Wednesday 30 April 2014

WHAT TO WATCH WEDNESDAY #W2WW This weeks recommendation #15 Rom-Com Movie Marathon for Mom on Mother's Day @Netflix_CA

I regularly have conversations on social media and in real life with friends and family about which TV shows, or movies are good to watch. So I thought why not share once a week, on Wednesday (aka #W2WW) recommendations I have, or ones shared with me. If you have a recommendation please share them in the comments section! This week's recommendation for What to Watch Wednesday are a list of 10 cute Rom-Coms on Netflix Canada perfect for a girls night. Or, why not treat Mom to an uninterrupted movie marathon. Be sure to arrange for snacks, and a glass wine (leave the bottle).

Girl Most Likely 2012, 3/5 stars, PG-13
The Other End of the Line 2008, 3.5/5 stars, PG
Miss Dial 2013, 3.5/5 stars, R

Pretty Ugly People 2009, 3/5 stars, R
Slightly Single in LA 2012, 3/5 stars, R
Act Like You Love Me 2013, 3.5/5 stars, NR
Think Like A Man 2012, 3.5/5 stars, PG
The Ex 2006, 3/5 stars, 14A
The Backup Plan 2010, 3.5/5 stars, PG
The Ugly Truth 2009, 3.5/5 stars, R

I hope you enjoy my selections, and if you're a Mom I hope you get a Movie Marathon with snacks and wine for Mother's Day!

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.

Note: I have not been compensated for this post in any way. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

With @NexTekEnergy for #Vacation #Travel #Emergency in a Snap... I've Got The Power!

A few weeks back I saw a tweet flash by on my twitter feed, and I said to myself @NexTekEnergy. What is this .... I've never see these guys before. Being a tech-challenged tech-lover I had to investigate. Off I went and found NexTek Energy is a Canadian company out of British Columbia that designs and distributes portable battery chargers. GREAT! I could definitely use one of those for myself and my kids! The kids are always saying "my phone died". It  would be great if they could actually use their phone to contact me in an emergency or for MY convenience BEFORE their phone battery dies. A battery charger would solve that problem.

BConnected Conference
March and April were busy months and I had the privilege to test the NexTek Energy Pocket Booster 4200 on 3 distinct and different occasions: A trip to Florida, National We Day 2014, and BConnected a 2 day blogging conference. In each case, I was using my phone to take pictures for Cathy Thinking Out Loud  The long days made a portable battery charger essential, and the Pocket Booster 4200 was perfect for all three occasions.

The end of March gave me my first opportunity to try the Pocket Booster 4200 on a trip to Florida. I passed the time on the 2 flights and stopovers playing Suduko puzzles on my Note 3. In both directions at the beginning of my second flight my phone battery was low and in need of a charge. Out came the PB 4200 and I was back in the game, so to speak. It was also great on the marathon shopping days with my Mom, and we used it more than once to charge both our phones. 
I had it with me for the very full day of activities picture taking, and social media sharing during National We Day 2014. Almost everyone there was searching for a place to charge their phones during the day. It was great to know "I've got the Power" where and when I needed it. 
Lastly, I attended BConnected Conference a conference on blogging, and clearly social media was a big part of that. I needed my phone for sharing and taking pictures during each of the 9 hour days. With the volume of pictures and sharing done in those hours, there was no way my phone battery would last. Once again PB4200 was fast and easy and I was charging while I continued to share. 

These are only a few ways in which a Pocket Booster comes in handy, and each person has their own reasons for needing a portable way to charge their devices whether it be for convenience or in an emergency. I think this are a perfect gift, for my Snow Bird parents on the long drive to Florida, for my many teen nieces and nephews, for my siblings with small kids so they are never caught mid-movie on car rides or when waiting for an older siblings skating lesson to end. 
It makes a perfect Mother's Day or Father's Day gift too....hint hint!
The design is stylish, the build quality is outstanding, and the price point is great. 

