I'm Kayla. A millennial obsessed with makeup, planner decorating, and board games. Working towards a more organized, simplified life one post at a time. #catlady


What I've Learned from My First Few Craft Shows

What I've Learned from My First Few Craft Shows

This summer Alex and I decided to start taking our show on the road. We've done three craft shows so far that have taught us a lot about our business and each other. I'm sure we still have a lot left to learn and already have a bunch more shows on the calendar. Here's what I've learned so far.

Booth fees are more or less made up and don't really reflect how well you're going to do at a location. The higher the booth fee, the more profit they expect you to make, but that's not always the case. The smaller shows we've done have made us quite a lot of profit too. So I try to look for reasonable booth fees or information that guarantees we'll get our investment back in sales. 

You really have to commit to your booth rather than just bringing out a table and throwing your products on it. I have to thank Alex for this one. As soon as I suggested craft shows to him, he hunted around to get us a really great deal on a tent and other supplies. Plus he built us our new card stands from scratch that have seriously made a huge difference. We could have easily kept to our first setup (photo below), but he's constantly trying to showcase our products in the best way.

What I've Learned from My First Few Craft Shows

Craft show days are long and usually last all day. Our shows have been on average eight hours long so far. That's a lot of staying in one place being on the ball, but it's a whole lot better when you have someone there with you. Breaks are definitely needed to get up and wander around. And food is a must.

Having a partner makes all the difference. Alex is a fantastic salesman who can really do the marathon days. He has our "about us" pitch down perfectly, engages with customers, and doesn't seem to ever get tired. Without him we wouldn't nearly be as successful at shows. Have a partner to rely on is huge.

You get a routine with setting up and tearing down. We can be out of a location in around ten minutes after a show ends because we just know who does what. Plus we practiced it a few times before going to our first show so we wouldn't get overwhelmed once we got there. Nothing is more stressful than a bunch of cars facing every which way trying to pack up their booths. Our first show we ended up carting our entire setup down a block to our vehicle rather than waiting another hour to get our truck in front of our booth.

Flexibility is a must because you never know what booth number you're going to get, what the weather is going to be like, or how busy you'll be. We've changed up our booth setup from what we originally planned for every single show. It's important to not take things too seriously and be willing to change things up at a moment's notice.

But the best thing I've learned from my first few craft shows is that it's really cool to see people interact with your work in person. Since we have only ever been online before, I've never been able to see people laugh at our puns or enjoy Alex's design work. It's such an amazing experience to watch people share and relate to our cards. I don't think that will ever get old no matter how many craft shows we do.

This photo was taken back in 2014 at the very first booth I threw together just month's after Oh, Hello got started. It's crazy to see just how far we've come. It's also crazy that I still own both that sweater and jacket.

Are you interested in doing craft shows? What tips or advice would you like to have me write about next?

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How to Write Better Blog Post Titles

How to Write Better Blog Post Titles

Getting your blog discovered is definitely one of the hardest parts about the blogging experience. You work so hard on creating your content that you want at least someone to see it right? Titles play a huge roll in whether or not people click to your post. Here are some of my go-to tricks to making sure my post titles are catchy and engaging.

Surprisingly enough, longer titles actually do better with search engines because there are more keywords to pick up on. So don't be afraid to add a few extra descriptive words to help your posts pop up. So rather than writing, "My Favorite Makeup," change the post to "The Best Everyday Makeup for Summer." It's more descriptive, interesting, and gives the reader more of an idea of what the post is about. Don't go too crazy though trying to pack the title full because Google only shows 70 characters in a title before cutting it off in search results.

Readers love numbers in posts. "5 Ways to Plan," "10 Best Blog Post Ideas" and so on make the post easier to digest and walk away with a list rather than trudging through a lot of content. 

Most people search for things with "what is" and "how to," so including those in your titles make them more search-friendly and engaging. Readers like to get something out of what they're consuming, so giving them tips, tricks, and advice is better than rambling on about a topic.

If catchy post titles still don't come to you, this is my favorite resource to jump-start title creativity. Just reading that list has my brain swimming with new ideas and titles. It's a shop secret and I'm finally sharing it with you guys! The link breaks down a ton of different post title categories so there's something for every type of post.

