The Dress: Why We Are All Right

I know you’re probably sick of seeing #TheDress right about now, but I feel the need to talk about it because I’m starting to question my entire design career.

When I saw the now famous Dress pop up in my news feed with a caption saying that the poster saw it as blue and black, I thought he was insane. Was he trolling? It was clearly white and gold. A poorly lit white with a blueish tint, but still white and gold. As I read the comments I became even more confused, much like anyone else in this same predicament. Some people swore they saw black and blue, so I tried my hardest to see what they saw.

I tilted my screen, tried viewing it in different lighting, yet still, that damn dress was definitely gold and (blueish) white. When I showed Dustin and asked him what he saw, actual anger started forming inside of me when HE called ME crazy because it was “absolutely” black and blue. What was happening!?

I started to worry that my eyes were messed up and that perhaps all of the design work I’ve done for my entire life has been perceived differently to different people. What a weird thought! Trying to end this debate, I popped onto Photoshop and swatched the range of colours:

Showing the swatches to Dustin, he still said he saw the gold as a “really dark brown, like black”. With the hex codes in front of me, I was baffled once again. Clearly none were close to a #000000 black, so obviously I couldn’t sleep now.

The internet went a little crazy with 71% of people seeing gold and white, while 29% saw blue and black, according to Buzzfeed’s poll. Finally, the original poster shared an actual photo of the dress being worn, which was, in fact, blue and black.

It’s from a shop called Roman, however, it also comes in an ivory and black, so my brain doesn’t want to entirely believe that the photo is of this blue one (even if it is).

So, why are some of us seeing this poorly lit photo differently? I saw many posts about “colour consistency” that explained:

“…because the photo is taken in lighting with a blue hue, it may be causing the blues in the dress to reflect a white color. And while the dress may in fact be blue and black, the lighting does, for some viewers, make it appear to be white and gold.”

and others about our eyes “rods and cones“:

“Your retina is comprised of rods and cones. Rods are more sensitive to light, but see shapes and not color. Cones are sensitive to color, but less sensitive to light — i.e. in darker conditions, you’re seeing more with rods than cones. You have three sizes of cones, blue (smallest) to red (biggest)…

Whether the dress appears as blue/black or white/gold depends on whether your eye has more rods or cones, and also the ambient lighting conditions in the room.”

And finally, other scientists debunking the rods and cones theory, saying that they are probably not the cause of us seeing the colours differently, but rather how our brains interpret what we are seeing:

“We are always making decisions about the quantity of light that comes into our retina. In the case of the dress, some people are deciding that there is a fair amount of illumination on a blue and black (or less reflective) dress. Other people are deciding that it is less illumination on a white/gold dress (it is in shadow, but more reflective). It could also be that you’ve seen dresses (or fabric) with the same texture or shape before, which could also affect your perception.”

That could explain why some people have said that the colours have changed from one to the other after viewing it numerous times. Perhaps simply because they’ve been told it’s another colour?

Why none of that matters

Okay, so this still doesn’t solve my designer dilemma. Even if the dress is actually blue and black, that doesn’t mean that a photo of it is representing the actual colours. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t seeing what they think they’re seeing. How many other things are we humans seeing differently on a daily basis?

Think about that for a minute. We could spend all day arguing about what is “right” and “wrong”, and neither is wrong. Just because someone doesn’t agree with us, does not mean they are wrong, for what they see is completely right to them.

It’s the same way that some people are able to see beauty in something that others might not find beautiful at all.  Who are we to say that something isn’t beautiful to someone else? We all see and experience things differently depending on how our brains interpret them. Getting angry or upset isn’t going to change this. The photo of the dress is blue and black, but it is also white and gold.  Even if it might be hard to admit.

What colour do you see?

Your Blogs Reviewed: Session 3

It’s been quite a while since I did one of these Your Blogs Reviewed videos over on my Blog Beautician channel, and you guys have been gently poking me pretty often to hurry the heck up and do another! You’re in luck, because today I have a brand new one for you and I’m reviewing a handful of your blogs, as requested.

