Friday, July 17, 2015

A Little Birdie Told Me...Vol. 4 - Creative & Blogging Inspiration

It's been WAY too long since I've written A Little Birdie Told Me post. There are so many wonderful bloggers and websites that I frequent on a regular basis, and I think it's important to spread the love and support other people who help and inspire you along the way. This time around I'm featuring seven of my absolute favorite sources of creative inspiration and blogging know-how. One of the things I've come to appreciate in the past two years is that growing a successful beauty blog involves so much more than just being knowledgable about skincare and having some makeup application techniques up my sleeve. Creating a space for your content that genuinely reflects who you are and what you have to offer, then building an audience of dedicated, engaged readers to actually visit it takes a lot of time, energy, and know-how. So much of what I've learned in these past two years can be credited back to these awesome blogs, and I could not thank them enough for being such a valuable resource to me. For all of my non-blogger readers, don't worry, there's plenty in here for you too! Many of these sites are chock full of craft projects, DIY ideas, beauty and fashion tips and more.

If your life could use a little bit of quirky cheer infused into it, Sugar & Cloth is the place you need to head. Between Ashley Rose's cheeky, down-to-earth writing style and her gorgeously colorful pictures, you'd be hard pressed not to become an instant fan. What I especially love about Sugar & Cloth, though, is that all of her projects, recipes, and decor tips have a funky, almost whimsical sort of quality that make them extra fun to read about (take this Unicorn Cake as a perfect example). Also, what this girl does with macarons is basically unreal. Seriously, though. I never thought I needed food markers in my life until I saw this tutorial for DIY Floral Macarons. I have no idea whether or not my artistic talents are on par with hers, but my mutual love for Rifle Paper Co. has me itching to at least try and see what happens!

You should also check out:
Branded Packaging on a Budget - If you're starting out a creative business or Etsy shop, this is such a neat idea.
Cotton Candy Ice Cream Shots - Mixing the best of being a kid with the best of being an adult.
DIY Pattern Throw Pillows - These cheery hand painted pillow cases look super fun.

Dana really did a perfect job of picking out her blog name, because I often feel like I'm wandering through a forest of creative genius every time I peruse her site. There's a little bit of something for everyone - DIY projects, beauty tips & tricks, fashion, tech-y stuff, general life advice, and tons and tons of articles geared towards betterting your blog. If you're a new blogger, or even someone established and want some thoughts on how to improve what you're doing or build your audience further, you can find the best of the best posts condensed down into these two articles: Must Read Tips & Advice for Bloggers Part 1 & Part 2. Dana also offers a ton of other blogging and design resources on her other sites, I Can Build a Blog (for general blogging help and how-tos) and Envye (for downloadable content and digital art). Basically she's building a little creative empire, which I think is incredibly inspiring and awesome.

Not a blogger? Check out these other fun posts:
Paint With Me Watercolor Basics - you never knew it was so easy to create your own watercolor doodles!
How to Transfer Artwork or Lettering to Photoshop - take your paper art and utilize it in the digital world.
How to Start an Instagram Sale - take cleaning out your closet to a new level by selling your goods through Instagram.

Whether you're a blogger or other type of creative entrepreneur, Elle & Co. is an indispensable resource for growing your business. Founded by Lauren Hooker, who got her start doing freelance design work, you'll find an incredible wealth of knowledge about improving both the aesthetic qualities of the brand you're creating and your business savvy. When it comes to the nitty gritty stuff like understanding how to utilize the data in my Google Analytics account, or why the times of day I post to social media matter, this is the place I head to. Not only is all of her content incredibly useful, but I absolutely love the clean, bright visuals of her site and her gorgeous photography.

Here are few great articles to get you started:
Getting Started With Google Analytics - Understanding who is reading your blog, when they read, and what content they gravitate towards makes a big difference in your business strategy!
How to Create SEO Rich Content - Improve your SEO and improve your ranking in search results. Your post is awesome and people should be able to find it!
How to Brand Your Pinterest Boards - A designer's interpretation of utilizing Pinterest to support your business.

