Marketing

5 Tips for Managing Your Blog's Facebook

5 Tips for Managing Your Blog's Facebook Page

I'll be the first to admit that my blog's Facebook page is often the last thing on my list. I can stay on top of Twitter and Instagram easy; Pinterest, I tend to fall behind on; and Facebook? If I have time, I'll throw a post Facebook's way... but not usually. 

However, I've been researching and researching to find out the best ways to manage Facebook without actually spending a ton of time on it. My time is limited and I'd rather have my 30 minutes of relaxing by scrolling through Instagram than having an extra 30 minutes of work (is that lazy?). Here's what I discovered. 

1. Use a scheduling tool that doesn't suck. 

The secret to managing social media, as most people know by now, is using a scheduling tool. I'm on the record as hating Hootsuite; it's probably my least favorite app, and yet, it's insanely popular. It's ugly; it's wonky; and accounts constantly need refreshed to stay connected. No thanks. 

I recently started using Later and it's a game changer. Later allows you to connect 3 accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are my go-tos) and you have about 30 posts per platform per month in the free version. That's one for each day. Not bad! Later is also visually based, so it allows you to store your best photos and use those, instead of having to constantly uploard and re-upload each individual photo. Genius. 

2. Pick a schedule that works for you. 

Some articles suggest that you should post on Facebook as much as possible. Obviously, this naturally increases your reach--but it doesn't necessarily increase your engagement. In fact, it puts you at risk of annoying your followers. I post once every two days on Facebook (when I, uh, make the effort) because I just find this works best for me. 

3. Write Facebook-specific content. 

Occasionally, it's nice to write a Facebook-specific post--like a special announcement, a giveaway, something, anything. You can promote it in your other social media channels, but since Facebook has a higher character limit, it's a great place to play with micro-blogs and experimental content (like, say, a baking feature you've been thinking of adding to your lifestyle blog). 

4. Tease blog posts. 

Facebook is a great place to tease future blog posts: to provide that little sneak peak at what's coming next. Again, you can promote these sneak peaks on other social media channels, but thanks to that character limit, Facebook is a great place to get feedback and hype people up.  

5. Don't stress about numbers. 

One thing I've learned from my day job is that Facebook numbers deviate more than any other social media channel. Facebook's algorithm (like Instagram's these days) is incredibly wonky. Some days, I will have only blogs I follow have posts in my timeline; the next day, it's all my mom friends. There really doesn't seem to be a correlation. So above all else, if the numbers jump around week-to-week, don't stress about it. It will even out! 

10 Quotes to Use on Instagram

I've written before about how I struggle with Instagram captions. It's definitely a challenge for me to write engaging content both on my blog and on so many social media platforms! But I'm trying... I started thinking recently about quotes that can be used in captions to add a bit of humor, thought, and, of course, engagement. I found a few great ones on Pinterest that I thought would be perfect to share. 

  1. Everybody has a chapter they don't read out loud. 
  2. Better an "oops" than a "what if." 
  3. "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." ee cummings 
  4. We look up at the stars and see such different things. 
  5. "Maybe one day we'll finally learn to love ourselves and stop apologizing for the things that make us who we are." R.M. Drake
  6. "Of course I feel too much, I'm a universe of exploding stars." S. Ajna 
  7. We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone. 
  8. You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we're ready to see it. 
  9. Don't let someone dim your light, simply because it's shining in their eyes. 
  10. When it rains, look for rainbows. When it's dark, look for stars. 

For more great Instagram captions, I always turn to Pinterest. You can follow me here


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How to Write Better Instagram Captions

Instagram is a social media platform that I really struggle with. I don't like themes (expect a post on this soon) and I don't really get the need to make my house, or life, or child, or self, seem perfect. Sometimes, I feel really jealous over curated Instagram profiles because it just seems to take so much work

One of the most challenging parts of Instagram is writing captions. Seriously, captions. I can have a good photo and a good idea. But then I'm stuck, staring at that caption box. Like, what do I put here? What works? 