For those of you, like my son, who need the specs: (Cue: Charlie Brown teacher ... wah wah wah for me) here are some details:
  • available in 5 colours
  • aluminium alloy body
  • dimensions (mm): 96 (L) x 47 (W) x 24 (H) 
  • weight (net): 150g
  • 4200mAh battery capacity
  • Lithium battery cell for fast charging
  • comes with a specially designed USB charging cable, compatible with most USB devices.
  • USB Input & Output rating: DC5.0V, 1000mA max

NexTek Energy has been kind enough to give my readers an opportunity to win a Pocket Booster 4200 just in time for Father's Day! Good Luck!

For more information about the Pocket Booster 4200, and all the NexTek Energy products be sure to check out their website at NexTek, and NexTek Energy Facebook Page.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about the NexTekEnergy Pocket Booster 4200.

Note: I received a NexTekEnergy Pocket Booster 4200 free of charge for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own, and true reflections of my experience with this product.

Friday 25 April 2014

Tips for Beginners: #SocialMedia and Your #SmallBusiness #WorththeRead

Small Business and Social Media:

Finding a Social Media Strategy That Fits Your Small Business

I love reading interesting and informative posts and articles about business, social media, marketing and blogging. My Worth the Read posts are my way of sharing interesting or useful insights gained, giving you something to think about, and linking a few related posts or resources I think are worth taking the time to read. 

This week's theme is Social Media for Small Business. 

The transition for small businesses onto social media can be a tricky one. Being social requires a balance between engaging on a personal level and maintaining a professional brand image. Without some guidelines and a plan it's easy to make the mistake of being either too casual or automating everything resulting in existing and potential clients disengaging rather than engaging. 

Understand that there are expectations of immediate responses on social media. Be prepared for that and do it right from the beginning. 

It's one thing not to be on social media, it's another thing entirely to be there and not manage your engagement well. You will lose customers if they experience frustration about your social media accounts, and they will share this frustration VERY publicly. Figuring out a social media strategy that works within your available resources, budget and business vision may take some fidgeting to get just the right fit. It is better to take a bit more time and get it right then to lose existing and potential customers not because of your product but because of frustrating social media experiences. 

Social media engagement if not managed can easily become a time and productivity thief, and overwhelming. 

Start small and then add on if that becomes feasible and makes sense. First, do some research to figure out what social media platforms are out there, then narrow down your research to 2 or 3 platforms such as facebook, twitter or instagram that work best for your type of business. It's impossible to be on, and maintain every social media platform, nor should you try. Even if certain platforms are popular, it doesn't mean they're a good fit for you or offer a good return on invested time or money. 

In-House or Out-Source:

Remembering that existing and potential customers have social media expectations, and your bottom-line can be impacted by your social media engagement, do you have the expertise to manage this in-house? I'm a believer in doing what you're good at, and although managing your own social media, or delegating it to an intern may seem like a good cost cutting measure, in the long term it may be more cost effective to out-source it to someone or a team with social media expertise.   

Finding a social media person or team that's a good fit for your business: 

A good fit requires they understand and believe in your business' core values and are able to translate those values into consistent messaging on social media. Communicating those values in a way that generates conversations and inspires others to join in is a true art. For that reason some real thought should be given to what you want your business' social media presence to be, and who can best do that. Resist the urge to treat your social media as an after thought or punted off to inexperienced staff or interns. Instead have a look at my Worth the Read: The On-Line Community Manager, and Pam Moore's post about Hiring a Social Media Agency

Below are a few links and resources to get you started:

Need some more Food for Thought? 

Social Media Best Practices for Small Business

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what's worth taking the time to read.

Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers information and posts that I find interesting 

#EndtheSilence twitter chat on #mentalhealth & #mentalillness twice a month.

 then twice a month on the second and the last Sunday of every month at 9-10 pm, est. 
You see it all the time, news reports about campaigns and resources (or lack there of) for and about mental health. I see blogs about mental health, and blog posts by people I know sharing their highs and lows while struggling with mental illness. Although I personally have not had that struggle, I cannot help but be effected by the heartbreaking stories of others who suffer in silence. 

