Guest Blogger: Liz from According to L

You want to write a blog. You meticulously plan out content and posts. You design your banner, carefully pick colors and fonts, and even get your first few followers (hi, Mom). And still, you want more. Now what? 
email marketing
You need to market yourself. Traffic doesn’t just appear from thin air, you need to nurture it along. There are several wonderful avenues to attracting readers, and one very effective tool is the email newsletter. The content and images are all right there, you just need to plunk it down in a format that’s easy and appealing to your audience.

Where to start? There are lots of tools out there; most are free or fairly cheap, especially if you’re starting with a smaller list of recipients. My personal favorite is MailChimp. For a gal who has zero background in HTML coding or graphic design, this web-based tool is a Godsend. They have hundreds of templates to choose from, all customizable (remember those fonts and colors you so carefully selected?) and don’t forget the reporting. Comprehensive tracking of open, click, and bounces. You can even track WHO did each thing. And being that the reader is your number one priority in this game (aside from the actual promotion of yourself) MailChimp even makes sign up a breeze by helping you design and embed your form {like this.}

 

 

 

The next trick is finding the right balance of content and timing. You want to stay current and fresh, without bombarding or worse, ignoring your readers. Remember you’re competing with all kinds of other inbox intruders, and you don’t want to be discounted as spam. In my opinion, a daily newsletter is overkill.  You’ve got Facebook, Twitter and the likes to reach out daily.  Weekly may be more manageable, especially if you have certain days/contest/link parties to promote. This would be a good reminder for your followers to check you out, in case you’re not on their daily read list (yet).

For those who are starting out, and trying to develop credibility without overwhelming your readers, monthly is probably the best place to start. Highlight your favorites, or promote those posts that didn’t get a ton of traffic to boost things up a bit. And always, always, always have links back to things. If they click once, they’ll click again.

There’s nothing wrong with self-promotion.  Do it proudly, but do it respectfully too.

Thanks, Liz, for sharing this with us. I do believe it’s a constant battle to figure out the right balance with e-mail campaigns. Thanks for the tips!

Guest Blogger: mK from From the Guest Room

Hi all! My name is mK and I blog over at From The Guest Room. I am excited for the chance to guest post for Amanda today. On my blog, I like to write about life, fashion, food, DIY, faith and all the guests in my life. Just the other week, my husband and I had some good friends from Colorado visit us in our home in Nashville, TN. I absolutely love hospitality. It gets me so excited to bake up a storm, create cute little welcome baskets and find all the best places to show our guests around town! For breakfast one morning, I decided I would make homemade granola so that we could have a build-your-own parfait type of meal. I loved how it turned out and I am sure you will too! It’s pretty simple and is great to make ahead of time so that there is not fuss in the kitchen and you can just spend that extra time with your friends!

To start, you will need: 2 cups regular rolled oats, 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 1/2 cup coconut (optional), 1/2 cup honey (or maple-flavored syrup), 1 cup dried fruit, 2 Tablespoons oil. Optional: 1/4 cup flax seeds, 1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds.

Grease a one inch deep pan and set aside. Next, combine your dry ingredients in a bowl, mix and set to the side. In a smaller bowl, mix honey and oil. Mix the honey/oil mixture into the oat mixture. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes at 300F. Stir the mixture at about 20 minutes for even browning. Cool and stir in dried fruit. The nice thing about granola is that it keeps for a whole week in an air tight container or for 2 months in the freezer.

Parfaits are simple to make. Layer with fresh fruit and yogurt and you’ve got yourself a delicious and healthy breakfast or snack! I hope you enjoy! ♥, mK

Thanks, mK for sharing this super tasty recipe with us! I am a huge fan of granolas.

Custom Mushrooming Bag

I love to make custom orders for people. On the one hand, it’s a little stressful. I keep asking myself questions like: Did I really understand what they want? Is this exactly the right shade of pink? What if this isn’t what they’re thinking even though it’s what they said they wanted? My husband the carpenter gets into similar sorts of questions when he’s working, and I’ve seen people be a little upset when what they said they wanted isn’t what they really wanted as a finished project.

But then there’s the other side of the coin. When you get it perfect. When what you’ve created is exactly what they were looking for, and they’re so pleased because nowhere else could they find this custom creation you’ve made for them.

This mushrooming bag is one of the latter sorts of custom orders.