I gathered up a few resources to come up with a few ideas. Here they are. 

1. Write to engage. 

This is something I struggle with. When I post photos, I try to post something I think is funny or related to the photo. But on Instagram, when it comes to getting people's attention, there is a benefit to writing something that engages other people. This is a great post on doing just that

2. Be brief. 

Does this feel like it is at odds with that first point? A little bit. But here's the truth: it's possible to write engaging captions, without going on for sentences. I definitely try to keep my captions two sentences or less. Although I follow some great accounts (like my friend @poesyross) who use longer captions to great effect. For more about writing with brevity, click here

3. Make sure to edit. 

This goes without saying: before you hit post, make sure to proofread. I've definitely hit post before write as I notice a glaring, huge typo on my post. Oops. Not the most professional looking, for sure. For more on editing for length & more, click here

4. Use a quote. 

Here's the thing: sometimes, there just aren't words. You have a great photo. You know what time you need to post for maximum engagement. You have everything ready. Except words. Grab your favorite (related) quote, add a question, and post it with your favorite hashtags. Easy peasy. Pinterest is a great source for great quotes. Click here to view some

3 Ways to Improve Your Flat Lay Photos

It took me a long time to get good at flat lay photos. I have some doozies on my Instagram from back in the day. I've just recently started to get good at it... probably because I only just recently started really, you know, trying. Mainly, I started spending a lot of time looking at flat lay photos that I like (you can view a collection of them on my Pinterest) and really figuring out how to do it. 

A few notes: 

  • I really believe in having your own "style." A lot of flat lays seem to follow a similar formula: white or marble background, gold or rose gold accents, truly random props. I'm not into that. I use two plaid scarves as my backgrounds because that feels a little more "my style" for Fall and Winter. Come Spring, I'll figure something out. 
  • Don't feel the need to take flat lay photos if you just don't like them! I like them: they're simple, they're pretty, and the more you practice, the easier they are to take. 
  • It doesn't have to be perfect. You don't need a DSLR. I use my iPhone. 

Ok, let's talk tips now. 

1. Have the right apps 

I use my iPhone to take all my flat lay photos. Here's why: It's easier. I can take one really quickly while Forrest is halfway destroying my kitchen, then get back to business. I take photos with my iPhone camera. I have the grid option turned on--you can turn this on in settings--because it helps center things and make sure you're getting a good angle. Then, I edit using A Color Story from A Beautiful Mess. You can use a variety of filters (and buy some extras), but I use the same filters every time: Magic Hour (25%), Ginger Tea (25%), Disco Ball (50%), then either Everyday (50%), Lite Bright (50%), or Ruby Haze (50% or less). If you feel your photo wasn't taken in the best light and has that slightly "yellow" look, you can adjust the white balance in A Color Story as well. 

2. Take photos near a window. 

Point blank: the best light is indirect sunlight. I take photos in my bedroom, with the curtains open, on my bed. So set up your photo station near a window and snap away. If I miss daylight hours (which I often do), it's a bust: I'll never be able to edit photos taken at night, under artificial lights, to look as good as I want them to. Sometimes, I still post them anyway, but only when desperate. 

3. Crop accordingly. 

I think the number one mistake that I continue to make is feeling like I should't "crop" a photo. But sometimes photos look better when you crop out extra space. Prime example: When I post flat lays of books (like this one or this one), I end up cropping out a lot of "extra space" so you can focus on the cover. Don't be afraid to crop and that means, maybe cropping something partly out of the photo (like I cropped out my Kindle partially in this photo). 


Most importantly, don't be afraid of being perfectly imperfect. Like if your nail polish is looking rough. Or it's something you don't want to, um, put down on the ground. Or if you son decides he wants the book you're trying to take a photo of. It's ok. It doesn't have to be perfect. It's just Instagram! 

