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Entries in blogging (4)

Wednesday
Oct102012

A Catalyst

Sometimes when you fall out of routine and slowly loosen up on your responsibilities, it is just easier to stay in that new state. No routine, no obligations, sounds pretty carefree, right? Not necessarily. I fell out of routine with this blog during the summer and the hardest part was doing what I'm doing now...simply writing. When I created that new world for myself, a world in which I didn't need to blog everyday or check in with comments or tweet to followers, I slowly was amassing this mountain of a roadblock between the problem (more about that in a minute) and the solution (dealing with the problem by posting). At first it felt good to not have that responsibility but quickly that morphed into feeling crummy about myself (I'm lazy, I have nothing good to say, What else are you really doing that is so important?) Not blogging wasn't really the answer and I didn't feel great about it but it was still the easier path, the road of least resistance. How many of you are familiar with this road? I'm not proud to admit it but this lack of action has been my way of dealing with some issues in the past. What I can be proud of, is that today I'm changing that by showing up here.

So what is this mountain-sized problem that I was faced with this summer, that I am still facing now? Inspiration, motivation and passion! I fell out of love with my blog this summer and it became something I was forcing myself to do. I started my blog at a very impressionable time in my life and I have changed so much since then. My goals as a creative soul, as a human being, as a maturing adult are growing and adjusting and that means this blog is going to grow with me and become something different. I think during this summer I was a little scared to change it and also confused about how I was exactly going to change it. Why alter something unless you have a crazy, new, amazing idea right? Wrong. I post here to help myself grow, to help identify my inspirations, to act as a visual storyboard for the creativity brewing within. If this is a dormant space, I too feel a bit dormant.

For weeks I have been meaning to blog, to get back into that old routine. I just needed a catalyst. I knew that once I started sharing again, my problem would slowly start to work itself out naturally. This week I started a blogging e-course to help reinvigorate my creative soul. Holly Becker, the writer behind one of my favorite sites Decor8 also teaches a blogging bootcamp called Blogging Your Way and I have always been intrigued when I heard it mentioned across the blogosphere. A few weeks ago a reminder for her latest course showed up in my inbox and I jumped on the opportunity. It was the sign I needed. Let's get back into this! It was my catalyst and I'm hoping that the work I put in here will be a discovery into my new inspirations, motivations and passions. Lauren Elise Crafted may change a bit in this process but after writing this post, that change is no longer worrisome to me. My blog should reflect me. Moving forward, the road isn't exactly clear but I must say I'm excited for the journey. If you choose to tag along, I hope we can share and encourage each other.

The images are a few shots I took this morning of my desk. I recently reorganized my room and am in the process of hanging artwork and surrounding myself with my most treasured items. The goal is to keep the things I love nearby so that I can draw inspiration from them when I'm feeling unmotivated.

P.S. Thank you for bearing with me. I know this was a long post but it feels good to be open and honest.

Tuesday
Mar202012

Tips & Tricks: Crediting Images Properly

Happy Tuesday blog friends! Today I want to share a little trick I just discovered that will make the lives of us bloggers and Pinterest users easier. This trick is a simple way to find credit and sources for images that have been improperly linked. It happens all the time, right? You see it on Pinterest but also very commonly on Tumblr and We Heart It. I think it is great that images and inspirations are so readily available on these sites but I also believe that with these tools, we as users should be acting responsibly. For me, pinning responsibly means crediting images properly. Someone worked hard taking the pictures, styling them, creating the projects you see in them...those people deserve a shout-out and a link back. As a blogger and creative myself, I feel I need to give others the respect they deserve and put in a little effort on my end to credit correctly.  

So lets say you're browsing Pinterest and you come across the coolest image ever. You're in love instantly and are desperate to know who created such a masterpiece. But you click on the link and Pinterest directs you to a Tumblr account or a broken url or somewhere equally frustrating. You have no idea where this cool image came from. Now what? For this example I've taken my own image from my Vintage Book Frames DIY to help demonstrate what to do next (this image is linked properly but lets pretend it isn't). Not all hope is lost. This is what you do... 

