September Blog Evaluation & October Goals

September blog evaluation October goals

It’s October now so it’s time for an update on what I’ve been doing with my blog. Yay, right? I’m writing these posts to document my progress as well as give other new bloggers an inside look at how one blogger is progressing. Hopefully, my efforts will provide some insight or inspiration.

**Note: I wrote this post up at the beginning of the month, but I’m just now getting around to posting it, so bear with me! I suppose that makes me really behind on my goals this month!

Theme change

If you’ve been here before, you may have noticed the theme changed. I’m still not 100% sold on it, but it’s good for now. I’ve had a hard time finding something that I liked AND would work well with square images.

I probably should have grabbed a screenshot of the old layout, but I totally forgot. Sorry!

I’ve also reorganized my categories. Everything was such a mess before. I plan on doing a separate post on how I realized this and how you can organize your own blog if you’re feeling cluttered. I think that will be really useful as a lifestyle blogger, especially if you’re just starting out.

Graphics

I spent most of September working on social media and graphics. So far my graphics have evolved through a few styles. I think I’ve finally settled on the 4th style, which you can see on this post and the last few. Only time will tell. I’m just happy I’m finally building an identity for my blog.

Opening up shop

I’ve had so much fun playing with different styles. I have a ton of potential templates and it seems like a waste to let them just sit on my hard drive. As such, I’ve decided to open up a small shop with a few designs.

**Another note: I applied for a Creative Market store last week and I’m in! I’m excited to get set up there.

Free templates just for you

I’m still working on getting the paid templates up, for but now you can grab a FREE pack of themed templates here, just for signing up to my email list.

Templates are easy to use JPGs. Each design includes 4 sizes for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. You can use them in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Canva. Anything that can open and edit a JPG. All you need to do is add your text!

60 free social media background graphics

I’ll be offering up more free templates and PSDs in the future, along with tutorials on how to use them with Photoshop, Canva, Desygner, and possibly some other programs. Just sign up for my email list, and you’ll be all set to receive the template files and updates for other free graphics and tutorials.

I also made this rainbow kit you can grab just by sharing a tweet or Facebook post. Click here to download them!

Free rainbow social media backgrounds

Social media and blog traffic

Speaking of social shares, I’ve been trying to really hustle it in my social media accounts. I managed to grow my Instagram to 1,000 followers in just two weeks (wow!) and my Twitter is currently over 500.

I’m finding Twitter to be great for blog traffic and meeting other bloggers. I think it’s definitely a good investment for new bloggers. It’s driving most of my blog traffic so far, even if it’s just 10 people. I’ve gotten a few hits from Instagram as well. I find that impressive since you can only have the one link in your profile.

October Goals

My goals for October are pretty simple. I’m not putting numbers to anything yet since I still don’t have much traction. But that’s what I’d like to get; some traction.

I have about 70 drafts that I need to get posted, so that’s going to be my priority along with getting more graphic templates uploaded and up for sale. It’d be great to make some sales too!

I’d like to get back on track with why I created this blog, as mentioned in my previous post. I won’t go into details since I did there, but I want to mention it here so it’s officially on my goal list.

So, basically, here’s the official goal list:

  1. Post more
  2. Build traffic
  3. Build my email list
  4. Continue building my social media pages
  5. Get my graphics store up and running

September Evaluation

Let’s take a look at my September goals now. Here’s the list from my last goals post:

  1. Produce more content
  2. Create a free gift for email list subscribers
  3. Up my social media game
  4. Promote my blog

I’m happy to say I did, in fact, do all these things! Technically, I didn’t really finish a few of them until October, but I started in September so I’m gonna call it a win.

For September, I give myself a B because I’d wanted to join link parties and get my Facebook and Google+ up and running properly, but I didn’t. I joined 1 link party only. I have joined more Facebook groups, though. I’ve even been a little bit active in a couple. NEED TO WORK ON THAT.

Download these 60 free social media graphics now

60 free social media background graphics

Who doesn’t like free stuff? I’ve created these free AND beautiful graphics to help you display quotes and sales announcements, or to boost your microblogging efforts.

So, what do you get?

Inside this kit are 60 JPG files. There are 5 different backgrounds with 3 variations of borders each, including gold and silver foil. Each comes in 4 perfect sizes for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

This kit is easy to use. Just open one up in your favorite graphics editor and add your text, logo, or icons on top.

