How to Have a Consistent Brand Experience

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Looking to grow your blog? Try branding consistently. Having a consistent brand experience makes all the difference! | AngelicAbbie Branding is essential in today's over-saturated market. In order for your blog or business to stand out, you have to have a consistent brand experience that persists through all platforms.

Stick With It

It's important that you stick with the logo and color scheme you've created/been given across all platforms. For example, my color evolved from pink to blue recently, to better fit all of the themes I have across all of my social media. Both my angelicabbie Instagram and my castawaycouple Instagram have a blue/mint theme. This matches my blog theme as well as the Castaway Couple blog theme. I have the angelic, with a halo, logo across everything that I do as well. Another thing that's important is to have the same profile picture, or one taken on the same day in the same outfit, as your profile picture across all platforms, including social media profiles and your blog.

Print Materials

This should go without saying, but every print material you come up with needs to match your blog/business brand. This means business cards, especially, but also things like letterhead, banners, advertisements and anything else that you print out.

Your Messages

As you get more comfortable with blogging and social media, you'll develop a voice. You want to keep this voice across all platforms. For example, if you write in very professional prose with big words, everything has to match. Or, if you write in a more conversational style (like me) then have that fit across all platforms. This also means your values and what you're putting out there needs to match. For example, you can't preach forgiveness and love on your blog, but then tweet about how much you hate the LGBTQ community. It will confuse everyone.

Emotions

What do you want your readers to feel? This is an important question to ask yourself when you are first starting out. If you want readers to feel happy and inspired when they reach your blog, pick bright colors like reds and yellows. If you want your readers to feel calm, pick blues. Do some research into color theory as well as typography and what they mean for emotions. It will help you attract the right kind of customers in the long run.

If you need some extra help creating a great brand, check out my brand workbook, which you can get for FREE below!

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Thanks for reading!

 

Looking to grow your blog? Try branding consistently. Having a consistent brand experience makes all the difference! | AngelicAbbie

How I Self-Taught Myself Coding and Design

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I went back and forth about actually going to college for web design/graphic design, but I eventually decided that self-teaching myself was the best option. I used some awesome programs to teach myself how to code websites and graphic design, so here's how you can teach yourself coding or web design.

Team Treehouse

Treehouse was one of the first websites I discovered on my learning to code/design journey, and it's one I still use today. Treehouse has various tracks, like build a website and Beginner Javascript. They also have individual classes on a variety of topics like design, business, CSS, HTML etc. It costs $25 a month for a basic membership, and you can sign up here.

Codeacademy

I used the free version of codecademy for a while, before upgrading to codeacademy pro. I wanted to get most of the basics of CSS and HTML down with a simple format and easy-to-learn classes. Codeacademy definitely provided those things for me.

Books

Head on down to your local library and check out some books on coding and design. Now, you really have to be careful with this one and  make sure the publication date was in the last couple years. The internet moves so quickly and things change every day, so you want to make sure you're getting the most updated information.

CreativeLive

CreativeLive has some awesome classes, albeit slightly more expensive than most of the websites mentioned in this post. But, it's definitely a one-stop-shop where you can find really anything you want to learn. They have classes on things from business to typography to wordpress.

Udemy

Udemy is a platform where people can upload their own courses. There are tons of free and paid courses on here, and Udemy often has $10 or $15 sales on many of their courses, allowing you to pick up some of your favorites at a discount. I learned a ton of different things on Udemy, but keep in mind these are not professional courses most of the time.

Random Websites

There are tons of different websites that give little bits of advice on coding and web design. Although these won't be comprehensive classes, they can still be helpful. Browse websites like Pinterest or Stumbleupon to find posts of interest. When you begin your journey, you may want to learn how someone created a welcome screen, or a popup. You can look up how to create these things using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Just google how to's and you'll find a plethora of information.