First, you'll want to open up Google Images in a separate tab in your internet browser. Then go back to the image on Pinterest. Position your cursor over the image and hold the left-click button down. You'll have grabbed onto the image so then drag it upward toward your Google Images tab.

Your browser automatically moves the image from the Pinterest tab over to the Google Images tab. Remember, you're still holding the left-click button down during all of this. Move the image down to the search bar, drop it there, and let go of the left-click button. Google will then start searching.

And then check your results. The first result may not be the source url so you may need to check a couple of the links. You might not find the actual source either but there is a good chance you will find someone who does know the proper credit for the image. I have had good luck searching images so far but occasionally there is an image that appears to have no crediting anywhere.

Another neat thing that Google does is suggest images that are visually similar. You'll find these at the bottom of the page. The pictures above are just some that Google thought were like my book frames image. Cool, right? This would be a neat way to build color boards and find all kinds of new inspiration.

So that's the new trick. Pretty nifty huh? I think it is so important to link and credit properly. On my Pinterest account I have been trying really hard to do this and have even gone back to old pins to update their links. You have the ability to 'edit' any image you pin so go back and correct a few of the links or add credits when you can. Sometimes it can take a few minutes to do this but as I said before, this is all about being a responsible pinner and blogger. I would want someone to credit my work and so I feel I can do the same for others. It's only right.

I hope this trick is new to some of you and serves as a nice reminder for all of us to be responsible in using the awesome, new technology we have available to us. For me, it's all about fueling a pleasant blogging community. We can all do a little to help keep it that way.  

Monday
Mar122012

Year in Review, Second Year

To kick off birthday week today I thought I would recap my last year of blogging and business, year two. Going through the old posts has been a fun journey and it is nice to reflect and relive those milestones. And I was lucky to have some awesome milestones last year too. My little business and blog are growing and I'm so excited about the direction it is taking me. I don't always know what lies ahead but that has been my journey. Sometimes you have to wait and see where the road leads you. So far it has taken me in all kinds of great directions.

{ Contributing }

Like year one, year two was filled with fun collaborations and guest blogging opportunities. The community that has grown around my blog is one I am so thankful for. I've made some great contacts and friends here. The above feature is one I styled and photographed for Valley & Co.'s spring Ezine last year. That picnic looks so inviting right about now.

{ Important Purchases }

I got a cool, old typewriter! This was one of my favorite purchases last year. Sadly I have yet to get typewriter ribbon for it but I look forward to typing up cards and notes on it soon.

{ Big Etsy Projects }

I was lucky to work with some great clients through Etsy this year. I made a lot of personalized items which is the most meaningful because you get to deal directly with the client. I made these cowboy-themed s'mores kits for a little boy's first birthday party. It was such a fun treat seeing all the pictures too. Pictures courtesy of Nicole Leone Photography

{ Wedding Designs }

I did a lot of work for weddings this year but two important assignments were for a good friend, a wedding I was actually a bridesmaid in. I designed these postcard save-the-dates complete with glassine bag and twine packaging and hand-bound bridesmaid booklets. It was a nice change to work on a personal project.

{ DIY Wedding Class }

I taught my very first DIY craft class last May. It was held at The Wedding Pantry which was a lovely venue and it had a nice little turn out. The wedding crafts were fun and hopefully helpful for everyone. I definitely want to try some more craft classes in the future. Maybe some online ones even so more people could be involved. What do you think?

{ Confetti Lab }

I was also involved in the event Confetti Lab which was held at The Wedding Pantry. I styled a table display to help gives guests inspiration and had a few of my handmade embroidery and crafts for sale too. The event was put together beautifully by the talented Lauren of A Fabulous Fete. It definitely encouraged me to throw some parties myself. It was also a great experience for me in terms of booth display which would come in handy later on in the year.

{ Whisker Graphics }

I started regularly collaborating with Whisker Graphics. Each month I come up with an original DIY using their fabulous products to share on their blog and mine. I use their colorful twines and packaging anyway so it is easy work (I must admit...it's like playtime). Check out all of my projects here. I try to come up with original ideas and new and unique ways of using WG products. 

{ Local Love }

The lovely Danni of Oh, Hello Friend and Ruby of Cakies hosted a spectacular cake party and I was lucky enough to be invited. The cakes were yummy, the setting was inviting, and we all just had the best time. This event reminded me of how important it is to throw local get-togethers. Connecting online is convenient but sometimes you need to chat with fellow bloggers and creatives in person. I have something in the works along these lines. Stay tuned!

{ Weddings }

I attended a beautiful Vermont wedding for my cousin and I was in a wedding. That's me in my pretty blue bridesmaid dress!

{ First Craft Fair }

I was lucky to participate in my first craft fair, a local show called Sew Funky. It was such a great experience. I didn't sell as much as I would have liked but what I learned was invaluable. I had the most fun setting up and styling it. And I've made some fabulous contacts with other vendors from that show. I hope 2012 will be full of more craft fairs for me.

{ Houzz }

I started working with a great home inspiration site called Houzz. Each month I curate an online gallery, called an ideabook, of products for your life and home. It is such an amazing resource if you are in the midst of a home remodel. The above picture is just a few products from my first ideabook but take a look at all of my ideabooks and galleries for more ideas. 

{ Lovely Package Workshop }

Before the holidays Danni put together a workshop and asked me to be involved and teach a packaging DIY. The talented Tristan of Besotted Brand and Beth of Salvage Life were also involved and it was a successful day full of the most beautiful packaging and new friends. Pretty packaging makes me happy!

{ Pinterest }

I pinned a lot...like crazy actually. I started using Pinterest at the beginning of 2011 and have been in love ever since. It inspires me like no other and each day I find myself popping over there to gets ideas and find resources. I occasionally share Pinterest Picks with my current obsessions but you can follow all of my pins and boards here. Picture by studio juju.

{ Crafty Wedding }

I was so fortunate to be involved with this crafty wedding in September. I just recently got to share the pictures here after it originally was posted on Ruffled. I handmade a lot of crafty elements, including the table numbers and yarn pom flowers you see in the picture above. But I also set up and styled on the day of the wedding. It was a lot of work (and thank goodness my Mom was there to help) but it was such an amazing experience. The bride and groom are the best so they helped make the work so enjoyable. Pictures by Stone Crandall Photography.

{ Goals Accomplished }

Other smaller but still significant goals that I accomplished were: (1) Getting my studio cleaned and in working order. Being organized has been a blessing for my sanity. (2) Making my first apple pie from scratch. It was delicious! So proud of myself. (3) I finally made it to the Rose Bowl Flea Market. This is a vintage lovers paradise. (4) I finally got my business up on Facebook!

Oh yes...and I took about a million pictures of Scout!

So that was my year two! Quite a lot now that I look back on it all. Writing this post has sure got me pumped for year three though. I can't wait for what is in store for Lauren Elise Crafted. Thank you for being a part of it friends!

Friday
Feb242012

Inventory: Squarespace

Happy Friday lovelies! The weekend is looming and it feels good doesn't it? We've been having some warm weather these last few days in Southern California and I'm liking it. Today I'm wearing shorts even! I hope we haven't completely said goodbye to chilly weather and knowing SoCal, it will fluctuate back and forth. Is spring starting to show itself in your part of the world yet?

Today I wanted to do an Inventory post on Squarespace which is the online platform I use to design, host, and maintain my blog. Over the last few weeks I've received a few emails from readers asking about website hosting and blog templates and I thought maybe other new bloggers are curious about the same thing. By sharing my blogging experience, hopefully I can answer a few questions and educate you on one possible blogging option which I have been extremely happy with. 

When I was first looking to start a blog (almost two years ago) I spent a lot of time researching my options for hosting and design and templates. I had two main criteria for my search. One, I wanted my photographs to stand out and be a big focus of my blog. So I wanted options for my images, mainly sizing options so that I could size my images larger than normal. Basic Blogger and Wordpress templates size images at 500 pixels...I size my images here at 680 pixels to fit a 700 pixel grid. That's a lot bigger. You can see a lot more detail at that larger size and that is exactly what I wanted. Two, I needed a cost effective option because I didn't have money to hire a designer. But I still wanted my site to look more custom and personal than a basic template. I didn't know coding so I would need to be able to make those changes myself. When I discovered Squarespace I knew this was the right option for me because it answered all of this criteria (and beyond!).

Squarespace is a completely online platform, so I go to squarespace.com and log into my account to access my blog. I then have access to do all kinds of things like change the layout of my site, add columns, change column widths, set fonts, add widgets, change design templates, manage posts & comments, add pages, and so on. You have complete control over your site which you can change and update whenever you want. And you can make all these changes without knowing coding (although you can use the platform to build a website from scratch too). The above image is what you see when you log in. My blog is always in the background (so when I make changes, I see them update live) and then the drop-down Dashboard menu acts as your starting point. From the Dashboard you can look at overviews, look at the structure of your site and make changes, manage file storage, and get real-time analytics. It's a great home base where you can easily find what you're looking for.

When I go to Overview, I see something like this above. The latest comments get posted on the left and I can manage them: delete ones if necessary or reply to readers. On the right I see my real-time data for popular posts, keywords, and my top referrers. You can organize these charts by day, week, month. This is a great way to get a quick update on what is going on with your site. And it comes with your account, all built in and ready to go from day one.

You can also see more detailed analytics from what you see in Overview. This data is real-time so you can know exactly who is coming to your site, from where at all times. I love the graphs and charts since it's a quick way to grab the information you need. I still have a Google Analytics account (which is free) and the information you find there goes more in depth but I use both tools and am so impressed with all the data I find. It is a great way to gauge content and see what your readers are loving. As a blogger it is so important to know what content is resonating with your readers and with these tools you'll never be left wondering that again...you'll know.

This image shows how you can easily select a pre-designed template in Style mode. All the templates are clean and well designed. Use the template as a starting point and then customize from there, making changes to fit your preferences. You can set fonts and colors too. For example, whenever I include a link in one of my posts, Squarespace automatically set it at a different color (in my case light blue) so that readers can differentiate between the link and regular text. This saves time since all these options are set beforehand.

In Structure mode you can easily add widgets, buttons, and banners to your columns. Squarespace has a lot of built in widgets, likes ones for Twitter, but you can also insert code blocks or pictures. The pictures I have running down the right-hand side of my blog - I made those in Photoshop and then just uploaded them. I can change their order around at any time or easily delete them.

Overall, I think the Squarespace platform is really easy to use but it does take a little time to feel comfortable with it. When I first got it I made changes and tweaks for days, just trying to learn all the features. It's fun to play around with though. And when you do have questions or you feel stuck, there is a community forum and a help & support page to find answers. I have found both to be extremely comprehensive. You can also contact the Squarespace support team directly. When I contacted them they were super quick in replying with great customer service.

Squarespace is not a free option (see pricing here) but when I saw how much came with my subscription I knew it was worth it. I don't regret hosting my blog here one bit and for me, I was willing to spend a little bit of money to be able to be so involved in the design and content of my blog. It is so hands-on and I really like that. Check out the Squarespace site to see examples of all the features. You can also try it for free and I definitely recommend that too. I think this is such a great option for new bloggers and those wanting to create sites that look a bit more professional. Give it a try, have some fun with it.

Do any of you use Squarespace already? Are you happy with it? Are you looking to move your blog to the next level? What other hosting and design options have you found? I'd love to hear your experience in these areas and any suggestions you have. There are many options and this is only one of them, one that I can attest to, but it definitely isn't the only way to produce a great blog or website.

*I do not receive any compensation for my Inventory posts. My opinions are based solely on my own experience with the product. I blog about these products because I like them and think other crafters or bloggers could find them useful in their own work. Thanks!