What's your go-to way of writing interesting post titles? Leave your tips in the comments!
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Gratitude Journals and Why It's Taken Me So Long to Have One

 Gratitude Journals and Why It's Taken Me So Long to Have One

Gratitude journals are pretty much what they say on the tin, but like most things that I'll probably love, I avoided them for ages. Two months ago I finally grabbed a spare notebook I had floating around and sat down to write a few sentences about what I was grateful for that day. What a difference it's already made.

The thing about gratitude journals is that you don't have to write novels every day about what you're grateful for. It doesn't even have to be anything overly special. More often than not I find myself writing about being grateful for Alex, but putting those thoughts down on paper has really changed my way of thinking. I'm actively expressing feelings and emotions, bringing them to the surface, and making them known to myself. That's caused me to make them known to other people too. 

Every night I grab this journal and write a sentence or two about whatever I'm grateful for that day. Just a few thoughtful words and off to bed I head. Yet when I wake up I still remembered what I wrote the night before and I find myself in a better mindset. 

Putting gratitude first seems like a no-brainer, but it's pretty hard to do on a constant basis. The gratitude journal makes it so much easier to keep thankful thoughts coming. Plus it just feels good to write happy things down rather than focusing on the bad things.

So there it is. My "ah-ha" gratitude journal moment and my not-so-subtle push for you to start one too. It's good stuff, I'm tellin' ya.

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The Prynt Pocket vs. Polaroid Zip | The Best Portable Photo Printer

The Best Portable Photo Printer

Prynt Pocket Review

Polaroid Zip Printer Review

One of the best ways to snazz up a planner layout, journal, or letter is with photos. I'm the pits when it comes to scrapbooking, but adding a few photos into a layout is pretty foolproof and adds a scrapbook element that's oh so good. There are quite a few portable photo printers out there, but I'm putting the Polaroid Zip and the Prynt Pocket* head to head.

Let's start with packaging. The Zip has a smooth, sleek, and small design that uses bluetooth to connect to your phone to find photos to print. The Prynt is a bigger, bulkier alternative that attaches to your cell phone for printing. Prynt has more color options to choose from while the Zip seems more limited. Both of them use Zero Ink paper, but sadly in two different sizes which makes sharing a paper stash impossible. Both have sticker adhesive backings to their paper to make adding photos anywhere easier. I use the Prynt in a recent vlog if you want to see it in action.

Both printers use in-phone apps to print photos and I find the Prynt one to be a lot more engaging and fun. Zip's app is boring and dated and only serves to get the job done. It's not an experience like Prynt is. Plus I've heard updates of the Zip app can be a bit finicky and crash. Good thing I'm terrible at updating my software.

Print quality is where these two really start to differ. The Zip has always printed with yellow tones for me while the Prynt is much more blue toned and more like the original photo. I've never worried too much about the coloration of the photos since they more for an added addition here and there, but the Prynt's quality is definitely higher than the Zip if you're looking for a closer match. 

Yet the most important thing to make this printer worthwhile for use with planners is the ability to add multiple photos to one print. The Zip has a collage function to add as many as nine different photos on one page. The Prynt pocket doesn't. There's no feature to add multiple photos to a print to save paper and get smaller photos to fit into planner spreads better. A huge negative in my book.

Now to be fair, the Prynt Pocket is marketed as a tool to turn your phone into an instant camera. It's not really intended for heavy planner or scrapbook use. It's more as a party addition to snap some shots with friends and print them out on the spot. 

Price wise the two differ about $20 with the Prynt being more expensive. I purchased my Polaroid Zip from the Erin Condren website where you can save $10 more on the Zip if it's your first site purchase. A $30 difference would swing my decision one way over the other, definitely when one is tailored more towards planner scrapbooking than the other.

As for which one to buy, it really depends on your main intended use. The Prynt Pocket's photo quality beats the Polaroid Zip hands down, but it isn't very planner friendly if you can't adjust the size of the photos or add more to the page before printing. It is a great party addition though to snap photos with friends and instantly get a copy of them. No one prints photos anymore and being able to turn your phone into an instant camera is pretty cool. 

But if you're like me and really want to add a memory keeping element to your planning, than the Polaroid Zip is the way to go. It's small, portable, and easy to use despite the lackluster attention that went into the app creation. You can always adjust your photos before printing to make them more true-to-color, but I find that it's just too much work for such a small photo. The Zip definitely lacks the "instant" quality of the Prynt.

For me, I'll stick with my Polaroid Zip for the bulk of my photo printing and save the Prynt for my next gathering. It'll be a blast snapping random photos with friends and giving them a parting gift.

