Uncategorized

My Favorite Blogs – June 2020

I have been reading so much great content over the past month, so I thought I’d shout out some of my favorite content I discovered in June. Seeing as my blog is an amalgamation of all kinds of creative energy, pretty much any blog can provide insights on goals and hard work.

I thought it would be fun to focus in on newer or smaller creators to give them a little spotlight that they most definitely deserve! Sometimes I fall a little behind on my Reader, so it’s also a nice chance for me to spread the love. So with that, let’s talk about some of my favorite bloggers I found in June:

Reading in the Wildwood

About Megan: Megan is a book blogger. She writes such thought-provoking book reviews. Not to mention, when she does have a book, she takes a beautiful picture of it out in nature. I mean just look at this instagram page! She’s also so sweet and open, be sure to say hello!

Recommended Post: My Most Anticipated Summer Releases

The Madalyn Diaries

About Madalyn: Madalyn tests beauty products and reviews them. She gives her honest thoughts on the different products she uses and she tries to use them completely. So insightful if you’re looking for new products! Plus, it’s just so satisfying to see all of the used make-up in one shot!

Recommended Post: JUNE empties

Unsettled Essence

About Unsettled Essence: If you’ve ever thought of drastically changing your life, but wanted to do it responsibility, Unsettled Essence is for you. She quit her job and is now pursuing the RV life. Reading about her adventures is so inspiring because it’s so evident actual planning went into her journey.

Recommended Post: I Quit My Job and I Feel Great

One in a Million

About Aditi: Aditi is a book blogger, but aside from reviewing books, she writes book-related content. Just in her most recent posts she goes through her Harry Potter house sorting, discussing character archetypes, and short stories. So much creative energy.

Recommended Post: Creating Instagram Feeds for ‘The Raven Cycle’ Characters

Books and Pixels

About Jacob: As you may have guessed, Jacob writes about books and video games mostly. His posts are full of creative energy. There’s a lot of effort that goes into each of his posts and does not go unnoticed. The post I recommended just shows how much work I mean.

Recommended Post: Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Curious Words Blog

About Raven: Raven writes a little bit of everything. While this does include book reviews from time to time, there are so many whimsical thoughts all over that it’s just a breath of fresh air. You just have to read it to believe it.

Recommended Post: Never Bake a Cake in a Hurry

I could honestly go on and on, there’s so much good content out there. But I’d also like to pass the question off to you, what great blogs have you discovered recently? Feel free to shout them out, let’s support those that we admire!

Lastly, I’m thinking of making this a monthly series, what you do think?

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Blogging, Brand Building

An Introduction to Visual Branding on Your Blog

Lately I’ve been doing a little studying. I’ve tried to find popular blogs and compare them. What do they all seem to do? What ideas seem universally successful?

One thing I noticed immediately was that all of their posts had the same cohesive look. You could open any post by them and know it was them. They all had strong visual brands.

Why Visual Branding Is Important

For a brief period in my life, I worked with start-ups. It was my responsibility to help them cultivate a target audience and strategize how to reach them. I was a marketing “consultant.”

I used to teach new entrepreneurs how to set up an identity. What’s your target audience? What colors will you consistently use? What emotions do you want those colors to evoke? Which fonts will you consistently use? What does your company’s voice sound like?

Questions like these may seem simple and maybe irrelevant. But it’s crucial that a new company presents themselves in a consistent way for the consumer to learn their brand.

Examples of Blogs with Strong Visual Branding

You probably see where I’m going with this – your blog is your brand. You have an opportunity with your blog to express yourself and make yourself stand out. This was something that quite a successful blogs did. I want to show you a few that I saw that were strong in their voices – and they’re all still active! Send them some love! I linked to posts that I really liked and also showed strong branding.

Caitlin Althea

What She Writes: Caitlin is a book blogger.

