The Best Blogging Conference is in Houston… And I have a $50 Coupon Code! Blog Elevated, October 21-23, 2016

I have been to a lot of conferences.  Many for high tech, lots for marketing and a bunch for blogging.  The content is always useful, but what I like best is that it is 2 days to look to look at your business from the outside (with no kids in need of attention) and to meet others doing similar work.  And in the case of blog conferences, it’s often moms doing the same kind of work.

Each conference I attended, I made at least one important step on improving my business and I met a handful of people that I’ve worked with ever since.

My very favorite of all these conferences is Blog Elevated.  The content is very relevant, the tone is encouraging and energizing… and it is local.  The conferences have always been in or near Houston… and I’ve made friends that I’ve met for the Houston Bloggers dinner each month for the rest of the year.

This year’s Blog Elevated Conference is in Clear Lake… just a short drive from Downtown Houston!  Stay overnight OR stay at home… and if you have a nursing baby, bring him or her.

At the conference, there are always blogging, social media and business experts to help you grow your site.  There are sessions on web design, photography, video, and graphics… and also on Analytics, SEO, and keeping your site lean and clean.  And, friends, there are brands there that want to work with bloggers.

The conference is $249, which is a bargain for a conference… and includes several meals, and I have a $50 coupon code making it only $199.  Registration includes two days of learning, parties, official meals, and direct access to brands who want to work with YOU!

Go HERE to register AND use this affiliate code to save $50!!!  BigKids16 (case sensitive)

Blogs & Business: How do I get my website set up for success, from the start?

I get this question a lot because people really want to get things right from the beginning… but here’s the answer…

You just have to start.

You can attend conferences and seek out experts and take classes… but if you have never written a post, had Facebook refuse to share your contest or had photos that would not load… you will probably have no idea what the speakers, experts and teachers are talking about.

Not long ago I was at a conference in a class about video editing.  The instructor was a professional and his videos were phenomenal… and I would really like to have started with the quality of videos he was creating.  That said, had I not made a series of bad videos, I would have had no idea what he was talking about.

BigKidSmallCity Laptop
When he opened up the editing software with the different tracks and tools, I actually knew something about what he was doing.  I had never used them well, but I had an advantage over many of the other people in the class.

So, again, my answer is to just start.

But, to get you going the right way, here are some simple things you can do today:

  1.  Buy your domain name and get a “.com” and maybe a “.org” but not a “.net” or another option.  See how HERE.  If “.com” is taken for your favorite name, think of a better name.  Otherwise people will always find the .com version of the domain name rather than yours.
  2. Make sure that same domain name (like “BigKidSmallCity”) is available across social media platforms… so check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc and reserve the name everywhere.
  3. Start on your own self-hosted website.  Skip the or ( is different) hosted websites.  These will cause you some headaches later when you try to monetize and grow.  See why HERE.

Do these things today, look into hosting, look into WordPress themes and then look for conferences, experts and classes!  Do some of this research on Blogelina and also look on FirstSiteGuide!

Blogs & Business: Which company should I use for website hosting?

Friends – I receive a lot of website and blogging questions from the community, so let me share the answers here in case it is also helpful to you.

This question is from someone who already has their domain name and wants to know about hosting.  Which company should they use for website hosting?
affiliate links

BigKidSmallCity Laptop
So, once you purchase your name, like “”, you need some way to make it available on the web.  A hosting company provides space on a server (and often additional services).

These companies are usually very eager to help, so once you have a domain name, you can call and get step-by-step help with the hosting.  Also, this can be changed later, so as your site grows or you figure out what you want in a hosting company, you can make changes.

To start, you probably only need “shared web hosting”.  Your website is placed on server with other websites and they will share the server resources.  Once the website grows and is getting a lot of traffic, you will probably want to switch to the more expensive “dedicated web hosting” where you get your own web server.

You can learn all about hosting on Wikipedia… but don’t let the complexities slow you down.  Call the companies and decide which is best for today.

Some options are:

I have used each one over the last several years.  Use what is right for you, but I would start with Blue Host and move to Liquid Web when your website is getting a lot of traffic.

For more information on starting a website, learn about the history and development of BigKidSmallCity!

