Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Flapper Doodle

Kate Gabrielle is the brilliant artist behind Flapper Doodle and one of my absolute favorite people ever. I'm not just saying this because she's the bee's knees (okay, maybe a little), but her etsy shop has some of the best holiday gifts I've seen and at super affordable prices.
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I absolutely adore this calendar, and I think that this print would be an amazing pick me up after a long day. There are fantastic gifts for your bestie as well ( this // this // this // and my favorite )

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If you use the discount code 'MODESTJUNE' at checkout, you can even save 10%!
This discount code isn't seasonal, so buy now and buy later. Support my friend!! ;p

Note: This post isn't sponsored in any way, and Kate certainly didn't ask me to post about Flapper Doodle (though if she did, I probably would have teased her a bit and then done it anyway).

Monday, November 28, 2011

One Week to Better Blogging: Giveaway!!

**UPDATE** WINNER ANNOUNCED.
Using random.org, 1-104, the winner is...

Please email me at amberrose@modestjune.com!! :)

It's time for an exciting giveaway!!
I'd originally planned to have two separate winners, but with Christmas and the holidays coming up, I'm going to split it into two separate giveaways, one now and one in a few weeks. Since OWTBB was all about making your blog the best you can, this giveaway will involve getting traffic to your blog.. How?

The winner of this giveaway will get a 30 day 250x100 advert on my blog, right below the OWTBB button in the top right corner.

This giveaway is open to anyone with a beating heart, blog owners, etsy owners, shop owners, you name it, just so long as you are following my blog via GFC!

To enter, just leave a comment with an email.

+1 entry if you follow me on twitter
+1 entry if you tweet about the giveaway (must include a link to this post!)
+1 entry if you follow via bloglovin
+1 entry if you 'like' my blog on FB
Leave a comment for each separate entry.

You've got too much to let it weigh you down~

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November is crashing to an end, yet the leaves are still crisp in the brisk autumn air. A slight chill occasionally dusts the ground, but the ghosts are only in our minds. This weather is grand, and with the sun reflecting in my hair, I leave my sweater draped across my shoulders and my tights in a shoebox back at my dorm. The weatherman promises snow tomorrow night, but with the sun at my doorstep, it just doesn't seem real.
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Dress and Hairbow: I made them!!
A huge thank you to my friend Margaret for all of your help!!

Belt: Ruche
Shoes: Payless

Love Always,

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quick Announcement

I'm spending an extra night in Alabama and the giveaway items are in my dorm in Tennessee. Since I've yet to photograph them, I'm postponing the One Week to Better Blogging giveaway to Tuesday instead of Monday.

Sorry about that! Still friends? ;p

Friday, November 25, 2011

10. On Balancing Blogging and Life

by Emily

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On the beach in Mataró

Hello everyone! This is Emily from Ruby Slipper Journeys… Amber asked me to write on maintaining a good life-blog balance, and I was happy to agree.

The blogosphere can be a wonderful, warm, inclusive place (at least that’s been my experience of it), and most of us want our blogs to be popular and successful, whether simply for the pleasure of creating something that other people like, or because we have bigger plans for them in the future. The result can be near-endless hours spent on the internet, either improving your own blog or making friends with other bloggers. Sometimes, the blog pretty much takes over.

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treating myself to a cupcake in Cup+Cake

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Working on my book in the pre-blog days : )

The first picture in this post is an example of how the blog can take over… but you can still get something out of it. 9pm on a summer’s night found my boyfriend and I hot, sticky, and on a train up the coast carting overnight bags and a DSLR, rushing to make the “golden hour,” which, I had calculated online, would end around 9:45. We had to do this photoshoot for a guest post, although I suppose it wouldn’t have killed me to do it in the morning (would’ve been that extra bit hotter and stickier, I guess). Anyway, it was madness but we did it. Pretty much an example of how not to let your blog take over your life, and I’ve made a conscious effort to calm down in recent months and let photo opportunities happen when they happen.

The golden hour photoshoot on the beach had a happy ending however. After dinner, remembering how lovely and calm the beach had been, we wandered down again, to lie in the sand and look at the stars while a live band played nearby and a beach bar served drinks. True, we dozed off and woke up absolutely freezing at midnight, but it was an example of how blogging can improve your life too… It forces you out (at least if you have a personal style blog) and while out you are thrown in the way of new experiences and adventures. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to have a photographer, doing photoshoots is kind of like a free outing… where once you would have gone for coffee, now you go to take pictures. (Those without a photographer, just feel superior thinking about how much better your photography is getting)!

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fire-breathing dragons at La Mercé Festival in Barcelona

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taking in my surroundings

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Getting very far away from the Internet in Mozambique

Unless you're a personal style blogger with endless amounts of new stuff or the best remixing skills on the planet, you'll often need an extra something to keep your readers coming back. And that something is personality... the thing you're out developing when you're not on the internet.

Blogging can definitely cause internet addiction… perhaps the best way of combatting it is to remember that your blog will be better if your life is better... so make sure you get out, take the camera, and maybe you’ll even get up to something blog-worthy.

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riding the carousel at Tibidabo in Barcelona

9. Networking

by Abbey Karson

My name is Abbey Karson and I have been running my blog on Blogger since August 2009. Over time, my personal blog has changed, as have I, but one thing I've always done, and continue to do, is use social media to do some promotion for my blog. I currently use several social media websites, such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Lookbook. Lookbook, though, is the website I use and have found most useful for promotion for my blog.

I initially started out on Chictopia in late 2008, then joined Lookbook a little while later, and then finally set up my own blog. I wanted the freedom to post what I wanted, when I wanted. There would be no confinements to only posting every six hours, such as on Lookbook, and I could post about whatever I wanted, not just fashion. But I doubt my blog would've gotten the audience it has without promoting it on my Chictopia and Lookbook profiles.

