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Everything You Need to Know about Mood Boards

You’ve finished your brand identity. Whoo! Now what?

Now you get to do the fun part — create a mood board! Sweet! Except… what’s a mood board? A mood board, also known as an inspiration board, is a collage comprised of photos that depict how you want your brand to look and feel.* Why should you make one? Because it’s a visual source of inspiration that, when combined with a brand identity, helps to build a consistent brand.

Here’s an example of a mood board.
Mood Board Example.png

*Mood boards don’t have to be for branding. You can use them for any kind of project.
The board above is one I threw together in 10 minutes for this post.
I made it about my wedding  🙂

Most people use photoshop to create their board but you can go old school and use a real bulletin board. You could also use a poster board, Canva, Microsoft Publisher, or your fridge.

Creating Your Own

Start out by finding inspiration for your brand. Collect pictures, textures, patterns, colors, typography, etc. that you would like to incorporate into your brand or that you feel represents the brand well. You can find these inspiration clips anywhere. You can try using magazines, advertisements, products you own, looking at other brands in your field or that you love, or just google image searching. The easiest and most obvious way, though, is to use Pinterest. I suggest making separate boards in these categories: logo and elements, font/typography, patterns/textures, color palette, and site design. On each board, aim to have at least five pins but the more, the merrier. This makes it easy to see which styles you’re the most interested in and narrow down your inspirations to specific styles. Once you’ve found the ones that speak to you, go ahead and put them in a mood board! Or make a few mood boards and ask family and friends (or better yet, people in your target market) which they prefer. Decide which one best represents the image of your brand and you’re all set!

How To – Using Canva

This is your free template! I didn’t make it but it’s still free and a template. haha. Canva is how I prefer to create mood boards because it’s really easy. Like, drag and drop easy.

  1. Go in to canva and choose the size you want your board to be (I chose the Instagram size.) A new tab will open up with a blank page.
  2. In the menu on the left side, click elements, then grids.
  3. Click on the layout you like. It should automatically set itself on the blank page.
  4. Go back to the menu on the left. Click Uploads. Upload the images you would like to have on your mood board.
  5. Drag and drop your images from the menu on to the grid. The images will snap to the sections of the grid.
  6. When you’re done, click download in the top right corner. Choose the file type you prefer and voila.

How to Find Your Identity as a Brand

A brand identity worksheet should be the first step when creating or redefining a brand. It’s like a (very, very) condensed business plan… but for your brand identity. While it’s a small and easy step, it is imperative to cohesive branding. You can get a free brand identity worksheet from The Library or write out your own, it doesn’t have to be fancy.

What needs to be covered:
Mission Statement

If you’re working on branding, chances are you have already completed a business plan and have a mission statement. If not, you’re in luck because I have some tips to help you figure it out. Your mission statement is the foundation of your business. It encompasses the entire business’s identity in one sentence. Things to consider when finding your mission statement:

  • Why did you start your business?
  • What makes you unique?
  • Who do you help and how?
  • Look toward the future. Where do you see your business in 2 years?
Define Your Ideal Audience and Target Market

Consider your ideal audience and target market. Who do you see? Personify your business in such a way that your ideal audience and target market will connect with your brand. When finding your ideal audience and target market, start broad and narrow it down. Considerations when finding your ideal audience and target market:

  • Demographics
  • Lifestyle
  • Occupation
  • Marital status/family life
  • Level of education
  • Specific interests and hobbies
Brand Feeling

How do you want your ideal audience and target market to describe your brand (3- 5 words.) Once you have your adjectives, make a few lists about ways to convey them. Keep your ideal audience and target market in mind.

  • Colors
  • Symbols/Objects
  • Activities
Tone and Voice

Now that you’ve decided on an image, you’ll need to decide how you will relay it to your consumers. What kind of tone does your image carry? Professional and formal? Young and chatty? Sarcastic and blunt? Find yours and try to stay cohesive. Most people have trouble with this at first. It’s a hard decision to make. One way to find your business’s tone is to write a few sample paragraphs on different subjects as if you were talking to your ideal audience. Go back and read. Look for similarities, differences, the parts of style you think fit well or don’t fit at all.

Don’t be intimidated by all of this. Seriously, just dive right in and write everything down. It doesn’t have to be right the first time. This is a brainstorm of loose ideas. A branding identity worksheet is just a way to keep all of these ideas together. If you find that your pages are messy and have lots of ideas, that’s great! The more ideas you have, the better your final identity will be. Just be sure to keep cutting out the things that don’t fit. I would recommend making a “finalized” copy to keep around as a reference during the branding process, as well as throughout the future of your business.

Ready to get started? Click here to download the free brand identity worksheet!

