Branding and Social Media : Be True to Yourself

Beastie Boys quote found in the studio of Design Love Fest.  \\  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThere is one big struggle that I have recognized over my blogging career.  Being true to myself.  You can get so caught up in the business side of things that you forget to let your personal style come through.  Or you are afraid that the readers that you have built up so far won’t like the real you.  So I found it SO fitting, when I first walked in to the shared space of Design Love Fest‘s studio in Los Angeles last weekend, and saw this quote on the wall.  Boom.  Right there in my face.  ”Be true to yourself and you will never fall,” Beastie Boys.  I was there for Bri’s Social Media Class but I instantly knew it was going to be about more than that for me.  This is the first time I have seen Bri in person and she was charming and delightful.  She’s super funny and made learning about something as dry as social media enjoyable.  I can totally see why she has found big success with her other classes and workshops.  But Bri is the epitome of being true to who you are at all times, across all platforms.  And it is she who has really lead me down this path of self discovery.  Remember this post here where Bri came to me in a dream?  It’s like, how many times must she tell me to be myself?  I’m finding that is truly the way to discover what your brand is.  And branding and social media go hand in hand.

The @designlovefest studio is bright and gorgeous.  Duh.  \\  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comThis class came at a great time for me.  Last month I pretty much dropped most social media in favor of spending more time on my content.  And also because it can feel like a full-time job to make sure you are posting to every platform and see no real benefit.  Bri showed how often and where she posts to social media and it is totally manageable.  I don’t think I have to choose one or the other.  And while there was a lot of basic info, which was great since there was a wide variety of creative types in all stages of social media in the class, I also gained some new knowledge as well.  I also loved that even though the focus was on social media, it was also a lot about personal branding.  The crossover was very welcome and I came away with a new clarity.  I have a to-do list that I made for myself of things I want to clean up or edit.  I have an achievable social media plan, that demonstrates my brand.  And I have a renewed desire to put my whole self in to everything I do.

Donut Snob donuts and polka dots from the @designlovefest Social Media class.  \\  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI feel like my content in the last few weeks is getting closer to my style.  My numbers have dropped a little.  It can’t be all about the numbers and I won’t let it become about the numbers again.  The day before this class I had met with a gal who is going to be helping me with a new logo and look.  I’m excited for what is ahead.  And I look forward to taking more classes from Bri.  She’s legit.  My branding and social media feels more real to me right now than ever before.

Seriously, if she rolls out a new series of Social Media classes you NEED to take it.  OH HEY, SHE DID!   This is not sponsored in any way.  Although she did share these radtastic Donut Snob donuts with us.  These are my opinions and just so you know, I can’t be bought with donuts.

 

 

 

On Location Shooting

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shooting fashion posts on location when you have kids mean you all take a field trip.As a blogger, sometimes you have to find the right place to shoot a post.  And sometimes that means that you have to drag your kids along on a little field trip.  But they usually find a way to keep themselves busy.  Like rolling around on the sidewalk.  And trying to stand in the street with you.  You can see the final shots from this impromptu neighborhood street shoot here.

And btw, are you following me on Google plus?

My Creative Work Space

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The dining table as desk is not always ideal.  And often becomes the stage for toy reviews by my kids. Today I thought I would share with you my very creative work space…my dining room.  There is no other room in the house to have a desk (well, we have one in our bedroom but it holds the DVR box and the printer so there is no room to actually work on it…).  My dining room is in a very central spot in the house so it helps me to watch the kids and work at the same time.  And the two totally go hand in hand.  My oldest, and very recently my youngest, like to give reviews on Lego sets that they make up.  After watching countless reviews online, they are now experts in delivering reviews.  They are so funny.  And they are loooooooooong.  In my head, my workspace looks like this.

A Perfect Instagram Moment

dirty-side-of-blogging-logoA beautifully styled instagram post by A Fabulous FeteI am SO happy to have Lauren on the blog today.  You see that perfectly perfect, styled photo above?  Lauren puts out the most gorgeous Instagram photos.  Style just comes so naturally to her.  But guess what is just outside even her perfect shot…

This is what is just outside of a perfectly styled instagram photo by A Fabulous Fete.See the red shoes on top of  the white dresser below the window?  That is the beginning stages of a perfectly lovely shoe shot.  I totally appreciate Lauren sharing this with me.  I love that we can all keep it really real.

Do any of you have photos of your dirty side of blogging?  I’m taking submissions!  Email me!  cupcakesandcutlery at gmail dot com.

 

5 Blogging Rules I am Breaking

Some rules are made to be broken.  Especially when they stress you out and make you compare yourself to others. I recently came to a conclusion about my blogging career.  It stresses me out too much.  I feel like there are a ton of us out there in this same exact stage.  We have decided to take our “hobby” and turn it in to a business.  But for a lot of us, it isn’t easy.  What once was my creative outlet is now a chore.  And while some of the “rules” are self-imposed (especially since I am my own boss – and trust me, I can be a total bitch), the to-do list to achieve success is never-ending.  After a few months of really spinning my wheels I decided to look long and hard at what the heck I’m doing here.  Things needed to change.  Here are the rules I am currently breaking.  In the name of happiness, I encourage you to do the same.

