Summer Succulents – Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper Freebies

During the summer it’s easy to get distracted with fun in the sun but sometimes that’s okay! Just a little time in your own backyard can be so refreshing. This is a photo that I took in my parents’ yard last summer, it’s seriously an oasis back there, my dad has such a green thumb, unlike me. I hope y’all enjoy this new design and some time away from the screen.

Summer Succulents Desktop Freebie

This design is now available for free as a desktop, ipad and iphone wallpaper over on the Whimseybox blog! Hope you enjoy and if you use any of my desktop designs, I’d love to see photos, just tag me on Instagram or send me an email!

Summer Succulents

Growing Your Blog By Positioning Yourself As An Expert

Just two weeks ago me and these lovely ladies got up in front of the Alt Summit crowd and chatted about growing a small blog.
Alt SLC Summer Thursday Morning

If you came to our panel at Alt Summit, here is our slide show as promised! And if you were not there, or need a refresher, here is an overview on what I spoke about, growing a small blog by positioning yourself as an expert! You can download the worksheet we handed out, and then work while you read this post.

Growing A Small Blog

I’m sure y’all have all heard the advice to blog about what you know and love – it’s usually the first piece of advice you’ll get for blogging and I don’t think anyone will deny that as a great starting point. But I want to take it a little further by talking about positioning yourself as an expert. One of the main ways I’ve grown my blog is by sharing tips from my experiences in graphic design, social media and running my own small business.

I use the term “expert” loosely, because obviously I don’t know everything about these topics, but I am passionate about them and I do have a degree in graphic design and have been working in the industry for eight years. So I probably know more than the person opening Photoshop for the first time or who just signed up for Twitter last week.

So basically, you don’t have to wait for somebody to call you an expert in order to give expert advice.

Give Expert Advice

I’m always getting questions through email, on social media, and even from friends and family, whenever there is something design related they know they can come to me. And I’m sure the same happens to y’all from time to time. Maybe people are always asking you about how you put your outfit together or asking for your recipe when you cook for them. That’s people showing that they value what you know and trust your opinions.

So if you find that people are consistently asking you a about the same topics, it’s likely they would become a reader of your blog if that’s what you focused on. As your name starts to get associated with a specific field, then your network will start to grow.

Ok, let’s move onto a strategy for coming up with content:
First you have to figure out the types of problems that your readers are having in your field. So, using the worksheet in the download, jot down a few things that you enjoy doing and that people always ask you about. What do you know that can benefit other people?

What Do You Know That Can Benefit Others

So for example, I’d be writing down that people ask me about the fonts I use and other design related questions and how I made the switch from working at an agency to full-time freelance. Remember – no problem is too big or small to write down.

Then, once you know the challenges your readers are having, you can come up with a plan to turn those problems around into solutions.

Growing Your Blog Content Strategy

Here is an example of how I determined my readers problems and then solved them by writing an additional post that I didn’t originally intend to:

When the Facebook layout was updated two years ago to the timeline it was a pretty major change. It was much more design oriented with the large cover photo and app tabs. If you remember, they even allowed users to preview their changes before they had to commit for good so that everyone could ease into the new design. I decided to jump right and update the few different pages that I manage. As I was designing the cover images and doing the updates, I anticipated that my readers may want to hear some ideas on how to keep their pages consistent with their blog or business branding, so I wrote a blog post Design Tips for your Facebook page.

I ended up getting tons of questions beyond the design aspect of people wanting to know how to actually install the apps I was using. So every time I got a question, I was stopping in my tracks and individually responding to them all with detailed instructions in an email.

As much as I’d love to be able to answer every question one-on-one like this I realized it just wasn’t realistic or a productive way to work. So I decided to write another post with step-by-step instructions for installing the apps which has ended up being one of my most popular posts. Turning reader questions into blog posts is now one of the ways I build my editorial calendar.

If you find people still have questions after you write about it, you can take it further and create a blog post series or even teach a course or write an e-book focused on digging deeper into certain topics. That’s actually something I recently did, I wrote a guide on planning a local event series because I needed to go more in-depth than a blog post would allow. And this helps even more to position yourself in your field.

