Memorial Day – Babies and Our Military
May 23 2008

I met a gal on twitter who tweets by the name of @MailOurMilitary and @Dayngr.  Her real name is Trish.  We got to tweeting and emailing and then talking. 

Since Trish had gone through the hardship of being away from her husband when her first child was born, we both thought it would be a great idea to join forces to offer members of her non-profit organization, eMail Our Military free subscriptions to Babble Soft applications as well as access to a discount code for 20% off purchases for non-active military and friends.

So please let the military families you know about our offer and encourage them and others to sign up at eMail Our Military.  We know there is no way to make up for the lost time and touch of a parent who is away but now they have access to a free tool that can help bridge the unavoidable physical gap between two parents of a precious newborn.  We wanted to give people another reason, which is often overlooked (i.e., being away from their baby), to remember all those men and women who have put their lives at home on hold and/or laid down their lives to protect our freedom.

You can see the press release below, on our site, on PR Web, and on eMailOurMilitary’s blog.  Trish also wrote a more personal blog post called Baby Memories, Milestones, and Our Military where she mentions her experience as a new mom whose husband has to leave one week after her baby was born!

Happy Memorial Day everyone! 

Babble Soft and eMail our Military Join Forces to Offer Free Subscriptions to Babble Soft Applications for Active Duty Service Members with Newborns

Just in time for Memorial Day, Active Duty Service Members with Newborns now get free access to Babble Soft’s web and mobile applications through their membership at eMail Our Military.

eMail Our MilitaryAUSTIN, TX; MIAMI LAKES, FL – May 22, 2008 – Babble Soft and eMail our Military are partnering to offer free subscriptions to Baby Insights and Baby Say Cheese for active duty service members with newborns. 

“We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with Babble Soft.” said Trish Forant, Founder and President of eMail our Military. “My husband was called into service only one week after our first child was born.  I had very few friends and family to turn to for support where we were stationed and it was difficult for me to convey to him what I was going through with our new baby.  I would have loved to have the online tools Babble Soft provides to communicate to him how often and when our baby was feeding, sleeping, etc. as well as important picture milestones!”

 “Our goal at Babble Soft is to help strengthen and enhance connections between family members during that wonderful, yet chaotic time after a baby is born.” said Aruni Gunasegaram, founder and president of Babble Soft. “We support our troops and know how important it is for new parents who have to be away from their newborns to feel connected to what is going on at home.  Partners can share experiences and photos with each other through Babble Soft’s unique web and mobile applications. As an added bonus, members of eMail our Military will have access to a discount code to purchase gift subscriptions for their other family members who may or may not have military ties.”

Baby Insights helps caregivers keep track of baby’s breast & bottle feeding, sleep periods, diaper changes, medicine doses, immunization records, as well as mom’s breastfeeding, pumping and medicine intake. Having important information stored in one location makes communication between parents, their nanny, babysitters, grandparents, or doctors seamless and reliable and gives new parents insight into their baby’s patterns to help with crucial baby care decisions.

Baby Say Cheese lets you create a wonderful online baby’s first year photo album with milestones such as ‘first crawl, first smile, first word’ and family tree that you can share with friends and family.  You can even send a fun, cute picture postcards of any of your baby’s milestones to anyone with an email address!

About eMail our Military, Inc.
eMail Our Military was created in 2001 as a response to the DoD’s cancellation of the “Any Service Member” and “Operation Dear Abby” mail programs. As a safe alternative, eMOM picked up where these programs left off. eMail Our Military is composed of volunteers from all walks of life who understand that regardless of our political views, our military service members deserve our respect, support & encouragement. Website visitors can join and take part in a number of support projects ranging from sending eMail on a one-on-one basis with a service member to year round support projects that are open to the public. For more information on eMail Our Military, please visit http://www.eMailOurMilitary.com

About Babble Soft, LLC
Babble Soft is based in Austin, Texas and creates products that help make the transition into parenthood babblesoft-babyeasier.  Whether you need breastfeeding support, are experiencing baby sleep issues, are expecting twins, or taking care of a premature (preemie) baby and would like to create your baby’s first year album, Babble Soft offers unique, easy-to-use Web and Mobile software solutions that improve communication between caregivers.  Babble Soft makes a great baby shower gift that you can easily send via Email to any new parent anywhere in the world!  To learn more and purchase Babble Soft applications, please visit http://www.babblesoft.com.