I still post photos on Lookbook, and many of my blog's followers have found my own blog through that website. I think Lookbook is a great website to share your sense of style with the world. And it's a great tool for promoting your blog, because people may see the photos you post on Lookbook and think 'Hey, I like that person's style! I wonder if they have a blog?'. Then they may have a look at your Lookbook profile, see a link to your blog, and go have a look, perhaps they'll love what they see! I know that this is a way many people find their way to each other's personal blogs. I couldn't count the number of times I've found wonderful personal and fashion blogs through Lookbook.

Slowly, over time, I've seen my blog become a little more popular, I'm sure getting a bit of exposure through Lookbook has contributed to my blog's audience growing. It's definitely far from being one of the most popular blogs, but it's not about trying to get loads of people to read it. It's not about trying to get it be one of the most popular, either. Writing my blog is a hobby of mine and something I enjoy, and the fact that I have a small audience is a lovely bonus. It's always nice to know someone is interested in similar things as you are, and that they're interested in what you have to say or show them.

As we all know, social media can be used for many purposes, and taking advantage of its many uses to promote a project, blog, or whatever you like, can be very beneficial. Using social media is something I would highly recommend if you want to try doing some promotion for your blog. Even if it's not fashion you're interested in, there are websites and communities on websites, such as Twitter and Tumblr, for nearly everything you could imagine, you just need to find the one that interests you and fits your interests!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

8. Effective Writing and Professionalism

by Michelle
Effective Writing Skills

One of the most important things for becoming a successful blogger is making sure every single post is up to a certain standard. Every once and a while, we all have a typo or we use the wrong word (I’m famous for mixing up “effect” and “affect”). The important thing is to remain aware of it. If you feel embarrassed for a misspelling or typo, you’re on the right track.

How can you make sure every post is perfect? Here are a few tips!

  1. Write slowly. Sometimes, we get on a roll and we just type out a great post. We hit publish and carry on our merry ways, listening to French jazz and reading Jack Kerouac. Then, two hours later, we look at the post and say, Oh my gosh! There are so many typos here! It’s easy to get in a rush. But good content is slow content!
  2. Proofread. Proofread until you just can’t proofread anymore. I read my posts over about 10-15 times, and I still sometimes miss typos. Which leads me to…
  3. Ask a friend to proofread. I was editor of my college’s literary magazine; I’m a pro at copyediting. But sometimes, you can only stare at a screen for so long before everything looks the same. It’s so easy for our eyes to think we see something as correct when it’s not. Having another set of eyes look over your post, even just briefly, is wonderful. Asking a fellow blogger, your significant other, or your mom can make a huge difference.
  4. Know your grammar! Most of us who live in English-speaking countries took some kind of grammar lesson through school. If you’re a little rusty, can I recommend buying a grammar reference book? I use A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker. It sits above my desks at all times. If I get stumped on how something should be phrased, or what syntax I should use, I refer to this book. It sounds nerdy, but it makes you feel so much better knowing no one can leave a mean comment about your grammar!
  5. Spell check, baby! As you’re writing, if you’re unsure how to spell a word, look it up! Dictionary.com is actually one of my bookmarks in my internet browser. I also have a pocket dictionary sitting on top of my grammar reference book. Yes, I am a nerd.
  6. If you notice a typo after publishing, fix it! There is no reason to just leave it. You don’t have to tell your readers. It’ll be our little secret.
  7. Use the full word! This should be obvious, but writing “LiKe ThIs FoR aN eNtIrE pOsT” is not okay. Chatspeak is definitely not allowed, ever.

The Do’s & Don’ts: Examples

For a great example of perfectly polished writing, let’s look at two paragraphs from a post from Gala Darling:

“In 2006 I began making the transition from being a total miseryguts (!) to who I am today. I didn’t know how to love myself, & I didn’t think I deserved to love myself, either. In fact, I thought the whole concept was bogus!

All you need to begin, though, is to make the decision to change. Once I did, I started learning how to dismantle my own thought patterns & examine the things which were holding me back. These simple ideas helped me overhaul my entire life! The changes I went through were massive — there is no way that the girl I was in 2006 would be able to fathom doing a quarter of the things I do today!”

What’s great about this post? Gala Darling uses her own whimsical style of writing – including some, admittedly, not real words (although I love “miseryguts!) – but she also incorporates all grammar elements and there is not a mistake or typo in sight. Magnifique!

Say, however, Gala Darling were to write this paragraph like this:

“In 2006 I began making a change frm being a total miserygutts to who I’m today. I did nt know hw to luv myself & I did nt think deserved to luv myself either. In fact, I thght the whole concept was bogus!

All u nd to begin, thou, is to mk the decision to chng. Once I dd, I strated learning how to dismantel my own thout patterns & examine things which wr holdin me back. These smple ids helped me overhaul my entire lyf! The changes I wnt thru were massive – there is no wai that the gurl I was in 2006 would be able to fathom a quarter of the thngs I do 2day!”

That was literally painful to type.  Misspellings. Typos. Chatspeak. I couldn’t bring myself to alter the grammar, but just imagine it’s bad. This is literally the exact opposite of how you want your posts to look. While this example might seem extreme, I’ve sadly seen it before.

You should write in a way that demonstrates your unique voice. However, you don’t want your unique voice to remind people of a petulant child. The occasional LOL or smilie face is completely acceptable – just, don’t make it a thing!

Uh Oh, Copy Cat!

Do you have a Copy Cat? What is a Copy Cat?

A Copy Cat is someone – another blogger, a website owner – who uses your content, such as images, graphics, or writing, without your consent and without crediting you. This is, they’re making it look like theirs. They take a graphic you worked hard to make in photoshop and use it as if it’s theirs. They take a poem your posted on your blog and post it as if they wrote it. Awful, right?

