Popcosmo

a blog for everyone and their mothers

BLOG TIPS

#ChicChat Recap | Number Two

BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe1 Comment

This past Tuesday’s #ChicChat was all about originality. There are so many new blogs sprouting and it’s hard to stay original and create original content. Because of that, we decided we all needed to share some advice and insight relating to originality. Here are some tweets that really stuck out — in the best way possible. Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.08.45 PM

Question One What are your initial thoughts on blogs and originality? I think pretty much every blog has a lot of similarity. It’s passion and personality that sets them apart!” — @evegagnon1 “It’s SO hard to be 100% original unless you are a serious trendsetter - even then you grab inspiration from somewhere” — @The_RachelRoss “The worst think ever is when people copy other bloggers because they think people will like it. Originality is best!” — @citrusandstyle

Question Two Do you think originality is starting to lose meaning now that there are so many blogs? “I don’t think it has to. But you have to make the effort to be original.” — @ThePeachBellini “The more blogs there are the harder it is to come up with something new, but more blogs equal more voices and opinions.” — @CarrieOnBlogs “No, because every blogger has a written voice and their own authentic personality.” — @helloscarblog

Question Three How do you keep YOUR blog original? “I just try and think of what I want to read and haven’t yet!” — @CarrieOnBlogs “I get inspiration from others around me, but put my own spin on it!” — @citrusandstyle “Such a good question and yet so difficult to answer… hmmm” — @stylecontext “I write thanks that make ME happy, things that inspire ME, motivate ME and challenge ME.” — @helloscarblog

Question Four What blog do you think should win the “most original” superlative? “Atlantic Pacific by @BlairEadieBEE for sure.” —  @citrusandstyle “I’m truly not saying this just because she is here but I honestly think it should be @fashionnewcomer.” — @CarrieOnBlogs “I love @pbloverblog! Her posts are always so relatable.” — @petitepastels “So, I will go with @abeautifulmess with my girls Elsie and Emma.” — @helloscarblog “Not sure if @ManRepeller qualifies as a blog anymore, but they put out content I would never be able to think of myself!” — @twolilelephants 

Be sure to check out last week’s #ChicChat recap! Thanks for reading! xox, Chloe

#ChicChat Recap | Number One

BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe2 Comments

Every Tuesday night from 9-9:30 Eastern time I host a twitter chat that talks about all things blog related called #ChicChat. In the past we have talked about things from the importance of Instagram to contacting brands to coming up with creative post topics. Every week the topic is different and we always end up learning something new or gaining a piece of insight. I decided that every Thursday, starting today, I’m going to post a #ChicChat recap. coffeephoto via

So, this past Tuesday’s topic was “Common Blogger Mistakes” which was recommended by Scarleth from Hello Scar. We’ve all made mistakes when it comes to blogging and learning from our own mistakes is often a way to build ourselves up and learn new things. I’m not really sure how I’ll format these posts down the road, but for now, I’m going to show the question that I asked and then share a few tweets from that specific question that sparked some interest.

Here we go…

Question 1: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made while blogging? “getting into the comparison game-you can't judge anyone's blog success the same way! We're all at different stages.” - @somemoredunsmor “Without fail, not promoting them enough. I will go to the ends of the earth for others' posts...but mine? Um…” - @theideologue “underestimating the time it takes to maintain a blog” - @ThePeachBellini 

Question 2: What’s a mistake that you see new bloggers making? “copying other bloggers that have original content and not giving credit where it's due.” - @helloscarblog “Not having a clear point of view or not focusing in on a target market.” - @GalleriadiGiani “Too much self-promotion on other's blogs & social pages. It can look like spam, even though the intentions are good.” - @teresalauraxo “using dry language to share things they're passionate about. The blogging craft is re: conveying authentic passion.” -  @theideologue

Question 3: What’s one piece of advice you wish someone told you before you started blogging? “blog like no one's watching! i think this would've helped me post more expressively and not be so self-conscious” - @stylecontext “start with a few posts already in your arsenal so you're ahead, it's so easy to get behind on posts” - @alwayshunterb “that no matter how long you've been blogging you'll still feel brand new. You'll still Learn every day” - @ThePeachBellini “all the little stuff-every network to join,photo size for pinterest,social media scheduling,etc.” - @somemoredunsmor

Question 4: Is there anything that you wish you could re-do or take back regarding your blog? “I wish it were my job! I wish that I were brave enough to take the leap and do what I love! #failtoplanPlantofail” - @ThePeachBellini “No regrets, it's all a learning experience” - @GalleryPlaceDes “I wouldn't have tried to sound like anyone else for so long. I would've accepted that my "voice" was/is a needed one.” - @theideologue “I feel like I should've done more research prior to starting a blog. 1 thing I don't regret is my blog name!” - @diningonstyle “i wish i would've picked a better name! something more fun and descriptive. i think it's too late now” - @stylecontext

So there we have it! A short little recap. If you’re interested in joining next weeks chat, but aren’t really sure where to start, be sure to read this post explaining what a twitter chat is!

Have you ever participated in a twitter chat? If so, what's your favorite one? xox, Chloe

Podcasts

BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe2 Comments

_DSC0028Hello lovelies. I'm probably the furthest thing from a trendsetter. I'd definitely call myself a trend follower before I would dream of calling myself a trendsetter. I never know what "the next big thing" is going to be, and frankly I'm totally ok with letting other people do the figuring out. However, I totally called it that podcasts were on the rise. I knew they were going to be big, and they really are starting to be hot and trendy... at least I think they are. So go me for being ahead of the curve. For once. Pats on the back are well deserved in my book.

_DSC0025

As you know, I just got my wisdom teeth removed. I haven't been able to sleep so well with all the medicines that I have been taking, so I popped on a podcast and it was an instant soother. It was also an inspiration kickstarter. I love listening to the radio (i.e. some segments on NPR) but being able to choose the topic of the podcast makes it all the cooler. I decided to compile a list of podcasts that I've recently discovered regarding blogging and creative inspiration. I haven't listened to all of them and some of them I just downloaded like .02 seconds before writing this post so bare with me.