What You Need to Know about Successful Branding

I’ve recently decided to rebrand my business. By myself. Alone. Without an art degree. Or PhotoShop. *Insert horrified look here* I swear I’m not crazy. I’ll be honest, I have some experience in branding and art but mostly I’ve just done a TON of research and self-teaching. Lucky for you, I’m going to tell you all the juicy, important stuff that I’ve learned so you don’t have to rummage around the internet for three months to figure it all out.

I have an updated vision for the future and I want AMaureen Studios to reflect that. Since I am currently going through the process, I wanted to share my experience and insights with you! Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you either own a business or plan to work on the creative side of one in the future. You might not necessarily be the one creating the brand but branding is incorporated throughout each business and you will eventually encounter it.

What is branding?

Branding refers to a set of visual and emotional concepts that come together to create an image or personality in order to represent an entity. LOLWUT? Okay, so that was a really wordy and abstract definition but you know what branding is. At least in the most basic sense of the term. Think of your favorite company. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? I can almost guarantee it was their logo. It takes less than a full second for a person to recognize a logo, even if only part of the logo image is actually shown. That’s one of the reasons why so many companies are willing to pay for product placement. There is a lot more to a brand than just a logo, though. A brand consists of a cohesive and consistent set of rules that outline what is acceptable for use and what isn’t. These rules can be about anything from acceptable color use to website format. There are far more elements to each brand than consumers realize on a conscious level.

Who needs branding?

I know that this is starting to sound like a lot more work and a lot less logo-design-fun than you were hoping for but if you’re serious about a business, branding is crucial. I hear you over there, “Okay but I don’t reeeaalllly need to do any branding because I’m not a big corporation. Heck, I don’t even have a physical store front!” WRONG. Anyone who does any kind of networking can benefit from branding. I’ve even heard professors saying that you need to brand yourself before you start applying for jobs. If you deal a lot in first impressions, then branding will likely benefit you, too.

Why you should be branding yourself and your business.

In marketing and advertising, there is something known as the Self-Image Congruence Theory. The theory states that when there is a high degree of congruity between a person’s self-image and a product’s image, they are more likely to purchase or using that product. This theory applies to more than just products, though. As a business, you want to project an image that your target market relates to. They want to use your business because it mimics their lifestyle, values, and beliefs. Your business/products/blog/etc. portray an image that your consumers identify with and feel is trustworthy.

A few benefits of branding:

  • Quickly and easily recognizable
  • Professional
  • Improves credibility and trust
  • If you’re branded correctly, your first impression will be the right one
  • Not only can branding attract more clients/consumers/followers but it can attract the RIGHT clients/consumers/followers who will want to engage with your brand.

How to brand effectively.

Here’s that sucky part about branding: you can’t just slap together a logo and call yourself a brand. I mean you could but it won’t really count. In order to brand effectively you need to consider all aspects of the business and incorporate everything into a neat and tidy package. Here are some of the major steps in branding:

  1. Brand Identity – A business plan for your brand.
  2. Mood Board – A visual representation, often a collage, of desired brand characteristics. A draft of sorts, used for inspiration.
  3. Brand Board – An organized, visual representation of the brand. Often includes a color palette, typography, textures and patterns, logo, submarks, and other elements used within the brand.
  4. Brand Marketing Guide – A book (yes, a book) that shows the details of the brand board along with rules and guidelines on how to use each element appropriately in a variety of settings.

 

Stick around over the next two weeks because I’ll be going more in depth in order to help you learn how to DIY branding!

Want access to The Library of free worksheets, checklists, printables, and templates?
Of course you do! 

 

7 Free Tools You Need to Have If You Want to Be a Blogger

Just started blogging? Need tools? I gotchu.

This is a list of all of the tools I’ve utilized thus far in my blogging experience. They’re all available for free and user-friendly.

Siri

I don’t know about you but most of my great ideas are generated in the shower. (Find out why, here.) Just last week, I came up with three brilliant topics for future posts… the only problem was that by the time I stepped out of the shower, I could only think of one. Luckily, I had called Michael in to the bathroom and asked him to some quick notes for me so I wouldn’t forget but not everyone is lucky enough to have a Michael. Even I don’t have a humble servant all the time (just kidding, honey!) and so far the best solution I’ve come up with is Siri. I’m new to the iPhone. I only got my first one a few weeks ago. I’m already team iPhone all the way. One of my favorite features is my free personal assistant. Whoops. I mean, Siri. All I have to do is say, “Hey Siri…” and *presto* instant answers, notes taken, and messages sent. Next time I’m in the shower and I have a great idea, I’ll just ask Siri to take a note for me.

The Headline Analyzer & Headline Articles by CoSchedule

The free blog post headline analyzer will score your overall headline quality and rate its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value.