It happens all the time. Each blogging platform has their own way of dealing with copyright infringement – and yes, if you have a blog through a major blogging platform, your material is legally copyrighted to you, the person who has the account to access the blog! Firstly, send the person an e-mail – they might be clueless and not realize that that is theft. Politely ask them to credit you for the content or image or to remove it. If they fail to do so, read your platform’s FAQ and possibly contact someone to see what your options are. For Blogger, they cannot settle copyright infringements internally and require everyone with a complaint to file it legally – which means it would become a minor court case. For more information on Blogger’s policy, read here.

Creeper Alert

Creepy people happen.

Hey, we all love our readers. We love reading their comments, e-mails, and tweets. We love having conversations with them. We love when they follow our Pinterest accounts, our Tumblrs. We love when they Like our Facebook pages. We love our readers.

But occasionally, a reader takes it too far.

In January, I had the unfortunate experience of gaining a legitimate stalker. It’s a very long story – if you follow me on Twitter, you saw it play out for three whole months! I know, right? After I asked a reader to please stop commenting on my blog and e-mailing me (due to her comments and e-mails becoming more and more hysterical and, to be honest, creepy, and asking for personal information from me), she decided that if I asked her to stop leaving comments on my blog and e-mailing me, she should use every other website I had an account with to harass me.

Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Lookbook, Chictopia, and five Blogger accounts later, she disappeared. I had had serious e-mail conversations with the owners of Pinterest, Lookbook, and Tumblr, only to have her disappear and stop it. She would make a new account, follow me, leave a few harassing comments, and the minute I reported her to the website, disappear. It was very strange behavior. She, at one point, left a comment telling me that the reason I suffered from bouts of depression is because of my “bad karma” for how mean I was to her.

When it comes to dealing with readers like this, there are a few tips. In general, I strongly believe in intuition. If you have a bad feeling about something a reader says to you, or something they send to you or the way they are acting, don’t ignore it. I was very right to be wary of my stalker!

  1. Be polite. I made the mistake of not being as tactful as I could in my first e-mail to my stalker. Whenever possible, be polite… even if you’re completely freaked out.
  2. but if you’re really creeped out, don’t respond. The way I ended up dealing with the situation with my stalker, was I just stopped responding. If I got messages from her, I immediately deleted them, blocked her if I could, and e-mailed the website.
  3. E-mail website owners. If someone is harassing you on a website like Pinterest or Tumblr, it is very easy to contact the site owners. And let me say – they are surprisingly helpful when it comes to situations like this. (And they really want to help you!)
  4. Trace their IP. This sounds extreme… and it is. But if someone is being legitimately threatening to you, your safety matters more than anything else. Almost every website stores a users IP if they have an account. A simple Google search for how to obtain IP addresses for that website will yield detailed instructions for doing so. Then use a simple IP tracing website to find out where the person lives (usually it’s just the town). This way, you can find their local police department – if they threaten you, it’s their police department that you want to report them to.
  5. In some cases, the stalker’s actions can be illegal. And in some cases, if their internet provider is notified of this, they will lose access to the internet. While you might not want to press criminal charges for harassment or threats, the IP might want to because it is a criminal misuse of their services.

Whew! Did you get all that?

With a few tweaks, tips, and tricks, you can have the blog you’ve always dreamed of! Keep reading this week for more helpful advice from other beautiful bloggers on how to become the best blogger possible!

7. Blog Design and Customization

by Kate Gabrielle

I personally prefer clean, bright designs with quirky flourishes, so that's what I'll be focusing on in this post. But no matter what sort of style you prefer, hopefully some of the links and tips I mention will help you out!! :)

The one thing that I think everyone with a Blogger blog should do, regardless of what style you prefer, is to make your navbar match your blog. If you have a light vintagey cream blog, the default blue and orange is going to stick out like a sore thumb! This is one of the easiest ways to give your blog a little facelift, and it doesn't require any coding knowledge. Just click "edit" on the navbar widget in your page elements tab, and select a different color when the pop-up box appears! Easy as pie! :)



I think blog design is a lot like fashion. If you're going to wear tons of color and pattern, it's better to wear tailored pieces that flatter your figure. If you're going to wear something really simple and neutral, you might want to top it off with an amazing statement necklace or add pops of color.

Similarly, if you want a bold colorful site, you should try to keep everything linear and orderly. If you have a really clean, minimal design it looks amazing if you top it off with a statement header. Here are some examples of my favorite blog designs that illustrate these examples:



Links: Little Chief Honeybee, Flowerchild Dwelling, Pretty Zoo, Sometimes Sweet



Links: Design Love Fest, A Thought is the Blossom, Goodnight Little Spoon, Fancy Fine

I really think that no matter how much you want to jam-pack into your blog design, a few simple tricks can help it stay neat and tidy! Having matching sidebar images, a cohesive theme and a navigation bar really help make it all look put-together!

While blogger *technically* gives you the ability to add a navigation bar with the pages option now, it doesn't allow you to customize the design at all. For the longest time I thought that navigation bars were impossible to design, and then I discovered this tutorial from Pugly Pixel.

Image maps are really easy once you get the hang of them, and the ability to have a pretty navigation bar makes them worth learning!! :) To make your header an image map instead of the default header blogger widget, go into Edit HTML and click on "expand widget templates" (Always make sure you backup your template before fiddling with it!!)



Change 'maxwidgets' from 1 to 2
Change 'showaddelement' from no to yes
Change 'locked' from true to false
Then save.

When you go back into your page elements tab, the header will no longer be locked in place (so you can delete it!) and the option to add a widget will now be available! Select "html/javascript" from the new widget options and insert your image map code. That's it. You'll now have a fully functional navbar in your header!