5 Tips for Starting a Newsletter

I launched my newsletter in mid-December, so when it comes to newsletters, I am by no means an expert! However, if you're looking for someone who is working through the process in real time, I'm the blogger for you. If you're wanting to launch your own newsletter, here are a few tips, from one newbie to another. 

1. Pick a platform you know. 

I was very lucky that I knew how to use an email platform previously. Mailchimp was what I had experience in and even though I know there are actually better platforms out there, I went with Mailchimp simply because I knew it was easy to use. If you don't have experience with email platforms, I highly recommend doing a little research beforehand, watching a few videos, and knowing what you're getting into! 

2. Stick with a schedule. 

Pick a schedule to start with--nothing too strict. Once a month, or every other week. Put those dates on your calendar and start a document with topics so you're never scrambling at the last minute. I've signed up for a few new newsletters and ended up getting inundated with emails in the first two weeks--bloggers get excited about their newsletter and end up sending out a ton of them early on. Not only is that really annoying for subscribers, but you'll end up getting exhausted at the amount of work you're putting in! 

3. Don't expect instant success. 

Here's the thing: it will take a while to get into a groove with writing newsletters. It's important to remember that it will not only take time to build your subscription list, but it will also take time to write newsletters that people really want to read. Focus on writing great content and figuring out what your readers want first--not necessarily on being instantly successful! 

4. Promote (of course). 

Funny thing, but you've got to promote your newsletter! I have sign ups on my blog, but I also tweet a link to sign up at least every few days. Encourage your friends to sign up and to share it on social media as well. Promotion is the only way you'll get anywhere, so don't just set it and forget it! 

5. Have fun

Listen, it's not the end of the world if you launch a newsletter and it ends up falling flat! Most importantly, just have fun. Send the newsletter that you would be excited to see in your inbox; write the things you want to see. When you are passionate and having fun, it will resonate with people! 

And of course, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter, sent out every other Wednesday, here!

6 Tips for Surviving Internships

As you all remember, internships were my bread and butter for several months of my life after graduating college. At one point in time, I was working part-time at a grocery store deli and doing three (yes, three!) internships at once. It was exhausting. 

I learned a lot from doing internships and more than anything, I gained experience that made me seem invaluable to employers. With new graduates every year, there are a new league of unemployed and terrified graduates who have no idea what they are doing and no idea where to start. Hopefully, these tips can be a help to them. 

I'm certainly not an internship expert, but I do know a few things. These tips are for current students, new graduates, and anyone who is wanting to start a new career. 

1. Yes, you do need to do an internship or two. 

Or seven, in my case. In college, I did two substantial internships, but I was a rarity. A majority of the people I knew did one internship, or independent study, as they were considered the same thing. This, unfortunately, means there is a substantial portion of college students graduating with one three-month period of professional experience. That's... not great, guys. Do an internship; if you can, do two. If you really can, do more than two. Do as many as you can when you are in school and can afford it. An internship can be anything, really: writing articles on the side for a local publication, volunteering your services as a local animal shelter, or working the counter at a women's shelter. There are tons of internships out there that are not in offices. 

I realize this is hard for people who are paying for school, and housing, and everything else, entirely by themselves. You might feel you have to decide between part-time (or full-time) work or an internship: one benefits the now, one benefits the future. Which leads me to...

2. Do know that you'll have to make sacrifices. 

Something like 99% of internships are unpaid. And paid internships are basically like fighting a gladiator: the very, very lucky receive paid internships. That's not to say "don't apply for paid internships"; it's more of a "don't put all your eggs in one basket" life tip. 

If you need to work part-time, but you want to do internships to make sure you get a job after college (which, really, I hope that's why you're in college), know that you'll need to make sacrifices. This applies if you're a new graduate working a weird part-time job, as well. You'll basically be working over full-time, but only be paid for part of it. You'll be exhausted, but the experience is ultimately worth it.

