Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life :: Blog Tips / Stop Trying to Be Pinterest-Perfect

The site address to Pinterest might as well be the bomb dot com. In my eyes, it's a great resource. I love pinning recipes I'll never bake, crafts I'll never make, and hot black guys I'll never date. But in all seriousness, I snag a lot of pictures for my posts (with credit of course), and if I didn't have Pinterest I'd be stuck filtering through good ol' Google. So, if pinning is both fun and functional, what's the problem?

As much as I adore perfectly curated photos of home tours and holiday dishes, I also enjoy seeing the messy side of life. I've written before about bloggers that get real and shared tips for how you can do the same. I'm not the only one who yearns to read about true life scenarios and see what actually happens behind the scenes: Bonnie recently wrote about why she thinks Pinterest is ruining Halloween and, a year ago, Kate said that Pinterest gave her unrealistic wedding expectations.

 photo loudmouth_lifestyle_blog_live_loudly_perfection_stephanie_shar_be_honest.png

Here's the thing, friends: Pins are just pins. They don't tell the whole story. There was probably a lot of work that went into that one photo, but not everyone feels comfortable sharing those details (and, let's face it, we don't have time to read every back story). So we need to just enjoy Pinterest for what it is -- pretty pictures and inspiring ideas. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with "perfect" pictures and there's nothing wrong with the blurry, low-light, off-center, "bad" ones either.

What matters is what the photo means to you. Cameras were created to preserve memories. Some of my favorite pictures break all the "rules" of good photography, but because they captured me laughing with friends and family, or a meal I really enjoyed during a special time, or a vacation I was grateful for, they're beautiful to me. There's no shame in posting those photos. There's also no shame in taking the time to clean your house before shooting a home tour, or putting on makeup before an outfit pic. Do what you can with what you can. Do what you want to do and don't feel like you have to do what others are doing.

 photo loudmouth_lifestyle_blog_live_loudly_perfection_stephanie_shar_ordinary_life.png

Loudmouths, your photos and your blog and your life do not have to look like a Pinterest board. Love your life and blog your blog and pin those pins. They're different things and separate entities and you're allowed to enjoy all of them in a multitude of ways.

You're not perfect, but here's a secret: no one else is, either.

They just might not have the balls to admit it.

*Photos found here and here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Life :: Secrets to Getting a Head Start on Your New Year's Resolutions

 photo stephanie_shar_loudmouth_lifestyle_blog_resolutions_2015_puddle.jpg

For the past couple days, I've been thinking about the future.

As mentioned over the weekend, I love listing goals, but sometimes I don't plan thoroughly for them. I agree with my friend Alysia who said that you shouldn't wait until the new year to make a resolution and you need to start where you are, but I also believe that there is usually some preparation involved. Of course, it depends on the goal itself, but in many cases you may need certain materials or supplies. You might need to budget appropriately or do some research before you dive in.

And that's what I'm going to talk about today.

First, I'm going to be totally transparent and share what I'm working on with you. Since releasing my first e-book in June, 7 Steps to Living Loudly, I've been craving more community here. I want to get to know you better, I want you to get to know me better, and I want you to get to know each other.

The book provided a slightly deeper connection, but words on a page (or screen) never compare with face-to-face conversation. Right now I'm hosting a gratitude challenge over on Instagram, and that's just a small taste (a drop, really) of what's to come. I mentioned a few new projects that I was brainstorming during my Indiegogo campaign, and one of them has become my main focus...

Starting in 2015, I will be hosting a yearly interactive program with YOU, my readers!

I've been really inspired lately by women like Molly Mahar (Elevate), Sally Hope (Wildheart), and Sarah Morgan (Badass Babes). They have found ways to have one-on-one interaction with their readers and cause powerful change in the lives of many women. I considered joining one of them myself, but noticed there were certain things I liked about each offering, and others that I wished I could change. I realized that I could do something similar, but in my own way; not better, just different. There's a quote that says "I'm not interested in competing with anyone... I hope we all make it!" That's how I feel, loves.

That's how I feel about blogging, too. If I'm reading blogs and I feel like something's missing, I go back to my own and add it to the blogosphere. But that doesn't mean I don't want other bloggers to be successful!

And speaking of success, let's get back to the point of this post. If you're still around, thank you. Just wanted to give a little background, because I'm going to share my process with you as it pertains to this big dream! Here are my 4 secret tips for starting your resolution successfully...

 photo stephanie_shar_loudmouth_lifestyle_blog_resolutions_2015_coffee.jpg

1) Do your research. First things first, y'all. Over the past week I've listed all of the different components that I want to offer within the program. I've also listed the different ways that I want to advertise, market and promote it. I want to get new professional photos done and maybe even film a video, so I need to contact my pal Megan. I'm also going to be making some tweaks to my website and I want some new graphic design work done, so I'll need to e-mail Bobbi. I'm going to start sending out a newsletter, which is something most bloggers do but I've never tried, so I need to find out how to do that and which site is best to use. I have to figure out how much money these tasks will cost, and how to come up with that amount, which leads to my next step.

2) Set concrete numbers. Saying something like "eat better" or "work out more" never works for a resolution -- trust me, I've tried. A better goal would be something like "eat paleo five days a week" or "work out three times a week". For my situation, I can't just say "cultivate a Loudmouth community" or even "create an interactive program". I need to decide how many readers I want to accept into the program, how much it will cost per person, how often we'll have an online meetup, etc. Then I'll have to do even more research to see how the pricing compares to the industry standard, what I can afford to ask for and what others can afford to pay.

 photo stephanie_shar_loudmouth_lifestyle_blog_resolutions_2015_desk.jpg

3) Decide on deadlines. I want enrollment to start December 17, which is less than a month away. Yikes! Deadlines are definitely in order. I'll need to decide which date I want to have certain parts of my project done so that I don't get overwhelmed by it all at the end. Coming up with bite-sized to-dos is key here. I have to work on a small piece of my goal each day to create the whole pie. Living in the moment is hard for me, but if I get impatient and dwell on the end result too much and how far I still need to go, it'll be counterproductive and I'll get distracted.

4) Take breaks and reward yourself! Be sure to give yourself a night off and award yourself with little treats along the way. If you have a lot of work to do, it's easy to get so involved that you become burned out. Don't forget to have one big party before the year officially begins -- you'll deserve it!

*Photos found here, here and here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Loves :: Perfect Planners for 2015 + the Stratejoy Giveaway Winner!

 photo stephanie_shar_loudmouth_lifestyle_blog_planner_2015-1.jpg

I'm more of a dreamer and a doer than a preparer, which can sometimes get me into trouble. But as much as I love to act on my impulses and jump right in with two feet, I also enjoy planning for things. I'm constantly making lists and schedules. In fact, I kinda have a calendar obsession: I use a separate one for each of my blogs, and one for appointments and other non-blog stuff.

Therefore, dear Loudmouths, the end of the year is my favorite time -- not just because the holidays are near, but because I get to plan for the next year! Call me nerdy, but there's nothing quite like the smell of a new planner's fresh, blank pages. Do you agree?

Because I use them so often, though, they have to be cute. I also don't like to spend too much on agendas or calendars because they get beat up and scribbled on anyway. Fortunately, I managed to find 5 of them recently that met my strict criteria. Now I just need to decide which one I want most...

 photo moleskine_planner_stephanie_shar_loudmouth_lifestyle_blog.png

2015 "Color A Month" Daily Planner/Diary by Moleskine ($39.95) // Yes, that's one little colorful planner for each month. Too cute, right? I've used Moleskines in the past and even though they're trendy, they really are your perfect basic diary.

 photo dream_big_planner_stephanie_shar_loudmouth_lifestyle_blog_1.png

The Dream Big Planner by The Dream Job Shop ($27) // This one isn't just super cute, but super helpful. It's specifically designed for bloggers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. There are specific sections for your goals, marketing, finances and more! Just print it out at home and pop the pages into a binder.

 photo sugar_paper_planner_stephanie_shar_loudmouth_lifestyle_blog.png

Kraft Swiss Dot Weekly/Monthly Planner by Sugar Paper ($16.99) // Classy, pretty, simple, elegant... I can't think of anything else to say about this one except YES.

 photo ABFOL_rainbow_planner_stephanie_shar_loudmouth_lifestyle_blog_1.png

2015 Rainbow Planner Core Kit by A Bowl Full of Lemons ($10) // This is another agenda that you can print yourself and includes many sections such as menus, budget and blog. It's by one of my favorite home organizing and decor bloggers.

 photo handmade_home_planner_stephanie_shar_loudmouth_lifestyle_blog.png

Free Planner Printables by The Handmade Home (FREE) // Did I mention this one was free!? I'm so glad we just got a printer. Love it, want it, need it all.

Speaking of planning for 2015... Disaster Poodle will be starting it with a BANG because she won the Stratejoy giveaway! She'll be participating in Molly Mahar's Holiday Council to get her butt in gear for the new year! And the runner up is Pixelmint, so be sure to go visit them both and check out their entries! (I wish I could give away more than one spot, but Molly needs to make some money off the program, ya know?) Thanks for entering, ladies! You rule.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Life :: Blog Tips / Time for You to Mouth Off with my Annual Reader Survey!

 photo loudmouth_lifestyle_stephanie_shar_blog_annual_reader_survey.jpg

Alright gang, now it's your turn to give ME some tips!

In 2013, 47% of my audience was made up of females aged 25-34. 67% of you had been reading along for two years or longer. 82% hoped to see 1-4 updates per week. You wanted more posts about daily life, personal style, and life lessons. You called the blog honest, fun, creative and unique (thank you!). I loved reading your responses to my survey last year and I'm interested to see what your thoughts are this time around.

You can answer the questions HERE. Even though it's about both The Loudmouth Lifestyle and Baby Loudmouth, it's still super quick and easy. It's okay if you don't read both blogs (you'll be able to specify that in the survey). I really appreciate the feedback!

Also -- don't forget to enter my current giveaway, here. It's my very favorite ever. I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow!

Thanks for your love and support!

*Photo found here.
Pin It button on image hover