Check out the full video below or click here to view it.




It feels good to be able to do these again. I wasn’t able to for a while because my poor computer had been beat down and maxed out as far as I could take it. I couldn’t get through a screen recording session without it shutting off on me! Thankfully, (if you watched my other video) Dustin and I put together a super computer and I can now do all of the things.

If you want to possibly be included in the next one, be sure to follow me over on Twitter and use the hashtag #REVIEWMEDANA with your blog URL whenever I call out for them.

I hope that you take away a few tips from these videos, even if I didn’t get to your blog!

Mistakes I Made When Starting My Business

Before I started doing design work and this stuff blogging full time, I actually had a couple of failed businesses. I consider them “failed” only because I didn’t see them through. I gave up when I just wasn’t feeling them anymore. The first business I created was when I was sixteen, and after that I continued to follow the entrepreneurial path through various other business ventures.

Because of those experiences, I learned a LOT from my mistakes and was able to create a more successful business later on, which has lead me here. I wanted to share some of those mistakes from my early days here, because even though the type of business has changed over the years, the knowledge about building a business is something I’ll forever have.

When I began, I thought that my future was in creating retail products and selling them. I had my own t-shirt company and then later opened up a designer online retail store that carried brand name apparel for women. As you can see, I no longer do either. Here is why:

I didn’t do enough market research
My idea seemed like a good one to me, but I didn’t spend the time to test products beforehand to see if people would actually want to buy them. Having your friends occasionally tell you “oh yeah, I’d totally buy that” is not good enough to solidify the idea of creating an entire business based around a product. There is a great article here about how you should collect market research properly.

I thought people would automatically find me
Once I had my product in hand I thought it would be as easy as posting it up on my website and doing a little social media posting and SEO to get noticed. The problem with this was that there were already thousands of the same type of business, with better reputations, dominating the search engines. There were already stores that people frequently shopped for similar products, so trying to get MY name out there proved to be really tough.

I skimped on advertising
All businesses want to try to save money where they can, but advertising shouldn’t be one of them. I didn’t realize this and decided to try to spread my pennies out as far as I could. This meant only having a couple of ads out there in cyber space, when in actuality, there should have been hundreds. I should have spent more time on promotion and actually getting people to identify with my store.

I didn’t realize how expensive things could get
Creating my own t-shirts was a pretty expensive venture, especially when most screen printing places have minimum order quantities and set up fees and colour change fees… not to mention the actual t-shirts. I spent so much money on creating the designs and products without much of a plan besides listing them online afterwards. My designer shop also proved to be quite an expensive ordeal, costing me about $20k in product that I ended up selling most of for below wholesale value. When it comes to ordering product from distributors, they also have minimum order quantities and minimum product quantities, and this can start to get really pricey when you need various sizes of a single piece, especially if the quantities you order are small.  I was spending money entirely on the product without much wiggle room for advertising and promotion afterwards.

I didn’t understand market saturation
There were already so many similar stores and products, why would mine stand out? I thought that because these were things that I thought were awesome, others would think they were awesome too. People like ME would shop in my store. That was a totally ridiculous way of thinking. Why would someone want to shop at my store when they could go to another that sells pretty much the same stuff? Here is a great article about succeeding in an over-saturated market.

I worked at another job while trying to make my own business grow
I worked other jobs so I could fund my business ideas. I probably worked more at other jobs than I did at my actual business, and I realize now that a business can never work that way. When you are able to, you need to be able to dedicate 100% of your workable time and energy into your venture to see it really take off. Trying to balance both worlds just kept me in a static place.

I didn’t take the time to build a strong identity for myself
I wanted to be recognizable, but I didn’t do a very good job of that. I could have worked much harder at creating a strong brand identity, but I didn’t. I thought that having a logo and a well designed site was all I needed to attract people. I was wrong. Mind you, Facebook and Pinterest weren’t really around back then (along with other social sites) so it was a bit tougher to try to network online. Here is a great article about creating a strong brand identity.

