Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blogging Tips: Resources for Help

"Where I go for help" is a good question.  I have used online resources, even paid for some, and hired a mentor, and turned to my blogging friends.  Growing a blog is a lot of trial and error, and finding help is kind of the same. I hope you find my "mistakes" and recommendations to be helpful - and I look forward to reading everyone's thoughts on this topic.  Also, if you have tips that you have found that work - please be sure to share them in the comments or email me.

There are a lot of free resources out there for help.  If you are willing to take the time to look into them, you can probably find help on just about anything you want.  I am collecting my resources from this series on a PINTEREST board - for quick access later.

All these people offer some free resources - but ultimately they want you to buy their courses (See my "Have I paid for online courses" information below.)

Amy Porterfield - How to Grow Webinar Business
Grow your Blog. Grow your Biz. XO Sarah
Farideh - Grow a Blog
Sage Grayson - Planning resources
Kathryn Hocking - Create, launch, build a successful business
Melissa Griffin (formally Nectar Collective) - Monetize your Passion
Mariah Coz - Femtrepreneur - Grow and Build your Business (for women)

Natalie Lussier - Growing your Blog (subscriber list)
Creative Live - offers a lot of creative courses (from photoshop, photography, growing a blog, turning your passion into a job, etc.)

LIFE COACH resources
When I Grow Up Coach - Turn your passion into a job (find your passion)
Laura Simms- Life Coach

I am part of a blogging group called The Blended Blog.  We communicate through Slack to share our tips, general comments, support, and a lot of conversation.  I have found my fellow bloggers to be one of the biggest resources for help.  My recommendation is to find some internal blogging friends because you are both going through the same things - and can help mentor and guide each other.  And, if you are thinking that helping each other would in some way compete with your own blog - you are wrong.  I have only found other blogs to help grow mine!

I really hate to admit this, but I got sucked in to online fast action gimmicks a couple of times!  I signed up for these "free" webinars to help start/grow my blog, and then at the end of the session, the host offered the entire in-depth course (plus additional resources) for a reduced cost - but I had to sign up before the session ended.  The one course I bought was a legal course, which I actually used. The Instagram course I bought I never really used. I do not have the time or patience to watch endless hours of videos - especially if they involve a lot of dancing/talking/singing and non-productive information.  I prefer to read at my own pace on my own - and I should have known that when I signed up. 

What I found with these online courses was that there was a lot of common sense or things I could have found for free through blogs and other resources.  I have found most of these to be a "get rich" quick scheme for the seller.  The person hosting the class is making a lot of money - and in a sense "preying" on those who want to grow their blog or finds "new" ways to do something that will be the "magical" solution to growing a blog.  I have never really found these courses to pan-out or make a difference. I think it is better to stick to your internal blog community and find "truly" free resources on your own.

A couple of years ago, I hired someone to help me do some business planning. The mentor listened to my business ideas, and then tried to give some direction on the ones to pursue. I can't say I got a lot of specific help, but I did get some help with resources.  I recently reached out to the person as a follow up to share some of the items I had put in to action that we had talked about; however, she was too busy with her own stuff to personally write back or even take a few minutes to look at some of the things I had implemented.  Instead her assistant wrote back and said she didn't have any input - and she was busy writing her own book.  I was a little turned off - and disappointed that she would not even take a few minutes - especially when she was the one that had told me to reach out to her when I had done the things we had talked about - so she could see.  She had "promised" that she would stay connected - and then didn't even give me any time.

So, my advice - be really careful who you may find to mentor you - find out if they are there to really work with you - and help you - or if they are only there to make the money - and then move on to the next client.

Also, check with your local and state governments - our state offers free business mentorship to small businesses.  I have yet to check it out - but it is a great resource from what I have heard.

Next, be sure to "hop" over to Marta at Sweaters, Stripes, and Sweets to hear her thoughts on how to find help with blogging. 

Also, this is week five of our six week series. If you missed the first three weeks, here they are:
Week 1: What to Know Before Starting a Blog
Week 2: WordPress vs. Blogger
Week 3: Social Media
Week 4: Monetize the Blog (Affiliate Programs & Sponsored Posts) 

I am participating in the following link-ups.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Floral Jumper and Off the Shoulder Top

denim jacket_floral jumper_off shoulder top_spring outfit_summer outfit

1. Off the Shoulder Blouse: H&M // 2. Necklace: Kendra Scott (Similar here for under $20)
3. Jumpsuit: H&M // 4. Jeans: H&M // 5. Denim Jacket: H&M ($30)
6. Straw Tote: H&M (Only $18)
7. Sandal: Dolce Vita (33% off) // 8. Eye Liner: Clinique (Free Gift with Purchase)
9. Lip Pencil: NARS // 10. Sandals: Sam Edelman

If I was headed to the beach this summer for vacation, I would definitely want to pick up this floral/paisley jumpsuit or this off the shoulder top. There is also a cute tank for only $13 in the same print.  And, the tote is only $18.