Another trick for keeping your blog looking pretty and organized is to streamline your photo size. Blogger automatically re-sizes your photos in all sorts of ways, and it can look kind of dodgy, especially if you're mixing horizontal and vertical images. Kaelah from Little Chief Honeybee did a fantastic tutorial on how to streamline your photo size on her blog here.

One more small thing that's probably just a personal preference, but I've had a lot of people ask me how I did it on my own blog so I thought I'd share it just in case! :) I'm not a big fan of the Google Friend Connect box. I don't think it's pretty, and I also don't really like having the followers number on my blog. So if you're interested in having the link for people to follow without having the huge GFC box with all the faces on it, here's how!

Go to your dashboard, and go to the design tab. In the URL, you'll find your blogID number.



I chose to create an image in photoshop for my GFC button. You can do that, or you can just create a simple text link, as well! Just paste your blogID at the end of this URL in place of the number signs: "http://www.blogger.com/follow-blog.g?blogID=####" And voila! You have a Good Friend Connect link without having to use the standard widget!! :)

I also used this link to create a little "follow me" link at the bottom of each of my posts. And when I do giveaways that require entrants to follow my blog, I link to the GFC follow pop-up right within my post! So even if you don't want to get rid of the GFC widget, this link can really come in handy :)

There are a bunch of other little things you can do to make your blog look more professional, but I don't think Amber wanted me to write a whole book, just a blog post ;D So instead, here are some of my favorite tutorials to help improve your blog aesthetics!

Change the width of your blog
Customize your sidebar titles
How to make your blog have 3 columns
Applying shadows to blogger elements
Everything on Pugly Pixel
Revert the black youtube embedded player to gray

If you're not up for the task of tackling your blog design on your own, there are plenty of bloggers who offer design services at pretty affordable prices! There's the Freckled Nest team, My Girl Thursday, Kaelah, Amy, and then there's me :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

6. Regular Features w/Blogging

Hello! I'm Rosie from over at such stuff as dreams are made on and I'm going to be blogging about having regular features on your blog; the importance of them, how to determine which features are right for you and how to stay on your schedule! My advice is mostly based on my own experiences, but I have chatted to other successful bloggers to try and provide the best advice I can to you!

I guess we should start with the question 'Why have regular features?'
Regular features provide structure and organisation to your blog: you know what to expect as do you readers. They bring focus, purpose and a sense of identity. They help you to establish your voice and identify who you want to be in the online community. Regular features will help new readers immediately make a judgement about your blog and know if they want to stay and read on ~ they'll effectively give potential readers a snap shot into what they can expect from your blog.

'how to determine which features are right for you'
In some respects this is trial and error. Your blog reflects you, and since as a person you are constantly changing, you can't expect all your features to last forever. In the first few months of my blog, I had a feature called 'fun facts' in which I basically posted fun facts (sometimes themed) about myself once a week. 
This was such fun to do, and a great way for readers to get to know me, but after about 3 months of posting fun facts about myself I became a bit disenchanted with it. So I waved goodbye to the feature. I still do occasional 'fun facts' posts, but I am no longer inspired enough by it enough to post some facts about myself every single week.
What I mean by this is that if a feature is no longer working for you, don't be afraid to change it, or stop it completely. Sometimes we think we're really passionate about a particular topic, but it doesn't always translate to something that we are great at blogging about.

That being said, the purpose of a regular feature is to offer consistency to your readers, so you should think carefully about what you choose to make into a feature. The list is endless: fashion, photography, recipes, family, product reviews, wishlists, beauty, crafts, diys...you get the picture. Chances are, if you can't think of half a dozen posts off the top of your head, then that particular topic shouldn't be made into a regular feature by you! The topic for your feature needs to be something that you will be repeatedly inspired by week after week. For example, one of my own regular features is called 'inspirational words'; it involves me finding a quote each week to share with my readers. 
I love quotes. I love to be motivated and excited by the words of others, and I enjoy sharing thought provoking and insightful quotes with my readers. Most importantly, I never feel like having to find a quote for the feature is a chore.

How many features to have?
This is predominantly down to personal experience: do you like lots of structure or little? I personally find that 3-4 regular features is ideal for me; it provides enough of a framework for me that I feel inspired and not caged in by it, and I still have half the week left to blog about whatever tickles my fancy! However, it's not necessarily a good idea to decide on a number of regular features and brainstorm to see what you want them to be. Instead, try just thinking what you would like to introduce right now, with a rough idea of how many features you might eventually want. For example, if you have two topics that you know you want to blog about on a regular basis then great! Don't then find two mediocre topics just to make the number up to four! Just start with the two regular features, and somewhere down the line you'll suddenly be struck by something else you want to include weekly/fortnightly/monthly on your blog. 

how to stay on your schedule
I actually find that having several regular features a week helps me to stay on schedule whilst still giving me the freedom to do spontaneous posts. It keeps me inspired just the right amount without making me feel like I am stuck in a rut. for instance, I used the example earlier of my 'inspirational words' feature. I know that every wednesday i will be posting a quote on my blog. So throughout the week in the back of my mind I am on the lookout for a quote. Sometimes I find the quote I want weeks in advance and have them stored up, sometimes i am searching on the actual wednesday. 

I hope I have been a little helpful to at least one person out there! As I said, a lot of this is my own personal opinion, so feel free to take as little or as much from what I have said as you like.


Love
Rosie
xx

5. Scheduling Posts

Why I schedule
One thing I've found it absolutely necessary for me to do at week, is to take time on Saturday or Sunday and write out a schedule of what posts I'm going to write, over the next week or two, and when they'll go live. Do I actually post every one that I schedule? No, but the weeks I have a schedule I post twice as often as the weeks when when I don't.

The Benefits of Writing a Schedule
Having a schedule eliminates the nagging questions that go along with posting like, "is this really the best time/day to post this?" or "is this post too long to post on the same day as my last post?". Having a schedule also keeps me accountable - I don't have the normal excuses of "I don't know what to post" or "I'm too tired," because I've planned ahead so I know what to post. I had time to write it earlier, so if I didn't it's my own fault and no excuse for not posting.

What to use?
I keep my schedule on my computer using a program called iCal. It's a Mac product, so it automatically comes on any Mac computer. If you don't have a Mac, Google Calender will work - or, if you prefer, you could just get a day planner note book and keep your schedule in the real world.

My schedule format
I've broken my schedule into two parts - the calendar and the to-do list. This is how the whole thing looks in iCal:

Color Coded Lists
On the left is a list of the different lists I have set up. I have one for each of my post topics set in a different color - this makes it easy to see what I've got going on. I also have a list for personal stuff that will get in the way of my blogging (vacations, etc) so I can mark those as well and keep them in mind when I plan my posts.


Laying Out Your Plan:
Once I've got that finished I plot out the different events on the calendar. I like to use a monthly calendar so I can get a big-picture-look at all the posts I have planed for the month. You may prefer to use a weekly calendar, if the monthly one is too overwhelming (which is can be, sometimes).
The first thing I did when planning out the posts was to set an event for each of my regular post topics and set them to automatically repeat each week (you can see them in the photo below - the blue, fuchsia, brown, and purple events). I gave them all generic names like "outfit post" instead of "outfit from the orchard," and then each week I replace the generic name with the name of the actual post. Having them repeat automatically every week ensures that I won't forget any of the series I have going on, and makes it easier to decide when any of miscellaneous posts I may have that week - such as an in my bag post - should go up. I plan those next, and use the special teal list I have for the misc posts.

To-do List 
After I have all my posts for the week planned, I use the to-do list on the right to make a list of all the posts I have to write for the week. (If you're using iCal click the thumb tack on the bottom right corner to make it appear.) Then I click the title again to fill in the date they're due to post, and set iCal to sort them by their due date. Once I get each post written I click the little check box, make the check appear, and feel a great sense of accomplishment. :D


So that is how I organize all my posts. It's probably not the best system out there and it's surely not the only one, but it works for me. How do you keep track of your planned posts? I'd love it if you'd comment and share your tips/tricks!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

4. Taking Photographs, Composition, etc

So, I’ve never had an photography training and what I focus on is how to take a good outfit picture—so these tips aren’t really from the perspective of an expert and I don’t know how they’ll apply to other projects outside of fashion blogging.


To me, the most important factor in photography is lighting—use natural light. If you’re taking pictures indoors make sure the room is well-lit (hopefully via sun through windows) and at all costs avoid flash! Flash distorts colors and can mess with the depth of an image making things seem flat. Ideally, take pictures outside. The best times to take pictures are about an hour before and after sunset and sunrise. The light is soft and warm during this time; you can face a setting sun and get a warm glow in your pictures, or pose with the sun setting behind you and catch all the marvelous colors of the sky. Light can add so much mood and atmosphere to a photograph, so if you can choose the time to take your pictures—do it. If sunset or sunrise pictures don’t fit into your schedule, then other times of day can work as well. Overcast days are actually wonderful for pictures (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken pictures in the rain and they’ve been some of my best). Very bright days and pictures in the middle of the day are more difficult; the sun being directly above casts some harsh shadows on your face and it’s hard to stare into a blinding bright light for pictures. Try putting the sun behind you for backlit pictures (a bit hard to do if you’re using a self-timer), or find shaded spots (like the shadow of a building or somewhere with trees); the light will be less harsh that way.

I use the self-timer and tripod method; so if you have someone helping you or you’re using a remote…I have no tips for that. A tripod is a great investment. A gorillapod is small and can be attached to a variety of objects and can be bought for less than $15. You can use found objects to balance your camera on—hanging it from trees, or balancing it on rocks, but that’s how I broke my first camera so I don’t recommend that method. A tripod lets you take pictures anywhere—fields, forests, streets, etc and allows you the freedom to play with height and angles.
           
If you are shooting yourself and using the self-timer then focus can be a little tricky. If I’m posing on rocks then I can just focus on the rock I plan to stand on, but if I’m on train tracks or the beach it’s harder to get the focus right. I like to play my purse where I intend to stand and focus on that. Then when I’m ready to take the pictures, I trot over to where my purse is sitting and voila.
          
Most cameras that have self-timers will allow you to take several pictures in a row; i.e. once the timer runs out it takes several pictures in quick succession. Use this! Especially for your first few shots—move around, whether it’s changing the way you are standing, playing with your hair, or the angle of your face to the camera, just move. The more you move the more comfortable you’ll be in the photographs and sometimes the best shot is one you didn’t plan, but happened as you were turning around to show the back of your dress and the skirt flares out and your hair catches the wind… Point being: just move. In addition, the movement gives more variety to your pictures. I recommend moving your camera around and getting different perspectives and shots, but that takes time—moving your body doesn’t take as much time and still gives variety. You don’t need six shots of the same outfit in the same pose, but six different shots showing how it looks from the front, the side, behind, and you doing different things like jumping, twirling, etc—that isn’t boring to look at (also jacket/sweater on & off, etc).
             
Also, everyone has a different style in dressing, writing, blogging, and photography. So while tips like these can be a great place to start, have a vision for how you want to present yourself. I’m a bit of a hermit, so I love finding quiet hamlets in nature to shoot; it just suits my mental image of myself. This theme won’t (and shouldn’t) work for everyone, but if you know how you’d like to present yourself then you’re halfway there.

