social media

Image via Amilight Creative

I have a love/hate relationship with social media, and I think this is also a huge weakness of mine. I love browsing through Pinterest and Instagram for amazing inspiration, but for me, it also creates a bit of envy and insecurity. I tend to browse and follow much more than I lead and post. However, in order to enjoy the benefits of the amazing blogging community out there (and staying optimized in the process), you have to participate! But participating in social media is seriously a job in itself. Unless you have a lot of time to kill or an extra pair of hands, instead of spreading yourself too thin across every manner of media you can find, try focusing on a handful that you truly enjoy because you will be doing it a lot! For example, I’m obsessed with Pinterest, I love Instagram, and I’m able to tolerate Facebook, so these are the mediums that I will focus on (“will” being the key word. I’m working in real time here folks, so it’s all still a work in progress! You’re learning as I’m learning). I’m on Google+ and I do have a Twitter account so I will occasionally throw out a post or a tweet, but these are mediums that will take the back burner.

You can also take advantage of sites like Co-Schedule and Hootsuite to schedule posts on your media of choice at times that are the most conducive to repins and shares. Yes folks, WHEN you post has as much importance and what you post. Crazy, right?

In the past, when I published a blog post, I automated WordPress to also publish a link to the post onto Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Turns out, this is most definitely NOT the right move (it’s basically equivalent to spam)! Your plan here is to reach as wide of an audience as possible and posting everything all at once isn’t going to do that for you. Plus, for those that may follow you on multiple platforms, it’s just kind of annoying! So take time out of your day to schedule your social media posts and pins separately.

There are also times throughout the day in which users are more active. When are you most likely to check social media? Perhaps in the morning over breakfast, during your lunch break, during that 3pm brain fry, and sometime before hitting the hay. So consider the audience you want to reach and post during those times.

Luckily, instead of putting way too much time and effort into posting to each site separately, there are sites out there that will help you schedule these posts/pins to be published at designated times. Phew! For example:

  • Hootsuite – I just signed up for this site myself. It’s a little primitive to me, but it will get the job done. And it’s free! Unfortunately, in order to get the most out of this site, such as analytics, you need to upgrade to Pro.
  • Co-Schedule – Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for the platform, but if you blog on a different platform and are willing to pay the $9-$10/month then it’s totally worthwhile.
  • Tailwind – This is another site that I recently signed up for. It allows me to schedule pins at times that I can set (or they can set for you). Again, to get the most of out of the site you will need to upgrade. With the free subscription, you can’t see your analytics and you can only schedule a certain number of pins.
  • Iconosquare – this is one I just learned about, but it’s something that I will use consistently going forward! This is for Instagram only, but it allows you to break down analytics by category. One of these categories called “Optimization” is where you can figure out the best time to post based on your audience. And going back to SEO, this site can also help you determine what is trending by showing you your most liked and most commented on posts.

I think the biggest thing I am learning through all of this is don’t be afraid to promote yourself, but promote wisely.

Of course, even if you’re breaking your back promoting yourself, the results will be minimal if you don’t actively communicate with your audience. If someone takes the time to comment on your post, whether on Instagram, Facebook, or your blog, have the courtesy to comment back. And don’t just leave it at that – seek out like-minded (and like-sized) blogs and feeds and write your own comments. Be authentic and build yourself a sense of community (because really, isn’t that why most of us amateur bloggers blog to begin with?). Again, sites such as Hootsuite can help you manage this, but you may also want to consider building in time throughout the day specifically for this purpose. Schedule in 30 minutes – 1 hour to schedule your posts (promote) and another 20 – 30 multiple times a day to actively engage.

Which is the perfect segway to my next post in this series! Up next: Creating your Editorial Calendar.

What social media platforms do you like to use?  Are there certain sites/apps that you prefer to manage these accounts?


I’ve been thinking about getting a little more serious with my blog. Not a money-making, leave my day job kind of serious, but I’d like to have more consistency and actually treat this blog as if it were my job instead of just a sporadic hobby. Because when you get down to the nitty gritty, I actually do put a lot of work into my posts, but posting so sporadically kind of undermines all of that.

