Motivation, Uncategorized

Reflecting on 6 Months of Blogging

It’s official: I’ve been blogging for six months. I’m not sure when I can accurately carry the title of blogger, but seeing as I got up early to write a whole other post and only after I finished realized it was my six months, we can definitely say I’m in the blogger head space.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on my experience. Because why not?

What I’ve Written

My content has taken a variety of forms as I learned which direction I was heading. I thought it could be fun to revisit my favorite post from each month and see how I grew.

January: Hello World! – My Very First Project

My first project was technically to CALI a law class – which is basically just earning the highest grade in a class. Since then, the project has evolved into general law school success. I was surprised re-reading my original thoughts. What a long way the project has come.

February: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a 12(b)(6) Motion

I was really hesitant to write anything about the law because really, what do I know? I was just a first-year. Anyway, I gave it a shot and it was one of my first posts that I was really proud of.

March: Atlas Shrugged – Book No. 6

This was probably my favorite book I’ve read in Project 4. It was so thought-provoking. This was also when I realized that I had to put a bit of work into writing a book review. There was so much to unpack and trying to stay spoiler-free was tough. Book bloggers: much respect.

April: Cleaning Your Closet with Color Theory

This was one of my first posts that involved research. I did a deep dive on why you don’t wear certain shades of color in your closet. It was the first time I’ve developed my own theory about something – something I’ve done more and more of in the past few months.

May: What I Learned from Blogging Every Day

This was a self-reflection post. It’s pretty meta to reflect on a self-reflection post, so I’ll just leave it with that.

June: How To Learn a Basic Calligraphy Alphabet in a Few Hours

It’s always fun to see success. My calligraphy project has been nothing but pure fun and something I didn’t expect to enjoy. I’m looking forward to seeing where this project can go.

What I’ve Learned

What I’ve Learned about Blogging

It’s actually way harder than I was expecting. Writing a post in your head always sounds so much better than it does when you read over what actually made it to paper. Coming up with consistent ideas is impossible and finding the motivation to make sure they all go out on time is comically hard.

But I’m not here to be hard on myself. One of the reasons I write about my projects as I complete them is to reflect on the good and the bad. No journey is ever easy. There are setbacks and failures left and right.

On a more positive note, I think my writing has improved. Or at the very least, I think I’ve found a voice. I write much differently on this blog than I do for anything else – I treat this as a quasi-stream of consciousness, I hear myself talking in my head.

Also, I’m pretty proud of how the blog looks. This is something I touched on yesterday, but I’m proud of the style I’ve created around my content. Besides, there’s only so much you can do on a personal plan and I’m not about to upgrade.

My numbers are still small which is fine with me. I’m still under 100 followers and not many people see my content. This doesn’t bother me at all. My numbers are small but mighty. I’ve met some truly amazing and inspiring people by doing this.

What I’ve Learned about Goals

So if you just did the math, you might realize that that means I started my blog on January 1. While it’s true I went live at the beginning of the year, it was not a new year’s resolution. But hey, if it makes you believe that you can follow through on a new year’s resolution, by all means use me as an example.

This actually is something I’ve really learned about goals: they don’t operate on the same calendar we do. I used to start goals when I finished another task or maybe on the first of the month. This is such a mistake. Start goals while you have the motivation, don’t wait until the time’s “right.”

I’m also very proud of the progress I’ve made on some of these goals. Particularly Project 4, before this project, the last time I read a book was in 2014. Now I’m six months in and I’ve read 15. I’m definitely still learning how to pace myself, but I’m getting better by the day.

What I’ve Learned about Relationships

I’ve become a better friend, girlfriend, and daughter since starting the blog. This is done in two ways: 1) experiencing a fire inside of me, and 2) becoming more cognizant and sympathetic to other people’s goals.

With concrete goals, I’ve been more alive in these past few months. Feeling the roller coaster that is trying something new reinvigorates you. It also has made me really want to bring that out in others. The feelings that I’m feeling, I want to share them.

Understanding motivations is something I’ve tuned into a little more too. I wrote about this a little with the post on my and my boyfriend’s different lifestyles. While he’s more interested in completing daily and weekly goals, mine tend to be so much farther in the future. Learning that these goals were just as important to him as mine were to me allowed me to connect with him in a way I couldn’t before.

That’s about all the self-reflection I have in me at the moment. But let me know down in the comments below, how long have you been blogging and how has your journey changed your surroundings? I’m interested in hearing how people have perceived their own journey.

As always, appreciate you all. Thanks for making this experience so enjoyable.

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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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