3. Finding the Confidence to Take Outfit Photos in Public


Depending on what kind of blog you have, you may be interested in taking outfit photographs in public places – after all, it opens up an amazing world of potential background settings for your shots. Unfortunately not all of us are lucky enough to have professional-photographer-boyfriends, or snap-happy friends who live nearby. This is when you may need to build up the courage to venture out on your own, all in the name of better outfit shots (and consequently, better posts). Having recently been through this terrifying ordeal several times myself, here are some of my tips for finding the confidence to take outfit shots in public.

Have a Plan: The better prepared you are, the easier (and quicker) taking outfit photos in public will be. Practice taking outfit shots at home, so you are familiar with your camera settings, and how you like to pose (hands on hips? one leg forward? looking at or away from the lens?). It is also useful to form a rough idea of what kind of shots you want to take to create your blog post (full body? close-up detail shots? the back of your outfit?). If you plan ahead, you will feel much more confident when you are out in public, and you will be less likely to chicken out half-way through – after all, it would be a shame to waste all that prep work.

Act Confident: It’s a cliché I know, but if you act confident in what you are doing (even if on the inside you are absolutely terrified), you will look confident to anyone watching, and you will slowly-but-surely start to feel confident. You have to remember that you are not actually doing anything remotely wrong or suspicious or even particularly weird – I sure have seen people do much stranger things in public than taking a photograph! Often when I am taking outfit photos and I see a stranger approaching, I walk to my camera, look at the screen, put on my most serious-concentration-face, and play with the camera buttons. I pretend to be so focused on the camera that people probably assume I am doing some important professional work, and they walk on by without interrupting!

Tell a Tale: There is always a slim chance that a passer-by will ask you what exactly you are doing. This does happen occasionally, as humans are curious by nature. If you don’t feel comfortable spilling the beans about your fashion/lifestyle blog to a complete stranger (let’s face it, not everyone ‘gets’ blogs!), there are plenty of other responses you can use to save face. For example: you sell vintage clothing on eBay and you need to take product shots; you have to complete a photography assignment for a local community college course; you’re making a Christmas card to send to your long lost relatives on the other side of the world. A quick one-sentence explanation is normally all you need to satisfy (and see off) any curious onlookers. 

Those Who Matter: If you are still feeling anxious and embarrassed, remember the Dr. Seuss quote – ‘Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind’. If a passer-by has the cheek to judge you negatively or criticize what you are doing (whether in their head or out loud), then they are probably not the kind of person whose opinion should matter to you anyway. And the open-minded, friendly and awesome people in your neighbourhood will smile warmly as they pass you, and secretly admire you for your creativity, confidence.

ConfidenceToTakeOutfitPhotosInPublic

Monday, November 21, 2011

2. Tips for New Bloggers


So you want to start a blog. Where should you start? What should you write about? What are the unspoken rules of blogging? I know how daunting being a ‘newbie’ can be, because I started my own blog at the beginning of this year! So I have compiled a little list of ‘tips for new bloggers’ in the hope that they will help you find your feet when you are starting out on the awesome adventure of being a blogger.

Be Yourself: As a new blogger, it can be tempting to look around at other blogs and try and ‘fit in’ by replicating their style/personality/blogging formula. It’s important to remember that your most valuable asset is your individuality. There is nobody else in the world like you, with your passions, interests, personality or life experience. In your real life, people value and appreciate you just as you are. So when you sit down to brainstorm ideas for your new blog, make sure you choose key themes or topics that you feel passionate about. When you begin drafting your first posts, try writing content from your point of view.

Write an ‘About Me’ Page: An ‘about me’ page is one of the first things people will look for when they read your new blog for the first time. It’s a great opportunity to give people an insight into who you are and what your blog is all about. I have to admit that I was a bit slow and only wrote an ‘about me’ page recently – but my statistics show it is now one of my most popular pages!

Stay Organised: In a year from now, you don’t want to find yourself tearing your hair out because you didn’t save a copy of the original HTML code for your blog template, your computer desktop is cluttered with old outfit images, and you can’t remember the brilliant idea for a post you wrote on the back of a napkin and have since lost. Start your blog on the right foot by implementing good habits – create a folder on your desktop for blog-related information and images, carry around a special notebook to write down blog ideas or even use your phone – whatever system of organisation works best for you.

DIY Design**: It never ceases to amaze me what you can learn from a quick Google or YouTube search. Be proactive! If there is something you want to add to or change about your blog template (a custom background? a new border? a different default font? a blog button?) don’t be afraid to search for an easy-to-follow tutorial and give it a try yourself. (Tip: Make sure you back-up your old template first.)

Set Mini Goals: While you may have a huge overriding dream for your blog, setting mini goals along the way can help keep you focused and motivated. Your mini goal could be to post three times per week, or to create a weekly outfit post, or even to comment on a new blog each day. Make a mini goal that fits in well with your lifestyle and time constraints.
TipsforNewBloggersPhoto2


Be Patient: It’s sometimes easy to forget the fact that all blogs start with zero followers. While a handful of new blogs will surge in popularity almost overnight, for the rest of us, it takes a long time to build a readership. Be patient and persevere – if you have fun and enjoy what you post, I promise you that you will slowly-but-surely start to gain followers and receive comments.

Be Friendly: The blogging community is home to some of the most thoughtful, sweet, friendly, creative and clever people you will ever encounter. Make the most of it by getting involved. Reply to any comments or questions on your blog. Comment on other blogs when you have time (especially other new blogs as they could really use the support). It goes without saying, but always treat other bloggers with courtesy and respect.


Enjoy Yourself: The majority of people start a blog because they are looking for a source of enjoyment. Maybe you hope to use your blog as an online diary where you can remember and appreciate the little things in life. Maybe you want a creative space to share your art, designs, handmade goods or photographs. Maybe you want to learn more about yourself and to grow in confidence. Whatever the reason behind starting your blog, don’t lose sight of it! If you are feeling pressured or stressed out, take a little break.