For more information, please contact:

Trish Forant
eMail our Military, Inc.
(786) 228-7096
Info(at)eMailOurMilitary(dot)com

Aruni Gunasegaram
Babble Soft, LLC
(512) 961-6002
aruni(at)babblesoft(dot)com                                                                                   

 

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby, baby insights, baby say cheese, baby sleep, breastfeeding, diversity, entrepreneurship, father, FYI, national holiday, parenting, twitter, working father, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 3
May 19 2008

Photo by Sandy Blanchard
We are about 5 months and thousands of dollars into our search engine optimization (SEO) campaign managed by SpryDev and before you read the rest, I suggest you check out my Part 1 and Part 2 posts.

Let’s just say I’m not yet ecstatic with the results.  On the plus side, Website Grader now shows our grade as 79 which is up from 67 when I ran it for my Part 2 post on March 3, 2008.  We are also just now starting to show up in the first and second page of Google for our current keywords of ‘breastfeeding support’ and ‘baby sleep.’  We are showing up in the top 30 for other important terms.  Interestingly enough, we are showing #1 for ‘baby care software,’  but I have no idea what the search volume is for that term!

On the not-so-great side, although our overall traffic is increasing at a pretty good percentage rate, we still aren’t seeing a huge jump in total number of visitors or more importantly a significant jump in trial sign-ups which have shown in the past a 7 to 10% conversion rate to purchase!  For instance, according to Google Analytics, in December 2007 we had 873 total visitors of which 626 were unique visitors.  In April 2008, we had 1,585 (82% increase) total visitors of which 1,162 (86% increase) were unique.  Page Views during that same time have gone from 2,364 to 4,898 (107% increase).  In the world of the Internet, the percentage increases are good, but the total numbers seem low to me especially when you see numbers like 1 million visitors per month thrown around often on Mashable and TechCrunch.

In February and March we saw an increase in percentage totals of people finding us using organic search engine terms but saw a drop in organic search and trial sign-ups in April.  The more trial sign-ups we have, the higher the conversion rate of customers purchasing our apps.  Direct and Referring site traffic is still greater than 70% of our traffic sources which means that’s a heck of a lot of my time emailing, blogging, twittering, as well as links from my friends and other interested parties.  My family does not blog or twitter so unfortunately I don’t get back links that way. :-D

I know that the SEO link team is submitting articles, press releases, and creating directory submissions on a monthly basis which seem to be getting accepted and picked up at a reasonable rate.  SpryDev gives me good weekly and monthly reports, and I check out our Google Analytics to see how things are going. So I know that they are sharing all the information they can with me.

We did have an account manager change back in early March when Rose, who I mentioned in a previous post, left for personal reasons and now our account manager is Erik.  We also had a keyword shift around that time from ‘pregnancy week by week’ to ‘baby sleep.’  I’m still not sure why we selected that keyword since we don’t have an offering for that keyword, but I think it was because it had a high search volume…needless to say it had a high bounce rate.  In other words, people who found our site using ‘pregnancy week by week’ didn’t stay long on the site. 

We have also made several website conversion changes based on recommendations by SpryDev via Brian Massey of Customer Chaos, who I also mentioned in one of my previous search engine optimization posts.  Some examples include:

a) Changing trial period from 30 to 15 days
b) Changing our trial follow up emails from same text emails X and 2X days from sign-up to different text emails on sign up, X days out, and Y days out.
c) Adding the Try It Free button on the Babble Soft home page and throughout the site.
d) Creating a new Contact form.

I can’t really opine on the conversion changes until we see a huge jump in trial sign ups. So honestly, I’m a little stumped and frustrated.  Maybe my expectations at the beginning were not correct?!  I had hoped we would see better results by now especially since I was tying some of our fundraising success to SEO.  I don’t know if I’m alone in this or if everyone just has stellar SEO experiences and all of a sudden trial sign-ups and sales go through the roof!  Anyone?

As I mentioned in my SEO, Here I Come post, I signed up with SpryDev because of their guarantee:

“By the end of your contract you will have at least as much additional business from your Web site as you spend on our services…  or we’ll work for FREE until you do.”

Since the contract is for 12 months, we have 7 more months to go and they are assuring me that around the 6 month mark is when their customers start to see the big results…although so far May hasn’t been proving to be a big trial sign-up month yet.  I’ve heard from others that they’ve seen big results in as little as 3 to 4 months from their SEO endeavors. 

So now I’m wondering what could we have done better and what could we do better?  Are we optimizing for the right keywords?  Do people know to even look for applications like ours?  Are people even interested in using applications like ours?  Do we need to do more marketing around the benefits of using these kinds of applications more than the parent stories I pull together when the opportunity arises?  Should I put the money that I would be putting into SEO into paid ads on parenting related sites, Google AdWords, etc. instead?

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that I will need to continue to bootstrap Babble Soft since fundraising has been challenging given this economic environment and because we have yet to demonstrate a compelling increase in the number of our users.  I would feel much better going out to raise funds with thousands or tens of thousands of customers.

