fashionABLE

While speaking at The Influence Conference, I was introduced to fashionABLE – a non-profit that works with women who have been exploited due to the effects of poverty. I was incredibly moved by the stories and presentations and I instantly bought a scarf. Each scarf comes with a tag by one of the women that made it. On it, they write what they’ve been able to do because of the purchase. My scarf was made by Saba.

I absolutely love my scarf (and I’m not getting paid or receiving anything for free to post this). It’s long and wide enough that I can double loop it and it has such an amazing texture. I plan on buying many more for friends and family during the holidays season this year too.

I say all of this because I’ve realized that with my growing blog and large number of Twitter followers…I need to do more. I am a woman and I own my own business. I love what fashionABLE states on their website:

We are a non-profit. That means that your purchase of a scarf does far more than just create jobs. The fashionABLE mission is to create sustainable business in Africa so that the women are not dependent upon charity, but instead are a vital part of a developing economy.

I try not to get political here on my blog but I live here in the United States of America by CHANCE. I experience a freedom that I too often take for granted. It’s time to think beyond our silly problems and do something for those less fortunate. The talent and work ethic is so apparent after you buy one of these scarves and I admire that.

Leave a comment below if you purchase one and let me know what style/color!

Let’s Talk About You Pt. 2

Last month I posted a “Let’s Talk About You” post and learned SO much about you all. I thought I should do it again and ask YOU questions. Feel free to copy & paste and answer them in the comment section!

  1. When you have free time, what do you do? 
  2. What was the highlight of your week?
  3. Who has influenced your life the most?
  4. When do you feel most proud?
  5. Leave a link to your blog!

UPDATEHere are my answers (someone on Twitter suggested that I participate too!):

  1. When I have free time, I try to get ahead on blogging, read a book or watch a tv show!
  2. The highlight of my week was probably having 48 hours completely alone. Adam was gone and I had time to work, think and just be.
  3. My husband – most definitely – has influenced my life the most (of anyone I’ve ever met). For the better.
  4. I feel the most proud when I think about my brother and sister. They are amazing people and while they’re younger…they are my best friends.

FYI – sometimes comments go to spam when you include a link so please be patient if you don’t see yours publish immediately. I’ll be approving any that get pushed to spam until I leave on vacation! 

Almost Beach Time

While many of you are shivering and welcoming in the cool, fall weather…we will be off to a tropical vacation soon! Instead of planning some favorite warm weather outfits…I waited until the last minute and all the stores only have furry hoods and boots for sale. This board is a little bit of what I wish I had purchased before my vacation (thankfully I have a lovely friend who let me borrow her sundresses!) Honestly, a lot of cute stuff is on sale right now so if I had the cash…I might go shopping for NEXT summer.

  1. Tye Dye T Back Maxi Cover Up from Topshop [sold out…sad]
  2. Summer Straw Hat from J.Crew
  3. Coach’s New Skyler sandals
  4. Glitter Polka Dot Cosmetic Bag from F21
  5. MD Solar Sciences Sunscreen from Amazon
  6. Skin Drink by LUSH
  7. Mara Hoffman swimsuit on Net-A-Porter
Do you ever plan special purchases before vacation or do you just use what you have? I always overpack so it’s probably better that I didn’t go shopping!

*Some links above are RewardStyle links so I would receive a small commission if you purchase!

Let’s Do Brunch

I announced this yesterday on Twitter but I thought it deserved an entire blog post too. A few months ago I met with Steph and Rachel (fellow Columbus bloggers) about creating a blogging community in REAL life here in our lovely city. The idea slowly crept into my head early in 2012 out of a desire to teach and share. I still see that happening as this concept evolves but for now – we just want to meet, discuss and share a meal together. Rachel wrote the copy on our website and I just love it:

You eat meals, snacks, and coffee. You’re a blogger, Instagrammer, Pinner, or Twitterer. You want to marry your personal and Internet lives.

Let’s Do Brunch!

Our casual group grew from a desire to connect the central Ohio online personalities we converse with via social media in real life. We enjoy the collective experience of dining with new friends who don’t think a thing of interrupting a meal to snap an Instagram or organize a mentor relationship via DMs. Let’s Do Brunch welcomes the vibrant energy of newer bloggers, the leadership of experienced social media users, and everyone in between.

This is open to anyone in the area that wants to meet real, authentic people….while eating delicious brunch-y food. You are welcome – no matter who you are. Female, male, new to blogging or an experienced writer. Our first kickoff event will take place on Sunday, November 18th at 11am at Brothers Drake Meadery. Bring a meal to share and some ideas too. RSVP here so we know how many to accommodate for.

Let’s Do Brunch, Columbus!

