Finding Your Voice as a Blogger

Blogging // Finding Your “Voice”

Throughout my blogging adventures over the years, I’ve had lots of people ask how I found my blogging “voice.” And to be one hundred percent honest, I’m not sure that…

Finding Your Voice as a Blogger

Throughout my blogging adventures over the years, I’ve had lots of people ask how I found my blogging “voice.” And to be one hundred percent honest, I’m not sure that I actually have the strongest, or most clear, voice in the blogging community. My content ranges all over the place, some days I talk about DIY and some days I’m getting deep into motherhood, at times I use the blog as a poetic outlet and at other times I just come here and tell a joke and leave. So in that sense, Lovely Indeed isn’t the most clear voice you could find on the web. But when I stand back and look at the blog as a whole, I hope that people see what I see — that it’s cohesive because it’s about the life that I’m creating with my family. It’s real, and it’s about the real things that inspire us.

That’s what I try to explain to folks when they ask for advice on finding their voice. I don’t necessarily think honing in on your voice means deciding to focus on a specific blogging niche, or even a style of writing (although if it does mean those things for you then more power to ya). I think it has to do with an overarching feel for your blog. It has to do with the goals and missions you set for your blog. It has to do with what you want to accomplish, and what you want to share with the world. It has to do with why you’re blogging in the first place. Last year, when I felt like Lovely Indeed’s voice was getting a little all-over-the-place, I decided it was time to write our Manifesto. (If you haven’t read it, it’s a nice little boost for your day.) It’s our compass, it’s everything we stand for, and everything we aspire to be. It’s our voice.

So what does this all even mean?! It’s fine to talk in flowery, vague terms, but what if you’re actually struggling with finding your voice? Or even struggling with something to focus writing about? I always say start with what you love. If you start there, you can’t go wrong. Maybe the thing you love changes every day, and that’s cool. But if you’re writing from a passionate place, people are gonna feel that. And that’s what makes people want to read blogs. To see other people being passionate, and to see that other people are like them, and to relate to someone that maybe you’ve never met but have so much in common with. So start with what you know and love. Write like you talk, if that helps. My writing style has pretty much developed into sounding exactly what it’s like to have a conversation with me. And I like it that way. Maybe that’s not for you, but do what feels true.

Are you a blogger? Or a writer of any kind? I’d love to hear your input on finding a voice, and if you have struggled with it — or how you have found the sweet spot that feels like you. xoxo

DIY Floral Bicycle Handlebars

How Do You Edit Your Photos?

Are you a shutterbug? I know a lot of photographers, and they’re everything from iPhone camera enthusiasts to straight up wizards behind a DSLR. I think with all of the incredible…

DIY Floral Bicycle Handlebars

Are you a shutterbug? I know a lot of photographers, and they’re everything from iPhone camera enthusiasts to straight up wizards behind a DSLR. I think with all of the incredible camera technology these days we all like to dabble in photography a bit — it’s incredible to me that photography has become so accessible and simple, and with all of the editing tools available you can really make your images something spectacular, even if you’re not a trained photographer. All it takes is creativity. But! It always leaves me wondering how people like to edit their photos.

If you take lots of photos, whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, I’d love to know your editing process! Mine is pretty varied. For DSLR images that we take for the blog, I edit a bit in Lightroom and a bit further in Photoshop. But I’m thinking that I need to streamline that process. For phone photos or just fun photos, I really love to edit on my phone; my favorite apps are Snapseed, A Color Story, and the good ol’ editing tools in Instagram. (I didn’t used to use them much but they’ve majorly improved over the last couple of years.)

If you have apps or editing programs, or even specific processes that you use, leave a comment so we can all compare and contrast! I’m thinking of sharing a post on my specific editing processes on phone vs. computer and I’d love to know if you have any specific questions there, too. Happy snapping! xoxo

DIY Suede and Gold Leaf Colorblock Mousepad

Why and How to Back Up All Your Data

So we haven’t talked about it much, but a couple of months back our house was broken into. We were safe and damage was minimal, but we lost just about…

DIY Suede and Gold Leaf Colorblock Mousepad

So we haven’t talked about it much, but a couple of months back our house was broken into. We were safe and damage was minimal, but we lost just about all of our electronics, which pretty much renders you useless when you’re a web designer and a blogger. When we realized that our computers and some hard drives were stolen, we were both a little panicked. Not only is our livelihood on our computers, but literally thousands of family photos and personal files that have sentimental value are there too. And we were worried that we hadn’t backed up properly and that we might have lost it all. Thank goodness my husband is totally on top of our tech, and we were backed up so thoroughly that we didn’t lose a single picture or file. But it made me realize just how important it is to have a handle on your backups, and I thought it could be helpful to share how we back up all of our data in case it might help you too.