I am beginning to think that I might just have to get a job to support my entrepreneurial addiction! 8-O

If you are interested in reading more about my SEO trials, tribulations, and hopefully victories think about subscribing to this blog.  If you know more about SEO than I do (which is likely), then leave a comment and share your advice with the rest of us!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby sleep, breastfeeding, entrepreneurship, fundraising, seo, sleep | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Give the Gift of Peace-of-Mind This Mother’s Day
Apr 28 2008

I don’t often do a full on post about Babble Soft, but considering Mother’s Day is coming up on May 11, 2008 and we are offering 15% off of all subscriptions (click here for full press release) to Baby Insights and Baby Say Cheese using code MOTHER#1 on the Purchase Form through May 15, I figured it would be OK.

So for all the new moms out there who want a record of their baby’s newborn activities, who want a place to create a unique baby’s first year photo album with a family tree, who want a better way to communicate about childcare with their spouse, nanny, sitters, and family members, this one’s for you!

Gift subscriptions also make great Mother’s Day and baby shower gifts for those couples who you know will want breastfeeding support or see how often mom pumped and share when their baby ate, slept, and pooped! :-)

I even came up with a poem that I had submitted for a local parenting related publication.  It wasn’t selected so I thought I’d share it here.  As you can tell, I didn’t major in poetry but I hope you like it anyway!

Motherhood and Childhood

What does it mean to be a mother?
Is it love?
Is it fear?
Is it feeling dear?

What does it mean to be a child?
Is it love?
Is it joy?
Is it having a favorite toy?

As mothers we hope for our child’s happiness
We pray for our child’s health
We hope they are treated with kindness
We pray our children find peace in the world

As children we live for today
We anticipate a life of fun
We hope for a million tomorrows
We cannot imagine a world without our mothers

As mothers we cannot imagine a world without our children
We are one and the same…

Aruni Gunasegaram
March 2008

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby say cheese, baby sleep, mom, mother, mother's day | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Why Keeping a Daily Journal is Important for Moms and Nannies
Apr 15 2008

I see the world of childcare changing before our eyes and having a place to keep up with your baby’s precious moments and activities can be a great way not only to share with your family and friends but also to make sure your baby is getting what he or she needs.  More often than not, these days there are many people involved in childcare from dad, to nannies, to sitters, to grandparents, to aunts, and communicating effectively with everyone about when your baby ate, slept, or had medicine can be extremely important!

One of the ways I am currently trying to get the word out about Babble Soft is through marketing relationships with nanny and sitter agencies, and I recently had the honor and priviledge to write the following article for the International Nanny Association.  

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Why Keeping a Daily Journal is Important for Moms and Nannies
By Aruni Gunasegaram, President and Founder of Babble Soft
Written for the International Nanny Association Spring 2008 newsletter

When a new mom leaves her infant in the care of a nanny or newborn care specialist, what are her concerns? What does she want to know? How can a nanny help her feel more connected to her baby and help her deal with possible feelings of guilt over leaving her baby?

A new mom’s perspective
As a new mom, I was so concerned about leaving my baby with anyone else … even my husband! When I returned, I wanted to know when he ate, if he slept, and practically everything he did. Now that I have two kids, I still ask their teachers and care providers what they did during the day. It’s so comforting to have an idea of how their day went. I sent our son to a home care on a part-time basis when he was a baby. I felt frustrated by the vague answers I received when I asked about the details of his day; but I bit my tongue, felt guilty, and walked away wondering what I had missed.

It was difficult to leave my son with someone else and thereafter, leave my daughter – but I wanted to work. My career is very important to me and I knew I would be a better mom if I was able to pursue my passion. However, I still wanted to stay connected to my babies. It would have been a pleasure to receive an email, a text message, a picture, or even have the ability to log in to a website to see how my babies were doing. It would have made my life so much easier if I was assured that although they might have cried a bit when left them, they were eating well, sleeping well, learning and having fun.

I was still breastfeeding when I returned to work, and I made every attempt to time my pumping sessions so that I could nurse my babies when I picked them up. If I arrived only to find out they had just been fed, I would have to go home and pump instead of feed them, making me feel very disappointed.  On the other hand, it was nice having breastfeeding support and knowing that I had expressed enough milk for them while I was away made me feel more connected to them.