Now I know some people are new to their field, so if you are just getting started, you can write about things that you are interested in learning more about, classes you are taking or things you are teaching yourself along the way. You can have this learning experience with your readers.

Have A Learning Experience With Your Readers

But you never want to risk losing credibility. So if you’re not quite certain of something, just let it be know that you are experimenting and figuring it out as you go, because you don’t ever want to put incorrect information out there - you don’t ever want to lose your readers trust.

Do Not Lose Your Readers Trust

Now I’m going to give you guys a few formats and examples that I find work well for showcasing your expertise:

- how-to posts or videos
• Merricks Art
• Pugly Pixel

- provide valuable resources
• I’ve shared resources like My Favorite WordPress Plugins
• I love to share my favorite fonts

- curated posts
 theme thursday from Oh, What Love
• round ups like products used to create on-the-go on The Fresh Exchange

- featuring others
this is a great way to show support and recognize others doing a good job in your field

- lists
these are really easy for your readers to share, especially on Twitter
• ByRegina
• Elembee

When you’re able to solve a problem for someone, they feel like you’ve given them insider tips & tricks and in turn form a stronger bond which makes them more likely to come back for more because people appreciate free advice.

People Appreciate Free Advice

But don’t feel the need to do it all or try to imitate somebody else. Don’t post what you think people want to hear if it’s not something you truly enjoy writing about.

I don’t really know anything about fashion but do share style posts from time-to-time, because it’s fun for me, but that is not how I have grown trust from readers and my readership over the past four years. It’s been by positioning myself as an expert. It’s not easy and it won’t be an overnight success but as Stan Smith Says, people need experts.

People need experts. They have value because they have done the research, legwork, and training that we can’t do on our own.  Not only that, we rely on experts to see further down the road than we can.  We cherish their insight and lean on their wisdom.  Having an expert means that you can shortcut the process and achieve your goals quicker.” – Stan Smith

So now, looking back at what you wrote earlier, write down a few topics that you could write about that will help to position yourself as an expert.

Because before you look to other blogs for things like guest posts, advertising or giveaways you need to get your own blog in a good place. Consider what you do really well and what you love and start sharing that compelling, informative and unique content.

Share Unique Content

Download the full slide show here and then head over to Mariah, PJ, Melissa and Tan’s blogs to read all about their parts of the panel!

PJ Feinstein – Growing a small Blog through Self Promotion and Networking

Mariah Danielsen – Growing a small Blog through Guest Posting on Other Blogs

Melissa Bahen – Growing a Small Blog through Collaboration

Tan Rutley – Growing a Small Blog through Social Media Collaborations and Giveaways

Do you have questions or tips of your own? I’ll answer them in the comments!

first photo was taken by Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit • slides by me

What I Wore // Snowball Season

Summer time in New Orleans also means snowball season, woo hoo! As soon as the heat hits, so do the cravings! Snow cones got nothin’ on a snowball y’all! Unlike sno cones, the ice making up a snowball is shaved very finely resulting in an incredibly soft ice. My favorite snowball spot is Plum Street, it’s a small shed-type store that’s right in my neighborhood. They serve their snowballs in Chinese take-out boxes with a plastic bag on the bottom to catch any syrup or melted overflow. I usually keep it simple with cherry but when I mix it up I like dreamsicle or add condensed milk!

Ciera wearing olive shorts, yellow top and brown leather bag

Plum Street Snowballs New Orleans Doors

Ciera eating snow ball

coral nails + jewel necklace + snoball

Ciera Sipping Snow Ball

Plum Street Snowballs New Orleans Menu and Syrups

coral nails + yellow top + jewel necklace + snoball

photos of me by Hannah Colclazier from last summer / photos of Plum Street by Jasmine Holzenthal / ring c/o Dixi

Shop Similar

That’s A Wrap: June + My Life Lately

June has been full of emotions for me, I’ve been excited, exhausted, nervous, ecstatic, sad, relieved, lonely and surprised, in no particular order.

Alt SLC Summer Thursday Night

Speaking at Alt Summit was very nerve-wracking for me, I promise, I’ll expand on my experience in a post soon. And then maybe the biggest news since I started this blog, I got engaged to my boyfriend of eight years! He had to leave the day after to travel for work for 5 months, so that’s a bummer but I’m super excited and of course, started a Pinterest board immediately (well, a few, I can’t lie to y’all)!

