Hello Again!

Summer_by_Krawat93

I have disappeared. Suddenly. Like a hole opened under my feet and carried me to Wonderland…  But that’s too poetic to be true. And I’m not yet back for good, but an update is in order. I miss the lovely blogging community and all friends I’ve made. I miss reading my favorite blogs. But life became chaotic all too unexpectedly. 

  • I went on without computer for a couple of weeks. Then without internet for a week.
  • That made my work pile up and become a mess, so I focused on work for weeks, catching up with things.
  • My kid was going through some hardcore bullying in school (uh? in Kindergarten? Yes). The kid in question was bullying almost the whole class. Thankfully, the bully will be in a different class next year.
  • My mom’s house was robbed
  • My husband had a blood pressure problem (insert fainting, hitting head, breaking fingers, etc, here)
  • My kid developed a nuts allergies, with lots of throwing up, coughing, difficulty breathing and scared us half to death (no  more nuts!)
  • Husband had issues at work, quit, then couldn’t quit, then… (insert work drama here)
  • My mom lost $500 (lucky her, uh?)
  • My kid’s graduation was too cool for school (one good thing. Yahoo!)
  • My mom’s house was robbed. Again! She went to the police and they said: “Come back tomorrow. Today Brasil’s playing the world cup and we’re not really working”
  • Mom goes back to the police the next day. They say: “Get higher walls around the house and buy a dog”. (Are we proud of Rio de Janeiro’s police yet?) Viva the World Cup!
  • My husband and I have been contacting agents and looking to buy a house soon (so the madness may have already started, but I still feel sane).
  • My mom decided to move from our house asap. She can’t stand that place anymore -I can’t blame her.
  • New added problem: Sell our house in Brasil.
  • My kid needs a hernia surgery soon. 10% Hospital fees deposit for surgery: $5,000  (plus doctors 10% deposit, which I don’t know how much it would be). Time to get that insurance!!!!

My household expenses at home are Cable (TV, internet, phone – at a ridiculous price of $203/mo), cell phones, PSEG. Kid’s expenses are 50/50.  I’m an only kid, so my mom’s expenses are mostly on me (electricity, gas, grocery shopping, house taxes, etc). Plus house renovations that have been going on for a year or so now (one room at a time…).  I also make sure that my mom always have all home appliances she needs, laptop, tablet, etc. She’s an old chick, but she’s modern and still kicking it. =)  With all that, I’m going through a tight period money-wise. Then the personal side of things are not all flowers either. With all this together, it’s been pretty stressful. So I NEEDED this break from work, blogging and all other responsibilities.

I’m glad it’s Summer (or almost). Because I’ve been in a great mood. I’m looking forward visiting Six Flags water park, taking the kiddo to playgrounds around the city (NYC has some awesome playgrounds with water falling/popping from everywhere during the Summer) and hitting Rockaway beach and Coney Island.

I bought a new guitar and will re-learn to play it. I bought a new pair or skates (roller derby style) and fell hard on my butt as soon as I stood on it -boy, I miss that back wheel from inline skates! hahahaha  …    I’m looking for a band or choir to join, because I miss singing. A lot. I’ll also look for a drama group -I also miss acting.  I’m starting a volleyball clinic on July and then I’ll hit pick up volleyball again -because I used to be really good at it, despite my height.

I’m having fun!

Behind The Design is not dead. The business is still up and running (mostly by itself – I love the “pay and download”  self-service system). I will be back, but I’ll enjoy a bit of Summer fun first.

Hope you’re all enjoying the sunny, beautiful days and have a beautiful Summer!!! :)

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kiddo’s graduation

 

 

top photo credit

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Developing A Unique Style

being unmistakable

Easier said than done, uh? Looks like all fantastic things that makes a style are already taken. Some are taken and heavily abused. So much for being “unique”.

