Monday, February 28, 2011

Do You Get Paid for Twitter Parties?

Love 'em or hate 'em, Twitter parties are here to stay. Twitter parties are hard and fast online gatherings centered around a certain topic or, less desirably, a product. Throughout the 1-2 hour event questions are asked and answered at a rapid pace; chatter and enthusiasm run high in part due to sponsored prizes that are awarded throughout the party.

They can be fun, but I'm not a huge fan of these parties on a personal level. That said, I think Twitter parties can effectively generate awareness for a new product or brand and drive traffic to a site. I've only worked on a handful of these with clients, but to date the clients have all been satisfied with the results and learned a lot in the process.

The last time I worked on a Twitter party for a client, I arranged for a lead panelist and three supporting panelists. Each of these women was paid. They received a stipend for their time and efforts participating in and publicizing the event.

These days (nights), many social media moms lead Twitter parties. In the Social Media Moms and Money Survey, we asked how much people get paid for hosting Twitter parties. You can see a summary of the survey and the deck from our Advanced Monetization panel at Blissdom thanks to Esther and Sommer.

Individual responses ranged from "You couldn't pay me enough to host one of those" to "$50/hour," to "From $1,500 up to $10K" (that latter response from a single participant).

The average fee was around $550, but it seems to me there are two tiers of hosts- one in the $150 - $500 range, and a more elite group in the $1.5 - $3K range. (Based on our admittedly unscientific sampling, I'm tossing out the $10K number as an outlier. Math is more fun when you make up the rules!)

This leaves me with a few questions.

In my experience, a Twitter party involves several hours of planning in terms of client discussion and prep prior to as well as a debriefing after the event. There's also time spent arranging for and coordinating panelists, publicizing the event, and, of course, time involved in the party itself. Natch, any professional hostess will arrive a few minutes early and stick around a few minutes after. Oh, and let's not forget that it takes time to coordinate prize fulfillment, pull together a transcript and an statistical summary of the party.

Let's say this all takes a minimum of four hours all told (a very conservative estimate, IMO). At $150 a party, that doesn't leave a lot of take home pay, especially if you are passing along Uncle Sam his due.

So bloggers, one question that strikes me is that if you are really bringing it for a Twitter party, why on Earth would you charge so little?

The other question is: are panelists typically compensated? It seems that for a "lower tier" party, there's more love and appreciation than money to go around.

I get it. Though I hear sometimes even basic thank-yous are in short supply.

But for those parties in the more elite $1.5 - $10K tier, I'd think at least a token amount for the panelists' time (not to mention the fact that those women, chosen, no doubt for their experience, professionalism and, possibly their clout, er, Klout) would be standard in the momosphere at this point.

But I'm not sure it is. In your experience, what are the current standards and expectations?

My intent is not for you to call out specific individuals or organizations in the comments. Rather, my aim is to encourage open dialogue about payment expectations and standards in our space- something many bloggers say they want.

If you don't want to comment publicly, you can always email me money (at) moldofsky (dot) com and I'll summarize responses. You can also choose to comment anonymously.

Note: I differentiate Twitter parties from Twitter chats. Chats consists of established, but open, groups that gather on Twitter at a specific time each week and tend to be more content focused, examples include #JournChat, #gtchat (for those who work with or raise gifted/talented children), fitness chats, Latina blogger chats and dozens (hundreds?) of other topics. IMO, established chats are fertile ground for a thoughtfully matched sponsors.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Am I Too Big for My Big Break?

Another post from the archives of Chicago Moms Blog. Originally posted in October 2007.

A friend passed along an e-mail announcing an audition call for commercial for a large food company. I jumped on it and called the audition hotline seconds after I read the note. Minutes later, I was working my way through the screening process.

Yes, my boys love the food product in question (really)! Yes, they are active and healthy (except that my eldest has been sick all this week)! Yes, my family is fit and active! We walk a mile to our town's Farmers Market on Sundays (when we're not in a hurry). We go on long family bike rides (twice a summer). DH and I work out regularly (when our schedules allow).

But what this poor, kind woman really needed to know...

What she had to ask was, are we fat?