All in all, these were things that could have been avoided, but helped me learn some of the ins and outs of the business world. Maybe these things can help you on your own quest for self employment. If you have a business, I’d love to know a mistake you made that you learned from!

Weekly Review // 1

Happy weekend, Wonder friends!  I don’t normally post on weekends, but I decided to start publishing these weekly reviews to track my progress and share what I’ve been up to each week. This should give you a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes here as well. Things that I don’t usually write about but may be interesting to some. Here are some of the things that went on this week:

Blog

I managed to stick with my schedule this week and it felt great having everything done beforehand.  I even published two new Blog Beautician videos:

Over on I Can Build A Blog, I shared a tutorial for customizing your Blogger sidebar titles with CSS. It’s easy to do, so check it out and follow along (p.s. subscribe to this blog on Bloglovin’ for updates)!

Wonder Forest posts published this week:

I added some AddThis sharing widgets to the top of each individual blog post on here as well, so you can easily share posts on more social networks.

Finally, I published a new video on my Wonder Forest channel. It is a first impression video with the new Remington t|studio Protect straightener, so be sure to check that out to see how it works and what I thought!

Instagram

I’ve been consistent in updating my Instagram profile and it feels great. In doing so, I’ve seen a steadier flow of followers and likes. It’s been tough sometimes to stick with my theme and I’ve ended up deleting a few photos I’ve posted that were bugging me because they were a little off. I gained about 300 followers this week.

I’m having a little giveaway on my Instagram account as well. Two people will win any Wonder Forest case of their choice from my line. Check out this photo on my IG page to enter:

Anxiety

I started doing a little ACT therapy using this book. It is a workbook that is used in therapy sessions and so far it has been really great. It helps you see things in a different way and allows you to really think about things you may not have thought about before. I’m only about 30-40 pages in so will continue to update.

The medication I’m on has somewhat worked. Some days I feel like it does absolutely nothing, but the one thing I have noticed is that I no longer get stomach aches before I have to go somewhere. I am able to just get into the car instead of doing a little pre-car anxiety ritual. So, that is sort of a big step. I need to see my doctor again for a check up and to talk about these things, but I’ve been a little nervous to go alone this time.

Life

On the home front, things have been good this week. We ordered new flooring that should arrive today and are going to redo our main living area. If you have tons of cats like we do, you’ll know how quickly a good carpet can be destroyed. I chose a really nice greyish-brown reclaimed looking laminate this time around… no hardwood because that too would be ruined in one day with all of the animals. It looks like old barn wood which I think is awesome. We are going to DIY it and have never installed flooring before, so it should be interesting.

Dustin has been really into astronomy lately and ended up bringing home a monster of a telescope this week. The thing is about 7 feet tall and takes up a good portion of our front sitting room so I have no idea how I am going to live with it there, haha. His plans are to build a little observatory in the backyard when the weather is warm. I’m actually okay with this because I think it would be pretty cool. He is trying to get me to get into astro photography, so maybe we’ll both have a new hobby on our hands!?

Work

I’m super excited to say that I’m going to be illustrating for Coastal Living Magazine! They will be licensing some of my previous illustrations and commissioning some additional ones. I am really thrilled about this because it’s something I’ve never done before. They actually found me through this blog, so that just goes to show you how a blog can turn other kinds of profits as well.

I’ve opened a little shop for my crochet stuff. I needed to justify my old lady tendencies somehow, so there are a few things up for grabs here.

With all of my projects going on, I decided to hire a little extra help. Breanne is my new assistant and she takes care of some of the promotion with my apps, book, and other things. I’ve known her since my earlier days of blogging and have always loved her style. She’s Canadian too which is a bonus! It feels good to not have to worry about those little “extra” things and have someone else handle them.

That’s all for this time! What did you get up to this week?