60 free social media background graphics

Be sure to pin this little graphic on Pinterest to help get the word out to others!

Get your free social media graphics now

Snag some bonus graphics

But WAIT! Don’t go just yet! Share this post and get a bonus Rainbow background set. Total of 36 extra backgrounds. The button says tweet, but you can share on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ to receive the bonus.

Free rainbow social media backgrounds

 

How to backup your computer for an unbelievable $5 a month

Backup your computer for $5

Note: This post contains affiliate links

As someone whose work depends on access to their computer and all the work related files on it, having a backup of these files is super important. Even as a blogger, having access to my template files for post images, logo files, graphic design resources… all these things are needed for me to be able to keep working and posting.If my PC breaks down, I keep an old one that I can use in emergency situations. But what about my files? Often it’s impractical for me to switch hard drives from one PC to the other. Plus I don’t want to accidentally break something trying to switch one in.

If my PC breaks down, I keep an old one that I can use in emergency situations. But what about my files? Often it’s impractical for me to switch hard drives from one PC to the other. Plus I don’t want to accidentally break something trying to switch one in.

This is where cloud services like Backblaze come in. It’s literally the greatest service I’ve ever paid for. Twice now I’ve had to depend on this website to retrieve files from a broken PC. Let me tell you why I think it’s so great. I mean, just those few sentences should be enough, right? But the details.

Automatic backup of all of your files

Or at least most of them. By default, system files are not selected, but you can add them in the settings. You can also add file locations that you don’t want to be backed up in the same interface. It’s even simpler if you prefer it to not track an entire drive: just uncheck it from the Exclusions tab in the Backblaze client preferences.

Other than that, Backblaze tracks any edited or added files and uploads them to the server without any interaction needed from you.

Automatic upload speed throttling

No need to worry about the upload process slowing down your video chats, streaming, or uploading to your hosting server. If you have monthly bandwidth restrictions on uploads, this will benefit you as well. The Backblaze client will automatically adjust to let your own uploads take priority. It will decide on a max upload speed on its own, but you can also customize it to whatever you want.

Download your files from any device with an internet connection

Download your files in zip format absolutely free from anywhere you’ve got an internet connection. And no, you don’t have to download your entire drive at once. You can choose exactly which files you want and hit “Continue with Restore”. Your files will then be packed into a neat and tidy zip file that you can download from the Backblaze website for up to 7 days. Depending on how large the files that you want to restore are, it might take a little while for your download to be ready, but you’ll receive an email notification when it’s available for download.

This is also nice cause I can use it to restore files if I accidentally save over the wrong thing, as long as I catch it soon enough. Uploads aren’t instant, so I won’t be able to go back to my last save or anything, but if I accidentally save as, my compilation file for ads, I can load up the restore and have all my previous ads again. Yes… this is a true story!

Got too much to download? No problem.

Flash drives with up to 128GB and hard drives with up to 4TB are available for purchase. The price seems a bit steep ($99 for a flash drive, $189 for hard drive), but if you send the drives back to Backblaze within 30 days, they will refund you the cost.

Got lots of friends? Get the entire service for free

You can get free months by referring other people, and they get a free month also! There’s not even a limit on how many times you can do this. Here’s my link. Go ahead and give it a try for 30 days!

Okay, that’s great. But what about the cons?

So far, the only downside is that if you’re like me with over 3TB of data to upload (and really probably another 1.8 I could add to that), it literally takes weeks or months to upload everything. I still have about 1TB left on one PC and it’s been uploading since April 1st, so that’s over 4 months now.

However, the majority of my really important, must have for work files are uploaded, and that’s all I really care about. It still uploads changed my change files to, so even though my PC went down on the 4th, files I edited around the 1-2 are still available to me. That means A LOT! Sure I’ve lost a little work, but it could definitely be worse.

I guess another con is the price of a physical drive. If I ever need to do a huge restore, who knows if I’ve got $189 to spend even if I’m going to send the drive back after a few days. Plus, the drive you receive is only as big as it needs to be to fit your data, so I couldn’t even restore things and then keep the drive for extra space. I understand the practice, but I don’t see myself at my current financial situation using the physical drive restores.