If you know me at on social media, or in real life, you will know that although you get a very good idea of who I am, you get very few private details. I rarely share the names of my family, or specific details about their lives such as their age, schools, or pictures. This is how my family wants it, and I respect that, and expect the same consideration in return. 

For the same reason I assumed a conversation about mental illness, and depression would result in people being reluctant to share personal details on a public forum like twitter. Recently, I participated in a twitter chat sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart - Run For Women  and Run For Women .ca about depression, and specifically the benefits of physical exercise in managing depression. As you know I don't share personal details, but I'm an expert sharer of information, so I shared and retweeted about this chat, along with many others. As the number of participants grew, so did the conversation about the struggles so many had, or were still having, and the benefits of a regular mental health chat. With the help of those listed above, and many others the plan is to host a twice monthly chat.

Our goal is to have open, honest dialogues that bust the myths, and share good information, resources, and support. Sometimes a kind word, or knowing one is not alone, and no longer needs to suffer in silence can change someones life.
This chat is open to all! 
You do not need to have personally experienced mental illness to participate. We all can share our knowledge, expertise, and support. This discussion has to be about more than mental illness, it must also include effective and proactive ways to better manage mental health. I believe we can all use some help and tips in that regard. 
So spread the word, and remember, the more who participate the greater the reach!

Please join the conversation or just follow our mental illness and health chats using the hashtag #endthesilence the second and last Sunday of each month at 9 pm est.  Chat hosts will rotate, as will the specific mental health topic discussed. 
Be sure to follow Matthew of  Answer the Tullyphone on twitter @TullyMan77 and myself Cathy of Cathy Thinking Out Loud  on twitter @CantonCathy for updates and information on chat topics. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about mental health and ending the silence.

Thursday 24 April 2014

A Snapshot of @JohnRathwell Photographer Extraordinaire in Action

If you look you will find interesting people all around you. One such person is John Rathwell, photographer extraordinaire. I can't remember how I saw John's twitter handle go by in my twitter feed. Maybe someone shared a picture that peaked my interest, since John's photos are often of  kayaking. This lead to a follow, and twitter conversations about Ottawa, photography, and his photos. 
One reason for my interest is my son is a skateboarder, snowboarder, and a photography and videography enthusiasts, and my brother in law is a paddler, and would be at minimum considered a semi-pro photographer since he doesn't actually make his living from it. John's photos of extreme sports, and action shots are fantastic. Then while watching the news, who do I see but John on  CTV News Ottawa,- Regional Contact - featuring John Rathwell. giving more insight into John the photographer and the person. I like that John is not only a phenomenal photographer, but also down to earth, and approachable. When I asked him to answer some questions for Cathy Thinking Out Loud he was more than happy to provide thoughtful answers, and participate. Below are John's answers to 8 questions I hope let you get to know John, and are helpful to a budding photography enthusiast.

When did you become interested in photography?
"I first got into photography in the summer of 2009. I was travelling across Canada, stopping at all the top kayaking locations our country has to offer. It was while I was in Fort Smith NWT that I picked up a friend's DSLR and snapped a couple of shots of him kayaking on the Slave River. I was suffering from a chronic shoulder injury at the time and could not paddle as often as I would have like to, so taking photos was the next best thing. After I left to head to Vancouver, and realized how much I enjoyed that time behind the camera, I called up a friend and asked to borrow some money to get a camera (and food, and gas, I was running low on funds at that point). I picked up my first DSLR, that was a Canon 50D with a couple of kit lenses."

Did you take photography classes in high school, college, university, or elsewhere?
"I am actually self taught. I went to school for cartography (map making) in which I studied design and colour theories, which definitely play a role in photography. When I was first getting into it, it was just a lot of trial and error, and reading books. One book that heavily influenced me was Syl Arena's "Speedliter's Handbook". The book is what hooked me on using flashes to light scenes. I also have to give Blair Gable Facebook a huge amount of credit for where I am today. He took me under his wing once I arrived back in Ottawa and taught me a lot of what I know today. Thanks Blair!"

