Just Heather

I didn’t really mean to abandon my personal blog. It just sort of got shuffled aside as I launched my new site, muddled through various illnesses and struggled with personal drama & everyday life. Over the years, this blog has been many things—an online scrapbook, an outlet for adult conversation or a place to find new friends. Since it’s relaunch, it has morphed into a place to record my personal journey.

And, that’s how I’d like it to stay.

It will be a place to record my progress as I learn to be a grownup. I’ll track my 40×40 list, share our alphabet dating journey and cross off any other Someday lists I come up with along the way. In between, though, I’m finding places for the rest of it. I am now the proud owner of 5—yes, 5—blogs. So far.

Wanna know my thoughts on Mommyhood? Check out my latest project, Miscellaneous Mom. I’m sharing parenting tips, rants, fails and more with a few of my bloggy friends. The name? Based on a quick post I wrote right here, once upon a time. (You know, before Twitter made micro-blogging an actual thing.)

Looking for my money saving expertise? That’s still at Inexpensively, where I’ve joined forces with frugal bloggers across the country to provide advice, bargains and weekly grocery deals. I’m also working with a lot of experts to bring tips on saving money in a variety of categories.

And, don’t worry—I’m still a huge sports fan! I’ve channeled most of that into my new Colts fan blog. Of course, that venture came just in time for the end of the season, but training camp is just 4 months away.

Were you counting? That’s just 4, including this one! I’m getting ready to launch yet another site with MFJ—who is now officially a blogger! In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter to see why friends don’t let friends drink and tweet!

I’ve got a few other projects in my head, but that’s probably enough for now. I’m already overwhelmed enough to have accidentally abandoned Project 365. I’m sort of failing at the daily photo thing. Although, I am taking more everyday, family life photos. As that was my personal goal for the project, I’d have to call it a success!

Sort of.

Kim & HeatherLast week’s Vegas trip wasn’t all fun and games. I attended Affiliate Summit West for the first time to learn a little more about marketing at Inexpensively. As it turns out, I learned way too much for just one site! I have multiple projects underway right now, including one I purchased a domain name for several years ago. I like the direction Just Heather has taken since its relaunch last spring. This is where I will be sharing our marriage journey, crossing off my 40×40“>Someday lists and reporting progress on learning to be a grown-up.

Other parts of my life will be shared elsewhere through niche projects. The first of my new ventures launched last night—I am super excited to finally have an outlet for the sports fan in me. My commentary and Go Team! excitement never really fit on my other sites. Colts Stuff will give me a chance to not only earn a little extra money but finally have somewhere to share my love of the boys in blue. I learned a ton from Tricia’s case study in her session.

We have also been working hard to implement several new ideas at Inexpensively. Many of them have been in the works for quite some time, but I’m thankful to Jim Kukral for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to just do it, already! Probably, I’m going to need to order his upcoming book. Very smart guy, tons of fun and completely casual—Spencer and I bowled (for boobies) with him without having any idea who he was or that I would be attending his session.

I think the biggest thing I got out of Affiliate Summit was all the connections—new friends, great mentors and businesses I’ve already started partnering with. Plus, Peter Shankman liked my boobs! That was actually the very same session in which I met the affiliate manager for PokenZoo. Everyone was clamoring to Poken with Peter, and I was completely clueless! I have since learned it’s like a digital business card with 1-click uploading to your social networking sites—how cool is that?

pokenzoo-poken-ninjaPlus, they looked super fun. The hubby wants this Ninja, although I kind of expected him to eye the RockStar. Yesterday, I received a Poken Pulse from ConAgra in my free Blissdom pre-conference gift pack—I guess it’s supposed to be more “businesslike” or “grown-up” but that’s clearly overrated. Ninja Poken! Poken Alien! In pink! I could see these being a huge hit with our girls—if I were willing to let them swap information with people. I can’t wait to try it out at my next conference.