PHYSICAL BACKUPS

Hard Drives. For starters, our desktops and laptops are backed up to physical hard drives. Our desktop computers have hard drives plugged into them that house our Apple Time Machine backups. In case you’re unfamiliar, Time Machine essentially saves copies of your computer in its current state and catalogues them in a library. So if your computer crashes, or you accidentally delete something really important, or something crazy happens, you can go to your Time Machine files, choose a date that you want to restore, and your computer will restore to its exact state on that date. Similarly, if your computer flat-out dies and you get a new one, you can restore the new computer with your old computer’s files and settings so it’ll be just like you never lost it.

Photo Backups. We take about a zillion photos, so our images have their own dedicated hard drive. My photos live on an 8 gigabyte RAID hard drive. The RAID system basically means that there are two hard drives housed in one unit; they’re identical copies of each other. So if one poops out, you still have all of your backups on the other. I know it sounds like overkill, but if we ever lost all of our photos I’d be crushed. So we protect against that.

CLOUD BACKUPS

Crash Plan. Physical backups are well and good (and totally necessary), but what happens if your house burns down? Or if, in our case, someone breaks in and takes some of your hard drives? This is where we become reallllly thankful for the cloud. I know it’s this totally vague term and nobody really knows what’s up with all of that data floating around in the ether. But cloud backups saved our patoots when we realized that Ryan’s hard drive was gone, along with all of his personal and work files. Luckily, everything that we have backed up on our physical hard drives is also backed up to the cloud, so we have at least two copies of every digital file that we own.

We back up with Crash Plan. It’s an online backup service that houses all of your data should you ever lose it. It comes with an annual fee of about $150 a year but that backs up 10 computers, so it’s a ton of space. Ryan was able to get all of his data back by downloading what had been backed up with Crash Plan. A couple of downsides here — it took a month (for reals, a month) for the download to finish because it was so large (about a terabyte of data). There’s another cloud backup service called Backblaze that also gives you the option of sending you a physical hard drive of your backup if you lose your data, which you can then restore much more quickly. The pricing structure is a bit different, so you can check them both out and see which would work better for you if you’re looking for cloud backup options.

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Hope this helps some of you! Even if you don’t work on computers or with lots of digital files, think of how awful it would be to lose all of the photos you’ve taken on your phone over the years. Technology has become so easy I take for granted sometimes that we have to learn the ins and outs of it all instead of just sort of using it on autopilot. Do you think about this stuff much, or is it just me?! 😉 xoxo

Cactus Flowers

Why I Blog

How often do you ask yourself why you do what you do? Sometimes I’ll go months without thinking about it and then other times it’ll be at the forefront of…

Cactus Flowers

How often do you ask yourself why you do what you do? Sometimes I’ll go months without thinking about it and then other times it’ll be at the forefront of my mind for weeks on end. I’ve been checking in with it a lot lately and just started jotting down things in a notebook, which turned into this here blog post.

If you’ve been here a while, you know that I sort of have a patchwork of careers behind me; I graduated college and became a high school music teacher for a few years, then moved to NYC and was a musical theatre performer for another chunk of time, and during my time there I fell into creative blogging  & making and have been here ever since. I used to think it was a totally random path that I had taken, but looking back it’s pretty clear that I’ve always been driven toward creative fields. I think what was difficult about teaching music and performing onstage for me was that those are two lifestyles where you have about a zillion people to answer to. Whether it’s students, teachers, producers, directors, you’re holding a lot of weight on your shoulders and are responsible for the success and happiness of hundreds of other people.

When I discovered that blogging was a thing, that you could be creative just for yourself, and share that with the world, it sort of felt like a breath of fresh air. It’s far from the only reason that I love blogging, but it’s a huge benefit for me. I’m the boss. I make the plans. I concept the projects, good or bad. I have myself to answer to and I think that’s exciting. And also, as a people-pleaser from way back, it alleviates the stress and anxiety I would feel when I felt like I couldn’t provide what my students needed, or didn’t live up to an audience’s expectations. In this world, I’m my own compass and that’s very freeing.

And aside from all that, just the chance to be creative in so many ways on a daily basis is such a fantastic challenge. I’m surrounded by people who are spinning out these beautiful ideas and changing the way that the world looks, whether you realize it or not. It’s inspiring and invigorating and keeps my brain pumping to stay in the game. We get to write every day, take pictures every day, work with our hands every day. I feel pretty lucky about all of that. And then I get to turn it around and share it, to hopefully add some beauty and inspiration and creativity to the world. That’s the crucial part for me. I think that the world needs every bit of loveliness we can add to it, and I strive to do that every day, even in my own small way.

