Lovely Favorites

    Blog Lesssons Pt 3: Finding Balance

    Today’s topic is one that I still have issues with – balancing my time. Although I would love to be a professional blogger, I am not. I have a full-time job, and everything associated with this blog is treated as freelance. Because of this, it can get difficult prioritizing my time.

    One way to do this is to have planned posts. Believe it or not, the posts you read here are not written spur of the moment but rather, are planned at least a week in advance. I keep a monthly calendar with all the potential posts mapped out in pencil, so I can easily move ideas around. I also have certain topics that fall on the same day each week – Tuesdays are invitations, Wednesdays are outfits. I like to keep the other three days in rotation. In addition, most posts are made and written in advance. They’re usually compiled one or two days before they’re actually published.

    A giant help has been the Blogger app on my iphone. It keeps a list of all my drafted posts, and from there, all I have to do is click publish. I can publish to the blog from anywhere at anytime. Depending on my morning, I’ll publish before I get to work or wait until my lunch break. It’s been a trial and error process of figuring out when to post, but it’s finally getting more consistent.

    On top of planning posts (and here’s where I’m lacking), you’ve got all the social media outlets that need to be updated. Facebook helps by automatically updating the Fan page whenever a new post goes live, but you still have Twitter and Pinterest to maintain. Once again, those two things are done either on my lunch break or after work. I’m quickly learning that a social media plan is just as important as my post calendar. I desperately need to start mapping out tweets and pins depending on the post that day. (Working on it!)

    Here are a couple of social media tips that I’ve learned from working with brands like

    • Images pinned on Pinterest after 7 pm (EST) on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday evenings get the most re-pins.
    • If you want the most amount of people to see something on Facebook – post it on Wednesday at 3:00pm (EST).
    • “Please,” “check out,” “help,” “vote,” or “buy” always get more clicks.

    One last note on finding balance – take a break if you need one. If you skip a day or two or posting, it’s not the end of the world (just don’t let it turn into a habit or your readers will lose interest).

    Anyone else have some words of wisdom to help find blogging balance? Please share!

    Lovely Favorites

    Blogger Lessons Part 2 – Picture Perfect

    So after you’ve caught your reader’s attention with your awesome blog name (see last week’s post), you’ve got to keep them interested. One way to do that – and the most obvious way – is to have good, quality images in every post.

    I started this blog with a point and shoot camera, but eventually, I knew it would be wise to invest in a DSLR. I’m not saying you cannot have awesome images with a point and shoot, but if your posts are going to rely heavily on your photography instead of text, it will be largely beneficial to bite the bullet and get yourself a big girl/boy camera.

    Whatever camera you decide to use – point and shoot, DSLR or even your phone – learn how to properly use it. Experiment with different settings, apps and angles. Look at other successful bloggers, and note why their images are both noteworthy and pin-worthy. Do you pin from other blogs to Pinterest? You want your readers to do the same from yours. Pins = traffic and new visitors. Readers will only pin from your blog if your images are noteworthy.

    One not so obvious tip for blog images: stick with a consistent size. For example, all of your photos should be the same width for every post. Height can change, but your width should all ways stay the same. What happens when you have a post with images of all different widths? It looks disorganized and scattered. You can achieve consistent sizing by resizing your images in a program like Photoshop. In the end, it will make a huge difference in the overall design aesthetic of your site as well.

    Last, if possible, seek out some photographer friends for advice. Hey, we can’t all have photographer boyfriends to take outfit photos. For some posts it’s always good to have a helping hand or advice on shooting in low light. (I hate that!) If you don’t know anyone – there are a ton of photography tutorials online to help you out as well!

    *I use a Nikon DSLR. 

    Feel free to email me if you have any questions regarding blog images!

    Lovely Favorites

    Blog Lessons Part 1 – What’s In A Name?

    One of the most frequent inquiries that I receive is from people who are thinking about starting their own blogs. They’re looking for insight and a little bit of advice on where to begin. I’ve decided to start a multi-part series on the subject in case more people are interested as well. I’ll be covering eight major lessons that I’ve learned along the way… today I’m focusing on the importance of a name.

    The first and possibly the most important thing you should do before starting a blog – commit to a name.  A lot of people think they can pick out a quick name and then decide later on a permanent option. This is could become troublesome for so many reasons. Your blog URL address should include your official (and permanent) blog name. If not, it’s confusing to readers when they try to find your site (especially if you haven’t developed a solid readership). In addition, it can be quite the headache to switch your posts over to a new URL if you’re not knowledgeable of the process. Additionally, with all of the new social media platforms, it might prove difficult to move over followers/fans to a newly named account. Avoid the issues – stick to a name, and commit to it!

    Of course there are bloggers who have successfully rebranded. I’m just suggesting it’s more work than beginning bloggers might bargain for.

    So how to do you come up with a name for your blog if you’re unsure? Brainstorm, people. Write down colors, adjectives, synonyms… any word that you’d like associated with your blog or embodies your personal view point. From there start combining words into phrases, and make a top five list. To whittle down those five name options: 1. Google to see if any of the names/URLs are already taken;  2. Cross out any that aren’t short and sweet; 3. Establish which one is most memorable; 4. Get feedback from friends and family.

    Now you’ve got a name, reserve that URL immediately. After all that brainstorming for your blog name, you don’t want to just sit on it and have someone scoop it up before you. Even if you’re not ready to actually post yet – reserve the URL. In fact, go ahead and reserve the Facebook Fan page, Twitter handle and Pinterest login if you plan on using social media. Then, once you’ve gotten your first couple of posts mapped out along with a social media plan, you’ll be ready to post worry-free.

    Does anyone have anything they might want to add? Anyone with a personal experience in changing URLs and blog names?

    Lovely Favorites

    Reader Artwork!

    I cannot even get over this illustration that was sent to me by Destiney Powell, one of the readers. She picked a photo from a recent outfit post of mine and created this amazing mixed media version. I’m beyond flattered and over the moon with her artistic abilities.

    Destiney uses a mixture of prismacolor markers, colored pencils, oil paints, pastels and even eye shadow. She attributes her father as her biggest inspiration when it comes to illustration. She grew up watching him draw and mimicked his hobby in her own sketchbook. (Love that.)

    Similar to this drawing, Destiney currently offers commissioned illustrations for birthdays, anniversaries and weddings. How beautiful would an illustration of a bride be, right? She says the best part of being a custom illustrator is becoming more versatile and the ability to network and socialize. Seriously, such an energetic and creative mind!

    Click to email Destiney regarding commissions.
    or visit Destiney’s Tumblr

    *This post actually gave me the idea to start a reader feature. If you have art, a product or something you want to share, email for a chance to be featured.

    Design/DIY, Home

    Good is in the Details

    I haven’t talked to much about the house lately, so I thought I’d show some of the details of the living room. The entire room is not finished by any means – I still have a gallery wall to complete, and the hunt for the perfect couch is still ongoing. But hopefully, these shots will give you an idea of the overall feeling I’m trying to achieve. These are all of my favorite parts of the room. I love how they each come together and play off one another:

    The first photo is my Anthropologie rug. I waited impatiently patiently on this sucker to go on sale. It did, and here it is now underneath my pallet coffee table project. I’m still stuck on whether I’m going to add another pallet on top, add a cushion top or leave it as it. I guess it all depends on the couch…

    Number two is my recently repainted and re-hardwared (did I just make that word up?) armoire. It sat in the living room a long time while I pondered what color to paint it. I started with a slate Annie Sloan paint… wasn’t working for me. So I went with black instead. I added the large brass door knockers to give it a Hollywood Regency feel.

    While in the Jonathan Adler store in NYC, I fell hard for his embroidered pillows. I walked out of the store without one only to order the one in picture three when I got home. Typical. It wasn’t so much the phrase on it that sold me, but the colors – they work perfectly with the rug. Although, it’s probably not a coincidence that it seems to keep me from eating in the living room.

    And lastly, my curtain poms. Yes, they’re in the dining area, but they also made it into the living room. You may also find curtain poms in one of the guest rooms too. They really never get old. I’m thinking of adding them to the bottom of hand towels as well…