Did you plan on photography as a profession, or did it happen gradually, and when did photography become a full time occupation?
"Photography was never the plan. It just kind of happened. All of a sudden my images were showing up in the top kayaking magazines around the world, and cheques would show up in the mailbox afterwards. I feel as if photography found me, more than I found it. Once I realized that this could become a potential career I buckled down hard and became focused on becoming one of the top kayaking photographers. I did keep a part-time job in my back pocket as a bit of a safety net until 2013, when I was just getting too much photography work to keep the position."

I noticed you take many shots at events for action sports like kayaking and skateboarding. Is that the only type of photography, or area you work in?
"I focus very heavily on action sports photography. I believe that to become a successful photographer you must master a small niche instead of trying to be a jack of all trades. If you take a look at photographers around the world who are successful that is what they do. When I started all I shot was whitewater kayaking. After that, I branched out into other action sports. That being said, I do enjoy shooting concerts, weddings, portraits and events. I find that shooting subjects outside of my comfort zone helps me learn new techniques and gives me new perspectives, which I in turn can take back and apply to shooting action sports."

I know you used to kayak or "paddle", do you still kayak? If not, is getting the shot and photographing it as exciting?
"I do still try to kayak as much as possible, although it has gotten tougher with my busy shooting schedule. One lucky perk to my job is that typically when I am shooting kayaking it requires me to kayak down the rivers with the athletes to get to the spot we are going to shoot at. I try to spend enough time in my boat to keep my skills sharp enough to keep up with the athletes. Simply being able to get to places that other photographers cannot has been a huge advantage to me when it comes to getting a job. 
I find kayaking and photography both as exciting, but in a totally different way. Kayaking is intense and gets my heart beating fast, while shooting is very Zen and relaxing to me. I do get a huge adrenaline rush from both running a big rapid and nailing the perfect shot though."

Do you teach any photography classes or workshops? 
"I have spent some time teaching adventure photography at Algonquin College and done a few workshops here and there. It is something I really enjoy, as watching people develop their photography skills is pretty amazing. I hope to do more clinics in the upcoming years, but for now I prefer to concentrate on the project at hand, and delivering the best possible product for my clients."

Do you have any advise for someone just getting into photography? Maybe something you wish someone had told you about? (Setting up a shot, lighting, focus, etc)
"Great question! Just the other day I said to a friend, "I could write a book on all the things people didn't tell me about starting your own photography business." My first suggestion as I mentioned above is to become one of the best at a small niche whether it be babies, food, or kayaking, like I did. Master that niche and learn the ins and outs, and everything about it. Make sure you are passionate about that niche as you will be living every aspect of it. Don't try to shoot everything at a mediocre level. Shoot one thing at the top level."

What is the one (or two) must have pieces of equipment you feel are worth the investment for someone starting out, but with a serious interest in photography?
"A lot of people say "it's not about the gear, it's about having the eye", which I don't fully agree with. You still need the right gear for the job. For anyone looking to shoot action sports or anything outside, having weather sealed bodies and lenses are key. I personally use the Canon 5D MarkIII, with L series lenses, which can take a good soaking when they need to. Some of the best pictures are made during adverse weather, and if you can't get your camera out in the rain or heavy snow you are never going to make that shot. Also key for almost every aspect of photography now is using small off camera flashes. They have so many advantages that you can't afford to not own a couple and know how to use them. I just had a giveaway for a LumoPro LP180 Flash on John Rathwell Photography Facebook Page." 

Is there anything you would like to add? Maybe what your favourite shot is of, and why it is meaningful to you.
"One of my favourite shots would have to be one I took recently in Veracruz Mexico, while on commission with Red Bull for the First Descent Michoacan project. First Descent Michoacan - Mexico - Red Bull - John Rathwell. When I first arrived at the base of the falls, after a long hike it was terribly back kit and pretty much unshootable. The athletes had to repel down a 60 foot cliff to access the top of the falls. As they had just finished repelling the evening light started to hit the water particles in the air and created an amazing warm yellow streak in the top left corner. I had never seen anything like this before. I started yelling at the athletes frantically, to run the waterfall. The light lasted a short time and just after the first athlete ran the drop the light was gone. Read more about the shot at Canoe Kayak .com Behind the Lens - John Rathwell." 

