In Entrepreneurship on
February 1, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to DIYing Your Brand (As a Non Designer!)

I truly believe that hiring a designer for your blog or business is the best option. They know what they are doing, and it helps you look so much more professional in the long run. But, sometimes that just isn’t possible, unfortunately. Today I want to share some different ways to DIY your branding and brand.

The Less Expensive Way

Okay, so maybe you have a little bit of a budget to spend on branding. The less expensive way is by buying branding kits from any of the amazing designers online. The places I like to search for these are Etsy and Creative Market. Here are some of my current favorites:

Pink & Gold Glitter Branding Kit

$34.54+

Neutral/Green Branding Kit

$33

Rose Gold Branding Kit

$34.95+

I recommend finding a branding kit that, at the minimum, includes the following:

  • Logo
  • Website/Blog Header
  • Branding Style Guide that at the minimum lists colors and logo, but one that includes some free fonts is even better!

These are some fun extras that you can typically find in most kits:

  • Business card/business stationery
  • Social media icons
  • Social media tabs
  • Social media headers
  • Website tabs
  • Patterns

The Free Way: Step By Step

Note: Creating your branding as a non-designer is a long, thought-filled process. If you don’t feel like you have the time to dedicate to really investigating what you want your brand to be, I recommend saving up and purchasing one of the branding kits above!

Step 1: Answer Some Questions

Sit down with a notebook and at least an hour. Spend some time exploring what this business/blog is going to be and answer the following questions:

  • Who is Your Brand? If they were a person, what would their qualities, demeanor, etc be?
  • What Colors Represent Your Brand?
    • Use resources like the psychology of color (check out this post!) and visual platforms like Pinterest to help you with this.
  • Who’s Your Ideal Audience? Where do they hang out? What do they like to do? What fuels their fire?
  • What Are Your Business’ Core Values? 
  • Who is Your Competition? What Sets You Apart?
  • What are Five Adjectives that Sum Up Your Brand?

Once you have answers to these questions, read through your answers. Circle and highlight the things that stand out the most to you.

Step 2: Create a Moodboard

Using a free program like Canva or PicMonkey, create a mood board! A mood board is essentially a collage of photos, like this one I created for my natural health and wellness blog.

I had identified that I wanted a dark, jade green and a copper/rust color incorporated into my blog. I also wanted a sense of calm to overcome readers as they were reading my blog. It’s mostly about mental health and wellness after all! The images I chose included my colors and made me feel calm.

Step 3: Choose Your Colors & Fonts

This is where the fun part begins. Using your mood board as a guide, pick out some of the most prominent colors that you feel like really identify your brand. These are your new branding colors!

Then, since we are on a mission to use completely free programs, identify free commercial use fonts to use for your business/blog. Google Fonts is an excellent resource for free commercial use fonts. Or a simple google search for free commercial use fonts will yield hundreds of thousands of results.

While choosing your colors and fonts, it’s a good idea to ensure you are keeping a record of the Hex # and font names somewhere. I recommend somewhere like Google Docs or Microsoft OneNote. Somewhere with easy access and cloud storage.

Step 4: Your Logo

The logo is probably the most important part of branding. It is the thing that defines your brand. My A with a halo was created for me years and years ago and is still one of my all-time favorite things to this day. If you are truly artistically challenged but don’t want to spend any money, I suggest creating a typographical logo. This is a logo that simply says your business/blog name in one or two fonts.

Or, you could purchase a premade logo that goes along with the branding you created. Or even more fun (for people who like to design things), you could purchase a vector image to use in your logo, like a watercolor circle, or leaf. The possibilities are honestly endless!

Thanks for reading!

In Entrepreneurship on
January 29, 2018

How I Plan Quarters at a Time – And Why You Should Too

Some of my favorite days each year are the days I sit down to plan the next quarter. I usually will look at the upcoming year in January and map out how I want the year to go, but my quarterly planning sessions in December, March, June, and September are when I really sit down and map everything out, from blog posts to tweets to Instagram stories to e-book and course releases.

Why

Planning quarters at a time gives you the ability to actually plan for big projects like courses without flying by the seat of your pants. I used to plan monthly, but I felt like I was still behind and unsure of what the upcoming month held for me. Planning by quarters takes just one or two days in the month before the quarter begins. It allows you to plan around big events in your personal life, like vacations or other needed time off and allows you to focus on just those upcoming months.

How

From beginning to end, here’s what my quarterly planning sessions tend to look like.