When it comes to starting a creative business, things can sometimes become overwhelming or disheartening. Maybe you poured your heart out into a post that no one is reading yet. Or you haven't had the success you wanted reaching out to brands to work with. Either way, if you're feeling a little blah about your blog, The Nectar Collective will give you that serious boost of confidence to keep on pursuing your dreams. Everyone over there will be your personal cheerleaders and genuinely help you believe that you can totally be a creative rockstar. In addition to a wealth of business and design advice, you'll also find some really helpful life advice (like Why Comparison is Damaging Your Creative Potential or 6 Things to During Downtime to Help You Fully Recharge).

Bust out of that funk by starting out with these great posts:
9 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic By Updating Old Blog Posts - That post you wrote a year ago was awesome, and your new readers might love to see it!
How to Work with Brands as a Blogger - For beauty bloggers brand partnerships is SO key.
How to Move Past a Creative Block - The struggle is real, and these tips are great.

I've always been a do-it-yourselfer type, and when it comes to blogging that has meant teaching myself a whole lot about design and coding to get my site looking and working the way that I want. I am always saving and bookmarking posts from Nose Graze because they have been incredibly helpful for each transformation my blog has gone through both aesthetically and functionally. Wordpress users in particular will find a TON of helpful advice, tutorials, and plug-ins here to make your blog look amazing. Ashley also weaves in lots of interesting book reviews in between her informative posts, so fellow non-blogging bookworms may enjoy following her just for that!

Want to take beautifying your blog into your own hands? Check these posts out:
Where to Find Images For Web Design - This post totally changed my life! I am now a total Hungry JPEG addict and am so excited to create my own digital art.
How to Design Your Own Logo - Your logo is the face of your digital brand, and with this guide you can totally design something you love all by yourself!
How to Use and Compress Images to Improve SEO and User Experience - A little less creative but SO IMPORTANT. If you're taking high quality pics or creating digital art, definitely read this post.

Taking beautiful pictures for your blog can really make a huge difference in the overall look and feel of the site you're creating. Chaitra has got some serious photography know how, but writes post that are totally accessible for the average person. She also has some really handy tutorials on creating your own custom artwork that I have totally been taking advantage of. Since Pinkpot also dabbles in the beauty world, I find that her posts are especially handy for the type of content that I'm creating. Plus, I always love reading a good beauty review or tutorial!

Before you get behind the lens, check out these posts:
The Best Photography Equipment for Blogging - Proof that you don't need a DSLR to take amazing pictures.
How to Fix Underexposed Photos in Photoshop - Cause even the best photographers need to process their pictures sometimes.
How to Install & Use Photoshop Brushes to Create Digital Art - I totally used what I learned from this post to create the watercolor effect in the title image for this post!

A Beautiful Mess

If you're someone who can spend hours pinning cool DIY projects and home decor ideas on Pinterest, this site is going to totally rock your world. A Beautiful Mess is basically a creative Mecca, with everything from recipes, to craft projects, to style tips and more. I feel like this the perfect weekend morning website to read while you drink your cup of coffee. Starting your day off with a serious dose of creative inspiration and fun ideas is totally energizing (or at least it is to me)!

10 Statement Wall Ideas - HOW COOL ARE THESE WALLS?! But really though. That moon is legit.
Pineapple Coconut Daiquri in a Pineapple Cup - This looks amazing and after the day I had I could think of nothing better!
Tulle Circle Skirt DIY - I think my inner ballerina totally wants to rock this skirt.

So get to clicking and watch those creative juices flow! I think you all are going to totally love these sites as much as I do, and may find yourself having some game changing moments as well. Also, how amazingly talented are all of the girls who started these sites?! Seeing other self-starters and self-teachers reach a certain level of success is incredibly inspiring. It definitely gives me hope that someday I might be able to run my own creative business and leave my 9-5 behind (and oh, what a glorious day that would be)!

What are your favorite websites for creative inspiration?