Welcome, new bloggers

Welcome, new bloggers

Ah, July in Maryland! Filled with farmers’ markets, beach vacations, community events, and days at the pool. For your summer reading pleasure, check out the following blogs.

Terrapin Adventures – @TerrpnAdvntures

Shelovesgoodthings – @shelovesgoodtgs

Next Day Floors – @nextdayfloors1

Spiritual Grit: Thoughts on Counseling, Christ & Soul Care – @commuterstories

#PoshMamaSaidSo: The Busy Mom’s Guide to Everyday Pampering – @PoshAddictsUnt

Andrew Liberman – @andyliberman


HoCoBlogs Party at Waxuality … yes, a waxing salon!

Well, this is a first!  We’re having our next HoCoBlogs party at Waxuality, a newly opened body-waxing salon in Ellicott City. Come join us on Wednesday, March 30, from 5-7 p.m.,for light fare, wine and water, mingling and–as you might have imagined–complimentary waxing services! Yes, right then and there.

RSVP here.

While Waxuality specializes in full-body, bikini, and Brazilian waxes for women and men (with nary a care for how bare a customer wants to go), the complimentary services offered at the party will include your choice of a free brow, upper lip or lower-arm waxing. You can have your session in the open–if you’re feeling daring–or in one of the closed rooms. You can also take home the coupon and gift it to a friend, spouse, colleague, neighbor, or come back yourself. In other words, you need not get the waxing service the evening of the party.

Mandi, the owner of Waxuality, owned a salon in Chicago for 13 years. She came to Maryland to pursue a new career path and complete her graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University two years ago. While working toward her Ph.D. in Leadership, the entrepreneurship bug bit her once again. As a result, Waxuality was born. Mandi is fairly new to the area and doesn’t know a lot of people so, she’s excited to host the HoCoBlogs party for bloggers, their readers, and local social media enthusiasts.

Kindly remember, these parties happen, in large part, because restaurants and businesses are generous with us (providing food, drink and a space to meet and mingle) and hope that you will be generous, too, with your social media capital: your tweets, periscopes, ‘grams, blog posts, yelp reviews, FB checkins, and more. #Waxuality #HoCoEvents #EllicottCity Please do your part if you like the free-to-you hocoblogs parties and want more of them to happen. Even if you can’t attend the party yourself, please help spread the word. Every tweet counts. Every FB post matters. Every blog mention has value. Yes, I’m talking to you. Specifically. 🙂 Give some social media love to these businesses.

See you soon!

RSVP here.

Jessie Newburn

PS – Big thanks to Julia McCready of Village Green/Town Squared, Kirsten Coombs of Kirsty Cat’s Meow, Duane St. Clair of HoCo Connect; Angie Kozlowski of AngieKozBlogs; and Eric Freed of Away from the Things of Man for their thoughtful blog posts about the fabulous party at Nalley Fresh. We had 144 people attend the party at Nalley Fresh. Our biggest party ever! Thanks to everyone else for their many tweets, FB posts, instagram posts and Yelp reviews, too! It all counts!

Waxuality Social Media Links

$50 Waxuality gift certificates available for bloggers and writers

For those who blog and are willing to write a dedicated post about Waxuality, a $50 gift certificate for services will be available. Contact Mandi for details at waxuality@gmail.com. If you’re willing to write an extensive Facebook post, set the settings for that post as public, include photos and link to the Waxuality FB page, this offer is also available to you.

Save the date

I’ve started blogging again!

Check out my Uber Chronicles! 

HoCoBlogs Party at Nalley Fresh in Dobbin Center – Feb 29th, 5-7 pm

A party for hoco bloggers and their readers!

Some of you had great love for Garbanzo, a Chipotle-style restaurant with a Mediterrean flair. Well, that restaurant is long-gone, but a new one — Nalley Fresh — is opening soon. Born and bred in Baltimore, this quickly expanding restaurant is all the rage in how it takes the build-your-own concept to a whole new level with healthy options and choices.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 2.40.12 PMAnd, apparently, it’s the experience and process that is so different, which is why the restaurant is generously offering a free dinner the night of the party to attendees. (Max, 2 tickets per family.) As a statement of Nalley Fresh’s focus on health and nutrition, check outtheir nutrition calculator that allows you to build your meal and see the nutrient value. Neat!