Love Your Life: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

We are human, we all do it. Even if we don’t mean to, we compare ourselves or our lives to others. We sometimes wonder why we can’t look the way so-and-so does, or why we can’t have a life or a job that someone else has. Why we can’t do something that someone else can easily.  We try to make our egos feel better by comparing ourselves to people in other ways, too, by thinking things like “I’m so glad I’m not in her situation”, as if we have done something better with ours.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the lives of other people when our world revolves around internet based lifestyles. With pretty photos tossed in our faces daily, to stories of great adventures that we only wish we could do. We see a split second of someone’s life and think that they have it all together. We spend time trying to be more like something or someone else because we think it will make us happy. It won’t.

Comparison is an evil beast. It makes us feel like we are not always good enough and that there is something better to accomplish because somebody else has done it. So we strive to be like other people that we admire and in the process lose little bits of ourselves. The more we compare, the more we diminish the good in ourselves and stop seeing how truly great we already are…. just as we are.

I don’t want to confuse comparison with inspiration. I think it’s pretty normal to be inspired by things we see and people we meet, but when that inspiration turns into comparison — putting ourselves down and beating ourselves up because we are not like this ideal we have in our minds — it becomes more than being inspired.

Have you ever heard that infamous quote, “You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce”? It’s probably one of my least favourite quotes of all time. It’s comparison at its worst. Why are we comparing ourselves to Beyonce — someone who is just as human as you or I?  We all have the same amount of hours in our days, and being famous with help from teams of people shouldn’t be what we compare ourselves to. That’s not inspiration to me, it’s comparison. That quote compares our lives to that of Beyonce and makes us feel as if we should be doing more in our days, because, if she can do it, we should be able to do it too! It’s saying that we don’t strive or struggle as much as Beyonce, because look at where she is, and look at where we are!  Strip away the image she wants us to have of her and Beyonce is no better a person than you or I.

I want you to know that you are good enough and what you do matters just as much as what your favourite celebrity does.  There are always going to be people in the world who have more or less than you, who are better or worse than you at something, and who have things you wish you had or are glad you don’t.  There is no need to compare yourself or your life to anyone, because each and every life is unique. Our struggles and our feats are our own, and those are the things we should remember and be proud of.  The only person you should be comparing yourself to is who you were yesterday.

Love Your Food: Try The World Gourmet Box

There are so many product subscription boxes out there, but this one is truly unique, so I am so excited to share it! It’s called Try The World and it is a gourmet food subscription box that allows you to try different yummy food items from around the world every 2 months.

I’m definitely one of those people who rarely strays from my comfort zone when it comes to food. I’m not very adventurous and frankly have no idea what to even look for when browsing international products. Boring? Definitely. With this box though, I am able to get some hand selected items sent to me to try so I can see if I like them and to open up my narrow knowledge of food.

When I received my first box, I was totally blown away by the packaging. It spoke to my little designer heart so well! Seriously, I raved about this packaging to everyone who saw the box and gave them demonstrations of me opening it, haha. The inside of the cardboard shipping box is covered in these cute little hot air balloons and opens up like a flower to reveal another bright turquoise box inside.

Once you open the lid, there is a great assortment of goodies waiting for you to explore. Each box comes with this awesome little booklet that tells you all about your monthly country’s culture and cuisine. My box was the Paris box, and this booklet covered everything from the food to suggestions of music I should listen to and movies I should watch if I want to get into the Parisian mood. Once again, excellently designed!

The items inside are sourced by country specific local chefs who are experts on the local cuisine. They range from items you can cook with to little sweet treats that you might not otherwise have an opportunity to try. I received some black cherry jam, dijon mustard, almond spread, tea, caramels, sea salt, and a cookie-like treat!

This box was truly a delight to receive and opening it felt special! It’s been so fun trying all of the different items with Dustin (who, by the way, nearly tore into those caramels before I had a chance to photograph everything)!  It would make such an awesome gift for someone you know or simply as a way to introduce yourself to international foods.