Sometimes your notebook stays empty a long time when you are deciding on what you want to do with your blog.Your Brand Identity is Everything.

I struggle with the branding for my blog and how to best get across who I am and what I am all about to the readers.  The branding leaders within the blogging realm will tell you that everything needs to be cohesive and well-defined and blanket all media channels.  Each and every thing you post, utter, share should perfectly reflect your brand.  People blog for different reasons.  And all of them are right.  For me, I blog because I enjoy sharing the things I like and what I am experiencing.  I just can’t commit to the idea that when I am on Pinterest I am only supposed to pin the things that perfectly reflect my brand aesthetics.  Guess what?  Not every super delicious sounding recipe comes with a great image.  Of course I want my boards to look nice but I like what I like and I’m not afraid to show it.  Especially for Pinterest, I am breaking this rule.  What “brand” has two thumbs and a home to manage?  This gal.  So if I want to pin a toilet bowl cleaning tip, I’m going to.  If that makes someone not want to learn more about me than so be it.  But guess who’s toilet is going to be cleaner…(Oh! and I found this great article that breaks down the difference between your brand and your identity.)

summer vacation.  girl's trip.  leopard and tans.Pick a Blog Category

It has been said that readers have a hard time following lifestyle bloggers because they really don’t know what to expect in the way of posting topics from day-to-day.  I totally understand that.  But this gal is in to a lot of different things.  All of which I want to share with you.  I get that all of you don’t enjoy Abe Lincoln as much as I do but this is my place to share my love of him.  Some days I want to share what my kids are doing.  Some days I want to talk about cocktails.  And I think that is ok.  I don’t think I have to pick just one avenue.  I realize that may hinder me in some respects (I’m guessing a lot of food companies would love to work with food bloggers).  And maybe a wine company doesn’t want me to post about their wine and then my kids the next day (truth: they go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong).  But I am ok with that.

Fabric floral tassels with gold fringeAnalyze your Analytics

I look at my blog traffic numbers once a day.  And then I don’t do anything with them.  If I stressed about hitting certain numbers I think it would take me so far away from what I want to do that I would eventually hate blogging and want to fight it in an alley.  So I take my numbers with a grain of salt.  While my traffic has gotten me more in the way of  affirmation from other bloggers and more notice from brands, it is not everything to me.  I need to create content that I enjoy.  If I followed what my analytics said were my readers favorite posts, I would be doing crafts all day.  My kids do not allow for many craft DIY style posts.  They are too time consuming and require a lot of pieces and work.  I would much prefer to make a cocktail.  Or something I can eat right when it is done being photographed.  Of course I want to keep my readers happy but I need to be happy too.  The times when I have really focused on my traffic I have been able to grow it.  Then I get burnt out and take a break and they go back down.  What really is the point?

Sometimes we get so caught up in blogging that the world literally passes us by.Blogging is all About the Money

Sometimes you make money from blogging.  Sometimes you pay an awful lot of money to keep your blog going.  When I decided to make a push towards turning it in to more of a job, money was a big bench mark for my success.  Given the number of usable hours I have in a day (I’m useless before the hours of 5 am and after 8 pm plus whatever time my family needs my attention) I found that I couldn’t do it all.  Either I created good content, or pitched new business or updated a social media platform.  I have to choose.  And right now I have to be ok with that.  Those two little boys above are not going to wait for my blogging world to get sorted out.  I literally started to feel like the world was just passing me by.  It can’t just be about the money.  It has to be fulfilling too (in whatever way you deem it so).  At my blogging level, we are encouraged to never work for free, never take a free product without further compensation and ask for triple what you have been getting.  I think it needs to be up to each person to decide what is right for them.  I was on a high horse about this for about a month and then realized I was being stupid.  Once I figured that out the heart palpitations stopped and I felt some creativity coming back.  A few day drinks to help celebrate a friend’s birthday helped too.

a mess of brightly colored macarons.Put your Best Photos Forward

I have loved photography since I was in high school.  I think it is an amazing way to tell a story and is an artistic medium that I feel pretty comfortable with.   But sometimes I think we get so stuck on the fact that something isn’t a “good enough” photo that we don’t want to share it.  The other night I was making a yummy shrimp recipe.  I had already started cooking it when I decided it would be something I thought my readers might enjoy.  With a styled photo shoot out of the question, I took some simple photos of it on my plate – my normal dinner plate not one from my prop closet.  But they aren’t the prettiest.  Do I share them knowing that some folks wouldn’t find them pinnable?  The amount of time it would take me to set up that recipe just isn’t worth it.  Especially since the recipe is a quick meal!  I’m going to share it.  Maybe next week.  It would be dumb for me not to share it because it isn’t styled as pretty as some of my other posts.  That is not a choice that all bloggers will make but for me I think it is right.  I don’t see it as putting out a lower quality post.  I see it as being practical and real.  It would be awesome if all my posts could look perfect.  It just isn’t always possible.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.  I have been really stressing about it for a while and feel like talking about it has let some of the tension go.  Are you willing to break “the rules” to be happier?