John thank you so much for taking the time to share you thoughts and photographs with me and my readers. It is great to get to know you better, and to get some tips and advise from a pro. Be sure to check out John's website John Rathwell Photography his blog John Rathwell Blog- What's Been Happening and follow John Rathwell on Twitter.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud with, and about John Rathwell, photographer extraordinaire.

Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to feature someone I think my readers might enjoy reading about.
 © John Rathwell/Red Bull Content Pool OR © John Rathwell 

Wednesday 23 April 2014

WHAT TO WATCH WEDNESDAY #W2WW This weeks recommendation #14 #Comedies #Bridesmaids & #TheHeat @Netflix_CA

I'm regularly having conversations on social media and in real life with friends and family about what TV shows, or movies are good to watch. So I thought why not share once a week, on Wednesday (aka #W2WW) the recommendations I have, or one that has been shared with me. If you have a recommendation please feel free to share with me in the comments section! 
This week's What to Watch Wednesday 
recommendations are 2 Comedies starring Sandra Bullock on Netflix called:

The Heat:
1 hr 57 min (2013) 3.5/5, stars, R
"Sandra Bullock heads the cast as a by-the-book FBI agent who forms an unlikely alliance with a maverick street cop to take down a Russian gangster."
via Netflix Canada
I thought this was a fun light movie that would be great for a night when the kids are out. It is definitely not appropriate for younger kids, it has an R rating. I love Sandra Bullock, and Melissa McCarthy, and find their slap stick comedy works very well together. I am not sure I would pay to see this in the theatres, but it was certainly worth watching on Netflix.
I rated this movie 3.5/5 :-) faces. 

2hr 4 m (2011) 3.5/5, stars, R
"When an underemployed baker becomes her best friends maid-of-honor, she almost ruins the big day due to her competition with the other bridesmaids."
via Netflix Canada
I can't even talk about this movie with my sisters without all of us breaking down in to fits of laughter. I  thought this movie was hilarious, and highly recommend it. It may appeal to the ladies more than the men, but there are plenty of laughs in the plot for everyone. It would be particularly good for a girls night! Get lots of snacks, and wine, and make sure no one has to drive. You will need a box of tissues for the tears: tears of laughter! Note this is definitely not a movie for young kids. It has an R rating.
I rated this movie 4.5/5 :-) faces.  

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.
Note: I have not been compensated for this post in any way. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers.

Monday 21 April 2014

Excited to attend Stars on Ice Apr 27th #Ottawa & #JergensStarsonIce @JergensCanada

I'm so excited to be attending Stars on Ice  April 27th, 2014 at the Ottawa Canadian Tire Centre. 

My friend, her daughter, and myself will have the pleasure of watching Kurt Browning and Joannie Rochette perform, along with Sochi Olympic medallists Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. This will be my first time attending a live skating performance, and I would like to thank Jergens Canada for this very exciting opportunity.

It has been a long winter, and let me just say I really could use a bit of colour now that Spring has finally sprung. As one of the sponsors of Stars on Ice, Jergens Canada has also been kind enough to provide me with a basket of their skincare products including one of my favourites Natural Glow and their new BB Body Cream for one lucky reader. 

Good Luck! 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Stars on Ice.
Note: I received tickets to the Investors Group Stars on Ice, and a basket of Jergens skincare Products. As well I received a basket of Jergens Products to use for a giveaway for my readers. All opinions are my own.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Conference #2 under my belt: #BConnectedConf different but equally great!

 My first first Blogger Conference was Blissdom Canada 2013, and in terms of size a much bigger, busier and established conference than my second. There were lots of bloggers, sessions, workshops, and speakers. I had just started Cathy Thinking Out Loud, and the learning curve was steep as you can see from my post conference post Reflections: Did I Find My Bliss? Tickets have just gone on sale for this year's Blissdom Canada 2014  and I fully intend to be in the middle of all that big and busy again.

