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Annie Leibovitz I’m not… but I’d like to be!

Ohh, a mere 27 years ago I graduated from college with a BS in Interior Design and a minor in Landscape Architecture, my goodness 27 years, where did the time go? OK, that is not the reason for this post… Photography is!

I do enjoy photography, I loved taking it in college “back in the day” when we actually learned to develop film for our projects and loved my trusted Canon AE1 but recently it has become impossible to “find” film. I think it is practically extinct! So sad!! But times have moved on and so have I; finally last year for my birthday I broke down and purchased a new update. I couldn’t stray away from my Canon so I chose the Rebel T1i; pretty much the same as my old Rebel X but now “digital” so no more hunts for film, and so much lighter!

I have photography envoy! I admit it! I love looking at people’s photos and wishhhh I could take expressive pictures like others… Great collages… such feelings… Oh stop it Shelley I know you can do it *say’s little voice in my head! So you have to know how happy I was when I got wind that my friends at SITS were going to start a photography series in the forum. I was so there, hand up! If you are a SITS girl, you know my hand is always up for these amazing women! So I’m here to tell you “GO!” “Go to the SITS site” and join in… if you like me have photography envoy. I promise you it will be rewarding… Have I ever let a SITS girl down?

sits springphotobadge Join the SITS Spring into Action Photo Challenge!

The series is going to be for two weeks, from April 4th –our good old tax day the 15th. Lynda will be heading the series and will have a daily lesson for everyone on the site along with a few challenges prompting you to try a technique that we discussed. If you just want to focus on improving your photography, that’s fine too as you can share your photos on the forums, Flickr, Twitter or Facebook.

These are some key points from Lynda’s intro post so you have an idea of what this is all about:


Basic photography techniques which rely more on you holding any device that can capture images than knowing what aperture, ISO, RAW, SLR, f-stop, shutter speed or any other number of photography terms. (This post might just be the only place in the series where those words appear at all!) Instead, we’ll focus on:






Color and Black & White

Blogging with Photos:

Tools and photo tips to help you better incorporate original photographs into your blog and social networking presence, such as:

Free Online Photo Editing Tools

Making a Collage

Photo Sharing via Social Networking

Styling Your Photos in Your Articles

Image SEO

Protecting Your Photos

Six Reasons why you should join Lynda and Participate!

1. You do not need a fancy camera. This series will feature photos taken on cell phones and archaic pen cams. No special equipment is needed other than any device that can take pictures!

2. You do not need to know anything about photography. We’re not going to get too technical.

3. Professional and Amateur photographers are welcome to participate! If you do know a thing or two about photography, your knowledge and feedback will be invaluable. We hope you’ll participate, join in the discussion and refer us to articles you’ve written.

4. Taking pictures is fun and creative!

5. Social networking is enhanced and expanded with the addition of photography.

6. Readers are more engaged by original photography on a blog.

And joining in is soo easy and somehow I keep forgetting to mention it’s FREE!

How to Get Involved!

There are a number of ways to get involved, promote your site and find some new, great reads! This is not a time sensitive challenge and you may join in at any time!

Sign up on the SITS Forums! If you plan on participating, visit this thread to sign-up so we can follow along together! There will be daily discussions, additional questions, prompts and exercises in our discussion forums. You can also upload pictures there and post links to your blog entries related to the topic!

Twitter. Use the hashtag #SITSPics on Twitter! You can join in the conversation and follow along using our hashtag! If you need help getting set up on Twitter, check out this post I wrote What’s with all the Tweetering?

Flickr. Join the SITS Spring into Action Photo Challenge Group to share photos or screenshots of your blog entries related to the topics! (If you’re not sure what Flickr is or how to use it, we’ll be covering that in-depth on Day 4!)