Visual Branding: Caitlin’s blog has a light blue and green color scheme. She uses blue and green flowers as separators within her post – something that definitely catches the reader’s eye. Her sidebar contains green watercolor links. There’s something very warm and inviting about her graphics. This is one of the most unique blogs that I’ve come across, you can tell she put effort into showing off her personality.

What We Can Learn from Caitlin: If a reader can tell you’ve put a lot of effort into producing comments, they’re more likely to do a deeper dive on your content.

Forever and Everly

What She Writes: May is also a book blogger.

Visual Branding: I mean, come on, this blog is cute. She focuses on a floral theme, including pink flowers that separate her posts. They look hand drawn. I really recommend checking out the post I linked and just scrolling because you can see so many visual branding elements, and yet it’s not overwhelming.

Side note: I think we use the same font for our signatures, I swear it’s just a coincidence!

What We Can Learn from May: May is creative and she’s come up with graphics that others might not think about. She puts her hand drawn flowers over her picture to hide her face. She also has a “Shall We Chat?” graphic at the bottom of her posts. Think abut graphics that speak to you and your content.

Thoughts Stained with Ink

What She Writes: Pretty much everything. From video game reviews to publishing her own short stories, Nicole’s got a little dose of something for everyone.

She’s also done a few fantastic posts on Black Lives Matter and her journey in educating herself on how we can all better combat racial injustice. I’ll link to the first one here – highly recommend them.

Visual Branding: A focus on black, white, and red that gives a little bit of a spooky feel. Her graphics are all cohesive, she maintains the same shade of red in all of her content. Take a look at her sidebar – it’s a cute caricature that has all the personality in the world (did you notice her tattoo?), social media icons that look like medieval banners, and sword-bearing headings.

What We Can Learn from Nicole: Get creative. Find a visual brand that speaks to you. No matter how over-the-top or how intricate, you can incorporate it into the content that you produce.

My Visual Branding

You may have noticed already, but I’ve updated my posts to include a variety of graphics to my blog. I’ll include the ones I chose to make here, maybe to inspire you.

I went with a simpler black and white look. I prefer clean graphics myself, so I wanted to focus on simplicity. Graphics here include: a banner of which project you’re reading about, a featured image (to also tell you which project you’re reading about), a graphic I put at the bottom of our book reviews, a photo for my sidebar, a graphic that links to our list of classics, a social media graphic, and my signature (which is the same as my old one, just bigger).

How You Can Start Developing Branding

Use Canva. If you’re not familiar with the platform, it’s an online, free editing platform. There’s thousands of templates and it makes creating graphics incredibly easy.

If you don’t know where to start at all, I recommend this guide. They walk through statistics on why visual branding is important, how to position elements in a photo, how to pick colors, and more. It’s honestly such a useful resource.

I also would recommend this post, where they walk through step-by-step which graphics they’d create for a fake blog. Getting to see the reasoning can be more than helpful if you’re lost.

Lastly, this post is all about creating images to advertise on social media, so if that’s something you’re doing, check this out.

That’s about all that I’ve got for you today. If this interests you, let me know! I have many more thoughts on all of this and materials I used to give to start-ups I was helping. I’d be happy to write more about how to visually brand or maybe even create a downloadable guide. But also, I pass the question off to you: what do you do to help create an identity for your blog? What did I miss? Let’s talk down below.

As always, thanks for reading!

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Blogging, Brand Building

Can Social Media Grow Your Blog Quickly?

I’m now on social media!

As a part of my learn to blog project, I’ve been reading up about tips and tricks to help make your blog a better experience for your readers. Of course, social media is an integral part of connecting with your community. However, I want to use this opportunity to run a little experiment to find out which platforms are most effective.

So after doing some research, I compiled the most heavily suggested platforms for bloggers and some of the advice successful bloggers have given for using the platforms. My goal is to try these out in the way they recommend and see if it really does drive traffic and engagement on my blog. Without further ado, I present to you my preliminary findings (and handles) for social media platforms for bloggers.

