Category Archives: Blogging

Cheers To 9 Years!

Nubby Twiglet | Cheers To 9 Years!

Nine years ago this month, I pushed my first blog post live in this space. NINE YEARS! How is that even possible?!

I remember that time well: I was 25 years old and had just started a graphic design program at my local community college a few semesters earlier. Blogging was still pretty new but I was hooked from the beginning — it was a way to instantaneously share ideas, stories and photos with a worldwide audience and I figured that I needed a place to share my design work (ahem, school projects) so why not?

I dove in headfirst, somehow managing to post almost daily between a full-time school schedule, work schedule and internship but it quickly paid off. Soon, readers were hiring me for design work. I had no idea that those early seedlings would allow me to grow my freelance business enough to launch Branch.

Most of the opportunities I now have can be traced directly back to blogging. Friendships, collaborations and business opportunities all came about through sharing in this space.

Since those early days, things have shifted dramatically. Blogging is no longer the only way to reach an audience — there are famous YouTubers, Instagram stars and social media personalities around every corner. Blogging doesn’t have the same juice it once did, just because it’s not the new, exciting kid on the block anymore.

I used to subscribe to hundreds of blogs and now, I read maybe 5. We have shorter attention spans. There are more ways to get information out there. I feel content overload all the time and I’m sure you do, too.

Over nearly a decade of blogging, a natural evolution happens, too. I’m no longer footloose and fancy-free. I own a home that is still being remodeled. I’m happily married to Joey. We have two wonderful pets, Rocky and Chubs. I have multiple businesses. And, I don’t know how it’s possible…but I’ll be 35 in less than a month!

With everything going on, I can’t blog as much as I used to. And truthfully, I also sometimes draw a blank on what to say. Because, after a few thousand posts, the ideas don’t flow as easily. Sometimes I’m so exhausted after a day of working on client projects, I feel like I have nothing left to give.

But, that’s not to say I don’t love it. The reason I still show up and share is because it’s a part of who I am. We all need hobbies and creative outlets to express ourselves and blogging is one of mine.

I love Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter but on their own, they’re not enough. Having a digital home of my own is good. Blogging still feels right.

Before this gets too long-winded, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for joining me, whether it’s your first time today or whether you’ve been here since the beginning. Thank you for taking the time to comment, share my posts and meet me for coffee over the years.

Even if I sometimes only have time to post once a week, having the chance to connect with you is always a highlight. After all, we’re in this creative journey together and more importantly, this thing called life.

Here’s to another year! -Shauna

The Biggest Blogcademy Birthday Sale EVER! 24 Hours Only!

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Today, my BFF Kat turns 32 and to celebrate, we’re offering the sweet deal of Blogcademy Online for just $200.00 for the next 24 hours! That’s nearly 60% off the usual price! This is the biggest discount deal we’ve EVER DONE on this course so if you’re interested in stepping up your blogging game, listen up!

For those of you who are new around here, The Blogcademy is a blogging and business workshop that I co-founded with Kat Williams and Gala Darling in 2012.

After teaching in-person classes for three years solid, in 2015 we decided to create an online version. The idea was that if anyone couldn’t travel to an in-person class, or just preferred to learn at their own pace, at home, then we could still help them. While we don’t have any plans for any more in-person classes at the moment, the online class is still going strong and we’d love for you to take part. You can read all about that topics that we cover on our website.

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The course usually costs $497 but if you buy TODAY ONLY with the discount code woohoothirtytwo then you’ll get it at less than half price!

With your purchase, you will receive:

• Over six hours of video lessons, broken down into bite-sized modules that are packed with actionable information that you can watch whenever and wherever you’d like!

• A 300 page transcript of the entire class. (Think of this as an enormous how-to-blog bible!)

• 24 pages of action-packed worksheets and activities, to help you implement everything you’ve learned.

• A huge list of resources which includes every single book, tool, website and professional we personally recommend. This is priceless! Every online resource we mention in class is hyperlinked in the back of the workbook — just click and go!

• Life-time access, baby! The course is yours to keep. You can login, watch, and re-watch the lessons as many times as you like!

• An absolutely insane amount of know-how and encouragement. With over 30 years of collective blogging experience, we really have done it all. As a blogcadette, you get the opportunity to learn from our mistakes… And our successes, too!

• Access to our private Facebook community. There are nearly 600 Blogcadettes in the group, and it’s growing every single day. The forum is full of helpful, supportive bloggers and entrepreneurs. It’s the ideal place to ask for advice and to be among people who ‘get it’!

