Bridal Shower Family Feud: A Party Game That’s Fun For All Ages

Bridal Shower Family Feud: A Fun Twist On A Classic Game Show

Bridal Shower My best friend is getting married in August and at the moment, her bridal shower is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. We’ve planned the food, decorations, and favors. All that’s left to wrap up are the games that will be played. Family Feud was the one I pushed for the most so it has been up to me to create a survey and gather enough responses to have a diverse pool of answers.

After I have enough responses I will post the results on this blog for anyone who would like to use the game at their own shower or wedding-related event. The answers can be put together into a family feud game in many different ways (buzzers, teams, etc.) but for our shower we will be taking a simple approach with everyone competing as individuals with minimal set-up and expense (only scraps of paper and pens/pencils required).

Our idea is to have someone read off each question and allow guests to write down their response while the bride is opening gifts. (Opening presents in front of lots of expectant eyes can be awkward so we thought this would help alleviate the pressure on the bride to have perfect reactions) Then, after the presents have all been opened we will read off the answers obtained from the survey (“We asked 100 people in the U.S….”) and points will be awarded for having one of the top three answers (3 pts. for the number one answer, 2 pts. for the number 2 answer and 1 pt. for the number 3 response). Participants will add up their points and prizes will be given out to our winners!

I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Thank you to everyone who takes a minute to help and completes the survey for bridal shower family feud! Remember to check back here in a week or so and I will have the answers up for you. Also please let me know of any shower games or ideas you have in the comments, I’d love to hear them!

UPDATE!!

Here is the PowerPoint I used as well as the response sheet. Both are very simple so please feel free to play them up a bit and add your own style to them. Thank you again to everyone who responded to the survey, the shower turned out perfectly!

Bridal Shower Family Feud PPT

Bridal Shower Family Feud Response Sheet

Posted in Games, Wedding | 2 Comments

Graduation Is Near (May 4th!) But Graduating From MKTG 470 Comes First

Graduating From MKTG 470: No Cap And Gown Necessary

How My Site Looks On Google Analytics

The first step to graduating from MKTG 470 is an analysis of my Analytics account. Google Anaylytics Pie Chart I am pretty pleased with how balanced my pie chart is as a novice blogger. One of the best things I could work on to improve this pie, according to Christopher Penn, is an “other traffic” category. As of now I have no “other” traffic and as I am graduating from MKTG 470 it might be fun to see if the email marketing campaign my blog partner and I are working on helps with that.

What I Need To Look Out For In Google Webmaster Tools

Just in time for graduation, I am learning the significance of Webmaster Tools. I have crawl errors that I need to fix, though I am not sure how they happened. Something Comparison of how Google views a site to how the average person views a site else I found to be exciting was the difference between how my site shows up to Google compared to how it shows up online for me (and on mobile as well). This was found under “instant preview” and reiterated the importance of naming images. I am also reminded that Google does not care how hard I have worked to make a page look pretty, more emphasis should be placed elsewhere. The “content keywords” tab taught me my site comes off as being about marketing, blogging, JMU and mirrors. That last one seems random but until I post more content it is true.

Things I Will Never Forget

MKTG 470 and Professor Theresa B. Clarke, have taught me about things I never knew existed and about why things that I had thought were simple, are actually complicated and need to be studied before they can be perfected. One of my favorite examples of this is Google AdWords. I knew Pay-per-Click existed but I had no idea it was so targeted and how much skill was behind what these marketers are doing with it. It’s consumer behavior and target marketing at its most interesting.

Where I Go From Here…

Graduating from MKTG 470. It’s a big deal for me and I cannot believe how quickly the semester has gone by. I am not ready to be finished with Strategic Internet Marketing. I will do everything I can in order to keep learning about this subject and hopefully, fingers crossed, in the future I will be working in the field.

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MKTG 470 Challenge: Out-Optimize Your Classmates and Make it to the Top of the SERPs

It doesn’t seem like it would be difficult to get a blog post to the top of the first search engine results page (SERP) with a keyword phrase like “Strategic Internet Marketing at JMU”. The challenge arises when about 55 students are ALL working on optimizing this phrase.

At the close of the challenge I came in at 20. It would have been cool to be closer to the top…or to win but I still consider the effort a success. I have trumped my pre-optimization ranking by probably a million SERPs (before my site was not even listed in the first TWENTY) and I have increased my overall HubSpot marketing score by 16%.