This is a great tool backed by science. You type in your headline idea and press the “analyze now” button. Super simple. It gives you all kinds of information: how emotionally appealing your headline is, if it’s too short or too long, keywords, etc. Once you’ve entered one headline, you can enter more and it will keep a running history on the page with the accompanying scores so that you can compare different headlines for the same post. Some great accompanying articles by CoSchedule, listed here: How To Write Headlines That Drive Traffic, Shares, and Search Results33 Easy Ways To Write A Headline That Will Make You Successful, and 25 Scientifically Proven Ways To Write Better Headlines For Your Blog. I recommend reading all of them.

Free Stock Images

I stumbled upon this blog post while looking up something completely different. I honestly can’t remember how I got to it but this opened up a whole new world for me. I realized that everyone else on the internet isn’t a fantastic photographer and most people use stock images, free or purchased. We’ve already been over this but I’m still a poor college student so finding free, professional quality images is like waking up on Christmas morning. I’m still new to the rules of stock images and I don’t know if any of these have regulations but absolutely still worth using.

Canva

CANVA! I just found this tool from a post by my favorite blogger, Melyssa Griffin. (I heavily recommend her site to all bloggers. She has such great advice.) Anywho, Canva is a graphic design tool. It’s exceedingly easy to use. For the most part, it’s drag and drop. It has pre-made templates or you can start from scratch. You can even upload your own photos. Perfect for logos, banners, featured images, and more.

Blog + Biz BFFs – Facebook group

This is a closed support group for bloggers – but don’t let that intimidate you! Simply request to join. It was created by Melyssa Griffin from The Nectar Collective. I’ve only been in the group for a few days and I’ve already done some networking, posted and gotten advice back, and helped someone else out. It’s a very supportive community geared towards anyone and everyone who runs a blog.

Hootsuite

I’ll admit that I chose this multi-sharing platform over the myriad of others because I’m getting my certification in Hootsuite for free in my Social Media Marketing class at Radford. I currently have access to the pro version (although this only runs for 90 days and then I’m back to the free version.) Even with the free plan, this is a great tool. I’ve been using the auto-schedule function for almost everything I’ve been posting on social media and so far it’s working out great. I don’t actually start the certification course until tomorrow so I only know what I figured out from poking around in the free version on my own. I’d advise you do the same. I’ll keep ya updated if I learn any neat tips or tricks.

A Way to Plan and Organize

And finally, the most important tool you can use, your brain. Actually, I recommend a binder, loose-leaf paper, a few writing implements, and maybe a calendar (I haven’t decided how important the calendar part is yet.) If you’re serious about blogging, small business, or marketing, keeping track of your goals, actions, and progress is a big deal.

  • I use a one-inch binder, filled with college-ruled loose-leaf, and my plethora of pens and pencils. Every day I take a piece of paper around with me (I keep it in my Life Planner because that thing is pretty much glued to my hand) which has the date at the top, a to-do list, and space for any thoughts I have during the day. Don’t get me wrong, by the end of each day that piece of paper is a mess. It is not pretty but it’s the best way for me to remember everything. The next day I just stick it in the binder and get a new one out.
  • I also keep a piece of paper with me that has a running list of post topics and a short description of the idea. This way I can add detail as I come across it (which makes the writing part a lot easier) and I can put down any new ideas I have, all in one place.
  • I’ve created a very basic excel document that I can use to track the weekly progress of my blog and social media marketing attempts. I know that most of the sites keep track of statistics and analytics for you but I want to have it all in one place. I created a different page in the excel document for each site, with the columns labelled: date, followers, likes, engagements, etc. and the rows labelled with the different weeks. I’d like to make (or find) something more in-depth, user-friendly, and attractive but for now this works.
Want to keep up with the tools I’m currently using, have used, or recommend? Follow the Blogging and Social Media Tools Pinterest board! I’ll be updating it regularly. Or you can keep checking back for more posts in this series.

Do you have any awesome blogging or social media tools to recommend to a beginner? Let us know!

How to Survive First-Post Fear and Begin Blogging

It’s only been eight days since I came up with the concept for this blog and I’ve already pumped out five posts. I have 14 more post ideas written out and ready to be drafted. That is absolutely crazy. Can you believe that less than a week ago, I was afraid to write my first post?? Look at me now; I can’t stop!

Before I started writing anything, I did what I always do when I’m about to start a project – glue my face to a computer and research everything I can about the topic. I’m compulsive when it comes to learning about topics of interest. Often it’s fleeting but it’s always beneficial, even if it does make me seem incredibly weird. The first thing I did, before I even created a site, was look to Pinterest. Blog, blogging, how to blog, blog tips. I rummaged through pages of pins under these searches until I found one that wasn’t trying to sell me a get-rich-quick scheme. That’s when I found The Nectar Collective. More specifically, I stumbled upon their tutorial for writing a killer about page. This became my starting point. I created a wordpress site, picked a theme, and got to work.