So come on join in the fun, I am so excited about being a part of this group. Let’s go and learn together… and then maybe Annie Leibovitz will let me be her assistant or maybe just “hold” her camera! LOL

Who says a good thing has to end?

love and smiles heart shaped candyphoto credit: Ella Marie

Good Morning Ladies! Happy Thursday, I’m so happy to have all of you here today. I am hoping we have some new friends mixed into our group who have not completed the 31 day challenge, I know that writing a blog, running a family, keeping a job and keeping up with the 31 day challenge is more like a marathon and a few ladies fell off the bandwagon just because of “life” so I welcome back everyone!!

Hmm, I just realized that we never had an official graduation of some kind… Maybe we ought to do that somehow, I’ll put my thinking cap on but in the mean time I did want to share with you that I have Renee from Studio Bold who redesigned the SITS site working on a “grad” button for all of us to shine on our sites. When she is done I will let all of you know for sure and I will have it “premier” on the SITS Forum.

It is my hope here to review our key days in the program, what worked, find out what didn’t work so well for some and great for others and just help each other build our sites to be the best they can be.

OK then here is how we are going to continue this party:

1. First grab your e-copy of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and your morning java and we are ready to rock and roll!

2. Every Thursday I will post a discussion based on one of the 31 Days. This is where all of you come in today, I need to hear from YOU! What days are key to YOU? What days would YOU like to review? And I will be mixing in some new things that I have picked up from the ProBloggers site for our alums.*As always I will try and keep it educational to help all of us mixed in with a little humor, because ya gotta smile!

3. Share the cute little button below on your challenge posts and also to put on your sidebars to show you are “continuing the challenge”

What I’m asking of each of you:

Please come! You have no idea how much I have enjoyed “meeting” this group we formed there are some real warm women here with great stories to tell. And as I said back in February at the beginning of the challenge; “You can come dressed as you are; pj’s, slippers, curlers, sweats… bring coffee, tea or vodka if that’s your early morning thing… however, just please continue to come or I will get a complex and will start to cry and well we don’t want that to happen now, do we?”

I’m pretty sure most of you are but for those new ladies, please follow me on Twitter as I will be putting updates and little inspirations there for the group. I have set up a new my tutorial on how to set one up, I will be doing a follow up this week on how to actually use it once you set it up.

• Re-Read the daily lesson in the e-book and take the time to check out as many links that he has included as possible. *this is where I got caught up in time! Darren said 15 minutes.. i say phewey on that!

• Come here and post the answer the questions each Thursday and leave a link to your post that day. • As in the forum if you would visit the lady who posts right before you and leave her some comment love that would be great! *we had some fabulous commenting going back and forth and I would love to keep that going.

• Spread the Word! Invite your friends and followers to join in the challenge! You can grab our new button below to share on your blog!

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How will this party continue to help you?

As in the original challenge you will gain some new knowledge from the Zen master (aka Mr. ProBlogger-Darren Rowse) and will spend time with some wonderful and fun women just like yourself who each have things we can learn from.

I will be posting a monthly wrap up if you miss anything along the way… And speaking of missing anything… I posted all 31 day’s challenges yesterday, sooo if you missed a day you just have to hop back there and it will give you each day. And to keep the party festive I will continue with the Giveaways in my monthly wrap up.

I’m so excited to be continuing this with all of you. And I thank all of you for “keepin” the faith in me! *cheers!


1. I know a lot of you kept stats during the month and I’d love to know the changes you had over the five weeks.

2. What improved the most?

3. What weeks did you find the most challenging? 4. What weeks would you like to review? Please be sure to leave a link to your latest post so that others can visit and comment today.

31 days to build a better blog and then some…

For all of the ladies who have followed along in the Winter ProBlogger 31 day challenge I have the links to each day for you to review. If you are new to this challenge welcome, it is a wonderful program written by the Zen Master ProBlogger Darren Rowse designed to help YOU build a better blog. And who doesn’t want to have a great blog that encourages readers to come back for more and more? You can pick up his workbook and join in the fun!

