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Blogging

Blogtober – A 30 Day Challenge to Help You Blog Consistently

September 30, 2017

Full disclosure, I am preaching to myself as well as you. I have two blogs, which means I definitely should be a blogging machine. But life happens and sometimes writer’s block is a thing and at the end of the day, new blog posts just doesn’t happen as often as they should.

Good news is, I’m here to help! Blogtober is a 30-day challenge to help you become a blogging boss. You set your own goal and then make a S.M.A.R.T. Plan for it. (Specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound.) The time part is taken care of since our time will be the month of October.

To illustrate the other parts, I’ll give you an example of my Blogtober Goal:

S – Provide consistent blog content for She Be Knowin in the month of October.
M – Publish 3 blog posts a week. (12 posts total for the month.)
A – I’ll achieve this by writing on Sunday and Wednesday every week.
R – Keeping this realistic by not doing too many posts, creating an editorial calendar beforehand and scheduling posts each week.
T – October 1 -31.

So are you ready to get started? Sign up below! There will be lots of encouragement, freebies, and tips to get you going.

 

Sign up for the Blogtober Challenge!

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Design

Where to Find Free Stock Photos (That Don’t Suck)

September 28, 2017
blueberry

As visual creatures, one easy way to appeal to new readers is through gorgeous imagery. If you’re just starting out and have that free ninety-nine budget, here are some places to get some great stock photos.The following sites are sites I peruse regularly for my blogs, websites and social media across my portfolio of digital endeavors. They come highly recommended!

Create Her Stock – CHS was created to fill a void in the stock photo community by providing photos of African American women. There is a repository of free photos, but you can pay a small monthly fee to tap into more awesome photos.

Death to Stock Photos – You can sign up to download free stock photos on a monthly basis. Each month has a different theme, but they are always great photos with a modern feel. They also have a premium version if you just can’t get enough of them.

PicJumbo – There’s a vast number of free photos. I particularly like PicJumbo because it’s searchable. Really great for tech and photos of objects. I haven’t gotten much luck with particular people photography.

Unsplash – Unsplash provides hundreds of crowd-sourced professional quality images for the free.   I recommend checking out their curated questions to get a quick start on finding images for your blog, website or social purposes.

Creative Market – Creative Market provides weekly freebies that sometimes include stock photos. Definitely get on their email list for the occasional catch.

ISO Republic – For someone who loves a very clean, urban aesthetic, this site is a dream. I absolutely love their food and city photography.

Foodie Factor – This website is for food photography, but the photos are downright drool-worthy. Was that a bad pun? Maybe. But you should visit them anyway.

The internet has come a long way when it comes to free images for personal and commercial use. While there are some occasions when I buy stock photos, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a professional, beautiful visual aesthetic without having to pay a cent.

Need help with designed blog graphics? Be sure to email me at info@digital-doyenne.com for your custom quote!

where to find free stock photos that don't suck
How To

How to be Better at Email Marketing in 10 Minutes

August 31, 2017
DSC T27

I’m not going to lie. I just got consistent at emailing my blog subscribers over at She Be Knowin.  For me, emailing always consisted of a lot of insecurity and indecisiveness. First, I didn’t like my email template (but I’m also a designer so I could totally design what I wanted….if I knew what I what I wanted). So I would spend way too much time on Really Good Emails or some other design source to try to inspire my look. Spoiler alert still didn’t know what I want. Second, I never knew what to say. Sending emails sometimes feels like shouting into an abyss, because people typically don’t reply back. So at best, you look at your campaign metrics and see who opened, clicked or unsubscribed each time. (If you’re sensitive like me, I suggest you don’t look at your unsubscribe metric. It will only drive you crazy, wondering why they won’t e-love you.) If you’re fancy, you also linked your email marketing to Google analytics so you can see how deep they got into your website before leaving. But that will probably be another lesson for another day. The point is, a single email included so much self-inflicted distress that I never saw myself wanting to do it in a consistent manner.

And that may be you too.

But I have seen the light, and I’m here to help you too. See, I made my email marketing so easy that I had absolutely no excuse not to do it. So easy that I can do it from the palm of my hand, which means I can get it done anywhere from inside a boring meeting to on my new adult couch that hold so near and dear. I’m going to show you my workflow for my blog, but you are welcome to apply the general concept to any email marketing you do.