What photo printer would you choose?

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The Only 5 Blushes You Need

The Only 5 Blushes You Need

I've had a love affair with blush since I was a little girl. Clown cheeks were my specialty during dress up time and I rocked the brightest pink shades. Fortunately for everyone around me, I've toned things back a lot since then and have a much lighter hand. Blush still is a favorite in my makeup routine and there are five blushes I gravitate towards more than anything else. 

I'll throw it back to my younger days with this first blush. Everyone needs that bright pop of pink in their collection. Tarte's "Fearless" has been my go-to for the perfect flush of pinky goodness. Tarte is the brand I compare all blushes to for quality, pigmentation, and lasting power. They're just that good.

The IT Cosmetic's Bye Bye Pores Blush in "Sweet Cheeks" is the newest addition to my collection but instantly became a favorite. It's unlike any of the other blushes I've owned so it had to be included in this roundup. It's packed full of glitter, but creates this gorgeous iridescent glow on the skin. Slightly on the mauve side, this blush is a fantastic transition from summer to fall makeup as it accentuates whatever tan I managed to get this summer while packing on the dewy radiance. 

Of course another Tarte blush had to be added to the lineup. No shame. "Peaceful" is a much more neutral shade I tend to wear on light makeup days to add a little bit of dimension to my face. It also has bits of glitter in it, but they never translate to the skin. Just a good ol' fashion peachy blush shade good for all year round.

theBalm's Frat Boy takes "Peaceful" and injects it with a bit of "Fearless" and probably is my oldest blush. I can't ever seem to part with it though as it's still going strong. The best summer peachy shade to add warmth to the skin while looking natural and effortless. It's oh so good.

Urban Decay's "Video" blush has been sitting quite on my shelves this summer waiting for its time to shine once fall and winter roll around. It's the best colder month blush I've found for adding color back into my skin without looking too out of place on my pale winter face. It can be worn lightly or really built up to its fullest potential. 

These five blushes cover all the bases, You'll never be without the perfect shade and your blush collection will thank you for keeping it to a minimum. They're all incredibly pigmented, long-lasting, and downright gorgeous. Add two or all of them to your collection. Go on, I won't tell.

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IT Cosmetics Fall 2017 Launches You Need to Try

IT Cosmetics Fall 2017 Launches You Need to Try

If you're an avid watcher of my vlog channel you would have seen the giant IT Cosmetics package that landed on my doorstep a few weeks ago. Seriously. I'm still in awe at the size of it. I'm one lucky girl. Since that silence-inducing day I've been testing the new launches like a busy little beaver and am reporting back with the ones you need to try for yourself.

IT Cosmetics Fall 2017 Launches You Need to Try

Out of all the new products, the Brow Power Powder struck my interest first. I just finished up the pencil version of this and was just a few clicks away from purchasing a new one. I'm so happy I didn't because I love this powder even more. This is the first powder product I've tried for my brows (I know...and I call myself a beauty blogger!) and my brow game has been changed forever. It's so dang easy to do them now! It used to take me a good three to four minutes on brows alone, but with the help of the handy angled brush/spoolie combo they sent along as well, my brows are done in no time at all. Plus I love just how full and effortless they look with this method. I don't have to worry about making sure the pencil strokes look like actual hairs. Just throw the powder all over and I'm good to go.

It's also the first time I ever used a brow gel and I officially get it now. Sometimes my brows will fade during a long day or get a mind of their own. The Brow Power Pomade is just a clear product on a tiny little brush that I run through my finished brows to keep flyaways at bay and product in my brows all day long. I'm sure any drugstore version could work too as it seems like a pretty simple product.

The foundation struck my fancy next as I'm downright obsessed (isn't everyone?) with the Your Skin But Better CC Cream. The Bye Bye Lines Foundation is just like that CC cream, but like two steps up in everything. It's color range is the same as the CC cream which makes picking a shade way easier. It has a lot heavier coverage while still feeling light on the skin while packing a serious punch in the dewy finish department. Usually throughout the day the hydration of a base product will die down, but this stayed the whole day. I felt like I had just put the stuff on when I took it off at the end of the day. It may be too dewy for oily skin girls though since my skin is particularly dry and enjoys any sort of hydrating product.

