7.29.2014

Tips for Beginning Bloggers

tips for beginning bloggers, blogging, tips, advice, community
Hey guys! Today I wanted to talk about something that has been on my mind a bit: blogging advice. There is so much of it out there and I know everyone has different things that work best for them when it comes to blogging. I don't consider myself an expert by any means, but I have been at this whole blogging thing for two years now, Foreign Room being one-and-a-half of those two years.

I never really thought I would be one to give others advice, but WOW, I have come a long way (Pssst! And am SO close to 200 followers on Bloglovin'!)! People (outside of my family) actually read my blog! And comment! And care about what's going on in my life! And care if I post here or not! When you start the journey of blogging, it can be a lonely thing, but is so worth it when people start to take notice of what you do and decide to stick around.

To be at a point where I am actually feeling pretty confident in all this is amazing. It takes a lot of work to get here, but I am so happy with where I am and want to share a little of that love with those of you who are just starting out in all this.

Here are some things that I have learned from others along the way, figured out myself, and maybe wish people told me when I was just starting out. Of course, these are tips for bloggers who are looking to build a strong community around their blog and maybe even earn a bit of a living doing so. For those of you who blog solely for your own pleasure, keep on keepin' on!

So, here goes...

+ Be genuine and be yourself.
If you only take away one thing from this post, I hope it is this: If you are not genuine, people will notice, and if you are not yourself, what is the point? Be yourself, be sincere, and people will notice. And guess what? They will come back. The internet is a big place full of people who will like you just the way you are. Of course, not everyone will like you, but there will always be people who do, so be yourself for them and to heck with the rest.

+ Connect with others.
This is what blogging is all about! Follow others on social media, reply to Tweets, comment on other blogs, don't be afraid to e-mail people to ask questions or simply say 'hi'. These are all great things you should be doing if you want to get to know others and build blogging friendships! And, hey, these are the people who will become regular readers of your blog, which is awesome.

+ Invest in a clean, streamlined design.
I'm gonna be really honest here: I cannot stand blog designs that are sloppy and look like a beginner put them together. Design and coding is not everyone's strong suit, I get that, but there are plenty of great (inexpensive) blog designers out there and even fairly cheap pre-made templates to choose from. If you are hesitant to invest the money into your blog, don't be! You are investing in yourself and your success, which is priceless.

+ Focus on community, not numbers.
I cannot tell you how long I agonized and obsessed over the stats page of my Blogger dashboard. It was unhealthy and I knew that it wasn't helping me be a better blogger, so I just stopped looking. I focused on writing, being sincere, and creating content I was proud of. People took notice and comments started coming, friendships formed, and new opportunities were presented to me. A community was forming, forming without me even keeping track of page views and visits (all that stuff is so confusing to me anyway). To me, the "success"of posts is now measured in comments. I am still giddy with excitement whenever I get a new comment on a post because it is an opportunity to build friendships and expand this community!

+ Proofread, proofread, proofread.
We all make mistakes here and there, but some writers continuously make errors that become down right annoying or distracting. It is truly one of my pet peeves! Please take the time to proofread and edit your writing so that you can share your very best! It really will only make you better in the long run.

+ Set goals.
Setting goals in all areas of life is the best way to ensure that you are moving forward with what you want. Blogging is something that I feel especially needs goals! Whether you make weekly, monthly, or yearly goals (or all of the above!), it is a great way to motivate yourself to keep growing and learning. Plus, it always feels great to know that you have accomplished something you want!

+ Reply to comments (& return the love back!)
Remember all that talk about building a community? This is how you do it. Reply to comments that others sweetly take the time to leave on your posts, show them that they are heard and cared for. Then, do your best to visit the blogs of those who have reached out to you, especially if you notice particular people continuously commenting. Boom. A friendship is now made, a friendship that holds endless possibilities! Also, honestly, if you are a smaller blog and people leave comments, but you never reply to any of them, it makes you look bad/snobbish/insincere. We don't want any of that!