To get started, you’ll need just two apps:

Canva

MC Snap

In addition to a Canva and MailChimp login, you’ll also need a good source for photos. For my blog, I typically use CreateHER Stock and Adobe Stock for my featured blog promo images.

First, I created a “template” in Canva for all my email images. Since MC Snap optimizes for mobile first, I choose their social media image size.

Canva has a lot of great layouts, so you don’t have to overthink the design.

Bam! I have committed to my layout and don’t plan on leaving it until I do. Please note, I did the initial setup on desktop Canva. Moving forward, I’ll be able to access this design both on my app and on the desktop.

Another note, since I use this for blogging, I typically already have my feature image uploaded to Canva from making my other social posts. This is a time saver, most definitely.

On my phone, I simply swap out the image and text I need on the Canva app and save to my photo album.

Next up, I head over to MC Snap. The email layouts are very simple so I don’t have to overthink my email design. Keep it simple and get stuff done, stupid. (KISAGSDS, if you were wondering.) MC Snap is so simple that you do most of what you need to do for your email is on one page. One possible drawback is you only have an opportunity for one link/button. For emails that are meant for sharing a blog post, that’s not a big deal to me.

After you fill in the main email details, you get to choose from one of 5 layouts. From there, you select which list you send to and Presto Bingo, you’re done!

Now that you’ve gotten the basics, you’re well on the way to more consistent and better email marketing. Want to get in the learn more about what makes a great email? Sign up for your FREE 5-day course on better email marketing! In this course, I lend my 5 years of experience with advertising agency and freelance digital marketing to teach you how to rock your emails. You definitely won’t want to miss this.

 Rock that Email Marketing

Signup for a FREE 5-day course on better emails. Future you will thank you.

 



Social Media, Tips

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Joining (Yet Another) Social Network

June 14, 2017
socialmedia

Periscope. Snapchat. Twitter. Instagram. Google Plus (heh). Facebook. Pinterest. StumbleUpon. Reddit. It’s easy to get caught in the rat race of social media presence as a blogger. However, when you only have very limited time it doesn’t benefit you or your readers to have a lackluster presence on every social network. Before deciding to join yet another social network, be sure to ask yourself these three questions.

Is my ideal audience on there?
So, it would do me absolutely no good to put my super pink, super girly blog She Be Knowin on Reddit. Pretty sure nobody there really cares about my latest Scandal recaps or cross stitching things. My ideal audience for that blog is young millennial women that can be more easily found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

Do I have time for this network?
I’ve basically had a Periscope since it started, yet I decided that it is not a network I have time for. The amount of time it would take me to reach a “camera ready” level just seems like too much to me. Now I will take a moment to talk out of the other side of my mouth and say that it’s a good idea to reserve a social media account with your brand name so no one else can get it. I personally work best with social networks that allow me to schedule posts ahead of time, so Facebook and Twitter are always a given. Work smart where you can is my motto when it comes to blogging as someone who has a full-time occupation.

What unique value can I bring through this social network?
In addition to your posts (everyone posts their posts), decide what you can bring to your audience on the social network. Is it funny memes, motivational “pick me up” type posts, or a unique take on current events? Whatever it is, take a moment to think of how you can best benefit your audience and have them seeking your page(s) out for me.

Still not sure which social media networks would be good for your blog? Contact me at info@digital-doyenne.com to schedule your social media consultation.