The icing on the cake? The people. You guys. My colleagues. Blogging is so fascinating to me, in that it connects people who otherwise would never have crossed paths. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written or shared something and gotten responses from you all that have helped me in one way or another — moral support, tips, suggestions, a different perspective, or just a virtual high five. I think it’s good for the world for us all to know that perhaps we’re far apart and different in many ways, but we can relate on more levels than we think.

So what do you do? And why do you do it? Seriously, I’d love to know — leave a comment and let’s chat. xoxo

How to Find Balance

Blogging // Finding Balance

I was so happy when I saw that lots of you from our survey are still into our Blogging column! I know lots of you lovelies perhaps aren’t bloggers, but…

How to Find Balance

I was so happy when I saw that lots of you from our survey are still into our Blogging column! I know lots of you lovelies perhaps aren’t bloggers, but so much of what we do can apply to lots of different disciplines and careers, or even lifestyles. Today, for example, I’d love to talk about finding balance — especially in a creative field or a field where you work from home, are your own boss, or anything similar. Quite a few readers responded to our survey wanting to talk more about this exact thing, and boy do I know we could all use it.

The thing is, I’m not sure it’s a topic that I consider myself an expert at, or one for which there are specific answers or formulas. But I do know that for a few years now I’ve been able to balance running a business, keeping a household, and now raising a baby who’s more or less normal. 😉 It’s so easy to just work every day away when you’re trying to build a business, and it’s scary to ever let up — there’s a fear that as soon as you stop working something or someone is going to pass you by. You can see right here that I don’t always feel like I have it under control, but there are a few ground rules that Ryan and I have laid out that truly help us feel happier, calmer, and more balanced when we stick to them.

Continue reading

Blogging Project DIY Failures

Blogging // Failed Projects

Ya know, sometimes in the DIY world things just plain don’t work out. We’ve all been there, right?! You have this beautiful vision in your head about what you’re going…

Blogging Project DIY Failures

Ya know, sometimes in the DIY world things just plain don’t work out. We’ve all been there, right?! You have this beautiful vision in your head about what you’re going to create and when you’re done it ends up looking like something your dog dragged through the dirt and left on your doorstep. It happens! Today I thought I’d share my latest fail, just to keep it real and acknowledge the fact that it ain’t always pretty around here, folks.

A few months back I bought about a jillion tiny wooden beads, with the intention to make a really killer beaded curtain for a doorway. It was gonna be rad. It was gonna be all painted and designy and super cool. And then I got all the beads in the mail and I sat back and looked at the project and I was like YEESH this is going to take me until the end of the year. So I put that on hold because lord knows I didn’t have time to string a thousand beads onto twine with a baby running around the house.

So then, I downsized the project. I had this great idea — a beaded wall hanging, a couple of feet square, in the shape of a heart. I figured, how hard could it be to just put some beads on a few strings of twine and organize it all so that it hangs perfectly in the shape of a heart? It’ll be so cool! So I stayed up one night stringing beads until my eyes were crossed and I got them all together in (what I thought was) the right shape while the project was laying down on the floor. And then I picked it up and it looked like a sad kidney. Gah.

Attempt number three: call in the big guns (A.K.A. Mr. Lovely). My husband is so great with precision stuff and I figured if anybody could get this blob to look like a heart, it was gonna be him. So the next night we tackled it together. We restrung, remeasured, retied all the knots for hours. And then we picked it up and it looked like a slightly less sad kidney. Attempt number four: we redid the whole thing again while it was hanging up. And here was the result:

Failed Blog Projects

Not exactly an ideal heart shape, huh? After this round I just scrapped it. It’s waiting in the closet for another day when I can either decide to devote more time to it or when I can bear to repurpose it into another project. I can’t even tell you how many hours are in this lopsided, weird, misguided project. Eventually I’d still love to make it work well enough to provide specific directions for you all to put it together. But for now, we’re stepping away from it.

When I’m in the middle of a project and I can see it going south there’s always a point where I have to decide to push through and try to make it work or just scrap it and move on to the next idea. And I’m sure you’ve all been there too! There’s a lot involved — how badly you want or need to complete your project, the time you have to invest, pride at whether you can figure the dang thing out. When you find yourself in the midst of something that’s not going well, how do you react? Do you get mad? Do you just laugh maniacally? I tend to kind of fall on the floor and just lay there until I think of a solution. (Completely true, no exaggeration; we put a carpet in our studio because we lay on the floor while we ponder things.)

