Miscellaneous round-ups

Favorite Blogging and Business Tools

September 27, 2016

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.com

I’ve been blogging for just over two years now (what! so crazy) and although I keep finding new tools and ways to do things I do have a few that I’m currently loving so I thought I’d share my favorite blogging and business tools today.

For starters, I have this blog and my business website both through WordPress. I know a lot of people swear by Squarespace, but I’ve never had a reason to switch away from WordPress so I can’t give any opinion on that. For me WP has been fantastic – easy to use and learn, lots of template options (I started with free ones before I committed to buying the ones I really wanted), and it does everything I want.


Editorial Calendar

If you read any blogging advice articles out there you’ll notice that most of them swear by having an editorial calendar. I’ve done this in different ways from writing it down in a notepad to excel spreadsheets, but by far my favorite way of keeping track of it now is with Evernote.

Evernote is a free app that you can sync on your computer, phone, and other devices. You can “save notes, tasks, ideas, inspiration, images, or anything you find online” as they say on their website. And you can even share your notes with other people so that if you blog with someone else you can both have access to and edit the same notes. It syncs between your devices automatically too so you never have to worry about having an outdated or multiple versions.

I created a note with check boxes for my editorial calendar that looks like this:

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.com

This way I can see when I’m supposed to post, and make sure I’m not posting a bunch of the same type of things back to back. The first check box is for when I schedule a post and the second is for when it actually gets posted.

If I miss a post date I mark it in red mostly just so I know I missed it, and if I throw in an extra post for that week I make it blue so I can feel good about my overachieving self ;)

Some other notes I have in there are future post ideas and my 30 Before 30 list.


Planner

To stay on the topic of planning and being organized: the Get to Work Book.

I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this in depth before, and I’m constantly recommending it to people on Instagram whenever someone is looking for a new planner, but it really is awesome. Instead of talking about it again I’ll just say that if you love being organized, making goals, and are looking for a new planner then check out the website! There are video walkthroughs of the book and if you search the hashtag on Instagram you can see how other people use theirs too which I found really helpful before I got mine.

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.com

I know there’s always the debate on electronic vs paper so here’s my take on it: iCal is fantastic for work schedules between Matt and I since we often shoot together or just need to know what each other’s schedules are in general, but a paper planner is still my favorite way to go, and most effective, for my own personal plans and to-do’s. I am all about sitting down on Sunday and taking the time to figure out what I’m going to do in the week ahead. Writing things down makes it feel more concrete to me. And then there’s the satisfaction of getting to check things off – can’t beat that ;)


Inspiration – aka how to come up with blog post ideas

As a photographer, blogger, and person who loves creative things I know that trying to get inspired can go two different ways. Either you see/hear/read just the right thing and you get on a roll of ideas and enthusiasm OR you get totally overwhelmed and discouraged by all the things that everyone else is doing and just want to quit. It’s a hard balance, but one that I think it’s important to recognize.

Like most people I love me some Pinterest browsing. So many gorgeous images flooding the screen and calling your name! It really is a fantastic place to get lost in sometimes. But you also need to be careful to not let it suck you in. If you’re starting to feel more envy or discouragement than you are creativity and good things then it’s time to close it down for a while. Even a few days if that’s what you need.

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.com

There are some really great looking courses out there on how to increase your Pinterest followers and use it to grow your business or blog, but I’ve made the choice to keep mine for personal use instead. That might change one day, but for now I love having at least one social media thing with zero expectations or work attached to it.

Another way that I get the ideas flowing for blog posts is simply to start writing things down. I grab a good old notebook and pen and just start writing everything down. Whether it’s good ideas or bad, fully thought through or just a simple word, I write it down. I definitely don’t go ahead with everything, but there’s usually a couple things that really jump out at me at the end and those are the things I go with.

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.com

The key to this one is staying away from all screens for a while. Don’t let other things distract you. Just you and your thoughts are all that’s needed. And maybe a cup of tea :)


Support System

I’m someone who is 100% okay with being by myself for days on end, and I have to really make an effort to go out and do things with people. But I have learned that when you find a group of people that are like-minded it is so encouraging and motivating to keep doing what you’re doing.

I think in “real” life it can be super hard to find those people, so thank goodness we have Instagram! ha! Earlier this year I found The Gram Gang, which essentially started as an Instagram challenge type thing but has grown into a collective of creative people all with the same goal of growing their business.

I have found a lot of fantastic people through the hashtag (#thegramgang) and love how interactive it’s made Instagram for me. Instead of just scrolling by and liking random photos I actually stop and read people’s captions and learn a bit of their stories. In a world of 2-second attention spans it slows things down a bit if you let it. It gives you a glimpse of the real people behind the pretty photos and can help connect you with people you might not have otherwise gotten to know. I’ve even gone for coffee with some people in real life that I met through Instagram!

