) are visible, your social icons, and a way to contact you. You might want to consider adding a page with links to your favorite or popular posts, or add in a recent/popular posts gadget to show what you've been working on.

5. Use Photos

A photo can say 1,000 words. Make sure it says how awesome you are! Keep your post photo sizes consistent in size and try to edit your photos the best you can (don't forget to add a "watermark"). There are a lot of photo taking and editing tips out there, so keep practicing!

I really like being able to put a face with the blog name. Make a "welcome" or a shortened "about me" section in your sidebar with a photo. It makes your blog seem a little more personal and readers can get to know you better.

Hopefully these tips have helped a little in getting your blog looking even more amazing!
See you at Build Your Blog Conference!

We asked Lindsay some questions so you could get to know her better: 

1. Why did you start a blog?

I started blogging when I was a new mom. We were living in a smaller apartment and didn't have much money. So, I started making decor for our house and crafting to save money. I was keeping up with my graphic design blog and business, Happy Potamus Designs; to show what I was working on, so why not do that with my crafting, too? Because of that, Artsy-Fartsy Mama was born!

2. How long have you been blogging?

I started Artsy-Fartsy Mama in March 2011, so almost two years already!

3. Who is your inspiration?

One of the first craft blogs I ever started following was Jen from Craft-O-Maniac. She is so talented and comes up with so many fun ideas. I just love her! She inspires me to be more creative and use everyday things to make something beautiful.

4. Hobbies other than blogging?

I absolutely love designing. It makes me so happy to make something wonderful for someone else, especially when I get the design looking better than they ever expected. Besides designing, I love covering things (everything, actually) in glitter, painting, and thinking of new ideas for my monthly craft classes. I also love being with my family and going on fun dates with my awesome husband.

5. What is one thing you wish you had known when you started your blog?

How much work it really can be. I do love it, don't get me wrong. Blogging can just take up SO much time. It's a lifestyle for me. I'm always thinking of what my next project will be, then comes the work of executing the project (while taking pictures the whole time), and then prepping posts to publish. I wouldn't change this for the world. I love how many opportunities blogging has brought me, and not to mention all the amazing people I wouldn't have met otherwise.

6. Who is your celebrity crush?

After much thought, I've settled on Bruce Willis. I think it's hilarious (and pretty awesome) that after visiting the Madame Tussaud's wax museum in California, my husband looks a lot like him!!

Make sure to register for the
 Build Your Blog Conference
Saturday, February 16, 2013
 Salt Lake City, Utah

Build Your Blog 2013

Now until the end of the month, you can save $49 when you register.  The gift of knowledge, networking, and having a ton of fun is the best Christmas present!  
(Price increases to $149 after December 31, 2012

Get to Know Our Speakers Series: Nisha from The Dating Divas and Healthy Mom's Kitchen

Did you know we have 9 more weeks until the Build Your Blog Conference?  We're so excited because we have AWESOME speakers who will be speaking at the conference.  Every week leading up to the conference we will be highlighting one of our speakers, we like to call it the "Get to Know Our Speakers Series."  We want you to get to know our speakers and get a sneak peek into what she'll be talking about at the conference.  This week we're featuring Nisha from Healthy Mom's Kitchen and The Dating Divas.  

Hello everyone, this is Nisha from Healthy Mom's Kitchen and The Dating Divas.  I'm looking forward to meet all of you who will be coming to the conference. I promise you it will be a day you won't want to miss out on!  I'll be speaking about the "The Ins-and-Outs of Blog Marketing and Business." During our time together, you'll learn how to create a loyal following that will support you in creating multiple streams of income (your blog being one of them).  This class is great for those men and women who enjoy their blog, but see it as a piece to the bigger picture of how they'll make a difference in this world.  You may be the person that doesn't get excited about the idea of racing after tons of traffic, but would rather create a smaller community of readers that you get to know well.  Get ready to think outside the box!

We asked Nisha some questions about herself:

1. Why did you start blogging? 

I started my blog, Healthy Mom's Kitchen to support mothers on a weight release journey, but struggling to do so in a family friendly way.  I was in the business of coaching women through this journey and our groups would meet weekly, in person.  I could see that these moms were overwhelmed and needed a virtual resource for family-friendly meals that would help them burn fat naturally.  It was at that time that I decided to jump into blogging to create that support piece for my clients.

2. How long have you been blogging?

 I was a casual blogger on my personal family blog since our daughter was born 6 years ago and since then have blogged for a number of companies.

3. Who is your inspiration?

 Oh....that would be a huge list.  I'm a bit of a "self-help junkie" and read lots of books, hire business coaches, and follow many inspiring people.  Some of my all-time favorites are Immaculee Ilibagiza, Jack Canfield, and Tiffany Peterson.

4. Hobbies other than blogging?  

Zumba, running with friends, game nights, and hanging out with my family.

5. What is one thing you wish you had know when you started your blog? 

 That it's okay to get paid for blogging and in fact, it's encouraged!  I can't tell you how frustrating it was for me to go to blog conferences in those early days of trying to learn the ropes and hearing over and over "don't blog for money!"  I get it - some people were selling out, so to speak, but I think it created a confused culture for a while because within a few years, you heard just the opposite - "don't blog for free!".  I wish in the beginning, standards would have been really clear about how to treat your blog as an integral piece to a bigger business - one that was profitable!

6. Who is your celebrity crush? 

 I'd say Paul Walker, he's pretty hot!

Make sure to register for the
 Build Your Blog Conference
Saturday, February 16, 2013
 Salt Lake City, Utah

Now until the end of the month, you can save $49 when you register.  The gift of knowledge, networking, and having a ton of fun is the best Christmas present!  
(Price increases to $149 after December 31, 2012

Day of Remembrance

If you want to help the victims of Newtown, go to this link that lists several ways you can help.

