Category Archives: Writing and Blogging

Need Help Branding Your Blog?

Do you need help branding your blog? I did. I needed a lot of help. I barely understood the concept of branding when I started blogging, never mind trying to become an actual brand. People kept saying I needed to brand myself. I just kept scrunching up my face like they were speaking a foreign language and shrugging my shoulders thinking I’d get around to all of that one day…in the very distant future. Like never. Or the day after never. Infinity.

I had a lot of questions. Could a person be a brand? It sounded so weird. It sounded yucky. I am a brand? My blog is a brand? My art is a brand? Like Campbell’s soup or Minute Maid orange juice? That can’t be true. What is going on here, PEOPLE?

Well, I’ll tell you what is going on here. I woke up one recent morning and realized I needed to figure this marketing business stuff out. I was getting bigger opportunities. I didn’t want to seem like an amateur. I realized I needed to become a brand. I needed to have a consistent face to show to the world. Not my own face because nobody wants to see that all day long…especially me, but I needed a logo. I needed a logo that could be recognized by my fans. A logo that would send them all rushing to my Etsy shop to buy up all of my art every single time they saw it float by on their computer screen. A logo that would drive traffic to my blog because all the people in all the world must know the latest antics of Tiny-Small…and our chickens…and my painting…and poor Jim just trying to survive in this crazy dome we call home. It’s a tall order. I know.

Need Help Branding Your Blog?

I know because I tried to design a logo all by myself. I’m an artist. I have an eye for beauty. I have mad skills y’all. I know what I am doing over here with my free photo programs and random font choices. “I got this,” I said cockily while tipping my chair back like the cool kid sitting in the back of the 6th grade class.

Well, maybe not exactly. It turns out creating a brand and a logo is a lot harder than it looks. It turns out there are people out there called “graphic artists” who spend hours coming up with concepts and designs to help businesses create a brand. It takes a special talent to do this right.

A talent I do not possess. After pulling my hair out and begging people on Facebook for feedback I decided to seek professional help. That’s when Joules from Pocketful of Joules (an awesome blog go check it out) saved me from myself. She happens to be a graphic designer with 15 years, let me repeat, 15 YEARS, of experience designing logos and helping people create a brand for their businesses. She saved me days of frustration and gave me hours of my life back. I’d much rather be painting and writing than fighting with photo software and getting it so very, very wrong over and over again.

Joules quickly put together some ideas she thought might work for my blog and presented them to me. In a matter of days I had a new header and a new logo to use on all of my promotional materials. What I like most about Joules is she goes to your website and pokes around. She gets to know you. Her logo designs are original. Sure, you can go to certain websites and get a $5 logo from someone, but it’s going to be some generic clip art with your blog name on it. Joules creates something that makes sense. She understands your personality. She gets to know your style. Your logo will be unique and people will recognize it belongs to you immediately.

Here is the logo she designed for me!

 

Its a Dome Life - logo with tagline - web version

I am writing this because I am so grateful to Joules for helping me get my logo and brand identity right the first time. I want to recommend her services and promote her new “Blogger Special” logo and header design package. I urge you to take advantage of her talents. Save yourself a headache. I am the Do It Yourself queen, but even I know my limits. It’s important to get this right so you can spend your time on the thing that matters most: Your business!

 

blog logo by Joules

If you’d like to learn more about Joules services just click on her button!

 

P.S. Joules and I are friends. We met on the Internet. In full disclosure, she provided me a discount for her services. In exchange I put her business button in my sidebar. I am writing this post because I want to. It was not part of the deal. All opinions are my own.

BlogHer 14: If You Are Awkward and You Know It Clap Your Hands

I went to BlogHer 14 with my awkward self and I totally bumped into all of the other awkward people like a ping-pong ball trapped in an arcade game. I was just joking about clapping your hands if you’re awkward because that would be, well, awkward, and maybe a little hilarious, at least to all of the non-awkward people playing it cool, which are probably far and few between at a technology driven conference like BlogHer. Thank God. Awkward people of the world, unite!

So, I’m a recovering shy child trapped in an adult sized body. By recovering I mean I have learned the tips, tricks, and tools necessary to fake it as an extrovert when I need to. I’ve given talks, taught classes, and even performed on stage where I had to memorize and say actual words while wearing a bathing suit in front of a large crowd of people. These are the things I do to stretch and grow and face my fears, either that or I am a complete masochist. The jury is still out on that one. Anyway, I can be social and speak in full, articulate sentences and even be funny at times. Of course, when I get tired and stressed and have a couple of uncomfortable social encounters I sometimes lose my mojo and cycle down into the pit of social anxiety that is my birth right.

BlogHer 14 recap: If You Are Awkward and You Know It Clap Your Hands
Tiny-Small likes the “I’m Enough” campaign as much as I do. She ate my cupcake too.

That happened on my first day at BlogHer 14. It was day one, with a plate full of convention food. I was sitting there talking to a blogger when she whipped out her cell phone, mid conversation, and started texting or sexting or checking her Facebook messages.  So, I finished my sentence and then without looking up she responded in a way that was totally off-topic to our conversation with an annoyed tone of voice, as if what she thought she heard me say offended her, but since her response didn’t make any sense really, because it was off-topic, I figured her offense taken wasn’t based on actual events. So I just kind of mumbled something benign like, “Well, everyone is different…” and sat in silence wondering where everything had gone wrong.

I blamed it all on technology. Well, I blamed it all on the technology after my friends bolstered me with things like, “No, you are not boring” and “It probably wasn’t personal, she was just awkward and felt safer talking to the people on her phone than to the people in front of her.” My favorite was when my friend Molly declared, “It’s not you. It’s them.” I didn’t know for sure though because my anxiety was in full throttle and I was busy ruminating about every mistake I had possibly made in the conversation. I wondered if I was boring, or offensive, or if I even belonged at the conference at all. If you don’t have anxiety issues, let me explain, anxiety is a beast. It turns the smallest thing into a mountain of a problem. I mean, who wants to go home after one negative encounter that lasted two minutes? Anxiety does, that’s who. I had to really do some reframing of my thought process. Why was I letting this moment ruin my good time? Tiny-Small patted me on the arm and declared, “You are a famous blogger like me, Mom!” Who could feel bad after that? Eventually I was able to let it go and get back to having fun.

BlogHer 14 recap: If You Are Awkward and You Know It Clap Your Hands
I could star in a movie with the title “Bad Selfie” which would be like “Bad Santa” only more awkward.

I know blaming technology makes me sound like a cranky, old lady, but seriously, phones make some of us rude and distracted. Not all of us. I mean, some people seem to have mastered the skill of having two conversations at the same time. They can talk, make eye contact, and still type out some witty statuses to their fans. These people are clearly the Alpha bloggers among us! They are going places, you guys.

After my awkward lunch encounter it took me a while to get my confidence back. I was kind of tiptoeing around people. My anxiety was in full force. I was afraid to speak, because I was getting tongue-tied and I couldn’t get my thoughts out clearly. I wanted to hide. I didn’t though. I just kept putting myself out there and I started having lots of positive interactions. I started having fun again. I also started getting really picky about who I sat next to.

At lunch, on Friday, I sat at a table where nobody was talking to each other. So, as soon as I finished eating I moved to another table. I realized I had a ton of control over who I chose to interact with and I didn’t have to sit at a table with  the unfriendlies. I could just get up and find someone who looked open to a conversation.

I met lots of awkward people like me who were putting themselves out there even though it was uncomfortable, and nerve-wracking, and we got to know each other and we had a really good time. Being awkward is not the same as being rude. This is a lesson I learned quickly. There is a difference between not knowing the perfect thing to say and not saying anything at all.  it’s rude to pretend not to see someone or to not answer them when they speak to you. Yes, that happened a few times, but mostly, people were just nice and warm and friendly.

Technology might be contributing to our awkwardness at times, but it doesn’t stop us from having good experiences with the people right in front of us. Not if we don’t want it to. Not if we don’t let it.

There is hope for future generations, but at the same time, put your phone down once in a while and talk to the people sitting right next to you the next time you attend the BlogHer conference. If you don’t, you are really missing out on some gems. I promise, if you take the time to look at someone and have a conversation, you will not be sorry. Plus, you are putting out some good vibes into the universe and making our blogging community a place people want to be a part of. Think about how your response to someone might impact them and always choose kindness. ALWAYS.

So, just to do a quick recap on BlogHer 14 here are a few of my observations:

1. Sometimes you are sitting right next to your blogging hero or a blogging rock star and you have no idea, so be nice and be prepared to stare with your mouth wide open as the quiet woman at your breakfast table gets up on the stage in front of you later in the day and delivers one of the most impassioned monologues you have ever seen or heard. Also, be ready to kick yourself in the butt for not spending more time talking to her at breakfast. You will also discover new bloggers that you have never heard of, but that rock your world, and you will be counting down the minutes to get back to your computer so you can read every post they have ever written. I am not kidding. I have a list of blogs three pages long in my notebook. If someone asked a great question in a session, I wrote their blogs down. Sometimes you just know you have a lot in common and are going to connect on a visceral level. If they read a story they have written that moves you deeply there is a good chance their blog is full of all kinds of good stuff.

2. You will cry and laugh…sometimes at the same time. More than once a day. Bring tissues. Do not wear mascara.

3. You will learn things you never expected to learn about yourself and your blog. I attended as many sessions as I could and I learned something in each of them. Sometimes learning what I didn’t want to do was extremely valuable. Do not leave sessions before people start asking questions. Sometimes you learn more from the audience than from the panel!

4. Do not miss Voices Of The Year. Just don’t. I get chills still when I think about the way those women told their amazing stories. It was a highlight. Like I would go just for that. It was that good.

BlogHer 14 recap: If You Are Awkward and You Know It Clap Your Hands
Possibly my favorite experience at BlogHer 14.

5. Find your tribe and do it quickly. If you meet someone nice, hang out with them. Having a buddy with you makes it all seem less scary. Joules from Pocketful of Joules took me under her wing at the Exhibition Hall and I had such a great time. It wouldn’t have been as fun on my own. Plus, if Joules is at the conference you should find her. She seems to know everyone, is very funny, is easy to talk to, and is super nice. She’s like a BlogHer super hero. I am totally picturing her in tights and a cape right now. If that’s not awkward I don’t know what is. I’m totally clapping right now. I don’t care what the cool kids think.

6. Make more time to hang out with your blogging friends. This is a mistake I made, mostly because I was tired and battling anxiety. Nothing saps your energy quite like anxiety does. I wish I had spent more time with my friend Quirky Chrissy. If you think she is funny and nice online…multiply that by 100 in person. She’s just amazing. I was so nervous meeting her that I couldn’t really just be myself and relax until Saturday night when the whole thing was almost over. Next year will be different! I don’t think the negative encounters I will likely have (Hello, we’re all awkward people bumping into each other) will put me into a tailspin so much because I know how to create more positive encounters now. Plus, next time I won’t be so anxious before I even get there because I will be a veteran, right? I’m banking on it.

7. If you can go to a minicon that fits your blog…do it! I went to the “Personal Blogging” minicon and it was life changing. I wish it had been the very first session I had gone to. It would have made the whole experience better because I would have found my tribe immediately. These women, both on the panel and in the audience, were amazing. I felt so at home and I learned so much about where I want to go with my blog. You may see some changes coming soon. It was a very affirming session and I truly felt like I belonged. Which just felt good in general. I think that session alone was worth the ticket price to BlogHer.

8. If you have a moment where you feel excluded and like you don’t belong at the conference, just wait it out. I guarantee in a few minutes you’ll find yourself in a group, laughing and feeling completely included and like you totally belong there. This was the roller coaster ride I was on Thursday and Friday. By the time Saturday rolled around I was feeling really good about being there…even when I was sitting at a table alone. There was just a shift inside me and I felt like “I’ve got this. This is awesome.”

9. Try not to get start struck. I mean, it happens at the weirdest moments. There were famous people ay BlogHer 14  giving keynotes and signing books, but they didn’t make me nervous when I thought about approaching them. It was the bloggers I admired most that I was terrified to talk to! I wish I could go back and tell myself to get over it. I missed out on talking to a few bloggers that I really wanted to meet because I never mustered up the courage to go introduce myself. I could beat myself up over it, but I figure there is always next year!

10. There will be things that happen at BlogHer that don’t make sense. You will learn about strategies and ways of doing things that won’t work for you or your blog. Don’t get grumpy. Don’t complain. Just put it in the category of “what not to do” and move on. As many people on the panel stated, there are many ways of doing things and many different paths to success. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but also stay true to what you believe in. Sometimes following the crowd is the worst thing to do. For example, the title of this post is not exactly SEO friendly. It’s even too long for Google. I am OK with that because today, the title of this post is more important to me than ranking in some magical place on the Internet.

This is a really long post. If you made it to the end, let’s get married because we are obviously soul mates.

 

P.S. I don’t have a lot of selfies or a lot of selfies with other bloggers because I cannot take a selfie to save my life (see above), but I do have a lot of great memories that will keep me riding the blogging train until next year…yes, I already want to go back!

Get Your Snail Mail Here!

Snail mail. I have it. Yes I do. Snail mail, just for you! I love snail mail. I have an email newsletter, but it’s not the same as getting real mail. I know you feel the same way because all demographics point to us being people who love actual mail. We are stamp worshippers and envelope hoarders, are we not? Bring us our mail! Bring us our mail! Bring us our mail!

Get Your Snail Mail Here!

So, I am starting a Snail Mail campaign. It’s going to be so much fun. All you have to do is click the snail picture above and it will take you to the sign up page where you can add your address, or you can sign up here: Put Me On The Snail Mail List. Then you will start receiving snail mail from me. Most of the time you will get postcard art, but sometimes, once in a while, you will also get some original art in the mail. It’s going to be a surprise. I plan to send it out once a month starting in August. I hope you will sign up for it. I am going to send you little notes of happiness. I promise.

I will never use your address for evil and you can unsubscribe from the list at anytime through mailchimp or just by saying…get me off this list, lady! I will occasionally (maybe once a quarter) send you an email to ask you if you still want to be on the list just in case. If you are tired of my snail mail ways you can just unsubscribe. It’s that easy.

As an added bonus, anyone who signs up TODAY (July 10, 2014)  will receive one of my altered envelope art pieces! Yay! So sign up today. Get a super fun letter in the mail. Smile all day long!

Also, if you’d like to make your own altered envelopes to send to your friends, here are a few resources to get you started. It’s really fun to mail things back and forth with your friends…hint, hint. Plus, everyone needs something happy mixed in with their bills once in a while, right?

Check out this video by Renee Stein from  www.thetingoat.blogspot.com -she is awesome!

Then go visit my friend Robin Mead Designs on Facebook to see what she created and to get some inspiration for using your own images. Her envelope is gorgeous!

Let’s get snail-mailing!