So, I’ve been doing a little research about things like what makes a blog successful, how to increase traffic, how to keep up with an editorial calendar, etc., etc. and I’m actually learning quite a lot! I’m also learning that keeping up with it all really IS a full time job and if your blog hits any amount of success, you really do need a team of people to stay on top of it all.

My biggest weakness is my want to do it all on my own. Not that I have any amount of success at this point, but I have ZERO tech skills and I’ve been attempting to manage my website and design on my own, which takes away from the time I need to edit photos and actually write a quality post, and that basically makes me feel unenthused about the whole thing in general. So I’ve decided to go back to for a bit – it requires so much less maintenance and knowledge of CSS. That way, I can stay motivated and focused on the things that matter most to me. It also has a great community of people that I really missed during my stint with! There are a couple of pitfalls in going back to the .com version though, mainly: it doesn’t allow Google Analytics and a few other plug-ins that I like, and it doesn’t allow sponsored ads (which I’ve been leaning away from anyhow).

My first tip: be patient! Have big ideas, but start small and don’t get ahead of yourself.

(Although, if you do choose to go with from the start, there are some great Etsy sellers that have premade WordPress templates that you can tweak to make it a little more unique to you.)

Okay, so back to my research. When I started blogging, I had absolutely NO IDEA what I was doing. I still don’t, really, but I’m learning, ever so slowly (but surely!). I’ve come across so many blog posts that offer tips and tricks, but many of these are either common sense (write a post, hit publish) or complete bull (how to make six figures in six months!), or catered to people that already have a good grasp on what they are doing and blogs that already have a following. So, as I make my mistakes, learn from said mistakes, and piece together information that is actually relevant to me and this blog, I figure there are other amateur bloggers out there that could find this information pretty darn useful.

With all that said, welcome to my new weekly “Starting a Blog” series in which I will share my thoughts about starting a blog and the tips and tricks I have learned/am learning in the process. First up…

There are two big factors that I keep coming across:


You may be thinking Woah! What? I thought SEO was for the tech gurus and big time blogs. Yeah, me too. But I am quickly learning that it’s important for any online presence to have some manner of optimization because if you don’t, you pretty much don’t exist. The lower down on that Google list you are, the less likely you are to be found. Fortunately, you don’t need to hire said tech guru to give your blog an overhaul. Here are a few tricks you can use to give your site a little SEO boost:

Starting a Blog: SEO Tips and Tricks

  • The #1 thing you can do is create killer content and photos that users will want to read. I know, so cliché (and kind of common sense)! But the better the quality (and originality), the more likely users are to pin, link to, and otherwise share.
  • On that same note, do your research. Write about current events, find out what topics are trending within your industry, and use them as inspiration. Head over to Google Keyword Planner, Twubs or Google Trends to discover in-demand keywords and if they have relevance to your topic, include 1 in your header, include that same keyword in your post, as well as another 1 – 2 relevant keywords (don’t go crazy with this one! Otherwise, your post will be considered as spam by search engines and you will have quite the opposite effect than intended.) You can also go to to find out what and how often a pin has been pinned from your blog or do a case study of other blogs to see what is trending.
  • Use Alt Text. This one totally surprised me. I see the option all the time as I’m uploading an image into WordPress and always disregard it. Never again! Apparently, search engines don’t “read” images like they do text, so it is your/my job to create that text for better optimization. First, when saving an image, use a logical file name – name the image according to what is actually in the image, and try to insert one of your keywords if relevant to the image. And instead of inserting spaces between words, use dashes (search engines tend to read spaces as %20). When you upload this image into your blog, you have the option of inserting ALT Text (alternate text) – this is where you use a short phrase or 5-6 keywords to describe your image in order for search engines to better understand it. ALT Text also becomes the default caption when pinning an image to Pinterest so use it and use it wisely!
  • Install a SEO plug-in such as Yoast (for to help you enter your SEO information.
  • Use your keyword(s) in your permalink. I didn’t entirely realize that your permalink title could be different than your post title, but yes! So you can still have a creative and interesting post title to draw in your audience, but have a strategic permalink for better optimization.
  • Stay actively engaged. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but you need to stay active in order to stay optimized. The more buzz you can create, the more links you will get, and the more optimized you will be. Plugins like Engageya and LinkWithin can help you create relevant links within your own posts and pages to help readers stick and stay engaged (unfortunately, these widgets don’t work for, but you can use the widget “recent posts” on your sidebar to help you create more internal links to your posts). And then there is the matter of social media…