Here is how I did it:

On-Page Factors

  • I included the phrase in my Title Tag, Alt tag, Image file name, three times within the body text (one bold and one a link), a category, and in the All In One SEO Pack Plugin areas.
  • I also THOUGHT I had used the phrase in my h1 header…a place that is said to be the second most important area to include a keyword…after running my Crawler FX report I found out that in fact I had accidentally made an h2 header instead and am now very bitter about it.

Off-Page Factors

  • I did not get much further in link building than suggesting my boyfriend tweet a link to my blog and including links to my blog on my own social media pages
  • I also linked back to the content from a post and page within my blog

Building connections with reputable sites and having those sites link to my blog will greatly help my rankings and next time I WILL get the header right. For now, starting from nowhere and landing on page three is a win, and I’ll take it.

SEO Visualization

Posted in Internet Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing at JMU | Leave a comment

How To Verify Your Website On Pinterest: A Little More Than Three Simple Steps

I LOVE Pinterest and often wonder how these ideas, or pins, were kept secret from me for so long before the website was created. Recently (if you count last October as “recently”), Pinterest added the option of verifying your website. The move makes it easier for other pinners to easily find more of your content if they like your boards and pins. This is an especially nice update, along with Pinterest Analytics, for businesses that are (wisely) utilizing Pinterest as yet another social media marketing channel.

Well, I decided to verify my own website after pinning one of my earlier blog posts but there was a problem. I’m not a computer person. And the three “simple steps” Pinterest lists for verifying a site were in no way simple to me. After some rigorous Google-searching I have finally figured it out and have had my website verified!

I have put the compilation of my labor into this blog post for anyone else who needs a little help. Please feel free to comment if you have any issues!

Here we go:

1. Go to your profile and click either the pencil in the lower right hand corner of the description box OR the Edit Profile button.

2. Type in your website name in the website field and then click Verify Website.

Here is an example of the page Pinterest brings up next: 3 Pinterest Steps
3. To download the file click on the Download the HTML verification file link.

4. THEN, the tricky part which had me stuck, you have to upload that file to your web server. For me this meant logging into my Go Daddy account and completing these steps.

***Now, another tricky part for me, the file needs to be uploaded into your account’s root folder or Pinterest will not be able to find it.

My screen, at this point, looked like this: Go Daddy Folders The root folder, I found out, happens to be the first folder that all the others fall into. I found it described as “the top folder in the folder hierarchy”. In the picture above, mine is labeled html and is highlighted. To highlight it all you need to do is click on it once. Then, click the Upload File button in the menu bar (also shown in the picture above).

5. All you need to do now is go back to Pinterest and click the last step’s oh-so-helpfully labeled Click Here text. Then Pinterest will inform you your site has been verified and congrats, you’re done!

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Google AdWords: $25 Over 14 Days And A Significant Learning Curve

A recent assignment for MKTG 470  gave me an opportunity (a mandatory opportunity but all the same a fun one) to play and experiment with Google AdWords (for a grade but again, more fun than writing a paper or reading a textbook).

Fourteen days. Two campaigns. Two ad groups per campaign. Two ads for each ad group.

I finally figured out that meant a total of eight ads and that keywords in one ad group SHOULD NEVER be the same as keywords in another ad group under the same campaign. It is the keywords between ads under the same ad group that should be the same. Now it seems obvious but at the time it was incredibly confusing and new to me. Visualizing it with a diagram really helped me:

Picture 5

In my 14 days with Google AdWords I learned much more than “common sense” is needed to run a successful ad campaign. My original strategy was to come up with as many keywords as possible that I could imagine a typical person would type into Google to find my blog post. Then I would simply change my bids when needed and everything would go exactly as planned. This was a fantasy.

Google searchers are much more complicated than I expected them to be. Within a few days I only had a couple of clicks and I started to panic, thinking I would never reach the $25 budget Dr. Clarke had assigned. I began to utilize AdWords’ keyword generator to find out what people really search for and found I needed to use some of those keywords, not only to trigger my ads through bidding, but in my actual ad copy so that searchers would know my ad was relevant to their query.

So, I added a couple new ads with smarter ad copy, paused the old ones, got more aggressive with my budget, and started playing with match types. This is how my campaign turned out on day 14:

Picture 3 I ended up meeting the $25 goal and I have been told that a .23% click through rate is “respectable” although, to me, it sounds terrible. Each student was given a $100 voucher code so that after spending $25 of our own money we could continue to run campaigns and learn more from AdWords. I am looking forward to testing AdWords again now that I know a little more about what I’m doing. I plan on working harder to maximize the number of clicks with the lowest possible average cost-per-click and getting a CTR above .23%.

