Link Love

Work hard & be nice

Limited edition print by Heather Francisco via Minted

Happy Friday! It’s been a busy week for me, getting back into the swing of things after being on vacation last week. This weekend I’ll probably do some work, start putting up Christmas decorations (Yay!), and maybe even go see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

Take 15% off anything at Creative Market with this coupon!

Melyssa shares how she went from her day job to full-time freelancer in 3 months.

Thanks, Neha, for this freebie desktop wallpaper!

8 things to stop being afraid of so you can be rich, happy, and successful.

Check out Regina’s insanely helpful post, top 15 creative business tools she uses as an infopreneur.

Rekita shares her tips on how to promote your business on social media.

8 ways to boost your blog presence when you’re bored.

Erin teaches us how to make your website tell a story.

In case you missed it, check out these guest posts from last week! How to choose a blog post image worth sharing and How to organize blog post ideas.

5 Things I learned from my trip to Washington, DC

Washington, DC trip - November 2014

Hello! I just got back from a 5-day vacation in Washington, DC. I would have mentioned it before, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything interesting to say other than, “I’m going to Washington, DC.” Brian and I took advantage of a Virgin Airlines $99 flight deal and chose Washington, DC as our destination. I really don’t have a good reason for why we chose this particular place; we both just really wanted to go there and it seemed like a great starter trip for newbie travelers like us (this was Brian’s first time on a plane!).

We had an AMAZING vacation. The weather was perfect (everyone said it would be cold but it was actually warmer than Dallas at the time), we saw almost everything we wanted to see (we even got to go inside of the White House), we stayed in an awesome hotel (pictured above), and boy did we eat some good food. But I also learned some things from my trip that I’m going to apply to my life and business.

I wanna be free.

Taking this trip made me want even more to just be free, and to not be held back by my job. I want to be able to work from anywhere, even if it’s just the coffee shop down the street. I want to be in control of how I spend my days. I want to be able to make my own schedule and take time off when I need it. I know now, more than ever, that I want to be an entrepreneur.

I should take time to enjoy my life.

I hate monotony. The very idea of doing the same things every day for the rest of my life scares the hell out of me. I need to shake things up a little! Travel more, experience more, and just work on being more present in my daily life. It also doesn’t hurt to take some time for yourself to just relax. I don’t think I had a problem with that before, though!

I need to be more active.

People in Washington, DC are so active! There were always people walking, running, and biking, whether it was for work or leisure. We chose to walk everywhere since things were so close together, and walked so much (in one day we seriously walked 10 miles) that our feet were sore every night. Don’t get me wrong, we’re active here in Dallas, but it’s not as noticeable because everything is so spread out and you pretty much have to have a car. In DC, everything is so condensed and compact that you can really see and feel the energy all around you. I’m not able to walk, bike or even use public transportation to get to work because I live way too far, but I can work on being more active in my spare time.

I feel more inspired.

I’m not exactly the same person I was before I left. Something about traveling inspires me in so many ways, and I truly believe it when people say travel can make you so much wiser. Seeing all the historical monuments & architecture, learning more about our history, taking in different scenery and being in a place so different from where I came from gave me a different perspective.

There’s no better time than now.

Even though we booked our trip 6+ months in advance, it was still a last-minute decision. It would have been “safer” financially to do this trip at another time but the deal was for November so we had to take it or not go. I’m so glad we did! It turned out to be the best vacation I’ve had in a very long time. When I eventually become a full-time entrepreneur/freelancer, there will be so much work to do and I’m sure there will be times when things won’t work out the way I planned, but that’s exactly what I want and need. I need to take those risks without being afraid to fail. I’m so tired of playing it safe.

Have you taken any trips lately? There are so many more places I’d like to go!

Also, I’d like to thank Allyssa and Desiree for guest-posting while I was away!

How To Choose A Blog Post Image Worth Sharing

How to choose a blog post image worth sharing

Hello! Today we have a guest post from Desiree Jester.

A picture is worth a thousand words but if your images tell a different tale than your words, it all becomes noise to the reader. Tweet this!

The massive popularity of Pinterest makes it clearer than ever that you need graphics that create an emotional connection with your readers if you want your blog post to stand out from the crowd. So, what goes into a great blog­graphic image? Here are some key elements that you need to look for when you choose an image for your blog graphic.