I get it. I mean, how can you sell a healthy food for an active lifestyle with a commercial featuring a bunch of overweight couch potatoes?

But do we fit the bill? The boys absolutely do. They hang out near on the low end of the height and weight charts. DH's doctor hasn't told him to lose weight. And when I saw my internist a few pounds months ago, she said I was within my ideal range. But unlike some "fit" women, I don't have the body of a teenage girl. This mama has some curves! I've got plenty of T and some A to spare. Is my big butt going to cost my family their 20 second of fame? Worse yet, is the director going to make some disparaging remark about my ass and then rip into the kindly assistant for not doing her job?

I'll try my best to lock away my inner critic and I'll shove my inner stage mother in with her. We're not the Von Trapps or the Partridge Family; this is likely the only family audition we'll ever have. We should just make it a good time, right?

P.S. The audition was for a Quaker oatmeal product. My rather theatrical younger son who loves oatmeal and was thrilled at the prospect of being on TV, was an absolute goof during the interview. He mostly shut down out of shyness and then contradicted me at every opportunity, making me look like an evil stage mother who dragged him to the audition. Also, we were the last family to audition and the casting folks had clearly had a very long work day. Needless to say, we've never done anything like this since.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Real Estate Myth Busters: Property Sluts Episode 14

Jeez, I never imagined we'd make it this long and still be living with my parents.

Maybe this "buyer's market" thing is really just a myth. Let's take a look.

Previously it was brownies, now it's chocolate chip cookie bars. I'm thinking I should publish a companion cookbook. And Jen can put out a wine guide as she seeks to sell her house and relocate across the country.

Edited to add: In case you need more proof of the sorry state of the housing market, well, here it is.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bar Mitzvah Invitations

The bar mitzvah invitations have been ordered! The invitations were on my to-do list for the last few weeks, but got put off due to my business trips. My procrastination paid off in this case, though. We had our eye on a certain design from TinyPrints and lo and behold, that same invite showed up in our mailbox late last week. Ironically, it was sent on behalf of my boy's birthday twin, the young man with whom my son almost shared a service.

Yesterday we headed back to TinyPrints after perusing a handful of other invitation sites and nailed down our choice, a design that is reminiscent of DH's and my ketubah, the Jewish wedding contract in which my father promised five chickens and three goats in exchange for DH whisking me away.

But I digress.

I haven't ordered online invitations or holidays cards, well, ever, so I was delighted to find that TinyPrints would address them for us at no charge. DH had planned to send each and every envelope through our small printer- an operation that seemed doomed to fail, so this was a big win.

Unfortunately, the man of the hour (the 12-year-old) has not tracked down all the addresses we need (no, our school does not produce a directory). For that matter, I have one or two I need to dig up. Still, more than 2/3 of our list is now taken care of and we should be able to get these out before we go to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, which was my goal.


Disclosure: I received a discount at TinyPrints that was offered to me for a general purpose many months ago. As I mentioned, we looked at several sites to find a design that piqued my son's interest (i.e. "wasn't too Jewish." Oy.), and we still dropped a serious chunk of change on our invites and related thank you notes, so no one at the FTC needs to worry about any funny business. I was neither asked nor expected to blog about this, but having availed ourselves to the customer service folks via the online chat, a friend who woks there and, later, the toll-free number, I feel the level of customer support thus far was very good.

My friend Scott pointed this video out on Facebook the other day. Now that it's posted here, I realize I should define at least a few of the terms for my non-Jewish friends so you can enjoy it as much as I do. (I'm also a fan of the Gwynneth Paltrow version of this song from the show Glee.)

Parasha = the Torah portion my son will read. The Torah scroll contains beautifully scripted calligraphy that does not contain vowels or punctuation.

Barchu = call to prayer

Moyel = the person who perform ritual circumcision

Shochet = one who performs ritual slaughter (there's no Kosher meat without this)

Yismechu = a (specific) prayer

Daven = to pray

Shacharis = the morning service

Traditionally, Jews face east (toward Jerusalem) when they pray.

Calamari is not Kosher

Kasher = to make Kosher.