  1. First I gather all of my materials. This usually includes opening up OneNote, Asana & Trello on my computer. I use all three in conjunction with each other, but for different things. I’ll go into more detail about that one day soon. I also gather my paper materials, like pens, highlighters and my various journals and planners.
  2. The first thing I input into my various calendar’s are personal things, like trips, big events and social events I already know are happening. Putting these in first helps me avoid planning a launch on the day I leave for a trip to Mexico.
  3. The next thing I focus on is big business-related events. I have various courses and e-books I want to release in this upcoming year. I’ve already mapped out their yearly plan when I planned in January, so this focus is the in-depth schedule for the next three months. Other than blog post & video planning, this takes up a majority of the time.
  4. Next, I add in blog posts for the next three months. I post twice weekly on Angelic Abbie and once weekly on Naturally Angelic, so that means I need around 24 blog post ideas for Angelic Abbie, and 12 for Naturally Angelic. I simply come up with a title and jot down any relevant information, but I don’t work on outlining those posts until the week or two before I write them.
  5. Next, I add my video schedule. I try to post videos on Angelic Abbie twice a week and Angelic Sims three times per week. Angelic Sims videos are easy to plan since they are just episodes of series I’ve already started, but I need 24 different video ideas for Angelic Abbie. Blog post and video planning take up at least a solid four or five hours of brainstorming.
  6. Next, I brainstorm email list content. This is something that I’m working on for next quarter since I took a little break from my email list these past few months. All of my various networks need email content, but since it’s shorter and easier to write, this takes less time than blog posts or videos.
  7. Lastly, I brainstorm social media ideas. I like to share interesting stuff on my Instagram stories, as well as on Instagram itself, on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I add in my to-do list for social media stuff and then I have officially planned out my quarter!

These are a lot of steps, but they seem to come naturally to me since I am such a planner-oriented person. I love planners, whether they be online or physical. If you want to learn more about each of the devices/planners I use, let me know and I’d be happy to do some posts on those!

Thanks for reading!

In Blogging on
January 24, 2018

How to Make Your Blog Audience Obsessed with You

Having a blog audience that comes back for more time after time is key to getting your blog to the next level. You want your blog audience to love you and what you offer. Here are some actionable ways to make your blog audience fall in love with you and your blog.

Know Your Audience

During branding, this is a key step. Depending on if you DIY’d your branding, or used someone who didn’t touch on this, you want to sit down and figure out who your ideal audience is. Who are you writing for? Why? Why should someone care about what you are writing about?

For example, I run a travel blog with my boyfriend. We talk about our travel tips and experiences and our ideal audience is someone who desires to or already does travel like we do. Our ideal audience is people that are interested in all aspects of travel, from the actual transportation to get you to your destination to whatever activities you have planned once you are there.

Once you know your audience, it’ll be easier to create content that your audience needs and loves. If Nate and I started writing about sewing randomly, that’s not something every member of our audience would necessarily be interested in, and the post would most likely flop. We could even lose readers since we strayed so far from what they knew to be what our blog focused on.

Share Personal Information

And no, I’m not talking about your address or something weird like that. Allow your readers to see who you are as a person and not just words behind a screen. That’s part of why blogging became so popular. Blogs are written by real, seemingly normal people who share information on a website that could potentially help people.

Let people see who you are. Share personal information and anecdotes throughout your posts, and make sure you have an ‘About’ page that really allows people to get to know who you are. Depending on your blog’s niche and personal comfort level, it can vary just how much personal information you want to share, but typically the more the better.

Be Present on Social Media

If you are only using Twitter and Facebook to promote your latest blogpost, you’re doing it wrong. Interact with people, post status updates relating to what you’ve been up to lately and use those platforms to make valuable connections with people who will come read your blog.

Two platforms that are newer in the social media world that can be really helpful for making those personal connections are Instagram Stories and Snapchat. Both platforms allow you to post seconds long videos and pictures of whatever’s going on around you. See a pretty sunset? Post it. Eating a breakfast that looks good? Share it! In today’s social media obsessed world, sharing what you’re up to can help bring people to your blog and keep them coming back.

Thanks for reading!

In Blogging, Social Media on
November 21, 2017

How to Schedule Social Media to Save Time

Social media is one of the biggest assets for a blogger, but also one of the biggest time sucks. I’ve experimented with tons of different ways of scheduling and posting things to social media, and while many of them took hours of time, I think I’ve developed a social media plan for my business that seems to work. Today I want to share with you how you can schedule social media to save you some time. (PS – this post focuses mostly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I’ll be doing a post soon on how I schedule Pinterest posts using Tailwind!)

Evaluate

The first step in developing a social media plan is to evaluate what you’re currently doing. What’s working, and what isn’t? Maybe you schedule all your tweets, but feel like you try to do too much on Instagram, and it’s taking up hours of your time. Figure out where you’re struggling and apply these tips to those problem areas. Also, pay attention to what platforms your audience is using and responding to. If you’re spending hours on Facebook scheduling, but less than 1% of your traffic comes from Facebook, that’s a huge waste of time!

Figure Out What You Want to Post (and when!)

The next step in your social media scheduling adventure is to figure out what you want to post. Do you want to recycle old posts on twitter? Do you want to only promote new posts? Or maybe you want to do promotion manually, and just schedule fun facts and quotes. Whatever you want to do, grab a sheet of paper or use your computer and write out everything you want to be posting regularly, and develop a schedule. You can use resources like Pinterest to tell you when you should be posting, and what you should be posting.

Decide on Your Scheduling Tool

Twitter

I use Buffer for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram scheduling. I’m able to view all of my accounts in one area and it just overall keeps things less busy and stressful for me. Buffer has a free plan, as well as a paid one, and I use the paid one. If Buffer isn’t your thing, there are a few other options. HootSuite is a very popular tweet scheduler. HootSuite also has a paid and free plan, depending on how many users and accounts you need. HootSuite also has some features such as analytics and content curation. Tweetdeck used to be its own company but has since been acquired by Twitter. It allows you to schedule tweets, respond to messages, see activity and see notifications all on one screen.

Facebook

I use Buffer for Facebook as well. Facebook also has its own built-in scheduler, which I think should be used as much as possible, since the algorithms favor posts made on Facebook and not through an outside tool. If you aren’t a fan of Facebooks scheduler, you can use Postcron or Hootsuite.

Instagram

Instagram schedulers are recently becoming fairly popular. I use Buffer for Instagram, but of course, Instagram doesn’t allow it to post for me, so I have to post when it notifies me. It’s not my favorite thing, but the Instagram algorithm doesn’t like scheduling apps to begin with, so I like posting it myself anyway. Later is an awesome Instagram scheduler, and even has a free plan for 30 pictures per month. Later also has really neat features with their paid plans, such as link in bio, which enables users to click the links from your Instagram pictures just by clicking one link in your bio.

How I Schedule My Social Media

For Twitter and Facebook, I sit down each night and schedule a handful of posts. It takes me about a half hour, sometimes less. I’ve tried scheduling for weeks at a time, but I find it ends up taking me hours and hours to come up with content for an entire week, but if I’m just scheduling for one day, it goes by quickly.

For Instagram, I sit down once a month and plan out images for my various accounts. I use Photoshop to put the images together to make sure they fit my ‘theme’ and then once a week, I schedule those images using Buffer and post as the app notifies me. This is what currently works for me, and maybe it can work for you too!

Thanks for reading!

In Entrepreneurship on
November 2, 2017

How & Why You Should Have a Contract in Your Online Business

Having a contract in your online business is essential. You and your client need to be signing a contract every time you perform services or do work for any client. Today I want to share with you why you should have one and also how you can create one.

Why

Essentially, having a contract helps avoid any issues and helps prevent you from getting screwed, put simply. We’ve all heard the horror stories. “I didn’t have a contract and my client refused to pay.” “I didn’t have it in my contract and I ended up doing hundreds of dollars of work for free.” It amazes me that in today’s day and age, people don’t have contracts that go into extreme detail about everything in order to protect themselves.

In addition to making sure that you’re getting paid for the correct services and are making sure the client is aware of all moving parts, it also makes you look so much more professional. A client should know that signing a contract is protecting them just as much as it’s protecting you. A client should see a professional with a contract as much more trustworthy and professional than one without.

A contract ensures that not only is the client doing what they are supposed to do (paying you), but you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. A contract should outline everything you’re doing and everything the client is doing. This way there is absolutely no confusion, and things can’t get said or did later on.

How

The first way to create a contract is to write it yourself. There are tons and tons and tons of articles online that can be of help in writing a contract. This is the most budget friendly option, and honestly, when you’re first starting out, it may not be essential to have a lawyer look over your contract. If you can afford it and that seems like an option, it is a great one.

The second way to create a contract is to hire a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer to write a contract can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to do your research and find one that’s going to be extremely helpful and one that is knowledgeable in your area of business. Something that is less expensive than a lawyer, and usually less personalized, but will get the contract writing done and done correctly, is a website such as LegalZoom. In addition to contract writing services, they offer a ton of different types of legal assistance and is a great tool for growing and maintaining your business.