What moms want to know
In the “old days,” moms had no choice but to stay at home.  They could get advice and make decisions based on one-on-one face time with baby, family members, and friends. Nowadays, moms rely on their nannies to communicate their baby’s daily activities, issues, fussy periods, smiles, and schedules. When moms are not present, having the opportunity to review their baby’s activities at a glance in a daily journal or report is not only powerful, it helps them and their nanny make better baby care decisions. It is also a great way to provide records for their pediatricians, which can aid in making medical decisions. Here are more examples that illustrate the importance of keeping a daily journal:

  • A new mom misses important milestones. While she is at work, baby shows off her biggest smile or makes a first attempt at crawling. Imagine a caregiver who captures the moment via a picture, includes a milestone caption, and emails it to the mom. What a way to brighten her day. Although the mom is not present physically, she can take delight in knowing that the true “first” was captured.
  • An infant spits up often but with no discernible pattern. Both the mom and nanny are busy and jot down handwritten notes, which might be stained or misplaced by the next day! Maintaining an online daily record of the baby’s feedings (with corresponding spit-up times) can help to establish a pattern of feeding times and a correlation between the feeding quantity and spit-up periods. The mom can forward the reports to the doctor to aid in a decision regarding whether her baby needs medicine for acid reflux or if there is a need to simply change the baby’s feeding schedule.
  • A baby has difficulty sleeping. Mom (or dad) puts the baby down in a specific manner and in a specific place during the weekends. The nanny arrives and puts the baby down in a different manner, thus she witnesses a different outcome. The baby appears confused, which results in additional stress for both the nanny and family. One solution is to review online reports that are designed to track a baby’s sleep patterns and reveal how the baby was put to sleep. The reports can serve as physical proof that specific baby sleep positions or methods work better than others for the baby. The reports can also give parents the assurance that their baby is okay, and shifting their behavior or the nanny’s behavior can make life easier for everyone.
  • A baby needs regular medications. Administering medications is a critical part of providing childcare. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a central place where medicine doses are recorded. This procedure can allow both the mom and nanny to ensure medicine doses, reactions, and duration are properly recorded and timed. Proper daily record keeping can help to avoid accidental overdoses and ensure a dose is not missed.
  • The nanny runs out of expressed breast milk for baby. If the mom keeps daily pumping records and both the nanny and mom keep daily bottle-feeding records, Mom can adjust her breastfeeding and pumping schedule to ensure there is enough expressed milk for her baby.

There are many more sound reasons to keep daily records. However, the most important reasons in my opinion, are for the health and well-being of the baby, and improved communication between the nanny and family. Although moms today have many more opportunities than they did in the past, they also have more decisions to make and more balls to juggle. Keeping daily records of an infant’s activities helps nannies and moms make better baby care decisions – and it helps moms feel more connected to their baby. A happy mom means a happier baby!

Aruni Gunasegaram is the President/Founder of Babble Soft and she blogs at entrepreMusings. To learn more about Babble Soft, please visit http://www.babblesoft.com.

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby advice, baby care, baby sleep, baby tips, breast milk, breastfeeding, breastfeeding schedule, mom, mother, nursing, parenting, sleep, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

15 Tips for Surviving the World’s Youngest Insomniac
Apr 2 2008

babytips.gifI babble about business, babies, and parenthood on this blog, so those of you who come here to read my posts on entrepreneurship but do not have babies, please forward this post to your friends and family who do have babies. For those who have babies and dabble in business, these tips might be right up your alley.  If you have babies and no interest in business, then send it on to the folks you know who are knee-deep in business and encourage them to have a baby!  To read other great tips, check out the baby tips category

Rose is a mother of one very energetic daughter (age 2 1/2) with another on the way in late August. Her blog, From the Park Bench, is about the latest in parenting news from recalls, to scientific research to fun stuff like which celebrities are expecting. It includes a feature to allow readers to submit stories they think would interest other parents. Before deciding to stay home with her daughter she was a senior software engineer for a Silicon Valley startup. In her “spare time” she loves to read, garden, experiment in the kitchen, hike, camp and play with computer programming.

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15 Tips for Surviving the World’s Youngest Insomniac
by Rose of From the Park Bench

I remember reading that babies sleep soundly for at least 4 hours right after labor. After being up all night I really looked forward to that sleep. However, the authors forgot to inform my new daughter. Sleep? Why would I sleep when everything is so new and interesting! Thus began life with our youngest insomniac. At a year old she still slept like a 3 month old. At two years a full nights sleep was still a 50/50 proposition. Our pediatrician even gave up on the it will get better when she’s older speech and started greeting my daughter with “So how’s my youngest insomniac?” So what can you do if it turns out your baby, well, sure doesn’t sleep like a baby! Here are 15 tips that helped us survive the first couple of years:

