Boston Parent Bloggers Race to Back Bay Verizon Destination Store

A group of Boston Parent Bloggers celebrated the opening of the Verizon Destination Store located at 745 Boylston Street in the Back Bay.

Take a peek at some of the fun stops they visited while participating in a scavenger-hunt-type race.

Verizon Wireless Amazing Race #VZBoston #VZWBuzz Boston Public Library w friends

A photo posted by Nancy (@capabilitymom) on

More Amazing Race #VZBoston #VZWBuzz Verizon!

A photo posted by Nancy (@capabilitymom) on

Having fun in selfie booth at new Verizon Destination store. #VZBoston

A photo posted by Jenn Mitchell (@comebackmomma) on

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Big Apple Circus Comes to Boston: Giveaways and Ticket Discounts

Big Apple Circus In Boston Ticket Discounts

Big Apple Circus is bringing an all new show called METAMORPHOSIS to Boston’s City Hall Plaza on March 24th.

To save 20% per order for select performances, use the code APPLE* when buying tickets online at http://www.bigapplecircus.org/ by phone at 888-541-3750, and at the box office.

*Limited availability. Offer good on select seats and shows. Other conditions apply. Children under 3 are free on the lap of a paid adult, one child per lap.

Check out the Boston Parent Bloggers’ member sites below for a chance to win a set of tickets and also to save on tickets!

I’ve mentioned a few times that LadyBug loves the trapeze, but now both of my kids are taking circus classes. LadyBug is into the tricks, especially silks, trapeze, and stilts. Bug prefers the clowning, but now has taken to the silks as well. What I love is that with two vastly different personalities and skill sets, they’ve found an activity that they can enjoy together. The other day I recorded a special on the Big Apple Circus and they were both captivated. I have never seen the circus in per…


  Hurry, hurry! — Fly away to the magical ring, to the circus — to the Big Apple Circus! — where an All-New Show — METAMORPHOSIS — with astonishing acts and startling transformations will transport you to a realm of enchantment under the Big Top! PHOTO CREDIT: Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus For its 37th Season, Big Apple Circus soars on wings of artifice and illusion, to a dreamscape domain where no one sits more than 50 feet from the ring, and nothing is impossible!  PHOTO CREDIT: Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus Big Apple Circus presents METAMORPHOSIS in its annual Boston engagement at City Hall Plaza from Tuesday, March 24 through Sunday, May 10, 2015.


The Big Apple Circus is bringing an All-New Show – METAMORPHOSIS – to Boston’s City Hall Plaza starting Tuesday, March 24 and running through Sunday, May 10, 2015. The performance features astonishing acts and startling transformations that will transport the whole family to a realm of enchantment under the Big Top!


It’s that time of year again, the Big Apple Circus is coming to Boston at the end of the month! It’s truly one of our favorite events in Boston because of all the fun. It’s an easy in and out to the City on the weekend, the show is the perfect length and everyone has a ball!


We have received complimentary tickets to a performance of the Big Apple Circus in exchange for this post. All thoughts are my own. #BigAppleCircus Friends! YAY! The Big Apple Circus is coming back to Boston!! AND, I have a fantastic giveaway for you to win four tickets to see the show with your family {or friends!}!!! Here’s what you need to know about this year’s all new show, METAMORPHOSIS: Hurry, hurry! — Fly away to the magical ring, to the circus — to the Big Apple Circus! — where an All-New Show — METAMORPHOSIS — with astonishing acts and startling transformations will transport you to a realm of enchantment under the Big Top! For its 37th Season, Big Apple Circus soars on wings of artifice and illusion, to a dreamscape domain where no one sits more than 50 feet from the ring, and nothing is impossible! Big Apple Circus presents METAMORPHOSIS in its annual Boston engagement at City Hall Plaza from Tuesday, March 24 through Sunday, May 10, 2015.


Big Apple Circus Ticket Giveaway


Big Apple Circus METAMORPHOSIS Boston City Hall Plaza PHOTO CREDIT: Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus


The Big Apple Circus is coming back to Boston this spring with an all new show, METAMORPHOSIS! And guess what? We’ve got tickets to give away!


Every year we go to see the Big Apple Circus and the whole family loves it.  You get to be so close to the action and it is a fantastic show with awesome performers.  I am giving you the chance to win 4 tickets to their new show Metamorphosis in Boston at City Hall Plaza on March 29th at 4:30 pm.  The show runs from Tuesday, March 24th through Sunday, May 10th.  Read on for a discount code on tickets and for a chance to win! More information about the show: Hurry, hurry! — Fly away to the magical ring, to the circus — to the Big Apple Circus! — where an All-New Show — METAMORPHOSIS — with astonishing acts and startling transformations will transport you to a realm of enchantment under the Big Top! For its 37th Season, Big Apple Circus soars on wings of artifice and illusion, to a dreamscape domain where no one sits more than 50 feet from the ring, and nothing is impossible! Big Apple Circus presents METAMORPHOSIS in its annual Boston engagement at City Hall Plaza.