Mark Monday, February 29th, 5-7 pm on your calendars to join us, local bloggers and their readers, and local social media enthusiasts who understand the importance of using our assets, networks and communications channels to support local businesses and their successes.

See you then and there!


PS – Remember, these parties happen, in part, because restaurants and businesses are generous with us and hope that you will be generous, too, with your social media capital, tweets, periscopes, ‘grams, blog posts, yelp reviews, FB checkins and more. #NalleyFresh #HoCoFood Do you part! 

PPS –  Limit, 2 meal tickets per family.

RSVP here.

Spread the word, get free tickets!

CFA-Winter-Festival-Ad-v1-1024x1024 (1)Have you tuned it? Have you paid attention? There’s a whole new vibe happening with the Columbia Festival of the Arts? Programs and events are now offered seasonally, each and all with a theme. The type of events offered has expanded. And ticket prices are available in a wider range (with a lot more tickets at the lower end).

HoCoBlogs and TotallyHoCo have partnered with the Columbia Festival of the Arts to provide bloggers and social media enthusiasts an opportunity to earn free tickets (up to four total) in exchange for your good work in sharing news of the CFA “Winter Beyond the Blues” season.

How to get free tickets

Take a look, below, to see the activities that will garner you a ticket. You can promote the festival as a whole, a specific event … you pick. Just make sure to include images and links … and hashtags if you have room. Then, once you’ve done your promotional activities, fill out this form and get ready to enjoy some local art and culture.

Here’s preview of the actions you can take to earn tickets.

Each checkbox is worth one ticket.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 4.33.43 PM

Bonus points (not literally, but figuratively) for using local hashtags such as #HoCoEvents, #HoCoArts, #HoCoMusic, #HoCoDrama, #HoCoFilm and more!

Enjoy! And see you around town!


A letter to HoCo Food Bloggers (& those blog-curious)

This blog post probably isn’t for you. The information here is mostly aimed at food bloggers in Howard County, Maryland. Here’s an update on the social media, food blogging scene in HoCo.

Whether you are or aren’t a HoCoFood blogger, if you’d like more information about the gathering energy and awesomeness of this group of people blogging/tweeting/gramming about food, send an email to hocofoodies@gmail.com saying you’re interested.

Howard County food bloggers Pinterest board

Elizabeth at Three Beans on a String has created a Howard County Food Bloggers Board. For an invite, bloggers should go to  http://www.pinterest.com/3beansonastring/, follow her boards, and then leave a comment asking for an invite. (Pinterest requires a follow on boards in order to send an invite.)

HoCo food bloggers gathering

Seems there might be interest for a gathering of food bloggers to begin. We can provide email addresses for someone who’d like to start this up. Where you go from here … your call. We have 41 food bloggers in our database; not all are active, though many are. And there are probably 141+ more food bloggers in Howard County that we’ve yet to find.

HoCoFood on Facebook

There’s a HoCoFood page on Facebook that is a good place for food news for bloggers, restaurants and more. Facebook page analytics aren’t the best anymore but Facebook pages are GREAT for adding as a widget to your page. This FB page needs a person (a couple/few people) to give it some care and attention. I promise that there will be a way for this to get more eyeballs in the coming months!

@HoCoFood on Twitter needs some TLC

We started a @HoCoFood Twitter account that could use some love and TLC. The account currently follows all of the hoco restaurants we could find and some of the food bloggers. Interested in taking this on? It’s a project that could take 30 minutes a day or less to scan and RT tweets, to follow new restaurants and food bloggers and to announce hoco food-related events (hopefully, mostly done as RTs).

A list of local restaurants on Twitter

If you’re on Twitter, you probably know you can set up columns of tweets, e.g. in Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, to pull specific data out of Twitter. You can subscribe to and/or follow a list of Howard County restaurants, and you can follow #HoCoFood on Twitter. Perhaps someone has an interest in creating a Twitter list of HoCoFood bloggers; we can provide some starting information if you do.

HowChow’s hoco food blogger list

Are you listed on HowChow’s link list of hoco food bloggers? You’ll find it at the top in the far right column.

Guest post on HowChow’s blog

Got some local tips, some interesting perspective on the local food scene. Check in with HowChow to see if you can write a post. He gets great traffic on his blog and the notoriety of writing there may help bring some more readers to your site. (Even if you’re not yet an official food blogger, consider guest posting on HowChow’s site. Good local content is good local content.) Some recent examples —

Share restaurant news tips with HowChow

You may want to break HoCo restaurant news on your own site. That’s cool. Consider, too, sharing tips with HowChow. We keep HowChow’s email (howchowblog@gmail.com) in our phone and snap photos of “opening soon” and other news tidbits that we find when driving about that he can then share with his hocofood-focused readers.

Share local food source tips with Annie Rie

For locally sourced food, farms, CSAs and more, Annie Rie is a blessing to our community with her many posts and her locavore resources page. Whether you have a tip or write a post about local food, consider sharing it with her so that she can keep her locavore list as current and robust as possible.

#HoCoFood and #HoCoCooks

Hashtags. A whole new world of order. We encourage you to use #HoCoFood more for information, tweets and posts about food in Howard County, e.g. restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, CSAs, cooking classes and events; to use it less about food in and from your own kitchen. Think long term in social media and about foundations of social media use. If 30 (or 50, or 100) food bloggers are using #HoCoFood to mark tweets and posts about food that isn’t truly about “HoCo Food” then how would people find “Howard County food” info on social media. The tag is less about, we offer, the person tweeting and more about the content. Make sense? Try using #HoCoCooks for food coming from your own kitchen (unless it’s CSA, locally sourced or farmers market food).

More local hashtags

Use local hashtags. In particular —

Remember, hashtags can be used in Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Twitter and more. They aren’t going away. Use them well and wisely.

Add the HoCoBlogs blogger badge

Have you added the *I’m a HoCoBlogs blogger* badge on your blog? We have that and others which you can find here. If someone wants to create a *I’m a HoCo Food Blogger* badge (or something similar), let us know. We’ll add it to our downloadable badges and help share the news.

Time for a HoCo food bloggers Google Group?

Perhaps it’s time for a HoCo food bloggers Google group. Google Groups provide all kinds of amazing ways of sharing news, updates, events, links and more. If someone wants to take this on, we can seed the group by providing email addresses of people you can invite.

Know any more food bloggers?

We’re always looking for more bloggers on HoCoBlogs; it’s free to be listed! If the blogger is a person, org or biz located in Howard County, we’d love to have them on our site.

Help local restaurant owners rock social media in HoCo?

If you’re a hocofoodie, you probably already have some great relationships with restaurants you frequent. Lend them a hand by sharing this local Resource for Howard County Restaurant Owners. It’s all about how to use social media specific to HoCo and food.

Join the #HoCoInstagramSquad

If you’re a food blogger, you’re most likely often taking pics of food! Our #HoCoInstagramSquad is a hodge-podge of local people posting to HoCoBlogs’s IG page. It’s easy to join and there’s no obligation to produce any number of grams. Post as you like, especially as your out and about at local establishments. More info here. (Hint: Maybe there’s a HoCoFood IG page in the near future.)

We’re starting to host Instagram Brand Ambassador events at local restaurants. What’s that, you might ask? The restaurant creates an event for the Instagram Brand Ambassadors — a wine pairing, an introduction of their new fall menu, a beer flight, a cooking demonstration … basically any one- to two-hour event that they feel highlights their business. HoCoBlogs then brings in a posse of local Instagrammers and sets the requirments for participation, e.g. the number of grams they need to post, the hashtags to use, and so on. You’ll probably want to be on the invite list for these events, so get your IG accounts up and running, robust and filled with many local followers.

Any more tips/bits to add? Email hocofoodies@gmail.com with your suggestions.


Social capital for local businesses

Thank you, one and all, for your generosity of time, spirit, intelligence and can-do-ness in appreciating the venue of last night’s HoCoBlogs party (Nottingham’s) and the many interesting conversations you had. Nottingham’s was a generous host, providing free food (for vegetarians and omnivores alike) and a drink ticket for each attendee. They also put us in their private room, which made for easier conversations and less shouting in order to be heard.

In turn, we, the community of bloggers and social media activists gave of our time and thoughtfulness with our social media capital in our local networks. From what I can see, these bloggers covered the party in one way, shape, form or another —

Plus there was —
  • Two emails sent to our database of nearly 500 bloggers,
  • Multiple tweets (about a dozen over a few weeks) from @hocoblogs to our nearly 4000 local followers,
  • Shout-outs on our hocoblogs Facebook page with nearly 900 local “likes,”
  • Near-impossible to track Facebook mentions from many of the attendees,
  • An event page,
  • A Facebook invite, plus
  • A slew of tweets  from yesterday/today (and others in the weeks leading up to the party which are harder to track).

Thank you, everyone — each and all of you — for your help in making these parties easier, more valuable (for all) and more enjoyable to host and attend!



PS — The parties are really fun and it would be an incredible gift to me and the community at large if someone would help manage the party invitation list. I need help gathering up all the emails and putting them into an email service such as MailChimp. #HoCoVolunteers

Local tweets as a form of social capital

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 11.43.15 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 11.43.40 AM

Party! And complimentary wellness treatments from Synergy Pilates & Yoga

Please join HoCoBlogs, Gadsby’s Bar American, C02 Productions and Umbrella Syndicate at Synergy Pilates & Yoga’s open house party on Thursday, April 10th, 6-9 pm. Synergy, one of the first women’s fitness centers in the area, is expanding with a new wellness and treatment center offering acupuncture, reflexology and massage in addition to the pilates, yoga and other fitness classes they already offer.

Party Deets
  • When: Thursday, April 10th * 6-9 pm
  • Where: Synergy Pilates & Yoga, 8815 Columbia 100 Parkway, Suite 2, Columbia, Maryland 21045
  • Food: Light fare provided by Gadsby’s American Bar.
  • Hashtags: #HoCoEvents, #HoCoWellness, #HoCoHealth, #HoCoBiz and more 
Complimentary* wellness treatments
… and/or for the ladies, a three-month trial membership

Bloggers and those seriously active on social media are invited to experience a complimentary scheduled wellness treatment (a one-and-a-half-hour session combining acupunture, reflexology and massage). This treatment option is open to both women and men. Female bloggers and those who know how to work social media and their local networks are invited to experience a three-month trial membership that includes classes such as Metabolic Magic, Piloxing, Buddha Camp and Interval Intensity.

Those receiving the complimentary services or memberships are asked to share their social capital (their influence) with their local network. The expressed and unabashed desire here is to help local businesses be more successful and to help bloggers get more access to services and opportunities in Howard County.

To receive one of these gifts

To receive one of these gifts, please coordinate with me (Jessie Newburn – email or text, 443-794-7521) of HoCoBlogs. The complimentary treatments and memberships will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Perhaps you’ll write a blog post and share that on Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps you’ll do a Vine or Instagram and share that as well. Or maybe you’re a photographer and you’ll post some Instagram and Facebook photos and write a review on Yelp or your Facebook page. We’re each different and have comfort levels with different tools. In any case, please lmk what it is you plan on doing in exchange for what you’ll receive.

spring into wellness - synergy event - gadsbys


Business sponsorships of parties and marketing opportunities

Businesses large and small, we have parties you can sponsor and give a little TLC (food and/or drinks) to bloggers; we have many bloggers who are curious and want to explore their home zone more. They want to know what businesses and services are here. We can help you connect with them.

Save the date
  • Synergy Open House – April 10th
  • Planning Board Meeting re #DowntownColumbia, HoHu, Merriweather & more – April 17th
  • Columbia Villages & GEDS Market Study – April 23rd, Bain Center
  • HoCoBlogs’ next party is at Alexandra’s Restaurant  at Turf Valley. Assuming the weather is lovely that day, we’ll be outside on the patio.  May 28th
  • Check in on this recent post for other upcoming HoCoHappenings.