If you read about my washer dilemma a few weeks ago... well, we finally had our new washer/dryer delivered on Friday.  Two weeks without laundry and no preparation (of doing laundry ahead of time) was a bit of a struggle, but we managed.   Thankfully, my husband was willing to tackle some additional plumbing because our shut off valves had to be replaced, and if he had not been able to fix them we would have had to wait even longer.  I am getting used to the new washer - it is so different and much more complex than my previous one.  I just washed a load - and it said it would take 1 hour and 46 minutes - what takes that long? - and why does it take so long to fill with water and intermittently fill with water? It is quite the production to wash.  Plus, we stacked the washer/dryer to conserve space in our room - and they are so much larger in overall size that I have to stand on a step stool to adjust the settings on the dryer - it is just crazy!  Overall though, I am very pleased that I can wash a ton of stuff all at one time!

Also be sure to enter the $200 Target Giveaway (ends May 23rd)

I am participating in the following link-ups.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to Style a LBD

little black dress
EXPRESS ruched tank dress_denim jacket
EXPRESS ruched tank dress_denim jacket

Dress: EXPRESS (Under $30) // Denim Jacket: Nordstrom (Similar only $30)
Watch: Michael Kors // Lipstick: NARS (Heat Wave) // Necklace: Gorjana
Sandals: Jessica Simpson ($10 off) // Bag: ZAC by Zac Posen c/o (Similar here under $50) 

I am back with my little black dress (LBD) again.  This time I am styling it with a denim jacket. (I styled it before with a leopard cardigan.)

Also be sure to enter the $200 Target Giveaway (ends May 23rd)

I am participating in the following link-ups.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How to Style White Jeans

Tee: Topshop // Denim Jacket: Nordstrom (Similar only $30)
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind (7FAM Only $80) // Sandals: Jessica Simpson ($10 off) // Handbag: Michael Kors
Watch: Michael Kors // Bracelets: Nordstrom (Similar here) // Necklace: Gorjana

Today I am back with Style Perspectives and The Blended Blog. Our host this week is Sheila from Making the Most of Every Day and our theme is what to wear to a graduation. Since I will not be attending a graduation ceremony, I decided to put a spin on the theme - and show a casual look I may wear to a graduation open house and party.

I finally found a pair of white jeans that I like. They are not too stretchy, see through, or revealing - they are just about perfect, except for the length. All my jeans are always too long - but the good thing is that I have a Nordstrom card - and they offer money towards free alterations - which is perfect! (Just another perk for having a Nordstrom card! Plus you get access to their July Anniversary sale early.)

I also picked up this Louis Vuitton look-alike bag during a price matching sale at Nordstrom. It was marked down $100 - so I decided to get it.

Be sure to share you graduation look - and join our LINK UP.

I am participating in the following link-ups.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Blogging Tips: Affiliate Programs & Sponsored Posts

how to join rewardStyle_accepted to rewardstyle_shopstyle collective

 TIP #4: Affiliate Programs & Sponsored Posts
Today I am back with Blogging Tips, and we are talking about monetizing your blog through affiliate programs and sponsored posts - either through free products or paid posts.

There is so much to learn - and I look forward to reading everyone's posts.  

Affiliate programs are a way to monetize your blog - by making money based on products your readers may purchase or click on. There are two major affiliate programs that most bloggers use - rewardStyle and ShopStyle Collective. Both programs work by paying a commission based off of products you have promoted on your blog; however, how you get paid commissions differs between the two platforms. rewardStyle pays based on purchase.  So, if someone buys something you post on your blog - then you get paid a small commission from the total sale.  ShopStyle Collective works by paying per click.  So for every link you have on your blog that a visitor clicks, you get paid a small commission.  For both, you have to earn $100 before you are paid, and then for every $100 afterwards. rewardStyle is an invitation only platform; whereas, ShopStyle Collective is open to anyone with a blog.  A few years ago - all of the big bloggers were using rewardStyle; however, within the last year, several of those bloggers have started to switch over to ShopStyle.

Depending on your traffic and engagement - ShopStyle may be the best way to go.  With rewardStyle, you are competing with all the other bloggers that use rewardStyle, whereas, with ShopStyle Collective, you are getting paid as visitors click on your links.

One cool thing about rewardStyle is that it has a great platform that allows for vistiors to shop Instagram posts.  When you post an outfit photo on Instagram, you can link up all the items you are wearing.  And, if your readers have signed up with LIKEtoKNOW.it and they "like" the post, then they will get an email with all the product information.  I have included the steps in this post.

(Note: If you are using affiliate programs be sure to add a disclaimer on your blog that you earn money based on readers clicks or purchases.)

As a blogger, you definitely are approached by a lot of brands - many of them wanting you to promote their business.  Some will offer free products in exchange for promotion on your blog (and social media).  Other companies will reach out to you asking for you to promote their campaign or company for free. I have never worked for free - and I do plan to work for free in the future. It takes time to create a post - and if I am creating a post specifically to promote another company, then I think it is reasonable to expect some form of compensation. 