In the end, it’s all worth it

Despite those things, I truly LOVE the service. I don’t think I could live without it now. It’s invaluable to me as a designer and now a blogger. I never have to worry about losing content. If my computer breaks, I can still access my files on my laptop or secondary PC.

What to try it out, too? Don’t forget that you can get a free month by clicking here. Backup your computer before it’s too late.


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Backup your computer cheap

Learn how to find Pinterest group boards easily with BoardBooster

How find and join Pinterest Group Boards with BoardBooster

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

As soon as I noticed this on my account, I knew I had to post about it RIGHT AWAY! BoardBooster has a new tool under the reports tab caaaaaaaalled…

Group Boards to JoinFind Pinterest group boards with BoardBooster

 

Oh my god, right?Group boards in a profile vs in Pinterest search

As someone who has been having a hell of a time finding group boards, I’m super psyched about this! I have a distinct impression that group boards were originally meant to be used for small-scale collaboration projects. Planning an event or even a product launch with a team of contributors, that sort of thing.

However, it’s blown up into the fastest and easiest way to get your pins viewed, repinned, and ultimately build traffic to your website. This means landing that invite to popular group boards has become the “in” thing to do. Pin to the right board and your pin could be seen by tens of thousands, or more, of people you didn’t have access to before.

Unfortunately, there’s no “ask to join” button like on Facebook. Maybe that’s a good thing, though, because I’m sure group owners would be overwhelmed with a multitude of join requests. That’s how big of an influence they have.

There’s also no way to specifically search for group boards through Pinterest. There’s a small icon next to the titles of group boards, but you can only see that when you’re looking at boards on someone’s profile, not when you do a search for boards.

Previously, PinJunkie and PinGroupie were the best (and only?) ways to find group boards, besides Facebook groups. BoardBooster has stepped into the game with lists of boards right on their website, all neat and tidy in little categories. It’s nice to see another website posting groups. PinGroupie was the only other site that posted in depth information about group boards, and it hasn’t been updated for over 3 months. I’m hoping they’ll do even more with this tool in the future, but I’m happy with it as is.

Get started with BoardBooster

If you’re new to Pinterest or if you’re just now starting to get serious with your pinning, this step by step tutorial will help you get started. You’ll need an account at BoardBooster, of course. If you don’t have one already, there is a 100 pin free trial and if you love it (which I know you will!) plans start at only $5.00 a month for 500 pins. I just upgraded to the $10 for 1000 pins plans and honestly, I feel like that’s not nearly enough. I’ll probably upgrade again soon.

If you’re just looking to learn how to join group boards, click here to skip to that part.

Sign up for a free BoardBooster trial right here. It’s good for 100 pins.

Want your pins to go viral? Learn how to use #BoardBooster to find group boards on #Pinterest. Click To Tweet

How to Find group boards with BoardBooster

Make sure you’re logged in, or you can’t see the main menu. In case you missed it above, the link for the group board directory is the fourth option under the Reports tab. That should get you to this list of categories. They’re the same as what’s available on Pinterest, with “Other” being listed as “EVERYTHING ELSE.”

Pinterest group boards categories on BoardBooster

Clicking on a category will show you the top 300 group boards in that category or however many are available for less popular categories. Maybe an opportunity for niches to be filled here, guys?

Food Pinterest group boards list on BoardBooster
Food is super popular on Pinterest

 

Design Pinterest group boards list on BoardBooster
Design, not so much 🙁

From here you can see different stats for each board; repin rate, number of followers, number of active contributors, and new pins per day. This is a way to quickly access the likelihood of your pins getting repinned, potential viewer reach, the chance of acceptance to a board, and how active its members are. My marketing brain says always go for as many as you can, but being how I am, I’m nervous about contacting people for invites. #introvertproblems

Okay, so you’ve found a group (or 20) that you would like to join. Now, what?

How to join a Pinterest group board

This is something that sort of puzzled me when I was first starting out (who am I kidding, I still am) and I don’t want anyone else to have this confusion. That sounds like a dumb thing, but many of the boards I was first looking at didn’t contain contact information so I was like “HOW!?” Well, here’s how!

Connect with thousands to grow your traffic or sales through #Pinterest group boards. Click To Tweet

You’ll want to check the group description for three things: the type of content allowed, the rules of the board, and how to contact the group owner for an invite.