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It all began at Hog Wild Days. A young couple was looking through the bags at my booth. They really liked the style of sling bags I make, but the guy wanted something that would fit him a little better. He wanted it to be long enough to go cross-body and land right about hip level. He also was looking for something in mesh or burlap that would be breathable. They wanted a custom bag for mushrooming.

I talked to them about materials, sizing and cost. Fortunately Erik was about his size, so I could easily measure the bag against him.

I went to work right away. I found a sage green burlap and paired it with forest green bias tape edging. To create the pattern, I laid out my current pattern, lengthened the straps and created a shallower body.

I serged all of the edges to make sure the burlap didn’t unravel. I don’t know if you’re supposed to use a serger on burlap, but I did, and it turned out just fantastic. The only issue was the mess. I didn’t particularly enjoy cleaning up all the little bits and pieces of burlap.

The couple and I got in contact. I delivered the bag within just a couple of days of their order. They loved it. They thought it was perfect. The woman said that the only difference in her artistic vision was green edging instead of blue.

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A successful custom bag story. If you want your own sling bag, check out this one in my Etsy shop. Looking for a custom color or style? You know I want to work with you! Even if you aren’t looking for a bag right now, tell me, what color would your custom bag be?

I Made It! Monday

This weekend Erik and I went camping with a large group of friends. We had a blast, but I am absolutely exhausted now. When did I get old? When did staying up around the campfire until midnight make me a zombie the next day? Someone tell me please.

Here’s a great project from last week’s link-up:

Adorable tea bags for your bath from Life on Walnut Street! What a fantastic gift she’s made for her Handmade Gift Exchange Partner. While I know she’s not my partner, I would love to be receiving these. Did you catch my pleated kindle cover I made for my partner?

Now on to this week. A few guidelines:

1. Please follow my blog. I mean, who doesn’t want awesome projects delivered to their reader or e-mail?

2. Keep it family-friendly. Link up to your specific post. I reserve the right to delete links.

3. Have fun! Visit some of the other attendees and share some comments.

4. Post my button or a link back to the party somewhere on your blog, if you would.

Ninth Street Notions

Ninth Street Notions

My Do-Over: The Infamous Kitchen Fire

I think we’ve all had those times that have not gone well. Times we really wish we could go back to and have a do-over.

I’ve had a few.

Now I will admit, most people have not had one particular difficulty I’ve had. And that’s starting kitchen fires. I’ve started at least two of them.

My theory is that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, probably more than the average person. It only makes sense that I would have more than the average number of kitchen fires as well. My husband the carpenter has more woodworking accidents than I do, after all.

My most recent fire was the worst one. It all began with a cup of tea. I wanted one, so I set the teapot on the stovetop to boil. I walked away to the dining room and talked with my friend Jessika.

Enjoying an afternoon cup of tea should be an innocent, relaxing pastime. That day it was not.

As Jessika and I talked, she looked over into the kitchen, which was visible from the dining room table. “I see smoke,” she said.

I looked over to the stove and there really was smoke. Quite a bit of it. Someone had left a pan with some bacon grease on the stove that morning for some reason. In my haste to drink me some Earl Grey, I neglected to turn on the burner under my teapot. The greasy pan was smoking.

No, I didn’t grab my camera during the emergency. This is my campfire. Serves as an illustration of what happened, though.

Before our eyes the smoke suddenly turned to flames. All I could think was to toss salt on the fire to smother it. I couldn’t find the salt. My dad came running when he heard Jessika’s screams. He grabbed a pan lid and covered the flames. The burner was turned off. All was well.

And then my dad lifted the lid to check. The fire flared again and caught the wallpaper on fire. The lid slammed down again, and we got the wall under control.

Clean up was a pain. You see, it was my parents’ house that I caught on fire. Their over-the-stove microwave was thoroughly blackened, and I had to scrub it. The wallpaper remained a disaster until this winter, when Erik scraped it off, painted the kitchen, and tiled behind the stove, so it couldn’t catch on fire again.

Oh, how I wish that had never happened. The event lives on in many a family story. I will say, though, that I am extremely careful not to turn on the wrong burner now.

Not every kitchen experience has to need a do-over. From Frigidaire: “The Frigidaire Gallery™Dishwasher gets dishes fully cleaned the first time, so there are no dish do-overs. Nearly half of adults admit to re-washing and/or re-drying dishes after the dishwasher cycle has been completed. To prevent dishwasher do-overs, Frigidaire® is stepping in with its new Gallery® Dishwasher featuring the OrbitCleanTM Wash Arm, ensuring dishes are cleaned right the first time.”

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All the opinions expressed here are my own.