Customizing my site was the easy part. I even got my “About” section written and set up by following that simple tutorial. Breezy. No problems. I was so proud. I wanted to start promoting it every where… but then it hit me: I didn’t have any content yet. Why would anyone want to look at an empty site? Ugh. I had my focus but what was I supposed to write about?? I had no idea what to write for my first post. I was scared. Don’t laugh! It’s terrifying knowing that you’re about to put your own ideas out there, especially when you’re trying to represent a brand… even when it’s your own brand. I’d argue that it’s even more nerve-racking when it’s your own brand. This may very well determine what your networks (current and future) think of you. Let the crippling anxiety hit… now. Okay, maybe not crippling, I’m pretty good at ignoring anxiety, but what if I failed or embarrassed myself? I almost put it off but there was that compulsion again. I was so excited before, I couldn’t just not progress!

“Alright. I’m really doing this. What am I supposed to say? I have my focus and my about page. Do I just talk about the things I sell? Do I try to sell things to my readers? Do I just jump in? How does this work?!” 

I decided to introduce myself and the blog to my future readers. Sure, I had just written an entire page doing the same thing but it was easy and approachable so I went for it. I suppose you could call it my welcome message. I took my “About” page and copy/pasted it to my first blog-post draft. From there, I added, removed, and altered bits and pieces. I added a stock photo, set it to publish the next morning, and *BAM* first post done. Well, that was easy. In my research, I read that you need at least five posts before you start marketing in order to seem credible. So what do I write now?

The next morning while I was in the shower, where I do all my best thinking, it came to me. I got my first real idea for a post. I started writing it later that day. As I was writing, I came up with an idea for another post. Then from that, another one! I hadn’t even finished drafting my second post and I had come up with two more ideas. This seems to be a consistency – every time I write a post, I come up with at least one idea for another post. Everything I do now, I see through blog eyes. Have you ever played a lot of Tetris? I did in high school. A lot. I had too many computer classes with my friends that were essentially unsupervised. We played for hours every day. When you closed your eyes, you could see the game. It was weird. Anyway, that’s what’s happening now. Everything I do, learn, experience… it’s like I’m thinking in blog form.

I’ve since found more resources, networks, and inspirations. I’m getting a lot of positive feedback and really loving this whole process. My advice for any other n00bs out there is to just dive in head first. Surround yourself with blogging for a few days. Do a lot of searching and reading. Learn what you can before starting so that you have a head start. Really commit to the blog and marketing and don’t be afraid to ask for help. And don’t forget to keep checking back! 

Not sure where to start? Check out these killer blogging tools.

What was first-post experience like?

Free Printable: Motivational Quote Photos

I made motivational quote photos for everyone! These are perfect for a clothesline photo frame. They’re square in their dimensions, so they can easily be uploaded to Insta, as well! (Tag your photo with #AMaureenStudios. I’d love to see you spreading the positive vibes!)

To download:

Click on the photo.
In the bottom, right corner of the screen there should be an option to open in full size.
Click that. A new tab should open.
Right click the image and then hit ‘save image as…’ 

To re-size and print:

Determine how big you want your squares to print. I chose to go with 3 inches x 3 inches. I was using 8.5 in x 11 in cardstock.
Open Microsoft Publisher or Word. I used Publisher.
Make a table and then size it so that it can fit the photos. I was able to fit 2 photos x 3 photos in landscape, putting my total size at 6 inches x 9 inches. I wanted to have a white border around them when I cut them out so I made my table dimensions 6.5 inches (height) x 9.5 inches (width).

Screenshot (52)
Insert a picture placeholder into the center of each table cell. You can format the size of the picture placeholder. I made mine 3 inches x 3 inches since that’s the size I wanted them to print at.

Screenshot (56)Screenshot (57)
Click the icon in the picture placeholder and add your downloaded image.
Print.

Having trouble? Feel free to ask for help in the comments!

Tutorial: How to Make a Clothesline Photo Frame

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Supplies

  • Frame
  • Twine or string
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Ruler
  • Pencil or pen
  • Clips or small clothespins
  • Photos

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Steps

  1. Measure the dimensions on the back of your frame. 12584047_10153831395571718_1790222266_n
  2. Determine how long your twine will need to be (give yourself an extra two inches for gluing!) and how many lines you want to have running across the frame. Make sure you leave enough room for your photos to hang between each line. Mark the frame and cut the twine.
  3. Hot glue the twine to the frame. I found that if I did one end of the twine, let it dry, and then the other end, I was able to get a more taut line. Keep in mind that however loose or taut you make your lines, the pictures will add weight and pull them down further. 12626013_10153831395611718_1563829661_n
  4. Hang the frame or position it where you’d like it to go.12583893_10153831479211718_767552218_n
  5. Clip your photos in and voila! How easy was that?!12647902_10153831472556718_145517153_n

Notes

Frame: I happened to already have a large frame that had no glass or backing. I got it from a friend when she broke the glass and was going to toss it. It’s been laying around for a year and a half and needed a home. If you don’t already have a frame, you could improvise. Go buy a frame from Walmart. Easy but has the potential to be costly. Get some wood or moulding from Home Depot or Lowe’s. I’m pretty sure you can have it cut to the length of your choosing fo’ free. Paint it with chalk paint (or a paint of your choice.) Glue it together. Presto, $3 frame and you could probably make it pretty large. Try a small desk version by buying a standing frame from Dollar Tree and using miniature photos. Maybe tiny letters that spell something out. Let me know what you come up with!

Clips: I’m currently too poor to go buy those really cute miniature clothesline hangers or any clips for that matter. I took paper clips, bent them, and hot glued them to the backs of my pictures.12647998_10153831395616718_764089672_n

Photos: You can get photos printed from Walmart for pretty cheap but, again, I don’t have any expendable money right now. I took card stock that I already had and printed my images on that at home. I like the matte finish so this worked out well for me. I used images from my free motivational quote printable post and photos from Instagram. Check out how I sized and printed them here.12647724_10153831523896718_369240356_n.jpg

How did yours turn out? Did you make any alterations? Let us know in the comments!

10 Simple Ways to Stay Motivated Every Day

Get excited first thing in the morning.

Get excited about your day

 

It takes hours for some of us to really wake up (especially us night owls) so find something that will get you pumped up and ready to be productive. For me, it’s taking a shower and listening to whatever my current favorite playlist is. For others, it may be coffee, exercise, playing with the dog, cleaning a small space, responding to comments on your blog… the possibilities are endless. Experiment and see what works for you.

Get dressed.

Getting dressed

This is vital! Even if you aren’t going anywhere and no one will see you. Take a shower, do your hair  and makeup, put on some clothing that makes you feel confident, and get to work! Bonus points if you put on shoes. I honestly don’t know why this works but without fail, I always feel ready to tackle anything when I get dressed. Even more extra credit (for you extroverts out there) if you actually get out and go run an errand or see a friend to get your day started.

Make the bed. Do the dishes.

Make the bed

I know, I keep telling you guys to do chores but I swear it’s for your own good! Even when your house is a mess, having a freshly made bed and a clean, empty sink make everything feel like it’s in order. At least enough that you can get through the day without pulling your own hair out. A clean(ish) space is a productive space.

Create a work space that you enjoy.

Workspace

Speaking of productive spaces, make your work space enjoyable and inviting. Michael and I currently use the extra bedroom in our house as an office. I set my desk up so that it’s somewhere I want to be. I put pictures on the walls around me, a small motivational framed quote on my desk, a vintage lamp, and usually a candle. I have my schedule hung up on the wall behind my desk for easy viewing. I make sure to clear my desk off every evening so that I don’t start my day with a mess. Before I sit down to start working, I usually make myself a cup of tea or coffee in an attractive mug and get myself a small snack. All of my craft supplies and school necessities are close by and I have enough space to work. This is just how my space is currently though. I had 5 roommates at my last house so my bedroom was where I did most of my work and my bed was my ‘desk.’ You’re a creative human, use those skills to make your space work for you. I would love to see pictures of your current or past work spaces! Share a photo in the comments.

Surround yourself with positive, reinforcing visuals.

Radford Acceptance

This is a big one. Especially as creatives, we love visuals. Motivational photos, dream boards, pictures of your goal, a chart of your progress — whatever works for you. Fun fact: I have spent entirely too long in undergrad. I have gone to four colleges and took a long time to get serious about school and a career. Okay, so it’s not such a fun fact. It actually kind of blows. It did, anyway. While I was attending my second community college, I started to get motivated about applying to Radford. I didn’t have the best grades and it was going to be a while before I could even apply, let alone get accepted… but I was determined. I bought a picture frame (Dollar Tree, ftw!) and put it on my desk. I looked at it every time I wanted to skip an assignment or drop out of a class.

Bonus: Check out my tutorial for how to make a clothesline photo frame. Use it to hang pictures of your goals, as well as motivational quotes.
Post your weekly schedule somewhere that you’ll see it.

The

I’m really bad with time. Like, really bad. I’m always 10 minutes late and if I didn’t treat my planner like a bible, I’d never get my assignments in on time. I made a document in Microsoft Word with my class and work schedule, color coded by day and I put the times that I need to leave for each activity along with the times they start. This ensures I know how much time I have before I have to leave and saves me the hassle of trying to figure it out. I also like that this enforces my routine on a very basic level. Seeing my regular weekly schedule on a daily basis gives me a visual for planning. It’s hard to forget what I need to do for tomorrow when tomorrows activities are listed on my wall. Bonus points: make it visually appealing! The best way to incorporate the mundane is to make it pretty.

Utilize lists.
Startup Stock Photos
Startup Stock Photos

LISTS ARE LIFE. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. Even if you are the most organized person in the world, lists will make your life easier. Going to the grocery store? Make a list. Homework? Make a list. Chores? Make a list. Packing? List. Comparing things? List. Starting your day? List. Living? MAKE. A. LIST. Okay, so maybe you don’t need a list for breathing but you do for everything else. Benefits of lists: 1) Forget about forgetting things, it’s all written down. 2) Makes prioritizing a breeze. 3) Crossing things of a list is entirely more satisfying than it should be. Setting tasks/goals and then completing them is a great self-esteem boost. We love those. 4) Organizing your ideas will make your life easier. 5) Lists are so versatile. You can make lists for big goals, small goals, daily tasks, things to remember, ideas or directions you need to communicate — you can make a list for pretty much everything in your life. Not that you should, but you could. 6) Lists don’t have to be bullet points on a piece of paper. One semester, I made a grid on an empty wall in my bedroom with notecards, outlining each week of the semester on one axis and the day of the week on the other. Then I used post-it notes to put up when each of my assignments was due. I took each one down after I completed that particular assignment. Lists come in all shapes and forms. Be creative.

Take short breaks.

Take a break

It’s easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed while your working, especially in a creative field. If you try to power through those feelings, you often end up intensifying them. You can’t think clearly when you’re brain feels like it’s short-circuiting. Set a timer and take 5-10 minutes to do something unrelated. Do not go watch tv, get on Facebook, or lay in your bed festering in your frustration. Take that time to teach your dog a new trick. Go for a walk around the block. Make a snack. Pick your outfit for tomorrow. Do some light cleaning. Read. Do yoga. Call your mom. Be productive or don’t, just make sure you’re doing something unrelated and not likely to further your frustrations. This is good practice even when you aren’t overwhelmed. Sometimes the best ideas come from unlikely places. Plus, sitting down all day, every day is bad for you — at least that’s what the old people keep telling me.

Connect with people who have the same goals.
Startup Stock Photos
Startup Stock Photos

We have all heard someone complain about the fitness culture on social media. Every one is *so* sick of seeing progress pictures and health food and gym selfies. Here’s the thing though, people who do that stuff are more likely to stick with their goal and succeed. Having a support group is motivation in itself. Documenting your journey and sharing it with others makes us feel good. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If it keeps you going and it doesn’t hurt anyone, do it.

Give advice. Seek advice.

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Help others with similar goals by giving them advice. Tell them about your experiences, successes, failures, and insights. The reason for this is twofold. First, you get to help someone else. Congratulations, you’re a decent human being. Second, you will realize how far you’ve come in your journey. It may feel like you’re stagnant but you’re not! You’re making progress. You’re closer to your goal than you were before! With that being said, don’t forget to seek advice. Often. There is always more to learn and ways to get better. You never know what kind of secrets to success other people have until you ask.

How do you stay motivated? Let us know in the comments!

Bonus: Free printable motivational quote photos!

How to Be Successful, No Matter What Your Goal

I have always had two mottos in life.

It’s easier to beg forgiveness than to seek permission. 

I didn’t know this was an actual proverb until I was well out of high school but as a child, I always went with the idea that if you didn’t ask, you couldn’t be told no. As you can probably already tell, I was a bit of a troublemaker. My days of shenanigans are over but this still holds true for me. Sometimes, you have to just do something and deal with the consequences later. Obviously, I’m not advising you to do anything illegal (although, hey, you do you, man.) but this is going to be important later. When something is important enough to you, you have to stop worrying about what might happen or who might not like it and do the damn thing anyway. 

If you want something badly enough, you will find a way to make it happen.

This could not be truer. It is the advice that I give everyone who ever wants to give up. I firmly believe that if you really want it, you will find a way to get it; and if you don’t find a way or if you give up, then you didn’t want it as much as you thought you did. It is often said that the journey is more important than the destination. That is a load of crap. (Okay, not complete crap but follow me here.) Do not become defeated when your journey is not the same as someone else’s. Far too often, people focus entirely on their journey and lose sight of their goal. If you’re not getting to your goal the way that you want, then change your path. There is always more than one solution, you just have to be willing to find them AND utilize them. If you make excuses about why they can’t work or why you can’t try it or that you can only get to your goal this specific way, then you don’t really want your goal. …And that’s okay. It’s better to let go of the things that aren’t as important to you so that you can really work for the things that are.