How to join a Pinterest group board

1. Learn the rules

There’s usually a posting limit, about 3-5 per day for most groups, and of course the warning that spamming or posting irrelevant, off-topic content will get you removed. Pay attention to this, especially when you’re using scheduling tools to do your pinning. Sometimes there are other additions; in this group, promotional material is not allowed.

Now is a great time to make a list or spreadsheet of the groups you want to join, their niche, and their posting limits. Then, you’ll be able to refer to it quickly when setting up your pins.

One last thing, which is more like a general Pinterest rule. Pinterest requires people to be following each other in order to collaborate on pinboards, so make sure you’re following the owner.

2. Contact the group owner

Next, you need to contact the board owner so they can send you an invite. You can find the owner by clicking on the first profile image on the list of board members. Messaging on Pinterest is relatively new, so in most cases, you’ll find people asking for an email or for a comment on one of their latest pins.

3. Accept the invite

Once the group board owner has reviewed your account or whatever magic they do and find you an acceptable contributor, they’ll send you an invite to the board. Remember to be patient as this may take a few days. I’m still holding out on some of my invites that I requested a few weeks ago. *fingers crossed*

You’ll receive an email or notification stating that you’ve been invited to contribute to a group board. All you have to do now is log into Pinterest and accept! Just click the link or phone notification and it will take you straight to the invite.


Yay! So now you know how to find and join some board. GET PINNING! If you need help learning how to use BoardBooster, here is a great post to get you started from Krista over at Blog Beautifully. Maybe one day I’ll finally learn all the features and be able to write my own tutorial for you guys. For now, that post is a good start.

Share your group boards

You can follow me on Pinterest here. I don’t have any group boards, but I am accepting invites! I’m personally looking for any and all boards accepting pins about fashion, beauty, interior design, and graphic design. And, of course, blog posts about these things. And groups specifically for sharing blog posts.

I’d also love to add you if you pin any of these things even if you’re not a group board.

I am currently a member of 3 group boards you might also want to join:

Do you have any cool group boards you’d like to invite members to? Post it in the comments below!


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Find #Pinterest Group Boards in #BoardBooster

One month into blogging; let’s see how I’ve done

Evaluation of my first month of blogging

It’s been over a month now since I started my blog, yay! I figured I would do a check in with what I’ve been up to when it comes to building and promoting it. So far, I give my efforts a solid D-. I desperately need to rethink my strategy.. or rather, I need to get one!

I need more/better content

No one really reads my blog yet, but I can’t say I blame them. I don’t really have much that’s useful or helpful yet. I’ve got a lot of posts in the works, but I haven’t actually published most of them. A lot are missing simple things like images, but then others I still need to do a little research for.

I also haven’t really been promoting like I should. I’ve just barely gotten into some Pinterest groups and since then, I haven’t written any new content. My old content hasn’t done well so far, so I’ve been thinking of testing other graphic styles. I love what I have, but maybe it isn’t working out.

Note: I wrote this post 4 days ago, I actually did come up with some new graphics. Trying some out now! Feel free to let me know what you think.

Social Media

My social media is maybe okay. I still need to create header graphics for Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. I started being active on Instagram last week or so. I’ve also turned my focus to Twitter. Twitter has gotten me a few clicks, but Instagram has gotten me 1 whole link click. That’s okay, though, because I’m really not promoting my blog there yet so much as I’m just trying to build followers. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing with Pinterest, but it hasn’t really been working out for me yet.

Instagram

I’ve already racked up almost 700 1,000 followers. I’m kind of amazed! A lot of those people are other bloggers or entrepreneurs. If course there are some spam accounts too, but most of those end up disabled or unfollow me anyway. I love when I see personal accounts following me. I feel like I’ve actually done something.

Note: Since 4 days ago I’ve gained another 300 followers. Wow! My engagement rate for the last 20 posts is 

Twitter

My next step is to work on Twitter in the same way, but since Twitter usage converts to clicks more often, I want to have more informational posts and the free graphics up that I’m working on as a giveaway for signing up for my email list.

Pinterest

I just recently learned about Tailwind Tribes. Wowowow, this is going to be huge I think. I haven’t tried it yet because I want to put up a new, super awesome, totally helpful post up to maximize sharability. That, and I’ve actually found it quite difficult to find tribes for my niche(s). I’m thinking of creating some, but then I’d also have to moderate them. I really don’t want to moderate things. Sure, I could just invite my friends, but I really want to do an open tribe so lots of people can benefit. Also, I have no friends, LOL.

