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An Inside Look at Blogging with Jessica Camerata of My Style Vita, 11:30am, Floor 13, NW Quadrant, Veteran Atlanta-based blogger Jessica Camerata of My Style Vita gives an inside look into blogging and how it can benefit your business.
“MSV got started when I wanted to pursue a new career in writing and fashion. My previous job in a very conservative corporate America atmosphere had me itching for something that I was passionate about…”
I was sold. I’d considered starting my own blog for a long time and for the same reasons as Jessica. I attended her seminar, exchanged contact info, and met her for coffee a few months later.
“You have to sit down and just do it,” she said.
Jessica’s words were just the push I needed. I’m a creative soul, but I’m also a compulsive planner and perfectionist, the latter being why I’d put off starting a blog for so long. What I’d mulled over for years went into a short month of preparation. Using a branding questionnaire from Angie, a friend/graphic designer, and a focus group of my nearest and dearest, I decided on the name ARTicles of Clothing Blog and compiled a loose vision for from pages of notebooks, scribbles in margins, feedback from the focus group, and my own mind.
Without “sitting down and just doing it,” I may have never started a blog. However, after blogging for over a year, AOC Blog never evolved into what I hoped it would be. It became an eclectic mix of those initial intentions and whatever struck my fancy with a heavy influence from the blogging community and what my blog stats told me worked best. AOC Blog had become a mere fraction of me, half me and half something else. If I wanted to keep my passion for blogging, I had to get AOC Blog back on track, my track.
I needed to take a step back, quiet the extraneous outside influences, be true to myself, and cultivate my own method. For guidance, I looked to a book that had been on my shelf for years: Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, A Practical Guide. First and foremost, this book helped me acknowledge and accept my identity: a creative. Under that creative umbrella, every aspect of my life falls into its own creative space: my compulsion to write, my fascination with fashion, my passion for dance, my love of cooking, my collection of journals, books, and magazines, and my blog. Next, I had to learn that being a creative is a way of life. It’s not just writing, fashion, dance, cooking, journaling, blogging, it’s everything from what you do while you drink your morning coffee to what you do before hitting the pillow at night. By approaching everything – no matter how mundane or exciting – with a creative mindset, I slowly began to tap back into my creative voice and my creative process. I began to establish my own creative habit.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you also started a blog for a similar reason – an interest in writing or fashion, to do something passionately, for a creative outlet, to express yourself. Maybe the typical editorial calendars, blog stats, outfit-of-the-day-posts, and affiliate links just aren’t working for you. Over the past month, I’ve developed a new approach to blogging, and in the coming months, I’ll share the steps I took to create my method. While, I urge you to carve your own way and form your own creative habit, maybe you can learn something from my process.
More and more I’ve found myself deeply valuing my time spent exploring and gaining inspiration outside the Internet. This is not what a blogger, social media manager, web writer should say. Call me an old soul, but I remember the not-so-distant past when my creativity was constantly fueled by the world around me, not images on Instagram or quotes on Pinterest. I think I’m part of a confusing (or rather confused) generation who is both excited to be on the cutting edge of a grand new era of technology and who has a fond memory of a youth without said technology – a generation that continually grapples with their physical persona (outside the Internet) and their digital persona (on the Internet). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I feel both blessed and cursed to know both sides.
Some people manage to be, say, 80% detached from the digital world. Sure these people probably have an email address and a cell phone, maybe a Facebook or LinkedIn account, but not much more. The rest of us call these people “disconnected.” I’ve made the accusation myself, namely because my boyfriend (oddly enough a web developer) is one of these people. And to him (and others with raw digital personas) I’ve defended blogs and social media hundreds of times, touting their widespread popularity (audience) and overall value (free to those who participate, lucrative to those who create) – they’re an integral part of our society, numerous industries, my life! I can confidently say I’m thankful for my experience in the blogosphere and on social media, but what happened to the experiences outside the Internet? The Instagram-able, Pin-able, hashtag-able experiences that supposedly make up this media? I can’t escape the technology completely – in fact it has quickly evolved into a very inescapable part of most of our lives – but I can slow down, take a step back, and remember there is still a beautiful world out there – it doesn’t just exist in images on the Internet.
Regardless of your level of engagement in the digital world, the Internet has a powerful influence on our lives. Time and time again, I’ve been influenced by other bloggers, digital media, friends and followers on social networks – so much so that every now and then, I lose track of where my digital persona ends and others’ begin. Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to move forward. So this February, instead of the digital world telling me “blog me,” “Instagram me,” “share me,” I’m calling the shots. I’m reconnecting with my unique digital persona. My blog and social media have been quiet for the past few weeks and will continue to be in the month of February as I pursue this introspective exploration of my digital self. Stay tuned, readers… MORE SOON.
Photography by Angie Webb Creative
New Year’s resolutions come with such a lofty weight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about dreaming big and setting high expectations for yourself whether it be in your personal or professional life. However, starting the New Year with resolutions that are not attainable will only set you up for frustration and disappointment. Even worse, the wrong approach to resolutions may actually hinder you from accomplishing the real objectives you have for yourself and the next year of your life.