Day One: Write and Elevator Speech

Day Two: Write a list post

Day Three: Promote a blog post

Day Four: Analyze a top blog in your niche

Day Five: Email a blog reader

Day Six: 27 Must read tips and tutorials

Day Seven: Write a link post

Day Eight: Interlink your old posts

Day Nine: Join a forum and start participating

Day Ten: Set up alerts to monitor what is happening in your niche

Day Eleven: Come up with 10 post ideas

Day Twelve: Develop an editorial calendar for your blog

Day Thirteen: Take a trip to the mall

Day Fourteen: Update a key page on your blog

Day Fifteen: Find a blog buddy

Day Sixteen: Solve a problem: 7 ways to identify readers’ problems

Day Seventeen: Watch a first time reader use your blog

Day Eighteen: Create a sneeze page

Day Nineteen: Write and opinion post for your blog

Day Twenty: Leave comments on other blogs

Day Twenty-one: Breathe life into an old post

Day Twenty-two: Pay special attention to a reader

Day Twenty-three: Call your readers to action

Day Twenty-four: How to use a magazine to improve your blog

Day Twenty-five: Ask a question: 10 reasons why questions work and 12 tips on how to ask them

Day Twenty-six: Improve another blog

Day Twenty-seven: Hunt for dead links

Day Twenty-eight: Write a review post

Day Twenty-nine: Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership online

Day Thirty: 17 statistics to monitor on your blog

Day Thirty-one: Plan the next steps for your blog

Are YOU up for the challenge? If you are stop back tomorrow to see what I have in store for YOU!

Day 31 – Plan the Next Steps for Your Blog

Well this is it; Day 31! As I said on Friday I can’t believe that the challenge is over I have really enjoyed the program myself as well as leading all of you. I am excited to review and get all of my notes in order and put all of these challenges into place. I will be making the move from blogger to wordpress with a new design very soon and feel that this challenge helped me bloom.

I’d like to thank each of you for taking the time to do the challenge these past 6 weeks with me. It was a bit of a challenge at times for me doing it and leading it but like all of you I kept on moving. I’d like to thank you all for your support. A big shout out to Francesca for getting each day’s challenge to “sticky” on the Forum and a thank you to all of the SITS girls for the $100 Gift Card Giveaway.*

Don’t forget that I will be running a review for the challenge on Thursdays starting 3/31 on my site and hope you will continue to work with me as we improve our sites together.

Wishing you all well and hope to see you in blogosphere!

Shelley @shelleyellen

Some Important Info:

If you want to be an affiliate for the “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” ebook check out the 31DBBB Affiliate Page.

If you’re not finished with 31DBBB, I will be putting up a review of the challenge on my site this week and you are welcome to join in our review group on Thursdays beginning 3/31 for weekly reviews and challenges.

In celebration of those who completed 31DBBB, I will be coming up with a badge and will Tweet everyone when I get that back from the designer this week.

Key Concepts:

Successful bloggers often set aside time to think strategically about their blogs every now and again.

Figure out the things you feel are most important in blogging and develop a plan for next month by specifying tasks you want to achieve each day.

Sample Plan:

Six posts a week (Sundays are a day off from posting)

Each post day having its own type of post

Time on Sundays for determining the specifics of each post (topics, titles etc.)

An administration task each Monday

Promotional activities on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays

A day for readers (Fridays) for emailing, answering questions etc.)

Stats analysis on the last day of the month

Brainstorming on the first day of the month

You still have to keep up with daily tasks like comment moderation

Don’t bite of more than you can chew, or you may get blogger burnout

BIG recommendation: Look back over the last 31 days of tasks and identify which ones you might want to perform regularly on your blog.


1. What tasks will you continue to perform regularly on your blog?

2. What is the most important thing you’ve learned throughout 31DBBB?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 20 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Let’s just say “Ta-Ta” for now

photo credit: Brett Wagner

I’m so glad we had this time together…*tugging on ear! For 30 days now I have been leading the ProBlogger Winter 31day Challenge to build a better blog. It has been a wonderful program and I have met so many new bloggy buddies with so many great stories to share.