Aside from that, I really need to rethink my Pinterest strategy. Or lack thereof. I was on the rise for the longest time and now my profile views and website views have sharply declined. I haven’t done anything different, so I’m not sure why. I know I can do a lot to improve my Pinterest boards, though, so that’s what I’m going to work on.

Facebook

Absolutely dead. Well, not absolutely. I have all my Instagrams sent there and also have a couple content curation services posting things there. I’m not going to officially “promote” my Facebook until I get blog visitors. For now, I’m making it look busy at least.

Google+

Almost forgot this one! Even though it’s the one place I feel comfortable promoting. This post will probably be the first I slip into some G+ communities, in fact. In the meantime, I need to get auto posting to my page set up, and also the graphics for the page.

Email List

Speaking of the list, I’ve been looking for some software to manage it. I’m probably going to start out with ConstantContact thanks to their generous 60-day trial. That will give me plenty of time to really try out the software, and hopefully by then I’ll actually have people signed up and reading my posts.

Before I get this up and running, I need to finish the graphic templates I’ve been working on. Maybe even the planner pages too. I really want to give these out as lead magnets, but I’ve also created about a billion different layouts for social media graphics, so I might even end up putting up my first graphics for sale. How exciting! This is one thing I never thought I’d find myself doing. I’m glad to have the opportunity, though, because if there’s one thing I enjoy about working in SL and IMVU, it’s making different ad templates. That seems ironic because I’ve

My Theme

Last but not least, I’m still not happy with my theme, or my branding. Wait, what branding? Yeah, exactly. I’m slowly creeping towards what I want as I experiment with creating different types of graphics. I know I’m just not going to be 100% happy with my theme. I like it, but I feel like it’s not good for the type of blog I want to run.

I’ve been looking at paid options and last week the Divi framework upgrade came out. I really want it, but at $70 a year and this month being tighter than usual, it’s slightly out of the budget. I’m splurging on it the first chance I get, though. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later. I’m absolutely in love with the ability to place things WHEREVER I WANT, WHENEVER I WANT.

That’s been my biggest gripe about the free themes. Not enough widget areas or “oh wow look there’s this one tiny thing wrong”. Sure, I could just edit the theme file but you know how WordPress works. Once the theme gets an official update, I have to replace my edits. No thanks.

Your turn!

How are you doing with your blogging? Are you new to this, or have you been at it for awhile? Are you meeting all your goals? Let me know in the comments!


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Evaluation of my first month of #blogging

3 Tools I Use to Manage My Life & Work

The Creative Process - 3 tools I use to plan my life and my work

Organizing my life is important. I have many projects I involve myself with and a terrible memory at that. I basically try any tool I can to help me keep focused or to track my ideas for specific projects. These three, however, are some I’ve stuck with over the years. Let me tell you a little bit about them! The links are referral links, but all these services are free to use.

Trello

This is my absolute favorite tool. It over took things like Wunderlist and HabitRPG, now Habitica, for me. Ironically enough, I learned about Trello though Habitica’s developer notices. I still use those two, just for different things now.

Trello uses a card and list system. It kind of reminds me a bit of using post-its. There are lists that you make of different cards. And within those cards you can add photos, checklists, and comments. I mostly use the checklists. They’re great for day listing or keeping track of tasks you need to do to complete a project. I have several boards set up for different things like my Second Life and IMVU stores, things I want to do to improve my health, things I want to learn about, and even some shopping lists.

Another thing I like is that it integrates with TimeCamp, an activity tracker for your computer. I don’t really use this feature much since I’ve got my automatic TimeCamp on lock, but it’s nice to know if I ever had the need to track a task I was working on, I could do it manually with Trello. It’s even got a nifty little sidebar that will tell you how long you’ve spent doing each thing.

Wunderlist

SPEAKING of shopping lists, I think Wunderlist is the ultimate for makings shopping lists. Maybe it’s out of habit, but I consistently use this just for that purpose. Of course since I found this before Trello, I have other lists with work related things or hobbies. My favorite thing is my master list of all the costumes I’d love to wear just for random photo shoots.