If you want to try it out, you can save 30% off your first box on the $39/month plan with code WONDERFORESTTRAVELS. You can cancel whenever you want and it’s free shipping! Check out the site here for more details.

Love Your Blog: You Dont Have to Create Content Every Day

What if I told you that 50% of your blogging time shouldn’t be focused on creating content? I think that a lot of the time we bloggers get so wrapped up in creating something new and something that our readers will love that we forget a major key to success: sharing, and re-sharing.

Think about the time it takes to create a post. If it took you any time at all, it is probably worth sharing. Now think about how much time you actually take to promote that post. Perhaps you’ll send out a tweet, post a link on Facebook, and rep it on all of your social sites. But then what?  Days pass and those links become stale and you move onto your next post.

I listened to a blog seminar that stated how we should be creating content 20% of the time, and promoting it 80% of the time. I kind of like the idea of a 50/50 balance better, because I do believe that creating content often helps keep our blogs alive, but I also agree that more time should be spent sharing and promoting current and past posts.

Did you catch that? I said promoting current AND past posts. Just because your blog post has entered the archives, doesn’t mean that it may not still be relevant and that others might not enjoy it. Why do we stop sharing something just because it’s not our latest creation?

Instead of letting it die, try re-sharing that post at other times. Different times of the day, week, and even months from now. The internet is a wonderful place in that we can find anything no matter when it was created. Giving a past post a fresh “go-around” on social media or elsewhere can help bring even more traffic back to your site… and you don’t even have to create a new post! How simple is that?!

So if you’re having an “off” day with nothing to post, remember that you can always still dig through your archives and share something you’ve previously written, preferably some of your past top posts. You can even update it if you feel like it, create a fresh new Pinterest-friendly image, and give that old post new life. With this in mind, the shareability of your newer content starts to become more important as well, which is always something you should think about. Can the content you create today be shared 6 months or a year from now as well? If so, that is good content!

A lot of us don’t have the time to be creating fresh content every day, but some of us do… and actually like doing it. If that sounds you, don’t forget to keep sharing! The reality is, unless you’re a blogger with a team of people helping you out, it’s pretty tough to create fresh content every day or multiple times a day AND consistently promote it at the same time (and continue to promote it down the line!). Find a balance that works for you and don’t get so wrapped up in creating the post that you forget the second most important part of blogging: getting your work seen, again and again.

Love Your Self: Something Pretty

Valentine’s day might be just around the corner, but it doesn’t have to be entirely dedicated to all of the lovebirds. It’s also a great excuse to spoil yourself and do something just for you. Sometimes it’s nice to treat ourselves every once in a while — whether it’s savouring a fancy cupcake from a bakery or splurging on that pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on for months.

Here are a few fun little things I found while browsing the Shopbop gift boutique that made me smile.  I don’t think I’ve seen day of the week undies since I was ten years old, but matched with these other sweet items, they seem to just make sense, don’t they?!

  1. Wildfox Love Is Everything Sleep Set
  2. Rebecca Minkoff Heartbreaker Pouch
  3. Wildfox Sweet As Candy Sleep Mask
  4. La Vie Boheme Yoga Dreamer Yoga Mat
  5. Gorjana Alphabet Necklace
  6. Frends Taylor Headphones
  7. Elizabeth and James Metallic Cynnie Wallet
  8. Samudra Ice Cream Clutch
  9. Cheek Frills Days of the Week Panties Set

How will you be spending Valentine’s day? A night in by yourself watching terrible movies, or a romantic night out? Mine will probably be more of the first… with Dustin.  Haha. Whatever you do, enjoy, my little wonder friends!

This post was brought to you by Shopbop and me!

How To Start a Lifestyle Blog – Complete Beginners Guide




If you’ve considered starting a blog but don’t know exactly how to go about it, this is the guide for you! Stop considering and just do it. Starting a blog can be a great new hobby or even used as a way to expand your business presence online. It’s not expensive and quite easy for anybody (even those without much computer knowledge!) to set up.