Pinterest

I was shocked to find that Pinterest seems to be the bread and butter for bloggers. As someone who phases in and out of using it personally, I didn’t really understand how I could promote my content there. The best description I found was that Pinterest is a visual search engine that operates outside of the limits of SEO (Search Engine Optimization: the metric that Google uses to decide which results to show first when you search something).

Pinterest has its own internal search algorithm that can give you a shot to be seen. Also, in terms of longevity, your content is even more evergreen. As long as someone searches for something that’s similar to your pin, it has a chance to be seen.

There’s also plenty of data about when and how often to post. The general consensus of what I found was posting 5-10 pins a day was most effective for getting seen and the best time to be seen was between 8-11 PM EST. I found a really useful (and free!) downloadable Pinterest guide linked in this post that told me more than I knew about Pinterest.

I started posting pins I created on Canva twelve hours ago. Each pin has two views and one has one save. I focused on big fonts and clear presentation. Definitely more visibility than I was expecting for someone who doesn’t follow anyone yet.

Would you pin it? I’m still trying to get a feel for what’s “pinnable” and what’s not.

Find me on Pinterest: jacquelineofalltradesblog

Instagram

Instagram is everywhere. It’s not a surprise it’s recommended, although the ways to scale on it seem to be different than Pinterest.

The key to Instagram seems to be 1) a strong hashtag game and, 2) following similar accounts to yours. I still have yet to figure out which hashtags work. Once I find out, I’ll do a deep dive on what I find to help you all too.

Also, stories? I’ve never posted a story on my personal Instagram, so I have no idea what I’m doing there. Let’s find out together.

I made my Instagram so I could post my time lapse of my calligraphy attempts, I expect to put more content there soon!

Find me on Instagram: jacqueline.ofalltrades

Facebook

Okay, so I actually had no idea how to grow a Facebook page besides promoting it. As a broke college student, paying for views is not within the budget. Enter facebook groups.

Facebook groups that promote bloggers are a great way to find similar creators and discover new blogs. They work in a you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours kind of way. Nevertheless, some of these groups are over 30,000 bloggers, so that’s a big audience that can potentially see your content. Here’s a list of recommended blogging groups.

Some pages let you join as your blog page, where others you join as your personal account. I’m having trouble joining any with my blog page at the moment – I wonder if it has to do with the fact I have only 2 likes on the page. Once I figure this out and can join groups, we’ll revisit my findings.

Find me on Facebook: @jacquelineofalltradesblog

Twitter

To me, Twitter is the chaotic evil of social media. I stopped using it about five years ago. I’m going to have to really be convinced it’s worth my time to get one. Sources seem mixed and with other platforms being recommended more heavily, I’m staying away for now until I learn more.

Do any of you have a Twitter for your blog? Does it actually help engagement?

Goodreads

Goodreads is really only relevant to me because of Project 4. It’s basically a virtual book club: you can share what you’re reading, reviews on what you have read, and join chats all about it. Honestly, I’m looking forward to talking about the books I read more with others. I created a bookshelf with my list of classics and I expect to be retroactively posting my reviews.

The only downside is that it can mess with your SEO. Basically if you post the same review on your blog as you do on Goodreads, Google is going to recognize the duplicate content and likely display the Goodreads search result before your blog (since it’s a bigger website Google finds it to be more relevant). There is a solution which is to write different reviews. For me, I think my Goodreads reviews will be shorter and more about how the book made me feel. Here’s an interesting article about this problem.

Find me on Goodreads: jacqueline-of-all-trades

Bloglovin’

I’m very mixed on Bloglovin’. It’s a one-stop-shop for blogs where a reader can read their favorite blogs from a variety of platforms. On one hand, that’s great. Finding people who like to read blogs is perfect for what you’re doing. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure you’ll have the same problem as you do with Goodreads. Will Google recognize the Bloglovin’ content as the original?