Influence

Earlier this year, I was asked by the lovely Hayley Morgan to speak about design at The Influence Conference in Indianapolis. This past weekend – it happened! Speaking is an odd duck…especially as a blogger/designer. I spend most of my days in front of a computer and when I am interacting with people it’s with my clients or my best friends. All of a sudden I found myself with two speaking gigs. I kept thinking, “What could these people possibly want to hear from me?!”

It ended up going really well and I felt really great about it once it was over. It was easy to feel overwhelmed when all the other speakers seemed so extroverted and bubbly. I had to remember that we’re all different and that I still had something to offer (even if I get super nervous and forget to smile a lot). The best part of the conference was connecting with so many women individually and helping them out with their branding, blogs and websites. I do SO much better working with others individually (vs addressing a huge audience).

For those that weren’t able to attend my session, I thought I’d share a recap today along with some Q&A’s + a separate page with resources. Here it is:

Whether you’re a blogger, a small business owner or someone who just THINKS about starting a blog…you cannot avoid your brand and what you communicate through visual design. The idea of having a brand can sound so lame. I hear phrases like “I need to work on my personal brand,” or “My branding sucks,” but your brand is just YOU and what you decide to communicate.

  • You communicate through your social media accounts.
  • You communicate through your blog.
  • You communicate through your logo.
  • You even communicate through how you treat others on a daily basis.

I’m going to walk you through the 6 steps that I use to help my clients create a clear brand voice. I gave examples during my presentation that I can’t necessarily share here on the Internet (due to the fact that it would be open to everyone to see and my relationship with that client is ongoing). Hopefully it still makes sense! We’re essentially going to identify who your audience is, who you are, and how the two interact.

  1. Identify your Ideal Audience’s World. What gender? Age? What music are they listening to? What historical events took place to shape their lives? What issues are they dealing with on a day-to-day basis? What brands have their loyalty?
  2. Create a Profile for that Specific Person. You’re essentially giving your audience/demographic a character. This could be a celebrity or someone you know. Perhaps your small business is targeting college students and you want to use someone like Taylor Swift as your customer character. This is someone who is into the newest trends, loves music, very feminine and is dating actively. This would be way different if your target audience were stay-at-home moms! Disclaimer: you are not sharing this character with anyone but people working behind the scenes. It’s to use as a reference later on.
  3. Identify Your Competitors’ Voices. The idea of having a competitor doesn’t have to be as awful as it sounds. Just take a moment to observe what others are doing that is similar to what YOU’RE doing. How do they present themselves? What is their tone? Why are they successful?
  4. Outline How You’re Unique. This is where you shine! How are you different than the competitors you’ve identified above? What do you say when you describe your blog/business? Do you use big words or simplify things?
  5. Create your Brand Character. Now you’re going to do the same thing that you did with your audience profile. Your brand character does not need to be YOU. This can be an exaggerated or simplified version of yourself (or not you at all). This is the person that will be connecting with your audience day-to-day. It will help bring about accountability during times that you want to stray from that identity. Perhaps you feel that Oprah is the best representation of your business (in character form). She will be conversational, wise, influential and older. Will this character be able to connect with Taylor Swift? (I know this seems silly but I promise it works).
  6. Create a Plan. Now you create a plan. What do you need to do to get this to the streets? Set up social media accounts? Hire a designer? Get a website? Make corrections to your existing brand?
I have found that this process helps my clients better understand what they’re doing and who they are. If you’re looking to find a designer – this process will most definitely help them create something that fits your needs and speaks to your audience. When I work through these steps, I can design a few options for my cilents’ logos and take a step back and make sure that it’s aligning with the voice that we chose. Will their audience identify with it?

Before I left, I also had a few of you ask me questions that I wanted to answer here in this post!

Q1: My computer doesn’t have photo editing software, so I use Pixlr to jazz up my pictures. Is there a way to upload custom fonts to Pixlr? While it’s a great tool, their font selection is limited. If so, what’s your favorite resource for free fonts? Unfortunately (according to my research) Pixlr does not allow you to load new fonts into their software. However, if you decide to use a different program, I love getting my fonts here.

Q2: How do I find out how to brand my blog when making the logo and naming it? I would suggest first finding a name that you love and has meaning. Perhaps avoid using something that is SO specific to your life journey at this moment. Next, identify a few fonts and colors that you want to use consistently (it unifies your online space). Lastly – curate a list of logos that you love and figure out why you love them. It will help you stay on track with the aesthetic that you love.