Just Do It: I wanted to write my own blog almost a year before I actually started. I kept waiting for the ‘perfect’ set of circumstances – a better camera, a better understanding of web design, well-thought-out content ideas – and if I had continued to wait for every little thing to be in order, well, I wouldn’t be here blogging today! While beginning a blog can be nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing, it's amazing how much you learn and how much your confidence grows with every single post. I encourage you to give it a try.


**There will be a post on blog design later this week, so stay tuned!

1. What kind of blogger are you??




What kind of blogger are you? by Tieka, Selective Potential

This is the biggest thing you need to figure out before you start your blog. Or, if you've already started your blog, it's something you need to deeply think about and make sure you're living up to. This session will be of great help to you to figure out what kind of blog you want to run! Most of the truly successful blogs out there have a clear purpose for their blog and expand on it within every post they create. Let's dive in!

There are so many different things your blog can be. It can be a fashion blog (which can even expand down to a shoe blog, a dress blog, an accessories blog, but make sure you don't limit yourself too much that you run out of topics within the first month!). It can be a food blog (baking, cooking, dinners, soups), but again, don't limit yourself, but you do want to have a clear focus. Or, you can mix and combine! There are amazing blogs out there that mix fashion and DIY, baking and sewing, vintage and film reviews. Just remember to take what you love and what you're passionate about and try to stick to those topics. If you choose a topic you're not passionate about, you'll run out of ideas and become uninspired. We don't want that to happen!





Think of some themes you want for your blog. Let's set an example.
1. Fashion. You can do several things with fashion. You can post personal outfit posts, images from an upcoming line that you love, photos from a magazine or online photos you found that you love, wish lists of items you'd like to purchase, ways to put together outfits, video blogs on how to style a dress, the possibilities are endless! Choosing a broad topic like fashion will give you many options for posts so you shouldn't run out of ideas!

2. Cooking. A lot of bloggers mix cooking with fashion! Even though, they may not go hand-in-hand, they are both creative and both give you a lot of options to work with! You could feature a weekly recipe, show what you cooked for dinner last night, do a review of a cute restaurant or do a product review of something you use while cooking. Even though I don't read blogs like Jen Loves Kev for cooking, I am always interested in reading her Last Night's Dinner posts!

3. Vintage. Let's say you love vintage. It ties in really nice with fashion and personal style, but also opens up your blog to a whole other audience. You could post on cute vintage items you found thrifting, you could show how to clean up or repair a vintage item, you could talk about what to look for when shopping vintage, etc.! Plus, maybe someday you could open your own Etsy shop to sell vintage items? Again, endless possibilities. I'm very much inspired by Sally Jane Vintage for this style of blog.





What are my themes?

My main themes are: personal style, love and adventures. I say personal style instead of fashion, because I don't really post much on fashion. I don't want to trap readers into saying I'm a fashion blog and they'll expect upcoming reviews of designer lines, or constant inspiration for what's on trend, because that's really not what I'm passionate about. I'm passionate about dressing for my body and showing girls what can work for more of a small-town girl that may not always be on trend. I also love to post about my husband and the things we do together, so I included love in my themes! He's a huge part of my life and I'm insanely passionate about him, so I never tire of talking about my husband! And third, a huge part of our life together is going on adventures. I like to take corny trips around the area and show readers that you can have fun in any little small town! Plus, it gives us endless opportunities for posts plus we're having a blast traveling around trying new things.

Make sure you figure out what makes you unique. You don't want to take your favorite blogger's blog and replicate it. You'll never stand out. You need to find what makes you you and work on it. Let's say you love fashion, old films and 1940's fashion. Expand on that. Take those passions and embrace them in every aspect of your blog... from content, to blog design, to features! Nobody can tell you what your theme will be, it's the biggest thing YOU have to figure out. Take what you're passionate about… and write about it. Find your niche in the blogging community!

Blogs that lack theme, purpose or thought can be boring or get lost. Readers won't know what to expect when they come to your blog and will quickly click off if they don't find what they are looking for within the first five seconds. Find your purpose and clearly state it on your blog and showcase it within every post.




Figured out your themes? What next?

1. Create a name for your blog that will encompass all of your passions you will be writing about! I chose Selective Potential because it was so universal and could grow in time with me. It can pertain to personal style, adventures and love, but doesn't limit me to those three themes… it gives me room to grow in the future if I want to expand to new topics! (like a baby in the future!)

2. Create a tagline! Say your blog is called "Flight of Fancy" and your tagline is… fashion, travel and everything fancy. You could post on fashion, what to pack while traveling, travel posts, photography, cute themed posts. You could even decorate your blog according to your theme and tagline! A tagline really helps readers know right away if they want to read your blog. Let's say one of the biggest aspects of your blog is writing reviews on films, but you don't really let readers know that you'll be doing so, they might be put off when you keep posting on film reviews and maybe they'll stop following. Be clear about your purpose!

3. The biggest thing is… how would you describe your blog to your mom, or friend, or co-worker? It should be very easy to define. "What is your blog about?" "Oh, you'd love it! It's about fashion, baking and travel!" "Oh, wow, I love fashion, baking & travel, I'll definitely check it out!". If you're blog is a hundred different things, you might not have the focus and drive to keep at it, so don't overwhelm yourself with trying to cover too many topics. Keep it simple, driven and with a real purpose!

Good luck! xo, Tieka

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Week to Better Blogging: SCHEDULE

Hello lovelies!

Below is the schedule of posts for One Week to Better Blogging.
There will be two posts per day, one at 9am and one at 3pm. As each post goes live, I will link to them on this post, so go ahead and bookmark this page/check back!