Tips

Self Care for Entrepreneurs and Bloggers

Young female blogger working at home.She sitting in her working room and typing something on laptop.
Whether you are a full time or part time blogger or entrepreneur, it’s safe to say that you probably wear a lot of hats. When you’re trying to get a lot done, the last thing on your mind can be taking care of yourself until you find yourself completely burned out. Here are some four tips to keep in mind to help you avoid burnout.
Take Time for Reflection
Pause throughout your day to check in with yourself. This is an exercise for self-awareness but also gives you a chance to address potential problems before they get bigger. Having a visual reminder (even a post-it that says “how are you feeling?”) also helps you get in the habit of regular self-check-ins.
Know When Everything Becomes Too Much
Everyone has their breaking point and it’s safe to say you are not the exception. Keep an eye out for warning signs before you reach burn out. The American Institute of Stress has a great list of 50 symptoms to help you evaluate.
Welcome Distractions, or At Least A Few Every Now and Then
We all get moments of intense passion/tunnel vision and spend hours on end working on something. The problem is when you have that spouse/kids/pets/episode of Scandal that is also vying for your attention. Everything in moderation is my motto. Reward yourself for your genius with short breaks spent with the people (or things) that matter most.
Get Active
Find something you enjoy away from the computer screen (can we say eye fatigue?!) and be sure to do it on a regular basis. Take a walk, do some yoga, ride a bike or do a class you enjoy. Our bodies crave balance, so it’s great to counteract our sedentary business activities with some physical activity as well.
And that’s it for now! What are some other ways you practice self-care as a blogger or entrepreneur?
Social Media

Tools to Help You Boost Your Instagram Presence

March 15, 2016
girl makes selfie
Instagram recently announced plans to shift their algorithm from its current chronological style to a style that prioritizes high engagement posts. To many social media managers, we knew that the honeymoon phase would one day end. After all, Instagram is owned by Facebook and Facebook has been manipulating news feeds for years in order to make a “pay to play” game out of content marketing. This change will be particularly hard for new Instagram accounts, as you work hard to gain followers as well as doting fans through your much agonized over graphics of lunch and motivational quotes. But, as your helpful social media friend, I have a few tools to help you get engagement and get your content in front of others. In the future, it will be important to create visually appealing content, optimize your hashtags and post when your followers are online to aim for the best engagement.
Image Editing
 
So people clearly love to see beautiful photos. If you live in a dark, windowless apartment like me, it might not be easy to get the perfect lighting every time. Here are some of my favorite editing apps to help.
Color Story is one of my new favorites from blogging superstars A Beautiful Mess. It has a great amount of filters to help you show your pictures in your best light. Also the hashtag #colorstory is getting a lot of love in the Insta world so if you use it, flaunt it!
VSCO is the best image editing app in my opinion. I typically forgo the filters and just use the photo settings to get the picture just how I like it. #vscocam is the accompanying hashtag and it gets a lot of love too.
Relight is a recent app I’ve started using. Like I said, dark apartment and desk cube calls for special help in lighting. This one is $3.99 but if you have the Starbucks app I found it in my free downloads.
Hashtag Planning
 
One way to get found by the right audience is to use the right hashtags on your posts. There are some hashtags that are pretty “one size fits all” such as #instagood and the world-famous #love but for the most part you want to tap into things that closely fit your niche.
For a starting list of suggestions based on niche, this is one of my favorite blog posts on Instagram hashtags by Latergramme, a popular Instagram scheduling tool.
Hashtagify is a great tool for finding the top 10 hashtags on your specific topic. I would say use your best judgement to decide which are most relevant to you and search as specific as possible.
Iconosquare is another tool where you see how popular a specific hashtag is. You can also use it to view metrics about your own account.
Timing and Scheduling
 
Timing is everything. You can post at 3pm but if most of your followers are at work doing work things, they’ll probably miss your post (especially with the new changes). Plan ahead and use one of these apps to post on the go.
WhenToGram is an IOS software that lets you know when your followers are on Instagram most. They allow you to schedule your posts out and remind you when it is time to post. However, this currently lacks a computer and android interface.
Latergramme is the industry leader when it comes to semi-free Instagram scheduling. It’s free for up to two accounts and is available for computer, IOS and android. The free version only allows 30 posts a month, but if you are planning to use once a day you should be just fine. Like WhenToGram, they don’t post for you but provide a reminder when it’s time to post.
Hootsuite also allows you to schedule Instagram and optimize for best timing. Like the other two, they only remind you when it’s time to post. If you’re looking for an option that manages many facets of your social media presence at once, Hootsuite is your guy.
Bonus tip: Facebook has several blog and Instagram support groups that can help you get engagement for your page. The main investment is your time as you typically have to reciprocate the engagement in the groups, but it’s a great boost for certain posts as you need.
Hopefully these tools will ease your mind in the face of the new changes. Do you have any other tools you use for Instagram?