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!

5 Tips for Last Minute Holiday Parties

Danny and I don't throw a lot of parties. Living so far outside of a town, we don't have company over very often. When we do, it often feels very last minute: we'll get a text from a friend, or a cousin, or maybe even a brother, and then they'll be at our house. We always try to have something ready--bread in the freezer, something we can throw in the oven, or snacks we can put out. 

For the holidays, it's nice to throw the occasional holiday party. But if you're like me, you forget until the last minute--say, two or three days before and suddenly you remember you have a bunch of people coming over. And they expect food and maybe drinks. 

Here are a few ideas for making any last holiday parties a hit. 

1. Offer easy, do-it-yourself food and drinks. 

My favorites are mimosa bars (a variety of juices and champagne), bagel bars (a few varieties of bagel, two varieties of cream cheese, and some toppings), or baked potato bars (if you're looking for a heartier option). This way, you can just set everything up and that's it. Offer plates, napkins, and that's it. Less work for you and more fun for everyone else. 

2. Minimize clean up by buying what you can. 

Prime example: if you're having a bagel bar at a New Year's Day brunch, don't make your own flavored cream cheese. Bless, it'd be nice, but it's not worth it. Buy the little tubs of flavored cream cheese. Buy dessert items to stack on a tray if you're already making a dinner, or buy the appetizers. Pick the thing you want to make and then cut yourself some slack on the rest. 

3. Keep the decor simple. 

Here are a few ideas for simple decor ideas. My favorite is filling a glass vase with holiday ornaments. There are plenty of ways to make your space a little prettier for a holiday party fast: clean it up, get it organized, and then have one or two cute pieces. 

4. Light a candle.

Get the house smelling like Christmas. I'm talking a Kitchen Spice or Tis the Season scented candles from Bath & Body Works. Something that smells like you've been baking up a storm. It will make your house feel homey and inviting. Perfect for the holiday season. 

5. Relax.

You don't living in Martha Stewart's magazine. Really. You don't. It's ok if you didn't get the kitchen totally decluttered; it's ok if you didn't get a chance to make the entire party look Pinterest worthy. We don't live in magazine editorials. We live in the real world. And your friends and family will probably love you even if the cream cheese is still in the tub you bought it in or you didn't decant the orange juice into a fancy container. It's fine. Celebrate!