May 22, 2015

Blogging tips 101: Michelle's Pa(i)ge

To close the blogging tips week, this is a post from Michelle Orsi! Thanks so much for your great tips girl! :)
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1. How did you get started?
I follow so many style blogs religiously & gain lots of outfit inspiration from them, but it wasn't until an intern in my office suggested that I start a style blog of my own that I even considered having my own blog.  I was hesitant at first; how would I balance my full time job & a blog??  But after thinking about the idea for a bit, I became really excited & passionate about it.  I love fashion; I love fashion blogs; why not start my own?  Since then, I have thrown myself into it – googling, networking & promoting, promoting, promoting!


2. What do you think is important to get a blog going and to keep people coming?
When I first started, I used a basic template that was offered through Blogger, really kept it simple.  I added a number of posts, widgets & info to my blog before I even started telling people about it.  When readers first started visiting, I wanted there to be a bunch of posts for them to look at & enjoy, so that they would want to keep coming back!  
I also tried to include a question at the end of each post - either asking people about their weekends, for example, or their thoughts on a trend that I was wearing. Asking questions is a great way to get feedback from your readers so that you can give them what they want so they keep coming back!  

From personal experience, I know that I and many readers decide if they like a blog within the first few seconds of visiting the homepage.  So after about 6 months of blogging (when I knew that this wasn't one of those hobbies I was going to get bored with), I hired a designer to create a professional yet classic layout for me. 

I have learned a lot about photography since starting my blog.  Clear, bright, colorful photos make all the difference – especially on a style blog. For the first 3-4 months, I was using iPhone photos (it was the best I could do at the time).  I then upgraded to a point and shoot camera, & most recently, I have been using a DSLR camera to take my photos.  The quality of the photos got higher with each camera upgrade & so did the traffic on my blog. People. Love. Good. Photos.

3. What is the best way to get people to visit your blog?
I see so many bloggers who are like 'I don't want to bombard my followers with a bunch of posts...' But, take a look at some of the most successful bloggers; they post 3-4 times a day, or more!  So take advantage of social media!  I waited months before starting a Facebook page for my blog; turns out it is one the platforms that draws the most traffic to my blog.  Instagram & Pinterest are great platforms for bloggers to use as well since they are photo based.

Other ways to bring visitors to your blog are through link ups and by leaving comments on blog posts of fellow bloggers.  For me, it's not just about page views or likes.  I strive for interaction & loyal readers. Commenting on other blogs not only allows me to find blogs I love, but it allows them to find me!


4. What is your biggest blogging mistake?
Posting just for the sake of posting is not the right move. When I first started blogging, I was convinced that I needed to post 5 days a week to keep the readers coming back.  While I totally recommend posting multiple times a week, I now also believe in quality over quantity.  I think that my readers would much rather see 3 great posts over 5 mediocre ones. 

5. How did you get companies to work with you?
Most companies actually approach me!  However, that doesn't mean you can just sit around and wait for offers to roll in.  I am signed up on a ton of platforms to get my name & blog out there – Lookbook, Chictopia, Fohr Card, etc. A few times, I have commented and complimented a blogger on their collaboration with a brand and then that brand reached out to me to collaborate!! Many companies don't have time to troll the internet looking for you; so the more you get your name out there, the more likely you are going to be found for a collaboration.

However, don't think that you have to wait for a company to approach you.  If there is a company/brand that catches your eye, email them!  What's the worst that could happen?  They don't respond. But seriously, what company wouldn't want to collaborate with a blogger who is passionate about their products?  Seems like a win-win to me.
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Thanks so much for your tips, Michelle!
If you have any other tip questions, leave them in the comments and I will help answer them for you:)

May 20, 2015

Blog tips 101: P!nky Persistence

Pinky has some awesome blogging tips & an even more awesome blog. So glad she could share these with you guys today. Enjoy!