Alt SLC Summer Thursday Night

And remember my Vacation Dreaming post? Well, my dreams are coming true! While I didn’t win a vacation, my travel plans did work out, so next week I’ll be heading to Spain then France (whoa, mini freak out) to work from abroad for three weeks! I’m so thankful that I can pack up my computer and work from anywhere. It’s going to be challenging but I can’t wait for the adventure!

Alt SLC Summer Thursday Night

Plus lot’s of great stuff happened on the blog and around the web:

- Hosted two Made In Mind events, an Etsy craft party and a Letterpress Workshop
- Opened pre-sales for The Meetup Guide - only a few days left of pre-sale pricing!
- I guest posted on Design Sponge on How To Hold a Networking Event
- The lovely Kory wrote a review on The Meetup Guide, you can read it here.
Backyard Tin Can Fence Garden
Summertime Freebies
DIY Gold Toy Animal Globes
The Business Cards of Alt Summit 2014
- Remember Greco Design Company from May? Well Lori has been up to a lot this month too! Her blog is full of awesome backyard DIYs so go check it out!

Alt SLC Summer Thursday Night

 All photos from the Alt Garden party by Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit.

The Business Cards of Alt Summit 2014

Hi y’all, I’m back from Alt Summit! I know I said I was going to take a blog break while I take in all the information but I couldn’t wait to share some of my favorite business cards from the awesome bloggers and brands I met while in Salt Lake City. I have linked to all of their sites at the bottom so click around for some awesome new people to follow, I still have some exploring to do myself! I’ll also pop back in soon to tell you all about the panel I spoke on, Growing A Small Blog!

Alt Summit Business Card InspirationAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Card PartyAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Cards Black White GoldAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Cards - Oh What Love StudiosAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Cards LetterpressAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Cards - The Collaboreat

Everyday ReadingPaper Bandit Press / A Girl Named PJ / Demi + Olive / Christina Williams / Love Grows Design / Simply Sadie Jane / Peter Loves Jane / Fresh & Happy / Carlsbad Cravings / Oh, What Love / See Jane Blog / And We Play / The CollaboreatHudson and Emily / Candice Stringham / AVE Styles / Spitfiregirl / The Nectar Collective / Lynn Byrne /  Celine Navarro / Annie ReevesSquirrelly Minds / Delineate Your Dwelling / A Thousand ThreadsCourtney Khail / Janna Wilson / Capella Kincheloe / Design Improvised / Red Poppy Photo / The Glamorous Housewife / Hollyhocks & Honeybees / Wendy Walker Cushing / Collectively / Fry Sauce & Grits / Marigold Haske / A Ruffled Life / Antisparkle / if we met and I missed you here, please let me know!

P.S. If you went to Alt and are missing out on all the fun, like I am, why not start a smaller scale gathering in your city! I’ve compiled all the lessons I learned when starting The Made In Mind Social into a new e-book — The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan and Host A Local Event Series. It’s now on pre-sale with a super discount! If you want to start your own local event, this e-book will guide you through the whole process, start to finish.

Off to Alt!

Off To Alt Summit

So I’m off to Salt Lake City for my second Alt Summit today! And incase you missed the memo, this year I’m speaking on a panel! You can check out all of my posts from when I went in 2013 here and keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter! If you’ll be there, keep an eye out for me and please do say hi. This photo is from the plane when I went last January.

Once I’m back, I’ll be on a bit of a blogging break while I let information overload settle in and catch up on work, but I’m sure I won’t be able to stay away long!

P.S. I launched pre-sales on my new ebook: The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan, and Host Your Own Local Event Series. Grab it now while it’s over 50% off!

P.P.S I got engaged to my boyfriend of eight years on Saturday!

The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan and Host Your Own Local Event Series

The-Meetup-Guide-Presale-Image

Ever wish you could get together with inspiring, like-minded people right in your city? Maybe you’re looking to network, collaborate, or simply make some new friends. If that perfect local event doesn’t already exist, how about starting your own?

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, there’s no need to start from scratch.

I’m sure y’all have heard me talk about The Made In Mind Social here on the blog before. If not, it’s a local event series that my sister and I created last year. Every other month, we gather creatives from around the area to meet and mingle, celebrate and connect.

Prior to founding Made In Mind, I didn’t have any experience with event planning. I had to ask a lot of questions, do tons of research, and learn through my own experiences. I really wished I had some kind of how-to guide to lead me through each step of the planning process.

So after a year of hosting events, I created an e-book to do just that! The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan, and Host Your Own Local Event Series, walks you through the who, what, when, where, why, and how of starting your own local meetup.

The-Meetup-Guide-Overview

The book launches in July but pre-sales are open now at a super discounted price! It’s over 50 pages packed with actionable information, valuable insights, tried-and-true tips and worksheets to help you get organized and make things happen! It even includes tips and interviews with other creatives who have started events like Chelsea Foy of Lovely Indeed and Shauna Haider of The Blogcademy!

Simply put, if you’re looking for a resource to guide you through the process, this is it! Ready to plan your own local event?

Purchase The Meetup Guide

Don’t want to deal with naming and branding your event? Starting a Made In Mind chapter in your city may be a great option for you!

The Made In Mind Social Chapters

 

DIY Gold Toy Animal Globes

How To Make Gold Toy Animal Globes

So a few people asked about the globes I made for the safari baby shower I shared a few weeks ago and they were actually really easy! I had some glass globes left over from this air plant terrarium project and thought they’d be super cute as a table display! I purchased the toy animals from Amazon, then just primed them with white and spray painted them gold! I sprinkled a little bit of course gold glitter into the bottoms of the globes and just carefully placed the animals on top after they were dry. The ones I made were not permanent, but you could easily glue everything down if you were planning to re-use them!

painting toy animals gold gif

DIY Gold Toy Animal Globes 1

DIY Gold Toy Animal Globes 2

DIY Gold Toy Animal Globes 3

Table Confetti c/o Minted

Vacation Dreaming

Vacation Dreaming

RCI 35 Year Logos2

Thank you RCI for sponsoring this post. For a chance to make your vacation fantasies a reality, enter RCI’s Win Your Dream Vacation Sweepstakes by 6/18/14!

 

Did you know that even the vacation planning process alone boosts happiness? Just the anticipation of a vacation boosts happiness for eight weeks. My friend Dominique just wrote about how she used to take European vacations with her mom without ever leaving home, so sweet! While the planning process and faux vacations are a ton of fun, it’s still important to truly get away every once in awhile. I’ve got the itch and I’m actually in the process of planning a dream vacation right now! I was super fortunate to study abroad twice while in college, but I haven’t been back to Europe since, bummer. Well, my best friend since 7th grade told me she was planning a trip with her sister and I invited myself along, haha! Who knows when someone else I know will be taking a trip like this and I didn’t want to miss out! While I’m not 100% sure I’m going yet (because of my budget), like I said, the planning alone has got me all excited! The itinerary looks something like this: Madrid, Barcelona, Marseille, Nice, Paris. I’m really hoping I can make it work!

The Parker Palm Springs

Lucky for me AND you, RCI (the global leader in vacation exchange) is hosting a sweepstakes to celebrate their 40th anniversary that allows you to plan your dream vacation (and they will be giving away 40 awesome vacation prizes)! I just planned mine, it took 5 minutes, so easy! First you select your vacation type (beach, gold, skiing, family, city or cruise), then your destination, extras (all inclusive, rental car, spa etc.), then how many people you want to bring and there you have it, your dream vacation is in the works!

  • One lucky winner will win the grand prize vacation of their dreams (worth up to $25,000)
  • 39 others will win other amazing vacation prizes
  • Don’t forget to share your vacation on social media for additional entries!
  • Sweepstakes ends on June 18, 2014

If you’re ready to get that ‘vacation planning’ happiness boost, RCI’s Win Your Dream Vacation Sweepstakes has you covered. (And seriously, would anything make you happier than winning a dream vacation?)

What would your dream vacation be?

Thank you for supporting this blog by allowing me to post occasional sponsored content. All sponsored posts feature products or services that I truly feel would be of interest to you. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.