_DSC0035 Here's my list:

  • The Lively Show
  • How They Blog
  • Elise Gets Crafty
  • Smart Passive Income
  • After The Jump
  • Seanwes Podcast

I have an iPhone and simply downloaded these podcasts through the Podcast App on my phone. It was super simple and each of these podcasts listed are free which is an added bonus! Let me know if you listen to any of these podcasts or if you have any that you listen to currently that I should add to my list.

Also, just for the heck of it, let's play trend spotter. Do you know of anything that's going to be "the next big thing?" I'd love to hear it! xox, Chloe

Bloggers Go Unplugged

BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & ChloeComment

unpluggedHappy September y'all. Isn't it crazy that we only have four more months of the year 2014. It has seriously flown by.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know that I'm going to be MIA for the week. Well not completely, but my bloggy besties and I were talking recently about how stressful blogging can be when life is whirling around you. I know for me these past few months have been absolutely insane, between interning in NYC, to moving across the country, to starting a new high school for my senior year. It's. Been. Crazy. I feel like I haven't had any time to just sit and relax and my blog friends are feeling the same way. We decided that we should start this little campaign so that we can remember that blogging is supposed to be fun and not feel like a chore. I will be posting sporadically throughout the week, because I love blogging too much to completely drop everything, but know that every post from here on out is written with a love of blogging. Also, you might have noticed my Instagram hiatus lately. I just haven't been enjoying posting so I didn't post. Sorry if you've missed me and I promise I'll be back soon.

Preptista, Citrus & Style, Stripes & Peonies, and The Blonde Prep will also be participating.

If you want to join in on this "Bloggers Go Unplugged" deal, then feel free to! We all need a little break sometimes. xox Chloe

How To Style Pictures On A White Background

BLOG TIPS, EXTRAS, RANDOM STUFFKim & Chloe33 Comments

I’ve been getting a few emails recently asking how I take styled pictures on a stark white background. White backgrounds, for a blogger, are so important in showing items. The white allows the items to “pop” off the screen. White backgrounds as so important. The only problem is that sometimes the white isn’t so white. Often times the white turns out more on the yellow or grey side. And it can be VERY annoying. changing backgrounds in photos to white Today I’m going to save the day and tell you how I take my pictures on a white background so the white turns out white.

1. I use a white poster board as a background. They are cheap, moveable, and perfect for the job. 2. I then place my poster board near a window and turn off all lights. Natural light is the only way to go. Sometimes I have to wait until the next day to take pictures if I run out of time. It’s worth the wait to have natural light, trust me. 3. I shoot my camera on manual mode. This means that I can pick how exposed I want my picture. I typically overexpose my pictures on white backgrounds so that the white will be brighter. Sometimes overexposing doesn’t work (if you’re shooting a white or light colored object) so you just have to play around with it! 4. Once I am finally happy with a picture (sometimes it takes 100 shots of the same exact scene just with different angles) I upload the pictures on my computer. I then pick the one that looks best at first, aka minimal editing. 5. I then upload the picture in Photoshop and work around with it. I ALWAYS fix the “levels,” so that’s my starting point. I then also play around with the brightness and exposure. It usually depends on the picture for the amount you choose to apply of each. It’s like makeup ladies, the amount depends on the occasion.

_DSC0026_DSC0017whitefruitBEFORE

the before

This is for "levels" in Photoshop. ARROW

LEVELS sometimes you just gotta place a poster board in the middle of your kitchen to get the best light (even if it makes your dad mad because "you have an entire basement and and an office to do your work")

white background after

the after!

So there you have it! It’s pretty simple, but it did take me forever to figure it out. Taking styled pictures on a white background isn't always a piece of cake, but once you learn the process and practice you'll figure it out! Sometimes I just can’t get it so I start the whole process over with different natural light. I swear, the amount of natural light (or time of day) can completely screw you over or help you out.

Please let me know if this helped you out! I’d love to see your white background photos so tag us in your photo on social media (@popcosmo).

xox, Chloe

@popcosmo on Instagram

Teen Blogger Showcase

BLOG TIPS, EXTRAS, RANDOM STUFFKim & Chloe6 Comments
preptista_

Earlier this month I attended Smart Girls Summit and had the amazing opportunity to meet some fabulous bloggers that are my age. One of the girls that I met was absolutely adorable and as sweet as can be so I decided to interview her for our Teen Blogger Showcase series. Meet Sammy. Like I said, Sammy is a sweetheart. She’s incredibly fashionable (duh, she has a fashion blog) and her Instagram game is always on point. Be sure to follow her blog and her Instagram, you won’t be sorry! xox, Chloe

preptista

Smart Girls Conference Recap

BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe4 Comments
smart girls conference

If you follow us on Twitter (if you don't, then go follow us!! you definitely want to join us for #ChicChat on Tuesdays at 9EST!) then you would know that last week I had the chance to attend the Smart Girls Conference in New York City. I was able to go on behalf of Dormify to help work the booth and spread the word about who we are (you know, the cutest college & dorm decor EVER!) and I also was able to hear the speakers, well, speak. There were some amazing people there, from Shiza Shahid, the CEO & Co-Founder of the Malala Fund to Carly Heitlinger, from The College Prepster. Everyone had a different insight into what it is like to be a powerful woman, and it was seriously so inspiring! I also love that The Smart Girls Conference embraces "the power of smarts & the power of sisterhood" supporting working together to make everyone stronger instead of competing against each other. I'm lucky to have a group of blog friends that feel the same way, and besides being encouraged by all the powerful women speaking, I also had the chance to meet some of these blog friends in real life for the first time. Like I mentioned in my recent post, meeting blog friends is so cool. They understand that it takes 100 shots to get the right Instagram picture, that wearing the right outfit really is very important, and they just get the blogger's life. Since I had so much fun I decided that I would just share a whole bunch of picture with you guys. I hope you enjoy!!

onetwo six four five1

Oh and in case you’re wondering, the girls pictured (aka the sweetest girls ever) are Sammy from The Preptista, Frannie from the Blonde Prep, Caroline from Citrus & Style, and Sloane from Sailing the Sea of Style.