 

 

Accounting For Bloggers + Tax Checklist

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Accounting for Bloggers + Free Downloadable Tax Checklist Keeping track of income and expenses as a blogger can be a giant pain in the butt. But it's necessary that you're accurately keeping track of your income and expenses. You'll have to report it to the IRS come tax time. Today I wanted to share my tips on accounting for bloggers. I also have a tax checklist that you can download below.

Keep Track of it All

Any and all income and expenses HAS to be recorded. In the event that you get audited, you'll want to make sure you have accurate records.

Separate Account & Cards

Once you've begun making money from your blog, create a separate account just for your business. Not only is it easier to see how much money you're making and spending on your business, but it's that much easier to keep track of those business related expenses. And, you'll feel super fancy when you tell your friends, oh no, this credit card is only for business use.

Apps

There are tons of phone apps and web applications that will help you keep track of those pesky expenses and income. Wave and Quickbooks are two very popular accounting applications, varying in cost. MileIQ is something I've recently discovered and I love it. It automatically tracks your mileage and then you can go in and say yes this was a business trip or no this was personal, and then it will show how much money can be taken off as a deduction come tax time.

Record Everything

Whether it's big or small, keep track of every expense. It will certainly help you come tax time when you get to pay less in taxes, or if you're making quarterly payments, you may even get some back!

Tax Payments

If you're a pretty small blogger who doesn't make a full-time income from your blog, you can probably find a calculator online that can help you estimate how much tax you'll pay the following spring. It's a good idea to take these monthly amounts out of your income each month and stick them into a savings account that you can't touch. This way, even if you put away more than you need for taxes, you'll have a cushion to fall back on during that lovely tax season.

Calculate your yearly income each month by taking the previous month(s) income and adding it all together and find the average. Then, times that by twelve and you've got your predicted income. Obviously, this may go up or down, but it will give you somewhat of an idea of how much you'll need to be putting away in taxes.

If you aren't great with numbers or don't want to mess anything up, it's a good idea to hire an accountant, preferably one that specializes in small businesses/self-employment taxes and accounting.

Tax Deductions

I've touched on this slightly in this post, but tax deductions are going to save. your. butt come tax time. You can pretty much take off anything you used in your business. This means, if you rent an office you can deduct that, but if you work from home you can also deduct some of your rent or mortgage payment. In addition, if your business requires internet or phone service, that can usually be a deduction as well.

Then there's the obvious deductions. Anything you spend getting your blog up and running, like domain, hosting, your theme/designer, etc. You can also deduct anything you buy specifically to use on your blog, like things for posts, or a background on Etsy that you'll use as your header.

Supplies like cameras, lights, a new computer etc can all be taken off as a deduction. And remember, you can still deduct things like charitable donations, health expenses and education expenses like any other person.

Get your free, downloadable tax checklist here:

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Thanks for reading!

10 Ways to Find (And Interact With!) Clients on Social Media

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Today I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for ways to find clients on social media. Social media is a HUGE tool right now, and will probably be for many years to come. Social media is relatively new, although so is most technology. It's a great way to find people all over the world that could be your potential clients. So let's check out my favorite ways to find clients on social media.

Twitter Chats

Find some twitter chats by searching for twitter chats in your niche. Then, interact with everyone and anyone who's also participating in a twitter chat. A big tip for twitter chats is to not try and do anything but participate in the twitter chat, as they move quickly. Make sure you're using the hashtag in every tweet and answering all the questions. Follow anyone that you had interactions with and start conversations with them based on their future tweets.

Search Twitter

Search through twitter for people hiring for your service or asking questions about your niche. For example, I write a lot about blogging, so I would search for #blogginghelp, #blogging, #blogger or just blogging without the hashtag. I could also search for #ISOdesigner, web designer, and any other relevant terms. Then, I'd follow other bloggers, respond to their tweets, answer questions and send information to people looking to hire a web designer.

Join Facebook Groups

This is something I haven't experimented with as much as I should. I definitely want to spend more time interacting with people in the various Facebook groups I'm apart of. It's a great way to meet other people in your niche, and promote your blogposts (only on certain days and in certain threads for most groups).

Provide Free Advice

On every single platform, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your blog, you should be giving away free advice. You need to pose yourself as the expert in your field, and the only way to do that is to be constantly sharing free advice and giving people information on the things they are interested in.

Join Group Boards

This has been so much fun for me. I join group boards that focus on blogging (obviously) and then I'll pin the occasional pin from some of my favorite bloggers on them, and I also pin every single one of my blogposts. I've known a great improvement in views since joining just a handful of group boards.

Answer Questions

I briefly touched on this above, but I want to share with you something that I started doing that has gained me some serious friends in the blogging world. Using the website Zapier I create a formula for any person that I want on twitter. I have it email me whenever there is a question mark included in the tweet. Granted, the formula isn't perfect and sometimes emails me things that aren't actually questions, but for the most part it gives me an immediate notice when someone asks a question, that way I can immediately reply and get a conversation going.

Find Competitors

Search all social media for other bloggers in your niche, and then approach them about guest blogging. Obviously if you're a newer blogger, you aren't going to want to approach someone with 10 times the followers, so find someone who's pretty small when you are first starting out and make those lasting connections.

Comment, Like & Follow on Instagram

It used to be enough on Instagram to just follow 100 accounts a day and you'd slowly grow your followers. Instagram has since removed the ability to see who unfollows you. My best advice for growing a following on Instagram aside from posting great pictures is to find people in your niche or potential clients, and comment, like a few of their pictures and then follow them. It'll make your name appear quite a few more times on the notifications page than if you had just liked or just followed them.

Link Your Sales Page or Opt In

In every single bio, you should have a link to a landing page for your opt in, or a link to the services you provide. Make it easy for people to see what you do and make it easy for them to hire you. If you aren't offering services quite yet, or would rather gather email addresses, create a landing page for your opt-in and collect those emails like a boss.

Create Calls to Action

Invite your readers, followers and friends to do something when they see a post on social media. Whether it's clicking a link, responding to the post, or going to visit someone else's page, try to get them to interact with the tweet/post/picture because it will create a longer lasting impression on them than if they just read your post and move on with their lives.

Thanks for reading!

3 Places I Look for Freelance Jobs

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Making a little money on the side is an awesome way to supplement my income. I hope one day that freelance work turns into my actual job, but for now it's just supplemental income. So let's look at the 3 places I look for freelance jobs.

Upwork

Upwork is a huge favorite of mine for finding quick and fun freelance work. I love to apply to their data entry and article writing sections. I can get a quick $5-$20 during my free time whenever I apply for jobs.

Another option through upwork is to find a long-term job, although the pay is usually less than what Americans are used to, unless you get really lucky or have a lot of job experience.

Upwork is free, although with the free plan you can't apply for unlimited jobs. With the paid plan, you can apply for more, and you can buy credits once you run out of them.

When applying for jobs on freelance, I suggest applying for them as soon as they are posted to give you a better chance of getting the job. Apply with a rate you feel is acceptable, or agree with the fixed rate they have posted. Then, show off why you would be great at whatever they are wanting by writing that in the cover letter.

Freelancer

Freelancer is a lot like upwork, although their interface isn't nearly as 'pretty'. Another thing about Freelancer is, and maybe I just haven't noticed it as much on upwork, is it seems like a lot of the job posters and job appliers are from different countries.

At freelancer, you apply for projects just like upwork. On upwork, you can take skills tests for free, and post them to your profile. At freelancer, each test costs money, but may be the difference between getting the job and not.

A lot of the jobs on freelancer are similar to ones on upwork, and you'll rarely find the exact same job on both, which makes it beneficial to be a member of both. There are four different paid plans you can choose from, starting at just under $5 a month and going up to $60 a month, each coming with a variety of different perks.

FlexJobs

FlexJobs is a purely paid for system. It costs $14.95 a month, $29.95 a quarter or $49.95 a year. FlexJobs is different from Freelancer or Upwork, in that it has jobs from actual established companies all around the world looking to hire salaried or hourly employees.

Whereas upwork or freelancer is more of a contract thing, these are actual jobs. Most have hour requirements, like 9-5 CST. Not every job on flexjobs is a purely online job, too. So, you could find jobs in your hometown that are half telecommute, half in-office, which might be pretty awesome if that's what you're looking for.

I spent a lot of time applying for jobs on FlexJobs and didn't find any, so I cancelled my subscription when I recently found a new job. That being said, I'd definitely go back to FlexJobs in the future if my new job doesn't work out.

Thanks for reading!

5 Ways to Grow Your Email List

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Welcome back! Today I'm sharing my favorite ways to grow my email list. I've grown my email list fairly steadily over the past year, but since offering opt-ins all over my site as well as "content upgrades" my email list has grown significantly. Let's see ways to grow your email list.

Offer Opt-Ins Everywhere

Offer opt-ins all over your site. I offer an opt in at the very top of my website, as well as throughout any post that mentions my main opt in, a branding workbook. I also have a "hello bar" at the top of my website as well.

Offering your opt-in in multiple places makes sure that any user on your site will come across it at some point. This means they don't have to be on a certain page in order to see your opt in.

Create Opt Ins for Specific Posts

This is called content upgrades. If you write a post on creating a certain recipe, make that recipe beautiful and printable! Then, require them to give you their email address before they can get the opt-in. Some people will of course subscribe to get the freebie and then unsubscribe, but it's unlikely. I'll be creating an entire post on specific content upgrades that you can do.

Post Your Opt in All Over Social Media

Make your opt in accessible to everyone! Put a link in your instagram bio, tweet it regularly, and make sure people know just how great the opt-in is!

Go to bit.ly and make a short link. You can even customize it. Mine's currently bit.ly/BrandWkBk. It's completely free to make that link customized, and it will help with brand recognition and remembrance for your readers!

If possible, create a landing page. This can be done on both squarespace and wordpress, and I'll show you how in an upcoming blogpost. Create a beautiful page that's only purpose is getting people to sign up for your website.

Run a Giveaway or Host a Webinar

This is kind of like an opt-in but it's a little more intensive than just creating a product and letting your opt-in run itself.

To run a giveaway, find something your readers might be interested in, then require their email address for entrance into the giveaway. You can giveaway literally anything related to your niche, even a free product from you!

To run a webinar, announce it everywhere, create a landing page, and promote that puppy like crazy. Then, require email addresses to 'reserve' their spot for the webinar. I'll be writing a post about creating and promoting a webinar, after my first one later this month. (PSSST enter your email below to grab your spot!)

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Host Live Events

Use free tools like Facebook Live, Periscope and Snapchat to give quick, five minute tips, then mention your email list! People LOVE free stuff, so providing a free quick tip (where people don't HAVE to tune in, they can watch the replay at any time) and then mentioning where they can get MORE free stuff is a great tool.

Thanks for reading these ways to grow your email list!

 

How to Start a Blog

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Today I wanted to share an indepth ultimate guide to starting a blog. This is a question I get asked often, and most people don't realize just how easy it is to start a blog. I'm going to be teaching you the ins and outs of beginning with a blog on both Squarespace and Wordpress. Here's how to start a blog.

The Pre-work

Deciding on a Niche

A niche is basically what your blog is going to be about. To start off, you want to select something that you're both passionate about, and has value. Almost anything you have an interest in can be made to be valuable for people around you. You also want to think about whether or not you'll be able to consistently think of posts for that topic.

Sit down and write down as many things that you're interested as you can in ten minutes. Then, write down blogpost headlines for all those topics for ten minutes. Whichever one spawns the most headlines is the niche you should choose.

Your Web Design

Do you want to DIY this, or go professional? If you choose to DIY, you're either going to need to do some research into how to DIY your web design or how you're going to purchase one and edit it. To do the professional route, do some research and find designers in your niche and price range. If you're looking for an affordable squarespace designer, check out my website.

Branding

You can either hire a designer for this aspect as well, or you can attempt to DIY it. My suggestion for branding is to leave it to the experts. But, if you want to get some of the pre-work out of the way, you can download my branding worksheet below and help define your brand. Even though this is just a blog, you'll want to have a brand.

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The Set Up

Choose a Host

Choosing a host for your blog can be a hard decision. I'm going to go into detail about Squarespace vs. Wordpress at some point, but those are the two biggest platforms I recommend. Squarespace is easier design wise, and is an an all inclusive thing, meaning you don't have to set up hosting. Wordpress has a lot of customization options, and is a platform used by a ton of people.

Setting Up Your Site on Squarespace

Signing up for Squarespace is pretty straight forward. You select a username and password. You can then register a domain, and select a theme, all through Squarespace. Then, you can customize that theme to your heart's content, and if you have any CSS or HTML knowledge, you can customize it even further. Squarespace employs an awesome drag and drop system that makes things super easy.

I'm going to be hosting a webinar at some point to teach you all how to set up your site on Squarespace, so make sure you are signed up for my newsletter & following me on social media so you don't miss that!

Setting Up Your Site on Wordpress

I'm hosting a Wordpress Course, called the Easiest Way to Create a Blog Using Wordpress. I'll be going into extreme detail on setting up a site on Wordpress, but today I'll give you a run down on how to use it.

To begin, choose your hosting platform. I recommend Bluehost, because it's inexpensive and extremely easy to use. You can even register your domain from directly in Bluehost, or link one if you've purchased from a different domain registrar.

Then, you're going to want to install Wordpress, which is very simple to do on Bluehost. You'll go into the cPanel, and install wordpress. It's that simple. Then you just head to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin to sign into Wordpress and create your first post!

To find themes, I recommend searching on Etsy or StudioPress. Creative Market also has some awesome themes. Etsy and Creative Market have themes for every budget, whereas StudioPress themes are a little more pricey, but are usually worth the extra cost.

I'm hosting a webinar on February 27th, featuring my reasoning for Why Wordpress is SO powerful. Claim your spot today!

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Check out my current favorite Wordpress themes below!

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Thanks for reading!

Top Ways to Get Your Blogpost Shared

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Today I wanted to share some of the key ingredients that make people's blogposts go viral. Obviously you have to be writing great, shareable content in order for people to want to share your blogposts, but there are some other ways to make sure your blogpost is as shareable as it can be. Here are the top ways to get your blogpost shared.

Create Pinnable Images

Pinterest is a huge traffic source for almost every blog. Pinterest took off in the past few years, and is consistently where people go to look for information on pretty much every topic. The pinning social network favors vertical images, so make sure you are creating graphics that are vertical and have a size of at least 800px. People also like to see what the blogpost will be about, so adding text to that picture of a coffee mug will ensure people are clicking through the image and not just pinning it to their 'cute pictures' board.

Have Links to Social Media

Having a hover pinterest button like the one above, or share links at the bottom make it easy for people to share an article that they deem interesting enough for other people to want to read. If it's there, it makes sharing something easy and quick, rather than a struggle that they may give up halfway through.

Encourage Readers to Share

When posting on twitter, or facebook, encourage readers to share the tweet or post. You can do this by saying "RT if you love growing your blog!" or "Share this if you're planning on growing your blog in 2017!". This gives incentive to sharing something, and enables your readers to interact with you.

Create Captivating Headlines

Creating headlines that grab your readers attention is essential. I'm going to make an entire post on this, but there are several categories of perfect headlines. First of all, incorporate the key word you're trying to promote. Second of all, using numbers (top 5...) or making readers feel left out (Secrets bloggers aren't telling you) are great headlines that get a ton of shares.

Create Call to Actions

Give your readers something to do after they read your post. Whether it's comment on something, sharing a tweet you embed in your post or doing an action on some stuff of their own. When readers see reactions from these call to actions, they will be more likely to share.

Join Groups

Joining Facebook groups, Triberr groups or just actual physical groups of people in your niche is a great idea. It can enable you to get your blogpost shared in new places. Create groups that are specifically for sharing your blogpost, and you'll find that sharing readers is a great way to increase your views and shares.

What do you find gets you the most shares?

Thanks for reading!

How to Use Snapchat to Grow Your Blog

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Snapchat is a fairly new social media tool in the grand scheme of things. But, it can be an extremely useful one, because it gives readers an inside look into a bloggers life. I love using snapchat (or even Instagram stories) to show behind the scenes of what a day in your life looks like. Let's see how to use snapchat to grow your blog.

How to Grow Your Blog

Peek Into Your Life

Show snapchats from your daily life. Headed to a meeting? Snapchat. Watching TV? Snapchat. Drinking coffee? Snapchat. Sharing little bits of what makes your life 'normal' is great for your business. People love to see inside peeks at your life and all the things you do throughout your day.

Post When you Post Something New

Share on snapchat when you post a new blogpost and encourage readers to go read it and leave a comment. If you get excited for your blogpost, your readers will too.

Provide Exclusive Content

The main reason anyone follows anyone on social media is because they provide content they're interested in. Create a series of 10 second long videos on your topic, one that hasn't been covered, or hasn't been covered as in depth, so that the friends on your snapchat are getting exclusive information.

Host Launches

When you're excited about something big that's happening, share it on snapchat! Create snaps featuring pictures of the new content or videos of sneak peeks. Get people as excited as you are.

Provide Sneak Peeks of Content

Speaking of sneak peeks, giving your readers an inside look at a post, or product is a great idea to get readers excited and allow them to feel like they are VIPs.

How to Grow Your Snapchat

Link to It

Post your snapchat username on all sorts of social media. Have it in your twitter and instagram bios, have it in your social media links on your blog, and post it occasionally on twitter.

Encourage

Encourage your readers in a blogpost to follow you on snapchat for more information on xyz. This will give your readers a specific reason to add you, and 9 times out of 10 they will continue to follow you after they get the new information.

Thanks for reading!

My Favorite Ways to Make Income from My Blog

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Hello everyone! I'm attempting to move into working full time from home, so I thought I'd share my favorite ways to actually make income to support myself. Let's see the best ways to earn income from your blog.

Sponsored Posts

This specific way of making income can be slightly tricky. It truly depends on what kind of blogger you are, and how you treat the sponsored posts. For me, I only like to work with brands I truly love and would work with organically. That's the only way things get done for me.

I'd like to stray away from as many sponsored posts in the future, since I know people aren't the biggest fans of them, but for now, they're a pretty big income stream. I love working with Social Fabric and Activate by Bloglovin.

Affiliate Marketing

If something is linked from my blog, usually a product or service, most likely it's an affiliate link. The best part about an affiliate link is it's something I was going to link to anyway, but now on the off chance that you purchase it, I get a little bit of money at no extra cost to you! I love when I can share stuff I organically love but then incidentally make money from it. I want to definitely break more into affiliate marketing in the future, since it's such a great earner for other people.

Adsense

As of now, these earnings are pretty low. I don't get a ton of pageviews (thank you to my loyal viewers!!), so therefore not a ton of people are seeing my ads. But, adsense is a good way to make money, if you're getting a lot of views & you're optimizing those ads correctly. I don't necessarily want to ruin the viewing experience for my readers, so I'm not sure I want to litter my page with ads but we'll see.

Some Things to Try in 2017

I'd love to start selling my own products. I'm planning on opening up a web design business fairly soon, which I'm so freaking excited about. I have really found a love for graphic design and web design last year, so I can't wait to begin making money from that. I'd also like to create courses, e-books and do webinars. I really want to explore ways to interact with my audience in new and exciting ways, so I'm very much so looking forward to 2017!

Thanks for reading!