Lastly, I wanted to talk about my favorite ways to get contracts signed. The best way is to do it in person, but for much of online business that just isn’t possible. I’ve experimented with a bunch of different signing tools, and here are some of my favorites.

The first tool that I’ve played around with is DocuSign. It starts at just $5 a month for 5 monthly contracts and goes up from there, adding features like personal branding. They have a mobile app, making it easy for people to sign with their finger on their phone.

The second tool that I’ve experimented with is HelloSign. I think HelloSign might be my favorite, only because I’m a huge aesthetics person and their layout is fantastic. Their plans start at just $0, for only 3 documents a month. If you only have a couple clients a month, this is an awesome deal. For unlimited, it’s just $13 per month. It’s insanely easy to use, and also links with Google Drive, meaning people can literally sign right from their Gmail. I love integrations with products I constantly use, so this is a big advantage for me.

The last tool I have not experimented with but thought I’d mention in case the above two aren’t quite right for you. It’s called Agree, and also has a great interface and a mobile app where people can sign documents with their finger. Agree also features online payments, which may be an awesome tool if you wanted to combine contract signing and payments all in one app. They have a free plan which enables you to have 3 active contracts and a processing fee for payments of $0.30 + 2.9%. Their plans then go up from there, beginning at $13 per month.

Thanks for reading!

In Social Media on
August 22, 2017

Comprehensive Guide to Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are an extremely powerful marketing tool. They’re something that I’ve only recently really gotten into, and boy I’ve loved it! They definitely take a lot of time but can be a game changer for your blog or online business if you allow them to.

Join Groups in Your Niche

The first step in your Facebook group adventure is to join groups in your niche. I promise you, there’s a Facebook group for whatever you’re writing about. Google “Facebook groups for ____ bloggers” or just “blogging Facebook groups”. Join any group that looks like it will be a good fit for you, and wait for them to approve your join request.

Read the Rules

Once you’re approved, read the rules. I promise you, this is probably one of the most important steps. You have to know what you should and shouldn’t be posting in the group. Reading the rules (and following them) is a great way to stay in good standing with the group’s admin and the other members.

Interact

Don’t just promote your own stuff on promotion days/in promotion threads. If you know the answer, answer someone’s question. If you have a question, ask! Interact with the other members, don’t be spammy.

Be Active Every Day

Or at least as much as possible. Check in with your groups once a day, and post if it feels appropriate. Press like on posts that are interesting to you, and make sure you’re adding value.

Take a Step Back

After you’ve joined groups and are active in them for at least a month, take a step back and look at your traffic. Has it increased? Where’s the traffic coming from? Use tools like MixPanel and Google Analytics to track your traffic. I’ll be publishing posts on how to use these valuable tools soon!

Thanks for reading!

 

In Blogging on
August 16, 2017

How to Use Google Analytics to Grow Your Blog

Google Analytics is probably the most popular analytics software out there. It’s free, easy to use and owned by a company we all know. When I first started blogging, I loved looking at analytics to see my page views growing. Now, I’ve learned some different tips and tricks on growing my blog by using google analytics!

Check Out Your Aquisition

Take a look where your audience is coming from. Are they coming from google searches? What are they searching most often? What social media networks are they clicking through from? Use this information to pour your valuable time into the right platforms. If you’re spending hours a week on StumbleUpon and only 1% of your traffic is coming from there, maybe it’s time to look at some other ways you could be spending your time.

Set Up a Goal

I’ll go through the exact steps in a separate post of how to set up an exact goal in google analytics, but for now, let me tell you why you should. Set up a goal to track your conversions. Say you track someone all the way through from your blog page to your opt in. What steps do they take? What percentage of people end up signing up for the opt in from your blog page? Do some opt ins work better than others?

Top Posts

Check out your top posts. What category are they in? What are they about? Start to think about ways to branch off from these top posts. Can you go back through and add in an email opt-in? Can you write a mini guide or e-book and put it up for sale on that blogpost? Using a page that’s already gaining traction is a fantastic way to get more readers & more money.

Track Behavior

This is something (I think) is new, because I’ve never messed around with it before. From behavior on the left hand side, you can click track or follow behavior, and it will show you the common paths that people take through your website. If you’re a blogger, it’s the unfortunate truth that most people won’t bounce to another page on your blog. But,  if they do, where are they going? What pages tend to appeal to your audience? Condense unnecessary pages, as they are just taking up precious viewing area.

Thanks for reading!

 

In Blogging on
July 27, 2017

How to Rock Your About Page

Your about page should and will be one of your most viewed pages on your website. Visitors will go there first when trying to figure out what you are all about, and what your blog can offer them. Here are my tips for rocking your about page.