But alas! This post is already getting far too long, so I’ll save that for the next post in the series: Starting a Blog: Managing Your Social Media.

What plug-ins and/or widgets do you use to boost your SEO? Do you have any other tricks for optimization?


You may notice a slightly different look on my blog this morning, and for this I have Ms. Natasha from My Cute Lobster Designs to thank! (Thanks Tasha!)

I readily admit, when it comes to the blogging world, I am not the most tech savvy gal by any means (as mentioned here). Needless to say, I knew I had to hire a bit of help. But who? How in the world (wide web) was I possibly going to narrow down the thousands of tech savvy entrepreneurs out there to one, single person?! It seemed like a daunting task.

In my quest for The One, I came across a few viable options, but the cost for these was no less than an arm and a leg…and considering that I only wanted a few tweaks made to my blog, rather than a complete overhaul, I was really only willing to give up a leg.

In comes My Cute Lobster Designs. I stumbled upon this little shop via Etsy and immediately thought this could be it! The blog page examples seemed simple and sassy, classic with a punch, and easy to navigate – just what I needed.

Custom Blog Design - WordPress or Blogger/Blogspot - original, one-of-a-kindCustom Blog Design - WordPress or Blogger/Blogspot - original, one-of-a-kind

Custom Blog Design - WordPress or Blogger/Blogspot - original, one-of-a-kindBlogger Template Premade - Pink Champagne - 2 Column Layout for Blogger, Blogspot

And better yet, it didn’t even cost the leg I was willing to sacrifice! A quick note to Natasha sealed the deal. Since then, she has been such a joy to work with, and for a bargain of a price. She works incredibly diligently, responds quickly, is more than friendly and patient with those non-savvy techies out there (ahem…), and still manages to put out a good product in the end.

I’m sure I’ll have many more tweaks to make as my blog evolves, but it’s comforting to know that I’ve got a go to gal. So if you’re looking to start, tweak, or overhaul your blog (or Etsy shop, or Facebook page…), My Cute Lobster Designs should be your one stop shop!

I must also give thanks to Amber Mabe of A. Mabe Design for creating my logo:

What do you think? I’m getting my act together, slowly but surely (I’ll look professional one of these days!) And coming soon…my Etsy shop!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

A LITTLE SIDETRACKED: into the mind of Kristen this Friday morning…

Dear lovely readers, I am sorry for the delayed post this morning! I’m having a wee bit of an internet issue (for the umpteenth time) and am actually on the phone with my service provider as we speak. But thanks to Windows Live Writer – I’m at least able to get this post prepared for your enjoyment!

With that said, and since I can’t quite get onto the internet for my usual browsing and research session, I’m going to write about, well…writing. More specifically, writing in this wonderful world of Blogdom. Now, it’s only been two weeks – this is my 16th post, to be exact – but over these two weeks I have learned so much, have found so many amazing blogs to follow, and have even gained a few followers of my own (thankyouthankyouthankyou!). It’s so addicting, in fact, that I get sucked into the interwebs for hours upon hours and often lose a good chunk of my day!

But there is also an underlying tension, a competitive edge, and feelings of envy that arise during these marathon browsing sessions. How can I possibly compete with all the incredibly crafty, comical, and personable blogs out there? Blogs that have been around for years, blogs that have thousands of followers, and blogs that are so well written and so well designed that I just want to scream with a mixture of sheer delight and jealousy. How do they do it?! And where do I fit in…?

This is where I begin to doubt myself. Why in the world (wide web) would anyone want to read my blog? What do I bring to the table that hasn’t already been brought (“It’s already been broughten!”)? I’m sure other bloggers have this very same fear: I often feel like I’m losing my voice amidst the millions of other voices out there. Not only am I getting buried, but I actually begin to lose my point of view, and “my voice” begins to sound like someone else’s. I begin writing differently, to fit the mold of what I think other people want to hear or see, just to gain more followers. And so the competition begins…

Frankly, sometimes I feel like I’m beginning to lose my self – the whole point of starting this blog was to be true to myself and hopefully inspire others along the way!

So, I have to remind myself over and over that this blog is nothing more than a teeny tiny baby in this big, scary world wide web. It has to be coddled, it has to be nurtured, and in time, perhaps… will grow. And if it doesn’t – who really cares? This blog is wholly mine; it is a place to collect my thoughts, it is my creative outlet, it is my source of inspiration, and it is an excuse for me to explore the inspiration of others – I get to browse through beautiful images, read amazing content, and consistently learn something new. I’m fortunate enough to simply have this outlet, and to have the time to nurture it. I can only be so lucky to have others that I can share this with, whether it be 5, 500, or 5000.

So, with all that said, I must thank my readers – the few and the many – for inspiring me to be true to myself. Yes, I need to consistently remind myself that I do write for myself, but I can’t help but realize that my inspiration comes from sharing this with you.



Well, after very unintentionally floating in blogdom limbo for the last week…I am back!

Now, I am not the most tech savvy gal by any means, but in my recent attempt to establish a site on, I simply felt….stupid. First, I had no idea that and were so vastly different from each other (a good tip here: do your research!). Generally, is a free blog site, similar to Blogger, Typepad, etc. with basic templates, a few customization options, and other additional options you can purchase for a fee. In order to look slightly more professional (even though I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time), I chose to purchase my domain name for a small yearly fee so that my site reads “” rather than “” Yes, I realize that my business name is already long enough without adding that additional hodge podge!

Anyhow, with this amateur attempt to up the ante, I found a host to support the application, made all the appropriate purchases, tried to transfer my meager content along with my domain name…and failed miserably. So I have spent the last week trying to make sense of the whopping mess that I created – installing themes, adding widgets, blah, blah, blah, so that I could proudly publish to the world at least a semi-professional site that I put together all by my lil’ self.

But heck, there comes a time when one must face reality. My reality, just this afternoon, in fact, was telling me that I wasn’t yet prepared to wrap my head around and all the CSS BS that goes with it, and to go back to what I actually enjoy doing, which is writing for my blog instead of customizing it.

So here I am, a week later, back on and loving every minute of it! I say all of this to you because I imagine that one day, when I actually have readers and followers, some of you may be in the midst of starting a business, or thinking about it, and I am here to say that no matter how much potential you may have and no matter how bad you may want it, everything will not happen to you all at once (something like “patience is a virtue…”). You will hit road blocks, and many of them, but a road block is not the end of the road and you WILL find a way around it – even if that means reigning in your ego a little and starting back at the beginning.

SO, now that I’ve gotten this business talk / inspirational message out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff! Here are a few things that I’ve been thinking about over the week that I have been M.I.A….

LOVE the pink boyfriend jacket!

Easy, breezy, and bright summertime style. Love, love, LOVE that boyfriend jacket! Time to go shopping…

Cool, calm, collected.

Cool, calm, and collected summertime style. Seriously, could she look any cooler?

White stems in milk jug behind the couch...

Time to brighten up that living room, change out the slip covers, throw in some flowers, and add that dramatic touch (I recently found a HUGE, vintage milk jug, and just ordered these branches in white, not to mention….repainted my entire living room)!

Perfect for sewing table I'm working on - could look good as bedroom night stand?

Inspiration for a little something I’m working on….

Cute idea for large chalkboard in dining room!