Last week I attended my second Blogger conference, the BConnected Conference 2014 . This conference was much smaller in terms of attendees, and it was its debut year. The formats were different, but I found both to be very good value for the cost of the ticket. BConnected was two full days of speakers, and presentations on a very diverse range of topics. Each speaker brought a different perspective, and offered bloggers, brands, and speakers alike a better understanding of each others, role, skills, goals, and perspective. The conference offered each group face to face opportunities to network, engage, and build relationships that have the potential to completely change lives. Who knows what the ripple effect will be? Many of the most valuable things one gets from attending conferences aren't tangible. It is difficult to place a value on friendships and networking opportunities, but they are equally if not more valuable than the information the speakers have to share. I had the opportunity to see friends I had met in the past again, and to met others IRL (aka In Real Life) for the first time. 

I am a sponge .... there I have admitted it. I love nothing better than to sit listening and taking copious notes about a presentation on almost any topic, regardless of whether it applies directly to me or my life. To me this is bliss. All these notes and presentations are the catalyse for future calls to action, and posts, and dialogue. The Bconnected Conference was chock full of these! Worth every cent of the price of admission. Bconnected was a very positive experience for me and I will be back for sure for BConnected Part Deux. Three cheers for the organizers who worked so hard to make it such an overwhelming success!

One last note, which I am sure will not make me any friends, but I am going to say it none the less. It always surprises me when people show a total lack of respect for the both the speakers, and the attendees who have paid to attend, by talking through a presentation. Personally I think it shows very bad manners. I was disappointed to have experienced this at both conferences. If you have an urgent conversation, or merely do not find the current speaker or subject matter to your liking, have the courtesy to leave the room and not disturb others who have paid specifically for that privilege. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about the BConnected Conference. 

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers my reflections and experiences about attending Blogging conferences.

It's My Job! If you won't work for free don't ask me to! #Blogging #BloggerIssues #WorthTheRead

I feel like a Blogger Sandwich:
Stuck Between Two Sets of Assumptions About Fair Compensation.

(And by assumptions I really mean judgy, entitled and misinformed by choice. STOP! Before you get offended I concede, not everyone makes these assumptions, but a surprisingly large number do.)

I love reading interesting and informative posts and articles about business, social media, marketing and blogging. My Worth the Read posts are my way of sharing my take on a given topic, with a few related links I think are worth taking the time to read, and ponder. 

Myth Busters ...
For this post let's pretend we're on the show Myth Busters and attempt to bust the myth on one hand that bloggers just sit around waiting for tons of free stuff to be delivered to their door, and on the other hand some (not all) brands and PR firms believing blogger content isn't worthy of the same compensation as other work and forms of brand engagement and promotion. Time after time we are asked to use our voice, reach and blog to create content for free, or in exchange for products which total value equates to compensation far below minimum wage. As my friend Paula from Thrifty Mommas Tips says "On What Planet is Toothpaste Compensation for Work?"

Blogs, Blogging, Bloggers and the topic of fair compensation ...
It's a Saturday and I'm working. Yes writing blog posts is work, and hard work. I have yet to complete a post in under an hour, and most take several hours to write. If there is an event to attend, research, food preparation, crafts, photographs, templates and or instructions to accompany the post, then it can take many hours. The majority of Bloggers I know put a great deal of time into planning well written, interesting and informative posts for their readers. They often bring to their blog years of relevant education and work experience, not to mention continually striving to improve their skills and craft. 

Things I do when I'm not sitting around waiting for free stuff ... 
Let me assure you I know of no blogger who just sits there waiting for things to drop into their lap, mailbox, or inbox. I challenge those who judge, assume, are misinformed to walk a mile in my shoes, but be warned, you're gonna need comfy ones! And just an FYI, there are actual out of pocket expenses related to blogging. Certainly for the first several years it's a full time job hunting down contacts, opportunities and growing your reach enough to even be considered for sponsored content. That means engaging and pitching ideas, or the digital equivalent of cold calling. It's time consuming and takes it's toll on your ego and self confidence. Add time required for blog administration and up keep, emails, invoicing, and social media sharing so people know you exist. Blogging isn't a matter of if you write it they will come, there is no field of dreams here. Juggling those responsibilities and the time required to create blog posts is a constant challenge. Even if opportunities and brands are coming to you, many are offer "toothpaste" or no compensation at all, spun to read as a favour for providing brand specific sales pitch information they're sure my readers want to know about. 