IT Cosmetics Fall 2017 Launches You Need to Try

At first the Bye Bye Pores Blush in "Sweet Cheeks" seemed a bit too glittery for my taste, but since I was in full on testing mode I plopped it on my face. It's downright gorgeous. The "glitter" creates a lovely sheen to the cheeks like a highlight would but without the fuss of another step. It adds another layer of glow to the skin with a very flattering flush of color. The lasting power of this line of blush rivals Tarte. Seriously impressive.

The CC+ Airbrush Perfecting Powder is another new launch that surprised me. Most powders I use settle into the dry spots on my skin regardless of what they boast on the tin, but this one has such a fine pressed powder that no trace of it lingered on my face. It set my under eye makeup while adding a really nice iridescent glow everywhere else. This new range is all about the glow apparently and I'm digging it.

IT Cosmetics Fall 2017 Launches You Need to Try

I haven't been the biggest fan of IT Cosmetic's concealers in the past as they've just been too heavy for me, but the Concealing Pot is a whole lot lighter on the skin. I personally love a good potted concealer health-concerns be dammed and this one is the perfect peachy cream to eliminate under eye circles. I've been working with the shade "Light" which may be a bit on the lighter side for my summer skin, but it can be built up for more coverage where needed. Plus I'm too lazy to bring out another concealer so I've been using this to cancel out redness elsewhere on my face with satisfactory results.

Overall I'm super chuffed with the new IT Cosmetics launch and have found a lot of fast favorites in the mix. They've really shaken up my makeup routine in all the right ways and are definitely worth a browse the next time you're at a counter.

What are your favorite IT Cosmetics products I have to try?

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Everyday Girlboss Makeup

Everyday Girlboss Makeup

With fall beauty launches starting to drop, I've shook up my everyday makeup routine for a super dewy, radiant, no-makeup look. 

No Kayla makeup routine starts without first using the Stila One Step Correct. I've used my fair share of primers trying to find one that rivals Stila's, but to no avail. This truly is the best primer I've ever used. It's hydrating like a moisturizer while having no silicone. Man do I hate that weird satin finish of silicone primers. This reduces redness while sinking quickly into the skin so I can move on to other steps in my routine.

I've been testing out the Urban Decay Naked Skin One & Done Hybrid Complexion Perfecter* (phew!) lately and find it to be quite like the It Cosmetics CC Cream. It's quite a sheer coverage base, but it's perfect for an everyday makeup look where I don't need too much coverage. Its finish is incredibly dewy and leaves a nice highlight to the skin making it look like I've spent my summer days at the beach rather than hunched over a laptop.

I never seem to stick with a concealer for long these days, but I've really been enjoying the new It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealing Pot* from their Fall 2017 Collection

Next is brows and I used up my It Cosmetics Universal Brow Power Pencil so I've moved on to the Brow Power Powder* and am peeved I haven't tried powders sooner. Although I do love a good brow pencil, powders are so easy to just quickly fill in my brows without fuss or worrying about brush strokes. Plus the color is a fantastic match and doesn't budge all day. Huge fan. 

Most days I can't be bothered with eye shadow so I head straight to mascara. Urban Decay's Perversion* is my current favorite for bold, thick lashes that hold a curl all day long. My lashes are seriously sad so anything that can keep them upright and voluminous throughout the day is a winner in my book. 

For blush I've been using the Sephora's birthday gift from Tarte in "Paaarty". Luckily the have this in a full size because I've been going through this deluxe sample like crazy. It's the perfect summer flush to the skin that leaves me looking warm and gorgeous. I've also been dabbling in a little bit of bronzer (I know who am I) as summer starts to wind down. Got to give the illusion of a sun tan somehow right? The Urban Decay Beached Bronzer* is just the right light shade while still adding color and glow to my face. 

Lipstick is another product I just slap on without much thought of color, but I have been finding myself reaching for Bite's "Pepper"* more than most shades in my collection. It's a bit more on the purple side of mauve than my usual "my lips but better" shades, but I'm loving it to add a bit of depth and tone to my otherwise bright and poppy look. 

Regardless of whether I'm going out all day or staying in to work, I love finishing off my makeup look with the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray. It's just so dang refreshing on the skin that I just can't help but spray a few spritzes on to the skin. I'm still working through my backup collection of old packaging and can't wait to get one of the new, sleek black bottles.

All in all this look takes about five to ten minutes to slap on my face in the mornings and makes me feel ready to take on whatever the day has to offer. What's your usual makeup routine look like?

