Spinal Column Newsweekly:  7/22/10

The Laynie Langnas Interview

by Leslie Shepard-Owsley

July 21, 2010

Whether you're looking to save a few bucks, change up what's on the menu for dinner, or seeking fitness advice, a new web site designed and managed by West Bloomfield resident Laynie Langnas provides help in a pinch. Her web site, Tidbitz4U.net, is targeted at heads of households running the home but short on time. The site offers a range of ideas segregated into topicsrelevant to people on the go, including good reads, cost-saving ideas, and kids activities. Initially Langnas thought the site would attract women between 30 and 40, but it's attracting those in their 50s and beyond, primarily women. While the site certainly isn't a money-maker, it has the potential to be so in the future. "I'm trying to get enough people to sign up and visit on a monthly basis to go and advertise on the web site," she said. "We're also cross-linking with people to try and get as much traffic as possible."

SCN: What was the impetus for the idea, and how did you go about researching the web site and putting it together?

LL: I really was curious on how to set up a web site because I've never done it before and I like working on the computer. I like sharing information that I've found, so what I started doing with the web site — I found one of three basic web sites online and was kind of fiddling with it and adding some unique information that I had found in the past, and sent it off to some friends. With their encouragement, Tidbitz4U has grown to what it is today.

SCN: Share with our readers the categories and what they can expect from each one?

LL:There's the "Tip of the Week," and it's broken into interesting tips to help you with either your household, your cleaning,
preparing food, and how to store food for the best flavor. There's "How to Save Your Ben Franklins," and that's a savings page with all the different links to coupons to download, saving tips, how to use the coupons to the best advantage, different web sites that will help you fix things at home, and anything I could think of that I've come across that will help with saving.

There's also "What do I read next," on books that I have read and really liked — they're my recommendations. There's recipes using leftovers to help save money, and quick and easy recipes that don't take a lot of time with only a few ingredients for busy parents. There is "Get Your Tush Movin'," with different links to different web sites to either download personal trainers onto an iPod, how to map your walk and the calories burned, and access to personal trainers. If you don't have the money for a personal trainer, there's ways to get in touch with them free of charge, and many more.

SCN: How many hits do you get in a month?

LL: About 200.

SCN:Are you surprised by its success?

LL:Yes, I am very surprised. I just like to share information, and I didn't realize that people really want to hear what I have to

SCN: How can this project eventually bring you a profit?

LL:I would like to have as many people look into Tidbitz4U as possible, so the more traffic generated to the site, I can then go to advertisers that I feel would fit on each page to see if they would like to advertise and maybe, bring business to them — not just local but maybe even national (advertisers).

SCN:Do you plan on expanding the web site to include more topics?

LL: I do. I don't have anything at the moment, but if there's an interesting bit of information that I find and it won't fit on any of the pages, I don't have a problem adding another page. There was a librarian at a children's school that retired, and she formed a grandmother's book club for grandparents to share reading books with their grandchildren as opposed to going to the movies or going shopping for toys, something a little more constructive, and that kind of spun into the "What Should I Read" page.

Spinal Column Newsweekly: System Print Window 7/22/10 11:59 AM

SCN: Does anyone else contribute to the web site besides yourself?

LL: I do most of it. I have a girlfriend who's listed on the "Who am I" page, and she shares different unique things she has come across that she thinks I might like. Some of it fits Tidbitz, and some of it I use on my own if it doesn't. I have a place where people can submit things that have been helpful to them and I give them full credit. I don't say their names, but I give their first name, city and state where they live. I'm always looking for things that I don't know that have helped someone else. If they would like to share it, I would love to share it.

SCN: Where do you get most of the advice?

LL:Some of it is just things I've tripped over on the Internet. There have been things I've seen on television, just talking with
friends or my mother-in-law. I've got some recipes from my husband that he has done that are quick and easy, like our enchilada recipe, and things mainly from conversations and keeping my eyes open in magazines or anywhere.

SCN: How much time do you spend a week working on Tidbitz4U.net?

LL: It varies. When I was first putting together the web site and doing it all on my own, there was a steep learning curve, so
getting the look of the web site just right took a lot of time, about 5 to 6 hours a week in between all the other activities I do as a working mom. Right now, it takes an hour or two, depending on what I find and if I need to change the page at all, or if I'm getting tired of what it looks like and am updating it, putting updates onto the Facebook page and updating the people who have signedup and want to get the newsletters by e-mail vs. updates on Facebook.

SCN: Do you model the web site on your life?

LL: I guess so. It's anything that I've found helpful, so if I found it helpful for myself I know that I'm not the only one benefiting
from the help. I guess it's modeled on my life, loosely.

SCN: Who else do you have in mind when you are updating it?

LL:Mainly anyone who's running a household — the stay-at-home mother or father or working parents — anyone it helps,
whether it's for keeping food fresher longer, to helping save money while you go grocery shopping, to if you're looking for a book to read or going on a vacation and need some suggestions. Really anybody — I've had people in their early 30s all the way up to their mid 60s tell me they've enjoyed the web site.

SCN: Tell us about the benefits to those who sign up on the web site.

LL:The benefits are that it costs no money. You won't be harassed by advertisers on my web site. You'll get a once-a-week
newsletter on different tidbits that I will highlight that haven't surfaced for a while to remind people that they're there and there are brand new ones that I've come across. The link goes directly to that new information that's given, but I try to do the newsletter once a week, preferably Monday mornings, so when you get on your e-mail you can see that it's there. There have been times when I've been signing up for web sites and I've been bombarded by information and it has become too overwhelming. I don't want to be pushy, I don't want to be overwhelming. I just want to be there if you need help.

SCN: How will the possibility of advertising on the web site help you — and your subscribers.

LL:It will help me because I'm trying to bring in more money in this tough economy that we've all been hit with, and for my
subscribers or anyone who visits Tidbitz4U, hopefully it's a product they'll be interested in that will help their life become easier.

SCN:I understand you're currently writing a book. Tell us about it and when do you work on that?

LL:My partner, Laura Adler, and I have just finished the book, The Ultimate Stress Free Guide to Your Bar and Bat Mitzvah
Planning. It's a streamlined, outlined book with budget pages and check lists and any questions you can think of to ask the
particular vendor, and questions you can ask yourself so you can throw the celebration that reflects your family and your budget. We don't put in any of our opinions. These are all the questions that we have found after planning five of these between the two of us. All the questions we've had to ask and the things that have tripped us up have been put into the book, so hopefully no one will wake up at 3 a.m. and say, "Oh my gosh, I didn't ask that question!"

SCN:Is it in print yet?

LL: It's currently in the process of being published. We've sold a couple copies to close friends in a very rudimentary format, but all the information is there; it's just not going to look as put together as when it's published in a book. We're hoping it will be out sometime early October.