I have spent the week reviewing a lot of my own posts which is why I have been mia on posting but just wanted to get this little ditty up and say “thank you” to everyone who has followed along.

We have spoken about it in brief but I am excited to announce that every Thursday I will be continuing the 31 Day Challenge and reviewing key days and working on new challenges by the Zen Master- ProBlogger. He sure has a lot of great information.

I know a lot of our group slowed up or even stopped so it is my hope that with the Thursday 31 Day Review Group it will also give everyone the opportunity to catch up at their own pace and leave questions for our group.

This whole challenge really got my brain moving and I am now ready to make the big leap from Blogger to WordPress and am working on doing that, so look for a new and improved site from me in the near future. Uhhh, I really feel like I’m moving, packing, reviewing, cleaning blah blah blah but it’s time to get up off the keyboard and move literally, so I’m not saying “good bye” *tear tear, just ta ta for now! See you next Thursday for the kick off of Shelley’s 31dbbb Review!!

If you are hear from SITS you have until next Friday March 25th to complete the challenge and if you do you can enter the SITS $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway, all you need to do is leave me your email address and let me know what day you completed the project and what the best thing you are taking away from the challenge is. No email, No entrance…The winner will be picked on Sunday March 27, 2011via random dot com and will be notified via email.

Update: The winner of the $100 Amazon Gift card from The SITS Girls is:


Congratulations on the drawing! It was completed on Monday, 28 March 2011 at 13:18:52US/Eastern Time The winner was drawn from a list of 21 entrants using true randomness, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs. You will find the permanent record of the drawing here:

Day 30: 17 Statistics To Monitor On Your Blog

Wow, it is hard to believe we are only 1 day away from the end of the 31DBBB Challenge! This has been an amazing month; I hope that everyone has had as much fun as I have. After this month, I’m feeling a clear direction and feel like I have more of a plan for my blog – it’s pretty amazing although lots of work and going back through all of my posts. And I’m getting ready for a whole new redo now! (I feel like I’m moving and starting the packing. Uhhh but it’s a good thing!)

I’ve also loved getting to know some of you and your blogs, don’t forget that we will be continuing our challenge on my site and reviewing some of the key days and moving forward with new challenges every Thursday so please don’t be a stranger and stop on by, I will continue to help everyone build better blogs through our Zen Master Problogger and will try to keep everyone inspired and have a giveaway for the group here and there!

The task for Day 30 is to spend time looking at your blog’s statistics to see what you can learn from it. There is a LOT of information in the e-book, but I’ll try to pull out some key points.

Key Takeaways:

• If you haven’t done so already, install tracking on your blog. WordPress has built in tracking, and blogger now shows stats on the site as well as Google Analytics which is also a popular way to follow your numbers.

• A few of the statistics Darren highlights are Overall Visitors, Most Popular Posts, Referral Stats, Bounce Rates, Daily/Weekly Trends, and Exit Pages.

• Don’t become a stats addict! Darren has a huge blog, and he glances at stats a couple of times a day but puts aside only an hour or two a month to go deeper into the numbers.

• Remember that blogs take time to build, and consider setting exponential goals instead of numerical ones – for example, doubling your subscribers or growing by a percentage each month.

This particular exercise tends to become more and more useful over time. Problogger recommends using this as a part of your regular blogging routine.


1) Did you track your statistics this month? What did you see?

2) Which statistics do you feel tell you the most about your blog or readers?

But we still have one more day left… so no tears right now please, I have to go get ready for the gym…

The linky love throughout this month has been very good and I loved how it followed over to Twitter. (ps I’m going to continue with my Twitter Tutorials too). So as usual please leave your linky love and make sure I have your email address in this comment if you want to continue on and review with me.

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 35 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Day 29: Develop a Plan to Boost Your Blog’s Profile and Readership Online

Wow, two more days left, I’m a little sad! Actually a lot sad, I really have enjoyed our time together. We’ve been building our blog’s profile all along whether we realize it or not. Commenting on other blogs, discussing issues on forums, Tweeting, responding to emails, you name it! Any way in which you interact publicly or privately with your blog readers is a small step in the larger goal of building your blog’s profile.