Posted in Internet Marketing | 2 Comments

Ashely Monroe: Like A Rose (An Incredibly Biased Review Of An Album That Needs To Be Heard)

I have been wishing, hoping, waiting, and praying more was to come from Ms. Monroe since the release of “I Don’t Want To” with Ronnie Dunn back in 2006. I patiently waited and then not-so-patiently waited for the release of Satisfied. When it was semi-released (digitally) and was abruptly taken off of iTunes a few months later, I suffered the confusion of many fans and the deeply upset feeling of being one of the unfortunate ones who’d waited too long to make the purchase.

The album was eventually re-released on a new label in 2009. It’s clear that Monroe has put a significant amount of time into her songwriting and some really deep thought into the kind of music she wants to bring into the world since her first album. The result speaks for itself in Like A Rose.

ashley-monroe-like-a-rose-cd-cover-resized It is. INCREDIBLE. All caps are undeniably warranted in this situation, no matter what my mom says (she dislikes any classic country sound or “cow-kickin’ music” as she so lovingly calls it). After Monroe joined up with Angeleena Presley and Miranda Lambert as one of the Pistol Annies, I fell even more in love with her unique voice and the overall traditional sound the Annies brought back to country music. “Beige”, with Monroe on lead vocal, quickly won itself a spot in a four-way tie for my favorite song on Hell on Heels.

Ashley’s solo album brings a set of songs that carry the same truthful, heart-felt storytelling as “Beige”. I believe the sometimes sad, but relatable honesty that can be found in her songwriting and heard in her captivating voice is what makes Like A Rose such a unique and welcome find.

Like A Rose“, the lead single off the album, is Ashley’s life in four-minutes. It immediately brings listeners in on the hardships the artist has been through in a beautiful, honest, and uplifting way.

“Used” is a song with a second chance. It was previously seen on Monroe’s debut album but the altered arrangement makes the song brand new. This track also shares the beautiful hope of the title track through brilliant similes and, once again, an unparalleled use of voice.

“Weed Instead of Roses” and “You Ain’t Dolly (And You Ain’t Porter)” bring some upbeat fun and humor to the album. “Weed” is an irresistibly catchy tune with some not-so-innocent, yet fantastic lyrics that might come a little unexpectedly but nonetheless will be very well received by many who share the same sentiments. Special guest Blake Shelton joins Ashley on “Dolly” as the two poke fun while comparing one another to the famous Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner duo. A preview: “You’ll see me country singin’ on The Voice some day” to which Blake responds “Yeah, and I’m the guy they wrote about in 50 Shades of Grey”. Pure fun and sarcasm that may well introduce some younger listeners to some of country’s greats.

Liz Rose, who had a hand in many of Taylor Swift’s early songs, was a co-writer with Monroe on “The Morning After”. This is one of the most widely relatable songs on the album and tackles a sad truthfulness that can be truly appreciated by anyone who has ever lost anything significant.

“She’s Driving Me Out Of Your Mind” is so much more than a clever title. It’s an admirable surrender of a lover lost to another woman. The narrator saw it coming and has tried her best to salvage the relationship they once shared but knows when it’s time to call it quits.

“Two Weeks Late” is my favorite song off the album and another that shows off some of the writing team’s cleverness. The tagline “I’m a dollar short and two weeks late” isn’t one that many would forget. She puts a fun, humorous, matter of fact spin on a not-so-fun “damn cliche” of a situation.

Below is Ashley’s cut-by-cut explanation of how each song came to be.

Posted in Album Reviews | Leave a comment

DIY: Mirror, Mirror on the Nightstand (Cute Present Idea For Any Occasion)

IMG_0731 I am a HUGE do-it-yourself-er so a couple weeks ago when I was deciding on what to get my friend for her birthday I instantly threw the idea of buying her something out the window and decided to make her something myself.

I went over the obvious DIY projects such as picture frames and scrapbooks but knew I needed something new and different. One of my roommates had broken a mirror early in the year and I’d saved it just in case. I also save bottle caps, corks, sand, ribbons, and other miscellaneous items.

In the end, I decided on a bedside mirror. My original vision and the reality of the final product (left) were incredibly dissimilar. I am, however, thrilled with the result and now know how to accomplish a similar gift using the tips below.