We want you to get the very best out of your Blogcademy experience, so as a bonus, we’ve also added:

• A pre-course worksheet for you to fill in before you start the lessons. You’ll receive this immediately, and it will help you assess where your blog and business are now. Clocking in at 14 pages, this will allow you to get a firm fix on where you are, and where you can improve.

• An exclusive 22 page Blogging Business Plan! You can use this as a roadmap to chart exactly where you want to go, and how to get there!

• A pack of inspirational wallpapers: perfect for printing out and hanging by your desk, or for using as your computer or phone background.

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To get the discount, simply use the code woohoothirtytwo at the checkout.

Note that the discount code is valid until 8am GMT on April 8th and will make the course $200 instead of the usual $497. The code does not work if you opt to pay via installments. The discount is not retroactive against past purchases. If you have any questions before you book, feel free to send us a tweet!

Looking Back: My 25 Favorite Posts of 2015

Looking Back: My 25 Favorite Posts of 2015

As the year comes to an end, it’s always nice to take a look back. I know that personally, I get so caught up in the day-to-day of running this blog along with my businesses that I’ll forget about what I even wrote about the month before. It’s good to take stock of what you accomplished because what you did this year provides a solid base for an even better next.

When it came to putting together the list of posts, I didn’t compile them based on views or comments — instead, I scrolled through the entire last year of content, picking and choosing my favorite moments around the posts that I felt were the most helpful to you. Next, I added in a few personal stories with teachable moments and finally, rounded out the mix with a handful that I felt were the most aesthetically pleasing.

All in all, 2015 was a great year. Thanks for closing it out with me and taking this walk down memory lane. Your comments, emails and yes, even snail mail mean the world to me. Let’s continue sharing and growing together. Cheers! -Shauna

CREATIVE INSIGHTS

1. My Biggest Takeaways During A Decade Of Graphic Design

2. 5 Tips To Fight Fear In Your Freelance Career

3. Why I Chose Community College For My Design Education

4. 6 Must-Have Documents To Automate Your Creative Process

5. 15 Must-Have Items For Running A Design Studio

6. 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs A Media Kit

7. My Top 5 Portfolio Tips

8. Dealing With Negative Feedback

9. 15 Tips To Rock Your Stay At Designer Vaca

INTERIORS

10. My New Office Tour

11. My Black, White and Green After-Hours Hangout

FASHION + STYLE

12. The Cape Dress In Los Angeles

13. Venice Beach Goth

14. A Neon Day In Sydney

15. Black and White Layers in Portland

BLOGGING

16. Live Your Life First, Then Blog

17. Cheers To 8 Years Of Blogging

18. Blogging Completely Changed My Life

PERSONAL STORIES

19. Give Yourself Permission

20. My Wedding Anniversary Letterpress Invites

21. You Have To Dream Before Your Dreams Can Come True

22. Keep Your Goals Fun and Attainable

23. We All Have To Start Somewhere

24. Your Squirrel Questions Answered!

25. There Are No Shortcuts To Greatness

Live Your Life First, Then Blog

Nubby Twiglet | Live Your Life First, Then Blog

Inspiration doesn’t strike when you’re sitting at your desk, staring at your computer screen. It happens outside of your office, plain and simple.

It seems like such a basic premise but I lived on the other side for far too many years. Back in 2007 when I got serious about blogging, I didn’t see anything wrong with sitting down to write, even when my well of inspiration felt completely dry. While my drive always carried me through, more often than not, I forced a completely unrealistic blogging schedule on myself because I felt I had little choice.

Walking the tightrope between blogging, a retail job, an internship and a full-time school schedule at the time, the balance was precarious at best. The truth was, I just didn’t have time to go out and live my life, then sit down to blog. After I turned my assignments in and finished my job for the day, all I had time left for was blogging.

This summer, eight years after starting this blog, I finally got my perspective in check. With the beautiful weather setting in earlier than expected in Portland and new clients booking into Branch at a record rate, I blogged a lot less and created and lived a lot more.

At first, it was a little scary to give up my fine-tuned regimen. After all, I’m a creature of habit — I depend on routines to get through days of working for myself and when that goes out the window, I feel out of sorts.

That uneasiness eventually settled and after awhile, something unexpected happened. Blogging less didn’t feel weird — it felt great. I only shared content I felt awesome about. No filler, no apologies.

Over the summer months, travel took me from London to Marrakech to Rome to Florence to San Francisco to Orlando to New York to Los Angeles and finally, to Palm Springs in rapid succession. Many planned posts never happened because right as I was beginning to settle in and write, I was already back on another plane.

Between traveling and big opportunities, blogging consistently fell by the wayside but it was on my mind the whole time. It’s something that never really leaves me because it’s occupied nearly 15 years of my life (oh Live Journal, how I miss thee). I get to share new ideas, discoveries and connect with you. Honestly? That personal creative outlet is EVERYTHING.

At the same time, everything goes through ebbs and flows. Life happens, good and bad. New opportunities can take up a lot of our time that blogging once commandeered. That’s okay. Having a life outside of the internet is so, so important because that’s what fuels our souls.

Nubby Twiglet | Live Your Life First, Then Blog

The creative spark needed to create original, meaningful content doesn’t strike when you’re shackled to your computer. It strikes when you’re out exploring, meeting new people and observing the world around you from a fresh perspective. When you do that and push yourself outside of your comfort zone, that’s where the magic happens.

When you live your life to the fullest and then sit down to blog, the inspiration flows. Instead of wracking your brain trying to figure out what to write, you have a mental list of ten posts you can’t wait to start on. Instead of cobbling together images from Pinterest for your latest posts, you have a camera full of photos you took yourself. It feels so good.

Inspiration is lurking outside of your office, right this second. There are only so many hours in a day and there’s a whole lot of living to do. Explore the world, even if it’s the new coffee shop down the street. I just spent all week sitting in a hot tub under the stars in Palm Springs until the wee hours, chatting with creative souls. It was so much more inspiring than hitting refresh, hoping that inspiration would strike. Now, I’m feeling energized and ready to produce new content. The break was sorely needed.

You have permission to take a break. Live your life first. And, I can’t wait to see what you sit down to write when you finally have time to blog about it!


Photo: Taken in Marrakech by David McNeil.

Blog Log #17: Products, Services and Digital Offerings: Successfully Selling Yourself Without Traditional Advertising

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Nubby Twiglet | Products, Services and Digital Offerings: Successfully Selling Yourself Without Traditional Advertising

In the early days of blogging, the most obvious way to generate extra income was through banner advertising. And while there is still money to be made in this format (especially for the big-time bloggers with huge traffic), there are a lot more blogs now and therefore, the slices of the pie to go around are much smaller.

Today, I’m talking about a few alternatives to the more traditional forms of advertising. While I occasionally do some advertising and sponsorships on my blog (and have a media kit on hand for when I’m contacted about those opportunities), as a creative offering services since I launched my site in 2007, I’ve always viewed income generation slightly differently.

Since the day I started my blog (I just celebrated my seventh anniversary!) it’s been more of an indirect portfolio. While I was blogging, I was also in school full-time for design and the week after graduating, that transitioned into a full-time agency job. While I was very consistent with sharing fresh content five days a week, it wasn’t my full-time gig. During those very early days of blogging, I was also doing freelance work on the side for clients including Virgin Records and Forever 21 and my blog gave me a direct outlet to share these projects with my audience. Though project-focused posts were perhaps 10% of my overall content (variety is important — you don’t want to bore your audience!), it was enough to help me gain even more freelance clients. Building this client base through my blog eventually made it possible to quit all outside agency work.

If you’re looking for fantastic examples of folks who indirectly generate livings from their blogs by offering products and services, Joy Cho, Jess Lively, Alexandra Franzen, Garance Doré (I love her online shop!) and Breanna Rose do a great job of making it feel seamless.


On that note, these are three key ways you can generate income from your blog without traditional advertising:

1. Offer A Service

My blog was built on offering design services though I never pushed them very hard — I just naturally shared projects as they wrapped up and had a permanent link to my portfolio in my main navigation (note — if you do this, be very direct. Mine says,”Hire me” so people know that I’m available.) Even when I wasn’t posting about client work, I still used my blog as a vehicle to share my interests, aesthetics and personality. When I launched my design studio Branch last year and was no longer just supporting myself, all of our rates doubled overnight from my previous freelance ones. At that point, advertising felt a lot less lucrative since an average client at Branch books in at a few thousand dollars minimum and blog ads generate much, much less here on average. About half of Branch’s potential clients find us on Nubby Twiglet and click through from a project link, graphic in the sidebar or a pinned project image on Pinterest. I’ve also watched dozens of other bloggers launch services and cultivate a dedicated following of clients directly through their personal sites.

2. Create Digital Products

Digital products are the holy grail of blogging these days. After all, your dedicated readers tend to want more of what you have to offer and if you can provide them with useful content in a nicely packaged format, they will love it. We have a whole section dedicated digital products at The Blogcademy because it’s such a far-reaching subject but in a nutshell, digital products can range from PDF / Kindle / iPad friendly books, Photoshop actions, podcasts, online courses, blog templates or anything else that can be packaged and delivered in a digital format. In the last six months, we’ve done really well through offering digital products at The Blogcademy with our Home School modules. Our digital products are centered around 14 different blogging topics and each one features a video with PDF worksheet downloads. You pay $20.00 for access and can watch the video as many times as you like. The key to digital products is to create an offering once and then sell it repeatedly to generate income with very little extra effort. If you’re looking for a shop example with a variety of digital product formats, Gala’s is a great place to start.

