BEA Bloggers Conference, Boston Marathon, Email Subscriptions, & Honeymoon!

I’m speaking at the BEA Bloggers Conference!

So not only am I attending BEA this year (yay!), but I’m also speaking on one of the panels at the Bloggers Conference! I will be on the “Design 101: Creating a Picture Perfect Blog” panel at 10:15am. Hopefully some of you will stop by! 😀

Boston Marathon

Last week I was in Boston for my sister because she was running the Boston Marathon! She did a great job and the trip was a lot of fun. She even hosted a bridal shower for me while we were there!

Boston Marathon Mom

Boston Marathon Tables and Chairs

Boston Marathon Handicap Racer

Juli Windsor at the Boston Marathon

Sea of Runners

Boston Marathon Runner

I’m a total failure and didn’t even get a photo of my sister running. We were too busy hugging her when she ran past, then 2 seconds later she was off again!

My mom is hogging all the bridal shower pics on her phone, so sorry I don’t have any of those to share!

I’m coding my own email subscription plugin

For ages now I’ve been using MyMail for my blog’s subscription emails. MyMail handles the subscribers and sending out the emails. Then the actual emails get sent with Amazon SES. Everything was great and peachy until last week when I updated to WordPress 3.9. For reasons I can’t figure out, MyMail just decided to stop working. It thinks the emails have been sent, but it doesn’t actually send them. I contacted the developer about it, but he still hasn’t replied. (If I do say so myself, I put his “customer service” to shame. His response time sucks balls, if it exists at all.)

So instead of sitting on my ass any longer, I decided to be pro-active and start thinking of backup plans. What do I do if this developer never replies or doesn’t fix the problem?

My first thought went to MailChimp.. But honestly, I hate their pricing. I think it’s kind of bullshit how their free plan has: up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month. But their first paid plan only allows for 500 subscribers. So in order to jump from free to paid, I’d have to immediately jump up several paid levels before I get one that actually works for me! I don’t feel like spending $15-$20 per month to send out emails…

Onto the next plan.

I figure, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. So I’m currently in the process of coding my own email subscription plugin for WordPress. I’m going to manage my own signup form, subscribers, and email sending from within WordPress. Then to actually send the emails, I could probably use my own server, but I’m going to use Mandrill instead. Mandrill is run by the same folks as MailChimp, but it’s just an email-sending service. It doesn’t have the subscriber management or interface that MailChimp has. Instead, you use their API to send your emails (by writing code). It’s similar to Amazon SES, but as an added bonus, Mandrill has the same statistics that MailChimp has (with tracking opens, clicks, etc.).

However, since Mandrill is just for sending emails and requires code to do it, it’s a tiny fraction of the cost that MailChimp is. I estimate I’ll be spending $1 per month to send emails (which is so much better than $15-$20!).

Overall, I just love managing all my own code. If something goes wrong or isn’t working, that’s on me and I’ll know how to fix it. But I hate relying on plugins made by other people because if something goes wrong, I can’t rely on them to fix it, and I hate digging through other peoples’ code.

Coding God and I are honeymooning in Egypt!

I’m so excited!!! My amazing dad has put together an incredible honeymoon trip for Coding God and I! In October we’re going to EGYPT! I’ve been there once before about 10 years ago, but have been dying to go back.. so what better opportunity?? We’re taking an amazing tour with Abercrombie & Kent and I couldn’t be more excited!! Look out for some epic photos in October. 😉

Honeymoon in Egypt with Abercrombie & Kent

Here’s a brief layout of our itinerary:

  • Day 1: Arrive in Cairo
  • Day 2: Giza | The Pyramids & Sphinx
  • Day 3: Cairo | Legendary Pharaohs
  • Day 4: Luxor | Karnak and the Valley of the Kings
  • Day 5: Cruising the Nile | Temple of Hathor at Denderah
  • Day 6: Cruising the Nile | Edfu to Kom Ombo
  • Day 7: Aswan | Majestic Philae
  • Day 8: Abu Simbel | Temples of Ramses II & Nefertari
  • Day 9: Cairo | Bustling Souk
  • Day 10: Depart Cairo

What did you do this week?

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I'm a 28 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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51 comments

    1. I’m so excited! We’re going to ride camels! LOL!

      Ugh the email thing was driving me nuts. I’m hoping to have my new system up and running soon though. I *think* it’s ready/functional, but I’m probably going to install it and just have me (only me) receive the emails for a few days to make sure it’s all working as expected.

  1. Egypt sounds awesome! And I noticed I didn’t get e-mails anymore. I wish I had your talent. I want to make my own fabulous blog design and coding and stuff. And I want to live in a country with awesome bookish events. There are none here. The only book convention here is mainly cook books, self help books and kid books. Nothing for people that enjoy normal books. It does make me want to cry to be honest. XD

    1. Yeah I was/am so pissed about the email thing. But I’m really happy with my new system and I think it’s basically done! I’m just going to let it email only me for a few days to make sure it’s all working okay.

      We don’t get a ton of bookish events in the UK either (at least not many that I’m interested in). The US is really the place to be for all that! I’m very, very lucky that I can fly out to attend BEA. 🙂

      I hope you had a great week!

    1. Yeah, we’re very proud of her! She and her friends are already talking about the next marathon! Haha!

      Thanks Melissa. 🙂

  2. This post is just stacked with great news! I got a BEA blogger’s conference email the other day because I’m still subscribed to their emails and I saw your face on the list of speakers and was totally like YAY ASHLEY!!! Also, your new email subscription service is going to be awesome and it’s so awesome that you’re going to be able to do the same things for so much less because it’s your own code.