We’re now about halfway through January (wow!), how are your 2015 resolutions going so far?
Have you already strayed from the resolutions you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?
It’s not too late to accomplish your ambitions! While a new year is a benchmark time to set new goals for yourself and your life, you can do this anytime. Each day is an opportunity to start fresh and new.
My 3 tips to attainable New Year’s resolutions are not rocket science or some be-all-end-all solution. In fact, they’re fairly simple. Perhaps they will make you think about your aspirations for 2015 a little differently, and maybe 2015 will be the year you re-think your resolutions and actually achieve them!
1. START WITH SMALL STRIDES
You’re not going to attain your resolutions immediately, all at once, or even with one attempt. Actually accomplishing your aspirations takes time, planning, and starting with small strides. State your goals – bring them out of your mind and into existence. Sometimes simply declaring or asking for what we want for ourselves or our lives can be the hardest step. If you’re a list-maker like me, write them down, or just say them out loud and discuss them with a friend, family member, or partner. Once you’ve established what you aim to achieve in 2015, identify the first step to attaining each resolution. Not all five, ten, twenty steps it may or may not take. Begin with just the first step. When you start with small strides, it makes your resolutions manageable and more realistic to attain. After you’ve completed that initial step, repeat this process for step two and three and so on.
2. DO EVERYTHING IN MODERATION
“Do everything in moderation” is a method my mom aims to employ in every facet of her life. It’s a method she has instilled in me. When you actually approach all aspects of your life with this motto, it can truly make you a more well-rounded, fulfilled, and healthy person. There is too much of a good thing (and a bad thing at that). This year, instead of attempting to make drastic or extreme modifications to your life, try to do everything in moderation. Instead of proclaiming you’re going to – go to the gym seven days a week… cut all carbs from your diet… write a blog post every day… stop watching TV – make your resolutions more attainable with moderation: I’m going to go to the gym one more day each week… cut carbs from my diet on Wednesdays… write a blog post every other day… stop watching TV on Sundays. Yes, this may require you to reassess the goals you established in step one. Who said you couldn’t modify your resolutions? They’re not set in stone and can evolve as you do. The idea of doing everything in moderation really goes hand in hand with taking small strides. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re the tortoise not the hare. You have 365 days to slowly, steadily, methodically attain your resolutions.
3. REFLECT ON YOUR PROGRESS
I already talked a bit about reflection in my last post of 2014. I believe when used in a positive and productive manner, reflection is a key part of success. As we move forward and as we begin to attain our resolutions, we often lose sight of where we started and how far we’ve really come. We start focusing on what’s next and wanting more. This is why it’s important to stop and acknowledge the small successes, the steps that got you there, the progress made before the ultimate goal is achieved. It goes back to step one – small strides. While it would be ideal to accomplish every resolution you set forth for 2015, you might not. Even if you don’t attain a resolution in its entirety, it’s worth celebrating the progress you made toward that goal.
MY 2015 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
I wanted to share a few of my aspirations for 2015 and how I aim to apply these 3 tips to make attainable resolutions to my own goals for the New Year.
1. Write at least one poem each month.
Most of you know me as a writer and blogger, but I’m also a poet. Poetry has been a more abstract way for me to express myself since my teens. Up until 2014, I used to write roughly 20-40 poems each year. When I began my career as a freelance writer and blogger, my poetry fell further and further behind my other writing obligations. In September, I completely lost this integral part of my life. So, in 2015 I want to return to my poetry by starting with one poem this month and each month after.
UPDATE: I’ve got the bare bones of two poems with the working title “The Girl With No Face” inspired by two girls who sat next to me on the subway.
2. Spend time with a girlfriend at least once each month.
Graduating college was a huge turning point for me and my girlfriends. I moved to Wisconsin and my best girls moved to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, New York, and Georgia. While I connected with some amazing fellow bloggers in Wisconsin, I can honestly say I did not make a close girlfriend in the three years I lived there. Most of the time this didn’t bother me. I never really considered myself a girl’s girl. I’ve always had a very small circle of girlfriends and a great number of guy friends. However, three years without girl’s nights, friendly closet raids, and good old fashion chats over coffee gave me an amazing appreciation for my girlfriends. In the New Year, I not only hope to make a new girlfriend in my new city, New York, but also enhance the time I spend with my girlfriends around the country.
UPDATE: I’ve got plans with not one, not two, but FIVE girlfriends in the next couple weeks! Maybe I need to reassess this goal and up the ante!
3. Read at least four books in their entirety.
It’s sad to say that I maybe read two books cover to cover in 2014. I’m also ashamed to admit I’m one of those who has a bad habit of starting a book and not finishing it. Reading is an integral part of being a writer, and if I’m being completely honest with myself (and you), I don’t read nearly enough. This month I’ll be picking up my first book of 2015 and aim to be finishing it and starting my second by March.