For some people, it’s an effortless process and it evolves naturally. For others, it happens through absorbing what is already out there and adding something of your own. And it doesn’t really matter how you do it, as long as you get there. Because few things will make you stand out from the crowd as having your own style -of writing, of photos composition, of arranging a layout…

The above image is from my Bloglovin feed. At first, I thought it was a post from Cocorrina, as the hair, the clothing and even the location of the photo looks like Corina’s photos. But when I read the title, I killed it wasn’t her. “Style | Trending”? And that first sentence of the post is way different from Corina’s writing style -which is a bit more soft and sweet.

I guess that from the moment a reader or client can clearly distinguish your work in a sea of similar content, you are absolutely on the right path to having your own unique style.

Working From The Couch is Great, But I Need a Workstation

workstation

I saw Noor’s post yesterday and was so jealous. I wanted to be able to work from my bed daily. I really wanted to, but I just can’t. I can’t even be working from my couch often. Firstly, I get distracted really easily. If I get too comfortable, I’m under the risk of sticking to Netflix most of the day. Secondly, I can’t do everything from my laptop. It’s a Chromebook, so it is limited for image editing and coding -as it doesn’t allow me to run Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, etc. It’s completely fine, because I didn’t get this laptop for this type of work, anyway.

I need all help I can get to keep me organized and on top of things. I have to-do lists on Todoist and Teuxdeux, and keep a Google Calendar as well.

So, to help me keep focused, I also need a workstation. I mean, if I really mean business, I need to sit on a desk, in front of a big computer screen and work, work, work (even though I do stream Netflix while working sometimes… ).

Some lucky people can be just as productive from their couches, beds, coffee shop, workstation… The place doesn’t matter much for some. I’m like that for blogging: coffee shops really do it for me when it comes to blogging.

 

photo from designspiration

Stepping Away From My Business Competition

business competition

Many years ago, when I first started, I was obsessed over what my competition was doing, what they were selling, how much of each item they were selling. And I would always question myself: “But my work is so similar! Why don’t I sell as much?”

Along with my favorite blogs, I also had my “favorite” competitors’ feed on Bloglovin. I wanted to know the newly listed products first hand. I thought that maybe if I knew how often they released a new product, I could adopt that pattern to my own business. The products releases, the business strategy, the work quality, I wanted to do just the same. After all, they were so successful and whatever they were doing was working! So it must be the right way to do things.

Eventually I realized: I am not them!

I have learned that I will not create better quality work or have more sales by copying other businesses. Instead, I needed to dedicate more time to being creative, trying and making mistakes, until I’ve defined my own style. Until I’ve found my own path. We are all different, which means we all have different needs, style and capabilities. It didn’t take me long to realize that -thankfully, or my business wouldn’t have lasted the first year!

Photo from Leah Goren

Find Blogging Inspiration

blogging at home

Find Blogging Inspiration

Reading other blogs help me blog better. Get inspired. Does this happen to you too? I bet it does. Once we find our voice, our niche and our community, we get inspired way more often than if we were braving this virtual world on our own.

I don’t really worry about running out of ideas anymore. Today I watched the documentary American Blogger and about 10 subjects I could write about came to my mind. Then I read my daily blogs and another 10 topics came to my mind. And the circle of inspiration goes on…

My commenters also inspire me to no end. Every question, every different point-of-view they share, every input is a piece of inspiration. And then, there is Pinterest, We Heart It, Instagram… And if I’m listening to good music, it flows even better. Today I’m writing posts by the sound of Corina’s latest Mix Tape.

Where do you find inspiration to blog?

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Remote Work With a Group: HipChat

chat

Remote Work With a Group: HipChat

I’m always looking for ways to make collaborations easier. And although Skype and Google Hangouts work well, I recently ran across HipChat which is web-based. This means, no one needs to download anything or create a complex account to get in touch with me. Cool, uh?

Gets better! It allows sharing images and files by drag-and-dropping, allows rooms to be private, and keeps history records of previous chats -which can be so handy!

Hope you enjoy this little tool. A great way to organize events, exchange ideas and collaborate on something remotely.

Brand Strategy Study: The Website

moodboard

Brand Strategy Study: The Website

I’m developing the brand Alt Lab Art. A fantastic new business from Athens, Greece. They are a husband and wife studio that create unique upcycled pieces for homes and offices. This is their moodboard.

Two of the brands Nina has been inspired by are Amanda Mol and Quill & Fox. She likes both websites and was in doubt about which approach to adopt for their website: slideshow + featured products (Q&F) or slideshow + videos, latest posts, client feedback, etc (A M). Well, as I told her, it all comes down to this: The main focus is to generate sales or create a community sense?

Amanda Mol has this sense of community to her brand. Once you get to her website, everything has this closer and personal approach. Firstly her videos introducing her and their story, then her posts (where she acts like she’s talking to friends, not as a seller). Quill & Fox has a more straight-to-the-point approach: to sell. But they do have a blog and a newsletter, which is cool and helps engagement.

Lately, we’ve seen a trend in favoring these community-like brands. Well, again, people like people. So obviously, there’s an identification process with the brand. And you get caught in interest because you’re allowed to participate – Amanda’s post tend to ask for the readers/buyers opinions on the next collection and such things. So people keep coming back for more! More participation, more learning, more buying.

Having a brand like Amanda Mol’s good point is that almost no one will not buy from you on the first visit. So offering ways to make them come back is the key. When people are ready to buy, they are about 65% sure of what they are going to buy and where. So it’s important to make sure the “shop” link or products are obvious. And on this one, Quill & Fox gets the job done. Their featured products are “right there”, there’s no missing it.

There are many things to consider when developing your website. User Interface and User Experience are playing huge parts in it these days. But you not only have to worry about UI/UX, you also have to worry about your own style. Because it’s difficult, or impossible, to offer so much on a landing page (like Amanda Mol does) without compromising a clean and minimal style.  There are, indeed, many things to consider when developing your website. And your brand, as a whole.

This post focus on the brands website and we’ll explore the other areas in the coming days. So let me know if this is something you’d like to hear more about or not really.

The Suburban Creative

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The Suburban Creative

There’s this hype about living and working in a big cities, isn’t there? But because I grew up in big cities and always worked on them, I don’t have much idea of what must be to live slightly isolated from a community that breaths creativity and is packed with awesome artists (like in Brooklyn).

Like  I said, I was surrounded by creatives all my life and most of my close friends are artists and creatives today -in different industries. So even if I lived in a small town, I wouldn’t feel lonely or isolated.

I was so surprised to read that a very talented creative I love from Midwest did feel less than the creatives from big cities at a point of her life. I know that brilliant creative overcame this feeling. That made me think…

This is somewhat of a misconception. Although living in cultural and creative big cities can be unarguably helpful, a person can be just as creative and as good anywhere else. Many people come to NYC or LA to be actors or writers and end up serving tables. So you might be one step ahead, even if you live in a tiny suburban town…

I Started Working From My Kitchen

starting a small business

I Started Working From My Kitchen

Some years ago (not too long ago) I lived in a tiny studio apartment. It was one big room. We left it after our daughter started walking and running and we realized the space was too small for a kid. But while living in that studio apartment, I decided to work for myself and jumped head on into my first entrepreneurial adventure.

So running my Etsy shop, calling my clients, organizing photoshoots, collecting inspiration for the shoots, doing murals, as well as sewing, ironing, cutting patterns… everything was done from my kitchen table. Today I have 3 small work stations. One of them in the kitchen. Truly, it’s not even a work station, it’s a table. But that’s all I need most days: a table, a laptop and a chair. I just like the kitchen. It is bright and the table stays beside the coffee maker.

Did you know theSkimm HQ is their living room couch? We don’t need much to be creative and productive. Just a nice, peaceful space. Be it a local coffee shop, a big Starbucks, or our kitchens.