I’m not really sure on that. So for that reason, I need to do more research before I can be convinced the platform helps more than it harms.

Do you use Bloglovin’? What’s your experience been? I’d love to know especially since I’ve never used the platform myself.

So with that, I enter my social media journey. I’d love to hear from you guys though: what’s your experience been with using social media?

Also, follow me or drop your usernames in the comments down below! I’m looking for accounts to follow!

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Uncategorized

The Blogger Recognition Award

I’m excited to announce that Jess over at Beyond the Front Cover has nominated me for The Blogger Recognition Award.

A Little About Jess and Her Friends

Throughout my journey of reading 100 classics, I’ve found plenty of book-review blogs and Jess’s blog is one of my favorites. Her reviews are so well-written and even-handed that it’s hard not to recognize her ability to fairly review books. One of my favorite reviews of hers is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It was a book that completely missed my list and after reading her opinion, it’ll be one of the first books I read once I finish Project 4.

Not only that, she has a great taste in blogs and the other bloggers she recommended are also fantastic: Alice from Alice and Her Bookshelf, Kate from KateHeartsLife, and Jess from Comfort Reads. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know them and their blogs from her and I can’t recommend them enough!

And lastly, I’d be remiss to not give a little shout out to Jess’s instagram. She channels cozy vibes and lazy Sundays so well. (You might even be seeing a slightly more chaotic Jacqueline of All Trades instagram soon… she’s got me inspired!)

If you’re interested in reading books a little bit more than you already do, send some love her way.

The Actual Award and Rules

There’s only six quick things you need to know about the rules behind the award:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
  6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them, and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s jump right into it.

How Jacqueline of All Trades Started

I’m very new to blogging still; I started in January of this year. However, the concept of working on projects has always been a part of my blood. I have an insatiable curiosity for life. It’s led me down some strange paths of uncertainty like completing degrees in chemical engineering and international studies, all while keeping with the plan to go to law school.

I don’t like the idea of compromise and I believe we should always be exploring and creating anything that catches our attention. So outside of my academics, I found projects like making a cocktail book with my cousin Abbey or dropping an album just to throw the best party of all time. These projects slowly spiraled into a lifestyle – with some being finished and others left to collect dust.

Last fall, I entered law school. I quickly realized that everything around me was all related to law. I lived with other law students, was constantly doing my readings, and had no other hobbies. I was wilting. The blog was a way to salvage my creativity and give me something to work towards.

I almost didn’t even start the blog. I was afraid of possible repercussions for my legal career. Not that I’d be writing anything bad, it’s just it might not be seen as professional. But I realized that if I don’t do it, I would stagnate as a person. Being entirely immersed in law wasn’t something I ever wanted for my life.

So I did it. I started the blog. And oh did it catch my attention. I now live and breathe my blog (for better or worse).

Advice to New Bloggers*

Seeing as I’m a new blogger myself, I’m not sure I’m really qualified here. My blog has a fairly small following and I currently have a project all dedicated about learning how to blog. That being said, I feel like I’m more qualified to give advice to people who have a goal they aren’t chasing. It more accurately represents my story and my journey.

So here’s a few things I’d say to anyone hesitating on a project:

  • Excuses Can Be Contagious: Making an excuse about trying one thing will make you more comfortable to make an excuse about trying a second thing. Pretty soon, you’ll start thinking you’re less and less capable of doing anything. Don’t make it a habit.
  • The “I Don’t Have Time” Line: I once heard something that changed my life: someone who says they don’t have time for something is really just saying that thing is not a priority for them. You’d be surprised how much time you have. I promise you, deleting this sentence from your vocabulary will change your life too.
  • If You Have Something On Your Mind Right Now, Do It: If you’re reading this and a specific thing came to your mind, you obviously want to do it. So why not just start it?
  • Little Steps Are More Valuable Than Big Ones: This was something I implied recently: doing little bits turns into a lot of progress. Spending one day working hard on something will probably lead you to not pick it up again.