And if you have a magnificent fail that you just have to get off your chest, leave a comment! I need my blob heart to have a little company in the pile of discarded projects. xoxo

P.S. Get lost in our Blogging archives right here!

Copyright Law for Bloggers (And What to do if You're Being Copied)

Making Sense of Copyright Law for Bloggers (And What to Do if You’re Copied)

Oooooooh baby put on your big girl pants because we’ve got a doozy for you today! We have a new resident smarty around these parts and she is dropping knowledge…

Copyright Law for Bloggers (And What to do if You're Being Copied)

Oooooooh baby put on your big girl pants because we’ve got a doozy for you today! We have a new resident smarty around these parts and she is dropping knowledge bombs on you today like it’s nobody’s business. I had the pleasure to chat a bit recently with Maria Spear of Spear Intellectual Property Law, and we got to talking about how difficult it can be as an online creative to protect your ideas. She had the brilliant idea of breaking down the mysterious concept of copyright law as it applies to bloggers and other creatives and share it here in our Blogging series! You’re definitely going to want to grab a cup of coffee and get comfy (and bookmark this one for sure!).

Read on for Maria’s input on intellectual property, and find out how to take on the copycats.

Behind the Scenes // Photo Outtakes

This post has been DYING to happen for years, y’all. And Mr. Lovely officially gave me the go-ahead, so I’m pretty excited (for lack of a better word?) to share…

behindthescenes

This post has been DYING to happen for years, y’all. And Mr. Lovely officially gave me the go-ahead, so I’m pretty excited (for lack of a better word?) to share with you some of the best behind the scenes photos you’re gonna see, possibly ever. Because we work side by side day in and day out, we often help each other out with projects. I’m still a one-woman team at Lovely Indeed for the most part, which means we usually take all our own photos. Of the two of us, I’m a better photographer, so usually I’ll put the camera on the right settings and set a shot, then Ryan will hop behind the camera and actually take photos of my or my hands or whatever. But while I’m setting the shot, I need a subject, so Ryan stands in… Do you see where I’m going with this? I have the most magnificent collection of terrible, hilarious photos of my husband waiting for me to test shoot and I’m sorry but they are just begging to be shared. Let’s just get right to it, shall we? I took the liberty of pairing Ryan’s test shot alongside the final shot, just for funsies.

Sometimes, they’re not so bad, right?

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And then sometimes they just kind of look like bad cellphone photos.

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Sometimes he realllllllly doesn’t want to be doing whatever it is that we’re doing.

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And then sometimes he really gets into it.

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behindthescenes1

Behind the Scenes

I am sitting here dying laughing while I write this post! Come on, if you’re a blogger with a husband you KNOW you have similar photos. Or if not, hopefully you’ve had a laugh at my husband’s expense today. Don’t worry, he can take it. xoxo

Top Blogging Tips

Top Five // Blogging

We’re back with more of your faves! For all you bloggers out there (or just anybody fascinated by the blog world), today we’ve got your Top Five favorite Lovely Indeed…

Top Blogging Tips

We’re back with more of your faves! For all you bloggers out there (or just anybody fascinated by the blog world), today we’ve got your Top Five favorite Lovely Indeed posts about blogging! I kind of started the Blogging series on a whim but it’s turned out to be one of my favorite things to write about, and to read your comments and responses. I’ve learned a bunch from you all and hopefully you’ve found it to be a good resource as well. So without further ado, check out our top blogging posts! xoxo

Editorial Calendars and Planning
Font Resources
WordPress Tips and Tricks
How to Grow Your Blog
How Much Does it Cost to be a Blogger?

P.S. Didja catch last week Top Five posts from our Married Life series? They’re pretty hilarious.

Favorite Apps for Blogging

Blogging // Favorite Apps Part II

I’m a big nerd! I love talking apps. No joke, the apps on my phone have helped me get hundreds of hours (not an exaggeration!) of work done while I’ve been…

Favorite Apps for Blogging

I’m a big nerd! I love talking apps. No joke, the apps on my phone have helped me get hundreds of hours (not an exaggeration!) of work done while I’ve been nursing Henry over the last few months. With the right apps, you can rule the world from your iPhone. I still use most of the apps I outlined in Part I of this series, wayyyy back in the day, but I have a few new faves that deserve to be on the list. So let’s get right to it!