Hope you had a great weekend too!

xo ~chloe

 

Creative Classes online

BLOG TIPS, EXTRAS, RANDOM STUFFKim & Chloe6 Comments
Creative classes for bloggers

Summer's here which means: No. More. School. So why am I so excited to start learning? Because now I can learn exactly what I want! Say what? That's right... I'm ready to start taking even more classes in all things creative. You know, those skills that aren't taught in school,  I'm looking at some creative classes online in photography, calligraphy, some more blogging skills, in-depth photoshop, and... well, I could just keep going. But there are classes for just about anything. I'm interested in more photography and photoshop and my mom wants to learn about coding, and basic DSLR cameras, and maybe even knitting. I'll let her tell you more about creative classes online. Let's get crafting! Creative classes for bloggers

CreativeLive has free live classes in photo & video, art & design, music & audio, craft & maker, money & life. Yeah, so just about everything! I've watched classes on dog photography, but I think I need beginner DSLR classes first. Chloe's interested in Advanced Lightroom and thinks posing and video sound fun too! What I like is that if you miss the classes, or you want to rematch them, you can pay a fee and have them forever. Perfect for bloggers are the graphic design class and a class for redesigning your blog

Lifehacker is a website that has some amazing tips. Simply search photography and you'll get some fantastic ideas and tips. They also have some information about classes occasionally. So, it's not a class or school, but there's always something useful.

Alt on Topic - most of you have hear of Alt Summit, a creative blog conference. While you may not have attended, you can attend classes online. About 1x per month, there are online blogging classes from blogging experts and social media gurus. The classes run all day and could be a quick fix to pick up a lot of info you would get at a conference. There's a cost... but hey, there's no airfare or hotel fees!

Infinite Skills - I like how you join and can learn any area you want for the time period. There is such a diverse range of topics from graphic design, web design, video editing, training in all the Adobe suite, to learning Excel.  You join per month, and have unlimited access to every video in all categories available. I've tried a course and enjoy how the videos are broken down into very small chunks of time.

Skillshare has classes in branding, digital illustration, digital photography entrepreneurship, fashion design, and Chloe's favorite: lettering! She's taken Calligraphy, Lettering for Designers, & Drawing Techniques for Pencil Portraits. I took the Basics of Photoshop. My recommendation as to whether or not the class will be good is to look at the approval rating and the number of students who have taken it.

Craftsy is more arts oriented and looks like you would be going to arts and crafts camp online. There are a ton of classes in knitting, quilting, cake decorating and even photography, jewelry making and paper crafts. I haven't taken any here, but this looks like a fun way to learn a new craft skill. This would be perfect for me to pick up knitting, but also for any day when someone, later this summer, dares to utter the dreaded, "I'm bored." There are a zillion solutions right here for everyone in our family!!

I'm ready for a free afternoon to take new creative classes online and gain a new skill or just try something different and fun... and with all the options literally at our fingertips, anything is possible!

Let me know if I missed one of your favorite places to learn online!

 

 

 

Styling Tips for Fashion posts

BLOG TIPS, EXTRAS, FASHIONKim & Chloe5 Comments
best fashion instagrams

When we revamped our blog last year and started adding fashion posts (of OOTD or WIWN variety) we started scouring our favorite blogs to see what style of posts captured our attention when saw them on the page. We checked to see which posts made us stop in our tracks and look to see what they were wearing, and which posts had cute clothes but didn't really keep us on the page. We developed a checklist of a good style post that we kept in our head, but now it's time to share with you! fashion blogging tips

via Sea of Shoes

  1. Do not have backgrounds growing out of our heads or bodies! (i.e., trees, poles, etc)
  2. Movement and playfulness capture our eye!
  3. Natural light is best and the golden hour is the most flattering
  4. Show the whole outfit in at least 1 photo
  5. Vary the background according to the outfit
  6. Blurred out backgrounds focus the eye on the clothes
  7. Show detail shots, especially of accessories or interesting shoes
  8. Varying angles add visual interest
  9. Have enough photos, but not so many that just becomes repetitive
  10. Have fun & try to look natural, not forced

Someone who inspires our checklist? Gary Pepper Girl! Ok, she does travel to exotic locales practically every day, so of course her photos are absolutely to die for. Plus, many are taken by her boyfriend, so you know he is going to capture her in the most amazing, flattering light and position. But seriously, could her clothes, settings, and photos be any more swoon-worthy?

How to take a great OOTD picture

Winnie Detwa has one of our favorite Instagrams because her photos are ethereal. Most have an earthiness to them (go check out her blog and instagram to see) which is why this photo has always stuck in my mind! Plus, she happens to be one of the nicest people I've (Chloe) met. See how bold she is by having a solid against a solid?  The impact of the pink would be lost against a splashy background. Her eye is just so darned good and we'll always look to her for styling tips and inspiration!

best fashion instagrams

How amazing is Jessica of Tuula Vintage in this picture? A simple silhouette with a remarkable background.

how to take great fashion blog styling tips

via Tuula Vintage

Of course, this is only our list, and if you think of some major bloggers, they make their own rules which just goes to show you that you must create your own checklist and stick to what works for you! Some bloggers have the same background in most of their posts and only show one or two photos or don't even describe what they're wearing. But isn't it better to want more from a post than be overwhelmed? And some go to the other extreme and post such busy pictures that it's hard to tell if they have travel or fashion blogs; but,that's why there are so many blogs! We each have to find our own niche, our own comfort zone and just. rock. it.

Our list of styling tips works for us. Today. But it might change tomorrow, and each season brings a different perspective and each shoot has a new focus. Sometimes we hit a lot of points, sometimes we don't, and that's what makes creating our posts fun and challenging. Plus, where would we be without our beyond incredible photographers, Erin Trimble and Susan Stewart?  A fresh perspective and trained eye is always helpful and it's brought 2 new friends into our lives!

Who are your favorite fashion bloggers… and why do you like their posts? We'd love to hear what's on your list for a good fashion post!

What is #ChicChat?

BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe6 Comments
#chicchat

The best twitter chats Each week on Tuesday from 9-9:30 EST, Chloe hosts #ChicChat. Although Chloe originally thought about having a chat for teens, #ChicChat has quickly evolved into a chat for bloggers of all ages who blog about various topics. Weekly themes are relevant to most bloggers, whether you blog about fashion, sports, lifestyle or crafts. We've discussed Past topics have included blog design and how to stay inspired, and networking, but the most popular chat so far was definitely the chat this week with our guest Robin Zachary of Prop Closet who answered questions about styling photos. As a former Creative Director of Bridal Guide Magazine, and present day stylist and teacher at NYC's Fashion Institute of Technology, she knows all the ins & outs of photo styling and spent her time busily answering questions!

Another highlight of #ChicChat is that we really get to know each other and connect on Twitter. Something that can be hard to do in a forum that where tweets bombard you faster than the temperatures have been changing lately from winter to spring and back again!

If you are new to Twitter chats and need some tips before joining, Chloe wrote a post explaining twitter chats for newbies. <---just click!

So drop any Tuesday between 9-9:30 EST… we look forward to chatting with you!

 

How to make a GIF… without Photoshop

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe28 Comments
How to Make a GIF without Photoshop

GIFs are all the rage, especially now that you can have GIFS on Pinterest, and there are tons of blog classes on how to make a GIF using Photoshop. But since Chloe is so proficient on Photoshop and the best I can do is turn it on, I haven't quite made it to a class. So when I found out about imgflip, I was dubious, but excited. I tried it out and was so impressed, that I wanted to share it with you! Get ready to learn how to make a GIF without Photoshop skills, y'all!

how to make GIFs

Here's how:

1. Take photos that you want to use to create your GIF or use graphics you've created. Save your images on your computer and make sure they are all the same size. Tip: If taking photos, the key to a successful GIF is to either use a tripod or have very steady hands. If you will be moving items to create a story, then definitely use a tripod since it's almost impossible to get your camera back in the same position, even if you have someone helping. We've found this to be true even when doing GIFS for fashion or style shoots. The less jiggle, the more successful your GIF will look.

2. Open up imgflip.

3. Click on the Images tab (top left).

4. Download your photos and arrange them in the order you want your story to be told to create your GIF. To remove a photo, simply drag it to the pink bar on the bottom that says "Drag images here to remove."

how to create GIFs

5. Once satisfied with your photos, set the width to 360 and height to 360 for a square photo (or 360 for the widest or highest), quality to 1, and click Private. Then click Generate GIF.

creating GIFS

6. Once downloaded, simply upload it to your blog like a regular photo (although after using it a few times, it will give you an image HTML which you can place on your website). Both are super-easy. And voilà, a GIF… and you didn't even need to learn Photoshop!

Creating the GIF is free, but the size is limited to 360 x 360, and supposedly there will be a watermark, and ad will be shown. To upgrade to the Pro version costs $9.95/mo. But as you can see, there is no watermark or ad in the one I created!

making a GIF without Photoshop

Have fun creating GIFs without Photoshop and leave your links to the ones you create in the comments below. We love creating and looking at them 'em!!

xo ~kim

New Year, New Blog Design

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe15 Comments
Blog Design

How to design the perfect blog layoutChloe and I are at it again… we can't seem to leave (almost) well enough alone and tweaked our blog design again. Maybe it's just the DIY-ers in us, maybe it's because we were on vacation and didn't have access to all our crafts, but one day, maybe it was a really snowy one, we just decided our website needed modifying. Again. Which got us thinking: what makes a blog design effective? What do we look for when we find a blog that makes us think gosh, our website needs updating yet again? Let's start at the top and work our way down, realizing this is what we like (i.e., tips) not hard and fast rules! Header: A header should be distinctive and express your personality and tell your reader who you are or what you do. If I had my way, Popcosmo would have one look and stay the same year to year. But that's me. Chloe, as a teen, is evolving and her taste is changing dramatically year to year. And since she is the designer, her opinion rules, so our header has changed frequently, but one element has stayed consistent: we've always had a heart somewhere in our logo. But we haven't been able to find a heart we like with this new logo!

Consistency is queen (behind creativity) even when your logo changes; but, if you're going to make a dramatic change, then more power to you. If you have a "signature," like our heart, then work around it. We tended to make a change when we rebrand, and then we tweaked the logo to and layout to better express us.

Also, popcosmo doesn't mean anything, we made sure that we mention that we "are a blog for moms, teens and everyone in-between" somewhere on our homepage. BOTH of these items (heart and tagline) are still being fiddled with by us, so check back to see how we resolve them :)

Here's our logo design evolution from our teen site to our present day mom/teen site above. The last two were designed by Chloe:How to design a logo Logo Design Logo Design

 

Navigation: Being able to access and navigate around a website should be easy. For instance, if it takes 3 click just to find a story, I'm leaving. Secondarily to reading what is on the landing page, you want your reader to be able to easily navigate through your site. There are typically 3 ways a reader will do this:

  • Menu - typically below the header or on the sidebar. Although they look great on the sidebar, Chloe designed ours below the header, which we both like the look of and the ease of for the reader. A simple drop-down menu is simple for the reader and instinctive when they are looking for where to go.
  • Search Bar - ours is above the fold on every page and critical since we have so many articles that go back more than a few pages
  • Highlighted Posts - We use WP plug-ins and saw a dramatic rise when we installed them. We also added some sections on the sidebar (those big black circles to your right) that weren't on the main menu (but are on the drop-down menu, i.e., Blog Tips). We also have our most popular posts highlighted on the sidebar. It seems a bit like overkill when I write this out, but each person reading a different story will see a different "popular" post or highlighted post and hopefully inspire them to linger longer.

Call to Action: Do you want your reader to sign up for emails or comment? Do you want them to pin a picture, G+, or follow you on Instagram? Then you have to ask very nicely, or hint very loudly, so we make sure our share buttons are prominent at the end of each story. I have to admit, we don't ask our readers to share enough (hey y'all, we love when you share, and we really love it when you follow us on Instagram or Twitter and especially when you leave a comment or share a DIY with us!) but the point is make sure you are asking your readers to do something when they visit you or they'll just pop by and leave.