Now that I’ve given you the mantras, let’s talk about practicing ‘successful habits.’

  • First things first, the three P’s. Positive attitude, problem solving, and persistence.

Positive Attitude: So you’ve decided your goal is worth it and now it your in it for the long haul. Awesome! You’re going to fail. Wait! Don’t go! Just hear me out. You’re doing something new, how could possibly do it perfectly the first time through? The odds of that are slim but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. You will fail, repeatedly, and you will feel like you just can’t even anymore. When that happens, look back to the final goal to remind yourself why you’re doing this. Now, put your positive attitude pants on because that will make this next part a lot less painful, enjoyable even.

Side note: Your current goal may be something that you’ve previously succeeded at, but that doesn’t mean that it will be exactly the same this time. Everything changes with time, even the path to your goals. You may have different obstacles, abilities, resources, etc. Don’t get flustered or discouraged if the path to this goal isn’t the same as it was last time! 
Double side note: Not so great at forcing a positive attitude? Neither was my fiancé until I found this TED Talk.
Check it out for some tips: Your body language shapes who you are.

Problem Solving: We’re going to use our creative thinking skills to build on our failure(s). It’s time to start coming up with solutions and alternative routes. First, determine what’s gone wrong so far. What is the obstacle? Second, do some research on your goal and on the ways to get there. (Hint: Look for loopholes or off-the-beaten-path solutions.) Researching doesn’t necessarily mean googling your goal, although that’s a good, broad place to start. From that broad information, try to find narrow, focused pages about your goal so that you can really understand the ins and outs. Try talking to other people (in person, on reddit, chat forums, blogs, etc.) who have either reached your goal, made greater strides in progress than you thus far, or are the kinds of people who make goals happen (ie. college admissions counselors, human resources at the kind of company you want to work for, whoever has experience working with goal.) Third, after you have gathered what you deem to be sufficient information, start putting your brain to work! This is a puzzle and you have to figure out how to get from where you are to your goal, using this information. Take notes, draw mind maps, brainstorm ideas with the people around you, research more, write up a plan, and alter it as needed.

Persistence: Everything you just read? KEEP DOING IT. Every time you run in to an obstacle or feel defeated, start again from the beginning. DO NOT STOP. You really, really want this, remember?? There is no reason why you can’t make it happen! You are strong, smart, and determined. You totally got this.

  • Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Fake it ’til you make it.

Alright, so maybe you’re not looking for a promotion but this still applies! Typically when people make serious goals like the ones we have, half the battle is believing in yourself. If you don’t believe you belong or that you’re capable, why on earth would anyone else?! Just like the TED Talk discusses, your actions can change your behavior. Start forcing daily habit changes in order to fit into the culture of your goal. Want to work in a high-powered corporate office? Dress like it. Want to be a teacher? Dress like it. Want to be a clown? DRESS LIKE IT. Seriously, it sounds so silly but the way you dress partially determines how you feel. (Think about when you’re going out for the night. Would you feel as gorgeous/handsome and totally pumped for the night if you went out in pjs? I think not.) Dressing for your goal (or just generally trying to fit the culture of your goal) is a lot harder than it sounds. Most people feel so out of place at first. It seems as if everyone knows you’ve only worn a suit twice before and they’re all staring. It’s all in your head. Own it. Fake it ’til you make it. If you project an image, that is what people will see. They will begin to treat you as if you actually fit that image, which, in turn, makes you feel as if you do. You just have to force it at first. I promise, it will be worth it.

  • The 15-minute rule.

My mom taught me this when I was a kid because I hated chores. Like, kicking, screaming, full-on sobbing, hated chores. (Seriously, I was a nuisance of a child. That woman is a saint.) The rule goes like this: You know you have things to do but OH. MY. GOD. it is just so daunting and you don’t want to do it. It’s going to take you hours, days, YEARS. Okay, probably not but damn, it sure does feel that way when I have to do the dishes. Forget completing the task, because we know that is not going to happen. Let’s just chip away at it. Go start whatever it is you should be doing. Once you’ve gotten started, feel free to look up at the clock as often as you want but DO NOT SET A TIMER. If, after 15 minutes, you are just soooo over it. Stop and do another 15 minutes the next day. Here’s the great part though, most tasks aren’t as awful as they seem, it’s just getting started that sucks. I’d say at least 70% of the time, I end up either working way longer than 15 minutes or entirely completing the task. Try it out and let me know in the comments how it works for you!

  • Lists are life.

