Running Fun And Successful Blog Collaborations

blog-collaborations

The past few months have been an absolute whirlwind, mostly due to my tendency to bite off more than I can chew (both literally and figuratively). As you probably already know, I recently launched the Collaboreat which seems to have taken over my life, presenting me with loads of learning opportunities, joys, struggles, and fun. One of the greatest parts about this new project is learning to handle, have fun with, and make the most of collaborations.

The Collaboreat, as the name suggests, is a collaborative project. Not only do we have a small team working constantly to make our blogazine better, but we also run on the submissions and contributions of other bloggers all over the world. While I’ve done smaller collaborations in the past, I have never done something so large and so reliant on other people!

To be honest, I’m not sure where I got the idea to start something so group-oriented. I’m typically not a team player. As in, the one time I worked on a team professionally I was the one that liked to take on the solo projects and sit in my cubicle by myself, headphones on so I could tune out the world. I have a giant ego and love my own ideas and, being incredibly stubborn, I don’t like to give those ideas up in favor of someone else’s. I love creating my own processes and I hate having to teach those processes to others, mostly because I’m a sucky teacher but also because I like to just do the work. Team stuff is just not my thing.

Yet here I am, working with a team and constantly working with more and more new people that are eager to help out! And boy has it been awesome.

I couldn’t run the Collaboreat without my awesome team. I’ve been able to hand off tasks that I don’t have the time or I’m just not well-suited for (my ego had a hard time admitting to that). As I’ve listened to their ideas and really been open to their thoughts, I’ve learned so much and have been able to improve our processes and content in ways that I never could’ve come up with on my own. Not to mention I’ve been able to get to know these amazing people and what they’re all about!

So my blogging friends, I must highly encourage you to get involved in an awesome collaboration with another blogger RIGHT AWAY.

Don’t be afraid to reach out!
If you have an idea and you think another blogger would be a perfect fit to help you out, don’t be afraid to send that initial email and see if they’d be interested. Whether or not it’s up their alley, they’ll be flattered that you thought of them to work with you on something that you care about! And chances are, they just might want on board. Regardless, you’ve opened up the door to get talking and start a relationship with that blogger. It’s a win win all across the board.

Be open to working with new people you may not have ever thought about.
I have to be honest with you, my team is made up of people I never really expected to work with. It’s not to say they aren’t talented or not perfect for the job, but they weren’t close friends or people I’d known for a long time. One I had never even had a real conversation with and another I met only a month before. Turns it, we make a great team! I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out and I’m so lucky that they wanted to be a part of this dream of mine! So don’t underestimate people or set your expectations too high or expect your best blogging friend to want to instantly jump on board. Keep an open mind!

Participate in smaller collaborations!
Your first collaboration doesn’t have to be epic or longterm or extensive. Try your hand at a quick one-time project, like the recipe swap I hosted with Latrina. Cohost a linkup that you like taking part in. Gather a group of bloggers to post on a certain theme with you. Try out something smaller and see how it goes! Have fun getting to know other bloggers and working with them.

Play to your strengths and recruit others and their great strengths.
I know I’m no good at social media. I’ve done a lot of research on it and know my stuff but I hate the actual work of managing social accounts and posting regularly. It’s a chore to me and because I hate it so much I don’t do the best that I can simply because I just want to get it checked off my to-do list. So I asked someone to help me with that! In the meantime, I can focus on what I do best- coming up with ideas, editing content, providing the image for our work, and managing the bigger picture of it all. If you know you aren’t great at something, reach out to others that might be better and would want to join you! Create the perfect team full of all the skills and strong-suits that you project needs!

Get creative and team up with other great bloggers to start something fresh and new. Blog collaborations can be so much fun and can teach you so much about making your own content better as well as how to work with others. Definitely give it a try sometime!

Life Could Be A Dream Blog Design

I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve shared the projects I’ve been working on. I promise I’ve been working! I promise! I’ve recently finished up projects with a number of awesome clients and I’m so excited to be working with more! And today I’m so excited to share one of those awesome clients with you. She’s a lovely lifestyle blogger that I’ve been following since my early days of blogging and I was so thrilled when she wanted to work with me! Take a minute to get to know her and the blog design I had the pleasure of working on!

Life Could Be A Dream Brand Board by Love Grows Design

portfolio-image

Meet Jana of Life Could Be A Dream

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m a wife to my college sweetheart and a momma to a super active almost 2 year old boy. I have a degree in culinary arts, so it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with food. I’m passionate about blogging (le duh!), fashion, beauty, and pretty things.

Tell me about your blog!

Well, I have too many loves to be a really specific niche blogger, which is why Life Could Be a Dream is a lifestyle blog. I write a lot about blogging and social media strategy, food, fashion, beauty, and mommy/wife life.

Why did you start your blog?

Like almost every newlywed in America, I started my blog right after I got married to document my new life with my husband. I quickly realized that blogging could be so much more than an online journal. I fell in love with the community and I have been hooked ever since.

What are your goals with your blog?

My biggest goal is to be able to inspire people–whether it’s one person or thousands. I want to share my struggles, my hopes and dreams, the things I learn and the things that bring me joy. Hopefully the story of my life can be enriching and inspiring to someone else!

It’s been amazing to me to realize that I can help provide for my family with my blog as well. How cool is that? I feel so blessed to be able to make money staying at home with my son, living my life, and sharing about it.

Why did you want a blog redesign?

I had reached a point with my blog where I was just feeling disenchanted with the look and the functionality of the design. I wanted something that was easier to navigate and I wanted a design that would help propel my blog toward my goals–something that would make people feel comfortable, welcomed, and wanting to stick around.

How do you feel about the completed design?

I am 100% in love with it. It’s so clean, happy, and classy. :)

What is your favorite part about the new design?

The accordion fold category navigation on the sidebar. I love that people can use it to get really specific when browsing my blog’s content. It’s been amazing how much more I have people commenting on old posts because they are that much easier to find!

What posts should everyone make sure to read?

If you’ve been Twitter challenged (like I totally used to be), you should check out this post on how creating a Twitter schedule changed my life.

And if you’ve ever wanted to jump into fashion posts, but you’re feeling intimidated by it, this is the linkup for you. :)

Be sure to check out Life Would Be A Dream for some great blogging tips, fashion posts, helpful DIYs, and sweet snippets from her family!

 

In need of a new blog design for yourself? I’m now booking clients to begin in September!

Check out my portfolio and find more information about my blog design package over here!

 

Why Creative Entrepreneurs Should Have A Blog

Why Creative Entrepreneurs Should Have A Blog

Every time I work with creative entrepreneurs, I encourage them to start a blog for their business if they haven’t already. Some tell me they just don’t have the time or wouldn’t know what to blog about or just don’t want to, but I cannot express how helpful it can be to your business. Why? Here’s four reasons for you!

Showing you’re an expert

One of the greatest parts about having a blog is being able to show my readers I’m an expert in my field by sharing advice and tips. Not only do I get to help people that might not be able to afford my services, but I position myself as a professional worth trusting. When people see that I’m an expert, they are more likely to hire me because they’ve already got a taste for my skills from my blog. More often than not my clients find me because of my blog, and those that don’t start following it and can learn more from the information I share here. Remind your readers why they should hire you!

Building up a faithful following that will be loyal to you and your work

By having content that readers can read and follow along, they become faithful to you and your work. You become a friend to them whose life and work they can follow, encourage, and support. Whether or not they can afford or need to work with you, they’ve come to know and trust you and want to share what you’re doing! I’ve taken on a number of clients that found me because a follower (who I never worked with) recommended me! Open up to your readers and let them help your business!

Having a way to remind people about the work you do

By having regular content, you can remind everyone about the work that you’re doing. Each time your posts show up in their feed, they remember the work that you do and the services you offer. The great part is, you aren’t shoving your business down their throats by constantly shouting at them that you’re a creative entrepreneur for hire. Instead, you have great content that they want to read and share that will gently remind them how much of an expert you are and that you can help them further if they hire you!

Learning more about your field and the questions people have

One of the unforeseen benefits of having a blog to market my business has been gaining greater insight into my field as well as the questions my readers and potential clients have. I’ve learned so much by researching and studying the topics I blog about and then I receive feedback from my readers via comments and emails where they can ask me questions or share their experiences. I’ve learned so much from this process and have been able to better my business because of it.

I can’t imagine where my business would be if I didn’t have a blog. I’ve learned so much, have met so many incredible people, and my business has grown because of it!

Are you a creative entrepreneur with a blog? What have been some of the benefits for you and your business?

How I Efficiently Manage Projects

Efficiently Manage Projects

When I decided I wanted to be a designer, I had NO CLUE how much time I’d spend managing projects and running a business. Sure, I knew there’d be management, but I thought my time would mostly be spent creating and designing. Now it seems that I spend most of my time running a business, not being creative.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about how to be productive and I’ve come up with plans and processes to help me spend more time doing what I truly love- designing! It’s been a lot of work and trial and error, but I’ve been able to create processes that work for me and help me to be better at my job!

Staying organized

There are a LOT of files to keep track of and a lot of information I need to remember to make a project run smooth. If I lose any of them or don’t keep them organized well, I waste a lot of time going through folders and trying to remember things that were said at the beginning of the process. So I have two methods for keeping everything straight.

  • Dropbox folders
    I keep all of my client’s files on Dropbox so I can access them from anywhere. They have a folder specifically assigned to them and in that folder I store all of their associated files. When the process is over, I hand over the files and then move the rest to a hard drive to free up space and keep my Dropbox clean.
  • My client binder
    I started this binder a long long time ago when I first got started. Inside I have a copy of all my documentation and process guides to help me remember what information each of my clients have. Then I have monthly tabs where I keep each clients files based on the month that their project began.  I print out a copy of their agreement that includes all the specifications of the package, their requests for the design, as well as our plans for the art direction. I have a section for notes that I make during consultations and throughout the communication process so I don’t forget anything we’ve discussed. I also keep the copies of all of their invoices. Have the physical copies of everything helps me to stay organized and I can see everything at a glance.

Staying on top of my email

I’ve shared a bit of my process before with my email management tips  that have helped me to stay on top of communication with my clients. I’ve looked into project management tools to help me communicate with clients, but I’ve chosen to stick with email as it’s easy for both of us, no learning curve is required, and I’ve put in place many tools to help make the communication easier. I do ask that all of my clients keep their emails on the same thread so I never lose track of any comments made throughout the process.

A huge part of being productive and efficient is having canned responses that I can use throughout the process. Because most of my projects use the same process, I’ve been able to set up responses that include all the information they need so I don’t waste hours writing and double checking emails. Instead I can paste in the canned response and edit it so it fits my client’s needs. I held off doing this for a long time because I didn’t want to be impersonal with my clients, but I’ve found that  since I started using these responses I’ve been able to save a ton of time but can still make it personal by editing it and adding in personal messages.

Using a checklist

Throughout the process, I’ve used a checklist with all of the package inclusions to make sure I complete each step of the process and I don’t forget any of the pieces of the project. But recently, I’ve taken some advice from Kory and have created a master checklist for each of my offerings. The checklist includes everything from what files to create to what emails to send to what step in the design process I’m on. It’s been a huge help in keeping me on track and saving time so I don’t have to go back or try to remember what’s next. It’s all right there for me to see! *Thanks Kory!*

I’ve tried out a number of different tools and apps to keep my on track, but I’ve found I do best with the basics. Checklists, binders, to-do lists, organization. Simple as that!

What are your best tips for managing projects? How do you stay productive throughout the process?

blog-tour

Today’s post is part of the Sparkling + Divine Support Blog Tour, hosted by Indigo Colton, the creator of Sparkling + Divine Support, a must-have virtual assistant-esque service for creative types, entrepreneurs, and anyone working on the web. Each stop will teach you about being productive, drawing from the personal experiences of each productivity super heroine on the tour. Find out more here.

Know Your Limits: Blogger Edition

Know Your Blogging Limits

I recently wrote a post for my fellow creative business owners about protecting your sanity and happiness by setting limits. As bloggers, I do think you’re business owners so I highly recommend you put those limits in place. But as bloggers, you also have different limits you need to set.

In order to create a solid brand and to fulfill the promises (spoken or unspoken) to your readers, you need to know where to draw the line. Not sure what lines you need to draw for your blog? Here are a few examples.

Subjects You Won’t Blog About

When I created this blog for Love Grows Design, my main purpose was to have it be a marketing platform for my business. And it has worked great! By sharing advice and talking about blogging, business, and design related subjects, I’ve brought in new clients and helped my old ones. There are times, however, that blogging about my recent vacation sounds really nice. I want to be a fun lifestyle blogger that can work with cool brands and show off the fun life that I’m living. But that’s not the purpose of my blog. The purpose of my blog is to be a tool for my business- that’s it. I’ve drawn that line and I’ve chosen not to blog about my personal life.

Now, you don’t have to be as strict as me and only blog about a small range of subjects. But you do need to decide what you will and won’t blog about. Why? Because your readers are counting on your consistency as you are building this brand for yourself. When you call yourself a food blogger and then you’re suddenly sharing outfit posts, you dilute your brand and disorient your reader- instead of admiring your outfit, they’re wondering why you became a fashion blogger and if they should keep following you when they just care about food, not fashion.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t stretch yourself- do it! Try new things! But remember your brand and the unspoken promises you’ve made to your reader. Will it help or hurt your blog? Does that content fit in well with the other content you’re sharing? Is it adding to your brand or taking away from it? If you can pick out subjects right now that you know don’t fit your brand, draw that line.

Sponsors You Won’t Accept

If you’ve made the decision to accept sponsors on your blog, it’s important to have a line drawn for sponsors you won’t accept or promote. For example, in a marriage blog that I had once upon a time, I had a divorce law firm approach me about sharing a recent study they did while also promoting their firm. My blog was a happy and encouraging place where readers could come to learn from my married experiences as well as to share their own experiences so we could learn from each other. It definitely wasn’t a place to promote divorce or share depressing statistics about when people commonly get divorces and what the causes are. I wanted my blog to be an uplifting place! And talk about divorce wasn’t going to add to that. So I kindly turned them down.

Think not only about the content you want to share on your blog, but also about the tone you want to set on your blog. Sure, divorce relates to a marriage blog, but that darkness is not something I wanted associated with my uplifting blog. When you think about writing a post for this company and blog, would that post fit in well with the rest of your work? Will it leave your readers feeling the same as they do when they read your regular columns?

Brands and other bloggers will understand you when you tell them they don’t fit with your target audience. It’s okay to turn them down! And I must reiterate my last “Know Your Limits” post- NEVER do things just for money.

How Personal Are You Going To Get?

There are lots of different purposes for blogs- to teach, to inspire, to get creative, to let out thoughts, etc. What’s your purpose? And what does that tell you about how personal you’ll get? When I had my marriage blog, I was getting pretty personal. Marriage is a very personal subject in of itself and I liked sharing stories and thoughts where my readers could come and say “I thought it was just me! Thank you for sharing something so personal!” I’m talking things like birth control and our first fight. Personal stuff. But it actually really got to me and I no longer wanted to be that personal- hence creating such a tight restriction with this blog. I didn’t want to make that same mistake again of getting way too personal with complete strangers (not to mention the trolls and haters).

So consider your audience and the tone of your blog and the content- how personal are you going to get? How personal does your family want you to get? Are you going to talk about the stomach illness you recently had or the fight you had with your best friend? Where is your line drawn with personal information? What topics are okay to discuss with your readers? What topics aren’t okay?

And pro tip: If you draw that line and don’t want to share that personal information, don’t even hint at it. Not for a second. Or your readers will be wondering and asking around and emailing you and prying (rightfully so when you dangle a carrot like that) and you won’t get that privacy you’re looking for. 

Set limits on your time

If you’re a blogger that also has a full-time job, it might be hard to find the time to blog. You might be staying up till 2 a.m. or blogging on your lunch breaks, but make sure the schedule you’ve set works for you and makes you happy. Don’t neglect your family or personal life or sanity! If you’re sharing your blogging time with your family time, don’t make a commitment to blog five days a week. It will be much harder than it’s worth to try to stick to that commitment when your family wants to go out for ice cream or when you had a rough day at work and just need to relax.

Figure out a good schedule that works for you and stick to it. Set aside specific times to blog and remember to live your life when you aren’t blogging! If you just can’t blog that day, don’t beat yourself up that you didn’t put out as many posts as you planned. Your life matters more and you shouldn’t put that on hold for the readers you’ve never met. Be good to yourself!

As a blogger, you get to set the rules for the game. You’re so lucky to be able to do that! So make sure that you create rules that protect your blog’s brand, your readers, your personal life, and your brand. Set those limits and stick to them!

What do you think? What limits have you set for your blog or business?