One last note on this: I know this is an unfair and messed up system. But, here's the thing: it's easier to tear down a broken system from the inside. Once we're all the CEOs and leaders of the world, we can change this--and I'm 99% sure we will. For now, however, these are just the facts, as crappy as they are.  

3. Do know that you can use part-time job experience to impress employers. 

Do you worked through college, or the months after college, at a retail job, while doing internships? Don't tell potential employers you were just doing internships. Say the reality! "I was going to school full-time, working part-time at McDonald's, and then I did 3 internships in 6 months." Excuse me, but that's impressive. What did you learn working that hard? What did it make you realize? What skills did you gain (prioritizing, budgeting, time management)? These experiences can be used to your advantage. Don't be humble. Brag. 

4. Do know that you can consider blogging an internship or even a job.

I always include my blog on my resume. I always talked about what blogging and social media has taught me and how I could apply those skills to the job I was interviewing for. For this reason, keep your blog up: keep it professional and make it awesome. In short, make your hobby count for something and know how to talk about it, professionally, in interviews. 

5. Do know you can e-mail any business asking if they need interns. 

So, you can't find any local internship opportunities. What's stopping you from emailing local businesses to see what you can offer them? You're not asking for money. Ask if you can job shadow, or intern, for a week or two. Ask if you can at least meet them to talk. Mention why you're interested in interning for the company and what you hope to gain from it, and why only they can offer it. People love to feel special; make HR feel special when they receive that email. 

When I first graduated, I spent hours applying to jobs and emailing local businesses -- mostly PR and marketing firms, some publishing companies -- I wanted to work for. I heard back from some; I never heard back from others. But it was a way to introduce myself and set myself apart. If they do have job openings in the future, I can always slyly mention that I emailed them as a new graduate and how I'm still so excited to have the opportunity to work for them. Sneaky, huh? 

6. Don't think internships are magic job machines.

They're really not. I did seven internships after college and it still took me eight months to a get a job that didn't include orthopedic shoes. It took me another nearly two years until I got a job in my field. An internship is never going to magically get you a job; you'll still have to work for it, remain interesting, and interview well. And sometimes, the timing has to be just right.  

In short, when it comes down to it, internships are an important stepping stone for entering the real world; you can't ignore their importance, but they certainly aren't magic. Work hard, do your best, and no matter what, do things that will set you apart from the crowd, whether it's starting your own freelance business or managing an amazing blog.

How to Get Experience in Content Marketing

I sort of accidentally fell into content marketing. When I graduated from college, I had the dream of being a copywriter or copyeditor. I was a bit crushed to find out that copywriting and copyediting jobs are extremely rare where I am--I had to accept that and readjust. I ended up focusing on social media writing for a while and my first jobs were very focused on writing social media. 

As I got more into my current job, I fell more and more into the content marketing world--not that I knew it was content marketing or even what that term meant. It was all an accident. When I finally decided to become an expert at email marketing (a request from my boss that I took to with gusto), I had no idea that what I was doing was learning as much as I could about content marketing. 

But that's what I was doing. 

For those out there wanting to have careers in blogging, marketing, or writing, content marketing is something you should know about, understand, and have experience in. But when it comes down to it--how do you actually get experience in content marketing? 

I was hired at my current job because of my blog. Do I have the most popular blog out there? No. Do I have a curated Twitter or Instagram? Absolutely not. But I produce content, consistently, every single week and I interact with my followers. These two things, when it comes to real content marketing for real businesses, are what matters. 

Here are a few tips for getting into content marketing. 

1. Subscribe to a few newsletters. 

I really love Contently newsletters. I learn so much about content marketing from them every single week. However, I actually get about 20 content marketing newsletters every week--Contently just happens to be my favorite! You'll find your favorite eventually. Google, subscribe, and read them every day to learn as much as possible. 