Q3: What do you think will be trending in blog design over the coming year. What do you think will be new in layout, design, content (e.g. I’ve noticed a lot of instagram feeds popping up on sidebars)? On the flip side, what would you say makes a blog look dated? Instagram and Pinterest is definitely trending right now. Allowing users to see your IG feed + pin all your images has become quite popular as has having a responsive blog design. A lot of people read blogs on iPads, tablets and smartphones today and if your site isn’t working with those formats – people will leave or get frustrated. As for “dated” blogs – I think that GFC is on its way out (it only works with Blogger), default themes, and small, centered photos with borders seem to top the list for me.

Q4: I would love to know more about the elements of a good website design: i.e. how many colors should be used? How can you organize it so it’s easy to navigate? What kind of web software should you use (WordPress, Blogger, etc.)? I try to keep 3 main colors (with different variations of each) when I create a blog. When it comes to navigation – I definitely use the top navigation for outside personal links, a place for my readers to contact or read more about me. I use the sidebar to keep people ON MY BLOG. You can use your sidebar to get peoples’ attention once they’re done looking at the post and constantly clicking around. Oh and WordPress – always.

I’ve also created a page with free resources + ways to help you get started! Enjoy!

*Top and bottom two photos found on Instagram from some of my lovely attendees 

Announcement: November 2012 Photo Challenge!

I’m excited to announce that I’m hosting another photo challenge! I haven’t hosted one in about 7 months and it’s about time. It will take place in November 2012 and the theme will revolve around the concept of “capturing life.” Here are some of the photos that have inspired it:

[Clockwise from top left: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4]

It’s going to be pretty simple this time. Photograph ANYTHING that you believe captures life. This is a really broad theme and opens it up to lots of interpretation. There are four full weeks in November and the schedule will work like this:

  • Week 1: Start shooting Sunday, November 4th. Submit your photo by Sunday, November 11th at 8pm EST.
  • Week 2: Start shooting Sunday, November 11th. Submit your photo by Sunday, November 18th at 8pm EST.
  • Week 3: Start shooting Sunday, November 18th. Submit your photo by Sunday, November 25th at 8pm EST.
  • Week 4: Start shooting Sunday, November 25th. Submit your photo by Sunday, December 2nd at 8PM EST.

I will post the submissions as a collection each Tuesday after you have all submitted! If you want to see how my past photo challenges have worked, check them out here. Here are some other details:

  • Starting November 4th, you will find a submission button here on my blog (in the sidebar). You must submit through my blog for your photo to be published. It will be an online form that you fill out and attach your photo.
  • Make sure your photo is 600 px wide, .JPG format, & include your website link if you want anything linked back to you.
  • You can use any type of camera that you want! This includes digital, film, iPhone, etc.
  • Feel free to edit any way you’d like.
  • If tweeting or Instagramming about (0r during) the challenge, use the hashtag #capturingLIFE
  • No judges or prizes this time! I wanted this challenge to be more of a fun, personal challenge for you all (and not really a contest). There won’t be a winner – but I will be sharing your photos/links with all my readers every time you submit!
  • No nudity, weird crap, or violence. I have the right to refuse any entry.

Leave a comment below if you’ll be participating and if you have any questions! I’m really excited about this one!

Telling Your Story via Instagram

On Wednesday I spoke at the Ohio Union via the AMA/Cement Marketing here in Columbus. I spoke about how I share my story through Instagram and thought I’d post my talk up here on my blog for those that couldn’t attend! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

Over the years, I’ve realized that I actually prefer to tell my story through photos (I don’t even really love writing or speaking). I use Instagram to tell my story (a part of my story, actually, but we’ll get into that later). I joined Instagram almost two years ago to this day and my first photo was of my dog…sleeping. Extremely riveting, I know. Since then, my participation in this online community has grown a lot and it’s now one of my favorite places to visit.

Because of my Instagram account (and the ability to push photos to Twitter and Facebook), I am able to do a lot of things. It allows potential clients get to know me a little better before jumping into a project. It allows my blog readers to see into my life a bit more. It also allows my friends and family who live far away to be a part of my life. I am always carrying a camera. Lately that camera has been my iPhone 4S.

Before we get into Instagram specifically, I’d love to share a few tips on how to take great photos.

  • Get Closer: Don’t be afraid to crop and compose your shot when taking it. I think a lot of people rely too heavily on the crop tool after they have taken the photo. That can result in more pixelated photos and there’s something really challenging about composing the shot while taking it.
  • Remember the Rule of Thirds: You essentially slice the photo into thirds horizontally and vertically and try to frame the photo along one of the lines. It’s proven that a photo composed this way is much more interesting than a centered subject.
  • Take Multiple Shots:  Sometimes when I’m taking a photo with the purpose of posting it to Instagram, I’ll take 5-8 shots to make sure I have one that I like. Instagram has you crop your photo into a perfect square so that amazing photo you took (vertically) might not always look as good in Instagram.
  • Tap to Focus: Just like when you use a DSLR, you need to make sure your subject is in focus. Maybe the subject is up close, maybe it’s farther away.
  • Be Aware of Light: Choose natural lighting if possible. Move near a window. Avoid using your flash. If you’re trying to take a photo at a concert and the lightshow is amazing, turn the flash off and give your audience a real idea of what your’e experiencing.