I just hope I finish processing everything I learned at Affiliate Summit before I cram my head full again. On the other hand, this is a different kind of conference. Sure, there’s learning to be had but it appears a bit more relaxed. I’m looking forward to some girl time and meeting several gals on Team Inexpensively in person. More than half the team will be there, and I can’t wait to get to know them better. We also get to meet Harry Connick Jr.!!! (Do you need a few more exclamation points?! Harry! Connick! Jr.!) Meeting a celebrity has been on my 40×40 list so I am beyond excited. Plus, it’s Harry Connick Jr.!

Do you think he’ll Poken with me?

Pro-Mom or Pro-Blogger? Why do we have to choose? I think I can be a great mother, and still run a blog as a professional business. Maybe the issue comes up because many women bloggers started as stay-at-home moms who just wanted contact with the outside world, unaware of where it could lead. However, I specifically created Feedindy (now Inexpensively) as a business. It takes a lot of time & effort to organize sales, write daily articles and track deals. I love what I do, and I love helping people, but it takes way too much time to do it for free.

I am comfortable with my work-at-home title. I get to be here, present in my children’s lives, free to create flex time in my work schedule to attend field trips, assist with class parties and accompany my youngest on playdates & library events. I work in the mornings, in between playing Barbies, refereeing board games and donning my own tiara for the fashion show. I work in the afternoons during the ever-decreasing naptime, and I work at night after the children are tucked into bed.

I work less than 8 hours per day, plus I get to fit my time into our schedule. The saying “You can have it all, just not at the same time.” is partly true. It’s important to find a good balance—I have high hopes that the Blissdom schedule is going to help me get better at that! It is also important to know what your goal is with blogging. Do you blog for fun, connection, a desire to help others or for the freebies & income it could provide? Of course, we can all use a little extra cash but if that wasn’t the motivation for your blog, then don’t get sidetracked trying to make it happen.

Every person, business and even blog should have a mission statement. Define who you are, what you will do and how you plan to accomplish it. Define three, specific things you plan to do with your blog, then concisely state how you will get them done. For example, I am a married mother of three beautiful, active girls who have created in me a Montessori mom, Scout mom, allergy mom and avid coupon clipper. I share deals and tips at Inexpensively and report progress on learning to be a grown-up here at Just Heather. I’ll tell my darkest secrets, share my hopes and dreams and dish on my favorite things, but I promise to tell you no lies. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, and I’m hoping, in the end, we’ll be friends.

You now know exactly who I am, and I’ve told you that on this blog you’ll learn my hopes & dreams, find the occasional product review and that I’m looking to make friends. Of course, the mission statement for this blog leaves it wide open—and that’s exactly the point! Just Heather is a personal blog, a journal of sorts. It’s been various things over the last 6 years, but mostly it’s just my little corner of the web to scrapbook my life. The content may change as my life does, but the purpose of my blog is still clearly defined. Inexpensively also has a definitive mission statement, but it’s completely different because its goals and motivation are completely different.

The Inexpensively network provides a whole lifestyle concept for savings. We compile weekly lists for grocery store deals, suggest ideas on living your life for less, offer tips on finding the best savings and encourage our community to be charitable even on a budget. We connect a network of individuals from around the country to provide families with the most up to date and accurate savings tools in their own communities. In short, we encourage families to maximize their budgets so they can use some of their savings to help improve their neighborhood.

I challenge you to create a mission statement for your blog. Use it in your bio, showcase it on your Facebook Page and come back here to share it with me—but, most importantly, let it help you decide if what you’re doing with your blog is what you should be doing! If an opportunity, article or topic comes up that doesn’t fit into your mission statement, it probably doesn’t belong on your blog.

When MFJ and I went to BlogHer over the summer, she had the brilliant idea of putting our information/media kits into folders to be sure they would actually make it back to the offices of the very important people we were meeting, in hopes of gaining sponsorship for Inexpensively. I originally looked at custom glossy folders, but—Holy cha-ching, Batman!—those puppies are expensive. We settled on purple folders with a sticker sporting our logo, address and phone number.