2. Put time and energy into personal content. 

If you're a blogger, looking to get into a marketing job, dedicating time to good personal content will make a huge difference. Showing that you know how to publish consistent, high-quality content will go a long way. 

3. Write your own content marketing plan. 

A content marketing plan, for me, includes a few things: your blog schedule and plan, your social media plan, and your email marketing plan. I'd venture to say that most bloggers don't have an email marketing plan, but you can certainly write a plan for your blog and social media. These plans will cover the types of content you like to write about (lifestyle, fashion) and the style you use to write (what kind of images, graphics, tone, etc). I love writing content marketing plans, so if you'd like help, send me a tweet

7 Tips for Starting a New Blog

This post was originally published on my old blog, Ellipsis, over 3 years ago. I've learned a lot since then, so I've adapted the post to fit the current blogging climate. 

When I started my blog, I really didn't have any advice to turn to. I started blogging because I wanted to be just like Gala Darling (cringe!) but I've definitely grown since then. I see a lot of talk about advice for new bloggers. Here are my simple, 7 tips after blogging for almost 10 years. 

1. Start with clean, simple design. 

No matter what platform you use (Blogger, Wordpress, etc.) pick a theme that is clean & simple. I see a lot of "cluttered" looking blogs -- huge headers, double sidebars, crowded sidebars... it's incredibly overwhelming for readers! I'm a firm believer in less is more & I personally like designs that have one sidebar with a clean, organized look -- not too many icons, no random text, etc. Beyond that, remember to pick a readable font for your body text! The other day I went to a new blog that used cursive as the body font, that was near impossible to read. 

2. You don't need a fancy camera. 

I love my Canon Rebel t2i, but honestly, I don't use it as much as I used to! Most of the time, I use my iPhone to take photos or I use stock photos from websites like PicJumbo and Unsplash. If I'm writing a review post, I'll use my Canon to take those -- but an iPhone or point-and-shoot camera takes photos that are just as good. Remember, you don't need perfect photos -- just photos that clearly demonstrate what you're trying to show! 

3. Content is king. 

Your content matters -- from formatting to what you're actually writing, your content is the most important piece of your blog. The other day, I clicked to a blog that has 1000+ followers & had received a box of samples from Benefit -- really! -- and the first paragraph of that blog post? About 30 lines of text with not a single period. It was so stream of consciousness and it read horribly. Content matters. The amount that businesses pour into content marketing makes that very clear: write good posts and you will reap the benefits. 

4. Pick 2-3 social media platforms & use them to their advantage. 

Most of my traffic comes from Twitter and Pinterest. I also get a lot of traffic from Google+, which I don't even really use! Lots of people try to use every social media network, but that's not really necessary. Pick the ones you like best & work them! Post consistently, post intelligently, and post your links! (And if you decide to use Twitter, participate in chats whenever you possible can! I like #lbloggers, #fblchat, and #blogtrends the best!) 

5. Network. 

The blogging community is just that--a community. My blog is primarily read by other bloggers. If I find a blogger doesn't interact with the community, I'm much less likely to read their blog! It's totally fine to be busy, but replying to people on Twitter, asking questions, participating in chats, joining communities... it'll help you go further in the long run. 

6. For Love, Not Money. 

Ok, I have something to tell you: the blogging bubble has burst. There are just too many bloggers. It is certainly possible to have a creative career, but blogging will only be one part of that. To be truly successful, you have to have multiple streams of income if you are an entrepreneur: you can't rely on just a blog or just an etsy shop. You have to establish multiple ways to be successful & work hard at all of those things. Have passions, hobbies, and a career outside of blogging. It will all fall into place someday! Don't blog to get rich -- you'll only end up disappointed! 

7. Be yourself. 

This is something I cannot stress enough. I see so many blogs that are just carbon copies of each other. You don't have to have the perfect, pin-worthy home, an expensive camera, or new everything all the time to be successful. You just have to be yourself. When you blog in a way that is genuine to who you are, you will be successful.