UPDATE: I’m two-thirds of the way through an amazing book that has been on my shelf for years – The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. I intend to write reviews for the books I read in 2015, but for this particular publication I’m developing a series for the blog!
4. Take at least one dance class each month.
Dance was a major part of my life and identity from age three to twenty-three. When I graduated from college, I replaced dance with Pilates and yoga. While I love these practices, they are not and will never be dance. Yes, it is difficult to find adult dance classes, but now that I live in New York City, I no longer have an excuse. Booking a class in January will be step one!
UPDATE: I’m fortunate to have received a gift certificate to a local dance studio from two of my friends as a birthday present – step one is done!
5. Buy and learn to operate a serious camera.
Photography – both photographing and being photographed – are two of my biggest struggles as a blogger. I’ve avoided photography whenever possible in my first year of blogging and relied on my talented photographer friends when photography was unavoidable. In 2015 I want to face my fear of photography head-on by vowing to purchase my first camera and learn how to use it. Buying a camera is a big investment in time and money, so I know that attaining this resolution will require some discipline on my part (namely curbing my shopping habit). However, I know the long term benefits it will have for me and my blog and believe I’m up for this challenge in the New Year!
UPDATE: So far, January has been a very successful month for my freelance writing and styling business. After spending a lot on the move to NYC and the holidays, it feels amazing to be back in a place of prosperity! I’m developing an attainable system to set aside a certain percentage of my income to put toward a camera.
Happy New Year! As if you needed another reason to be pumped this January, I’ve got 5 of them: 5 things to look forward to in 2015! Cheers!
1. Erica Bryan’s NEW Video + First Show of the Year
Yesterday my girl Erica Bryan released a brand NEW music video, a cover of Bad Suns’ Cardiac Arrest like you’ve never heard it before. Start the New Year with NEW music! Watch the latest video from Erica Bryan on her YouTube channel now! AND catch Erica in Atlanta later this month for her first show of 2015. She’ll be opening for Old Dominion at Smith’s Olde Bar on January 21, plus she’s got something special in store for the first ten to arrive – FREE beer anyone?
2. Laurel Hill Hair Accessories
I’m absolutely obsessed with the jewelry of Athens-born, California-based designer Laurel Hill. I cannot wait til she releases her 2015 collection, which includes a NEW line of hair accessories! Stay tuned to her website and Facebook page this month for more details!
3. GIRLS, HBO
It goes without saying I marked my calendar months ago when they set the official premiere date of HBO’s GIRLS Season 4. I cannot wait to see what my fellow writer Lena Dunham has worked up for this season’s script!
4. Blog Conferences
This one is for all my bloggers out there. Fellow blogger Hillary Dixon of Style in a Small Town was awesome enough to share this comprehensive blog conference directory for 2015. I’m paying it forward and passing it along to all of you! No matter where you live… whether you’re a veteran blogger or just entertaining the idea of starting a blog in the New Year… this list is worth checking out!
5. NYFW F/W 2015
Last but certainly not least, NYFW F/W 2015. I’m always in eager anticipation of fashion week and the amazing energy it brings to the fashion community. However, this year I can’t even put into words how ecstatic I am to have the thrill of experiencing fashion week while living in New York City. I have no idea what type of opportunities I may or may not have to get involved come February, but the simple notion of being in the city and buzzing off the NYFW energy will be enough for me!
Reflecting on the past can be an important part of moving forward. I often choose to end each year looking back at what has transpired and what I’ve accomplished. When a portion of your life is documented online – through social media or a blog – it’s easy to travel back in time through the past 365 days. Sometimes this is a blessing and a curse. There’s a point at which spending too much time on the past can hinder our journey into the future. There’s such a fine line between constructive and detrimental reflection on the past.
For me, the past year – my first year of freelancing and blogging full-time – has been a lot of learning what not to do. I’ve made a number of poor decisions as I’ve taken total and complete control of carving and shaping my career. While I know it’s all part of the learning process, it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking back with a negative mindset – the could-have, would-have, should-have mindset. Of course there are many, many things I could have, would have, should have done differently. The key to reflecting on these moments in a productive way is to acknowledge and examine what can be learned from them as I head into a new year and fresh start.
Whether it be self-imposed or a force from the universe, there’s a lot of pressure on year two of freelancing and blogging from New York City. So, I’m spending the last day of 2014 focusing on my energy – mental, physical, emotional energy – and reflecting on 2014. As cheesy as it sounds, I have this intuition that this is my year. It’s scary to proclaim in writing on such a public forum, but perhaps this is my first step in telling the universe I’m ready!
W I N T E R
S P R I N G
S U M M E R
7. Blogger Bazaar Milwaukee
8. Midwest Style Blogger Happy Hour
10. My Best Friend’s Wedding
13. Just Knotted ARTicles of Clothing Blog Bands
F A L L
24. Birthday in NYC with blogger GaBrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie