Monday, February 1, 2016

The Best Valentine's Day Gifts in Northern VA

The Best Valentine's Day Gifts in Northern VA
Many small businesses are located in Northern Virginia, but none hold a "bon bon" to these special local businesses! Whether you are looking for a special gift for your significant other or just want to treat yourself(I won't judge), rest assured you are making an excellent purchasing decision either way! Get ready to feast your eyes on the best Valentine's Day gifts for your special someone right here in Northern Virginia. Drum roll please....

The Best Valentine's Day Gifts in Northern VA
Let's get down to business. Flowers reign supreme on Valentine's Day. Two words: Taffy Floral. You have a florist right here in Northern Virginia with a background in fashion design. Michelle Samson, the floral designer and curator of Taffy Floral, really knows how to make something look visually stunning! The texture and color achieved in her arrangements are second to no one. She works with fashion designers, brides-to-be, and regular folks like you and me. If you really want to impress that special someone this V-day then you must buy a floral arrangement from Taffy Floral.

After floral, next comes Oh So Good Organics. They have the best Organic soaps and essential oil candles this side of the Chesapeake! I recommend their Charcoal soap with floral notes of ylang ylang and their classic Organic lavender soap. Oh So Good Organics only uses top shelf natural and Organic ingredients in their soaps to moisturize, detox, and exfoliate your skin. Perhaps, you are a candle lover. Then I highly recommend their lavender essential oil candle. This lavender botanical soy candle leaves your entire room smelling of "natural lavender". You will swear you are standing in the middle of a lavender field. You better just get one of everything to be safe!

The Best Valentine's Day Gifts in Northern VA
Sweet treats are "without-a-doubt" a Valentine's Day staple. This year, forget the stale box of chocolates and run, skip, hop, jump, crawl(well...you get the picture) to Pure Love Macarons by Kim Moehnke. Her macarons are stunning to look at and even more delectable when it comes to taste! Kim has been told her macarons are as good as the ones you can get in France! Now that is high praise if I ever heard it. "Nom nom" awaits your taste buds this Valentine's Day. Tell your sweetie, "Don't forget the Pure Love Macarons!"

The Best Valentine's Day Gifts in Northern VA
And what is Valentine's Day without a fine bottle of local vino? The wines at Fabbioli Cellars will take your V-Day to new heights. Personally, it does not matter what you get, because every wine they carry is amazing(and that's no fluff)! I did not even like white wines before Fabbioli's converted me with their spectacular white wine known as "Something White". I also highly recommend their 2014 Chardonnay, which is buttery buttery heaven. Perhaps you like something a little sweeter? Try their Raspberry Merlot and pair it with a dark chocolate treat. Don't stop there, take your sweetheart straight to Fabbioli Cellars for a romantic date and don't forget to look around their new tasting room while you are there! Thank me later.

The Best Valentine's Day Gifts in Northern VA
What about some puppy love? Try Nana's Biskitz Dog Treats! My German Shepherd gives it two paws up. Woof.

I hoped you enjoyed this special edition Valentine's Day gift guide for Northern Virginia! This post comes from the heart. No money was earned from this post. I genuinely love all the businesses mentioned and have a passion to spread the word on their behalf. If you loved this gift guide, please share the love. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Enthuse Creative: Engaging Graphic Designs

Enthuse Creative: Engaging Graphic Designs
2016 is bringing some changes for The Virginia Bloggers Club. One of them is our new graphic designer Reggie Holmes whom is the owner of Enthuse Creative. It is no fluke the choosing of the word "Enthuse". That is the approach they bring to each project: a professional and creative enthusiasm. It was my pleasure to work with Reggie on a few minor updates for The Virginia Bloggers Club blog and I can say without reservation that you are hiring an upstanding professional with a flare for a bold, clean, and modern website creation.

It's very exciting to be involved in shaping the look and feel of an organization and it's very rewarding because I know that my work is very visible and will create value for my clients.
-Reggie Holmes, Owner of Enthuse Creative

Enthuse Creative enjoys working with "you" the small business owner. They work collaboratively to provide graphic designing services that support your brand and vision. Their specialty is building and creating an identity for your business. They design logos from scratch and are enthusiastic about bringing a company's vision to life! Of course, they also work with small businesses to create brand aligning websites. If you have the above covered, perhaps you are in need of marketing materials. Enthuse Creative can help design business cards, brochures, flyers, and other marketing collateral for your business.

Enthuse Creative offers a free 30 minute consultation that comes at no-cost and no-obligation. They listen to their clients and create designs that advance the client's business goals. Contact Reggie at info@enthusecreative.com or visit their website for more information.




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How to use bloggers to grow your small business

How to use bloggers to grow your small business
This is something I have often pondered. Do small businesses know how to recruit and utilize bloggers? My experience is a solid "no". The normal small business owner interaction from a blogger perspective is, "So, you are a blogger huh?" "Sounds fascinating!" "What do you do?" If you do not know what I do, how can you possibly use me to help grow your business? The short answer is: you can't. First, let's go over the basics. How do bloggers make money?

-Bloggers write sponsored posts. A business pays a blogger to write about a product, service, or even an idea that they want to convey to a tailored audience. We can also write posts for your business blog if you feel "stuck" on coming up with your own content.

-Bloggers sell ad space on their blogs. We have ads that we sell to other businesses using ad agencies or free lancing it ourselves. In my opinion, you are better served having fresh content written about your business. However, a blogger with 50,000+ views a month with an audience tailored directly to yours can be an enticing affair.

-Bloggers make guest appearances. Sometimes bloggers make guest appearances for money, but that is really reserved for the ones making the big bucks like Chiara Ferragni. Bloggers network offline as much as we do online. Our offline network can be very beneficial for a local small business. We can introduce you to other local small business owners that can help your business grow!

-Bloggers host giveaways. Everyone loves a giveaway! It is one of the best ways to boost your social media following(and ours too). Giveaways are hosted on every social media network and we can host them on our blogs too. Be aware that local giveaways can be tough. You definitely need a strong local blogger(s) for a local giveaway. Multiple bloggers/small business owners teaming up on a huge giveaway prize is the way to go. Pay attention the next time you are scrolling through Instagram. That is the way to gain a monster following and in turn incredible online visibility.

-Some bloggers do social media consulting. Social media is what we do. We learn the most efficient ways to get our content to the most people and more importantly the right people. Some of us turn that expertise into a social media consulting business.

-Bloggers make podcasts and videos. Every blogger makes money in a different way, but always in multiple ways. I make money each month off of YouTube videos that just sit there making money for me while I sleep.

-Bloggers have side businesses. The smart blogger turns their blog into a business. They sell merchandise, t-shirts, books, speak at conferences, event appearances, or something else entirely that ties into their blog.

So you see, bloggers really are the "jack-of-all-trades" in the social media world. The next step is what to do with us? Well, I have already given you some great ideas on how to utilize us. I would challenge you, however, to think outside the box. Also, to team up with your blogger(s) and collectively collaborate on an idea that works to both of your strengths. The Virginia Bloggers Club can match you with your dream blogger, so that you can achieve your social media goals in real time. We also offer many other social media services to promote and increase visibility for your small business. Cheers to a happy and prosperous 2016!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

5 Reasons Why your Business Needs Bloggers

5 Reasons Why your Business Needs Bloggers
We all like to think that we can do everything ourselves, especially us small business owners. We don't need any additional help. Let's overextend ourselves and be less productive. Does this sentiment feel familiar? But in the end, after feeling exhausted and agitated, we did do it ourselves! That is no way to run or grow a business. Sometimes you need help. Professional help. Someone that cares about growing your business as much as you do. You need professional bloggers. Here are 5 reasons why your business needs help from professional bloggers.

1.) Small business owners like to do-it-themselves, which is sometimes bad for business. Small business owners sometimes think, "I can learn how to run my social media and be successful at managing it myself." That prior statement might be true if they did nothing else but manage their social media, but the truth is that their social media starts to fall to the bottom of the priority list as time goes on.Working with professional bloggers ensures that your business's social media sites gets top priority all the time. Because in today's online marketing world, if you are not properly posting several times a day across your social media networks, you are rendering yourself virtually invisible.

2.) Professional bloggers make their livelihoods out of building a niche audience, they blog consistently to stay visible, and they have a network that extends beyond the inter-web. Tap into a professional blogger's large and developed network by having them share your products or services through their networks. It is, however, up to you(the small business owner) to figure out how to creatively maximize those blogger's efforts to pay huge dividends for your small business. I will give you a tip: pay them. There is no comparison between giving someone a trinket versus money to write and promote for your business. Money is a great incentive for most people.

 3.) Running your social media takes more time than you think you have. I would recommend to any growing business that they find someone to manage their social media accounts full time, because it takes time! You need to be on social media,  but you also need to be doing other important things too. If you are just starting out, find a blogger or group of bloggers with a solid network and work with them over an extended time period. If  your budget allows, work with several bloggers at once and repeat. Using different bloggers and rotating allows you to continue your growth(tapping into other networks in your niche) while the initial blogger you worked with is continuing to grow his/her network. Come back to your initial blogger in 3 to 6 months.

4.) Genuine communication with your audience. Bloggers are a genuine form of advertising. Your business should have a blog associated with it, but when it comes time to talk about what you do well it should be coming from someone else. Of course you are going to say your product or service is the best in town, but will anyone believe it? Bloggers have a network of friends. We trust our friends to tell us where we should eat, what we should buy, what movies to see, etc... Need I say more?

5.) Most bloggers charge a modest rate. You are not going to kill your marketing budget by occasionally hiring bloggers for marketing campaigns. Professional bloggers give you access to hundreds or even thousands of potential customers. All you need to do is connect with the best professional bloggers in your niche(or local area) and convey to them your marketing goals. Finding the best bloggers is not always easy, but if you live in the DMV(DC, MD, or VA) area then you have The Virginia Bloggers Club.

The Virginia Bloggers Club seamlessly connects you with top-notch bloggers in your industry that have thousands of local followers and small business connections to help grow your business faster. How do we do it?

First, we have a local community on Facebook called The Virginia Bloggers Club. Say you need 5 incredible foodie bloggers for an upcoming marketing campaign or event. I will go to our group and verify that they are interesting in working with your company. This is also a good time to tell the bloggers what you are going to require of them and how you are planning to compensate them in exchange for their services. What's next?

We connect you to your bloggers via e-mail and you work out your own terms of contract with those bloggers. It is that simple. You get quality bloggers to spread the word and they get paid. Everyone wins. But, you have to take the first step and e-mail us at virginiabloggerclub@gmail.com to get started! We are here to help you grow and prosper.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Blood Drive with One.Love.Loudoun

Blood Drive with One Love Loudoun

Let's start off 2016 by saving a life or 3! One.Love.Loudoun is hosting a blood drive on January 30th to help those in our community who need the life saving measures of blood. The Zone is generously sponsoring this event as well as the Virginia Bloggers Club.

This blood drive will be held from 10 am to 2 pm and giveaways will be held all day! So bring out the family and include "making a difference" in your New Year's resolution for 2016. Need additional information? Visit oneloveloudoun.org and learn how together we can make a difference.
Blood Drive with One Love Loudoun

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Second Ave Photography + VA Bloggers Club

Second Ave Photography + VA Bloggers Club
Blaire Ring and I have been working together for a long time. She is one of the most talented, professional, and creative photographers in Northern Virginia! She will try just about anything to obtain an interesting and creative shot. Blaire is my kind of gal. My fellow Scorpio friend and owner of Second Ave Photography kindly gave The Virginia Bloggers Club a fresh + modern look for 2016. Yes, 2016 will be here before we know it and we are already thinking about where we are going next year. Did you ever think about taking photos in a parking garage? No?! Well, I believe in taking something beautiful and putting it in an industrial(non-pretty) setting. The end result is quite striking. Striking is just what I am going for.

Second Ave Photography + VA Bloggers Club
These photos were taken on first Friday in Leesburg and I would have liked to sit on a random car or lay down in the parking garage, but we may have been tased or ran over(or both). I really love stairwell shots and it took about 20 minutes to get them, because so many people were going up and down the stairs. Don't people know we are trying to have a photo shoot here?

Second Ave Photography + VA Bloggers Club
A part of me, okay a big part of me, loves to climb on things during a photo shoot. Let's get crazy! This looks relatively easy, but in heels this is a bit more challenging then it actually looks. Carin, the sensible one, stayed on low ground.

Second Ave Photography + VA Bloggers Club
One of my favorite types of photos involves blurred twinkly lights in the background. There is something so bright and magical about these shots. The glow from behind is ethereal and truly beautiful. Mysterious, dark, light, and strong. Such a great mixture of emotions going on in this photo.

Second Ave Photography + VA Bloggers Club
Then there are times when being silly pays off. Spontaneous + silly photos are some of my favorites. Why did we strike a random pose? Because we could. It does appear very 70ish in styling, but I like it! You should never take yourself too seriously and this is a prime example of that.

Second Ave Photography + VA Bloggers Club
Looking for some creative shots for yourself or your family? Give Blaire a call or drop her a line at secondavephotography@gmail.com. Lastly, if you are a small business owner that needs help with short-term social media promotions or if you are looking to connect with professional bloggers for an upcoming campaign(or event) feel free to drop us a line at virginiabloggerclub@gmail.com. Our list of services and media kit is available for viewing at the top of the blog.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Business Motivation: Build it and they will come?

Business Motivation: Build it and they will come?
Remember the movie Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner? Same concept. You are building something in the hopes that creating the "physical business" will automatically draw in the masses. You believe in your business model and have done your market research. Let's say for example, there is a true need for a donut shop within your community because there is absolutely no donut shop within a 100 mile radius. Does that point alone ensure that you will be successful as a small business owner? What if no one outside of a 10 mile radius knows about your donut shop? Will it still be successful? Doubtful. We live in a online marketing world. Every face you see is embedded into their smart phone and it is your job to be there too.

Did you take out a newspaper or magazine ad this year? I am certain you are not the only one. However, you need to be where your audience lives and it is not in a teeny $500 magazine ad that few people will ever see. Do you have thousands of dollars for a full-page magazine ad? For today's online marketing era, you have just flushed your money down the toilet. Do you want to find your audience, your voice, and more importantly your customer base? Locate someone who has already been building that base for years and then pay them to post about your business over their established social media network. Who or what am I talking about? Bloggers.

Not only do bloggers give you visibility using their platform of like-minded readers(or potential customers for you), but they can help you build your social media network at the same time. Yes, you can build it yourself, but that is the long road. Why not utilize someone who is years ahead of you and also a savvy social media professional? Bloggers can help you connect with the genuine voice of the people. Say you own a new and hip fashion boutique in town. Connect with the best local fashion bloggers and watch how that increases your exposure, following, and bottom line.  It is all about growth and fast growth at that. Your bigger competition is utilizing bloggers right now and it is paying off big time in sales and social media followers. More followers yield more visibility and more sales. So, how do you find the best blogger for your small business? Right here at The Virginia Bloggers Club.


Here is my sales pitch: the Virginia Bloggers Club hosts some of the best bloggers in the DC, MD, and VA area. We connect you with the right professional blogger for your brand and then you decide how they will best work for your business. We connect bloggers to write content, host promotional giveaways, and attend local DMV events for increased social media visibility. The bottom line is we have you covered. We are a small business working for your small business. Our list of services can work with any budget, but you cannot grow if you do not start. The journey of a thousand miles starts today.