Shul (shuuuuuuuuul in the song) = temple, synagogue

Twitter = a popular microblogging platform

Siddur = prayer book

Haftorah = Book of Prophets. According to some this Book replaced the Torah during times of persecution when reading the Torah was prohibited.

D'var = each bar or bat (girl) mitzvah shares a life lesson based on what is described in his or her Torah portion. Pulling out my fingernails would be a simpler task than getting my son to write his.

Hora = traditional, Jewish folk dance that is a part of many celebrations, kind of a Jewish conga line

Kiddush = blessing over the wine and food said before a meal

Zaidy (we spell it Zayde) = grandfather

Plotz = in this instance, likely sitting on the couch relaxing

Bubbie (Bubbe, Baubee) = grandmother

Chai = life, also the number 18, which is something of a lucky number because the Hebrew letters that make it up add up to 18 when those letters are converted to numbers. Bar mitzvah gifts are often given in multiples of chai (18, 36, etc.)

yarmulke = headcovering, AKA that little beanie Jewish guys wear (note to self: remember to order some)

mishnah = oral law, collection of early thoughts on scripture that were compiled written down around 200 AD

mitzvah = thought of as meaning a good deed, but mitvzot (plural) are actually commandments

A bar mitzvah is literally a "son of the commandments" after the service, he is expected to act as a Jewish adult, fulfilling mitzvot and other communal obligations.

Side note: I remember a cute boy from my class French kissing a friend of mine after (at?) her bat mitzvah party and telling her, "Today, you are a woman." I can't recall if we girls laughed at this or swooned over the news.

My son will be working to raise awareness and funds for a cause, likely a project related to bringing light to a developing country, as part of his mitzvah project that he is doing along with his Torah study and (theoretical) Dvar writing. Look for news about that soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Up and Coming at the Housewares Show

I've been getting all sorts of interesting press releases related to the Housewares Show because I'm listed as a member of the media.

Actually, I'll be attending as a "guest of the trade" not an official media rep, which is a whole other story. My point is, I'm getting a lot of press releases about Exciting! New! Products!

And I'm falling for them hook line and sinker.

As I long for the house I do not yet own, I'm drooling over colorful new kitchen knives, intrigued by shiny, mysterious pressure cookers and this all-in-one wine carrier/rank (pictured).

I'm imagining myself dancing about in my new kitchen sporting an adorable apron and removing a fresh batch of cookies while wearing the matching oven mitts. Once I find my style (which has been missing for the last 42 years), I'll set the table for family and friends with dishes for 12.

I could even be happy cleaning the bathroom with one of these new fangled Tip N Spray bottles, especially if we had one of these auto-sensing touchless toilet seats (alas, won't be on the site until March 6).

Oh, and I'll just take one of each of these sleek Swedish items.

And inexplicably, I must have one of these.

Yes, I'll just take it all. This is what happens when you don't go to the mall on a regular basis, erm, ever.

And have I mentioned we gave away or sold much of what we own? Make that owned.

I'm not kidding.

It was incredibly liberating at the time. Really!

It will be less exciting when we move into an empty house with nothing but our books, loads of tech gadgets, everyday silverware and our (mostly unused) fine dining items.

Plus about 25,000 Lego pieces and a soldering iron.

Speaking of less exciting, our fruitless house hunt is wearing me down. I haven't even vlogged in a few weeks because I've lost all sense of humor about our situation. But if you'd be so kind as to humor me, take a peek at the Property Sluts archives, and watch one. (Hint: Episode 10 is poignant--sort of, Episode 11 explains it all.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The brilliant things brewing in my mind

In the last three weeks, I've taken two biz trips that have kept me out of town Wednesday through Saturday. On the week between the two trips, I had two doctor's appointments, just routine stuff with extraordinary wait times, followed by two snow days.

Just as the piles of snow from Chicago's 4th largest blizzard are starting to melt, so the piles of papers and virtual mountains of email starting to dissipate. Slowly.

During the gap week between my two trips I launched the #OfficeHour, a new weekly MomImpact event. Join in this Thursday at 1:00 PM Central to talk about bloggers and money and the results of the recent monetization survey. Details and an official invite on Facebook.

What's up with Property Sluts?

A) I'm considering changing the name to something that won't get the videos blacklisted from certain filtering software. Your thoughts?

B) My loyal fans, both of them, in fact, have noticed it's been two weeks since the last episode. That would be because of my time crunch (see above) and the fact that I have completely lost all sense of humor about our house-hunting journey.

Our search is limited because we are looking in a small geographic area and also because sellers are in denial about the state of the 2011 market. I believe this sums it up nicely.

At this rate, I think we might wind up renting long enough to let the boys finish up at their current school, but even that could prove a challenge since their are few single family rentals around and almost none of the houses we've seen are in a condition that we'd consider renting them (which is why we are so outraged at the prices).

And about those outrageous prices: we're not the crazy ones. (Indeed, we are the ones who have a 20% down payment and great credit scores. Okay, at this point we are a little crazy.)

Proof: since last fall, several of the houses we've seen and memorialized on this blog or in Property Sluts have come down $50 - $60K in price since last fall.

Even the asbestos house, the one on which I rested my hopes, the one I wanted to own, the vacant house whose owner accused us of lowballing, has adjusted their price downward to the tune of about $45K.

We are now withing range of negotiation with the bid we placed last September. Except that they removed the asbestos illegally, and we are no longer interested in making that place our home. (Estimated testing and potential clean-up costs range from $10-12K; legally removing the asbestos would have cost $3-5K.)


Housing woes and thousands of emails to sort through aside, I am working on something exciting and I hope to have more news next week.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Touched by (the Blogging) Angels

There are so many takeaways from Blissdom that I've yet to write about, in part because my trip was followed by two doctor visits and two snow days and as you read this I am on yet another trip to support my brother's business. In short, I'm not sure when I will catch up, though there is a lot I want to write about.

One of several highlights from Blissdom included the chance to not only hang out and dish with Amy Oztan, Rebecca Levey and Nancy, but I had the honor of recording an episode of their Blogging Angels podcast. Click and listen!

Thanks to my client ConAgra Foods for sponsoring me at Blissdom and providing tons of popcorn and a microwave for my suite at the lovely Opryland Hotel. Y'all are gonna love this new popcorn; coming to a store near you soon.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Best of Blissdom Swag

Courtesy of my son with a nod to the folks at Blue Bunny and Jockey.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Teaching My Son to Lie

Originally published at Chicago Moms Blog in February 2009. And here I am back in the same spot!

Never mind that I've been carrying around a few extra pounds around for a few too many years, now that I've started losing weight I feel comfortable preaching to my ten-year-old about the importance of self-discipline. And why not present my svelte self as very the model of self-control? I've been watching what I eat and exercising daily for a whole month now.

So during a recent mother-son chat about a certain someone's lack of self-discipline I explained, "I know it can be hard to curb our impulses. But look at me, I started exercising and making careful choices about what I eat and I've lost five pounds."

He turned to me. He looked me over. Twice.

"Mom, I don't mean to be rude," he admitted. "But it doesn't look like you've lost any weight."

I'm only five feet tall. Five pounds missing from a five-foot frame means something. It shows. But that's beside the point. Our conversation was headed in a new direction and there was no turning back. Obviously, I had a more pressing lesson to impart.

"Let me tell you something. Don't ever say that to a girl or a women," I instructed.

"But, I was being honest. I mean, you look the same," my clueless, but honest, son told me.

"Well, your father is complaining that my breasts are shrinking!" I might have replied. But instead, I went on to explain that girls are often very sensitive about their weight. I told him that his manly duty involves making his girlfriend or wife comfortable with her body. In order to do this, he might have to, nay, he will have to lie.

"When a girl asks you if she looks like she lost weight, you look her over, smile and say, 'Wow, you look great!' or 'All that exercise is paying off!' instead of 'Um, not really,'" I explain.

I continue, "If she asks you if she looks fat, you must evade a true answer at all costs. Tell her she looks great, tell her you like her the way she is. She may accuse you of giving a non-answer, but once you so much as hint that she's getting a bit chubby, she never let you forget it."