This beginner’s guide will walk you through the basic setup of a blog quickly and easily so you can jump right into creating posts. Let’s get started…

Before you begin

Decide on your overall theme
Staring a “lifestyle” blog doesn’t mean that you have to share every detail of your life. In most cases, lifestyle bloggers will choose a particular theme or topic to concentrate the majority of their posts on. This helps visitors distinguish the overall content of your blog and will help you stay focused as you create content. Come up with some ideas that interest you the most. Some examples could be beauty, fashion, art, tech, family life, or cooking. It’s not absolutely necessary to come up with a blog theme, but it will definitely help to attract like-minded people!

Create your blog name 
Once you’ve come up with your blog theme, it’s time to think of a name. This is the part that a lot of people struggle with the most. Luckily, I wrote an article a while back which shares my own formula for coming up with names for my projects, blogs, and businesses. You can view that here. Your blog name should be easy for others to remember and spell, and have some sort of connection either to you or the topics you write about.

Choose a blogging platform
There are a variety of blogging platforms to choose from, and the decision is totally up to you. Blogger is free to use and allows you to set up a custom domain name while managing your content on the Google servers through the Blogger dashboard.

WordPress is one of the world’s most recognized blogging platforms and offers a ton of features and plugins that Blogger doesn’t. It comes in two versions: the free online .com version, or the self-hosted .org version. This can be confusing to newbies, but all you really need to know is that the free version is pretty limited in its capabilities and does not allow advertising or custom themes. If either of those things are important to you, now or down the line, then you should consider the self-hosted version. With the free online version, you will access your blog through wordpress.com and all files are stored on their servers. If you’re going to go the WordPress route, I highly recommend doing it the right way with the full self-hosted version, since you’d probably want to upgrade to it anyways in the future. The entire blog will be kept on your own server and accessed through your own domain’s dashboard, not the WordPress site. I will show you how to easily and cheaply set this up below.

Next steps

Register a domain name
If you’re serious about starting up a blog, getting your own domain name to match the name of your blog is the way to go. This means that instead of your website address being something like myawesomeblog.blogspot.com, it could simply be myawesomeblog.com.

If you chose to go with Blogger, you can read my step-by-step tutorial for registering and setting up a custom domain name on your Blogger account right here.

If you chose to go with WordPress, you will set up your domain name when you set up the rest of your blog, as shown below.

Set up hosting and install WordPress * (WordPress only)
The self-hosted version of WordPress means what you will need your own hosting account. A hosting account is your own reserved space on the web that houses your website and all of its files. Think of it like your computer’s hard drive where you store all of your files and photos, except it’s an online space entirely dedicated to your website.

Since you’ll be “renting” space on the internet from a hosting company, there are fees involved with this. Lucky for you though, I have a special hosting rate from Bluehost that I am able to offer to you. It only costs $3.49/month for unlimited bandwidth, up to 100 custom email accounts, a free domain name, and a super easy and free 1 click WordPress install.

Let’s get to it…

To get started with WordPress, sign up for your hosting account and get the special rate by clicking here:




(this post contains a Bluehost affiliate link so I am able to offer you these special rates)

Click on the Get Started button on their site to choose your hosting package. After choosing your hosting package, you will see this screen:

To get your totally free domain name, just enter it in the New Domain field and continue through the registration process. They will check to see that it’s available, and if not you’ll have to choose another.

Immediately after signing up, your account should be instantly created. You will receive an email from Bluehost to confirm and you are now able to access your account where we will set up WordPress in a snap!

Installing WordPress

When you have your Bluehost sign-in info, login to the control panel and find the Install WordPress button on the home page.

On the next page, choose Install:

Select the domain you want to install WordPress to. This should by default be your domain name you registered during signup. You can leave the “directory” box blank to install into the root of the site, or enter a folder name, like “blog” to install into a “blog” directory. That means that your blog would be accessed through www.yourdomainname.com/blog instead of just www.yourdomainname.com.