Contrast

Contrast

The most beautiful and dynamic image in the world will not help your blog if the text you are laying on top of it cannot be read. Thin white text on a light background will only serve to frustrate your readers. (Try to read the text in this image without squinting and you will see what I mean.) A good rule of thumb is to choose dark text or elements on lighter images and vise versa. If you have your heart set on a light image and light text, then use a darker overlay in between the text and the image to create contrast.

Negative space

Photo credit Tom Syzmanski

Negative space is a photography term used for describing empty space around the subject. A good image uses negative space to define the subject and to balance it. You will know when you see an image that uses negative space poorly because you feel cramped and overwhelmed just looking at it. It will be the same for your readers. Good use of negative space is vital for a good blog graphic because it allows a natural space for your text to be added.

Connection to your story

This element is the most important one. The images that you add to your post should enhance the story you are telling, not detract. Readers look for the visual elements in your post to tie together the words that they are reading. A well­-chosen picture can impress your story on the reader and make them remember it in a way that another thousand words could not. At the same time, a graphic that competes with your story will seem prevent your story from feeling authentic.

Without a doubt, images have a massive impact on your readers, especially when it comes to sharing via social media. A properly chosen image will leave the reader with an emotional connection that goes far beyond the few moments they spend reading your posts.

Hit me up in the comments! How do you choose your blog photos? What makes a great photo in your eyes?

Make sure you visit Desiree at her blog and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Bloglovin.

Are you interested in guest posting here on the blog? Contact me for details!

Organizing Blog Post Ideas

How to organize your blog post ideas

Hi everyone! Today we have a guest post from Allyssa Barnes.

As a blogger, inspiration can strike at any moment, so it’s important to keep a record of post ideas as they pop into your head. That way, when it comes time to sit down a write a post, you’re not struggling to come up with an idea. Instead you can simply consult your list and go from there. But what’s the best way to organize these ideas? Here are some tips to keep them organized so you can get to writing faster:

Evernote

I’m a big fan of Evernote. It keeps my entire life organized, including my blog post ideas. A great way to use it is to create a blog post ideas notebook in Evernote and fill it with notes for each post idea you think up. You can even tag your notes with the appropriate blog category. This method is great as it gives you the ability to create a blog post outline in the note and save relevant links/info along with it. When it comes time to write a post, everything you need is already there.

Trello

Another great solution for organizing post ideas is Trello. The first step is to create a board for your ideas. Then create a list for each category you write about. As you come up with ideas, you can add a card under the appropriate category. Cards have a bunch of cool features such as checklists, comments, and even deadlines, which is a great help in keeping those ideas organized.

Text Document

When all else fails, just keep an ongoing text document with your ideas. You can create headings for your categories and add the ideas as they come to you. You’re not limited to a basic text document either. You can use Word, Google Docs, or even just a simple Evernote note to keep a running list. This is probably the simplest, no frills solution for organizing your post ideas.

Pen & Paper

I personally like to store all my ideas digitally, but sometimes good old pen and paper is the way to go. A good idea is to create a notebook decided to post ideas, then fill it up! Even if you choose to go the digital route, having a small notepad handy is always smart. When you’re laying in bed and an idea pops into your head, you can quickly jot it down before you forget. In the morning (or maybe even once a week) you can take your notepad and add your ideas to your preferred organizational method.

Make sure you visit Allyssa at her blog and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Bloglovin.

Are you interested in guest posting here on the blog? Contact me for details!

Link Love + Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween

Any fun plans for this weekend? Mine will consist of shopping tomorrow, work, reading, and watching Hocus Pocus. Maybe I’m lame, but that actually sounds like a fun weekend to me! I thought about making a costume, but since I can’t wear it to work and I’m not going to any parties this weekend, it seemed kinda pointless. But if I did, I’d probably choose one of the last-minute costumes I saw in that article I shared last week!

This past week I’ve been working with a few clients, finishing up my latest theme and working on that resources list I mentioned. I really expected for things to slow down for me over the holidays but surprisingly they’re picking up. It’s awesome that people want to get a head start on their goals for next year. You don’t have to wait until January 1st to work on your goals and plans for next year!

Halloween Humor

I love these top 5 freelancer Halloween costumes. So funny. Thanks, Sierra!

I love Clickhole. Check out their post about the best Halloween costume ever and try out their website on Halloween mode (click the arrows on the top right)!

Business + Freelancing

You’re doing what you love, but are you doing it wrong?