Font and background:

Don't underestimate the power of design and font!  Chloe and I kid about it, but we'll absolutely pick a restaurant because of a cool font (hello Kitchen in Denver). Won't you leave a website that has a sloppy font and is impossible to read?

We do argue about centered fonts - I can't stand them, she loves them. So, this section is for her. Generally, script fonts are pretty but hard to read. 3-4 fonts should be plenty.  Since we are both font crazy, agreeing on fonts caused considerable arguments, but I think we've finally found a middle ground!

Sidebar: KISS. Yep, Keep It Simple, Stupid. We have so much information we'd love to put in our sidebar, but we just resist the urge. We don't run ads, so that's one thing that keeps it clean, but ads are $$$, so we are considering them. Just make sure they are kept to the same size or within the same block so it doesn't look cluttered. Another idea is to move your ads to the bottom of your sidebar or to the footer.

Happy Thanksgiving

Photos: The bigger the better. Yep, really. Well, sort of. Make them as wide as possible. Know your margins and make the width of your photos the same as your content. It's all about visual appeal and a photo that aligns with your copy is visually appealing. Of course, it can't always be the same width, so center them if they can't be as wide as your copy. If they are larger than your margins, then resize before importing to help with your website speed.

Here's why… you see the same photo above and below, but which looks better?

Happy Thanksgiving

Color: In this case, less is more. Generally, 3-4 colors make a pleasing web design palette and are visually appealing. But we've seen designs with more and less that also work. This is simply a style question of what best represents you, and is not jarring for your readers. Consider how much color will be in your photos / posts and make sure you won't overwhelm your reader, or conversely, that there will be enough color to interest your reader. But, don't forget about whitespace… it can be the difference between a good homepage and a great homepage. Whitespace separates blocks of information and can create balance on a page, which will give it uniformity without clutter.

Contact: Can your readers and brands reach you? Is your contact info on your homepage or readily apparent? Ours is on our advertising page, our press page, and who we are page. We want people to read about us to make sure it's a good fit, BUT we are considering adding an email icon to the homepage.

Consistency: Check the overall design for mood, consistency and balance. Consistency in design allows the eye to flow from one area to the next without distraction and enhances the reader's experience, which in the end, will make them want to come back. And isn't that what we all want?

Are there any web design tips you want to share? Or any web design quirks that drive you crazy? Or any web design advice you want to share with us?

xox ~Kim

 

 

 

 

Really Cool Business Cards

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe7 Comments
creative business cards

You all know that I I adore designing websites and and logos and have really enjoyed being able to design them for other people. So it's no surprise that I'm obsessed with looking at other peoples websites. But what I love even more than websites is business cards. Perhaps it's because my mom always says that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression." And when it comes to introductions of your blog, website or business, this advice is also true, which is why I think my mom and I are obsessed with business cards. When someone hands me a card that feels good, looks good, and somehow captures their character or the character of their blog, then I am totally impressed. And what do I do when I'm impressed (besides gushing so much that I not only embarrass them but also make a fool of myself)? I scope out their website! And isn't that exactly what you want someone to do when you hand them your card? As we've probably mentioned, we were at the #CricutExplore event sponsored by Cricut earlier this week. We were humbled to be invited with so many top crafting bloggers and meet people we'd been reading. We received some cool business cards, just a few of which we'll share with you. I wish we could have gotten a card from everyone (and I wish I could have taken the entire week off and stayed for Alt so I could have seen and learned more)! Next year….

cool business cards

left: The Proper Pinwheel's card is packaged in a clear pillow enveloped with an included tiny DIY banner in her color scheme and glitter dots and paper shreds which makes you feel like you are unwrapping a present. Sort of like when you scroll through her blog, it's a real treat!

middle: the card by Say Yes is bright and cheery, just like the site. Three cheers for perfect branding!

right: ok, so Kori Clark not only drew the spot near where I used to live and had my Bat Mitzvah in Rosemary Beach, Florida (is it a small world or what?!) but has the perfect card to showcase her talent as an illustrator and stationery designer. Her card folds fold up, there are 2-sided cards with her beyond adorable drawings inside.

business cards from alt

left: creativity without spending a cent? Crème de la Craft created her cards from cereal boxes, which represents her blog, since it's tagline is "DIY projects made from everyday objects."

middle: Handmade Charlotte's card is chic and simple with a bright back. It's bold and stands out, which totally matches Charlottes playful, sweet and generous personality.

right: sometimes simplicity speaks for itself, as in Brooklyn wedding designer Michelle Edgemont's bold gold leaf foil star.

creative business cards

left: Caravan Shoppe made an interactive rocket. Need we say more from a brand that creates downloadable templates for  you to create fab paper products at home. Branding perfection!

middle: The Cricut Explore cuts, scores, draws and cleans your room. Well, it probably could do the latter since it seems like it can do just about anything. And since a regular shape card turns into an origami-like box that I'm displaying on my desk, I'd say not only is the Cricut Explore a piece of art, so is this business card.

right: So my mom might have a girl crush on Whippy Cake and her adorable retro style and fashion-forward hair, and trust me, you will too when you take a look at her blog. Her card is simple and refreshing… just like her!

really cool business cards

As you might have noticed, I've changed the look of our blog a few times lately and we are pretty close to being finalized with how we like it. Pretty close! Which means, you guessed it, I can start designing our new business cards on Minted. And I have plenty of inspiration thanks to my new friends.

xo ~chloe

How to Get Traffic to your Website from Instagram

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRAS, RANDOM STUFFKim & Chloe30 Comments
How to get traffic from Instagram | Popcosmo

how to get traffic from Instagram Once we published our Instagram tips & tricks, we received lots of questions about Instagram, but the 2 that stood out were (a) what's the best way to get traffic to your website from Instagram without using a contest or giveaway & (b) how do I get my blog post pictures on Instagram? Here you go... our quick and simple answers with our tips to make the most of your Instagram!