+ Utilize a monthly editorial calendar.
This is something that has overall dramatically improved my blogging! I use a small, paperback monthly calendar that I got from Sugar Paper's line for Target at the beginning of the year, and simply put, I love it. It helps me to plan ahead, set monthly blogging goals, make notes, keep track of post ideas, and record social media stats from each month so that I can clearly see my growth. I highly recommend doing something similar for yourself to make things easier and also help keep yourself on track for meeting your goals!

+ Do your best not to compare yourself to other bloggers.
I'm not gonna lie, this can be tough to do, especially when you are just starting out. Blogging is hard and it is even harder to look all around Blogland and see others who already seem so "successful" or "put together." It is difficult to have confidence when you see all that! But, if you are going to give this blogging thing your all, you have to focus only on yourself and do your best to encourage others!

+ Don't let blogging get in the way of living your real life.
Sometimes a day or two (or three) will go by and you have not put any blog posts together. That's okay. You are out living your real life, one that doesn't always need to be narrated online. Readers get it. If you aren't feeling inspired or don't have the time to write a post, don't worry. We would all much rather you come back when you have something you can say wholeheartedly instead of just a slopped together post for the sake of having a post. Go live your life, guilt free! This is, after all, just the internet.

And there you have it! I often still think of myself as a beginning blogger since I know that I have so much more to learn, but I think I have experienced enough to share a bit of what I have learned (mostly through trial & error). I hope that this was helpful to all of you in someway!

What do you think of this advice? Do you agree? What would you add?

Also, thank you to those of you who come back to my blog time and time again! It really means the world to me! :)


7.28.2014

Life // Catching Up

^^ 3 brothers looking peacefully at the sunset on our evening walk ^^
^^ Living that young, fun aunt life ^^
^^ S'mores in our patio chiminea! Made with PB cups instead of milk chocolate! ^^
^^ Doing touristy things like riding a cable car. Also, having 3/4 sisters together is quite rare for us! ^^
^^ Special aunt-nephew time with the eldest... And Marly too! ^^
^^ This boy's 1st birthday! Also, he is loving the sushi set we got him in Japan ^^
^^ And you know, this guy. Always. ^^

So it seems that things have been a little quiet here lately.... I finally realized that I could just tell y'all what's up with my life and why this month has been a bit slow. Because, like, isn't that what a blog is for?

Alright, so, we all know by now that this summer has been a tough one. My job plans haven't worked out like I had hoped, our house has in the process of being put up for sale, I pretty much just hung out at home for the entire month of June, I've been running out of money, I have no idea what I'm doing etc.

Well, in the past couple weeks it has become apparent that it is time to figure all this crap out. We cleaned/organized the house, put it up for sale, showed it for a few weeks, and now it is sold and officially in escrow. WOW. We have to be out by August 22nd, which means that I need to find a new place to live in the expensive land that is the Bay Area. Where am I going to live you ask? NO IDEA. I've been scouring Craigslist (where else do you find rooms for rent?) and wracking my brain to think of someone I know that has a (pet-friendly) room that can be my new oasis or is looking to rent a place with an awesome 20-year-old gal (you know, me). Oh, and I've also been figuring out how my dad and I are going to work together as a team to make this all financially happen. Not to mention that this will be my first time living on my own.

Additionally, I've also been trying to figure things out in the way of a job. I love being a nanny, and let's face it, the pay is outstanding. There is nothing else that I can do at my age that will pay me as much as nannying does. And, hello, set schedule! I always hated not knowing if I could make weekend plans when I worked in retail. It was awful. So, I've been working with a nanny agency for a little guidance and they have actually been wonderful, enough so that I think I may have (hopefully) scored a great position. I need to see how that all plays out, but I am hopeful that things are turning around in that area.

Oh, I should also mention that last week I started working as a hostess at a Japanese barbecue restaurant. I know, very different than nannying! I needed something to do for the time being since I have things like bills to pay, and I figured why not try something new. I was feeling quite lost the first day, but I'm starting to get into the swing of things. My training is over this week and I will start working on my own, which I am actually a little scared for. Being a hostess is actually kind of stressful! A lot of pressure since people don't like being told they have to wait to eat and there's a lot to juggle in the planning of tables. There's more to it than I would have thought! It is likely that I will quit once I get my fall schedule nailed down (that is if I have enough nannying hours to support myself), but for now it is bearable.