What and Why I Write...
As bloggers, we all must make decisions about what to write, which paid opportunities are a good fit for our blog, and what is fair compensation for the content we create. The majority of my post are not paid or sponsored. There are a number of reasons why I might write a post: to inform, to entertainment, support a person, place or thing, or share an experience, and sometimes if it's a good fit for money. Occasionally I'll write a non-compensated post about a personal experience (both good and bad) with a product or a brand, for which I'm under no obligation to include specific content or messaging. That is a very different thing than being asked to create content around a specific campaign or message, and that type of post I will not write for free. Even if paid minimum wage for my work, most of my posts, would require compensation of at least $100.00 to cover my time investment. This amount doesn't take into account intangibles, or out of pocket expenses associated with the post or blogging. Brands and even larger charities have far deeper pockets than I. They have a marketing and campaign budgets. If they can afford to pay a marketing team or PR firm they can afford to compensate me for my work. 

"Bottom" line - it's free my ass!
So four things: 1) I will not work for free unless the brand, marketing team, and/or PR firm are also working for free. So safe to say unlikely I'll be working for free any time soon. 2) I support brands by buying their products, which I think is a big deal. If they want more than that they'll need to support me by buying my product ... as in my blog and content I create. 3) You get what you pay for. You get far better blog for your buck if you offer fair compensation and relationship building. 4) It's my job people! I'm always confused when people judge assume bloggers get tons of "free" stuff. We're required to claim both the value of product or payment as taxable income. Yep, even the toothpaste has to be claimed as income, so not free, and as far as I know toothpaste still is not an accepted form of currency in which to pay one's mortgage or orthodontist bills. 

"Look I got another "freebie" pay cheque!" ... said by no one ever! 
Just in case further clarification is needed; No one considers a pay cheque a "freebie", and neither should a Blogger's income, regardless of the form in which it's paid. Opportunities for paid work don't magically appear, they are the end result of hard work, and relationship building. Like those seeking potential employment in other fields, bloggers must present their resume or Media Kit with relevant education, experience, skills, and reach, to potential clients. Their blog is a portfolio of their work. 

Blogging is not contesting ...
Although both require time and effort, one is about odds and chance, and the other is a job with deadlines, and commitments, and leaves very little to chance if one hopes to have a successful business, and a blog people want to read. 

Worth the Read ...
On that note below are a few posts I think make this point and are worth the read. Although not necessarily directed at an average reader, they do give some excellent insight into what a Blogger does, for what, why they're being compensated and some of the challenges encountered all in a day of blogging. Hopefully these posts will have you looking at the job of blogging, and bloggers differently, and with new insight and understanding.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Friday Feature: Worth the Read.

Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers information and posts I find interesting.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

WHAT TO WATCH WEDNESDAY #W2WW This weeks recommendation #13 #EasterThemed #HOP & #TheGuardians @Netflix_CA

 I'm regularly having conversations on social media and in real life with friends and family about what TV shows, or movies are good to watch. So I thought why not share once a week, on Wednesday (aka #W2WW) the recommendations I have, or one that has been shared with me. If you have a recommendation please feel free to share with me in the comments section! 
This week Watch Wednesday I am recommending 2 Easter themed movies on Netflix called:

(1h 34m) 2011, 4/5 stars, G
"A jobless slacker finds himself beyond busy after he runs over the Easter Bunny and has to take over the rabbit's duties so the holiday can continue."
via Netflix Canada
This movie was recommended to me by my friend Todd, and based on this recommendation I will be watching it this weekend. He told me it was a Movie that was fun for the whole family. I can't wait to see it. 

