bloggers, blogging, how-to, tips

7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers

April 28, 2015

A couple weeks ago I spoke during a break-out session at the Fashion Intelligence Symposium at the Fashion Institute of Technology. My hour-long talk was supposed to be geared toward those looking to start or step-up their blogs. It was meant to be filled with solid information, plenty of great tips  and loads of useful advice. No pressure. LOL

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After mulling it over I decided to borrow the idea of 7 Habits and put together a talk on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers. Below is a recap of the main points. Each Sunday, for the next 7 weeks, I’ll go into more depth on each one. So stay tuned…

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers:

1. Stay Focused – No sense in jumping all over the place in the content you cover. Stick to your topic and cover that like a boss. (Post up on May 3rd)

2. Be original. Be Yourself – With so many bloggers out there today you need to know who you are and work at being exactly that. No sense in being someone you aren’t or copying a blogger you love. As the genie in Aladdin says ‘Beee yourself.’ (Post up on May 10th) 

3. Know Your Worth – This might be my biggest soapbox but I can’t stand it when bloggers sell themselves, their content and their blogs short. More of a rant on that later. (Post up on May 17th) 

4. Join a community – Over the years I’ve joined a number of communities and each of them has helped me as a person and as a blogger. Community is so crucial to blog growth, to reader retention, to blogger maturity, etc… (Post up on May 24th) 

5. Acknowledge What You Don’t Know – There is a lot to learn when it comes to blogging. Some of it you can Google, for some of it you can phone a friend, but there are other times when you need to step back and ask the expert for help. (Post up on May 31st) 

6. Be Professional – This might be another one of my big blogging pet peeves. Perhaps it comes from being a blogger, but I can’t stand it when bloggers are trying to make their blog into a real business but they don’t act professional in the process. (Post up on June 7th) 

7. Market, Market, Market – Obviously, this only applies if you are trying to build a following, but having social media accounts, sharing your information with others, talking up your blog, all of those are crucial steps in the growth of your blog and your brand. (Post up on June 14th) 

 

Bloggers – I’d love to know your take on the most effective habits for bloggers. Leave a comment below to let me know.

daily outfit, heels, jacket, skirt

Pink and Gray -Tulle and Denim

April 21, 2015

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Skirt: Kohls
Jacket: Kohls
Cami: Express
Shoes: DSW
Earrings: Claire’s
Necklace: Charming Charlie
Sunnies: Ray-Ban c/o Sunglasses Shop

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After I wrote the post, How To Wear Pale Pink, I’ve been on a personal pale pink-kick. I find myself reaching specifically for the pale pink and gray combination whenever possible. Hence, Easter seemed the perfect moment to really go with this trend, mixing two great muted colors (pink and gray) as well as two totally different material types (denim and tulle). Of course, no  outfit is complete without a great pair of shoes and no Spring outfit is complete without flowers, so the floral stilettos were a natural addition to complete the look in a classy and refined manner.

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Personally, this was a perfect Easter combination – comfortable enough to be in all day, dressy enough for the occasion, fashion-forward enough to let the relatives know I’m still doing ‘that fashion thing,’ inexpensive but still refined. Plus, it gave me a new reason to wear and style the tulle skirt, which I have had for months and have only worn twice now. Overall it was a win-win.

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denim, how-to, jacket

Five Ways to Style Denim Jacket Sleeves

April 20, 2015

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As Spring rolls in I find myself reaching more and more for my denim jacket as a layering item. It’s easy to wear, easy to clean, and easy to style. It can add a bit of structure to the top of an otherwise shapeless look. It can neutralize a look that has a lot of color or bold patterns. And yes, at times it can look a little hillybilly-esque.

To me, the key to the denim jacket is finding various ways to wear the item. Yes, you can just slip it on and run out the door. But I’m not talking about the different ways you can combine it with wardrobe items. I’m talking about the number of ways you can twist, turn and shape the sleeves to give a different look to the same jacket. Here are my five favorite ways to style my denim jacket sleeves.

Five Ways to Style Denim Jacket Sleeves

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Straight – Nothing to style. Nothing to do. Just slip the jacket on, maybe pop the collar a little and head out!

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Cuffed – Basic and easy style. Simply unbutton the cuff and fold it over once. It gives a kind of French cuff look without the need for cufflinks.

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Rolled Cuffs – Probably my favorite way to wear the sleeves on a jacket. This might have something to do with the fact that sleeves are often too short on my long arms and this helps hide the issue. Just fold the cuff over and then fold again to hide the cuff entirely.

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Scrunched Sleeves – Button the cuff closed and then fold the cuff in half to create a mini French cuff. Then pull the sleeve up till it is firmly in place on your upper forearm.

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Half-Sleeve Fold – My second favorite way to wear a denim jacket. Just pull the cuff up all the way to your shoulder (or as high as it will go) and then fold the cuff down. This gives a little more casual look to any outfit and is also great for days that are a little warmer.

So, what does this look like when applied to an actual outfit and not just a white t-shirt? Below are a couple recent outfit pics that combine a denim jacket and a sleeve fold:

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health, product review, review

Hydrating with a Little Dasani Flavor Infusion 

April 17, 2015
This is a sponsored post. I received compensation in order to share my honest opinion about Dasani Drops. #dasanidrops #dasanisparkling

One of the things I’m always focused on and trying to improve is my daily water intake. With cardio-intense workouts and my migraine-prone head, hydration is key to health and wellness. And then, of course, there is the amazing thing water does for your skin too. At school I’m constantly working at refilling my water bottle between classes, with the goal of at least three refills per day.

But I’ll admit that sometimes water is so blah and boring in taste I feel like I can’t take another sip. And that’s where a little flavor infusion comes in. Over the years I’ve tried a number of products – powders, sugary concoctions, vitamin-infused water, etc – and while each has its high points, the ones I’m reaching for these days are the Dasani Drops Infusions. I keep one of these picket-sized bottles in my desk drawer and one in my purse for on-the-go flavor needs.

Dasani, which happens to be my favorite bottled water too, makes these drops in a variety of flavors. You can go with my favorite – the strawberry and basil – or the fresh lime. The line also includes cherry pomegranate, grape, pink lemonade, strawberry kiwi, pineapple coconut, and mixed berry. And unlike other flavor enhancers these are clear, so you don’t feel like you’re ingesting unnatural dyes.

Not a fan of the drops? Dasani also makes a line of sparkling flavored water. I’m not the biggest fan of sparkling water but I can say the black cherry flavor was amazing!

Even better than all of this, Dasani Drops can be purchased at Target, a fav of mine, and using the Target Cartwheel app. Honestly I’m such a sucker for all those store apps.


beauty, hair

Curly Girl Method Questions Answered – Part II

April 16, 2015

curly-girl-method-qa2It’s been almost a year since I did a Q&A on the Curly Girl Method and based on the number of emails and Facebook messages I’ve been getting lately I felt it was time to do another post answering your questions. Want to read the first one, which answers different questions, you can see it here: Curly Girl Method Questions Answered Part I.

Help! I’ve been trying the Curly Girl Method for a couple weeks and my hair looks greasy. Does that mean this isn’t for me?

No worries. It’s pretty normal for your hair to look worse before it looks better. But this probably does mean you need try a few different products. Not every co-wash conditioner is the same, just like not every head of hair is the same. You need to try out a few products to find what works best for you. Worse comes to worse, wash your hair and then begin again.

But seriously, do you really never, ever, wash your hair? (This is a favorite question of my students.)

No, but I do it very rarely and I never wash my whole head of hair. If my hair is really bad, maybe after an intense workout or a lazy weekend, I will use about a nickel-sized dollop on only my hairline. I massage the shampoo into the hair just along the scalp and never push it through the rest of my hair.

The only other time I will wash my hair is the rare occasion (once every two-three months) when I wash it all with a purple shampoo to take the brassy color out of my blonde coloring.

What products do you use?

I’ve written two posts on this, so I won’t spend too much time rehashing that. Right now I’m using Burt’s Bees shampoo when needed as well as Deva Curl conditioner, and Wen conditioner. The Wen I also use as a leave-in conditioner, applying a little to the ends as soon as I step out of the shower. Read the full post on Curly Girl Method Approved Products.

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What about hair color? Can I keep coloring my hair and use the method?

Well, a lot of people say using harmful hair color on your curls is bad news. I agree, to a certain extent. The box dyes wreak havoc on your hair. It dries out the ends and makes it feel like straw. Now, I use salon-quality color on only my roots to keep the rest of it strong. Then every once every 6 months I go and get professional highlights put in to help the colors blend, etc… Now that I care for my hair I won’t use the box dyes anymore.

Did this make your hair curlier?

Honestly, that is a little difficult to answer. It’s a lot longer now than it was a year ago, and length weighs hair down. But it certainly curls easier. It looks less frizzy. It needs to be washed less. It looks better for a longer period of time between washing, even after sleeping on it. It looks and feels healthier. So there are a lot of benefits to this method, even if it didn’t create more curls. I do know a lot of people have seen curlier results.

Isn’t this an expensive way to take care of your hair?

The products are expensive, well some of them are, but no I don’t think it’s an expensive method. You need to wash your hair less often, which means you go through a lot less product. Once your hair is repaired you need to use less conditioner with each cleansing as well. The way I see it too, having good healthy hair is worth spending a little money. The beginning is always the costliest time because you might need to test a number of products to find the one that works best for you.

What if I still want to shampoo my hair? Can I use some of this method and not all of it?

Sure. Not ready to give up your shampoo routine, that could work. Although not ideal, because shampoo dries out your hair, you could keep shampooing but up your conditioning routine. It’s all about the moisture. Condition, condition, condition! So shampoo your hair if you really want to, but add twice as much conditioner to your routine as you ever have before.

dress, giveaways

Karina Dresses #Frockstar Giveaway April, Part II

April 16, 2015

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The first half of April is over, which means we are launching another Karina Dresses Frockstar™ Giveaway. The first giveaway just ended and this one will run for the rest of the month of April. For this go-round, one lucky winner will receive SIX new Karina Dresses, which is a pretty good start at overhauling your closet for the Spring months.

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If you saw my post earlier in the month, you’ll know I decided to branch out, moving away from the tried and true Ruby style that I love so much and going with the Megan instead. I have to say, I like this style, especially the sleeves that come with the Megan, but the Ruby is still my favorite.

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Don’t underestimate Karina Dresses. While I’m personally obsessed with the Ruby, the company also has a number of other styles that flatter. Afterall, let’s not forget I’ve tried and styled the Rita and the Carolyn and the Gala and the Megan.  All these dresses show a different side of Karina – the bold patterns, the varying designs and fits, the ease of wear and let’s not forget the amazingness of not needing to iron these dresses.

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Like the smattering of styles and patterns displayed above? Want to win a Karina dress of your own? Use the giveaway widget below and enter for your chance to win.

 

Karina Dresses has a newsletter you will want to get in your inbox. Each weekly newsletter has a winner of a new dress selected from the email subscribers. You have to open the email to see if it is you! In addition to giveaways, The Karina Dresses newsletter also has flash sales with the hottest prints at almost 50% off! To make this newsletter even more desirable to join, if you sign up and confirm your subscription (or are already a subscriber and enter this giveaway) you will be entered into the sweepstakes for $1000 in Karina Dresses! Are you ready to join the Karina Nation? Subscribe here!

If you are a blogger and you would like to do a review of a Karina Dress, they choose their reviewers from their affiliates! You can sign up to be an affiliate here.

blue, boots, daily outfit, dress, jacket, purse

Bare Legs and the Megan Dress

April 15, 2015
I was provided this dress by Karina in order to give my honest opinion as one of the Karina Dresses Frockstar™ event bloggers. All opinions are my own, obviously. #frockstar

 

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Dress: c/o Karina Dresses
Jacket: Milwaukee boutique
Booties: ModCloth
Earrings: Charming Charlie
Purse: c/o Adora Bags

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It’s part two of the Karina Dresses Frockstar dress preview before the giveaway, which goes live tomorrow. This time around I am branching out. Moving away from the tried and true Ruby dress style and giving the Megan a go. The Megan has adorable short sleeves, a v-neck that looks a little like the start of a wrap dress but then it tapers to a wide belt-like waist, and of course the typical Karina Dresses flare skirt. The pattern is called crimson branches, but this dress comes in 5 different patterns so there is bound to be one that you love.

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While the weather is still a little too chilly to wear the dress just as is, I’m envisioning it with a great pair of sandals, a necklace and nothing else during the warm summer months. For now, I’m still layering my looks. The Megan paired with one of my favorite vegan leather jackets, but luckily I was able to go around with bare legs and simple booties.

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This Karina Dresses post is a little preview of the upcoming Karina Dresses Frockstar™ Giveaway event, which will launch on April 15th! Stay tuned for that post, which will give one lucky winner 6 stunning styles from Karina Dresses! You’ll have 15 days to enter before another giveaway launches!

Get social with Karina

Sign up for Karina Dress Newsletter. And if you are a blogger and you would like to do a review of a Karina Dress, they choose their reviewers from their affiliates! You can sign up to be an affiliate here: http://bit.ly/KDAffiliate

frequent flyer, skirt

Frequent Flyer – Maxi Skirts

April 13, 2015

Another week, another frequent flyer post. This time I’m highlighting the maxi skirts I basically live in. I would guess I wear one of the several skirts I own at least weekly, if not more.

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For me, maxi skirts are the go-to item when I’m looking for dressy comfort. I’ll opt for a maxi skirt on school days when I am too tired to give much thought to my outfit or on the weekends when it’s lazy comfort I’m after. A maxi is more comfortable than even the most relaxing jeans in my closet.

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A maxi travels well too. It’s very easy to roll this baby up and throw it in my luggage. There’s no need to iron it or worry about what it will look like when I arrive at my destination.  For the last several trips I’ve taken at least one maxi skirt with me. The black is usually my go-to option, but the black and white patterned one (shown below) is also a frequent flyer – literally in my luggage.

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Not only is a maxi skirt great for the warmer months, it works for the cold months too. Paired with a fitted sweater and a scarf, like the above, or layered with a long-sleeved jacket, like below. this maxi is simple and elegant.

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The saddest part about this skirt is the fact that I wear it so often I can tell it is beginning to wear thin. I need to check and see if Ann Taylor LOFT has a new version of this skirt for sale now. I bought it more than a year ago, so here’s hoping the company has updated with a newer model with the same great style.

 

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Stepping away from the black maxi skirt, the patterned one below has gotten a lot of play in my wardrobe this winter. And even with the intricate design, I’ve found it very easy to pair this with a number of the items in my closet.

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Do you have a maxi skirt that is a frequent flyer in your outfit construction? What makes you love this item?

guest blogger

Spending Time, Not Money

April 12, 2015
This post is contributed by Media Buzzer.

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Unlike any generation before it, Millennials it seems are obsessed with pop-culture icons and the lavish rock star lifestyles they lead. Before many of us find true love our perception of it is fashioned by the people in our lives and on television, however, we have it on good authority to suggest that this may not be the best way to go.

If you’re looking for happiness, it may be best to avoid emulating anyone who is a celebrity and to drop the shopping mentality.

A Lost Art

Love and romance need not be complicated. Even greater than the art of making and spending money is the art of good conversation.

We spend so much time looking at smartphones, computer screens, and other technological distractions that we are spending less time looking at each other.

We are quickly forgetting cues from nature such as the timing of a crooked smile, a breath not taken, or a hand held tighter. Society tells us to throw money at our problems and to measure our love in zeros.

Perhaps worst of all is that how serious we are about our affection comes down to the cost bracket if we buy diamond engagement rings online instead of a look, an expression, or an embrace.

Eye contact

When someone speaks do you look him/her in the eye? Do you know how she/he feels about the subject at hand? You certainly won’t find that out looking down at a smart phone.

Try to be conscious of the eye contact you give the other person when you’re together. Are your eyes engaged? Do they communicate how you are listening to the other person speak? That you are fully engrossed in the conversation instead of distracted by something else.

Compliments

A well-placed compliment is the icing on the cake. On their own, icing or sparkles definitely do not make a meal; however, peppering compliments throughout a substantial discussion can go a long way. It’s also a great way to break the ice and get the other person smiling.

Make plans

Depending on how long you have been together, making plans for the future is a sure-fire way to make the other person feel appreciated. In a new relationship don’t be afraid to make plans one month ahead, or if you have been dating for a year, don’t hesitate to make plans six months into the future. By doing this you’re letting your lady know that you plan to have her in your future. Of course, never assume when making plans; ask her if she intends to be around, with bonus points for heartfelt eye contact.

bloggers, blogging, life

ModlyChic Turns 6!

April 10, 2015

Not sure why, but this year I am more nostalgic for the birthday of this blog. Today, ModlyChic turns SIX! Hard to believe that this little hobby of mine has been up and running for more than 2,000 days. It’s almost unbelievable.

Over the years, ModlyChic has taken many twists and turns – similar to my own life.

It started in St. Louis when I was looking for a creative outlet to combat the boredom of business writing. At the time I had no idea what I was doing and figured this whole blogging thing would be simple and straightforward – like writing an email. My first posts were pathetic, at best, and yet it was something that I quickly learned to love.

Then ModlyChic moved with me to Boston where the entire blog began to take on a life of its own. By living in a city that hosted so many bloggers I was able to network and talk shop in a way that I had been unable to previously. That turned into really giving time and effort to ModlyChic, as well as dedicating some serious thought-time into what I wanted it to be. By the time I left, ModlyChic was much more than a random hobby I did as a creative outlet. It was something I loved.

One four-day road trip to Milwaukee and suddenly I found myself back in a small city with limited number of bloggers. Still, ModlyChic kept publishing. I kept meeting new people, collaborating seriously with different companies and really making a go of the blog. I even gave it a full-time try for 6 months before realizing I didn’t have the resources nor the desire to really take it to that level at that point.

So, back to hobby blogging I went when I took a full-time, non-freelance job in Chicago and moved, yet again. With this new teaching job consuming so much of my time and mental space, I worried ModlyChic would slowly fizzle out and die off. But I keep it as a hobby, as something that I love and I feel lucky have. At the same time, I don’t allow myself to get stressed out if it goes several days or even a couple weeks between posts – it’s not worth the stress. Plus it just means I need to get better at scheduling posts and working ahead.

Yes, in 6 years ModlyChic has been published from 4 different cities. It’s taken on multiple lives over those years as well. It’s gone through a couple big changes – blogger to self-hosted WordPress. And it’s gone through smaller changes – header tweaks. It’s been a little out of focus and it has found it focus – fashion, food and fitness. It’s been the host of Fashion Beauty Friend Friday, a blogger community that is still years later, near and dear to my heart. It’s been the object of ridicule and praise. It’s been something I am proud of and something I’m occasionally embarrassed to talk about. It’s been the vehicle that has driven me toward some of the most important friends I have in the blogging world. It’s allowed me to work with some stellar brands – DSW, Kohls, Monroe & Main, Athleta, eShakti, Adora Bags, Verizon, etc… It helped me land a number of freelance jobs, and certainly helps to pay the bills. It helped me realize I love event planning and allowed me to plan a number of events for bloggers in Boston, New York, Chicago and Milwaukee.

And, it’s offered me the chance to speak to a variety of groups on various occasions. I’ve given talks to high school and middle school students, I’ve given presentations to teachers on how to bring social media into their classrooms, I was a panelist at the first Blog Better Boston conference, and tomorrow I’ll be speaking at the Fashion Intelligence Symposium at FIT in New York City!

Overall, I can truly say that this blog, this little side hobby I picked up without a single clue as to what I was doing, has been one of the best things I’ve done so far. Cheers to 6 years of blogging and here’s to many more along the way!