I really enjoyed Kathleen’s article about making creative magic.

I’m going on vacation very soon, as so many people do around the holidays. I found these posts on traveling with a freelance business and prepping your blog before your vacation really helpful.

New Music + Free Printable

You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile

It’s new music Tuesday! One of my favorite days of the week, because so much new music comes out.

One of my favorite songs that came out recently has been Sia’s version of “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” from the upcoming Annie movie remake. This song puts a smile on my face everytime I hear it! And how cute is Quvenzhané Wallis in that movie trailer? I was so inspired by the song, that I did some hand lettering and I even decided to use it as the namesake for my next theme. The lettering turned out pretty well so I decided to share it as a free printable with you guys. You can download it below! You can also use it as a wallpaper for your smart phone or desktop.

The song is in my Spotify playlist below, but if you don’t have Spotify you can listen on Youtube.

♪ Listen on Spotify

  1. Sia – “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile”
  2. The Veronicas – “Line of Fire”
  3. Leighton Meester – “Run Away”
  4. Flo Rida feat. Lookas & Sage The Gemini – “GDFR”
  5. Sophia Black – “Vibration”
  6. Foo Fighters – “Something From Nothing”
  7. Nick Jonas – “Wilderness”
  8. Danity Kane – “Rhythm of Love”

Download your free printable!
Black | White

9 Ideas to Help You Own Your Next Networking Event

Networking event ideas

Whether you’re attending a Meetup.com event or a big conference like Bloggy Bootcamp, you’ll need some networking techniques that will help you stand out from the crowd. I’ve got some tips here that will help you get the most out of your next networking event!

Have your business cards ready.
If you don’t have a business card for your business or your blog, you need to go right now and get some made (I recommend Moo.com)! They should, of course, be well-designed and should match your branding. Oh, and make sure you have enough of them with you so you don’t run out. I usually bring a big stack!

Create a short eBook or guide and hand out a couple of free printed copies.
People love getting things for free. Of course, you’ll need to make it something that’s useful to the crowd that you’re networking with. So, for example, if you’re attending a blogger event, make it something useful to bloggers, like a list of tips. Even better, if you have an opt-in offer for your mailing list, you can use that. Just make sure it’s ready for print (no hyperlinks), print a few copies and you’re ready to go.

Ask people to sign up to your mailing list.
Make it where they can sign up via a subscribe page on your website that you can use on your phone or tablet. Then, you can just pull it up have them sign up right there at the event. You can also take down email addresses and add them to your list when you get home (just make sure that they opt-in first).

Hand out brochures with details about your products and services.
A lot of times, people meet you and take your business card but they don’t remember much later, and your card becomes just another one in the stack. Giving them a brochure gives you a chance to tell them more about what you do. You can even put a few pictures on there (a photo of you, samples of your work, pictures of your products, etc.) to help them remember. You can also put packages and prices on there. So, for example, if you’re a web designer going to a blogger meetup, you can list your blog design packages on there. You can include prices and put a “prices good until” date, or you can leave the prices blank and just write them in, with a “quote good until” date. This way, people don’t call you a year later asking for that same price or package.

Give out cheap marketing materials, like pens and pencils.
You can give out marketing materials with your business or blog name and tag line on them to help people remember you.

Set up a few one-on-ones with people you met at the event.
A one-on-one is a follow up meeting you met with someone at the event. This should be low key, like grabbing coffee or meeting at a quiet restaurant. It should also be no-pressure, so don’t try to sell them something. You’re doing this to get to know each other. Talk about what you do, your goals and plans. The point is to build a connection. You never know, maybe they’ll contact you when they need something in the future or refer a few people to you. When I went to my first networking event, I had one person ask me to a one-on-one. We met up, talked business and life, laughed and ate good food. She even paid for my meal. A few weeks later, I found myself referring someone to her without even thinking about it. THAT is how you network!

Do a giveaway.
The specific details will depend on the event and what you’re giving away, but this is a good way to market your products and services. Obviously, it should be something either related to your business or something that you can easily attribute to your business. For example, I could give away a blog theme or a gift card to Office Max with a thank you note attached (with my contact info included, of course).

Get to know the event organizer.
I think it’s important to get to know the organizer of the event because they are usually acquainted with most of the people in the group. Of course, I’m not talking about kissing butt, here. I’m talking about really getting to know the person.

Host your own event.
What better way to make connections than to host your own event!