I am headed out to Mexico today!!!! Ill be posting on Instagram- @candace.shiflet & on my snapchat tons-  kahandace . Be sure to follow along :)
xo

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Hey, gorgeous girls! How are you doing today? My name is Pinky and I blog over at pinkpersistence. If you head my way, you'll find me talking about life, fitness, sports, food [I love food] and pretty much everything in between. What started out as a journal has become a full blown hobby and a space where I get to create, while also nurturing friendships and bonds that I've formed through the years.



I was thrilled when Candace reached out to me about her blogging series. I've had my blog a lil over five years and I still find it crazy that I've stuck with something for so long. I by no means am an expert, but would like to think have learned a few things along this journey. So, today I thought I'd share ten things I wish I new before I started my blog.


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1] BE YOU:
 Pretty obvious, but it's incredible how many bloggers stress about being like every other blogger out there. People are smart and we can see through fake. Be you and you'll find your following. Don't compare yourself to other blogs, either. I hate to break it to you, but there is always a blog that's bigger, better, prettier, has more comments and gets more recognition so don't try to be better than anyone else. Spend your time creating the BEST BLOG you can and that will be enough.

2] People like pretty:
 Yes, it's superficial, but it's the truth. If you can't create your own pretty design, pay the amount you want for a blog design you like. I'm not saying you HAVE to look like everyone else, [idontandthatsokay], but a pretty design attracts the eye to a blog. There are a ton of great [and cheap] designers out there so do your research and find a great match for your perfect blog.

3] Don't stress the comments and the page vies.
 In the beginning it's frustrating to see just page views and no comments, but that doesn't mean people aren't reading. Comments usually happen after relationships are formed, so keep blogging even if the comments aren't as many as you expect. But, if you want to create relationships you need to comment, comment, comment. Back in the day I was too scared to comment on anyone's blog so I was just a lurker. However, I finally put on my big girl blogger pants and left a comment and then, gasp got a response. It was a whole new world of connecting to someone and I was so THRILLED when I received my first comment.

4] You don't have to be friends with everyone:
And you don't have to like every blog that everyone else likes. Everyone is different and we aren't always each others cup of tea. If you don't like a blog, don't read it and don't take offense if people choose not to read your blog. 

5] Blogging can be like high school:
There are cliques, there are 'the cool kids', there are the 'you can't sit with us' groups, but hey, that's life. Don't let someone not getting back to you or not reading your blog keep you from doing what you want. Others don't determine your 'worth', keep doing you and you'll find your group.

6] Real friendships can form 'online':
I didn't understand the friendships I saw that formed online, until I was in a real friendship. It's hard to explain to my IRL friends, but talking to someone every day, on a blog can bring you super close, super quick. I still am in awe of the relationships I've formed because of this blog, and can't imagine my life without my amazing blog/real friends  [ BOFF, Jessica, Carolyn, Erin, Janna]

7] Big or small blog, drama and negative commenters still find you:
There are opinions everywhere and people get REALLY BIG behind a computer screen. You might never get a bad comment online, but you'll find out someone is talking about you on their blog. It sucks, but it's life and you can't control other people. You can be the ripest peach on the tree, but there will still be someone that hates peaches, don't let the haters get to you.

8] People that don't blog, don't get it and that's okay:
They won't ever get it. They won't believe that you have a best friend you met online, they won't understand the excitement of having more than 10 comments and they don't have to get it. You get it, you love blogging so keep on, keeping on in blogland.

9] Figure out your schedule:
You can choose to blog everyday, once a week or anywhere in between but try to keep it consistent. I try to post every week day and have consistently [for the most part] for the past few years. Every now and then when I'm on vacation I'll take a big chunk of time off, but usually it's just a day here or there. Remember though, that readers get used to schedules so don't try to post more than you are comfortable with in the beginning. Blogging is a hobby, but it takes work so make sure you manage your expectations with your effort.

