Posts tagged takeaways
Where did my voice go? I must find it.

Happy Friday! We did it.

I'm shifting into high gears next week with lots of time in the office, and while I'm preoccupied there will be some superheroes over here, sitting behind the keyboard at Pars Caeli. They hail from Ireland, Italy, as well as the Northeast and deep South of the beautiful USA (what a lovely melting pot) and these ladies have come armed with dazzling photos, DIYs, calls to action, and even a fancy pants Vlog (first one here ever!!) to keep you coming back for more. Yes, I am cool by association.

I will be popping in to relieve my stress and to say hey so please, please be sure to continue your happy commenting trend. And when I do return, I'm coming back with fireworks ablazin' with a great giveaway and a pool party for the 4th on this here blog (I hope my Mac can handle all that chlorine).

Before we head into the weekend, let me leave you with some great ideas I glistened from my new friend, Jennifer Cooper. Jen is a super talented lady, founder/designer behind Ellie Bellie Kids, editor of Classic Play, and a generous teacher over at the Alt Channel. I was a fortunate student in her class, Writing and Finding Your Voice, and I want to share some great takeaways for you and your writing (whether it be blog, papers, emails, books, or tweets!).

One thing before I give you these 5 golden rings...true confession: before starting a blog, I never really thought about the fact that I'd have to WRITE it. My mom said to me, "The blog will be a great way for you to write and share your ideas." I say, "Well, I don't always have to write. Sometimes I'll just share pictures or things I love or, you know, other stuff." My eloquence started early. And so, here I am, baby blogger, totally in the tornado of writing an ample amount, every day.

Who knew?

Oh, wait, you all did, didn't you? Well, why didn't you tell me?

So, get our those handbags, here's what we've got.

1. Less is more.

I can be a total stream of consciousness kind of girl, and I need to fight that tendency people are precious and your time is the best. So this is a good reminder. Less is fresh.

2. You want to have a certain level of intimacy with your audience.

While shirking away from challenging topics and leaving out the gory details might make for happier posts, the writer needs to establish an intimacy with the reader. I think this is why the "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You" blogging series really hits it out of the park. It feels like we're all up late together eating Suzy Qs in our PJs. 

3. Remind your readers who you are – recap your best posts or your philospophy.

Sometimes I forget that you're not in my head. And so reiterating why I started a series of posts or explaining why my family decided to do something in particular would be helpful to move the story along and connect the dots (I always enjoyed the alphabetical connect the dots as much as the numbered ones, how about you?).

4.  Carry a notebook.

I started doing this when I started blogging, and I find it really helpful to catch thought bubbles that burst way too quickly. And I have to prohibit any to do lists in such notebook otherwise it brings stress instead of inspiration. 
 **this one is my fave: 

5.  A great idea poorly written is better than a bad idea written brilliantly.

Jen has oodles of other ideas and great recommendations on folks who do this well.  Pop over tomorrow night when she's at it again. Check it here. Grab yourself a glass of red wine and get ready to learn. I think you might just find your voice.

Happy weekend, friends. I hope it's a bright one. Meetcha here on Monday where we'll be living La Bella Vita. Do not miss it. :)


P.S. For those of you interested, I'm starting a new weekly series focusing on faith and family. Once I graduate out of the baby blogger phase, and understand feeds and menus more, you'll be able to subscribe to this feature in particular. Until then I'll just try to remind you. "Ready to Pray" will link to the readings of the week and offer an activity and/or questions you can use with your kiddos (or yourself) to help them understand and engage in Mass. I haven't quite decided what's the best day to post these so I welcome your feedback there. This first installment will be coming at you on Saturday!! Happy inspires.

Did you come to see my DIY?

Happy Friday, friends! I am ready to downshift a bit from the hectic of this week and transition to the wholesome with ballet, Daisies, and soccer mixed with some great sunshine (pretty, please strange Midwestern weather?)

As promised, I wanted to share some goodies I learned over with the innovative educators of Alt Summit. I feel like a four-time proud alumna (check out my recap of Growing your Readership), armed with more knowledge and idea inspiration.

When I saw this course title come up on the Alt website, I immediately clicked in. Victoria over at led us through "How DIY posts, no matter your niche, can drive readership." Victoria is a totally dedicated, passionate mom of twin daughters who specializes in the "art of merry making" and that kind of just sounds awesome to me because I love to be merry. In her eyes DIY can make a huge difference and can elevate your site from okay to a-mazing!

Blogger buds, happy weekend: here are my 5 helpful takeaways on DIYs.

#1 Be original

Yes, we're developing a theme here. This was Nicole's big push in the readership class, and Victoria stressed this need for great, original content. According to Victoria, original = not done before, done in a new and unique way, used in a capacity that makes the project original in its design.

Here are some nifty ideas from her on how to allow the divine and clearly original inspiration to seep in. Let your brain relax. Take a walk (without the mobile device), a shower. Look at old books and (more so than blogs even) and let yourself be inspired.

#2 Begin it

If you're still feeling desperate for that magical, fabulous post, she encouraged beginning something. Just start working on something, and as you go through the process of creating, other things will inspire and bring new energy and creativity to you.

#3 Keep it accessible

Victoria is an established crafter and blogger, and she's even headed over to the pages of Better Homes and Gardens very soon! And yet, I was edified to hear that her most popular DIY post remains a simple heart ice cube for Valentine's Day. It also brought home the point to me that you gotta keep the materials easy to find, make the steps simple, know your audience, and what they can do. And put the links to your DIYs in a really obvious location on your blog so your readers and new visitors can find these right away.

#4 Maintain beautiful in the process

Use pretty materials. Invest in nice tools. I have never critiqued my pair of scissors or noticed the quality of my kraft paper. Victoria suggested painting or wrapping your scissors with colorful washi tape to give them a fresh feel. Make every aspect of DIY photos fun and interesting, even the shots of the supply list. She encouraged all of us to take clear, well-styled photographs on a simple blank backdrop and focus on taking a killer final shot of our DIYs (even more than the step-by-steps, which, if need be, can be less than perfect compared to the final work).

#5 Schedule time

And last, but best of all in my books, was her example of how she schedules time in her week to be inspired. This is not an easy task no matter your lifestyle but poses a particular challenge to a mom of two small twins. Victoria pulls out her calendar and marks off a few hours every week to leave the house and head to the bookstore to imagine new possibilities.

Put this one on the to do list for me: Set off time to be inspired.

Along this theme of DIY, I've got a fun project coming up in collaboration with Molly the Waffler. I'm stopping over there on Wednesday because I think she may just be able to help my broken umbrella situation.

Have a fabulous weekend. Keep it bright. I can't wait to see your DIYs next week.


"Twitter is the blogger's water cooler"

Today's quote is from the wonderful Nicole Balch from, a beautiful blog about stylish living. Nicole put on one great class last night through the Alt Summit Channel on Growing a Readership, and I was one of her 90 happy students.

I might be a little bit infatuated with everything Alt Summit, but in a totally unbiased way, I also think they are offering some fabulous classes for only $15 that are hip, informative, and filled with other really great bloggers (who you want to invite out for coffee after the one-hour class but they live all over the globe so you just meet up in the twittersphere).

I'm not going to give away all her nuggets, but here are 5 that you can put to use in your own blogging.

#1 Be Original              

What should you post to grow your blog? Original content that sets you apart from other blogs. Nicole recommended a ration of 90:10 - 90% original photos, layouts, tutorials, and creative writing and 10% share cute buys and faboo recommendations.

New to me: the idea of a blogger book tour. Some publishing companies like Chronicle give 10 or so blogs original content applicable to the new book and get the word out through great blogger reviews and posts. Love that.

#2 Share You

Your readers want to get to know who you are. Who is the great Oz behind the curtain? Share your story in fun and interesting ways. 

Nicole mentioned Mighty Girl's life list. Her blog follows the 100 or so things she wants to do with her life. Try spicing up your profile by letting people hear your story and connect with you, the author of your webhome. 

I also learned some awesome nicknames for loyal readers. I wish I could remember all the good ones, but it definitely made me think I need to have some kind of name for you good people who come here to see what's happening in my piece of Heaven. (my inspires? I'm still thinking...) 

#3 Predictable Fun                                        

Your readers come to rely on you, and consistency is key. Your timing doesn’t have to be every day. Nicole started blogging three times a week and now she's bringing us gorgeous photos and content daily..maybe even more soon. 

Stay consistent. But don’t put the pressure on yourself. Aim for once a day.

#4 Become BFF with Social Media           

Social media is fantastic. Stay attentive to the little things. Can your readers find you? This means easy buttons to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram.

Keep the same username for all your platforms so that someone can easily search for you.

Twitter = blogger water cooler!! Keep it fun. "Twitter is a great way to interact with your readers and jump into conversation…traffic will come naturally."

Oh, and match your header to your domain name.

#5 Comment Etiquette

"Don’t have anything in your house that is not useful or beautiful." via Pancakes and French Fries. That has nothing to do with anything, but I found it inspiring!

Stay active with other bloggers and leave a thoughtful comment. And a clear don't – don’t put your URL in a comment. You've already added it in to the basic info on the post. Double dosing here is clearly tacky.

Every post initiates a conversation. It's a like a great party. Be sure to respond to people. "Talk to the people who have been nice enough to talk to you."

And everybody loves comments. So true, so true.

Honestly, what I love best about the Alt Summit classes are the completely creative, dazzling folks who join in the very chatty webinars. You get a complete blog roll and a ton of twitter handles to follow...and I've found some great *inspires* to keep me going for quite a while.

Happy blogging!