The best way to get traffic to your blog posts is pretty common sense (but here area a few reminders):

1. A “sneak peak” or teaser picture. These pictures give your followers an insider look of an upcoming post or you could be working behind the scenes on your post. The goal? Curiosity! The next day we posted the finished product that we created with the items below, but aren't you dying to know what we made with napkins?! {Hint: who says Halloween can't be pink & green!}

2. Highlighting your most popular posts from the week or month on Instagram. Your readers might have missed a craft, outfit, or story and will be intrigued and want to check them out.

3. Last but not least, simply be yourself and create compelling and cohesive Instagram content. Your Instagram feed should have a unique style - this is our #1 tip! Create your own look and stick with it, just like you have your voice on your blog, you have your "look" or style on Instagram. Don't you always want to see the blog when you love the Instagram account? I do!

Besides the fact that Instagram is a compelling way to tell a visual story of your brand, just remember that it's a window into your website.

The other question that we are asked is “how the heck do I get a picture from my camera onto Instagram?” A lot of people pride themselves for solely taking iPhone pictures; however, if you want show your high quality work from a camera, fantastic. But please, don't tell everyone you take iPhone pics when you’re really using your super fancy DSLR - in other words, don't use "#nofilter". Ok? Ok. So here's how you get those fancy pics to Instagram:

1. Once you upload your pictures to your computer from your camera:

  • Email the picture you want to upload to yourself.
  • Then, open the picture on your phone from your mail app.
  • From there, just click the picture in your email and it will ask you what you want to do.
  • I typically save to camera roll and then open it up in one of my editing apps (click for an for editing app tutorial).  OR if you don't use editing apps, open Instagram and it will be in your Camera Roll.

If the picture file is too big, you may need to take a screen shot of the picture on your computer or your phone. This takes two seconds so it’s not a big deal!

2. Another way to post a blog picture onto your Instagram is after you’ve posted your picture on your blog,

  • Open your website on your phone.
  • Then click the image you want to use and save to camera roll.
  • Again, you'll simply need to open up Instagram or an editing app to access the photo.

Although it's another step to take in your daily blogging routine, Instagram is a fabulous way to drive traffic to your website with a quick visual peek into what you are doing... and tease your readers just enough so that they will be dying to check out what the rest of your post is all about. And we've found it draws in readers with everything from fashion posts, to DIY, to random stuff.

And hey, are you following us on Instagram @popcosmo!?

There 'ya go! Instagram those blog posts & let us know if you have any questions.

xox ~chloe

 

#ChicChat

BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe7 Comments
#ChicChat | popcosmo

#ChicChat for teens

Join us on Twitter every Tuesday night from 9-9:30 EST for a brand new chat: #ChicChat! I'll be chatting about teen blogs and blogging... and more! Our goal is to have a chat for teens to collaborate, learn, share knowledge, and develop relationships with fellow teen bloggers.

October 1: Introduce your blog and yourself. Why did you start blogging and what are your goals? Let's visit each other's blogs comment on each other's posts!

October 8: What has been your most popular post? What post should have been popular? Don't be shy! We want to learn from each other - what worked and why? What post surprised you, disappointed you?

Looking forward to chatting with you, just use #ChicChat and you'll join us! Also, follow us on Twitter (@popcosmo) and let us know you'll be joining so we can send you a reminder!

If you want to learn more about Tweet Chats, check out the who, what, when, where, and why's here!

xox ~chloe

 

Twitter Lists: How to Declutter your Twitter Stream

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe18 Comments
Blog Tips

There is a very simple solution to declutter your Twitter stream... and it's sitting right in front of you. It's called a Twitter List. Yet you may be ignoring it. We were! But we've recently started using this 1 simple trick, and Twitter Lists have made our Twitter interactions so much more meaningful, and easier to follow. I can follow my SITS friends, my BlogHer friends, my hometown friends, and even other people's public lists. Why didn't I start using this simple trick sooner?! Twitter Tips

For those of you not familiar with Twitter Lists, I'll explain why they are so critical, plus I'm going to walk you through how to create them (it looks complicated, but it's simple!) both on Twitter and on HootSuite. What's nice is your Twitter list will automatically appear on the other social media site once you create it. So I recommend going to where you are most comfortable to create a list. Personally, I prefer creating a list on Twitter and populating it on HootSuite.

Twitter:

1. Click Me

2. Click the gear on the top right and highlight Lists from the dropdown menu

3. Click Create list

4. Name your list and describe your list (optional)

5. Click public or private

6. Click save list

twitter lists to make twitter manageable

7. To add people (a) in the following list or when you search for a friend (b) click on the person icon (c) click add to list.  Then check the name of the list to which you want to add them. That's it, they are added! Alternatively, you can search for people you want to add to your list and they can be added by clicking (d) add to list.

twitter lists

how to make a twitter list 1

 

HootSuite:

1. Add Stream (make sure you are in Twitter!)

2. Click Lists

how to use twitter lists

3. Select your Profile name (i.e., ours is Popcosmo)

4. (a) If you created your list in Twitter, you'll see the name of the list (ours is "Popcosmo Peeps") so click "Use Existing List" and  the name of the list you created OR (b) name your list, and optionally you can describe your list

5. Click public or private

6. Click Add Stream. Now you'll have a dedicated stream for those tweeps!

how to create a twitter list in hootsuite

7. To add people:

a. While you are in your stream, click the the ICON of the person (icon is to the left of the twitter name) of any twitter name in any stream. You can then simply click and drag them into your stream. You will know they are added when you see the big green plus sign in your stream. OR

b. Click the person icon in the grey box on the far right. Highlight your profile and see all those you follow. Click and drag the icon to your list and you'll know they are added when you see the big green plus sign. Hint: Click on your list to see who's in it while adding, instead of having to go to your stream.

What are Twitter Lists 3

How (and WHY) to Use Lists:

In Twitter: Click on Me and then Lists. Click on the list you want to see.

In HootSuite: You have a stream for your list!