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Life Lately

Life lately has been filled with a lot of dogs. We've been watching my parents' two dogs during the work week for about five months now and it really has been enjoyable having pups around. It's made us rethink getting one for ourselves though since it feels like quite the full house as it is. Although I loved the idea of having a corgi to snuggle with, Tardis the cat demands more of the spotlight.

We've also been doing a lot of decorating in our place lately. Furnishing and decorating our house is something we didn't want to rush in the first year since we had to get used to a lot of new expenses. Plus a wedding thrown in there really dampens the decorating budget. We finally finished up organizing the sand collection and are working on adding more everything to our bedroom. A neighborhood friend built us a lovely TV stand and a new desk is in my future!

The rest of our days have been filled with working, family time, and a lot of robe wearing. So much so that I wrote an ode to this Erin Condren robe. You know it's serious when it gets its own blog post. I'm sure you've gotten the vibe that change is in the air at the Benda household and we're just weeks away from finally sharing everything we've been working on. 

If you're ever interested in more life updates, we post vlogs fairly regularly on our vlog channel. Prepare yourself for a lot of messy hair, un-showered Kayla footage. 

What's been going on in your life lately?

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How to Make Friends | The Kindergarten Method

One thing has become painfully obvious after two years of working from home. It's hard to make new friends. Sure I could ditch the robe and start hanging out at coffee shops trying to meet people, but that seems like an expensive habit to pick up without any guaranteed results for new besties. So I resorted to the online variety with mixed results. I'd message someone here or there, but my heart just wasn't in it. 

The entire process has got me thinking a lot about how to make friends as an adult and I've realized something. You should make friends like you did in kindergarten. Man kindergartners have it made. It's so dang easy for them to just walk up to someone, ask to play together, and presto hashtag bff 5ever. Adulthood friendships are a whole different story. Or are they?

Recently I've started this new "Kindergarten Method" (spread the word!) and much to my surprise, it's working. If I meet someone or see someone I want to be friends with, I just ask to hang out or send them a message. No worrying about whether or not they'll like me back, if I'm bothering them, or if we have anything in common. I also don't bother to think about whether that person is "more famous" or has a bigger footprint on the interwebs. People are just people no matter how many followers they have. Kindergartners don't care whether another kid has fancier toys; they ask to play anyway.

At first this sent my introvert heart into a tizzy and I wasn't sure how I'd manage all this social interaction, but once I completely stopped carrying or worrying about all the stupid pressures adulthood adds to friendship, it became a hell of a lot easier. Plus no one is ever like, "Ew someone is being nice to me and making conversation. Grab the pitchforks." Making new friends is hard for everyone regardless of social ineptitude. The Kindergarten Method just takes away all the unneeded pomp and circumstance attached with it. 

I'll break it down for you.

The Kindergarten Method
Step 1: Choose a person you want to become friends with
Step 2: Talk to them
Step 3: Become friends

And if someone doesn't actually want to be your friend, doesn't respond, or you find out that you are just not compatible, no sweat. I've reached out to people with no response dozens of times. It'll happen. You can't be best friends with everyone, but you could be missing out on great friends because you haven't even tried. The whole, "it's better to have loved and lost than to never love at all" applies to friendships too. Put yourself out there you feisty best friend in the making, you.

So pull out that box of crayons, tap back into your kindergarten self, and stop being afraid to meet new people. I'm definitely not anymore.
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Why You Need a Business Consultant No Matter the Size of Your Business

Why You Need a Business Consultant No Matter the Size of Your Business

As Oh, Hello approaches its three year anniversary and we start to head into a different business direction, Alex and I decided it was time to bring in a business consultant. After just a few days working with him it became so apparent that we should have brought someone in years ago. 

The thing about small business is you're just too close to it. Oh, Hello is my baby. I live and breathe it day in and day out and I'm obsessed with it. So I have a hard time being rational when it comes to it. I may hold on to projects that just don't bring in money or ignore holes in efficiency. Although Alex has done some business consulting in the past, he too was just too close to Oh, Hello to be objective in accessing our company.

Our consultant looked at our finances, helped us see where we should be spending money and where we should cut back. He also shared some of his business experience from another field of work that we may not have considered to use in ours. It felt great to be able to talk to a fellow business person without worrying about competition or sharing trade secrets. To know that our concerns and fears are credible, but there are things we can do to combat them.