Keep it Conversational

You want your about page to be light, fun and interesting for people to read. Write in the first person, so people can connect with you. Give them an insight into what your life looks like, why you created this blog or website, and what you have to offer them.

Highlight the Benefits

Many times, people head to your about page because they want to see how you can help them, and what benefits your website or blog will provide for them. Use this opportunity to make them see exactly what you’ll provide for them. What services does your blog offer? What do you write about on your blog? More specifically, what do you provide for free? You have to provide evergreen content before people will buy anything from you.

Tell Your Story

How did you get into blogging? How did you come to create your business? Creating a personal connection with your readers and future customers is a great way to rock your about page. Tell them your personal story, and reveal important details about yourself. Make your readers feel like friends.

Extras

Have an email opt in? Have it on your about page. Show your readers where they can find you outside your website, like on social media. Also, include images. As always, you want these to be high quality, beautiful images that fit your blog’s aesthetic.

Thanks for reading!

 

In Social Media on
July 14, 2017

How to Style Your Instagram & Create a Theme

I LOVE Instagram. It’s by far one of my favorite social media platforms. It’s a very visual platform and it grew quickly! Something that’s very “on-trend” right now is having an “Instagram theme”.  Essentially, an Instagram theme is having all of your pictures look like a cohesive feed. They should have a similar color/pattern/aesthetic. Today I wanted to share my tips for creating an awesome Instagram theme.

Explore

Go through the people you follow and love on Instagram. What do you like sharing? If you run a business, the more important question is, what is your target audience looking at and liking? Try to base your photos around what your target audience and target followers are going to love and interact with.

Plan

Decide what color scheme/aesthetic you want to go with. Either make it something you’re passionate about or something that matches your branding. It will be easier to take photos of colors that are all around you. Many people I follow have white/monochrome homes, so it’s easy for them to take photos in their house with that theme.

Photo Shoot

Find thing’s lying around your house that fit your theme. Head to locations near you that fit your scheme. Plan out some photos that will fit your theme and then head out and take some photos! If you aren’t the best photographer, look for new photographers in your area to see if they’d want to exchange some photos for some press. Or, book one in your budget.

Editing

My biggest piece of advice when creating an Instagram theme is to edit all of your photos in a similar way. If you like to use filters, use the same filter on all of them. Adjust the contrast, exposure and more to be somewhat similar throughout your photos.

If you use these tips, you’ll have an awesome Instagram theme in no time!

 

In Social Media on
May 17, 2017

How to Join Pinterest Group Boards to Grow Your Readers

Pinterest Group Boards are a fairly recent obsession of mine, and are something that I don’t think I could live without now! They are seriously a great way to meet other people, introduce new people to your content, and just in general grow your blog. Let’s check out my favorite ways to join Pinterest group boards.

How to Find Pinterest Group Boards

PinGroupie

PinGroupie is probably the most popular directory for Pinterest group boards. They have categories for pretty much anything you can imagine. I like to find the group boards with high followers but low contributors. These can be harder to join, but the benefits you’ll reap are much higher than if you join one with low followers but high contributors. Even if you can only find ones with high followers and high contributors, those will be better to join as well.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are something that I’ve come across fairly recently in my trek to grow my blog and online presence as well, and I’m hooked. They seriously are fantastic resources for growing your blog. But, we’ll talk about Facebook groups in another post. Many times, Facebook groups have posts dedicated to people wanting other’s to join their Pinterest group boards. Lots of times, these are newer group boards, but Facebook groups have a serious way of growing things like weeds, so joining smaller ones now will certainly reap benefits over time.

Search Pinterest

I love finding new boards to follow, whether they are group boards or regular boards. I’m obsessed with finding new content and new things to pique my interest. On your daily, weekly or monthly search, see if any of the boards that pop up are group boards.

How to Join Boards

Once you’ve found the group board, now you are tasked with actually joining it. I would say 90% of the time, it’s a fairly painless and easy process. If a group isn’t accepting new members, it will almost always say that in the description. Most of the time as well, there’s directions on how to join, such as ‘follow us, and then email ____’. Sometimes, though, it’s more difficult. If there are no directions, but you still really want to join that board, I suggest finding whoever is the owner, and then going on a bit of a stalking mission. Sometimes he/she will have their email in their profile description, but other times you’ll have to head to their blog or website to locate their email. Sometimes, they don’t even have it there! In this case, I resort to either 1) not joining the group or 2) contacting them via social media such as Twitter or Instagram.

How do you like Pinterest group boards?

Thanks for reading!