Blogs & Businesses: BlogPreneur Online Course

Well friends, I was going to wait until January to post more about starting your own website… but I just finished a new online course and sign-ups close on December 23, 2015 this year.

Last week I shared the Question-and-Answer session I hosted on starting your own website.  In it I mentioned that you could learn more about blogging at conferences, groups… or with online courses.  The online courses are often the best way to get started, because you can start them immediately.

One of the courses is BlogPreneur.  I JUST purchased it and I JUST finished it.  This series includes videos and printables and goes through the basics, the tricks to social media and monetizing the website.  Learn more about the course with my link HERE.

I did the course in a weekend and kept stopping the videos to implement the suggestions on my website.

And candidly, the reason I really like this course is because it was written by 3 moms that are getting millions of page views per month and make about $30,000/month each.  (Becky posts an income statement online each month, so you can see exactly how she does it.)

One woman even retired her husband with the income she makes on her blog.  I would really like to do this one day.

So, instead of another course or conference with a lot of ideas that sound good… this course is to teach bloggers to do what they have done.

I was planning to share this in a New Years series… but like I mentioned, they are closing sign ups on December 23.

If you are thinking about starting a blog or website in 2016, read on to see what is in the course:

  • How to write for your audience
  • What makes a post go viral
  • How to run your blog like a business
  • Science behind Pinterest
  • Content strategies
  • How to monetize your Facebook page
  • Types of passive income
  • and more!

The course is $297 through December 23 and comes with these free bonuses:

  • FREE eBook: A Stronger Blog in 30 Days
  • BlogPreneurs Only Exclusive Facebook Group (This is what I’m excited about.)
  • 50% off the upcoming YouTube 101 Course
  • Exclusive Q&A Follow-up Webinar
  • Get entered for a chance to win a FULL blog review by the B2B Team
  • Email List Building CRASH COURSE from

I bought this course for $297 and think it has as much value as a conference (which would cost about the same, plus hotel room).  It also has the closed Facebook group to build community.

If you are interested in building a website in 2016, go HERE!

Blogs & Businesses: The History & Development of

James Brooke Jill in the Country
For those looking to build their own online platform, for a business or blog, read on to learn a little about the history and development of  I recently hosted a Question-and-Answer call for those looking to start their own website…. and below are the answers to the questions they asked!

Why did you start

I started BigKidSmallCity when I was expecting my 3rd child.  I was about to take another maternity leave from my engineering job and was driving myself insane by cleaning up the same messes, over and over again, instead of exploring the museums, parks and festivals that were right next door.

I started website to be accountable for actually getting out of the house and exploring Houston with my kids.  Once we got good at it, I wanted to encourage other people to do the same.

For three years, I worked on while I also worked as an engineer for a telecommunications company.  One year ago I was able to leave my corporate job and work on full time.

How did you set up the website? was set up from scratch, in my house, with the kids running around.  My husband and I taught ourselves to set up the self-hosted website (with on the back-end).  It has always had a professional theme, developed for WordPress… and a not so professional logo, header and content.

When I got smart, I hired to create a professional logo (and later to design book covers).  If I was starting all over again, I would have hired someone to do the logo from the start.

The content just got better over time.  As I figured out how to update the website, what I liked to write about and what was well received, the content improved.  The same goes for the pictures.

Simply to survive with the job, kids and blog, I created a post calendar… which is why you always get the weekend posts, the restaurant posts, park posts and other regular posts on the same day each week.

How did you pick the domain name?

For, I knew I wanted to use Kid and City.  I could have used the word “Houston” in my domain name, but when it was created, I wasn’t sure I wanted to limit myself to one city or have the option to expand to other big cities.

Many combinations were already taken, as seen on, and I finally decided on
Since the name can be confusing, I also bought for those that typed it in incorrectly.

For more information on how to pick a domain name and how to purchase it, see the video HERE.

What tools do you use?

I use very few tools or schedulers.  I schedule my Facebook posts directly on Facebook (and encourage you to do the same for the best Facebook reach).  I post directly to Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

I do use GIMP to edit my photos and Camtasia to edit my videos.

What do you use to track your statistics?