Now I'm not saying you have to go out and pay a bunch of money for a consultant. We reached out to a friend who maintains his own business rather than going the corporate consultant route. Anyone who has more experience than you in small business can help you. You just need someone who isn't attached to your company to come in, take a look around, and give you honest feedback on how things are going and could be going better. 

So no matter what size of your business, if you want to take it seriously and work out any problems you may be having, I highly recommend a business consultant of some kind. Whether you're doing this small business thing alone or have a partner, it's good to have an objective third-party take a look at what you're doing to try and help. They aren't trying to destroy your business or turn it into something it's not. They're trying to help you do what you do, but better.

Best wishes in your business endeavors no matter how big or small. And feel free to ask any questions about business and I'll try my best to help answer them! 

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Planning Supplies Anti-Haul

Anti-hauls have been making the rounds on YouTube lately and it got me thinking about all the planner supplies I wouldn't buy. We're constantly posting hauls of new stickers and planner goodies on Instagram, so I'm here to share what I won't be buying.

Up first is planner charms. Sure they're adorable, but so impractical for my style of planning. I find that anything that dangles or sticks up from my planner just gets in the way. Plus if you're trying to save a few bucks on supplies, charms are definitely unnecessary planner purchases.

Along those same lines are planner paperclips. I've damaged the few that I own with just casual use and I don't see the point of having an accessory that only comes up for a photo every once and a while. If I used a personal planner I'm sure I'd pop them in the front pockets, but they really don't serve a huge purpose in my planning setup.

Since I just can't seem to get on the personal planner/bullet journal train I won't be buying any expensive leather planners any time soon. Erin Condren definitely is my vice and I'll be avoiding other expensive collections to save what little planning cash I have left at the end of a month. They're truly gorgeous accessories, but they have a firm place on my anti-haul list.

Although I love the thought of planner stamps, I just don't see myself ever buying any. It's a whole separate world of planning that I just don't know or understand. Plus then I'll have to buy blocks, inks, and cleaner while finding place to store everything. I think I'll stick with the ease and small storing solutions of stickers.

This last one definitely can be chalked up to my grandma-not-changing-in-her-ways lifestyle, but I won't be buying new pens any time soon. I've found what works for me with the Sharpie fine point pen and the Papermate InkJoy gel and honestly don't feel the desire to try anything new. I do lust over other planner addicts' impressive pen collections, but at the end of the day I'll stick with my mug full of two types of black pen and call it good.

What planning supplies do you have no intention of buying? Share your anti-haul list in the comments!
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How I Stay on Top of Everything for My Small Business

How I Stay on Top of Everything for My Small Business

Owning a small business has taught me a lot of things, but above all it's taught me that organization is key. Good thing I'm obsessed with planners right?

I've tried a lot of different methods over the past three years to keep up with everything I need to do for my business. From crazy to do lists to completely separate daily planners, I've tried a wide range and have found that simplicity is better. More often than not I would highly recommend just adding all your work things into your main planner, but sometimes a bit more space is needed.

I still add in daily to do items and big deadlines into my main planner so things aren't being missed, but found that a clear overview was lacking in my original setup. I was having a hard time looking farther than a week or two ahead and needed a better way to track the big picture. 

So when Erin Condren finally relaunched their monthly planners, I had to scoop one up. I'm still working on the setup so I'll be sure to pop some photos on Instagram or write another blog post about my progress, but I've fount it to be a really helpful tool at creating a game plan. I made myself some specific font stickers to make repeat events easier to document. I now feel like I know what's going on, what will be going on soon, and where there are gaps to fill with a sale or new releases. I'm even contemplating recoiling my main planner to add this new book into the back of it to keep everything in one place.

The most important thing about planning is being open to change. What's worked for you may not always continue to work for you. And that's totally ok. It's better to adapt then stick to a routine that isn't working anymore.
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How I Became a Freelance Photographer Accidentally on Purpose

How I Became a Freelance Photographer Accidentally on Purpose

Guys. I'm the product photographer for The Planner Addict Box. The cat's out of the bag and I'm so freakin' pumped about it.

So here's how this crazy twist of events came to pass. As I casually scrolled through Instagram one day, I came across a post by PAB looking to hire a few positions. A product photographer was one of them and it got me thinking. "Hey I like product photography and basically do it daily in some form. Might as well apply!" So I did. And then proceeded to go on a cruise for a week and completely forgot about the whole thing. I didn't even tell Alex I applied just in case my pipe-dreams of becoming a paid photographer were too lofty. 