  1. Read The Happiest Baby on the Block and try all 5 soothing steps. The directions in the book are detailed and a life saver.
  2. Get a Miracle Blanket. It is the best swaddle blanket I ever tried. My daughter could fight her way out of almost any swaddle except this blanket. (Wash it often to keep it stiff for a snugger swaddle.)
  3. Get a sling. Babies that don’t sleep usually need a lot of soothing even when you are all awake. I ate out a lot more and had cleaner clothing thanks to my sling. Here’s an article I wrote about my favorite.
  4. Get help! Get a maid to clean every two weeks. Order more take out.
    Take up family friends for offers of cleaning, food, holding a baby while you take a nap, etc. If you are up all night you are not going to have the brain power to do everything during the day. Please don’t kill your sanity trying.
  5. Do your research. I really liked the book Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child because it told me what sleep patterns I should expect for what age. Sleep got a little better when I realize I was actually waiting too long for naps and she was overtired. (I ignored the cry it out advice the author gave and it was still very useful.)
  6. Trust your instincts. I spent the first 9 months of my daughters life trying to convince her pediatrician that something was wrong. I wish I had pushed harder because at 9 months hidden reflux became daily vomiting. Turned out she had food allergies that had been progressively getting worse since birth. (A tummy ache is a very good reason to be a bad sleeper.)
  7. Keep a food journal if you are breast feeding. Try a hypoallergenic formula if using formula. In our case we would have had a lot more sleep if I had figured out her allergy before she was 1.5 years old.
  8. You don’t need to be 100% baby focused. I remember a friend telling me that nursing was for bonding and I should spend every moment looking deep into my babies eyes. Well I forgot to ask how often her baby nursed. Mine nursed for most of the hours normal babies sleep. After almost having a nervous breakdown I gave up on 100% deep gazing. I read, surfed, made phone calls, watched a movie, grocery shopped (very discrete with a sling and blanket), etc. She got attention but I got some sanity.
  9. Research safe co-sleeping. I’m not suggesting you actually do so. That’s a personal choice. We chose not to. However figure how to do it safely before you are dead tired, tempted and don’t realize you are doing it dangerously.
  10. Remember you don’t need to be a perfect mom or dad, just a good enough one.
  11. See if you can get a longer maternity leave. If you can afford it seriously consider it. Lack of sleep at night is much more doable if you can take a nap at 2pm when your baby finally decides to take a 3 hour nap.
  12. Get a crib soother. Yes, I also thought I should hold my daughter every waking moment or the mommy police would start judging me. It’s ok to put down a happy awake baby in a safe location and try and get some desperately needed sleep.
  13. Remember every child is different and you are the judge on what works, even if your mother-in-law, best friend, coworker swears by it. I have a list of all the not so useful advice people have given me. “I’m really glad your kid is a great sleeper because you had them sleep in a bright noisy room for the first 6 months. I guess all my problems would be gone if I had only tried that! Oh, wait I did! And she was up for 12 hours strait!”
  14. No matter how desperate do NOT put a baby who can’t roll over to bed on their belly. The back to sleep program has dramatically cut the nations SIDs rate. That’s one piece of extended sleep that is never worth the risk.
  15. Remember it will get better! Even in our extreme case at 2.5 years my daughter sleeps through the night most nights. (That blessing requires cooking all her food from scratch with an eagle eye for allergens but well worth the tradeoff for everyone!))

______

If you like this tip, you might be interested in these too:

How To Properly Swaddle A Baby 

Tips on Co-Sleeping and Ways to use a Co-sleeper

Keeping a Baby Food Journal by Neena at A Mom’s Life at NeenMachine.com

Increasing Breast Milk Supply by Carole Hayes at Alias Tex

15 Tips for Traveling with Baby by Maryam Scoble of Maryamie

Note to new readers: these tips are based on our experiences, as well as those of our friends and readers. Please always consult with your doctor before implementing any tip that might impact the health of your baby. If you have a tip you’d like to submit please send an email to blogger at babblesoft dot com.  Please check the ‘baby tips’ category to make sure your tip (in some form or fashion) hasn’t already been posted. If it has been, feel free to comment on that post and support the tip. We also welcome respectful challenges to the tips because as is noted in our inaugural baby tip ‘everything is relative!’ We will, of course, give anyone who submits a tip we publish credit and lotsa link love!

Author: | Filed under: baby advice, baby care, baby sleep, baby tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

5 Parenting Trends That Affect How We Communicate About Childcare
Feb 26 2008

5 Parenting Trends That Affect How We Communicate About Childcare
by Aruni Gunasegaram

new-family-with-baby.jpgThe more things change the more they stay the same.  We have all heard that saying, but what we sometimes don’t realize is that even though things stay the same, the ways we go about doing those same things change.  For instance, 100 years ago when we needed to get to work most people would walk, ride a horse, take a train, or take a trolley to get there.  Now we still need to get to work but most of us drive a car or take a subway.  50 to 100 years ago if we needed to get a message to someone we would send a telegram or a handwritten note.  Now we still might send a handwritten note but more often than not we send them an e-mail!