Quick Tip Friday: How To Backup Your WordPress Blog

How To Backup Your WordPress Blog

When was the last time that you backed up your blog? If you don’t know the answer, it’s time to do it again, and, while you’re at it, put together a process to keep it backed up moving forward.

You might be thinking that you can always get a copy from your host’s backup, but take our word for it, that is not always the case. Sometimes the backup is very old. Sometimes it just doesn’t exist it all. Sometimes it can be a copy of your site after something outside of your control has happened like a hack or a server issue.

There are a few options for ways to back up. Find out what your host does offer. Some hosts sell separate services for backups. Some managed wordpress hosts also create daily restore points. These are files that you could then download to your own hard drive or cloud storage for safe keeping.

You can also do a manual back up of your WordPress site using FTP and CPanel. It’s a process that should be fairly easy if you’re comfortable playing with the behind the scenes of your site. If not, it might be a daunting task.

Another easier option is to find a plugin to do the backup work for you. Research a plugin that will do the job and also not create too much havoc on the back end of the site (Daily backups by some plugins might be too much activity. Ask your web host for a heads up on any plugins that are on their block list.) Some plugins to look into are BackUpBuddy and Updraft Plus.

Take action on this tip and get at least a current download of your blog as of now. You don’t want to get in a predicament where it’s too late to rescue the work that you’ve put into your blog for weeks, months, or years.


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Quick Tip Friday: Start Using ALT Tags

Image Reminder To Use ALT Tags on your Blog Posts.

Let’s talk ALT Tags for your images.

ALT tags are pieces of HTML that give an alternative description for an image. This is helpful for anyone that may be “listening” to the site due to a disability, and it also tells search engines about the image (and hopefully your topic).

In addition to using it for search engine optimization, Pinterest pulls in the ALT Tag for an image as the default description when someone pins a photo or graphic for your page.

What should you write? Keep it short. Five to fifteen words is ideal. Describe the photo and its topic and don’t forget to include the text if there is text in the image.

Where do you write it? ALT is an attribute in the IMG tag. In WordPress, when you use “Add Media,” there is a box called ALT Text where you can type it in.

Do you need to go back and fix all of your photos on your site? Not a bad plan, but for this quick tip, commit to diligently adding an ALT tag moving forward.


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Quick Tip Friday: Delete Unused Plugins

Delete-Unused-Plugins

Today’s tip is a reminder to take a few minutes to delete any plugins that you aren’t using.

Letting those plugins that you don’t need hang around can cause your site to load slower, and they can also be an invitation for a hacker to exploit an old plugin’s code.

Make sure you need the functionality of the plugins that you have left, and also make sure they are up-to-date.

Commit just a few minutes to doing this now, and it will be a huge check off your list for blog maintenance.


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Quick Tip Friday: Know Your Competition

knowyourcompetition

There is plenty of room for us all in the great wide Internet, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a certain amount of competition for eyeballs and time. Think about who your blog is written for and what information they would come to you to find. Then, go out and find 3-5 bloggers who write the same topics for the same people. Try to find a range of blogs in terms of size and popularity. As your browse, take note of the following:

  • Does this blog have more readers than yours or less?
  • Are the readers engaging with the blog via comments?
  • How does the layout and style of the blog appeal to you? Is it easy to navigate?
  • How does the writing style compare to yours?Is it clear who the audience is? Do you think it’s easier to relate to or more difficult? Why?
  • How often does this blog update? How much do they use their social media channels?
  • Does this blog use long or short posts, or a combination? Do they do a lot of giveaways? Use a lot of images?
  • Do the author or authors seem knowledgeable about the subject matter?

Looking at other, similar blogs can help you think about the success of your blog. Look at your own site and ask yourself the same questions. What can you learn from your “competition?” What can they learn from you?

 

Photo Credit: Jayhem, via Creative Commons License

 

Quick Tip Friday: Update Your About Page

update-about-page2
We’re assuming right now that you’re a professional (of sorts) blogger. You want opportunities. Maybe you want to work with brands, maybe you want a book deal, or maybe you’re promoting your other business. Whatever your goals, your About page on your blog is a stepping stone to getting there, so make sure it’s ready for the Big Time and up-to-date. We’ve got some tips to get you on track.

Focused – Your About page should include information relevant to your blog and/or whatever business your blog is promoting. Sure, you can include a few fun facts that make you easier to relate to, but unless it’s relevant to your blog topic, leave out medical issues, financial woes, and other trauma/drama. Your goal is to draw the reader in, not make them feel uncomfortable or sorry for you.

Confident – You don’t have to brag about every little thing you’ve ever done, but this is the place to put your best foot forward. Think about relevant speaking gigs, degrees, honors/awards (stick with the quality here), and accomplishments, as well as other blogs/sites you write for/work with, work experience, and anything else that shows your expertise in your chosen area. If you write about homeschooling, make sure we know that you have teaching experience or that you’ve homeschooled for 5 years already. Crafter with an art degree? Or maybe you’ve been baking since the age of two and now you’ve got a food blog. Why should we listen to you?