Last week my super awesome sister was visiting from San Diego with her husband and three boys. I had a great time hanging out with them and have been pretty busy ever since they left! Working at the restaurant, doing an interview and trial work with a nanny family, and looking for a new place to live has sucked up most of my free time, hence the quietness around here. I've also been told by several people that I need to start packing. They all think I am avoiding it, which maybe I am. It is just difficult to pack up all my stuff into boxes when I don't know what my next step is. It is a bit unsettling, really. Plus, I guess I just don't think it will take me that long, but they have all assured me otherwise... I promise to stop avoiding it soon though!

Right now I am currently sitting at Starbucks having one of my first coffee dates with myself in a while. I need to be working on a project that I need to present this week for my communication class (did I mention that I took an incomplete in that class because I went to Japan? The professor wouldn't pass me because I missed too many days, so now I am just making up a few hours of class and presenting my final project! Really actually a blessing to not have had to deal with it along with catching up with my other classes after getting back from Japan. Also, kind of funny that he is the only professor that had a problem with me being gone for two weeks, but I digress....). BUT, of course, I got a little distracted with all the other things I need to do to sort out my life (see above paragraphs) and thought that this would be the perfect time to update y'all on what's happening over here.

SO ANYWAY, now that I have typed out enough with my little fingers, I must go. Have no fear, though, I shall be back soon with things that I typically like to talk about. Speaking of that, is there anything you would like to see around here? Something I'm somehow an expert about that you'd like me to post about? In need of a little inspiration! And maybe someone else to spruce up my design. I love doing it myself, but you know, a fresh set of eyes is always, well, refreshing.

Have a lovely week, my friends! <3


7.23.2014

Outfit // Minty Vixen

voodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dress
It has sadly been a few weeks since my last outfit post, but I have been saving up to share this very special one with you all! Voodoo Vixen, an online boutique catering to the modern, retro-chic vixen, sent me this floral beauty of a dress. I was so excited when they contacted me to pick out anything from their store that I would like and I knew as soon as I stumbled upon this dress that it had to be mine!voodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dressvoodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dress
The colors are fabulous and the print is unlike anything I have. I was definitely lacking a good floral in my wardrobe! Mint has been one of my favorite colors for a while, and I always welcome a little bit of pink sneaking its way in since I don't tend to choose it on my own.voodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dress
I was very happy that the dress landed at my doorstep within a week of ordering it, since I really couldn't wait to have it in my hot little hands! It is always a gamble to order things online, but this dress really fits me like a glove. It has a hidden side zipper that I didn't notice the first time I put it on, but I was able to easily slip it on without it. The quality is impeccable and it feels like this dress was tailored just for me! The fabric is just heavy enough and feels wonderful to the touch. This dress is just a bit tight in the bust to be buttoned without the fabric buckling, so I opted to wear it with a white tank underneath instead of buttoning it all the way and love it all the same!voodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dress
And it has just the right amount of *swish* to it too! Very important in a dress, of course.voodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dressvoodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dress
voodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dressvoodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dressvoodoo vixen, retro, mint, floral, vintage, vixen, dress, 50s, swing dress
Simply put, I feel quite beautiful and feminine in this dress! I really feel like I can do anything in it and honestly feel 100% confident in myself when I wear it. I absolutely adore the 50s shape and the little bit of edge that the retro-vintage quality gives it. Just my kind of sexy!

Though this was my first experience with Voodoo Vixen, I can already tell that I will be a long-time customer to this brand if all my future pieces are anything like this one! Claps all around for this dream dress!