Select “Show Advanced” and enter a blog name and your admin login credentials. You will use these to login to WordPress to post. Choose something other than “admin” for security purposes.

Click Install Now and WordPress will install to your site.

After it’s done, you can click View Credentials to write down all of your important login information.

Now all you have to do is login to your WordPress dashboard for the first time! Your login page would be www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin, using the username and password you chose during install.

Make it your own

Design your blog
Now that your blog is set up, it’s ready to be made over! The default themes that come with your blog can either be tailored to your own taste, or you can install a totally fresh and unique design. If you are looking for an easy premade template experience, check out my design shop, Envye, where I sell premade Blogger and WordPress themes!

Create your first post 
The hard part is over. You can now relax and let your fingers do the talking. Creating your first post is exciting! There are really are no rules for this, so jump right in.

The editing pages in Blogger and WordPress are pretty easy to grasp and if you like, you can play around with the buttons and settings to familiarize yourself with everything. You can schedule your posts, safe as a draft, or publish posts pretty much the same way on both platforms.

Try adding photos to your posts and playing around with the formatting options. The best way to learn these editors is to simply mess around with them and figure out what everything does. They are set up similar to programs like Microsoft Word, so it shouldn’t be hard to get the hang of quickly.

If you need some help or want to learn some tricks, try visiting my other blog, I Can Build A Blog, where I post Blogger and WordPress tutorials and lots more!

Welcome to the club!

Scheduling and making time
Now that you’re a lifestyle blogger, you need to make sure you have the time to post and update your site. The easiest way to do this is to get yourself a planner and schedule certain topics on certain days. It’s totally up to you to decide how much you post. It could be a few times a week, every day, or a few times a month. Find what fits within your schedule and work with it!

Coming up with topic ideas
Notebooks are essential for me! I jot down ideas whenever they strike me. Try to come up with a list of 10-20 blog topic ideas on your own that relate to the theme of your new blog. You can also grab a copy of my book, 365 Blog Topic Ideas (For The Lifestyle Blogger Who Has Nothing To Write About) to get your juices flowing!

Taking photographs or using stock photos
Blog posts just aren’t the same without a graphic element. Taking photos is something you’ll probably want to get into the habit of doing. If you don’t have a fancy camera, make sure to make the most of what you do have. Use bright natural light when possible and play around with different styles of compositions. If taking photos isn’t your thing, check out this article I recently posted for 30 Free Stock Photo Resources for Bloggers.

Join the community
The blogging community is huge and varies so much. Different genres, different genders, and different goals. Sign up on social media if you haven’t already and get yourself out there! Chat with other bloggers, join groups or twitter chats, and just have fun promoting yourself (without being spammy). This whole blogging thing is more of a lifestyle in itself than a task, so enjoy it and decide how you want your journey to go.

I truly hope that this lengthy guide was a great help to you and gave you the kick start you needed to start your blog. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below, and also be sure to check the Blog Tips section in my sidebar for even more. I also publish videos over at The Blog Beautician YouTube channel where I share tips and tutorials for bloggers as well.

Happy blogging!

Love Your Job: Beer Money to Full Time Business

As a part of this month’s “Love Your Life” theme, I wanted to incorporate stories from fellow entrepreneurs who have managed to take what they love and turn it into a career. Your job is extremely important in the quest to love your life, so I hope to shed some light on just how some business owners got started and allow them to share any advice they might have for others looking to turn their own hobby into a dream job.

I’ve known Marc for a number of years. He owns and operates an eBay store called Twenty Four Store which sells new and pre-owned designer clothing, shoes & accessories. He’s been running this store as an official business for just over 4 years now, after his gig at a wireless start-up company ended.

As a designer label enthusiast, Marc was successfully able to take one of his hobbies and turn it into a full time job. His days now consist of shopping for resale items (he is like a deal hunting King!), listing, and fulfilling orders for customers. I’ve watched him grow and expand to the point of needing more than his own two hands, which I think is a pretty great thing! His shop now consists of over 2,000 items and contains brands for both men and women like Lululemon, 7 For All Mankind, Rebecca Minkoff, and many more!