In the “old days” a mom would get advice and tips through the network of family members and friends who more likely than not were in the same town or village and within a short distance from her.  With families and friends being spread across the country and the world, moms are now using the Internet to bring back aspects of that network.  As moms rely on the Internet for information, they are also looking to the Internet for ways to share and manage their busy lives.   Here are some of the trends I see with regards to moms using the Internet when it comes to childcare.

  1. Since word-of-mouth from other moms is the greatest influencer on a mom’s purchasing decision, she is turning to Internet forums and baby-related sites such as BabyCenter and iVillage to ask questions, seek out answers, and look at product reviews.
  1. Many women who wait until they are older to have children are experiencing higher instances of multiple and premature births.  They tend to be more concerned when having to make the decision to leave their baby in the hands of a nanny or other caregiver.  They want to know what is happening to their baby and they want to know as quickly and easily as possible.
  1. Many moms are busier than ever and often don’t have time to think in between working and trying to get sleep so they seek out tools that will help them with baby care decisions.  They have less time than in the past to deal with these problems and are therefore looking for quick and effective ways to get the information or advice they need to handle their unique situations.
  1. Many moms are returning back to work earlier but want to continue breastfeeding and want to know how their baby is doing during the day.  They are hiring baby nurses and pumping at work.  This means that keeping track of how much she pumped, when her baby ate, or how much her baby ate as well as who did what and when becomes critically important in order to ensure the proper nutrition and health of her baby.  
  1. More and more moms are finding and hiring nannies over the Internet and nannies and nanny agencies are reaching out to moms via the Internet as well.  Nannies are given access to and are using the Internet at their client’s home and are using it to do their jobs better, check their email, and communicate with their peers.  Nannies and moms are also spending more and more time communicating by cell phone and email in order to schedule visits and coordinate other childcare activities.

Some changes take a long time and many seem to happen overnight.  Since the beginning of humanity we have taken care of our children but the ways we take care of them has changed drastically with the introduction of diapers, formula, baby safety related items, and most recently the Internet.  Who would have thought that over 36.6 million moms in the US will be regular Internet users in 2010? (source: eMarketer.com). The Internet enables her to do research so she can be a better-informed parent and a savvier consumer (51% of the moms surveyed say the Internet changed the way they get information about products and services) and allows her to network with other moms, as well. 

The overall trend is clear: more and more moms are using the Internet to communicate with each other and to get the information they need to take care of their babies.  Nannies and nanny agencies are participating as well and are using the Internet to reach out to moms and their employees.  With families spreading out and moms finding it hard to get the one-on-one face time with baby, family, and friends, the Internet is stepping in.  It is a tool that is helping make parenthood easier and bringing back some of the familial and social relationships that are so important in helping parents raise healthy children in a safe environment.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The tools we use to aid in childcare are different now, but the goal of safety, health, and love are still the same.  Are you ready to embrace the change?

The author of this article, Aruni Gunasegaram, is the President/Founder of Babble Soft, which offers web and mobile software applications that facilitate communication between caregivers by helping them to keep track of  breastfeeding and bottle feedings, mom’s pumping, baby sleep patterns, diapers, immunizations and medicine doses as well as baby’s first year photo album.

Author: | Filed under: baby, baby care, baby sleep, breast milk, breastfeeding | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Press Release Distribution – What A Process!
Jan 29 2008

One of the many hats an entrepreneur wears is the “getting great press mentions” hat.  It’s typically a frustrating process since unless you happen to know each editor personally, chances are quite high they will hit ‘delete’ or not return your messages thereby not giving you a chance to tell your wonderful, glorious story.  This seems even more true in the baby/new parent industry because there are a bunch of cool new products released every day in this industry and the editors are inundated with pitches.

I know it must be tough for editors because they get so many thousands of emails from everyone wanting them to write a story about what they believe is TNBT (i.e., The Next Big Thing).  But it’s tough for us entrepreneurs to get noticed too!  Since we are spending money on SEO, I decided to take on doing the traditional PR work myself until we raise funds.  This means emails and follow up calls to editors at places like Parenting Magazine, Twins Magazine, Parents, Pregnancy, etc., etc.  Only the most popular magazines for parents….

That’s why our SEO firm has also submitted it for distribution in free press release avenues on the Internet which should drive more traffic to our site or at least build up some of our back links. :-)

The problem with wearing so many hats is that you don’t have the time to wear one long enough to spend the required, necessary time to really dig in deep and make a big impact.  I wonder what color the press release hat is?