You can set due dates for your items, create multiple lists, and add notes to list items. Every list is a check list, so this is good for making those quick check lists. It is a little bit of extra effort to view your notes, which is one reason why I like Trello better. It’s not much though, and unlike Trello, you can add notes to each individual item.

Evernote

Evernote is basically my replacement for Spring Pad, which sadly shut its doors back in 2014, I believe. I miss Spring Pad a lot but Evernote contains the basic functionality, and we were even able to import our Spring Pad data after they closed. This is kind of my go-to app for collecting all those Tumblr posts I find while browsing on my app. I run multiple tumblrs and admittedly not all of them have content I think my friends really want to see. But you know, sometimes you come across a post that’s funny or totally reminds you of your friend, so you save it for later when you’ve got a moment to send it to them properly.

Another thing Evernote does, which is really its star feature, is it acts as say… a box of newspaper clippings, but for online things. You can save photos (something I do a lot for coming up with new hairstyle ideas) or whole webpages, or just highlight a section to keep. You save everything into notebooks and can add comments on the clipped content. You can also just write up your own notes for things. It really is like a digital notebook.

So there you have it; my 3 favorite tools

I use these a lot to keep organized and it really helps. You’ll probably see me referencing them often throughout my posts. If you need a little organization in your life, I strongly suggest any of these, especially Trello for keeping track of several large projects. In a future post, I’ll talk about time tracking, featuring the two other websites I mentioned before, Habitica and TimeCamp!


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The Creative Process - 3 tools I use to plan my life and my work

September Blog Goals & August Goal Evaluation

Blog Goals - September 2016

Hi, everyone! It’s a brand new month, or rather it has been for like 5 days now. I want to start out each month with a list of all my goals for that month in regards to my blog. Hopefully, it will keep me accountable if I write down what I’m going to do. Even more so if I have an online record of me saying I am definitely going to do these things. Thanks for keeping me accountable, my currently non-existant but future audience!

August Blog Goal Evaluation

So before I get into my goals for the next month, I want to review my goals from August. Did I live up to these goals? I would like to think so. August’s goals were super simple because I was just starting out. My main goal was to have the website up with a good theme. Starting a new blog is exciting, but I know I need a good foundation. I feel like I learned a lot and now I’m ready to get serious in September.

Here are the things I set out to do in August:

  1. Pick a unique name
  2. Set up blog
  3. Create social media graphics
  4. Create a posting schedule
  5. Post something every day
  6. Create a Polyvore outfit every day

Out of all of those things, I got about half of them finished. Social media graphics took longer than expected but are done. While I didn’t post something every day, I was able to at least come up with about 50 ideas for posts. I consider that a win because at least now I know what I’m going to be working on.

I definitely didn’t keep up my Polyvore goal but that’s something I’m not sure if I’ll be able to stick to anyway. Maybe once I’ve finished the whole setup process. Right now, I’ve been spending so much time making graphic templates, researching marketing strategies, writing posts, and a bunch of other one-time things. Plus, I’ve still got to work my day job. Once I have everything exactly how I want it and have a good workflow going, I’ll have more time.

While I felt like I got a lot done, and really I guess I did, I only actually completed 50% of my August goals. I’m going to say I got about 75% done. I didn’t fully complete my graphics or meet my posting quotas, but I did manage some effort. I know for a fact that I was constantly working or researching during the whole month. So I think that’s a solid C+ for the August evaluation. I’ll work harder to do better in September!


September Blog Goals

On to my goals for this month now!

  1. Produce more content
  2. Create a free gift for email list subscribers
  3. Up my social media game
  4. Promote my blog

1. Produce more content

My main focus this month will be content. It’s the most important thing to me right now. Traffic is important, yes, but keeping people on my blog means I need quality content.

I have a schedule all set up and a ridiculous amount of drafts waiting. Because I’m still such a new blog, I might disregard the schedule a bit just to make sure I have stuff here for people to look at. At this point, the main goal of my schedule is to do at least one post that’s on topic. After that, I can post whatever else I want as well.

I need to actually finish some posts, though. The main thing that was been holding me back was my social media graphics. Up until two days, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted. I created about 5 or 6 designs before I made something that felt right for Wonderland Loft. Which really, that brings me right into my next goal.