Key points:

Set an amount of time per day or week to build your blog’s profile. (Don’t ignore your blog to do this!)

Take 10-15 minutes to describe your desired reader.

Ask yourself, “Where are my potential readers gathering online?” Flickr, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Blogs, Forums?

What opportunities do you have to build your presence on these sites? Guest posts, leaving useful comments, signatures, advertising?


1.) How does the way you build your blog’s profile change after reading this task?

2.) Give us an example from your strategy! For one site: how much time will you spend there? What are you going to do? When’s the site most active?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 25 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Day 28: Write a Review Post

The web is used as a resource for gaining advice. As such, ProBlogger recommends writing a review post. A review increases the likelihood that readers will see you as an authority.

Key Concepts:

There are many different ways in which you can write a review post. The most important points are to:

1. Give an opinion

2. Give a rating

3. Be balanced

4. Think about keywords

5. Make comparisons

6. Use an affiliate link

7. Say who it’s good for

8. Be personal

9. Add visuals

10. Give details on how to obtain items


1) Have you written a review post in the past and if so how was it received?

2) For this challenge, what kinds of things could you see yourself reviewing?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 34 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Day 27: Hunt For Dead Links

Happy Tuesday everyone. I am hoping you all are finding lots of great info in Darren’s challenge and it is helping you improve all of your sites.

Today’s task is to spend some time hunting for dead links and either deleting them or updating them on your blog.


When a link becomes dead it can cost your blog:

• Readability=error pages, not good

• SEO= not looked upon greatly by search engines

Daren lists a bunch of link checking tools to help with this chore.
When you find a dead link:

• Fix or update the link

• Delete the link

• Sometimes it might mean deleting the whole post.

While you are checking for dead links it might be a good time to check for spelling and grammar errors too and if you have done any site changes perhaps your formatting could be off to so just take an overall look around.


1.) If you’ve used a dead link finder on your blog before, what were the results?

2.) What tool did you use to do this? Did you find it useful?

3.) How will you manage dead links on your blog going forward?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 36 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!

Day 26: Improve Another Blog

Ahhh sorry ladies day light savings time got me! I can’t believe we are nearing the home stretch. There were so many great things that I have learned from this 31day challenge at the same time I have enjoyed meeting so many new bloggy buddies. I have really loved reading all of your blogs. We have so many great ladies here with so many wonderful stories.

I know this has been a challenge just keeping up, believe me there have been weeks that I struggled to keep up too. I know there are some ladies a little behind but just keep going forward you will make it to the end, I know you will be thankful you did!

Key Concepts:

You can make a MAJOR impression on another blogger by helping them achieve their goals for their blog. The key is to ask yourself what their needs might be and attempt to fulfill those needs in some way.

A few ideas are:

Write a high quality guest post that will be useful to another blog’s readers

Leave helpful and insightful comments

Link to the blog and share your readers with them

Promote the blog in social media and start a social bookmarking campaign for them

Recommend to your readers to subscribe to their blog

Email the blogger with some suggested topics you’d love to see them cover

Introduce them to a potential advertiser

Share with them an affiliate program that has worked for you

Write an email telling the blogger how you found one of their posts helpful.

Perform a significant action for another blog. Don’t just leave a comment on 50 blogs; focus your energy on one other blog in your niche.


1. Which blog did you choose to support for this task? Why did you choose this blog?

2. Which actions did you take to support the blog? Were they acknowledged by the blogger?

Update: *I’d like to thank the lovely ladies of SITS whose site hosted our Problogger Winter 31 Day Challenge. At the completion of our challenge we had 19 posts on this day’s task on the SITS site’s forum.

If you are just joining us “welcome” and feel free to answer the questions here and leave a link to your post if you wrote one and we can keep the party going!