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.com

Another thing that I’ve mentioned before is the Rising Tide Society. If you’re looking for a group of creatives and entrepreneurs in your city then you should check out the website and find the chapter that’s close to you. They have monthly meet-ups where they chat about a different topic each time, and you can get to know other people in your industry.

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.com

Full disclosure: I’ve only been to one meeting in Ottawa since it started up here earlier this year. Oops. But I did photograph a styled shoot in August as a result of meeting a fellow blogger there, and in turn that introduced me to even more people in Ottawa. So I think it’s a win :) Now I just need to stop making excuses and head out to another meeting one of these months….


Workspace

This is something that often gets overlooked when talking about business and blogging, but I think having an inspiring workspace is so important!

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.com

Whether you work from a home office, shared space, your living room or your kitchen table there are always ways to make it more “you”.

Here are some simple things to make your work space even more lovely:

Make an inspiration board aka real life Pinterest // I used to love tearing pages out of magazines, writing down quotes, and collecting pretty things that just made me happy. If you have an office or designated work space why not put these things out for you to see every day? Plus it’s easy to switch things up whenever the mood strikes.

Check out Homey Oh My’s diy memo board // coco.kelley’s diy copper grid board // The Lovely Thing’s diy painted cork boards

Get some on-brand stationary or office supplies // is it just me or does and Instagrammable workspace make you happy? Also, stationary makes me happy so maybe it is just me ;) Get some cute pens, notebooks, folders, phone case, mouse pad, or whatever is relevant to what you do! Sometimes it’s the little things that can make you smile and encourage you to stay motivated. And if you already have your branding figured out then stick with those colors to really tie everything together.

Check out Sweet Water Decor // ban.do // Chapters Indigo // (phone case below by Rifle Paper Co.)

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.comPlants! // I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t keep them alive… BUT when I do have an adorable little succulent or some fresh flowers beside my computer screen as I type away it really makes the space sunny and happier. If you’re like me and succulents die just by looking at you (I swear this happens) you can get some inexpensive fake ones that you can pass off as real.

Check out IKEA // this post on A Beautiful Mess

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.comChange of scenery // sometimes you just need to get out and be somewhere different to find motivation. Find a new coffee shop to work at – what’s better than someone bringing you a latte and pastries (yes, plural), beautiful window light streaming in, and a floor that will probably make it into your Insta. Or if the bustling coffee shop isn’t your scene then venture out to your local library or park and enjoy the quiet for a while. Wherever your happy place is find that and let yourself enjoy it for a few hours.

The Best Tools for Business and Blogging // www.thelovelythings.com

I’d love to know some of your can’t-live-without tools you use for your business or blog. Where do you get inspiration or motivation from? Let me know in the comments below!

photography

A Day in the Life // September 16 2016

September 23, 2016

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

I’ve been wanting to do some sort of photo project for a while, but couldn’t figure out exactly what that would look like.

I thought about doing a 30 day challenge, but since I take photos almost daily anyway that wasn’t all that inspiring to me. I went through a few other ideas before coming to the conclusion that a project didn’t need to take days, weeks, or months to be legit. Why not do it in a day!

I remembered seeing other people do “day in the life” photos for Project Life scrapbooks or as an Instagram challenge so I thought I’d do my own version of it for here :) I also thought it could be fun to have one of our pre-parent days documented to remember what life was like then. And after he’s born I can attempt to do this again.. if I remember.

Anyway, let’s get to it! Welcome to my Day in the Life as it happened on a regular Friday in September…

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

8:37 am // this is my view when I wake up every morning. I’m officially 33 weeks and 4 days pregnant, but it’s still so hard to believe that in 7ish weeks there will be a tiny human sleeping in there next to us.

I grab my phone and scroll through Instagram, check emails, and read the daily update on my baby app to see what he’s up to. He’s rolls around the whole time… probably to remind me that he’s very real and not just the fruit comparison of the week on my phone ;)

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

9:34 am // get up, brush teeth, shower. Take this photo and realize just how pregnant I actually look to people despite not feeling that huge. Yikes

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.comA Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

10:42 am // morning cappuccino ritual begins. Matt makes us drinks and I make us breakfast.

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

11:23 am // decide that today is the day I’m going to make a billion freezer meals to have for after the baby arrives.

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

12:44 pm // while meals are slow cooking and baking in the oven I tackle some office paper work. Accounting, invoicing, emails… a bunch of those fun self employed tasks.

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

1:16 pm // it’s a gorgeously sunny day, but finally fall-weather enough out to wear a sweater and pants. Yay! We go for a walk around our neighbourhood to get outside for a bit.