For a quick look at my daily page views, I use the WordPress Jetpack Site Stats on the back-end of my website.  For detailed statistics, I use Google Analytics.

Which social media platforms do you use?

My audience is mostly moms, so Facebook is my most popular social media platform.  Because my website is a “news” website, I post 15 times per day and have a goal of posting 24 times per day.  (Not all blogs will post like this.)

I also use Twitter, Periscope, YouTube, ZomatoInstagramPinterest, and LinkedIn.  Twitter is where I’ve made most of my connections with other bloggers and news stations.  Periscope is where I have started live broadcasts on things to do for the weekend.

Each week I also post my favorite things to do in Houston for the weekend to YouTube, and embed the videos on my website.  (Note that these videos are uploaded directly to Facebook for the most number of views.)

Zomato is where I share my restaurant posts each week.  (Not all blogs will care about restaurant reviews.)

Pinterest is fun for me, but not a major driver of traffic.  Instagram is a glimpse into my days exploring Houston.  And LinkedIn was once used to develop connections in the engineering world… and I am now moving it to make connections in the blogging world.

Remember that all social media should be used as a platform to get people back to your website.  Good engagement on Facebook could disappear due to some Facebook change… but you fully own and fully control your own website.  See more details in this VIDEO.

How long did it take to build an online platform?

When I started the website, only my mom and my friend read it.  This was bad because I was spending so much time on it, and no one was reading it.  This was good because I did not really know what I was doing.

I was not focused on the website full time, so things could move faster for you, but it took 1 year for it to get recognized as a place to find things to do in Houston with kids.  It 2 years for it to “tip” and it to grow quickly with more readers, email subscribers and Facebook likes each day.  At 3 years, I could ask a good rate for advertising on the website.

The funny part about the growth is the change in attitudes about  When I started, people would make comments about my cute little mom blog.  Now people are really excited when I tell them I own

What has made successful?

I work very hard and I am very consistent.  It’s not hard to post a weekly events list each Tuesday, but it’s easy not to do it.  I always had the idea that if I just do what I had scheduled on my calendar, checked the results, and worked to improve them a little at a time, I could do well.  So far, so good.

Where do you get your photos?

I use my own pictures.  You can get stock photos, but I really want my readers to see what I see.  If I am reviewing a Houston park, I was the pictures to match what you actually see at the park that week.

I do occasionally use photos from theaters or festivals.  This is rare, but sometimes cameras are not allowed in a venue and I need to show readers what it looked like.

Be sure to never ever take a picture from another website… even if you link back to them.  You need to have written permission to use a photo from someone else’s page.

What kind of camera do you use?

I have a Nikon D90 and a Smartphone.  If you are just starting, I would not run out and buy a DSLR.  Instead I would focus on using good light and cleaning up the background of what you are photographing.

Turn off the flash and take all your photos by a window or outside.  (If you see someone in pajamas, photographing a lunchbox in the driveway, it is probably me.)

Be sure to clean up the counter top or toys and not have a lot of clutter in your photo.

Also, think about what kinds of photos would make you stop scrolling through your Facebook feed.  Probably they are bright and eye-catching.  These are the photos you want to take… with your smartphone or camera.

What do you do to get the attention of news stations and magazines?

The first time I was on the news, it happened unlike all the rest of the times.  The results were also unlike all the other times.

In the early days of BigKidSmallCity, I wrote about my son Joe and his Garbage Can Business.  This was just a small part of the new website.

Someone at a Houston sanitation company saw it and shared it on social media.  When I thanked her, she told me to contact the national Waste & Recycling Newsletter.  I did and they picked up the story within days.

Now remember that I was a very new blogger and really only had my mom and friend reading my posts.  To have my story shared on social media and in a national newsletter was a really big deal for me.

I decided that I would try to share the story with some more people, so I looked up every news station in Houston and sent them an email through their contact forms.  I gave a brief summary of Garbage Man Joe and shared the newsletter coverage.

Most of the stations ignored me, as I had expected, but NewsFix emailed me back the next day!  Go HERE (and scroll down) to see the story. I was over the moon to have this story featured on NewsFix.

But it did not stop there.

A few days after the story aired in Houston, we got calls from Fox & Friends in New York and radio stations all over the country.  The story also made it’s way to the Huffington Post.

All of this coverage was the result of a good story and a message through an online contact form.  Really unbelievable.

It took another year of writing and building up for me to be featured for things to do in Houston with kids.  The first several connections were made on Twitter.  Some people who followed me told producers or reporters about me.  They sent me Twitter messages and we set up interviews.

Now that I’ve done this for 4 years, I have some more connections and will occasionally get an email or phone call.   In the beginning it was just Twitter and contact forms.

If you are just starting out are, make sure you have a timely and good story that makes sense for the news station to cover.  If they have to work hard to make your content work, it probably is not a good fit.  Also, if you get asked to do an interview, be sure the topic fits for you.  For me, I love the exposure of being on television, but controversial or negative stories do not attract the right audience for my website.

Who contributes to

I write most of the posts on, but I am very very lucky to have some Houston moms that contribute.  Juliette is the rock star that writes a restaurant every single Wednesday.  I also have Felicia who writes food and book reviews and Pranika who shares dinner ideas.  Shanna started the very popular parks series and now sends over a lot of pictures and ideas.  Alex has also written for BigKidSmallCity.

You can always see the author at the top of the post.

Was your goal always to make money with

My goal at the start was to be an expert at exploring Houston with kids.  This has evolved over the years but I always had this dream of not just working from home, but being able to make a living by hanging out with my kids.

How did you monetize

The readers do not pay me, unless they buy a book.  The money comes in from ads on the website, sponsored posts, affiliate links and some freelance writing.  I also have a new eBook and am working on another book.

How do you network with other bloggers?

In Houston, I go to the monthly Houston Blogger dinner.  Join us!

I also attend conferences, like the local Blog Elevated.

My niche is pretty small, but I do work with other bloggers and we help promote each other.  The way to be successful as a blogger is to be generous and cheer for other entrepreneurs.  (And, also, it is good to avoid the ones who are determined there can be only one prom queen.)

Which online resources do you recommend?

If you want to start  your own website today, you do not need to wait for a conference or a dinner.  Use these online resources:
Affiliate links included

  • Blogging on the Side – This eBook was written by a blogger making $30,000+ per month.  She has gone from working for a free pizza to being able to retire her husband from his full time job.
  • Why Your Blog is Failing… and How to Fix it – This is another eBook written by the blogger mentioned above and her equally-as-successful partner
  • BlogPreneur Online Course  I just purchased this new online course and am 3/4th of the way through.  This series includes videos and printables and goes through the basics, the tricks to social media and monetizing the website.  I’ve been stopping the videos to implement the suggestions on my website… and this would have been very useful 4 years ago!
  • Intentional Blog Course
  • Money Making Mom – This book was written the owner of  She is also making more than a full time income from blogging… and has 17 people working for her!
  • Money Making Mom Scopes – Most afternoons, Crystal offers free scopes on blogging topics.

What does your daily to-do list look like?

I could work 20 hours a day on the website, but I need about 4 hours to keep it going.  Most posts are scheduled at least a day in advance (and many are done weeks in advance).

My actual to-do list is a piece of paper… where I write down every single thing I need to do the next day.  I write them down… and often cross out the ones that are optional.

So, it looks something like this…

  • 7:00am – Drive Kids to School (Bring lunches, water and backpacks)
  • 11:00am – Online Meeting (website/ID)
  • 1:00pm – Conference Call (Number/Password)
  • 3:00pm – Pick up Kids
  • Make Lunches for Next Day
  • Help with Homework
  • Film Video for Things to Do in Houston
  • Prepare Restaurant Post for Next Day
  • Prepare for Lunar New Years Posts (Or whatever is about a month out)
  • Publish on BigKidSmallCity & Post to Social Media: Events List & Where in Houston Post
  • Post to Instagram (I am new to Instagram and making an effort to post each day.)
  • Connect with 5 People on LinkedIn.  (I have a lot of engineering connections and am not trying to connect with more bloggers/marketers.  I send requests to 5 people each day.)
  • Pin 5 Pins
  • Check Twitter Followers (Each day I spend a few minutes retweeting, following new people, following people back, and unfollowing those that no longer follow me.)
  • Check Facebook (This is my number 1 social media. Each day I look at the insights, see what was popular and add it to a spreadsheet so I can share it again later… In a couple months I will have a lot more followers to show the evergreen content.)
  • Schedule Facebook Posts: 11:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm, 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 7:00pm, 8:00pm, 9:00pm, 10:00pm, 11:00pm, 12:00am…

What do I need to know to start my own website?

Just start. You will not get it perfect at first, but you won’t know what you need to fix until you mess it up a little.

I would just spend some time deciding on your domain name, making sure it is available across all social media platforms… and then setting up your own self hosted website (not on or Just do it!

Blogs & Businesses: Things to Consider When Picking Your Domain Name… and then Doing It.


So you watched Video #1 and know you need a website, but what domain name should you pick and how do you actually do it? It is not hard to get started, and you should reserve your own domain name right now… before it gets snatched up by someone else.

Watch the video or read the instructions below… and then just get it done!
Affiliate links included.

1. Visit and see what is available.

  • You can type in as many names as you want… and won’t be charged until you add them to your cart and check out.
  • Know that you can buy a domain name from GoDaddy but host the page somewhere else.
  • Always buy “.com” domain names.  Use “.org” if you have an organization.  Even if you find a great domain name that is only available with “.net”… don’t settle for it!
  • When you type something into your browser, you automatically type “.com”… and you want people to find your page!

2. Decide on your keywords.

  • What will your website be about?
  • What words might people search for?
  • What words might limit you in the future?
  • Are there any other websites that might be confused with your domain name?
  • Could your domain name be misheard or misspelled?
  • So, for, I knew I wanted to use Kid and City.
    • I could have used the word “Houston” in my domain name, but when it was created, I wasn’t sure I wanted to limit myself to one city or have the option to expand to other big cities.
    • Many combinations were already taken, as seen on, and I finally decided on
    • Since the name can be confusing, I also bought for those that typed it in incorrectly.
  • All that said… It is okay to use a “brand name” rather than a descriptive name.
    • You don’t have to name your site for people to know they can buy their flowers there.
    • For example, is an identifiable brand even though it’s not
  • Watch the video for more details on keywords!

3. What social media tools will you use?  Check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc to see if your name is available.  It’s best to be consistent across all platforms so you are easy to find. Make sure the name is available on each platform.

4. Make it easy to remember.  Let me be honest… is not the easiest to remember or to tell your friends about.  When you start off, think of what would be easy to say, spell and remember when your readers want to tell their friends.

5. Make sure there is no copyright issues.  Do a quick search on before you make your final decision.  You are probably fine without this step… but why not be double sure.

6. Find a coupon code.  When you decide on a name, make sure it’s available on GoDaddy, are sure it’s available across social media platforms… add it to your cart.  Go to Google and search for “GoDaddy Coupon Code”… Usually you can find a code to save you money on your purchase. THIS link could also get you a 99¢ domain name.

7.  Avoid paying $99.99 for a $9.99 domain name.  When you finally make your purchase, GoDaddy will suggest you also buy “.net”, “.org”, “.us” of your domain name… just so no one else gets them.  They will also suggest a lot of add-ons.  I generally say “no” to everything except the domain name.

8.  While you are at it, buy your own name.  For me, was taken… so I have  You should get your own name just in case you need it in the future… and so someone else doesn’t give you a bad name.

9.  Do it now!  You can decide on all the other details later.  Once you own the name, you can set up the website at your own pace (or have someone else do it).  But if you don’t do it now, someone else could grab your perfect domain name.

The next video will cover how to decide on website hosting when you know nothing about website hosting.  If you want to get a head start, some options for hosting are:

I have used each one over the last several years.  Use what is right for you, but I would start with Blue Host and move to Liquid Web when your website is getting a lot of traffic.

If you have any questions about domain names or hosting, let me know!

Blogs & Businesses: Why a Florist, Artisan, Every Small Business Owner & Every Person Needs to Own their Own Website

Friends – You know that I really like to work with local businesses. I feature business owners on the website and ask about your businesses each week on social media. A rising tide lifts all ships… and I believe it.