Next, I’m planning to use the folders for Inexpensively workshops (including the Black Friday Prep Course I’m teaching next month!). It should be a good way to provide participants with the resources and materials they need to start saving money. I am excited that U-Printing is giving me 250 free custom stickers to use on my folders. I think they’ll look a bit more professional than the first set I had printed at the office store down the street. With this many stickers, I’ll be able to include my business info on all the folders plus have plenty left to use as return address labels on packages.

Of course, there are many other things you can do with customized stickers. If you want to make address labels, business stickers or holiday gift tags of your own, you can save 10% on your U-Printing purchase now or, even better, win 250 custom stickers here or there—simply leave a comment, telling us what you’ll do with your prize. You can earn additional entries by:

  • Following U-Printing and me on Twitter
  • Blogging about this giveaway
  • Tweeting about this giveaway: Win 250 free custom stickers from @Uprinting and @JustHeather! http://bit.ly/4Ee2b3

For your extra entries to be counted, be sure to leave an additional comment directing me to your entry. Only one additional entry per method (i.e. While multiple tweets are appreciated it, only one will count as a drawing entry.) The contest runs until October 18th at 11:59pm edt. One winner will be notified by email on October 19th (as selected by Random.org) and must submit their mailing information within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. Open only to residents of the U.S. & Canada and cannot be shipped to PO boxes.

Your prize (full color front, blank sticker back printed on 70lb matte paper in sizes: 2” x 3.5”, 2” x 4”, or 3” x 3” with 4 Business Day printing) will be awarded in the form of a custom coupon code, redeemable at U-Printing.com. Prize includes free UPS shipping in the U.S. (Canadian winners will be responsible for any shipping costs incurred.)

I was offered this giveaway as part of the U-Printing Blog Sponsorship program. I am receiving 250 free stickers in addition to the free product for my readers for hosting this giveaways, but the opinion is 100% real and honest.

Because I just don’t have enough to do, I’ve added a few new writing gigs to my weekly schedule. Of course, you already know I share my money-saving tips daily at Inexpensively. I’ve joined forces with a great group of frugal gals to help people live their lives for less—including a few fabulous ladies I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person.

Now, I’m teaming up with the beautiful ladies at Blissfully Domestic. I’ll be regularly sharing my deals & tips on Financial Bliss. I can’t wait for the chance to meet them at Blissdom in February. (Who else will be there?!) I’ve already contributed a few articles and I’m honored to be a part of the team.

Today was my debut at Mom’s Marbles. I guest posted for these smart gals earlier this year. It is exciting to be joining them regularly for Money-Saving Mondays. At least one of the marbles behind the madness lives just around the corner so I hope we’ll be able to get together soon.

Don’t worry, though—I’ll still be here! You can’t get rid of me that easily. Only now, the blogosphere has even more Just Heather!

I had ordered business cards for my new business from U-Printing for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is their support of the blog community through their blog sponsorship program. I spent about $25 on 1000 business cards and they are fantastic! The design system is easy to use and they have several great template options, including die cut business cards. I love that you can save a design to come back to it later. I saved mine so that I could do a quick edit on the name/title and order additional cards for other members of my team.

Of course, I didn’t save it properly the first time and was surprised to find nothing in my recent design history when I tried to order a second set. I used the live customer service chat and the fabulous rep graciously tracked it down and uploaded it to my account. Never once did she even hint at what an idiot I am for never clicking Save! I ordered my 2nd set of business cards and everything arrived in plenty of time for BlogHer.

It was great to have them on hand as I was meeting people. I still have a stack of cards to go through here and add to my blogroll or twitter feed, but without business cards all the great people I met would have been long forgotten. Instead of struggling to remember their names or frantically jotting down our contact information, we quickly swapped cards and moved on to the next chaotic event.