1:43 pm // back home. make some more freezer meals.

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

2:46 pm // photoshoot planning and propping for upcoming shoots.

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.comA Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

3:58 pm // afternoon coffee time for Matt, tea time for me.

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

6:27 pm // send some more emails, tackle editing, and deliver images to clients. How is it getting dark outside already?!

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

7:37 pm // see on Facebook that there’s a huge deal on diapers at a local store so we jump in the car and go stock up. Because that’s what cool parents-to-be do on Friday nights, right?

A Day in the Life // www.thelovelythings.com

For some reason once we get home I forget about the camera for the rest of the night, but we get back just in time to watch Big Brother (bad reality tv is the best tv, amirite?) and make some dinner.

I finally finish making all those freezer meals (I wasn’t joking when I said I was making a billion. I really hope we like eating lasagna for days….), clean up the kitchen, and settle on the couch for a night of watching Netflix.

11:30ish // I fall asleep on the couch while watching a show, and head to bed once the credits roll… and make Matt tell me everything that happened in the episode that I missed… he loves that :P

lifestyle

30 before 30 // the reading update

September 16, 2016

Reading Challenge // www.thelovelythings.com

I haven’t done much on my 30 before 30 list since my last update, but one thing I have been doing successfully this year is reading!

I know that for a lot of people getting through one book a month isn’t a challenge at all – even a book a week. I used to be one of those people. But for the past 7 or 8 years I’ve hardly read any so I really wanted to make an effort to get back into it. I love books and know I spend too much time online so I was ready to take on the challenge!

One thing that had a big effect on my lack of reading was that I’ve moved across Canada so many times since 2010 that I kept having to get rid of the books I owned and didn’t absolutely love. Which in turn made it very hard for me to justify buying new books when I knew that I would just be getting rid of them again in a  year or so.

Reading Challenge // www.thelovelythings.com

And then I re-discovered the library. Books for FREE! Whenever you want! I’m lucky enough to live a 5 minute walk away from a public library too so I was out of excuses. I went and got myself a library card and finally started to take advantage of it.

The only downside with the library (and having such a small branch as my go-to) is that it’s pretty hard to get newer books out. I went on my account online and added myself to the waiting list of people for Big Magic… I was #948 in line. Yikes.

So I’ve learned that older books are still cool and just as good as the new and popular ones. Except how do you find older books that are super good if you don’t scroll by them in your Instagram feed and everyone on there is saying how amazing it is? ;)

And that’s when I discovered the website Good Reads. I stumbled upon it when I was trying to find book recommendations that were similar to ones that I’d already read and knew I really liked. I don’t have time to start books that I’m not going to like so it’s been a great tool!

I haven’t explored all the features of the site yet, but I did find the part where you can set up a challenge on your account to keep track of what you’ve read and how you’re doing. So far I’m only 1 book behind which I’m actually pretty shocked at. I thought I’d be way further behind by now haha.

You can check out my profile HERE if you want to see what I’ve been reading!

Reading Challenge // www.thelovelythings.com

food + drinks hot drinks

Maple brown sugar coffee syrup

September 13, 2016

Maple Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup Recipe // www.thelovelythings.com

I know everyone in the world is all into pumpkin spice lattes these days, but I have to admit they’re just not my favorite. Yep, I said it!

Last fall I shared some recipes for homemade coffee syrups that I do love (cinnamon dolce and vanilla), but this year I felt like switching things up and trying a new flavor.

I came across someone on Instagram a while ago who was making maple brown sugar coffee syrup and it sounded so good! I immediately went and made my own and it didn’t disappoint. Of course that was a month or so ago and now I can’t remember for the life of me who posted it no matter how much scrolling back I do. Sorry anonymous Instagrammer! Thanks for the inspiration!

Maple brown sugar coffee syrup
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil.
Simmer and stir constantly for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup. Let it cool and pour into glass jar or bottle.
Store in the fridge.

Add about a tablespoon to your latte or coffee and enjoy!
Maple Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup Recipe // www.thelovelythings.com

lifestyle some lovely things for...

Some Lovely Things for September

September 9, 2016

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Time for a round-up of great internet finds for the weekend! Grab a latte and a cozy blanket and dive in :)

this IKEA hack mood board (that my office needs) // and this office before + after (that I want to steal the pegboard from)

these homemade oreos (that actually look easy to make) // and these salted caramel white Russians (that I obviously can’t drink now, but look perfect for a cozy fall drink!)

this Amsterdam apartment (with the coolest rocking chair) // and this Copenhagen apartment (that makes me want to move there)

this Anthropolgie illustration (that captures the perfect fall bucket list) //and this Pinterest board (that is filled to the brim with all the most sweater-weather cozy things I’ve ever found)

*above image original source found HERE