I am also very selective with the products and companies I work with.  I do not like promoting items or stores that I would not shop at myself.

Also, every free gift is a tax liability, so I do not want to collect free products I do not want, and, then have to turn around and claim them on my taxes as "income".  Most companies and agreements have specific terms for what they expect out of the partnership.  Be sure to pay close attention to the terms of the agreement, so that it does not compete with anything else you may want to do.

Also, it is important when you are working with companies to be professional in your correspondence.  If they have a question or reach out to you, be sure to get back to them in a timely fashion and write a professional message.  You never know what connections they may have - and you never want to burn any bridges.

 Some companies will offer to pay for a post.  Some will have a set fee they will pay and others will ask what your rate is.  For those starting out, a good formula for figuring out your rate is by your number of daily page views.  You take your daily page views and divide it by 10 to get your sponsored post rate.

how to determine sponsored post rate_what to charge for blog post

I have limited experience in reaching out to brands.  A little time ago, I reached out to one of my favorite brands.  It was a long shot - but I had a proposal for an idea I had so I pitched the idea.  I talked to a couple of people.  It did not go anywhere, but I put aside my fear and reached out. 

My tip - is to take a chance.  You never know what door may open and it is better to explore the opportunity than to sit back and wait for them to approach you.

Also, when you reach out to brands, it is good idea to have a Media Kit ready in case they ask for it.  A media kit provides statistics, such as your daily/monthly page views, followers on social media channels, rates for sponsored posts, companies/brands you have worked with, etc.

Affiliate programs typically have coordinators that help to connect you with different brand promotions that might be a good fit.  ShopStyle Collective talks a lot about building these connections, which is one reason I am intrigued with trying their platform.

Hope this information helped.  And, if you have additional questions - please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.
Next, be sure to "hop" over to Marta to read her tips.

Also, this is week four of our six week series. If you missed the first three weeks, here they are:
Week 1: What to Know Before Starting a Blog
Week 2: WordPress vs. Blogger
Week 3: Social Media

I am participating in the following link-ups.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

One Way to Style Leopard Print

Dress: EXPRESS // Leopard Cardigan: old (Very similar here and here)
Watch: Michael Kors // Lipstick: NARS (Heat Wave)
Necklace: Kendra Scott (Similar here for under $20)
Sandals: Jessica Simpson  // Bag: ZAC by Zac Posen c/o (Similar here under $50)  

I am wearing a dress again. You may remember the last time when I styled my $15 striped dress.
(And, thanks to Gina - that is how I found the dress I am wearing - it looked so great on her - I wanted to get it.)  

Also be sure to enter the $200 Target Giveaway (ends May 23rd)

I am participating in the following link-ups.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Blogging Tips: How to Use Social Media

This week on our blogging tips series - we are going to be talking about social media.  

Social media is one of those areas that I believe can really drive traffic and business to your blog; however, it is one of those areas that I struggle with, so I am especially excited to read everyone's ideas this week.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Nordstrom Under $25 Sale

beach hats, summer hats, floppy hats, handbags under 10
1. Floppy Hat: Nordstrom  // 2. Scarf: Caslon // 3. Necklace: BaubleBar
4. Panama Hat: Hinge  // 5. Shirt: Bobeau 
6. Bag: Nordstrom // 7. Knit Tank: Topshop

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Blogging Tips: Wordpress or Blogger

Wordpress or Blogger, how to start a blog, which platform to choose
I am back with week 2 of Blogging Tips. This week we are talking about Wordpress and Blogger.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How to Wear Stripes & New Series: Blogging Tips

summer outfit, casual work outfit, striped dress, tory burch satchel, monogram necklace

1. Off Shoulder Top: H&M // 2. Initial Necklace: BaubleBar // 3. Dress: H&M (Only $13)
4. Jeans: H&M // 5. Satchel: Tory Burch (20% off)
6. Watch: Michael Kors (20% off) // 7. Block Heel Sandal: Shellys London 
8. Lipgloss: YSL // 9. Platform Sandal: Shellys London

Other than leopard, stripes are probably the only other pattern I wear.  Black and white (or beige) stripes are my favorite.  They are classic and pair well with brown.  You can also add a pop of color with red.  I have recently been doing a lot of browsing and shopping at H&M.  They have great prices.  This striped dress that I found is only $13.  It would be perfect for spring layered with a denim jacket or worn on its own in the summer with these platform sandals.

Today, I am excited to announce a new blogging series that is starting today called - BLOGGING TIPS. I have paired up with 5 other blogs (Peaches in a Pod, Sweaters, Stripes & Sweets, Shoes to Shiraz, Doused in Pink, Pumps and Push Ups).  Each week, we will be sharing our tips on everything from starting a blog, to working with brands and where to go for help.  This week we are talking about what we wish we had known before we started a blog.  

Also, our blogging series will be set up as a "Blog Hop"- so at the end of my post, I will link to the next blogger - be sure to hop over to her blog, and then, hop around until you have visited all six of us.