How to Blog as a Team: 5 Tips to Help You Succeed

I know that there are a lot of people out there who have wanted to start a blog but are afraid of doing it on their own.
Running a blog can be a lot of work because there are so many things to do- post on a regular basis, find and work on content to post about, share posts on social media networks, connect with other bloggers, connect with readers, answer questions, respond to emails, set up advertising, network with businesses, find giveaway sponsors . . . etc, etc. The list goes on and on!

However, we have the solution for that:
Team Blogging.

We have found that we can get so much more done by working as a team on our blog and we firmly believe that it was because we worked together that we have been able to help our blog grow so quickly. We will admit- there are times when working with more than one person can be hard, but we wanted to share 5 tips on how we have made blogging as a team work for us:

1. Have a common goal.
We try to meet at least once or twice a month (sometimes in person, sometimes via Skype) and we discuss what our goals for the blog are in the upcoming months. We keep an open mind and listen to each others' opinions and then decide what our goals will be. If we have a mutual vision, we each have an understanding of what our contribution needs to be and we are less likely to run into problems. We have learned that one of the biggest obstacles is a lack of communication; you have to be able to talk and share your opinions in order to make it work. Don't be afraid to speak up and share what you think, but also be willing to listen to others and what they feel is important.

2. Use the group's strengths and clearly define your roles.
On our team, each of us has strengths in certain areas. One sister is awesome at public relations, so we have her managing all our emails and communicating with advertisers and sponsors. Our dad is brilliant when it comes to the programming and business side of the blog, so that is his job. Some of us like to craft and so we are in charge of the weekly craft posts. One sister is good at organization, so it is her job to set-up the calendar and remind each of us of our assignments. Each person feels competent in what they are doing and they love what they do, which helps us reach our goals. When you assign jobs to each person on the team, make sure they know exactly what their responsibilities and boundaries are (because it can get ugly if someone oversteps their boundaries).

3. Be organized.
As was mentioned before, one of our sisters is in charge of our calendar and oversees who does what by when. We have each day assigned to a certain sister and it's their job to make sure that their post goes live on that day. Plan out in advance who will do what by when and stay on top of that schedule. If it helps, assign someone to be over the calendar (like we did) to help keep everyone else organized. By having a schedule and knowing when your deadlines are, everyone will be responsible for carrying their load of the work.

4. Be a cheerleader. :)
When you are working as a team, it is important to encourage and support each other (but you don't have to wear a short skirt and wave around pom poms). A team will only be as strong as their weakest link, so be supportive of each other. When a team is motivated by its members, it is able to stay sharp and focused and creative. Part of motivation is understanding the importance of each and every team member (including yourself) and making sure that the team appreciates each one. If a team member feels as if they are not part of the team, they are not going to perform--and that lack of performance can pass along to other members of the team. Cheer each other on and recognize each other when someone does something good for the team and/or for the blog.

5. Speak up if there is a problem- don't keep it inside.
Once again, we want to stress the importance of open communication. You have to talk about things, no matter how hard it is. Address immediately any issues that might cause problems for the team, but be sure to not attack one person in particular. If you see a problem, do not wait for someone else to speak up because it might only make the problem worse. It is possible that you are the only one who has realized that there is a problem at all and it is up to you to try to correct it. Keep the team in mind and things will work out.

Working as a team on our blog (and working as a family) has been an incredible blessing and so much fun. If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing.

Want more tips and ideas for blogging as a team? 
Be sure to check out the class taught by The Dating Divas at our Build Your Blog Conference. 
They have Team Blogging down to a system and want to share all their secrets with you!

Nosh Restaurant Gift Certificate Giveaway!

  • Want to win gift certificates to your favorite restaurant?  Nosh, is a downloadable app for your smartphone where you can share what you eat with your friends, see what's good on the menu, and get a text when your table is ready.  Nosh is giving away nearly $2000 in restaurant gift certificates on Facebook this December. Win any number of $25 gift certificates to the restaurant of your choice every week this holiday season. 

    Nosh is giving away 20 gift certificates a week until Dec 21, 2012. It's so easy! All you have to do is sign up! Go to to sign up!
    The more friends you share with the better your chances of winning...and right now your chances are pretty good. So sign up and get sharing!  Those who get more than 2 friends (cuz who likes dining alone anyway, right?) will be entered to win a night at the fanciest restaurant in town ($250 value).  
    Enter to win $25 to your favorite restaurant now!

Build Your Blog Series: 5 Questions to Improve Blog Posts

Sometimes we get in the habit of writing a post, just to have a post. Have you ever had a post that didn't get much attention at all?

To avoid this from happening in the future, ask yourself these key questions with every post you write.

1. "How will this help my reader?" Rather than just writing about what is on your mind, think about what your readers want to hear. Think of ideas that are currently trending and play off of them. For example, if Christmas is coming up try to focus your post around tips or ideas that would help and inspire your readers.

2. "Will my title grab readers' attention?" When readers see your title, they make the decision then and there to continue reading your whole post. Often times, readers will see your title on a social media site. If your title is catchy enough, it will draw readers in and motivate them to go read your post.

3. "Does this post have one main topic?" Readers often get confused or distracted if you cover a variety of topics in one post. Any sub-points made in a post should relate to the main topic.

4. "Have I used proper formatting?" Using headings, subheadings, bold text and bullet points can help add visual interest to your posts. Making your post more attractive can also make it easier to read. Readers want posts that are organized and easy to understand.

5. "How will this help me?" Although you want to help your readers, you should set goals for your blog. Setting goals you want to reach will help you to track your progress. Allowing readers to leave comments on your posts will allow you to ensure that your post is benefiting them as well as yourself.

 For other great blogging tips, check out Daily Blog Tips!

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