    Your itinerary for Egypt looks absolutely amazing and take a bunch of pictures because I can’t wait to see how the trip goes! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: How to Meet Boys by Catherine Clark
    1. Ahhhhh MY FACE WAS IN YOUR EMAIL!!! LOL! I wouldn’t have even known about that awesome flier had not someone posted it on Twitter.

  3. That is so amazing that you’re going to be speaking in a panel! Unfortunately, I can’t get there on Wednesday (school reasons) and I arrive to New York on Thursday morning. So bummed that I won’t be able to attend the bloggers conference but I wish you the best of luck! And it’s so cool that since you don’t like the plugin you’re coding your own.

    I honestly would like to learn how to write code on a larger scale (right now I know just a little bit) and would love not have to rely on someone else or plugins to achieve the task I want to do. Oh and Egypt!? That is extraordinary! Hope you guys have lots of fun! 🙂

    1. Aw bummer that you can’t make it to the conference. But maybe I’ll see you at the rest of BEA! 😀

      If you keep practicing coding, you could definitely get to the point where you can make your own plugins! It just takes time and practice. 🙂

  4. This is really an exciting post!! That’s great you were able to see your sister run the Boston Marathon – that is an incredible achievement! And to be a speaker at BEA, I would love to sit in on that – you are the best!! I have been meaning to ask you about the WordPress update. I noticed when I did the recent update my posts to Facebook sometimes pull the feature image but then will also pull my blog button. It is so strange because for both posts I used the UBB, so why would one show up different than the other one!! Has anyone else noticed this?

    I have been playing around with MailChimp but I haven’t gone live yet. I’m not sure if I’ll end up going with them, but I can’t wait to see your new emails!

    I’m so jealous of your trip to Egypt, I would love to go there someday! I’m sure you’ll have a great time and we can’t wait to see your pictures!

    Kathy A. recently posted: Weekly Wrap-Up
    1. Facebook will only pull images larger than 200×200 pixels. So if your featured image is smaller than that, it won’t pull it and will pick the next image it finds instead. I took a look at your images and a lot of them are smaller than the requirements (189×300).

      MailChimp is great, it’s just annoyingly expensive. 🙁

  5. I saw you listed on the panel for Blogger con! That’s awesome:))

    and .. YEAH for you coding your own Newsletter Plugin! If you need a beta tester, you know I wanted to have a running Email Newsletter since ever and if you then decide to sell the plugin!! YEAH, I’ll be the first one to buy:) I like MailChimp but they are just way to expensive ;(

    And your honeymoon sounds epic :))

    1. Will you be going to BEA again this year? I’d love to see you again!!

      I’ll let you know about the plugin. 🙂 It’s very simple so I don’t know if it will work for everyone, so I don’t know if I’ll sell it, but it’s exactly what I need!

  6. Man, I know what you mean about digging through people’s code.

    I just /just/ started book blogging, so I’m not treating myself to BEA until next year. But that’s exciting! Congrats and represent!

    By the way, my name is Araceli. Nice to meet you!

    Araceli recently posted: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
    1. Nice to meet you, Araceli! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 You’ll love BEA when you go next year!!

  7. So cool you’re speaking!!!

    Glad you’re going in October. Luxor is supposed to be absolutely miserable in the summer. Alexandria was my favorite part of Egypt. While you’re in Cairo I hope you get to see the pharaohs’ mummies!

    Also, don’t forget not to drink the water & bring an antidiuretic just on case (gross I know). My dad’s side of the family is Egyptian. Everyone in my family ends up sick at least once during their trip.

    Tiffany (About To Read) recently posted: Allegiant
    1. Yeah we didn’t want to go in the summer because of the heat! Hopefully it will have cooled down by October. 🙂

      And thanks for the tips!!

    1. I’ll try! My mom is DYING to attend the panel, so maybe I’ll set her up with a camera, haha.

  8. I am no even gonna hide how jelly I am of your Egypt trip! That SO does kick butt! I have been in love with Egyptian culture and mytholgy since I was in Elementary school! I CAN’T WAIT to see your pics!! That sounds like an amazing trip!! Dang girl, seeing the world this year! 2014 is the year for you! ENJOY EVERY STINKING MINUTE!!

    XOXO,
    Inky

  9. Are you fucking serious? FUCKING EGYPT? Swimming in jealousy over here. Everyone’s always like “I wanna see England, I wanna see Rome,” and my life dream goal has ALWAYSSS been “SEE EGYPT.” The history! The mystery! Ugh. I’ll be all over the pictures you share of that place. I hope you enjoy it. I mean, a honeymoon – how can you not? I’ll prolly live vicariously through that, too, since I never got one of those.

    Sierra recently posted: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    1. Hopefully you’ll be able to go some day! 😀 I went to Egypt once like 10 years ago and it’s always been one of my favourite trips (way beyond anywhere in Europe I’ve been). I’m thrilled to be going back!

  10. Looking forward to your photos of your honeymoon in Egypt. That’s one of my dream destinations, you two are so lucky!!!! Congratulations on getting to speak at BEA, would love to go there too. It’s on my book-related destinations list. Great title for the BEA event — one thing I’ve noticed about your style here on Nosegraze is the easy readability of your blog at a glance b/c you use the same featured images for your various articles. It makes it easier to scan find the content I want to read. Great job!

  11. Congrats on speaking at BEA! I wish I could be there to see you 🙁

    And Ashley, I’m so envious of your talent! I do hope that your subscription problem gets resolved soon! And perhaps with a little plug-in? Hehe.

    OMG! EGYPT must be so amazing! I so wanna go there! Enjoy your honeymoon!

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