10] You don't have to perfect, so don't fake it:  
There are some people that only want to share the good on their blog and while that's there prerogative, I can't relate to that so I just move along. Some of the best posts I've read are the realest posts I've ever read. It doesn't have to be a monthly occurrence, but show us the mess in the laundry room, or confess the stupid mistake you made at the grocery store. No one's perfect and it's fun to read blogs by real people.

Thanks again, Candace for allowing me to be part of this series, I'm truly honored. Hopefully y'all reading found something useful and if you have any questions feel free to email me [ pinkpersistenceatgmaildotcom]. Hope you have a fabulous rest of your day!

May 18, 2015

Blogging tips 101 & how to grow your blog!


I feel like I have some good experience when it comes to growing a blog and I wanted to share some tips on how you can grow your blog! Who doesn't want extra tips and advice? I am so happy to have teamed up with some other awesome bloggers who will be guest posting throughout the week with their tips & blogging advice!

1. How did you get started?

I started blogging in 2010 because my friend had a blog that I religiously read. I was a receptionist and had a LOT of down time so I decided to blog! I wanted to document my life and this was the perfect creative outlet. I also love design and I loved playing with my blog design and learning more about html. Simple as that.

2. What do you think is important to get a blog going and to keep people coming?

There are a few things I think that are super important.
a) design. I think design is so huge! If I come across a blog that has a design that is all over the place (weird fonts, unprofessional looking design aka all one color or something that looks like a scrapbook page, a sidebar that is like 100 feet long with tons of content, pictures that are too big or too small, etc) then it doesn't stick out to me as a blog I will revisit again. If you are trying to grow a blog, design is so important! A clean and professional looking design always draws me in and, honestly, sometimes I follow people because I love their design so much! If you need any help, I design blogs here

b) content. Content is so important! When I read a post that has VOICE, that is something I love and I try so hard to add into my posts. I try to write my posts as if I'm talking to a close friend because I think voice is so dang important. Every now and then I think it's okay to rant and vent, I mean, it's YOUR blog, right? But when there's a ton of negative posts, I don't stick around.

c) pictures. Everyone likes pictures! and you know what they like even more? high quality pictures! You can get nice camera lens for under $100 and it makes pictures so much more interesting to look at. I use this lens.

3. What is the best way to get people to visit your blog?

Commenting on other peoples blogs! There are literally like a million blogs out there. That's a million people who don't even know your blog exists!! Commenting on other blogs has been the most successful thing I've done to get my name out there and to draw readers to come check out my blog.
Leaving MEANINGFUL comments can't be stressed enough. Leaving your link is so important, too! That way you make it easy for someone to just click your link and hop on over to your blog.

I always think it's so funny when I get a comment that says "nice blog" or "lovely" or something so simple like that. I 100% assume they just visited 500 other blogs and pasted that same response, thus not really attracting me to visit their blog. I am grateful for every interaction but my goal is to gain a readership, so meaningless comments are a no go because obviously, you didn't read anything.

Giveaways can be great, I'm sure. But I have noticed that some people ONLY follow for the giveaway and as soon as it's over, they dip! It's a good way to grow quickly but won't necessarily bring a loyal readership. They can also bring some awesome new readers who stay and are totally awesome! So it's kind of hit and miss with giveaways :)

Advertising can also help a lot! it can also be a big waste of money. Just be sure to research the person you want to advertise for. Do they have a lot of loyal readers who visit their blog? Are they active in the blogging community? Will it be worth your money to pay for a sponsorship? I offer paid spots AND trades! I like trades a lot because then we both advertise for each other and it didn't cost us a thing :)  Don't be afraid to ask for their numbers, too! If you are paying them, they should be happy to prove why they deserve your trust. sponsor page can be found here.