IMG_0733

  • Super glue does not work when trying to paste ribbon to glass
    (I ended up using Elmer’s Glue Gel for this part of the project)
  • A spare picture frame stand is a useful and convenient addition to a project like this but CAREFUL measurement of where to super glue the backing is necessary to ensure the mirror’s steadiness
  • If something goes wrong don’t throw out your progress, work with it.
    (Dark glue marks were visible on the mint ribbon until I decided to cut the annoying straps used to hang one of my shirts and used those as black ribbon accent on top of the mint)
  • When working with super glue (the frame stand to the cardboard, cardboard to the mirror, bottle caps to the mirror) only a little is necessary to secure the two materials being joined. Otherwise, you may end up with super glue STILL on your nails weeks later and a mess which may be visible on the project. (An oops for me)

 

 

Posted in Crafts | 2 Comments

Social Media Marketing with the #2 Search Engine: YouTube Marketing Tips and Tricks

The home of “Charlie Bit My Finger” and “Keyboard Cat” can and also, should be home to interesting and engaging videos pertaining to individual companies. No matter what industry a company is in there is a place for its content on YouTube.

One of my favorite companies, Charming Charlie, has a great YouTube Channel that includes videos that are relevant to its target market, promote the products and store without being overbearing, and remain true to the company’s image and feel. Below is an example of a video that is welcoming and valuable to viewers.

Some advice based on my research:

  • Video content should address the needs of a company’s audience or target market
    How-to’s, interviews, behind-the-scenes looks and answers to FAQ’s are a few good options.
  • Make videos searchable
    Focus on the title (use targeted keywords and as a trick, use a colon and reword the title in a new way to maximize the effect), description (begin with a full URL for your site), and tags (include ALL related keywords).
  • Brand your channel
    Channel titles must be relevant and well thought out. The channel title should use keywords that help brand the company, product or service. Visually brand the page as well. The colors and layout must match the company’s image and an appealing page adds instant credibility.
  • Set the featured video to “autoplay”
    Views positively impact visibility so autoplay is a nice & simple trick.

Sources:
8 Ways To Maximize Your YouTube Marketing Results
How To Make YouTube Part of Your Social Media Marketing
Are Your SEO Keyword Bids Too High?

 

 

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Keep On Walking Til You Find The Window – A Blog Theme that Meets Your Needs

I have grown to find that blog themes are incredibly, monumentally and beautifully frustrating. Last week I thought Coraline and I could last forever. What I should have thought about was the fact that the movie was terrifying to me and therefore a relationship with this theme could only last as long as the length of time it took me to squirm in my seat during the film.

My old Virginia Bluebell header photo

My old Virginia Bluebell header photo

It was a great theme, the only problem was the loss of the author byline and the inability to remedy this problem. I thought I could fix the problem myself but soon found an explanation and decided to fold. Once again, it took me quite a while to find a theme that I liked and that fit all the criteria for MKTG 470.

It was easier to let Coraline go knowing that with Weaver (my new theme) the author function is included on every post, enhancing my site’s SEO capabilities. Weaver is also on an insanely extreme end of the customization scale. EVERYTHING is up to the blog owner. EVERYTHING. Colors, fonts, and I just noticed even each individual post has its own options!

Needless to say this is a very exciting step for my blog and I. I have finally found my “window” that Rascal Flatts describes in my favorite lyric of “My Wish”. The only thing I will miss is the option of using my own header photo (seen left). So far, the default images in Weaver seem like they will be enough to keep me satisfied though.

 

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Say Yes To The Blog Theme

Trying on blog themes is pretty similar to trying on wedding dresses. There are so many that fit but for some reason they just aren’t “the one”. I looked through and tried on, what feels like, a hundred themes before I found “Coraline” by Automattic.

I feel that this theme embodies the term simple elegance. It manages to be clean and fresh while maintaining an air of uniqueness and without trying too hard. Even the built in header photos were beautifully understated.

A default header image for Coraline

A default header image for Coraline

The black and white contrast and effortless horizontal lines contributing to the simplicity of this design should not fool anyone though. This theme is highly customizable and made for bloggers looking for interesting features.

Seven different widget areas are supported with Coraline and in the future I expect to try out what it feels like to have more than one sidebar. The layout is completely customizable and although I am someone who would usually be scared by so much freedom, this theme is exciting to me.

The only hiccup I experienced while applying this theme was in the loss of the twitter widget offered by NattyWP with the Delicate theme. I was unwilling to give up the twitter feed in my sidebar so I created my own widget with some coding provided by Twitter. Now, my twitter feed is scrollable and visitors to my site can instantly tweet me or follow me, making this new widget a very welcome change.

I believe this theme will work very well with what I hope to accomplish with this blog and I did it all without the help of a Randy Fenoli with expertise in blogging. Website owners like myself will just have to fend for themselves until TLC decides blogs are as interesting as weddings.

Posted in Internet Marketing, WordPress | 3 Comments