The Guardians
(1h 37m) 2012, 4/5 stars, G
"Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and others battle a malicious spirit determined to destroy the innocent beliefs and dreams of children."
via Netflix Canada
Here is another movie on my list "want to watch", and this the Easter weekend seems like a perfect time for the entire family to sit down and enjoy it. I have hear lots of positive feedback about The Guardians and can't wait to watch it.

On that note I hope everyone gets a chance to get together with their loved ones and enjoy a movie this weekend.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.
Note: I have not been compensated for this post in any way. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers.

Friday 11 April 2014

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: WORTH THE READ APR 11, 2014 #WeDay #FreetheChildren

I read interesting informative posts and articles about business, social media, marketing, networking, and the like all the time. I'm a bit of a junkie when it comes to this type of thing. So I thought I would share at least one said post or article every Friday, and maybe send you into your weekend with some food for thought. I was privileged enough to attend National We Day in Ottawa on April 9th, 2014 and want to share with you of what this day is all about, and what Free the Children aims to do. 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Friday Feature: Worth the Read.

You can find my posts about National We Day 2014 here:

Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of this post is merely to share with my readers information, and posts I find interesting.

WHAT TO WATCH WEDNESDAY #W2WW This weeks recommendation #12 #TheGuild @Netflix_CA

I'm regularly having conversations on social media and in real life with friends and family about what TV shows, or movies are good to watch. So I thought why not share once a week, on Wednesday (aka #W2WW) the recommendations I have, or one that has been shared with me. If you have a recommendation please feel free to share with me in the comments section! 
This week Watch Wednesday I am recommending a series I watched on Netflix called:
The Guild
(6 episodes) 2007, 4/5 stars, NR
"Fantasy and reality collide when a surprisingly diverse group of online video-game addicts struggle to balance the game with personal relationships.
via Netflix Canada
Not sure where to start to describe this series. It is like "The Office" goes gaming. It is campy and very funny. I only wish there were more episodes.
I rated this 4/5 :-) faces! 

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about what to watch.

Note: I have not been compensated for this post in any way. All opinions are my own, and the purpose of the post is merely to share with my readers.

Thursday 10 April 2014

National #WeDay...oops there goes another rubber tree plant! We are the ants Change is the plant!

I am tired! I have returned after have been given the privilege to attend National We Day 2014 in Ottawa. Not just attend, but to attend and participate in a press Q & A with Mark Kielburger, Spencer West and youth activist Hannah Apler, and a red carpet photo opp with performers like Simple Plan, Neverest, JRDN, and Kardinal Offishall. I am tired, but it is such a good kind of tired. As I sit here reflecting I have a few thoughts to share.

I can't get the song about the ant moving the rubber tree plant out of my head. Truth is, it perfectly sums up the grit and determination so many of the youth and the speakers at We Day have. Grit! Such a good word! Against impossible odds, they try all the same, knowing that every action, can effect change, and in the words of Spencer West they "Redefine possible". 

"I wondered why someone didn't do something. Then I realized, I am somebody." - Author Unknown. Be the someone that does something, about poverty, discrimination, and bullying. Be the person that supports the efforts of our youth to effect change. Be an example that inspires others to follow your lead. Be the someone that makes the realization that you are the someone to do something.

Another thought I can't quite shake is how we might go about organizing events in this format for youth to bring their parents and adults they know (kicking and screaming if necessary) to hear their voices, passions, and determination. For us to understand they will not take no for an answer or accept the status quo, so we as adults need to join them or get out of the way! I think once you have seen the energy and determination of people on that scale, you cannot ignore it. They were more than 16000 strong on April 9th, 2014, and with each We Day they grow in numbers and determination.

I am sure as the days pass I will see what the true impact of this day was on myself and Lindsey (a friends daughter who came with me). It will be interesting to see how that ripple effect plays out. 

Be sure to check out the We Day Website for details on upcoming events, and initiatives like We Are Silent April 17th, 2014 the We Create Change Tour  and Telus' We365 Challenge and App.

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud after National We Day 2014.