4. What is your biggest blogging mistake?

STOPPING. haha I repeat stopping! I was on point with my blogging game for 2.5 years. I  had a lot of interaction and I was very blessed to have companies wanting to work with me to show off their stuff. When I moved back to Arizona, I got so busy and blogging was not something I was passionate about anymore. So I simply just abandoned it. I know that hurt my readership so much because I wasn't updating so people stopped checking back. I think updating a few times a week is a really good way to keep people updated and keep them checking back. I also think QUALITY is more important that QUANTITY. Way better to post a couple times a week with good content vs posting every single day with decent content just for the sake of posting. Some people do post quality content everyday and that's great, too!

5. How did you approach brands?

Sometimes, companies will find me and email asking if I would be interested in their item. Sometimes I approach companies asking if they would like some extra exposure by being featured on my blog. Same thing as with comments- there are billions of companies who have no idea you exist. It never hurts to ask. When I do sponsored posts, I will only post about things I truly do love! And not all product posts are sponsored :) I love a lot of products and I love when other bloggers write about products they like, so I like to do the same!

6. Blogger vs Wordpress
I use blogger for my blog and wordpress for my design portfolio. I've for sure dug deeper into blogger when it comes to customizing my template more and just customizing my blog in general. Overall, I feel that blogger is great for beginners and very user friendly! There are about a million blogger tutorials to help you fix little problems here and there that you might come across. With wordpress, it is a lot better if you want your blog to look like a website and not just a blog website. It is better if you're trying to get a professional look for your page. You will eventually have to pay money if you want to fully use their templates or if you decided to purchase one from a 3rd party so you will probably end up spending some cash to get your wordpress blog to look super professional and like an actual website. Wordpress seems to require a little more html knowledge than you would need with blogger.  I haven't used wordpress enough to fully grasp their website and tools but i've designed a couple of wordpress websites and this is what I have discovered. Overall, I love blogger and I prefer it to wordpress. I like GCF that blogger offers and I feel just feel more comfortable with using blogger .


Have any other questions? Ask in the comments below and I'll be doing a followup post to answer any other questions! And be on the lookout for some awesome guest posts this week where some other bloggers share their tips!

xo
Candace


May 14, 2015

everybody loves an embarassing story


So let me paint you a picture. I work in a corporate office as the receptionist. The president and all the high up people in the company work in this office and last week they happened to have a very important meeting with some very important people. We're talkin they had custom welcome signs, changed all the flat screens in the main lobby to say welcome for this meeting, they ordered in Einstein bagels, paradise bakery, bosa donuts. This meeting was serious business. and seriously delicious haha (lame jokes are so in right now, right?)

Anyways, the place I work also happens to have a gym! So obviously that was one of the big things I was excited about getting to use.

Last week I was going to go to the gym and get my run on before I had to start work. I decided to go in through the side gate of the building so I wouldn't run into anyone in my really professional looking gym clothes. When I closed the gate, I look to my right and saw into the conference room (ps, 95% of the building is made up of windows) Oh and that huge meeting was taking place in that conference room. And all those suits and ties got to watch me walk by in my spandex & tank top. yay. Luckily the opaque blinds  were half way down so I was hoping maybe they would just see these random legs walking by an suspect it was a lost child...or something? (because that would make matters better...)

I went on my run with the paranoia of wondering if the president would get mad or just fire me on the spot or something insane like that. Cause that's what I do, make up the worst situations and convince myself that they're going to happen. guess what, I still have my job! haha

Later that day after the meeting was over and I was officially on da clock, some of the guys let me know they were glad to see the facilities being used (phew) and that they just so happened to do a building tour with all the important people and such when I was on my run. And yes, the gym door is glass and the treadmills are right in perfect view from the doorway. So yeah. embarrassing. and luckily using the facilities during important meetings wasn't as unprofessional looking as I thought.

k bye.
xo
Candace

May 12, 2015

hi i'm indecisive.

oh hey. I am never fully satisfied with my blog layout/design so here I go again adding a different design. stay tuned if you stumble over here and things look cray.
xo
Candace