I also dropped business cards into several fish bowls for giveaways at BlogHer. That was a gold mine for us—MFJ won a $500 Bill Me Later gift card and I won an awesome shopping cart full of Johnson & Johnson products. (While my new shopping cart is going to be the coolest prop and I love it a lot, I’m thinking I got the short end of the stick!)


And now you, my dear readers, have the chance to win something too! U-Printing is giving 2 of my readers a set of 500 business cards. You can design one of three business card sizes for them to print completely free. These are the same quality cards I received with my purchase—they won’t be including their logo anywhere on the final product. Winner will pay shipping, but I do remember that being a reasonable amount.

To enter, simply comment here and share why you need business cards. Are you heading to a blog conference? Launching a new business? Hoping to meet like-minded mamas at the park for a play group? Let me know how you plan to use your new business cards for your chance at one of two prizes. You can earn additional entries by blogging or tweeting about this giveaway (be sure to leave a separate comment with the link to each entry).

The contest runs from August 26th to September 1st at 11:59pm. Two winners will be notified by email on September 2nd (as selected by Random.org) and must reply within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. Open only to residents of the U.S. and cards cannot be shipped to PO boxes. Winner will place an order at U-Printing with a custom coupon code, paying only for shipping.


Julie and I at BowlHer

Last weekend was my first experience with a BlogHer conference, and I don’t know why. I’ve been blogging for about 6 years—way before it was cool. (Is it cool, yet? I never know these things.) Of course, by the time I decided to join the party it was completely sold out. I’ve been on the wait list for months. Enter LobbyCon—a segment of the event sponsored by PepsiCo that allowed those of us who couldn’t get in to be a part of it anyway. My pass included live video of the keynotes, the expo floor and cocktail parties. Not to mention all the after hours events!


Beautiful Shannon makes a paper bag look good!

My goal for the weekend was meeting people—people I’ve “known” for years, people I’ve admired from afar and people I didn’t know existed until I saw their lovely faces at BlogHer. I was also there in connection with my new business. I met frugal bloggers who I’d love to connect to the network, mommy bloggers who could use it and companies who appreciate what we offer to their consumers. I met people I could relate to and people I couldn’t. I met people I’m looking forward to calling my friends. I also met celebrities—including a few celebrity-in-my-head bloggers.


None you can eat burgers!

Mir was gracious, witty and an absolute pleasure to finally meet. She is exactly as I always knew her to be. After all, she’s been sharing her life with me for more than 5 years. I also met Chris who amazes with her calm throughout the chaos, both in the family stories she shares and while squished into a suite with 100 crazy ladies eating cheeseburgers. I can’t believe in our 30 minute conversation, it never occurred to me to take a picture of or with Mir, but I did snag this fun pic of Chris with her tray of nothing-we-can-eat. All 3 of us are gluten free, which I find interesting since that isn’t how I discovered them online. See how much I have in common with celebrities? I’m kind of a big deal.

Tim Gunn says I make it work!

Tim Gunn says I'm really making it work!

I also met Carson Kressley and Tim Gunn (who wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I had imagined before I left). One of my greatest BlogHer moments was when MFJ got Carson Kressley to say biatch (very loudly). Tim Gunn told me that I’m really making it work, though we all know it had nothing to do with fashion. He fascinated me with his interest in what each of us do. He asked each person about their blog and then listened with (apparent) genuine interest. I shared my new venture and he stopped in his tracks (as he was signing an 8×10 photo) and said, “Inexpensively?! You really are making it work!” Does that count as a celebrity endorsement?

Speaking of endorsements, I’m fascinated with the swag controversy. I went in assuming there would be swag because I’m not a total conference virgin. I truly didn’t expect quite so much, but I didn’t see the major issue that was discussed all yesterday. Perhaps that was because I didn’t attend the full conference. I missed out on the swag suites and the private invitations. I also skipped out on the whole waiting in line thing so I’m not sure what it was about. I did see people leaving parties with their swag bags only minutes after arriving. Tacky.