When we finally got back into port after one amazing week forgetting any work back at home, I checked my email. And I got the job. Of course I told Alex immediately and he thought it ridiculous that I nervously didn't tell him I had even applied. We celebrated in our stateroom on the ship and headed back home. I had photos to take.

I'm on my second month of photographing their monthly subscription box and I absolutely love it. It's the type of work I get geeked over. Constantly thinking about new ways to photograph items, flat lay setups, and the best way to showcase a collection. And it's something I'm good at, but almost never found out.

That's the thing. I didn't think I wanted to be a freelance photographer. If it wasn't for that Instagram post, I would have never found out that I do in fact want more of this. So I'm on the hunt for more clients. I don't have a clue what I'm doing or where to find them, but I'm on the lookout. 

So that's how I became a freelance photographer accidentally on purpose. 
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How to Ignore Follower Counts When It Seems like It's All that Matters

How to Ignore Follower Counts When It Seems like It's All that Matters

Follower counts are basically soul crushing. No matter how important they are to your business or online success, it's nearly impossible not to check your stats. Plus if you run an online business or are trying to get into the blogging world, they basically become an obsession. 

And it drove me nuts. I constantly kept updating Instagram just to see my count not get any higher but actually lose followers. It left me uninspired, let down, and like no one liked me. It started to affect my content too. I didn't want to post anymore because I got it in my head that no one even cared in the first place. That's a seriously self-destructing attitude. So I took a step back, just like you should, and approached follower counts differently.

My first tip seems easy enough, but is definitely the hardest of the lot. Just stop looking. What you don't know won't hurt you and nothing can be more true than ever changing follower counts. There are plenty of other ways to track platform growth beyond followers. Look at whether your content is getting more engagement. Have you gotten comments this week on your blog posts? See if your videos are getting more views than past ones. Just avoid looking at that one silly number that seems to determine success on the internet.

Better yet don't look at others' follower counts either. This became my ultimate downfall. It felt like I needed to keep up with people creating the same content as me. Like if I didn't match follower for follower they were better than I was. That just isn't true. There is no way of truly knowing what or how brought about their success. There isn't a formula to follow. Each person's online journey is different. So just don't look at the "competition" because there will always be someone with slightly more followers than you anyway.

Focus on your content and you won't have time to worry about followers. When it became my obsession to refresh pages, I basically would stop creating new content. It's a vicious cycle of refreshing, feeling bad, not posting, not getting followers, repeat. So I started to focus on my content more and found that I am too busy making new things to really think about if my followers are growing or not. I'm throwing myself into my work more so now than ever. And it's producing quality content that will naturally increase followers. 

Remember why you started. If it was to become rich and famous from the internet then you approached things all wrong. But most people start blogging or making YouTube videos because they want to share their interests with other people. If you're doing that, then you've won. Sure it would be nice to sit back as ad money comes in from your latest post, but as long as you're getting what you had hoped to receive when you started the whole thing, then you're a success.

Now I know follower counts are still important no matter how hard I lie to myself and say they aren't. But they're also a disease that can crush your creativity and destroy the quality of content you produce. So take a step back, focus on the content, and the follower stuff will figure itself out on its own.

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Styling a Shelf with Items You Already Own

Styling a Shelf with Items You Already Own

Our bedroom got a new addition recently and I've been in #shelfie mode ever since. Plus with a new budget keeping our excess spending in check, I had to get creative with how I decorated it. Didn't want to spend that precious eating out money on decorations. Girl needs her noms.

After adding a few things here and there of items I already owned, a formula for shelf-decorating success started to pop up in my head. Some super simple rules to follow to decorate a new shelf with items you already owned. And it's basically a no brainer.

Styling a Shelf with Items You Already Own

First up, find a few bins. I shamefully have a box full of them in our basement waiting for their future storage glory. I picked two that matched and toted them back upstairs. I chose two different sizes for a bit of of an unbalanced look. You can store anything you want in them (blankets, movies, etc.) but my squishy collection demanded a spot. Plus it adds a fun pop of personalty and color.

Next find a few travel or life souvenirs. This Tardis Alex made me out of a beer box to ask me to be his girlfriend. It lights up and everything. I'm still quite impressed to this day so I love having it out on display. It's an interesting element to add to the shelf, but also sentimental as well. Win win.