Even though I generally encourage honestly in relationships, when it comes to a woman's weight, at least this woman's weight, it gets murky. A couple of summer ago when I felt my hips and all it holds getting wider, I asked my husband if he noticed my gain. A wise man, he evaded the question at first and later, reluctantly echoed my own words, but in my mind it was the same as him saying I was getting fat.

Complaining about my weight is like complaining about my family; it's okay if I do it, but if someone else does, I get protective, defensive, maybe even a bit angry. It's best to simply change the subject and move on.

My son sat there taking it in, no doubt thinking I'm an odd mom and, by the way, girls are generally odd creatures. Honestly, he's right on both counts

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Go Granny! Network Solutions Finally Gets It

It's Super Bowl time.

For me that means more than watching the year's best commercials, it also means hiding my head in shame as a GoDaddy customer. I mean, what self-respecting woman wants to be affiliated with them after their shameless Super Bowl ads each year?

Well, one who likes their low, low prices and finds their service to be satisfactory.

Like many bloggers, I have a compulsive domain acquisition habit. I currently own more than 20*, so yeah, the cheaper the better. And when I've had hosting issues, they've fixed or helped me or my techie fix them promptly.

But when I see those commercials each year. Ugh! It's clear that as a company they have little concern or respect for their female customers.

In 2009, @Glennia and I were among the women on Twitter expressing our outrage over the latest GoDaddy Super Bowl spots. In fact, Glennia was so fumed (and more responsible than me) that she blogged about how to transfer domain names away from GoDaddy.

For my own part, I recall looking into other hosting services, including, I believe, Network Solutions, but they just couldn't match the price.

Well, it took two years, but Network Solutions has launched a Go Granny campaign riffing on GoDaddy's obnoxious ads. It's a little too long, not for family viewing and based on my husband's reaction, it may have a similar effect on men as GoDaddy's ads do on women, but it's a great start.

I'm glad a company has finally tuned into the chatter.

After Cloris Leachman plays up her role as the hot granny who launches websites, BlogHer's Lisa Stone chimes in.

Love it.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

As I write this, the Go Granny video has more than 15,000 views on YouTube. Other Network Solutions videos have garnered an average of about 20**. So even though kick-off time is a few hours away, I'm declaring this viral campaign a PR win.

As far as a sales win, well, I think their call to action wasn't strong enough. At least not enough for me to go through the hassle transferring my 20+ domains. I mean, it seems like it would be a hassle.

Kudos to Network Solutions for this campaign. Maybe next year their peeps and my MomImpact peeps can craft an even bigger win. To quote Cloris, "Hey, it could happen!"

Hat tip to Rebecca Levey for pointing out the ad on Facebook.

*Including, so why am I still on Blogspot? Fear of losing Alexa and Google PR.

**Making them less popular than my own videos.

Edited 2/9 to add: Wow, Just when I think GoDaddy can't sink any lower, another Super Bowl commercial debuts. I'm not going to pay hundreds of dollars just to move domain names that I'm mostly just sitting on (sorry Network Solutions), but I am going pledge not to buy any more domains from GoDaddy. And, w00t!, the GoGranny video has more than 45,000 views now.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

To Susan and Miracles

My friend Susan is fighting cancer again.


Susan is fighting, but also praying. For a miracle.

At the dawn of 2010 I wrote about miracles and I'm reposting those thoughts, though they were not my own to begin with. Nearly a decade before these ideas went up on my blog, they came out of the mouth of a fascinating, inspiring and sometimes rather goofy man named Craig Dobkin.

An experienced mountain climber, Craig fell off the side of a mountain after a moment of inattention during which he forget to check his ropes before descending. In a workshop with him a year or two after his accident, he shared his story, describing everything from the moment he hit the ground to his time in rehab as a series of miracles.

The world according to Craig Dobkin (circa 1997?).

We can create personal and professional miracles by:

* noting that all behavior is purposeful

* recognizing that miracles are possible and noticing them when they occur
* taking risks
* keeping love present
* understanding that every person in our lives is a potential teacher.

One never has enough information to be pessimistic.

Susan, I'm fighting with you.