There are so many different avenues you can take if you’re thinking of starting your own online business. eBay is just one option, and one that has worked really well for him so far. What starts as a way to make a little extra income could always have the potential to grow into something greater if you are dedicated enough to make it happen. Here is Marc’s story:

What were you doing as a career before opening Twenty Four Store?

After I graduated college (2007) I landed an entry level position at a wireless/tech start-up company with the position of Marketing Coordinator.

When you started selling on eBay, did you have plans to turn it into a full time business, or did it just work out that way?

I started selling on eBay in college for “beer money”. The items I was selling at the time were my personal ones that I had no need for anymore. In the beginning, I never had plans to turn it into a business. When I started my post grad job I was still casually selling on eBay as a supplemental income. In 2010 the start-up I was working for folded and I lost my job. eBay is where my passion was so after a few months of searching for a new full time job (during the peak of the terrible job market) I decided to turn eBay into my career.

I love that you took the opportunity to turn your passion into a business during that time! What attracted you to selling on eBay?

I first started buying on eBay for myself. The items I was buying were designer labels at discounted prices (new & used). This was all before the explosion of discount stores and websites. I was buying items that were only available at retail prices or with small discounts from in-store sales. After some time I realized, if I’m buying this stuff, I could sell my own similar items to people just like me.  During this time eBay was the only platform to do so.

You could have sold anything, but you stuck with what you knew… smart! 

I’ve always had an interest in designer goods and because of the many years of buying & selling them, I’ve developed an expertise in various brands, pricing and trends. It’s just what I know well.

 1. Vanessa Mooney Pyramid Ring Brass 2. Pendleton Hobo Bag 3. Lululemon Power Y Tank in Laceoflage Floral 4. Citizens of Humanity Faye Bermuda Shorts 5. Joe’s Jeans Star II Suede Boots

Did you have any experience with online retail sales prior to this? If not, how did you learn?

I had no experience with online retail and gradually learned on my own. I’m still learning every day as things evolve. eBay is a very different place today from what it was 10+ years ago.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I have two types of days. Both start off with processing orders and responding to customer service emails that came in since the previous day.

Operations Day: This is a day where products are photographed and listed on eBay. These days are where an employee would help out a lot as it’s very time consuming.

Hunting Day: This is a day where I physically leave my office to find and purchase product. I try to cover as many places as I can these days as it’s difficult to mix the two types of days in one. In a standard work week I will designate at least one day for a hunt day.

Overall, I do not have any set times for myself. Sometimes I start work at 7:00 AM and sometimes I stop working at time when everyone else is asleep. I look at this as a benefit of working for yourself.

That’s definitely a benefit of working for yourself! With a marketplace as large as eBay, do you do anything to stand out?

I’ve tried social media in the past but it’s not very effective for my business model. 95% of my inventory is made up of single pieces and sizes. My buyers find my products through Google (eBay gets great results!) and specific searches on eBay itself.

I’ve noticed eBay always pops up on the front page when I’m searching for an item on Google. I’m sure you’ve become a pro at titling your items by now too! Do you think there is anything you could be doing better?

Yes, as of right now I’m a one man show who has needed a larger work space & employees for quite some time now. The plan for 2015 is to fulfill those needs.

I think that’s a great idea and would take a lot of weight off of your shoulders. Do you have any advice for other individuals looking to open up an online, or in particular, eBay store?

Take it slow. First try selling your own personal items before you invest in inventory. You might find out eBay is not the route for you.

That’s great advice. So, I have to ask, what do you love most about your job?

As cliche as is it might sound, I love being my own boss with lots of flexibility.

I agree! Thank you for sharing your story with us!

 
If you want to check out Marc’s store, visit Twenty Four Store now and save it to your eBay favourites!

I’d also love to know what you think of this little series idea. Hopefully you can feel a little inspired to get out there and do your own thing, and of course, find a job you love.