This one is beyond easy but even easier to skip completely. Lots of people say to get a notebook and use it religiously but you do you. Most of the time, I make my lists on scrap/computer/loose leaf paper. It’s hella easy to keep with you when it’s only one piece of paper and you can toss it when you’re done. I make lists for everything. Mostly because I have ADHD and cannot remember anything. It’s also a fantastic feeling to cross something off a list and actually visualize how productive you’ve been. Easy peasy self-esteem boost. *high five*

  • Use a planner and/or calendar.

I know, I know. Everyone is so tired of planners. Why should I do more work, just to get my work done? THAT’S WHAT YOU THINK. 1) Using a planner means that I don’t have to keep my life/schedule/routine/assignments/etc. stored in my head, which is great because that is entirely too overwhelming. 2) If you use a phone/computer calendar, you can access it anywhere. You can even print it out if you want a physical copy. Personally, I do better with a physical planner. I think it’s the designer in me. I like to make it look pretty and carry it everywhere so that I actually want to use it. Keep in mind, everyone plans differently. For the longest time, I couldn’t use pen in my planner because if I didn’t do whatever it was or the date was moved, it gave me anxiety. Who knows why. That was years ago. I’ve since created systems for myself, most of which are still evolving. Grab a cheap planner and start experimenting. Let me know in the comments if you would be interested in a post all about my planner habits and details. I could seriously talk about it for way too long and I wouldn’t mind showing off my daily design skills.

Can you think of any great success habits that I’ve left out? Let me know in the comments!

 

Welcome to My Studio — This Is Your New Home.

Hi there!

Conquer Your MountainMy name is Abigail and I own Amaureen Studios. My goal is to create beauty in the world while problem-solving and inspiring those whose paths I cross. I’m calling this the studio because this is where I’ll be sharing my creativity and insights throughout my journey in design, small business, and the field of marketing. I’m going to build a community with you guys where we can brainstorm, learn, inspire, and connect together. Go ahead and take your shoes off because this isn’t going to be formal. Imagine this blog as that house you spent all of your time at in college. You know what I’m talking about; it pretty much had a revolving door. It was THE hangout spot for all of your friends and everyone was always welcome. People were always there and something was always going on. Friends, adventures, inspiration, downtime, experiences, advice, excitement, support, successes, failures, and loads of cheap beer. We’re adults now, so we’re moving on to craft beer and red wine but the rest still holds true. I want you to help me make this blog our home away from home.

Okay, now that I’ve gone full sentimental-nostalgia on you, are you still in?

No?! You don’t want to follow some crazy woman’s blog?? UGH. FINE. (Kidding, obviously. I was never much of a blog follower before this either. I totally understand.)
Not sure yet? That’s cool, I hear you. You just met me, why should you commit to an awesome circle of friendship when you don’t even know me.
Yes?! SWEET. LET’S MAKE THIS OFFICIAL! Sign up for my newsletter. You’ll receive the password for The Library when you do, which is loaded with free resources.

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We can order some Chinese food, turn on one of those awesome Spotify playlists, and start having fun! I mean, working. Seriously, though… shouldn’t your work be fun? I think so.


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WHAT DO YOU DO AT AMAUREEN STUDIOS?

I help small businesses and soloprenuers develop their brand and content while empowering them with the tools and knowledge necessary to effectively market their services and products in this big world.


WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THIS BLOG?

I firmly believe that education and information are civil rights so I blog about my knowledge and experiences in regards to design, small business, and the field of marketing. The intent of this blog is to serve as a communication medium for people who have similar goals, people who admire beautiful things, and people who want to follow along with my personal journey. I hope to create a community of support and advice, not only for myself but for my followers, as well!


WHY DID YOU START THIS BLOG?

Good question. The only blog experience I have is from using MySpace and Tumblr in high school, almost ten years ago. So why am I doing this?? Blogging is such a time investment and not a simple feat!

I’ve been prompted by a project for a Social Media Marketing class that I’m taking this semester. I’m a senior at Radford University pursuing a Bachelors of Business Administration degree in Marketing. This project is known as The Passion Project.

The Passion Project is designed to give every student hands‐on experience in using a source of rich content and three or more social media platforms to create a social media campaign for a passion.

What kind of passion? A “passion” can be anything that you care about enough to wage a social media campaign on its behalf. A passion can be a political or social cause, a hobby, a nascent business idea, a band or music that matters to you, art, or any niche interest.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE AMAUREEN STUDIOS AS YOUR “PASSION”?

Last year I decided to start selling craft items on Etsy. I didn’t do this to make money but to make the hobby more fulfilling. Shortly after I began, I decided to change my major to Marketing because I realized how much I enjoyed that aspect of selling. When I started this blog, it was about the business side of the Etsy shop but it quickly evolved into what it is today. I just couldn’t stay away from marketing. With my background in education and marketing, I have created an entire business dedicated to helping others find their own way in the big, crazy world of marketing and social media.