Succinct – Get to the point.

Current – If your kids are no longer toddlers, make sure your About page doesn’t say that they are. Got a great new job or skill? Be sure to add them. Moved towns? Changed marital status? Switched topics? Time for an edit. Not only does it help match you with the best clients, opportunities, and products, it shows that you’re on top of things.

Clean – This may be the most overlooked aspect of the About page. Check your grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Read it out loud to make sure it all makes sense. Have your (honest) friend read it over and give (honest) feedback. Once again, this shows your professionalism and attention to detail.

Personable – Whether tiny blogger or larger business operation, include at least a short bio (with name or pseudonym) of each person behind the blog. Even on the Internet, readers want to connect with other (real) people. Bonus for including a headshot or fun photo, depending on what is appropriate for your site.

Contact – You must have contact information. Period. Non-negotiable. Put your email address (not just a contact form) on your About page or another obvious location. You can spell it out or otherwise mask it from spammers, but make things easy for the legitimate people who are trying to connect with you.

Do you have About page pet peeves? Other suggestions for making About pages that stand out?

 

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Quick Tip Friday: Remove admin As A Login

Remove-Admin-Login-From-Wordpress

Today’s tip is for WordPress users in particular but also a good reminder for those that use blogger that logins and passwords are important business matters.

The reason you would do this is to make it harder for someone to hack your site using the combination of your login and password. If you’re still using “admin,” which is the default login, you’ve done half the job *for* the hacker.

First up, backup your blog. That’s a good idea anyway. But it’s a really good idea before you make big changes.

Next, you’ll need to create a new username for yourself and assign an administrator role. Then you’ll need to actually delete the “admin” username making sure to assign all the posts you’ve done to your new username.

Here are a Step-By-Step Instructions.

If you’re not sure about this process, contact your host support to see if they can help walk you through the process.

If you’re not a WordPress user, be sure that your username and password are not an easy password to guess. Here are some tips on how to pick a strong password.


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Quick Tip Friday: Install Google Analytics

How To Install Google Analytics

Already have Google Analytics installed? Pat yourself on the back and skip down to our advanced tip to find out even more about your visitors.

Statistics are a bloggers best friend. They can be used to get insight about the visitors that are currently coming to your site and they can also be used to help make decisions on next steps if you are looking to increase traffic.

If you are beginning to engage with brands that want to work with bloggers, you’ve likely been asked for statistics about your site traffic. Unique Visitors per month (UVM)? Or maybe page views? Many will ask for those statistics that are reports from Google Analytics (GA).

If you don’t have Google Analytics, the first great piece of news is that it’s free! It’s an online tool offered by Google, and it measures your traffic based on a little snippet of code that you put on your site.

It’s not just beneficial for working with brands though, you can find out a lot of information about your audience in Google Analytics which provides perfect research for planning content that will keep your readers engaged.

Now, let’s get to work.

Step 1: Visit the Google Analytics web page.

Follow directions for creating an account. You’ll need to link to a Google account (it will walk you through creating one if you don’t have one.)

Once your account has been created, you’ll add your site information.

Google gives you a tracking ID that begins with a UA. They will also provide you with some code. At this point, you can do one of two things.

Option 1: The code needs to be on every page of you site including any new page that is created moving forward. Some themes make this easy by offering up an custom field for you to input your tracking ID (the UA number). Check out your theme if you are using wordpress. Or your options if you are using blogger or another platform. If it’s offered, use that. You can also sometimes include this code in a header or footer code.

Option 2: You can also use a plugin to achieve this on WordPress. Something like Google Analytics by Yoast. Plugins can slow down your site and need to be kept updated, so if you can insert the code in your theme, that’s the way to go first.

You’ll be on your way to knowing more about your blog in no time! Have any tips for great ways to use stats to improve your blog? Leave them in the comments!

Advanced Tip: Already have Google Analytics installed and running? Check out this post about how to use it to dig deeper into the behaviors of your visitors.


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Quick Tip Friday: Update Your Pinterest Account to Business

Pinterest Business Account

 

If you’re like most bloggers I know, you probably have some sort of goals around building your site and pageviews. And why not? What good is all of that writing if no one is around to ready it? We all know that Pinterest is hot. The right Pin can skyrocket your blog from anonymity to fame.

One way to help promote your pins and your site is by switching to a free Pinterest Business account. It takes just a couple of minutes. You’ll find analytics to help you track your most popular pins, as well as to get a sense of what your followers are looking for. There are tools like widgets and buttons. And, maybe best of all, are Rich Pins. These are specialty pins that allow you to share recipes, articles, products (for those of you who sell things), and more.

Already have a Pinterest account? Try one of these quick tips:

  1. Sign up for Rich Pins
  2. Add location information to your travel images
  3. Pin 5 new pins (some from your site, and some from other sites)

What are your favorite Pinterest tips? Leave us a comment.

Miss the last tip? Quick Tip Friday: Change The Copyright Date On Your Blog


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