Styling a Shelf with Items You Already Own

Then add some plants. A living element does wonders to the look of a shelf and brightens up a space. I'm a big fan and in a quest to put at least one plant in every room of the house. 

Pile on more trinkets, collections, or mementos. We all have things we collect, so why not put some on display to spark conversation and add personality to a space. My Gilmore Girls figurines demanded it really.

Styling a Shelf with Items You Already Own

Stagger your boxes so they don't weigh down one side of your shelf more than the other. Then pop in some old magazines, a few of your favorite books, or in my case planner supplies. We all have them so why not give them a second life?

Styling a Shelf with Items You Already Own

Photos are also a super easy addition to styling a shelf and you probably have a few printed up here and there already. Or it's a great excuse to finally get a photo printed to put in that frame you bought a while ago.

Keep it simple.

Let your shelf breathe. You don't need to jam pack it full of items and things. I love leaving a section blank or with just a few items to make the shelf seem lighter and with room for potential. Kinda like I didn't try and style it at all, it just sort of happened. Plus Tardis loves this thing and lays on it constantly in the open spaces. 

A lot of these items you probably already own so grab a few, lay them all out, and start styling your shelf.
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Tips & Advice for New Bloggers

Tips & Advice for New Bloggers

If we ever meet in real life, I'm sure within the first ten minutes I'll try to convince you to start a blog. I'm a big fan. This space has done wonders for me over the years so naturally I'd want to spread that blogging magic to anyone who will listen. So if you're on the fence or just getting started, here are a few things to help you along the way.

Get yourself a blog template. I wish someone had told me about these sooner. The biggest mistake I see with young bloggers is a poor blog layout. Your content could be amazing, but appearance is everything with blog first impressions. The default options are garbage really, so find yourself $20-$30 and invest in your new hobby. Etsy is full of them (that's where I found mine) and the creators are beyond helpful in providing tutorials and assistance in setting the template up. Blogging will look exactly the same to you on the back end, but will look oh-so-pretty for any new readers who might come your way. 

Find blogging groups on Facebook to join to learn more tips and tricks starting out. Plus it's a great way to meet new friends who share the same interests as you. None of my real life friends blog despite all of my best efforts, so it's nice to have places to go to share ideas, issues, and find people to collaborate with. 

Engage in the community you're trying to create content in. I made this mistake for years. I sincerely thought, "If I write it, they will come." They definitely did not come. So read other blogs and comment on them. Not with your own blog link, but actually engage with the authors. You'll quickly become immersed in the community and you'll find yourself getting more views in no time.

Don't expect magic to happen overnight. I'm sorry. Tons of blogging advice gives the illusion that if you follow these tips you'll be the next big blogger. And you might be. But there's also a really good chance it's going to take time and a lot of hard work to carve out a solid place for yourself in the blogging world. Don't give up, but don't expect to have PR companies filling up your email after just a few posts. Be consistent, create engaging new content, and be yourself. It may take time, but it's about the journey more than anything anyway.

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On Failure and Change

On Failure and Change

There are a lot of things as small business owners we don't feel comfortable talking about. Definitely in the planner community. It's one of the closest tight-knit groups of girl bosses I've ever experienced, and yet we almost altogether avoid on thing in particular. Talking about failure.

Failure is a part of small business. It's an active, scary, necessary evil part of it. Not everything I do works. Probably 40% of it does. New releases flop, sales don't bring in the revenue we were looking for, and most of the time the cutting machines rather be doing anything but cutting. Failure is a part of the struggle, but it's also a part of the triumph. 

I don't necessarily think our business is failing in the "close up shop and find a new calling" sort of way, but change is in the air for Oh, Hello. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The same can be said about business. You can't constantly do the same thing time and time again and expect it to always work. The times are a changin' and we have to get with them.

The first big change? It's actually quite simple. I'm saying 'no' more. I'm trimming back on my to do list, prioritizing what's important, and no longer spreading myself so thin. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be, cutting back. Not being able to do everything all the time does tend to feel like failure in my book, but I know it's for the best. For my business yes, but mostly for my mental health.

I don't think we're done with stickers just yet, but we don't have plans to put all our eggs into one adhesive filled basket. I'm excited to share the journey with you once we figure it out ourselves.

And sorry for the blogging hiatus. Priorities are finally getting back in order.

Much love and embrace the failure.

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