My Nominations

The fun part: picking blogs I like to read! I tried to pick a little bit of everything and each one of these blogs continually puts out great content that they pour their heart and soul into:

  • Meredith from Artsy Arrow: This blog is so much fun to read. Meredith does a little bit of everything and when it comes to blogging, she so talented. The website is so user-friendly and so engaging, good luck not getting trapped on it for hours! Also, be sure to check out her art skills if you do visit. Post Recommendation: I Painted a Mural on My Bedroom Wall // Summer 2020
  • Dave from Endless Roaming: Look no further for your daily dose of wanderlust. Posting pictures from his travels, Dave never disappoints. Be careful, endless scrolling abound. Post Recommendation: Cadiz Spain
  • Prerna from Read With Prerna: Another book reviewer I adore. Prerna puts serious effort into each one of her reviews and she flies way under the radar. She picks quotes that make you want to read all the books she does. Would probably be a great reading buddy. Post Recommendation: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  • Trisha from Trisha’s Musings: This girl hustles. She posts every single day about anything and everything that catches her attention. She’s new to the community and it’s really inspiring to see her produce better and better content. Not to mention, she’s sweet as can be. Post Recommendation: My Learnings From The 30 Day Blogging Challenge
  • Sarah from The Critiquing Chemist: There’s something I love about reading a book review from someone with an analytical mind. Sarah writes mostly about the books she reads, but she also has insane travel posts every now and then. Post Recommendation: Four Days in Jordan

Lastly, I want to give a big thank you to everyone who reads this blog. I’m still really new to my journey and am humbled by the gracious outpouring of support I receive. Each of you motivate me so much to continue doing the things I love. So please, don’t be afraid to stop by and say hello! I’m always a comment or e-mail away (jacquelineofalltradesblog@gmail.com).

But I know that I haven’t found all of the great reads out there: what are some of your favorite blogs? Who should I be reading next?

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Blogging, Productivity, Resources, Time Management

What I Learned from Blogging Every Day

If it’s your first time stopping by this week, you might have noticed quite a bit has changed around here. I’ve got my own domain and have changed up the actual site! With a new theme and new featured images, it looks much better!

In the midst of these changes, Abbey and I spent a whole day doing nothing but reading in preparation for a week straight of book reviews. It was something we’ve been planning for a while as a way to relax after me finishing school! Originally, I was supposed to go visit her, but given quarantine we did it separately and checked in over the phone.

A week’s worth of consistent content has been a blast. It was tough to prepare so many reviews ahead of time, but I’ve had the opportunity to work on even more content because of it!

Additionally, I have seen a huge spike in engagement on the blog which has been overwhelming! Having the opportunity to meet some new faces and engage with people reading the same books and doing similar projects has been so much fun! On top of people visiting me, I’ve been trying to reach out to creators whose content I enjoy.

Throughout this process there are a few things I’ve picked up on that I thought I’d share. This week has given me insight as a blogger and my place in this whole mess.

Quality Matters

This is something that’s been really noticeable in my book reviews. There are books I really loved reading and others I just couldn’t wait to finish. Sometimes, it was hard to find the motivation to even write the review after and it showed. No wonder those posts didn’t have nearly as much engagement as the ones that I was proud of writing! The key takeaway I discovered was that if you don’t enjoy what you’re writing, your readers will notice.

With love and affection, it doesn’t really matter what you’re writing about – it only take one reader to identify with your content. For example, a book I really disliked was A Clockwork Orange. It had mostly to do with the – in my opinion – abhorrent slang that distorted the story line. But I really took the time to flesh out these opinions and unpack it a little more. I spent quite a bit of time writing that post and I was happy when it became one of my most-liked posts. My readers could see the love I had put into it and responded to it.

