what creating content and blogging is like for me, if anyone cares to read

Okay that title seems a bit harsh—but it’s true! A lot of people typically ask mega-bloggers how they grew their brand, how they create content, for advice on blogging. You rarely see people ask micro-bloggers with less than 15k how they grew their following, how they create content, etc. Not enough for them to post about it at least.

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So I’m here to answer the question that was never asked. And I’m going to explain things from my point of view, which is obviously unique to my own experiences. Even though I have a small following, I still work really hard and treat my blog and my instagram, and everything i do for that matter, as if I do this for a living and have thousands of subscribers, so I hope you can learn a few things in this post!

creating quality content

This is said every single time, from every.single.mega-blogger, and I can’t stress how important this is.. Your content - and the quality of it, REALLY. IS. KEY. But what does this even mean? Well....What are you bringing to the table? What differentiates you from the person next to you? You should ask yourself questions like this every step of the way, in whatever you are trying to achieve, not just blogging. from my experiences, when I’m truly passionate about something, quality content comes right along with it. It’s seamless.

To me, ‘quality content’ doesn’t just apply to blog posts or Instagram feeds, it applies to everything we do!

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Design school really helped me realize how important unique & ‘quality content’ really is. In 2015, I was preparing myself to enter a super saturated and extremely competitive design industry. Knowing this, it kind of forced me to dig deeper into my design process so that I could stand out over the portfolio next to me. By doing this, I REALLY stood out! I dug deeper and learned that I was super passionate and felt so inspired by deeper thoughts, emotions and feelings, which makes sense because I am super super introverted. 

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I turned a bible verse into a spring collection, I designed about the feeling of touch itself for fall. My entire senior thesis was inspired simply by my own philosophy of design. I found what my passion was and I literally ran with it.

It was second nature to me to design this way, once I realized where the passion was. And this flowed out vividly in everything I drew or created for my portfolio (that’s where the quality content kicked in).

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By mid-senior year, I was competing in design competitions for the CFDA with the top designers in my graduating class across the US. Although I didn’t win it all, I made it to the point where I was a semi-finalist for one of them, meaning I was in the top 4 over hundreds and hundreds of entries in this competition. I was even able to take my designs a step further and compete at a global level - such an amazing experience and a time in my life that I will always appreciate, thanks to God! By graduation, I was awarded Designer of The Year by the faculty at my college and received a really generous scholarship that I didn’t even apply for. I honestly didn’t even know that the scholarship existed.

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I’m not sharing this to brag - if I wanted to brag I would have shared it a long time ago. I’m very humble about all of my accomplishments. But what I hope you take away from this is, dig deeper! Take time to find what makes you different and what you’re passionate about, and embrace it!! This will ensure quality content, I can guarantee you that. It might even help because I haven’t used a blogging example but I wanted to share something today that was actionable, my blog isn’t to the point where people want to hear about its successes 😜.

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57th Photography

So, this all might be hard to discover at first, it took me years to find who I was as a designer, and I’m still trying to find who I am as a blogger right now. I’ve always found word mapping super useful when trying to figure out things. Start with what you love and things associated with it. Maybe then will help you find something you’re passionate about and you had no idea! Anyway, I really believe that we all have something unique about us if we just dig a little deeper. Then you can use that to your advantage and people will really connect with you!

You might be thinking, well why the heck aren’t you designing now then little miss passion. Short answer is, I truly love design but I love Shawn and my family here in Cleveland so much more. I was sick of missing out on seeing my littlest sister grow up, sick of missing family get-togethers, sick of not seeing relatives before they get to go to heaven. Literally. I left work early one day in Columbus and showed up to the hospital a minute after Shawns grandma passed. If I was in Cleveland I could have been there before she left us. I realized that the lifestyle just isn’t for me, not unless I do my own thing. I have been praying for more clothing design opportunities in my future so we will see.

Also, just want to add - in my experience, being genuine stands out and has always worked for me, so that’s the best advice I can give. You can totally tell when someone’s work is disingenuous because honestly, it just doesn’t feel like them. Share things that are unique and true to yourself. Share content that you want to actually share, share what you really love! And don’t be afraid to do it. Don’t share what’s popular at the present time just because your account will grow. That plan is only temporary and will fade over time, plus you won’t even enjoy doing it as much as creating things you’re passionate about!


my photography & dslr’s

I can’t express now important it is to post quality images! When I first started, my account grew to 1k over just about 1/2 months. At that point I was working with my sister-in-law who is a photographer to create content. She and my brother were just starting their photography business so they needed content too, the partnership was just a perfect time, perfect place kind of thing. We would hangout, drink energy drinks, and take pictures. It was really fun haha!! I was posting those photos twice a day, morning and night, to really get myself out there.

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57th Photography

Once I hit around the 2.5k follower mark I decided to invest in my own camera, it was a crop sensor that cost about $1k. So..not the flashiest camera in the market but it helped me learn how to use a DSLR, and how to edit the photos, which I really really wanted to learn more about! Plus my sister was getting super busy as their business picked up, so we couldn’t meet as much for photos. It just seemed like the right time for me to invest!

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Around 6k followers I decided that I learned enough to invest in a full-frame camera. Full transparency: these are expensive. If you don’t see yourself using a camera for professional purposes, such as blogging full time, photography full time or some other profession, I wouldn’t recommend investing in it. I bought mine used for about $2k with the lens, my camera and lens new is around $3k. I sold my old camera to help pay for the investment. . 

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I know that people use iPhone photos for their blogs and IG, but for me I would say shooting photography RAW and learning the ins and outs of photo editing has been something that I genuinely enjoy doing. When you shoot RAW you are more-so able to add you’re on unique touch to your photos, even if you’re starting with a preset. It makes me feel like my photos are more.. ME! But there is a reason photographers make a living off of this, it’s not easy and it takes time. I’ve been shooting raw and editing my photos for over a year and I am still learning / adjusting my editing..and I know I still have so much to learn!

posting every day vs. posting periodically

Right now for me personally, I’m not at a point in my life where I have time to create quality posts every single day. The house renovation is priority right now and we are very involved with the entire process so that comes first over photographing our current house, or posting about plant tips or even partnerships. I think if we weren’t renovating this would be different and I would be posting more, so just putting that out there!

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I believe it is good to get in a rhythm and stick to it. If you’re posting every other day then you change to once a week, people will see less of you and sooner or later they will find another blog to fill the void. That’s just me giving my honest opinion, not trying to be harsh! If you plan to change up your posting schedule, do it gradually! bounce back and forth between your current time and your new time, just to show those 8pm peeps that you’re still there.

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i use the Plann app to organize my feed and plan posts. It makes the process seamless and enjoyable, I love organizing my grid 😊

the blog

Ooooh the blog. I might be biased over this platform because I’ve been using Squarespace for years since I had to make an online portfolio back in 2014. I’ve never tried anything else for this blog. But I do love it and recommend it to everyone’s that asks. It’s so convenient, I’m literally writing this post on my phone right now, at 12:17 AM lol. I pay $17 a month for the membership, $6 a month for my blog email and $40 for my domain a year. So basically what I’m saying is this is an expensive hobby lol. But I love it! I know that I don’t help a massive audience but I interact and help people with different things every single day on here. It’s worth the investment to me and if I didn’t feel passionate about it, I wouldn’t do it.

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I wouldn’t recommend blogs to someone who isn’t interested in actually blogging. I think being a blogger and an influencer are two different entity’s honestly. I believe that you can be both but there are also people who are solely influencers and solely bloggers. If you don’t want to blog, don’t waste your moola, that’s all I’m saying!

If you’ve gotten to the end of this post, i love u and just want to thank you for reading. I hope you walk away from this informed and/or excited to find your passion and do something that you truly love. Life is too short to not love what you do every day.

Love you guys!

Christine

Christmas Decor Tour!

This time last year I’m not going to lie our Christmas decor was not all there. With my 4.5 hour commute to work every day, I really didn’t have time to do anything! Even though I’m still busy at my new job, planning for the new house, playing with 7 animals, spending time with my family, I somehow found some time to decorate this year!

First I’d love to start with our mantel. One Friday night I literally was like “screw it, I’m going all out this year” and I did! I went to Pat Catan’s and Target and bought a WHOLE BUNCH of stuff, I planned to return whatever I didn’t use. Which I actually recommend to anyone who is planning on going big on decor for any season! Buy what you think you might want to use and plan on returning it! I had so much to work with and it made the house turn out that much prettier! Anywho, when I got to Pat Catan’s I found out all Christmas decor was 50% off! Score! I bought two big garlands for the base and literally like 30 extra pieces of faux pine branches and one massive fern to cut up. Sadly, I didn’t take ANY pictures of the process. Mainly because I was just doing it for fun and had no idea how it would turn out. Now, so many people have loved it and messaged me asking how to make it that I’m trying to figure out how to recreate it for a DIY blog post! It also was shared on West Elm’s IG so I was pretty darn excited about that!

Oh and I also wanted to note, I had two different ideas for the mantle, so I bought double the material and returned what I didn’t use. Let me just tell you I returned over $140 worth of fake fruit the next day… That mantel idea was really pricey so I’m happy I didn’t go with it.

On to the next part of the tour… the tree! This year the only thing i purchased for this frosted beauty was the red and silver bulbs from Target—I think they were like $6! I didn’t realize how well all of the ornaments tied together until I added the bulbs. Isn’t it cool how its been over 6 years of collecting ornaments and they somehow all work together?!

Our tree collar is from Target, and I juuuuust realized this was another thing I purchased for the tree. Normally we do a tree skirt but Shawn stumbled into this beauty and we wanted to give it a try!

Moving on!

Recently, we decided to move to bedroom back upstairs. Naturally, I thought this would be a great room for me to wrap gifts this season!

It’s always hard for me to wrap gifts because the animals are always all up in my face and wrinkling the paper or eating it, so this year I have a designated room for it! It’s the room with our cactus shelves so I have an inspiring view while wrapping. ;)

To the bedroom! Sadly, it’s officially Ohio winter which means I will rarely be home before the sun sets, so we all will have to settle with non-natural light pictures for this part of the tour.

The big faux fur throw from Arhaus is definitely the icing on the cake or the cherry on top or whatever you want to call it. It is sooooo big and comfortable, I love it so much! I also bought a few of these for family gifts this year because they are just that amazing!

Our nightstand details are simple and clean, nothing too crazy! I am obsessed with all glass frames right now. I styled Shawn’s nightstand first and then I was like waitttt what about mine! But our Terra candle fit in perfectly on my nightstand :). And of course I had to add some twinkle lights :).

Also, I wanted to give a special thank you to Logan for being my model throughout the house! She honestly just loves the twinkle lights haha!

ALWAYS REMEMBER, Instagram VS reality is a real thing..Just because our home may look perfect to some on my little squares, does not mean it is! Here’s a behind the scenes photo of my shoots. I’m always curled in an awkward position trying to get some terrible angle. Lately I’ve been obsessing over putting twinkle lights in the foreground. But this is it! Not glamorous by any means but I love it!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Xoxoxo,

Christine

making candles with mom

Over the last few weekends my mom and I have been making candles together for fun. She used to make them all the time when I was younger so we decided to start back up again and rekindle the flame! 

There are soooo many supplies that you need for candle making, it's insane! I'm sure there are different alternatives to what we have pictured (we've seen clothespins for wick holders and stuff) but my mom just found all of the supplies at Candle Science!

Also, if you have any old candle containers that you think are pretty but sadly have no more life in them, you can re-use them! I had a few Anthropologie candles that i loved and my mom taught me how to make new candles out of them! All you have to do is stick the old candle in boiling water. The pot doesn't have to be filled, just enough to warm the bottom of the candle. Once its boiling, stick your candle in there! In about 30 seconds to a minute, the bottom will be melted and all you have to do is scrape/pour the rest of the old wick/candle out of the container! We did this with some of my moms old Bath & Body Works candles too and it worked like a charm!

We've been doing this for a few weekends, testing different things like wax, fragrance, different wicks. This past weekend I started playing around with scent! I mixed three different scents (which are still setting as I speak). Hopefully they smell nice. I tried a grapefruity-woodsy fragrance, it'll be.. different! haha

There's a couple of kinks for us to work through but once we figure out our scent/wax/wick ratios I'm totally going to do a tutorial on here! Let me know what you think in the comments!

Xx,

Christine

 

cleaning raw denim with Shawn

If you know Shawn you know that 1. he dresses really well (way better than me) and 2. he's in love with denim. You literally will not see him in anything else unless he's in workout clothes.. 

More importantly. Shawn loves raw denim, and he is very particular about it. This is denim that hasn't been treated with any type of washes or distressing. You wear them in and create the fades by daily activity/wallets/cell phones etc., it's a work of art! Shawn's favorite denim brand is Rogue Territory (RGT). He loves them because the fit is perfect, they are amazing quality AND are made in the US. He doesn't have any other brand of denim in his closet other than RGT. 

Raw denim doesn't have the same care label as the "regular" clothes majority of us are used to..  You actually aren't supposed to wash them frequently..like at all. Try—once or twice a year! When you do decide to wash them, you soak them in cold water and a tiny bit of detergent (we used about 1/2 of a tide pod for 12 pieces). Let them soak for about 30 minutes, then hang them to dry outside. 

It's a fun activity that we have to do—definitely not your typical laundry day. But it's a great excuse for us to sit in the back yard and spend some time together! Shawn has 8 pairs of RGT denim, and tons of shirts and jackets from the brand. They are totally a brand worth investing in. The pieces are made to last forever.