2. Create a free gift for email list subscribers

I need something more than just my lovely writing to get people on my email list. I’ve been toying around with a few ideas in my head. I could do a worksheet of my blog writing process. I already have a checklist I made for myself in Trello that would convert well to a planner document. I haven’t made a document or worksheet since my senior year of high school. Maybe we did one in one of my college classes, too. I don’t remember. But I think it would be a fun experience.

The other idea is to do up a graphic kit. I had a lot of fun designing my Pinterest template. It feels like a waste to let the other perfectly good designs I did just sit on my hard drive. Plus they were really fun to make. I can see this becoming some sort of “gateway drug” into a seedy blog graphic underworld. Or maybe just a potential business endeavor. Either way, I’ve already got one foot through the door. I’ve never really been much of a physical planner/binder-having-person. I usually prefer digital planners, but all this blog work has made me want one.

3. Up my social media game

Now that I have a graphic template, I can finally finish up some post drafts. I have quite a few posts that were done, but I needed the promotional graphics for. Now that I have something I’m happy with, I feel like I can promote these posts on social media properly. I know it’s important to establish a certain look for my blog early on. I’ve got templates for Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram graphics. Time to get social!

I also want to participate in Facebook and Google+ blogger groups. I’ve joined a couple, but it’s so scary! Sure, I plan on treating this blog more like a business than my old blogs. It’s still my art, though. Sharing your art is always scary. Everyone I’ve seen talking in the groups has been very supportive with other bloggers and their questions, so at least the people aren’t scary. Knowing that makes the idea of speaking up a little bit less stressful.

4. Promote my blog

This is probably the hardest part. I’m not really sure where to start here. My social media efforts will help a lot I hope, but here are two things I’m going to be actively working.

Join at least 1 Pinterest group board

My first priority here is going to be to get into a few group boards on Pinterest. Two weeks ago, I tried to contact a few people but I never heard back from any of them. That’s why I say at least one. At this point, I’ll be glad if I can get into that. I have a few more people to contact from groups I found on my own, but I also googled up some suggestions from other bloggers.

Join a link party

A link party is basically a linking get together for bloggers, pinners, whoever. Someone hosts the main list of links gathered from readers on their blog. I want to do this at least once! I’d also really love to host one. I hope by next year I will have enough traffic to be able to start my own. I’ll be using a website called LinkyTools to find open link parties to join.

Good luck in September!

My goals might seem simple, but they feel a bit ambitious to me. I’m really going to put myself out there because I want to succeed. Running a successful blog has been a dream of mine for a long time but I always felt I couldn’t do it for whatever reason (read: excuse). I’m really glad I’m doing this now, even if I probably should have a lot sooner. Better late than never, right?

What are your goals for the month? Have you set any yet? If you haven’t, there’s still time. Good luck in your endeavors!


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Blog Goals - September 2016

Keeping yourself ON TRACK! – Time Management Tips

Working at home is certainly a unique opportunity. Being able to create, write, design, and do all of your customer service in your favorite PJs is definitely an experience. However, it requires a lot of discipline, especially when it’s your main source of income. If you’re anything like me, you can sometimes be easily distracted or just have trouble keeping focus on any one thing at a given time. Or maybe you just get bored easy. I certainly have all of these problems.

The worst part about working at home is that it’s easy to just stop what you’re doing and do something else, promising that you’ll get back to whatever it is you’re doing because you have so many extra hours in your day because you don’t have to commute, or stop to deal with coworkers, etc. While that approach may have worked while I was in college, now I’m an adult. My bills are much more pressing and competition in my field has gotten MUCH better and there’s MORE of it. I can tell it’s just not going to work if I want to be able to make any money.

Yesterday’s post ties in with this one I started writing about staying on task, so I figure this is a pretty good time to let you in on a couple things I do when I set goals that are maybe a little too ambitious.

Schedule Your Whole Day

A few years ago I set out on a daunting project: create 9 hairstyles within about 2 weeks. Maybe even less. Now, back then, my methods were a little simpler so it was easier to produce at this rate, plus I was using real life references in which several of the styles were similar, so one could be made simply by editing another a bit. I knew this and then set out on my task.

By now, I knew that if I truly focused, I could do a base model of a hairstyle in about 4-8 hours depending on complexity and familiarity with making the different types of locks for each style. I set up a Google calendar that blocked out two 4 hour time slots each day. I also scheduled in time for breakfast, lunch and dinner, completing any administrative or customer service related duties dealing with my shop, and of course, sleep.