I know a lot about having an online presence and about 6 months ago I started a series on building your own website for your blog or business. I created 2 videos… and then got lost in the transition from Corporate America to full time blogger… and then got sick… and then put it off for 6 months.

So, after a long wait, here is the planned series:

  • Why a florist, artisan and every small business owner needs to own their own website. (See below)
  • Things to Consider When Picking Your Domain Name… and then doing it. Go HERE.)
  • How to decide on website hosting when you know nothing about website hosting. (If you want to see this, tell me and I’ll create it!)
  • How to make a blank screen into the website you’ve imagined.
  • How to easily capture the most valuable resource of website owners.
  • How to writing compelling content
  • There is no such thing as eye-catching, stop-what-you-are-doing text. How to take photos that grab the readers attention.
  • More Advanced: Security, Plug-Ins, Personality in Copy, Simple Writing System, Blogging Must-dos, Post Schedules, Networking/Resources

The first video is below… and the second one is done…  And if there is interest in the third, I can create it.  So take a look and let me know if you need more.

As always, I want to encourage you to get started on your blog or business and ask if you have questions!


So why does a florist, artisan, every small business owner & every person needs to own their own website? Watch the video or read below! Affiliate links included.

1. When you are looking for a dentist, contractor, birthday party gear, gifts or just about anything, where do you look first?

  • Do you drive around until you find something great?
  • Do you look in a phone book? Chances are you do a quick internet search from your smartphone or computer.

2. When you find the right shops or services for you, what makes you give them your business?

  • Is it the professional looking website, personal note from the owner and customer testimonials?
  • This is what captures the attention of most customers and this is why YOU need a website, regardless of what kind of business you have.

3. If you have a web presence, this is a good start.

  • With Etsy shops, Facebook Pages and even or websites, customers have a chance of finding your business.
  • However, if you want to be in control of your business and maximize the customers you reach with your hard work, you need your own website.

5. Social media pages are great for finding customers, but always keep in mind you do not own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

  • The content you add to the page, and the audience you build, belongs to them.
  • An algorithm can change and destroy your reach… or worse, you’re page could get shut down for breaking some arbitrary rule.

6. Social media is a tool… and it’s great to use… but it always needs to direct back to your own website.

7. Etsy and online shops are great forums, but your home-base should still be your website.

8. You’re fully owned website is where you can display your message, your customer testimonials… and most importantly, gather customer data.

9. So is it enough to have a free or blog?

  • It’s better than nothing, but if you are in business for the long haul, you should design your website to keep up with your growth.
  • On (which is different than self-hosted WordPress.Org) will not allow you to publish ads.
  • If you ever want easy passive income to come from your website, you cannot do this.
  • On, Google ultimately owns your website. The same way the Facebook controls the content, Google does the same for

10. With your own self-hosted website, you own the content, you can back up the content in case of a crash, you can customize the look add what ever plug-ins you want.  You own this website.

11. If you are on or, you can transfer your content.

  • To have it done right, with a money-back guarantee, try a service like Blogelina.

12. I also recommend setting up a website, even it is to post your resume online. If you buy it now, 3 years from now, when you might need it, it will have likely have better page ranking on Google.

13. Buy your own name, set up something basic, and use it when you need it.

14.  So, now you know you need an online presence, and you need a website that you own so you can control your future marketing efforts. But do you need to setup a Blog or a static website?

  • A blog has regular updates and builds a community of people looking for that information.
  • A website is a resource for people to find you online.
  • Both have benefits… but the good news is… you don’t have to decide today!
  • Websites and blogs are set up the same way, using the same domain name.
  • Once you set up your unique url, you can decide on the exact design and content… and you can add more customization over time.
  • The important thing is to get started on something, now!

15.  So how to you set up something right the first time, so you don’t have to fix it later?

  • How do you create a website that is the ideal version of how you want to represent yourself online?
  • AND, how do you quickly prove to skeptical friends & family members that what you have is real?

Be looking for the rest of the videos in the series!  Remember, Video #2 is ready… and I’ll do #3 if there is interest!