Infinit I use Infinit as a complement to Dropbox these days. Ryan and I are constantly sending files back and forth and Infinit makes it so you can send a file with about two clicks. It zips between computers or phones and you’ve got the file on the other end in about 3 seconds, depending on the size of the file. I use this one particularly often to send image files between my computer and phone. Like if I want to Instagram a photo that I took on my DSLR, I can shoot it from my computer to my phone in a jiffy. Both Infinit and Dropbox are perfect tools if you need to get lots of files between different devices.

Snapseed I have Jeff and Kelly’s Can’t Crop This Class to thank for the intro to Snapseed, and I don’t know how I ever missed it! It’s now on my go-to list for editing photos on my phone. What sets it apart is that you can selectively edit only certain portions of an image, as opposed to most other apps that only have capability to edit the entire image at once. It’s got a spot repair tool too, which is super handy.

Periscope & Snapchat Instagram will always have my heart, but Periscope and Snapchat are like the fun new (to me) kids on the block that I like playing with. I’m loving Snapchat for keeping up with friends while they go gallivanting around the world — it’s so fun to see peeks at what everybody is doing, or what people find funny. I also love the fact that there are no filters and almost no thought that goes into it. It really takes the pressure out of social media. (I’m lovely-indeed on Snapchat! Follow along there.) And Periscope! Periscope is insane. At first I thought it would be weird — you literally can live broadcast yourself while people tune in to watch and chat. But then we tried it and it’s trippy and fun! We actually have some cool things planned for Periscope coming up soon, so you can find me there @lovelyindeed.

Amazon Photo This one is brilliant for families who take a ton of photos on their phones. Ryan and I were going crazy trying to share photos of Henry with each other until we found this. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can upload all your photos to the cloud. Then, multiple family members connect to the app and when you open it, everybody’s photos load. So essentially you have access to each others’ photo streams. Woaahhhhhh it’s really rad.

So! Are any of these new to you? Or have you been using them for a while? I’d love to know which apps are your favorites! Leave a comment and let me know which you’re always using so I can check ’em out. xoxo

 

Best Tools for Blogging

Blogging // Tools of the Trade

Having been a blogger for almost five years (whaaaaat?!?), I’ve spent lots of time developing systems, processes, and a list of tools that make my job so much easier. I thought…

Best Tools for Blogging

Having been a blogger for almost five years (whaaaaat?!?), I’ve spent lots of time developing systems, processes, and a list of tools that make my job so much easier. I thought I’d share a list of the tools that I use on a daily basis, in case it helps anyone out there to build an arsenal! Some are digital and some are analog, some are no-brainers and some are smack-me-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-forever-ago. Read on for my tried and true tools, and please leave a comment with your own favorite tools of the trade so we can all up our game!

White Foam Core Board The answer to everything! I use it for white backdrops on flatlay photos, to bounce light around when there are too many shadows, and sometimes to sketch things out or test paint patterns, and so on. They’re affordable, easy to store, and so useful!

Colored Posterboard So cheap and so fun to play with! I keep a rotating stack of different colors to use as backdrops for DIY projects or Instagram photos. Lay them on the floor for flatlay photos or tape them up on the wall to act as a backdrop.

Camera Remote Shutter Lots of what we use this for is personal family photos, but I’ve used it plenty on the blog! This little remote shutter pairs with your camera and you can set up a tripod to take photos from a few yards away. That’s how we get shots like this one, no photographer needed!

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Camera I saved and saved my duckets to spring for this camera, and I can actually pinpoint the time when I got it as the time that my photos improved vastly and my business improved because of it. This is the one area where, for me, it made sense to invest in my business.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens This little lens is a cheapie but has been a workhorse for me. I love shooting on a 50mm because it’s pretty versatile and this little guy helps me get nice, bright photos even when the weather isn’t necessarily cooperating. My next purchase will definitely be this lens
; also 50mm but a higher quality.

Camera Hand Strap I get asked all the time about my hand strap for my camera! For some reason I don’t get along with a regular neck strap, so this hand strap is my favorite way to go. I’ve toted my camera all over the place this way — on shoots, on vacations, and just around home — and it’s been great. It feels secure in your hand and helps me steady the camera.

Apple Time Capsule We’re in the process of revamping how our computers and files are backed up, but this is always our constant. It backs up your computer automatically, and if you ever have an issue with lost files or crashed computers, you can reboot your system to replicate what was in your computer at a certain day or time. It’s crucial and has saved us a few times for sure.

Apps, apps, apps! I did a post on my favorite apps a while back, but I’ve definitely got some new ones. Stay tuned next time for the apps that help me the most. And until then, find more blogging resources in the rest of our Blogging column!  xoxo