Jenny (Three Kid Circus) & Jane (Mamacita)

Jenny (Three Kid Circus) & Jane (Mamacita)

Of course, I came home with my fair share of stuff. I won’t have to buy deodorant for a very, very long time. I was so excited to find Dove giving away my very pricey clinical protection that the sweet rep told me to take as much as I wanted. I told her not to say things like that or I’d have to go get my suitcase. Seriously, though, there was stuff aplenty and I’m not sure any of it was worth all the chaos. What I have to wonder about, though, is if giving it all away accomplished the company’s goals. Handing me a bag of things as I arrive at a party that I may or may not look at later doesn’t build relationships. There were some who got it way right.

The companies that spent time with us—talking over lunch about our lives (not just their products), striking up conversations in the elevator or stopping you at a cocktail party to say hello because they remembered you from the day before. I missed the sponsored lunches, as it was not included in my pass, but I hear Clorox Green Works did an excellent job with that. I enjoyed chatting with Chris from General Motors, whom I met first in the elevator. His cohort, Annalisa, was an absolute joy (not to mention another gluten free freak like me!). The Eucerin team spent the weekend building a presence; I never tried the aging machine as I’m a bit frightened to see myself at 72, but I feel like I know who I’m buying from the next time I need skin care product.

Angie at CheeseburgHer

Angie/Roomie at CheeseburgHer

Getting to know people is what the weekend was all about for me. I’m already looking forward to the local friends I get to meet at Blog Indiana next month. I also already have my ticket for BlogHer 2010—I wouldn’t miss it for the world! Of course, NYC is on the hubby’s 40×40 list so I bought him a ticket too. I’ll miss out on the roommate-girlfriend time, for sure, but I think it’s a fair exchange.

See you in New York City, lovely ladies!

I have been blogging for several years. The blog world has grown and changed around me. My reasons for blogging and what I’ve taken from it has also changed over the years. When I first started, it was a medium for adult conversation. Over time, it became a journal of sorts for my girls. Along the way, I found a few Hoosier bloggers and began to take my blog connections offline. When I relaunched this blog a few months ago, it was with my professional image in the back of my mind.

My professional self launched a new business earlier this week. While FeedIndy was all me, Inexpensively connects a network of frugal bloggers. When bloggers contact me in hopes of joining the network, the interview process includes reading their blog and following them on Twitter for several weeks. Yes, that’s right, I read blogs as my job! This also means that blog conventions become real and actual business conferences.

I’m attending BlogHer ’09 next week (well, it’s LobbyCon because I didn’t get my tickets ordered on time!). I’m looking forward to actually meeting some of the bloggers I’ve “known” for years. I’m also terrified of meeting people. I’m stressing over what to wear, who I’ll meet (Tim Gunn—ack!) and how I’ll remain standing on heels all day long. That’s my irrational, paranoid side. The rest of me is just plain excited. Just a few weeks after BlogHer, I’m attending a local conference. I’m even more nervous about this one.

At BlogIndiana, I have a real opportunity to make connections with fellow Hoosiers. I’m also speaking at BlogIndiana—I’ll be on the Foodie Panel for Saturday’s Social Media Summit. I’ll probably be the pickiest eater on the panel, but it’s exciting to be able to share the concept of doing whatever you do, inexpensively. People mistakenly assume you can only save money at the grocery store if you buy junk, but it just isn’t true. That’s the perspective I’m bringing to the panel, but I’m still a bit worried about being the least foodie person in the room.

I’m less worried about my shoes for Blog Indiana, though. I don’t think it will be quite the focus.

Update: I am now on two panels for Blog Indiana. They have added a Mommy Blogger panel that has me very excited! In honor of the addition to Saturday’s Social Media Summit, I have a special coupon code for you! Enter momblogsrock at the checkout to save 20% off your ticket purchase.

Blog Indiana 2009 countdown!