Scenes From Our Weekend | vol 11

c/o Toki Lee Photography

A little late in getting this out on Monday, but you know…#momlife.

There are a few times when it’s necessary to invest in something that you probably wouldn’t otherwise. And one of those times are your family photos.

This past year I was able to finally wear the husband down in terms of getting a professional photographer for family photos to be used for our Christmas cards back in November. I took to none other than Yelp to try and find a local photographer and Toki Lee immediately popped up. She had amongst the highest reviews, positive comments, and looking through her portfolio she was able to capture the best photos for her clients. I knew in that moment I’ve found the one.

I would love to consider her our official family photographer as she’s quickly become my go-to for any future photos. I love how she makes us comfortable, gives us direction, but also allows us to act natural and candid as a family. Not to mention, I admire her personal story as a breast cancer survivor and the meaning she finds in what she does as a photographer.

So, when Greyson turned one we were so excited to have our follow-up beach photo session booked and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. That morning the sun was out, not too many people were on the beach, and the waves weren’t terribly large. We decided that San Buenaventura State Beach, which is just a mile or so from our home at Ventura Beach, would be the perfect location for our shoot.

Here are just a few of the amazing shots Toki captured of Greyson!

c/o Toki Lee Photography

c/o Toki Lee Photography

c/o Toki Lee Photography

c/o Toki Lee Photography

c/o Toki Lee Photography

I’m a firm believer that every family should have at least one good set of photos taken by a professional. It takes the pressure off of you, it’s super convenient, and in the process you get to know one more person – and you’ll have photos you’ll treasure for years to come.

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Scenes From Our Weekend | Family Photos | vol 2

Kelly Daniel | photo c/o Toki Lee Photography

Greyson’s First Family Photos

This year I was beyond excited to finally get a few professional photos taken of my little family for our annual Christmas card. This year in particular is especially one-of-a-kind because it happens to be Greyson’s first Christmas. I had waited almost my entire life for this very moment; a time in my life where I can begin establishing my very own holiday family traditions and family photos being one of them.

My husband and I hesitated only slightly because we knew that professional photos would be an investment. We considered that since I have a nice camera we could possibly swing taking our own photos by enlisting a friend to snap them for us. However, I quickly realized that something simple as family photos would be far from it considering my wriggly eight month old and pup who rarely sits still long enough for anything let alone a photo. After a bit of discussion I was able to convince my husband both of us of the meaningful investment we would be making by opting for professional photos.

Finding Our Photographer

Then the hunt began. Who would be a good fit for us and within our budget? Like always, I took to Yelp to help me narrow down local photographers and I immediately was drawn to Toki Lee Photography. Not only was she local and had five stars, I fell in love with her ability to capture the moment for each of her clients. I perused through her gallery and I knew deep down she was the one for our little family. Before long I reached out to see if she was able to pencil us in to her busy schedule (this is considering she is more than just a self-employed professional but she’s a mom too!) and within the day she responded and from there began building a beautiful friendship. She’s one of those souls who you first meet and feel an instant connection with; like someone you’ve known forever.

Cherished Memories

We were able to work around our busy schedules and last Sunday we met her at this beautiful location she found in Ventura County. We discussed possibly doing the shoot at the beach but fell in love with the woodland backdrop that Ventura provided near the mountains and hillside. It was so perfect considering our unofficial woodland theme for Greyson ever since we were pregnant with him. I just know these photos will look absolutely beautiful in his nursery when we move to our two-bedroom apartment early next year.

Here are a few pictures from our session with Toki!

Kelly Daniel | photo c/o Toki Lee Photography

Kelly Daniel | photo c/o Toki Lee Photography

Kelly Daniel | photo c/o Toki Lee Photography

Kelly Daniel | photo c/o Toki Lee Photography

Kelly Daniel | photo c/o Toki Lee Photography

Kelly Daniel c/o Toki Lee Photography

Greyson: Baby Gap 3-in-1 layer one-piece

Aren’t these so adorable?! I mean, I know I’m only slightly biased. We had such a great time being directed by Toki because she knew exactly what she was looking to achieve with us, but also captured natural interactions between us as a family. In the end it was so hard to choose only 15 as we loved so many of them! I’m just so excited to use these beautiful photos for our Christmas cards this year and cannot wait for them to arrive.