At the end of the week, there will be a very exciting giveaway, so you're going to want to make sure you've paid attention this week.

SCHEDULE
Monday:
1: What Kind of Blogger Are You? // Tieka, Selective Potential
2: Tips for New Bloggers // Elyse, Give Me Bows

Tuesday:
3: Finding the Confidence to Take Outfit Photos in Public // Elyse, Give Me Bows
4: Taking Photographs, Composition, etc // Rebecca, The Clothes Horse

Wednesday:
5: Scheduling Blog Posts // Katie, Beautifully-Pure
6: Regular Features w/Blogging // Rosie, Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On

Thursday:
7: Blog Design and Customization // Kate Gabrielle, Scathingly Brilliant
8: Effective Writing and Professionalism // Michelle, Locked Out

Friday:
9: Networking // Abbey Karson
10: On Balancing Blogging and Life // Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys

Saturday:
BREAK

Sunday:
BREAK

Monday:
morning: Closing bits and my personal advice.
giveaway

Take a button?

owtbb



owtbbhelper

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I won't run away.

This song always gives me goosebumps and makes me sad.. but in a good way- the type of sadness that makes you think about everything and nothing at the same time. Maybe I sound crazy.


Things have gotten a little crazy on my end, but I'll be back to blogging/posting regularly this upcoming week.

The schedule for One Week to Better Blogging will go up tomorrow morning, and the actual event will begin this Monday. I'll post blogger buttons and tweet about it to remind everyone. Please help me spread the word on it-- a lot of incredible ladies have put a lot of effort into this and I need for this to be a success. I'm actually very nervous about it.

Likewise, I've lowered my sponsorship prices substantially and they will remain low until the end of December as a holiday celebration of sorts, so if you are interested, just send me an email.

I'll see you guys soon; I've missed you.

Love,
Amber Rose

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Post: Molto Fashion

Heya! I'm Claudia from Molto Fashion, and I've popped over for a visit so we could chat about one of my most favorite things… accessories! To me, accessories are the knights in shining armor in the royal court of my closet, or to put it less poetically, they are my official workhorses to keep my personal style varied and interesting.  So here are the latest top:

1. Sunglasses
Sunglasses

Morph instantly into Joe Cool or Mary Kate Olsen, or best of all… Yoko Ono. Granted sunglasses have a functional purpose, implied by their name. However, who can deny that they also really add to an outfit, not to mention to one's own personal image? Then again, maybe it's just me and my escapist fantasies about "Hair Peace" and "Bed Peace" and having a really hot name that rhymes with my favorite flavor, cocoa. 
2. Patterned tights
Patterned Tights

My fascination with patterned tights has not worn off since I was a little kid; I find them as intriguing as I did back in the day. Maybe it's the fact that I find them a kind of phenomenon of manufacturing. Nonetheless, when I need to add a little pizzazz to a simple sweater and shorts ensemble, I look no further than a pair of ornamented nylons. Easy peasy and good to go.  
3. Arm Cuffs
Cuffs

Bangles? What are those? Now I'm all about arm cuffs! The novelty in this accessory is twofold: 1) slip one on, and boom, instant style that requires no previous contemplation. 2) I feel all creative and original that in the cool weather, I can wear what I've always thought of as warm weather jewelry. And for bonus points: how not to resist my brother when he says it makes me look like a gladiator… Ho.. ho.. ho. 
4. Hats
Hats

When my hair refuses to cooperate, it takes less energy to throw on a hat than to try and get my stubborn strands to yield and obey. Plus, I think the effect is more "bam-pow" than whatever half-baked hairstyle I can manage to muster. My personal favorite is my bowler hat, and at this point, I'm surprised it hasn't grown attached to my head by now. For the sake of this fashion heart-to-heart, I will confess that I feel super smooth and zen when I have it on. 
5. Turbans
Turbans

Also classified as bad hair camouflage, yet this is edition "Fancy Eccentric Deluxe." Turbans are so exotic… True, many they may classify them as "boho" but I prefer to think of them as "bohémienne." To confidently carry one off makes me think of a quirky posh Gatsbian woman as she glides through the carpeted mahogany halls of her family manor. 

6. Seashell Crown
Seashell Crown

This for me is a dear, special accessory. It's made out of my grandmother's old seashell necklace. My grandmother was my style icon (I often use a lot of her old clothes), and for me, this crown is a precious keepsake as well as a unique statement piece.

So I hope I have successfully demonstrated that accessories are the fluff and fripperies of a wardrobe. My philosophy is never to worry if an outfit is not extra, over-the-moon amazing, throw in an accessory or two and trick everyone (even yourself) into thinking you've put a lot more thought into your ensemble than you actually have. ;)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

how to be a successful creeper.

I guest-blogged for Kate while she's away at Disney! Have a look at my guest post, 'How to be a successful creeper', a tongue-in-cheek guide to blogging and creeping on other blogs! xo

http://scathingly-brilliant.blogspot.com/2011/11/diy-how-to-be-successful-creeper.html

I'll be back to blogging regularly this week. See you soon! (I have a lot of catching up to do)

Love Always,
Amber Rose

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tulle Sale

The clothing company Tulle has been a longtime supporter of my blog. It's no secret that I'm in love with the quality of their items (you've often seen their clothing on Modcloth's site). Anyhow, today a bunch of us bloggers received an email about a huge sale that will be taking place tomorrow at the Tulle4Us website. This isn't sponsored or required, but I really wanted to share the news with you. I know I'll be stocking up on a few new favorites.

I'm not sure exactly what time the sale starts, but if you follow tulle on twitter (@tulle4us), I'm pretty sure they'll send out some tweets when the time is closer. My best guess would be midnight, though!



If you end up buying anything, tweet me and let me know! Heaven knows my wallet is going to be taking a beating.. ;)