3. Support a shop or outside business

Over time, it’s natural to evolve and gain new interests. When I first started blogging, I had no outside businesses and now, the two that I do have make up my full time job. Chances are that you’ll also start businesses beyond your blog and your personal platform is a great place to share these ventures. Perhaps you’ve started a vintage clothing shop, a baking company, a juice stand or even a line of art prints like Anna has. If you feel that this content ties in with your audience’s interests, create useful posts and how-to guides that promote these offerings while helping them in some way. That’s the key. A Beautiful Mess does this extremely well since they now have books, Photoshop actions, e-courses, apps and more. They are able to promote this wide range of content on their blog while always keeping their core audience in mind.

Advertising is just one way to generate income from your blogging. I hope this post helps you think outside of the box and use your blog as a vehicle to make a living doing what you’re passionate about.

Your turn: What are the unique ways that you’ve used your blog as a platform to generate interest in your offerings?


Photo: Shell de Mar with special thanks to Go With Oh.

Blog Log #15: Define What Your Blog Stands For. Create A Manifesto!

Nubby Twiglet | Define What Your Blog Stands For. Create A Manifesto!

A manifesto is a call to action. It’s a crystal clear declaration of what you stand for and believe in. Do you have one for your blog? I recently wrote a manifesto for Nubby Twiglet and though it’s still a work in progress, it was a great creative exercise to define my blog’s mission. Penning a manifesto for your blog can also be a great personal reminder for what you do and why you do it, especially after you’ve been at it for a long time (my 7 year anniversary is creeping up!).


My Manifesto

Are you a creative who’s passionate about the aesthetics in your daily life? Does design play an integral role in your personal expression? Then you’ve come to the right place. Nubby Twiglet was founded in 2007 under the guise that we should embrace our individuality in order to live a unique, inspired existence. As creatives, our lives are multi-faceted and expression ruminates from everywhere including our surroundings, careers and travels. Why should we separate our lives into bite-sized pieces when we can live it as one, inspiring whole? Come as you are, take charge and embrace a lifestyle that leaves you personally fulfilled.


Manifesto Cheat Sheet

If you’d like to write your own manifesto, here are five tips to help you get started:

1. Call out your blog by name.
You immediately want readers to know what the manifesto represents.

2. Define the purpose of your blog.
How are you helping your audience and adding value to their lives?

3. What makes your blog different?
What’s the unique twist on your content that makes it irreplaceable?

4. Who is your blog’s audience (or ideal audience)?
Are you writing for college students, stay at home moms, creatives or aspiring chefs? Define your niche.

5. How can you end on a positive note?
Tie everything up in a nice bow. Leave your audience feeling inspired and energized.


Do you have a manifesto for your blog?

If you have one or write one after this, please leave it in the comments so we can check it out!

Blog Log #14: Keep Your Blog Files Organized!

Say No To Clutter: Keep Your Blog Files Organized!

I’ve had a few readers ask me how I organize the digital files for my blog posts and today, I’m sharing my process. I strongly believe that staying organized digitally is just as important as keeping your physical space tidy. There’s nothing worse than falling down the rabbit hole of lost files, digging though old folders and hard drives that you inadvertently labeled “stuff” and “sort later” without a second thought years before!


Say No To Clutter: Keep Your Blog Files Organized!


Because I run two different blogs, having a system in place keeps me mentally focused and reminds me of what to post when. And, if I need to pull images and assets from old posts, I can find them in mere seconds.

Here’s a summary of my organizational structure:

1. I keep one master folder on my computer labeled BLOG.

2. Inside that folder, I have subfolders that are sorted by year (I’ve actively been running this blog since 2007 so that’s A LOT of content).

3. Inside each year, I have folders for each post I’ve ever done titled by date and description. For instance, my Link Love column from February 5th is labeled 02052014_LINKLOVE.

Inside each post folder, I have a few things:

4. Final JPEGS, edited and ready to go for that post.

5. A text document of the post.

6. An assets folder where I keep the original raw images, layered PSDs and any visual research I did for the post.

That’s it! While my system might not be a perfect match for you, hopefully it inspires you to get organized when it comes to your content. And, it seems that I’m on a roll this week when it comes to whipping digital assets into shape. If you run a creative business, you may also enjoy this post over at Branch about how we keep our client files organized.


It’s your turn: Do you have any tips, tricks or systems that you use for keeping your digital assets sorted?