Upcoming GIVEAWAY

I am so pumped to be partnering with Minted this year to not only share with you our 2016 family Christmas cards, but to host a giveaway! Minted will be providing a $100 credit for not just one of my readers, but THREE. Be sure to check back at the end of the month for my Christmas card unveiling post and for more information on how to enter! All you need is to submit your name and email – no hassle and no hoops to jump through. Easy, right?!

Until then, be sure to visit Minted to see all of their lovely designs for this years holiday cards! I love that every year there’s something different to choose from that will be sure to set your cards out from the rest of your friends and family. Select your favorites today (click the little heart hovering the picture) so that when it’s time to use the credits you’ve won you’re ready to go!

Affiliate links are used within this post, but 100% of these opinions are my own. Any commissions made using my links go towards funding this blog so thank you all in advance for supporting me and Primarily Inspired!
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When You Have Nothing To Write About

When You Have Nothing To Write About | theprimarilyinspired.com |

Every so often the creative juices just don’t flow the way they used to and I find myself in a writing rut. I try to glean inspiration from all sorts of sources, but with no avail. I end up staring at the blinking cursor on my screen with nothing to write about. Although this happens to everyone, it dawned on me that even if you’re not actually writing a post there are all kinds of things you can do with your blog to keep it up to date, coordinated, and looking professional.

I began this blog in October 2014. That’s about 1 1/2 ago and even in my short time here I’ve learned so much. From what to include in every post, how to promote your posts via social media, and learning how to write more cohesively and authentically. In that time I’ve taken breaks, found blogging to be overwhelming, contemplated on whether or not I bit off more than I could chew, and even debated on just giving up.

“us bloggers must maintain our blogs just as much as we write for them.”

However, a lesson I only recently learned was that us bloggers must maintain our blogs just as much as we write for them. Writing content is only about 20% of what we do. Consider the work and man-hours that go into creating the graphics, embedding links, networking with brands, and promoting our content. Not to mention we do this all on top of our regular lives, which for some of us include: busy work schedules, home duties, schooling, and other responsibilities like, you know, kids or husbands.

So, whether to help get you through a creative rut or if you are looking for ways to spruce up your blog, here’s what you can do to optimize your SEO today and maintain your blog.

Re-share old blog posts.

Dig into the depths of your archives and bring some life back into those older posts. Obviously your writing may look a bit dated and you may surprise yourself, like me, at how horrendous your writing used to be. But consider that progress and how you’ve grown as a writer and blogger! Be sure to embed links within new posts that link to your archived ones that way your current readers can easily locate your earlier work.

Edit old blog posts & photos.

It was pretty hilarious to go through my archived posts and see just how poorly I understood how to write quality content and be authentic. Most of my pictures weren’t in good lighting, weren’t Pinterest friendly, and I don’t know if I even shared the posts on social media. Having learned a thing or two, I’ve since taken the time to go back and fix those early blogger mistakes. Make your blog more cohesive by going back in time and make your content worth finding and sharing to your current readers.

Also, be sure that each post you write has at least one Pinterest friendly photo or banner that will entice your readers to pin and save what you’ve written. Be sure that the photos you take are in good lighting and take some time to edit them. If you want to use stock photos, make sure they’re free or you give the proper credit before using them.

Here are some resources I use for photos:

Free stock photos I love using: Unsplash, Stocka.co, and Kaboompics.
Edit and create blog graphics: Canva or PicMonkey
Editing photos: Lightroom

Get comfortable with SEO.

Did you know that SEO is extremely important for your blog to be successful and get out there for others to find? It’s a way to drive traffic to your posts and therefore your blog. So, if you’re looking to gain some new followers or meet new bloggers be sure that you’re driving traffic to your site. How to do that? For my fellow WP users the plugin Yoast SEO has been a game changer for me and points out what I should change or add for the best SEO optimization for each post!

