Why I No Long Accept Comments

No more comments

Over the past few months, my life has gotten much busier and I’ve found myself saying “no” a whole lot more and dropping a lot of unnecessary tasks off my to do list. It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for this serial multi-tasker, but I’ve noticed a complete change in my perspective on things.

I now take a step back to examine each and every aspect of my work, judging whether it’s really necessary or how it could be changed to cut back on time and improve my process. Things that I once thought were absolutely necessary to stay organized and the seemingly important tasks that I had learned in a book somewhere have fallen by the wayside. I’ve ignored the many articles titled something like “Ten tools every small business owner needs” and “Fifteen daily tasks for bloggers.” I’m learning to trust my gut instead of the plethora of “experts” out there in the world.

And my gut has told me to turn off comments on my blog.

As I considered the subject, the voices inside my head screamed, “WHAT?? Comments are necessary on blogs! Everyone has them! People love commenting! That’s how advertisers judge how engaged your audience is! That’s how you keep the conversation going and ask for the input and opinions of others! No one turns off their comments!”

I listened the voices for quite some time, but that feeling in my gut wouldn’t go away as reason upon reason kept piling up.

1. I just don’t have the time to comment back.

My blog is just a marketing aspect for my business and on some days, blogging would end up taking more time than doing a whole design project for a client. Then I’d read yet another blog post telling bloggers to respond to each and every comment and would feel guilty. I barely had time to post, let alone come up with a thoughtful response for each and every comment. If it’s between posting or going back to old posts to respond to comments, I’d rather post something new and useful that will actually help my readers. Which of course comes after designing. It’s always been a battle to remember that I’m a designer first, not a blogger and I have to make sure my design work comes first.

2. Comment quality has gone down.

Let’s be honest. Over the past few years, the quality of comments has gone way down. Comments used to be a place to share common experiences or advice or to get to know readers. Instead, it has turned into a way for other bloggers to get their link out to more places or to give the blogger a nice ego boost by saying, “Great post! I agree!” While the ego boosts are always nice, they’re unnecessary and just give me more work as I have to find yet another way to say “Thanks for following along! Glad you agree!” The higher quality comments that offer opinions, advice, or experiences are few and far between.

3. Why not interact on social media?

When those occasional high-quality comments did come up, I found myself wishing they had said it on social media so we could have kept the conversation going without clogging the comment feed. Why not Tweet me a response instead? I’m much more likely to see it and respond, and this way we can keep the conversation going and invite others in! I just didn’t feel like the footer of my post was an appropriate place to have a conversation, not when there are amazing tools like Twitter and Facebook where we are all already active.

4. Keep interaction in one place.

When I’m getting comments from all sides- Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, email, and my blog- it’s hard to keep track and make sure everything gets taken care of. By eliminating comments and encouraging conversation on Twitter, I can focus my efforts on to fewer places which always results in high quality. My time isn’t as stretched and I can make sure each and every loyal reader gets noticed.

If you’ve been overwhelmed by the unwritten blogging “rules” about comments, maybe it’s time to take a step back and consider shutting off comments all together. It has offered me so much relief and I no longer feel guilty every time I look at my blog and see unanswered comments. Instead, I can focus on designing and writing up quality posts!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject! Feel free to Tweet me!

 

How To Create a Weekly Schedule

Create A Weekly ScheduleThere have been a few times in the past few years I’ve been in business that experts, gurus, friends, and fellow solopreneurs have recommended creating a weekly schedule for myself. Set aside different tasks for different days of the week so you don’t get bored or burnt out.

But I never did. Working with any number of clients at the same time in different parts of the design process with different deadlines and different package inclusions made it seem impossible. How can I set aside Mondays for blogging when I have an installation scheduled for Tuesday that I need to get ready for? So I never created that weekly schedule and my days were a series of long to-do lists and scatter-brained “Oh I’ll just do this now while I’m thinking about it.”

But now I do less design and do more managing of The Collaboreat. My days consist of pretty regular tasks that I repeat over and over again. Editing posts. Emailing writers. Researching. Planning new content. Writing newsletters. And yes, there’s still design but just not as much.

And suddenly a weekly schedule made sense! Enough with the long to do lists that always spill over to the next day or randomly deciding to work on other tasks when I think of them. So I sat down and made myself a schedule with these things in mind.

1. No more than four tasks a day.
Granted each task takes time. My tasks consist of things like “inbox zero” and “schedule a week’s worth of content” so four tasks can really take a full day. Tasks can take between an hour and four hours, but I’ve made sure that I don’t schedule too much so if other things come up or if I need a little break, there’s time for that!

2. At least one task each day should be fun.
There’s a lot of things I love about my work (duh, since I’ve created my own job), but there are definitely things I don’t love. I dread seeing “inbox zero” on my to-do list and sending followups to my writers isn’t my favorite. However I LOVE planning new content and doing research (a.k.a. reading food and travel blogs and magazines). So I’ve made sure that every day has something fun in store for me so even Mondays can be enjoyable.

3. One day of the week is much more relaxing.
The thing I love about creating my own schedule is that when I want to spend my afternoon with a friend that came in from out of town or getting a much needed massage, I can! Or if, heaven forbid, there’s a design emergency I have a day that I can set aside for that. So I’ve made sure my Fridays are more chill, including things like “research” and “schedule instagrams”- tasks that don’t take TOO much time and can really be done from anywhere. Now Fridays are my favorite day of the week, the day I can look forward to after a long week and when I can schedule lunch with a friend.

4. Each task is in order of importance.
This way, if one task takes up most of the day, I know that it was important and the less important tasks can be put off without a problem. I can easily work through the tasks for each day and know that at the end of the day I’ve done what’s important.

My new weekly schedule has made my life so much easier. Each day I know exactly what I’m doing and don’t get distracted by other things that will need to get done at some point because I know it will get done later in the week. Everything that will need to get done has it’s place in the week, perfectly laid out for me to get done at the appropriate time.

But like I said earlier, this schedule wouldn’t have worked five months ago when I was working with seven clients at a time, all with different appointments and deadlines and processes. And it definitely wouldn’t have worked when I was just starting out and trying to do a million things for my business after I got home from my full-time job. It would’ve been impossible.

But if you find yourself doing the same things all the time, take a good look at your schedule and your tasks and see what you can do! It just might make your life ten times easier.

Never Start A Blog For The Money

Never Start a Blog For the Money

I’m going to repeat that for you.

NEVER START A BLOG FOR THE MONEY.

Every once in a while, I get a client who is brand new to the world of blogging and they admit that their ultimate goal is for their blog to be their primary source of income. They aren’t sure how exactly they’ll make that happen, but online classes and workshops will eventually be in the picture, maybe a shop, oh and of course working with big advertisers. Target maybe? Or J. Crew? They’re not sure. But they’ve got big plans.

And then we have a talk. We’ll skip the part where I try not to dash their hopes and dreams by telling them that it’s totally possible and it would be so much fun. Let’s skip to the part where I tell them why they need to back up and reevaluate their plans and come up with a different reason for starting a blog. One that has nothing to do with money.

Why?

It’s HARD to make a good income from blogging.
At the very least, you’ll spend the first six months trying build up any sort of following that advertisers would even be interested in. You’ll be busting your butt, commenting on every blog you follow, posting all over social media, sending out emails to bloggers you love, and paying your hard earned money for sponsor spots all over the blogosphere. And if you aren’t exhausted and questioning what the heck you’re doing after those six months, you’ll end up working with small brands that don’t have much to offer you, definitely not anything that will help you pay the bills. Next step? Maybe collaborating with a business people have actually heard of. While blogging might seem easy, like something you can do in the evenings when you’re bored, it’s not. It takes hard work and stamina to really get anywhere.

You’re missing the point.
By putting your focus on making money, you’re missing the point. Blogging is so incredible. You make so many friends and connections from all over the world that love the same things as you and really GET you. You get to share the lessons you’ve learned and the skills you’ve been taught to other people. You get to help! You get to have a voice where you can start discussions with other people about things that matter to you. You get to be creative and call all the shots and have a place all your own. And yeah, maybe sometimes you make money. But when you put your focus on something so material, you’ll miss out on all the other amazing stuff.

Your readers will see right through you.
Blog readers are smart. They follow lots of other blogs and they have for a long time. They’ve seen their favorite bloggers sellout and start only doing sponsored posts. They’ve seen their favorite bloggers get busy and quit. They’ve drama happen between the lines. They’ve seen a lot. They are very observant. And when you sound salesy or push some sponsor product on them that neither you or them care about, they’ll smell it coming from a mile away and they will leave. The less genuine you are and the more you try to make money off of your interested readers, the less they will stick around and stay interested.

The most successful bloggers focus less on money and more on creating genuine content.
When I look around at all the blogs out there, the ones that are successful are the ones that let themselves shine through their content. They work hard on making each and every post meaningful. They’ll stay up till 2 a.m. working on a post because they are so excited for readers to see it, not because they have a deadline with a sponsor. When bloggers put their heart and soul into their work, brands and businesses notice them and want to work with them.

So yes, making money off of your blog is totally doable. But there is so much more! Don’t let the money blind you from seeing it’s much much bigger purpose!

 

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!