The story that I choose to share with others is carefully crafted.

I’m very picking when it comes to posting on my Instagram feed. The story that I choose to share with others is carefully crafted. My audience doesn’t always know every detail about my life. I’m painting a specific picture, just like storytelling. While I’m not necessarily fabricating or lying – I am leaving  a little bit up to your imagination.

Some things that I try to avoid:

  • Posting too many food photos. I have a specific account that focuses on recipes and food photos since I’m gluten-free. Those people can choose to follow that and they know exactly what their getting.
  • Posting photos of other people posed (my followers don’t really connect with them). I tend to post those types of photos to Facebook. I also try to respect peoples’ privacy. If you become that person who will post 50 unflattering photos of your friends…they might stop inviting you to hang out.
  • Posting too many photos of myself. That would get old quick.

When it comes to writing captions, I try to be natural (like I’m texting a friend). Sometimes I tag people if it references an inside joke or a past conversation. Sometimes I ask a question. Sometimes I use a hashtag if it’s applicable.

Ultimately, I treat Instagram the same way that I treat Twitter or my blog or even real relationships. It’s a community and without engagement…it’s boring. I try to respond to most comments (but I’m not perfect at this). I also interact with other peoples’ photos. We get a glimpse into other peoples’ lives and it’s extremely fascinating.

I’ve met so many wonderful people through using Instagram. It’s strengthened my relationships and friendships and for that, I love it! Ultimately (and I’ve learned this through blogging), I’ve realized that:

 

You won’t produce interesting content if you don’t try new things. I must travel, eat at a new restaurant, be outside, immerse myself around interesting things (books, speakers, art) to produce interesting photos. Each time I choose to post a photo to Instagram, I hope that I’m either adding to others’ lives, sharing information or just documenting an important moment for myself. And in the end – have fun with it! Use it to add to your life and your business. It’s one of my favorite tools and I’m excited to see it grow.

Are you on Instagram? What’s your favorite thing about it? Leave your username below!

A Tour

I thought I would share a few shots of our new place! We absolutely love it and can see ourselves staying here for awhile. All the built in shelves and custom detail really add so much character! After I get my new desk in and set up the office – I’ll post a tour of the upstairs.

Thanks for visiting!

Just Keep Swimming

This isn’t a post where I apologize for not blogging in three days. Or where I say that I’m so busy. (Even though I essentially did just say both of those things). I will say, however, that life is moving at a pace that leaves me feeling a bit out of breath // wanting to cry // super blessed all at the same time. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing some lovely photos of our new townhouse before it gets super messy (because I’m a slob) and dusty. In a way, I’m ready for a slower pace to return. Tropical vacation countdown: 11 days!!! Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  1. We moved (as you saw from my brief post on Monday) and it left us feeling utterly exhausted and behind on work. I didn’t realize how much I depend on Internet + weekends before this move. We love, love, love our new place. It’s huge and spacious and beautiful.
  2. I just spoke at the Ohio Union yesterday and shared about telling a story through Instagram. I will be posting my presentation via a blog post on Friday! It went really well but I was definitely nervous.
  3. I got new glasses! Nerdin’ it up! My eyesight is getting worse (and has been continually since I was 7) and so I upgraded my frames from Warby Parker. I love them and look exactly like my mom now.
  4. I saw Fiona Apple in concert on Sunday night and she is FLIPPIN’ insane. So amazing and entertaining but dang she is skinny.
  5. A new Mexican restaurant opened a few blocks from our place and it’s everything I’ve been wanting. Shrimp tacos, coconut margaritas and free self-serve chips. We have been there 4 times in the past 7 days!
  6. I’ll be speaking at The Influence Conference this weekend (Saturday morning to be exact) and I leave on Thursday night for Indy. I’ll be speaking about branding and design for small businesses/blogs. I’m excited, nervous and totally need to practice my presentation a million more times. I’ll be sharing that presentation next Tuesday here on my blog!

Phew – so that’s what I’ve been up to. What about you? Anything exciting going on? If you’re going to Influence – let me know and we can meet up!!

*Oh and the title of this post is just a nice little reminder that I just have to keep on keepin’ on. And that Finding Nemo is awesome.

Settling In

We spent the whole weekend moving into our new place and I’m without internet at home until tomorrow! We’re settling in and I love it already! More photos to come soon…