Dress - c/o Voodoo Vixen
Wedges - Kohl's
Belt - Macy's
Necklace - Forever21
Ring - Lucky Brand


7.21.2014

A Happy List // 4

+ How late the sun stays out these days.
+ That my sister and her little brood are visiting this week!
+ All things Project Runway.
+ Weekend naps.
+ My baby nephew's 1st birthday!
+ Coffee dates.
+ Pretty new dresses.
+ Evening cuddles with Marly.
+ My new Japanese-English learning books.
+ The aunt adventures I'll be having this week!

What's on your happy list lately?


7.18.2014

Life's a Beach

beach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sand
Hello and happy Friday! I am particularly happy about this weekend being here since we have big plans! My sister and her brood are visiting, we will be going to my nephew's 1st birthday party, there's a ramen festival happening in SF, and there's also a craft fair that we are hoping to go to! Busy, busy, but fun :)beach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sandbeach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sandbeach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sand
When Dai and I were away on our trip to LA last weekend, we decided to stop off in Santa Barbara for a night and slowly make our way home from there. We had a great time wandering around downtown, grabbing smoothies, and then heading to the beach to take in the sunset. It was a really beautiful ending to our evening! I wish that we had our bathing suits on because I would have loved to go for a swim since the water was actually quite nice. Next time hopefully!beach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sandbeach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sandbeach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sandbeach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sand
I loved playing around with silhouette photos of Dai. The colors of the ocean and sky are just so pretty... And Dai looks pretty handsome too ;)beach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sandbeach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sandbeach, sunset, santa barbara, summer, ocean, sand
I love doing simple, relaxing things like this that allow me to enjoy the quiet and beautiful moments life has to offer. I really just feel so alive at times like this.

I know that things have been a little slow here on the blog this week, but I plan to be back in full-speed next week! I hope you all have a lovely weekend :)


7.17.2014

The Truth Is

The truth is that I had a different post planned for today, but I don't think it's right just to ignore how I am really feeling.
The truth is that I mess up. A lot.
The truth is that I am not good about returning e-mails or texts to people.
The truth is that I am often irresponsible.
The truth is that I am don't always know when to stop or do what I am told.
The truth is that I can be lazy.
The truth is that I have a bit of a temper.
The truth is that I am impatient.
The truth is that I am not always considerate of others.
The truth is that I say sorry, but somehow end up doing the same thing again.
The truth is that I don't have many close friends in real life.
The truth is that I don't always do what I say I will.
The truth is that I don't listen.
The truth is that I can be selfish.
The truth is that I am having a hard time growing up.
The truth is that blogs only show a fraction of real life.
The truth is that there is much more to me. Many more faults.

The truth is that I have hurt someone I love so deeply. And continue to do so because I don't learn.
The truth is that I don't want to be without you.
The truth is that I am afraid you won't come back.
The truth is that it tears me up to think that I could drive you away with my irresponsibility.
The truth is that I don't want to hurt you ever again.
The truth is that I will do whatever it takes to show you that.
The truth is that you are my very best friend.
The truth is that I love you.

The truth is that I am so truly sorry, in the most sincerest way.

xoxo bebé


7.16.2014

LA Weekend Adventure

road trip, adventure, LA, vacationroad trip, adventure, LA, vacationroad trip, adventure, LA, vacation
Hi! Did y'all miss me? I ended up taking a little unplanned summer blog vacation, which I was actually alright with. During my little break, Dai and I went to LA for the weekend for some family functions and to adventure, of course. I'll be posting more about our trip over the next few days, but for now I thought I would check-in to say hello, let you know I'm still alive, and share a little bit of what we were up to while we were gone!

The Highlights:
+ My super, super cute baby cousin, Arianna. Probably one of the best parts of this weekend!
+ Evening at Concern Foundation block-party fundraiser for cancer research (at Paramout studios!).
+ Adding a stay in Santa Barbara (where Dai went to college, actually) to our trip.
+ Eating at Lemonade in Venice with a friend & exploring the area afterward.
+ A stop in Solvang on our way home to wander around the Dutch-inspired city.

And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed a little peek at our weekend and I am excited to post more about it :)

Also, definitely follow me on Instagram to keep up with my adventures on a daily basis ;)