Quantity Matters Too

This week in particular I’ve been focused on putting out content every single day. It’s been challenging, but I came in with a game plan, so it was very do-able. To no one’s surprise, posting every day brought a lot more traffic.

I’m not sure if it has something to do with the Reader algorithm wanting to suggest me more or if I was creating content on subjects others already followed. Nevertheless, I found that when people visited, they checked out my other content too. Because I have a back-catalog of posts on a variety of topics, I saw that visitors were averaging higher views when I was putting out content every day.

Writing often familiarizes others with your content and gives you more of an opportunity to be seen. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll be seen by someone who enjoys your stuff.

Motivation Fluctuation

Just like any habit or hobby, if you’re truly excited about what you’re doing, doing it every day makes you even more excited. I found that I was thinking about content and working on my projects much more this week just because I wanted to.

Motivation is a rarity, so making the most of it is crucial. But exposing myself and quite frankly, some days forcing myself to write, brought more ideas and more of a desire to deliver on material.

There you have it – my thoughts on consistent blogging. It honestly comes down to finding your place and your voice on your blog. But I want to hear your thoughts: What do you think? Do you agree with my observations?

As always, thanks for reading!

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Blogging

Project 6: Learn How to Blog

After my longest disappearance since making this blog, this project couldn’t be more appropriate. I’ve been stuck in the trap of pass/fail finals: you need to study minimally to pass, but what is minimal?

Why Project 6

Nevertheless with the end of finals near, I’ve begun to think about my summer goals. With the start of my law firm job delayed, it been a little difficult to plan how much time I’ll have this summer. But my situation isn’t unique, the whole world is at a standstill.

The virus has given me time to reflect on what I actually enjoy doing. As a high schooler, I had semi-successful music blog and another even more popular one on language learning (a secret passion I have yet to share with you guys – don’t worry, it’s coming!). Those, however, were not WordPress blogs. Here on WordPress, I do feel a little confused as to how everything works.

Recognizing my love for blogging, I realized I didn’t actually know what I was doing. I just type something out and throw it into the online ether. I realize that there’s a whole community of people here that I don’t know how to access: people with the same goals and same circumstances but with wildly different life experiences. As the curious person I am, I want to know more – what more is there to blogging?

This got my wheels turning even more: How do I reach people? How can I make my blog look better? Is upgrading my domain worth it? What is SEO? Is it possible to become as follower-obsessed as an Instagram influencer? What will it take to get Fashion Nova to sponsor me?

Before I knew it, I realized I knew nothing.

Project Goals

In this interim summer, I want to learn more about the potential of a blog and stretch it to its outermost limits. Enter Project 6. Like all of my projects, this one needs an end goal. Admittedly, I got a little stuck here – carrying this project out to a certain number of followers or traffic per month is a little weird (and arbitrary), so this project will just have an end date instead. I was thinking August 24, my first day of school. That gives me the entire summer to explore.

I was brainstorming some mini-goals and projects I’d like to explore so this whole journey isn’t without direction. Here are my thoughts:

  • Make my blog look better: The free themes are, well, not so great. They lack a little to be desired in my opinion and I feel like I can’t optimize how I’d like to display my content – which leads to my next goal…
  • Upgrade my domain: I’ve been wanting to do this for a little while now, but this project will accelerate this process. Which plan is best for my goals and how can I utilize it efficiently?
  • Generate more traffic: Here, I’m more interested in what drives traffic: Is it tags? comments? SEO?
  • Learn more about SEO: Speaking of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), I don’t know much about what makes google like your blog and bring it to the front of its search results, but I’m curious.
  • Learn the WordPress algorithms: No hacking required. Like any service, there’s some internal tips and tricks as to what pulls something towards the top of your reader. When you search a tag why is it that those specific posts appear – are they getting more clicks or is it something else?

And there you have it. Of course, as I find out what works and what doesn’t, I’ll share it. WordPress is a tool that I know so little about – I’m excited to dig a little deeper. Here’s to the start of a new project!

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