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby sleep, entrepreneurship, seo | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

What They Don’t Tell You About SEO – Part 1
Jan 24 2008

Picture by Sandy Blanchardwooden-steps-hill-sblanchard.jpg 

As some of you know we signed up with a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firm, SpryDev, back in mid-December.  It’s been a great process and I already wish that we had our site designed with SEO in mind to being with.  We are making several design, layout, menu, text, etc. changes that are very time consuming.  I wish they could all be done overnight but given all of our time constraints unfortunately they can’t!

I think my biggest learning experience (note to self) so far is to have an SEO expert involved during the design of the site.  It apparently will save a lot of time later.  Now we won’t be sure if any of these changes will actually result in increased conversions for some time but so far they make sense to me.  Apparently seeing results overnight doesn’t happen just like we can’t make all the changes overnight.  Sigh.

The good news is in the past month we have seen a slight increase in the number of visitors.  We’ve also seen more people finding us based on organic search (i.e., search terms in Google) versus a direct landing.  Most people still find the Babble Soft site by searching on terms like Babble Soft, Baby Insights, Aruni (my name), etc. which is what I’m calling a direct landing.  Since I’m not Britney Spears or some other famous person, it doesn’t really do us much good for people to be searching on my name!  Now a noticeable few are finding us with relevant keywords.

Here are some of things we have done or are still working on:

  • Changing our menu navigation and adding cool buttons.  All in the name of increasing conversion.  Brian Massey who blogs at Customer Chaos is their conversion specialist and he’s given us some great recommendations that will hopefully pay off big time.  Interestingly, he just did a great post called Here’s the Truth About Building Your Website that is pretty accurate.

  • Creating individual landing pages for our Family Stories and Press Releases.  Check out our Sleep & Immunization Release that just went out!

  • Setting up a phone number to display on our site (should have that up soon – I need to record a great greeting message)

  • Adding Page Titles and Descriptions to each page.  I can’t believe we hadn’t done that.  DOH!!  I guess that’s why they get the big bucks and further reason why we should have involved an SEO expert during the design phase of the site.

  • Building links.

  • Submitting articles, press releases, and other stuff to all the various sites that love them as much as we do. :-)

Rose, our project manager at SpryDev seems to be very patient since I email her night and day asking her what else we can do and how fast we can do it.  When it’s your personal credit card that gets hit each month you want to do everything possible to start seeing sales come in to offset those expenses. 

Did I know that we would have to make some changes to our site going in?  Yes, of course.  Did I realize the extent of the changes, the time it would take to make them, and that cash wouldn’t start rolling in the door 10 seconds after we made each change?  Not so much.

If you are interested in learning more about “What They Don’t Tell You About SEO,” go ahead and subscribe to this blog.  If you know more about SEO than I do (chances are you do), then leave a comment and share your wonderful wisdom with the rest of us!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby sleep, entrepreneurship, seo | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

One Entrepreneur’s 2008 Goals
Jan 1 2008

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I don’t really like making New Year’s resolutions.  However, I’m making an exception this year because I figure I’ll try something new.  Maybe I’ll even make quarterly resolutions!  This is the first year I’ve had a blog which means I can now write them down and let my readers hold me accountable.  So here it goes. 

Business Goals

Raise funds for Babble Soft.  I will finish the business plan, refine the pitch, and set up meetings with angel investors.

Establish additional nanny partnerships and other corporate partnerships that lead to increased revenue and revenue opportunities.  I have to make hundreds of calls, send hundreds of emails, set up meetings, and close deals.

Identify and become a member of at least 2 organizations that will help build my network to reach our customers.  If you have any suggestions on what organizations to join I would love to hear them!

Convince some great companies to advertise with us.  If I can demonstrate a significant increase in users (SEO please work!) of our applications, I believe those advertisers who want to reach new parents and caregivers that are breastfeeding, bottle feeding, changing diapers, taking medicine, pumping, and trying to get some priceless, precious sleep would be *extremely* interested.  Plus with our planned new applications that audience widens and deepens.

Find great people to help make it happen!  Must find great people.  Must find great people!  Key team additions needed are 1) Experienced Senior Product Manager with strong technical skills to manage products from design to implementation to market and 2) Experienced Internet Partnership, Social Media & Ad Sales Manager (does such a person even exist?).  Must find great people!

Personal Goals

Lose 5 pounds.  I will eat less and exercise more.

Take Yoga classes.  I will locate, sign up, and attend classes.  Anyone have any recommendations for instructors in the Austin, Texas area?