Analytics is just a nifty way to keep an eye on your traffic and pinpoint what exactly is bringing readers to your blog and keeping them there. Google Analytics is a good place to start and used by practically every blogger out there. Luckily social media has caught on to this and offer analytics of their own based on traffic from or to your website. Sites like Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook offer you analytics for free and it’s a good idea to become familiar and keep and eye on what content is doing well and driving traffic.

Check in on your blog’s social media.

Please consider creating social media pages for your blog if you haven’t already. Most people during the workday don’t have time to sit and read your blog post from a computer. So, snapshots from Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook will help drive traffic to your blog for those readers on the go. I love following blogs on Facebook because their new posts pop right up in my newsfeed.

Social media allows you to share your posts in a more authentic way and drive traffic to and from those platforms. I find Instagram has been a great leader of people to my blog since it’s a visual social media platform so I’m sure to spend some quality time drafting each of my pictures.

Tip: Instagram/Twitter hashtags are a huge determining factor whether your photo/blog will be seen by a new audience. I keep a note in my phone of all the popular hashtags for each kind of post (baby, food, lifestyle, etc.) and simply copy and paste them when I’m ready to share.

Plan ahead.

Using some kind of blog planner has been only a recent change for me. Before I would just write up posts as the mood struck me and hit publish. I’ve since learned that there’s a lot of benefits to writing when you’re inspired, but holding off hitting the publish button right away. Using a planner helps you look at your month and see how you can spread out your content and reach the most people.

Are there weekly or monthly linkups you participate in? Monthly writing challenges? Add those first to your monthly planner. Is there a holiday coming up you’re writing for? Add that about a week or so prior to that holiday, etc. Then fill your calendar with the drafts you’ve already started working on. Planning ahead is such a simple step anyone can take in maintaining their blog and it keeps content fresh and new to your readers.

Schedule out your blog posts.

So, now that you have all these posts ready to go how do you manage to get them out there? Schedule your posts and not just with your blog host. I use Hootsuite and absolutely love it! It’s free to sign up and it links your social media accounts so that you write up your posts all in one convenient spot. Then, you’ll schedule them out based on when they go live on your blog and no more worries about forgetting to promote those posts before you run out the door.

Edit your blog’s About page.

The ‘about’ section of your blog tells your readers who you are and why you blog. With a gazillion blogs out there you want to stand out and connect with your readers. Be witty, share photos, or talk about what inspires you. Your ‘about’ page is so important and you’ll notice it’s one of the most visited pages on your blog (I know that because of my analytics). What should you include in your about page? It just takes a simple Pinterest search to find a number of blogs who share tips for just that.

Be involved in the blogging community.

I couldn’t stress this enough. When I’m not writing for my own blog, I always make sure to check in and touch base with the bloggers I follow and love reading what they’ve been up to. Blogging can be a business for some by promoting products, but I’ve found so much joy just by reading and sharing in the events that make up the lives of those I follow and vice versa. Respond to comments, post comments on other blogs, start a discussion on your blog’s Facebook page, and just get out there.

Join a blogging network or community like The Peony Project or group Pinterest boards. Blogging is so much more meaningful when you’re actually connecting on a personal level with not only your readers, but fellow bloggers.

Every so often the creative juices just don’t flow the way they used to and I find myself in a writing rut. I try to glean inspiration from all sorts of sources, but with no avail, I end up staring at the blinking cursor on my screen with nothing to write about. Although this happens to everyone, it dawned on me that even if you’re not actually writing a post, there are all kinds of things you can do with your blog to keep it up to date, coordinated, and looking professional. So, whether to help get you through a creative rut or if you are looking for ways to spruce up your blog, here’s what you can do with your little corner of the internet when you have nothing to write about. |theprimarilyinspired.com|

These are just a few of the things that have helped me over the last year really get in tune with my blog and see just how I can make it better. Because as much as I love writing for me, I love writing to have others read, respond, and connect even more. Beginning with just a few of these steps will help you create a blog that has purpose, has cohesive and relatable content, and reaches a bigger audience. I hope you find these little tips to be helpful!

If you could offer a new blogger any advice on how to maintain a blog what would it be? Have you learned something new about blogging lately that has helped you transform your blog? 

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