The clutter is gone and all you should see is a stream from those people in your list. A list makes it so easy to ignore all those tweets that distract you from focusing on what you should be focusing on. {For me that means gaining hours of productivity!! No more looking at fashion photos while I should be writing or gazing longingly at your Instagrams!} With a Twitter list I can decide WHO I want to see in a stream and WHEN! All it takes a few minutes to set up a Twitter list and you've got a streamlined Tweet-erverse right at your fingertips.

Why does this matter? Once you start interacting and re-tweeting people, you'll start seeing them doing the same with you and Twitter becomes what it originally was when you only followed a few people: a conversation. It also becomes a wonderful resource for information. And it can become an invaluable asset for promoting your blog and sharing the information you have created. Twitter is give and take relationship, one which is hard to be in when there's so much "noise." Without the distraction of excess "noise" on Twitter, you can focus on those friends and people who you want to focus on, and start seeing the real benefits of Twitter.

Happy Tweeting!

Instagram Tips

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe23 Comments
instagram tips

Instagram has started to become my favorite social media platform. You might be asking yourselves how I like it better than Pinterest, and there is only one answer - it’s more personal. I feel like my personality can shine through more on Instagram, plus it’s kind of a game with the likes and comments :lol: . The only thing is, there are so many new editing apps that are created everyday, it’s hard to stay up to date with the cool things you can do.instagram ideas Most instagram tips will tell you how to take better pictures, how to show your personality, and how to use the filters. But no longer do the plain old Instagram filters suffice - you have to use an outside source. I’m all for it! I love me some editing. So I'm going to share my most recent Instagram find with you: I recently started using the VSCOcam app (available in the app store), and I love it. It replaces all the other complicated apps because it’s easy to use and it has some really cool features. So no complicated Instagram tips, just one big tip and how to use use my favorite tool!

Here’s a little peek on how I typically edit a picture....

instagram tips

This whole process takes about five minutes - that's including taking the picture itself. It’s not too slow which is why I love using just one app. I’ve heard of people using up to three separate apps per picture, but for me that just takes away from the insta in Instagram.

{1} Clearly you have to choose your picture. I usually take a bunch and then pick from the best one.  I have way too many pictures on my phone, but it just feels so wrong to delete them in case "who knows what" happens. And by that, I mean my little brother.

{2} I then open up my picture in VSCOcam.

{3} I love the filters that are already in this app. I almost always use the T1 filter  because I like the white wash it gives the photo. Choosing the filter is totally up to you, and remember: your personality should shine through! I also like G3 and M5.

{4} I then crop my photo so that it’s a square so I can make sure I will like it once I post it to Instagram. If you have a taller/wider picture and want white space on the edges, I recommend the app Whitagram, another one of my favorites.

{5} I then jack up the exposure, because I like the effect it gives the photo. Clearly this is where your originality starts to shine through, and your tastebuds do the choosin’.

{6} Depending on the picture, I either slide the temperature up or down. This feature either puts more color into your picture or takes some away. See how my photo is just... softer?

{7} Lastly, upload to Instagram! Follow us and check us out to see what I've been doing lately with our photos - I'd love to hear what you think!

I hope this helps you find your own style a little bit!  And I'd love to hear more...

How do you typically edit your pictures? Are you a fan of VSCOcam?

3 simple steps to make a round picture

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe7 Comments

Have you seen all those cute round avatars or round pictures on sidebars? It took me forever to make ours until I learned how simple it could be! So I'm sharing the simple way to make a round picture with you. The secret is... my favorite photo editing tool: PicMonkey - and if you aren't using it then I suggest you start. If you are, then you already know it rocks. (And no, they are not paying me to say this - but I'd say the same thing if they were! I just love them, plain & simple.) PicMonkey is a very simple photo editor and is quite intuitive. Chloe uses PhotoShop and loves it, but it's complicated to simple folk like me. And there are rumors of a rental fee now, so it doesn't seem like a great time for me to start learning it. chloe - 60's plain

Something I learned recently is that it is quite simple to take any online photo and and turn it into a round picture. I should have learned this a long time ago, but just wasn't experimenting enough! Not only can you make a round picture, but you can also make it look fun and funky in an instant.

Here's how: 1. Drag a picture to the PicMonkey editor.

2. In Basic Edits CROP the photo to make it square by simply making the actual size of equal length and width.

PicMonkey tips

How to use PicMonkey

3. in Frames under Rounded Corners, round them until you have formed a circle by dragging the corner radius to 222 degrees. Click "transparent corners." And then you have your round picture!

making pictures round

PicMonkey Tips & Tricks

To get funky with your round picture... goto Effects and play!

chloe - 60'stint

 

Well now, that's as easy as... 1, 2, 3! So what are you waiting for? Jazz up your photos and start making them round pictures! It's not hip to be square :)

Any questions? Leave them in the comments! Or do you have another way to make round pictures -- I'd love to hear!

Blog comments: why, how, and the #1 tip you have to know now

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe30 Comments
blog tips

I must confess, I've debated a while whether to write a post about blog comments. Seriously, everyone comments and everyone knows how to comment... right? {Obviously that's a rhetorical question or we wouldn't be here!} I finally decided to write this after (1) I realized that it took me a long time to learn what I've learned, and (2) I thought I knew the "1 tip you have to know now" and realized I was still making the mistake. Whoopsy-daisy!!  I thought to myself, and out loud to Chloe, "Well, if I'm making this mistake, at least I can save someone else a bit of frustration & trouble!"  Sooooo, here are our top blog comments tips!

blog comments

1. You can build a community just by commenting on other blogs.  If your comments are non-existent to sporadic, start sharing the love. Find some blogs you truly like and leave heartfelt comments. Not a simple "nice" or "cute" but a comment that adds to the post and shows you actually read it. If the blogger has time, is curious, and is interested in building relationships, they will pop over to your blog and likely leave a comment if they like your blog. I've built fantastic purely online relationships with people such as Jen of PinkWhen, Meghan of Meghan Silva, Alicia of Spashionista, and so many others simply by enjoying their blogs and leaving comments. Chloe has made great friends online through blogging. We can always count on our blog friends to check out our new posts, and we try my hardest to the same with them and so many other fab supporters of ours.

2. Don't ask people to follow you in your comments.  If people like your blog, they will follow you. If they don't, they won't. Asking them to follow is akin to following them around in real life and asking them to be your friend. Nobody would do that after kindergarten, so why do it online?

3. If you don't have something nice to say, then don't comment.  It's that simple. It's like seeing a friend in an outfit you don't like. If they don't truly want your opinion, you really don't have to give it to them. Mom's keen advice still holds true.

4. If a blogger asks a question, answer it. Unless you don't want to. I try to because it shows I read the post, but sometimes it's just a prompt for the blog reader. However, if you have something to say (see #1) then go ahead and leave your interesting and heartfelt comment!

And the #1 tip you must know:

5. Make sure your comment links back to your blog!! So simple, yet... We always visit every blog that leaves a comment on ours. Always. Well, ok, almost always. We alway try to visit, at least! Yet, I'd say that 50% of the blog comments leave links that are dead ends. Test yours. If you leave your name, but no link, it's difficult to reciprocate and visit you, and we all know what happens when something is difficult. It's not personal, but on to the next blog or comment, right?

If you are leaving a google/blogger link, make sure it links to your blog. If you are leaving a Disqus link... make sure it links to your blog. For instance, if your comment link to Twitter, then you are telling me to follow you on Twitter and not to visit your blog. That's fine, but you  might be wondering why people aren't visiting your blog after you went on a blog reading spree and left bunches of comments. Log in and check your settings and profile!! Almost every blog has a different type of commenting system - so test each system out AFTER you leave the comment! Click your link and see where it goes (you may need to log out to see.) If your comment doesn't show up right away (due to a spam filter) write the name of the blog down and visit later. Once you've checked all your comments for a week or so and they are linking back to you, you should be golden and receiving tons of comments back from all of your friends that you are visiting!

Questions people have asked me about blog comments:

Should I leave a signature (and how do I do it) with my blog name?  Sometimes we do, and sometimes we don't. If Popcosmo is highlighted when I leave a comment,and it's obvious that you can click on it to access our blog, then we typically don't leave a signature unless it's the first time we've visited that blog. If it's not highlighted, then do it! Plus, if you are not sure if the link goes directly to your blog, then do it. Once, you can confirm which commenting systems link back, you can stop leaving signatures. We don't like to be repetitive & redundant, haha.

How do I leave a signature? Obviously it's personal, but ours is: xox ~kim & chloe @ popcosmo.com  which is typed in as: xox ~kim & chloe @ <a href="http://www.popcosmo.com">popcosmo.com</a>  We used to have separate ones, but we are starting to become one person, it seems!

How exactly does commenting build a community? I should clarify that obviously 1 comment won't build a community. It takes time & you have to visit your list of blogs regularly! A great way to remember which blogs to visit is to build a list in Bloglovin' and set up a group for your commenting BFFs. Check it regularly and comment regularly and you'll see the love returned.  Let me know if you need help with Bloglovin' and I'll address that in another post!

Should I leave my email address? I never do, but if you have asked a question that you want to have answered and won't be returning to the blog to check the answer, then you should let the blogger know you'd like an email, but they might not always have time to respond! In Blogger, under Edit Profile, you have to check "Show my email address," in Disqus, I receive an email address. We have had plenty of conversations on our site when readers ask for information, especially pertaining to our DIY and Beauty posts. But, we've also responded to emails, they just take a lot longer.

I hope you found this helpful!

Do you have any questions about commenting or Bloglovin'? Let us know!

3 Ideas for Blog Post Titles that get Clicks

BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe15 Comments
blog tips

blog post titles Now that you know how to create irresistible blog post titles that will rank in SEO and get your readers clicking, how do you actually come up with a cool and catchy title? What if you aren't the creative type who can use a keyword and turn it into a title treasure (as suggested in step 5 here)? Here are a few tips to take the guesswork out of creating blog post titles:

1. Numbers rule!

Just make a list. Seriously, who doesn't love a list, unless it's a list of things you have to do around the house, or the bane of my existence, the grocery list.

Everybody responds to

  • 5 Steps to ____
  • 6 Killer Resources for ___
  • 10 Surprising Secrets about ___
  • 7 Ways to ____
  • Top 10 lists

Your lists can be about anything, from fashion to ideas, to ways to wear something to brands you love, to reasons you should blog.

2. Lead the way

"How to" headlines have been some our most successful posts, such as "How to do a French Manicure Effortlessly", "How to shop for Vintage Clothes" and "Cake Pops - how to make the best ever". You see that a "how to" post or video can relate to almost any blog topic and can help a reader feel that you are on their side and we all face the same problems, which we do.

Examples include the basic How to, and progress to

  • How to ___, even if (describe the obstacle)
  • How to ____, like a (describe the goal) i.e., How to dress like Gwynneth Paltrow on a real girl's budget, or How to get in the college of your dreams with the SAT scores of your nightmares

These are posts where you are helping your reader solve a problem - we love these!

3. The Simple Life

Show your readers how your post is going to make their life more simple. Just think of the über-simplifier of them all: Real Simple magazine, which makes simple an art!

If you were writing about, let's say, blog writing, some topics might be:

  • Simplify your blog writing process
  • Take charge of your blog instead of it taking charge of you
  • Shortcuts to blogging
  • The Zen of Blogging
  • The blog checklist: simplifying your blog writing process
  • How to grow your blog audience in 5 minutes
  • Blog hacks; The Blog Cheat Sheet

You could substitute motorcycle repair or getting your baby to sleep or making kale chips and these could all apply (with some tweaks, of course)!

Still stumped? These posts have some great blog post titles and ideas to overcome writers block:

SITS Girls logallot Michelle Shaeffer The Future Buzz

One last super-secret killer tip that works every time, for us: if you have more than one great idea for a title and can't decide which would be better for SEO, then use one as a title and use the other as a Meta Keyword! This way, you get the benefit of both!!  And if you don't know what a Meta Keyword is and you are on WordPress, ask me about WordPress SEO by Yoast. And no, they didn't pay me to say that.

Happy Writing! XO, Kim and Chloe