Laugh more.  I will find more funny and fun people to hang out with. :-)

Be less concerned with what other people think.  This will probably be the hardest one for me to accomplish and the hardest to measure.  Worrying about what people think of me, my decisions, my company, my appearance, my parenting, my words, etc. sometimes unduly stresses me out and takes up way too much energy that should be devoted elsewhere.  I’m not alone in this issue.  I’ve seen many bloggers write about it but more women than men which may be a result of our society or more likely Oprah.  I will work to drastically reduce the negative self talk in my head.  I think Yoga will help me with this goal.

My Personal Goals are mostly in my control.  I decide what to eat.  I decide when/how to exercise, etc.  I decide when to pick up the phone and sign up for a Yoga class.  

Achieving the Business Goals, on the other hand, are less in my control.  I can do everything right but if the angel investors don’t understand or care for the market or market need I’m addressing then funding sources might not be available.  If the stock market crashes and everyone quits investing then, c’est la vie.  If the funding doesn’t come through then I won’t be able to hire great people, etc., etc.  I believe I have the most control over establishing additional partnerships and joining organizations but that’s what I believe right now on January 1, 2008.  As the Internet has proven, things change at the speed of each new thought!

What are your goals?  Feel free to leave a comment here and/or leave a link back to your blog to where you posted your 2008 thoughts.

If you’d like to see if I meet my goals (or even heckle me – I don’t mind as long as its funny and helps me with my Laugh More goal :-) ) subscribe to this blog’s feed and share your wonderful thoughts with me.

Happy New Year Blogosphere!

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, baby sleep, blogging, breastfeeding, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, Just For Fun, random stuff | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Is Software Hard or Soft? Please Tell Me.
Dec 21 2007

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I’ve seen companies doing soft launches of software products which makes me wonder what a hard launch is.  So far the main difference I’ve noticed is that the official press release about the new application or new feature doesn’t go out until after the ‘hard’ launch.  My guess is that a lot of bug fixing is going on between soft and hard launch.

So, I’m happy/thrilled/ecstatic to report that we just soft launched our new sleep and immunization recording features of Baby Insights Web!  We are still working on some development issues on Baby Insights Mobile and plan to hard launch that app in January 2008.  The mobile app is not web-based (yet) so we don’t have the luxury of a soft launch.

Babble Soft is offering FREE 3 month gift subscriptions valued at $19.95 until March 15, 2007 to anyone who discovers a software bug in our NEW Baby Sleep and Immunization features of Baby Insights Web. Gifts are transferrable!  Sign up for your FREE account today. Happy hunting!

So far the soft launch has been uneventful (i.e., no major bugs), which is nice.  Thanks go out to our development team Cressanda and especially our project manager.  I recommend them highly.  The smoothness of the soft launch is also because we don’t have thousands upon thousands hundreds upon hundreds of users yet.  I’m banking on our foray into SEO to help get us there.  I mean if the “right people” (a.k.a. target market) don’t know we exist; it’s not surprising that we don’t have thousands of users yet.  Even viral marketing takes a bunch of upfront work because you have to get to the right early adopters who have major Internet influence.  I need to figure out how to do a video and get it in YouTube.

Given the fact that over 4 million babies are born in the US each year then include Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan and other Internet savvy countries, I’m anticipating that once those new parents and nannies find out about us, the floodgates will open.  Babies and floodgates…not sure if the analogy works but I think you get the point. :-)

I’ve been spending my time the last couple of days doing website updates to reflect the new features. And I’m working on pulling the pieces together of a business plan for some potential angel investor meetings that I have scheduled for early next year.  If you know an angel investor (or you happen to be one) who likes the baby/new parent/web application/social networking space, please send them my way!  The applications we have now are only the tip of the colossal iceberg.

Now for a short SEO break:

Whether you need breastfeeding support, are excitedly following your pregnancy week by week,  are experiencing baby sleep issues, or are already under way creating your baby’s first year album, Babble Soft offers unique, easy-to-use Web and Mobile software solutions that improve communication between caregivers about baby’s and mom’s schedules.

Baby Insights helps caregivers keep track of baby’s breast & bottle feeding, sleep periods, diaper changes, medicine doses, and immunization records, as well as mom’s breastfeeding, pumping and medicine intake. Having important information stored in one location makes communication between parents, their nanny, babysitters, grandparents, or doctors seamless and reliable and gives new parents insight into their baby’s patterns to help with crucial baby care decisions. Baby Say Cheese lets you create a wonderful online baby’s first year photo album with milestones and family tree that you can share with friends and family. 

If you are interested in reading about how I cope with manage software launches, fundraising, and SEO consider subscribing to this blog’s feed.  If you are an entrepreneur, it will be worth your while…even if I crash and burn….which I won’t…because I said so, that’s why.   Now go play with your Power Rangers.  Sigh.

Author: | Filed under: baby insights, baby say cheese, baby sleep, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, fundraising, seo, sleep, software, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »