Hope y’all had a great weekend! Just a little inspiration for your Monday!
I bet a lot of you guys have heard of the Altitude Design Summit. If not, it is a conference for design-minded folks. Bloggers, lifestyle brands and the companies that want to connect with them — get together to network, discuss theory and love on all things design. If you’re obsessed with lifestyle, food and fashion blogs, fantastic images, smart ideas and great design inside and outside — all wrapped up with a social media bow — Altitude Design Summit is the place to be!
I’m sure many of you, like me, can not make the financial commitment to attend this event (as amazing as it would be)! So, in an attempt to meet the needs of those who cannot make the trip, Alt has added an Alt Channel to make Alt Summit available to everyone, everywhere, all year long! Mind. Blown. Each week you can take classes from blogging and social media experts, the same kind of high-quality topics and content that you’ve come to expect from Alt Summit! I have attended a few of these classes and they are absolutely amazing and only $15, yep!
Alt also has a new blog! They have been busy at work building great content about business, blogging, photography, design and all kinds of useful information to help you do better, what you do! Pretty much every post on the blog is super helpful but I’d like to share some of my favorites!
Creative people can be a little … different. This article does a great job of explaining that creative people act different because they operate a little differently. Read more…
Your blog is constantly being visited by search bots (a.k.a. spiders, crawlers, robots). Their job is to read your content, and determine what you’re writing about. That information is then added to the databases of search engines, and pulled up in search results when relevant. Read more…
Simple styling will always lead to a successful project! Unless you are a trained stylist, focus your DIY styling to be simple, basic, and bold. Read more…
And In Related News!
I’m so happy to announce that the new Alt blog has featured three of my post, 8 Tips for Great Blogging, Design Tips for Facebook Timeline Pages and How to Manage an Effective Online Life! AND I’m currently working on a social media series for them as a guest contributor! I’ll let y’all know when those posts are up on the site! Update: Here they are!
I’ve had a few readers ask how I developed a blog readership and for some advice on getting their names out there, so I wrote up this list with some tips and actions to take!
1 – Blog about what you know
I think the most important advice I can offer for someone wanting to grow their blog is to focus on what you love and what you are passionate about. Blogging about what you know insures that you will have valuable content.
Tips & Actions:
– determine the purpose of your blog and stick with it
– don’t feel the need to do it all or try to imitate somebody else
– post quality content frequently
– don’t post what you think people want to hear
– teach a webinar or create a blog series focused on your talents
2 – Get personal / Be real
People want to know YOU, the person behind the blog. People will read your blog if they like what you have to say, that’s all there is to it.
Tips & Actions:
– enjoy what you’re doing and don’t get wrapped up in the details
– share something personal (this can be as simple as sharing your favorite book)
– write the way you speak
– don’t take yourself too seriously
– be true to yourself and what it is you want to share with the world
– add a photo of yourself to your about page
– be accessible (either list your email address or add a contact form)
3 – Create a space worth following
Not only is your content important but your actual blog design is too! Maybe it is just the designer in me, but I am drawn to simple layouts with big pictures.
Tips & Actions:
– have a blog design that you love and that feels like “you”
– use images in your posts (preferably original imagery)
– develop your own style and have a consistency to your design, writing style, content and photography
– only have pertinent information in your sidebars (too much information tends to confuse readers and takes the focus away from your main content)
4 – Invest time for Online Networking
This is a huge one! Online networking allows you the opportunity to engage your readers in real-time conversations and let them get to know you a little better.
Tips & Actions:
– get active in online discussion groups and chats
– comment on other blogs (but only if you have something to add to the conversation). Those comments make people’s days, I speak from experience on that one!
– respond to comments on your blog
– never leave a mean comment (you would think this goes without saying but I have seen some mean things out there)
– get to know your readers
– blogging is a community – support one another, make blog buddies, have conversations and collaborate
– participate in blog hops (also know as link ups)
– try not to auto post – tailor your introductions for your post for each social network
5 – Learn from the best
This is something that I did in the beginning. I spent time researching my favorite blogs and I still make sure to follow other blogs that inspire me.
Tips & Actions:
– don’t be afraid to ask others for help (but be careful asking other bloggers to post something on their site – this can put the person in a tough spot)
– find 5 bloggers similar to you and study how they use networks and learn best practices from them
– reach out to bloggers you admire
6 – Guest Post and Sponsor
“Guest posting” means writing and publishing an article on someone else’s blog. There are three main perks to guest posting: it introduces you to new communities, builds relationships with other bloggers and it’s great for search engine optimization. Guest posting gives you the opportunity to give new audiences a little sneak peek into your blogging style and content. Advertising (often called sponsoring in the blogging world) is also a great way to promote your blog to new people. Many blogs offer ad spaces in their sidebar and will introduce your blog to their readers throughout the month. Some bloggers even include guest post opportunities in their sponsorship packages.
Tips & Actions:
– sponsor one of your favorite larger blogs
– sponsor a few blogs with similar readership numbers (I recently switched my sponsoring over to Passionfruit and they have a great marketplace of bloggers using their network)
– trade sponsor spots (this is a great option if you don’t have money to spend on advertising)
– ask a blogger that you are friends with to guest post
7 – Give your readers choices
I think this is something that is easily over looked. You may assume that everyone reads blogs the same way you do, but that is not the case! For instance, I have never followed a blog through Google Friend Connect since I’m not on Blogger. I usually subscribe to an RSS feed (and read in Google Reader). Someone else may only follow blogs on Facebook, so you need to have these options available and easily accessible.
Tips & Actions:
– give your readers more than one way to follow you and add easy to find links on your site
– starts an e-mail newsletter
– put links in your email signature and wherever potential visitors are likely to see it
8 – Network Offline
A lot of times we get so stuck on networking online, we forget that we can promote our blogs in real life!
Tips & Actions:
– conferences are great for connecting with others who have similar interest
– if you have extra time try to join a non-profit organization. A lot of small business owners/professionals are involved in them and you meet a lot of people out in the community
– make sure you have business cards and hand them out when you meet someone new
– find some local groups to join through MeetUp.com or start your own!
– create an elevator pitch (a 30-60 second short summary to quickly and simply define your blog, business, what you do, etc.)
Great blogs are products of a passion for life and a lot of hard work! Don’t let others fool you, blogging takes time. If you write about what you love and grow yourself first, your blog will follow!
If you have any other tips please leave them in the comments!
A few readers have asked about my methods for staying organized as a freelance designer. Working from home can be difficult but here are some simple methods that I use. Overall, I try to keep it simple because the more difficult you make the solution, the harder it is to keep up.
No Such Thing as Too Many Calendars or Lists
I have used both Wunderlist and TeuxDeux for task management and love them both! UPDATE: I recently started using Todoist since I can add tasks directly from Gmail and really liking it so far! All three options are FREE and sync with your iphone! This is really a personal decision on how simple or complex you need your system to be.
iCal works best for my events and meeting. I really like that you can create multiple calendars, set alerts as messages or emails and it syncs right to my phone.
Last but not least, I’ll always have sketchpads and notebooks around. No matter how many lists and reminders I have scheduled on my computer, I still need to have written reminders, by my side, at all times… and I like the feeling of crossing items off. I also keep a separate paper calendar for blog post scheduling.
Easy Access for Supplies
I love using pretty cups or jars to keep my clips, washi tape, pens and office supplies organized. It keeps my desk neat while I still have easy access to supplies.
Photos At Your Fingertips
I upload all of my photos to Flickr and organize them into Collections and Sets. I also use Flickr to host most of my blog photos. It is an easy way to keep backup copies of images and a great way to search through old photographs.
Delicious comes in handy for bookmarking blog posts or articles that I find inspiring or want to remember. I add tags to organize them into categories and personalize each link with my comments. You can choose to keep your links private or share them.
Pinterest boards are a great way to keep track of visual inspiration and pretty things in one central location.
Feedly is where I keep track of all the blogs I follow. You can save posts to read later or add tags to organize them. It’s a great way to save your favorite blog content.
Files, Files, Files
On the Computer:
Folders, I use lots of them and color code like crazy. When clients hire me for a design job, it’s important to keep everything organized. If I need a file a few years from now, I will not have any trouble locating it.
Dropbox is a free service that is great for accessing your files from multiple computers and for sharing files. Anything you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones and even the Dropbox website.
In real life:
I use a file cabinet and binders to store paper files. I have a basket that I drop everything in until I get to file it properly. I also use flat files for loose inspiration, reference materials, samples of work I have done and any artwork or larger files.
Get Timekeeping and Billing Straight
Billings keeps me sane. I use it for timekeeping and invoicing. If I did not have a timer running I would never be able to keep track of how long I was spending on something. Once a job is complete, I just mark the tasks as done and send an invoice right from there! I really don’t know what I would have done if I never discovered this.
Rescuetime is my new favorite thing. It’s a personal analytics service that shows you how you spend your time and provides tools to help you be more productive. It runs securely in the background on your computer and mobile devices and then sends you weekly updates!
Sync It and Back It Up
It is important for calendars, contacts and files to be synced and backed up! Keep your really important files backed up on TWO separate drives or an online system, Dropbox can also be used for this. I use LaCie external hard drives and Mac’s Time Machine for my backups. I just plug in and don’t need to think about it again! UPDATE: I added Backblaze to backup system, it automatically backs up everything on your computer except your operating system, applications, and temporary files and store is securely online!
This is what works for me and hopefully it can be a starting point to help you discover some methods that work for you! Is there anything you think I left out or would like to hear more about? Just let me know in the comments below!
Top left image via Poketo all others are by me. Some affiliate links are used but these are all products that I use and love!
Pantone declared Tangerine as the color of 2012, but Mint seems to be taking over right now if you ask me. With Spring approaching, I have been daydreaming of breezy days in the sun and I realized that I really love tangerine and mint together… it is a fun, bright and energizing combination!
How do you feel about this color combo?
Two weeks ago my friends and I threw an awesome day-o-fun (shower & bachelorette party) celebrating Chelsea’s engagement! I had been collecting images on a Peacock Party pinboard and planning for months and it finally all came together. Here are some of my favorite inspirational images and I’ll be sharing the invites and fun event details soon!
Another item crossed off of my 30 before 30 list! Be sure to subscribe to the Ciera Design RSS feed or follow me on Twitter so that you don’t miss out when I post the invites and party pics! Visit my Peacock Party pinboard for image credits.