Any remaining time I had left I scheduled in as breaks or for any extra work time, which I definitely did need! If I remember correctly, on two separate occasions I pulled 48 hour days. It was worth it in the end though. Of course I had some other project around the same time that might have been the 2day-ers. It’s all very hazy and it was about 4 years ago as of the time I’m writing this post.

My point is, even though I may not have correctly given myself enough time to complete this RIDICULOUS goal (9 in two weeks or less!!), I learned that the most efficient way for me to work was in short intervals with 30 minute – 1 hour breaks in between (you know, sort of like a “real job”). This gave me time away from project to do something fun. Time I would be able to look forward to instead of carrying on and on with no end in sight. Time that I would sometimes start to think of what I would do next on my project which in turn allowed me to get excited about returning to work on it.

Sound Familiar?

What I’ve just talked about might sound a little bit familiar if you know anything about the Pomodoro Technique. I learned about it a few months after I had set up this schedule. In the shortest explanation ever, the Pomodoro Technique a system to break up the time you spend on tasks into 25 minute blocks. After that 25 minutes you congratulate yourself for focusing and take a little break. After 4 blocks, you take a longer break before going back to work. Pretty easy, right? For some, it’s probably way less scary than trying to plan out 24 hours, 7 days a week.

You may decide you want to spend 3 pomodoros on a certain task each day. Or perhaps you just need a little help focusing on that one huge project you’re trying to finish. This is a great way to maximize your time AND still feel rested. Crazy how sitting at your desk all day can make you feel absolutely exhausted, right?

My little scheduling thing isn’t the same thing, but I recognized the work flow as something similar. I was excited to learn about this because I really do have issues focusing on single tasks. If I can break up my time into little chunks, I tend to get more work done.

Pomodoro Websites

Besides the main website, there are also a few other websites and apps built around the Pomodoro Technique:

TomatoTimer is a simple website with work (25 minutes), short break (5 minutes), and long break (10 minutes) options. The site uses audio tones for alerts and if you use Chrome, Firefox, or Safari, you can set up desktop notifications. This way you don’t have to keep the site up to know when you take your breaks. You also don’t have to worry about working over the intended time.

Marinara Timer is a lot more customizable. You can choose to follow the traditional Pomorodo Technique with 25 minute intervals followed by 5 minute short breaks and 15 minute long breaks, or you can set up your own time cycle. There is also a simple timer option to just set a time and once the time is up – ding!

This website also allows you to share the link to your timer set with other people, so if you have a team working together, you all can be on the same time. You can send Viewer or Administrator links; Viewers can only view the timer, Admins can also control the timer.

PomoDone is probably my favorite though. It integrates with several task management apps – such as Trello, Wunderlist, and Evernote to name a few – which are tools I use to manage my entire life pretty much. You can download an app or use it through the website. Work times and breaks are can be customized, and you can even set time presets for easy switching. Maybe you want to work for 30 or 40 minutes this time but go back to 25 after your break. Easily done!

Pomodoro Apps

There are also several apps available! You can find plenty of results if you search in your phone’s app stores. There are too many to list them all so I’ll just mention two; one for iPhone and one for Android. Pomodoro Time seems pretty popular for Apple users. As an Android user, I might be just a bit jealous. Not to worry though, because we have ClearFocus. I’ll be downloading it as soon as I get my new phone, for sure.

The Challenge

So, I challenge you to put your work to the test! Grab your favorite planner or calendar and map out your entire day for a week. Even schedule in your down time. Stick to that schedule and track your productivity. Is it more, or less? You can extend the experiment by switching up the length of hours you work or the length of your breaks. I was able to combine my breakfast and administrative duties to give myself more “me” time or more work time if I needed it.

I admit that I don’t always stick to this schedule (chaos is way more fun!), but when I have a serious I-really-need-to-get-this-done project, out comes the schedule. If I stuck to it more often, I’d probably be doing way better for myself. It’s something I’ve been working on this year especially. I’m finally starting to see the benefits as of the last few months.

If you’re struggling to balance your work-at-home life, try it out. Let us know how it goes in the comments below if you want. Want some tools that can help you manage and track your time? I can help with that too. Check back later this week for a list of my favorite project and list management tools, and also for a great time tracking program.